Mankind has been broadcasting radio waves into deep space for about a hundred years now — since the days of Marconi. That, of course, means there is an ever-expanding bubble announcing Humanity’s presence to anyone listening in the Milky Way. This bubble is astronomically large (literally), and currently spans approximately 200 light years across. But how big is this, really, compared to the size of the Galaxy in which we live (which is, itself, just one of countless billions of galaxies in the observable universe)?
Tag Archives | Earth
Sometimes asteroids come very close to home, about every six years. The latest asteroid to come closer to Earth than our own satellites appears today. Via Space.com:
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An asteroid the size of a tour bus will fly past Earth today (June 27) so closely it will be beneath some of the planet’s satellites.
The rock, named asteroid 2011 MD will zoom by just 7,500 miles (12,000 km) above the planet, making a sharp turn forced by Earth’s gravity before winging off into space again. The flyby will occur at about 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT).
There is no risk of an impact, NASA scientists said. The space rock, estimated to be between 29 to 98 feet (9 to 30 meters) wide, is likely too small to survive a plunge through our atmosphere anyway. An asteroid this size, if it were mostly stony, would break apart and burn up before hitting the surface.
Pick A Year handily compiles, in timeline form, all end of days prognostications of note, for your doom-and-gloom needs:
The END has been with us for a very long, time and extends well into the future. Need I say that prophesy has, so far, failed? And that this is true as much for ‘scientific’ prophesy (see 1962, 1975, 1976, 1989, 1992, 2002, 2005, 2008) as for the cultish kind?
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A new survey is under way to search for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life, but this one has a twist: Instead of listening for alien signals from anywhere in the sky, scientists are aiming radio telescopes at the alien planets most likely to be like our own Earth.
The new search, which began last week, is scanning 86 alien worlds for radio signals that could suggest the presence of an advanced civilization. The extrasolar planets are thought to be the most Earth-like of the 1,235 candidate planets discovered so far by NASA’s prolific Kepler space observatory.
“We’ve picked out the planets with nice temperatures — between zero and 100 degrees Celsius [32 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit] — because they are a lot more likely to harbor life,” said physicist Dan Werthimer of the University of California, Berkeley, in a statement.
This new SETI search is not part of the SETI Institute, which has long served as the Earth’s ears for any signals from intelligent aliens.
Earth's continents are constantly changing, moving and rearranging themselves over millions of years — affecting Earth's climate and biology. Every few hundred million years, the continents combine to create massive, world-spanning supercontinents. Here's the past and future of Earth's supercontinets.
Oil has been the topic of discussion in American news since the 1920s, but have circumstances really changed? With the Deep Horizon spill in 2010 causing unprecedented pollution, the leak in the Alaskan pipeline and the new energy deal between China and Scotland, we are witnessing an increasing struggle for fossil fuel resources and a constant search for new energy sources. An excerpt from disinformation‘s The Little Earth Book by James Bruges gives us a retrospective look of how the oil situation of today was seen 6 years ago.
The Future of Oil: Who’s Fooling Whom? – and Why?
Draw a line five miles long to represent the millions of years during which solar energy has been captured and laid down in the earth’s crust in the form of coal, gas and oil. Then put a blip in it. That blip represents the time we have taken to extract and use this embodied energy.… Read the rest
It’s world-changing (well if you believe in this sort of thing : ) If you’d like to read what’s really going on here behind the hubbub and learn a bit about astronomy not astrology, Charlie Jane Anders over at io9.com has an excellent post:
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What on Earth is going on? And why does everybody suddenly have to work with a new version of the completely meaningless zodiac?
It seems to have started with this article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune last weekend, in which one astronomer made some statements about the zodiac. Parke Kunkle is on the board of directors of the Minnesota Planetarium Society and teaches astronomy at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Kunkle told the Star-Tribune the Earth’s relation to the sun had changed since the Babylonians first created the zodiac.
The Earth could lose more than one fifth of all known plants — forever! Story from the Guardian:
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One in five of the world’s plant species – the basis of all life on earth – are at risk of extinction, according to a landmark study published today.
At first glance, the 20% figure looks far better than the previous official estimate of almost three-quarters, but the announcement is being greeted with deep concern.
The previous estimate that 70% of plants were either critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable was based on what scientists universally acknowledged were studies heavily biased towards species already thought to be under threat.
Today the first ever comprehensive assessment of plants, from giant tropical rainforests to the rarest of delicate orchids, concludes the real figure is at least 22%. It could well be higher because hundreds of species being discovered by scientists each year are likely to be in the “at risk” category.
Stacie Adams writes on Smirking Chimp:
A week or two ago the internets were ablaze with the news that not only did famed physicist Stephen Hawking appear to believe in the existence of life on other planets, but he was also of the mind that we should avoid them at all costs, because in his opinion they would be of the face sucking, giant lizard variety.
Many expressed dismay at his sentiment, but it’s really not that fantastic. Hawking’s theory is that if the universe is infinite, it would make sense mathematically for there to be other life forms in existence at various stages of development. His second point really isn’t that bold either. Why do we, in our limited knowledge, assume that advancement entails humanity?
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Look at our species. As we advance, are we becoming more or less humane? And look at our history. We happen upon a new land, and what do we do with the native inhabitants?
Alex Morales writes on Bloomberg:
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The earthquake that killed more than 700 people in Chile on Feb. 27 probably shifted the Earth’s axis and shortened the day, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist said.
Earthquakes can involve shifting hundreds of kilometers of rock by several meters, changing the distribution of mass on the planet. This affects the Earth’s rotation, said Richard Gross, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who uses a computer model to calculate the effects.
“The length of the day should have gotten shorter by 1.26 microseconds (millionths of a second),” Gross, said today in an e-mailed reply to questions. “The axis about which the Earth’s mass is balanced should have moved by 2.7 milliarcseconds (about 8 centimeters or 3 inches).”
The changes can be modeled, though they’re difficult to physically detect given their small size, Gross said. Some changes may be more obvious, and islands may have shifted, according to Andreas Rietbrock, a professor of Earth Sciences at the U.K.’s Liverpool University who has studied the area impacted, though not since the latest temblor.