Next Monday, August 21st, a total eclipse will traverse across the US in a spectacle not seen during in my lifetime. The last total eclipse in the US was on February 26, 1979 (right, top) but the last time totality took a similar path crossing the nation from the Pacific to the Atlantic was June 8, 1918 (right, below). So this is a pretty special event!
We won't be able to see totality in Texas (68.44% in College Station), but that's not going to stop us from having an Eclipse Party! If you're planning on viewing the eclipse, be safe and view with the proper protective equipment.
It was too cloudy in College Station to see the eclipse. It's nice that someone was able to capture a magical moment!
Tomorrow night be sure to look up to the sky around 9:47pm CST. A celestial event that has happened only 5 times in the past 100ish years, a lunar eclipse during a supermoon! There hasn't been one in my lifetime yet. The last time one happened was in 1982. A supermoon isn’t any different than any other full moon other than it is at its closest to Earth in its orbit making it 14% larger than usual and lunar eclipses actually aren’t that uncommon, we have already had a total eclipse earlier this year in April. But put them both together and you get something quite special... one big ole red dot in the sky!
*If you don’t believe me and want to see the best times to view the eclipse for yourself you can go to this Eclipse Calculator.
Some scientists were already skeptical about adding iron to the oceans due to the unknown impact the process could have on the ocean and the thought that it may only decrease carbon-dioxide levels temporarily. In 2007, another chemist at WHOI said, “While there is still no agreement on the efficiency of [carbon-dioxide] reduction or its environmental impacts, some scientists are willing to consider further experiments to address these remaining uncertainties, given that future policies and carbon-offset markets may emerge with or without a sound scientific basis,” and this recent study did just that.
Now I am going to stand on my soap box. I think we as humans have a responsibility to interfere when we are deliberately hurting the environment but it can be prevented (such as poaching, overfishing, deforestation, etc.); however, sometimes I think we need to just let nature do its thing. The earth has an ebb and flow of heating and cooling, productivity and sterility, a series of highs and lows trying to create a balance. For some reason humans think we can affect the balance for our benefit but what says by pumping the oceans full of iron to reduce something bad we don’t actually end up producing something worse when nature tries to compensate for our actions. Humans don’t think in an earthly timescale, they think in a humanly timescale. The productivity boom after the ice age was produced over hundreds of years. I’m sure the people who want to pump the oceans with iron aren’t thinking of that kind of a timeline. They are thinking they will see results they’ll see immediately, which there may be A result immediately but THE result may not be for another hundred or thousand years. The statement by the WHOI chemist saying “future policies and carbon-offset markets may emerge with or without a sound scientific basis” is a perfect example of how politics are manipulating people who want to do good for the planet into doing things that may not be. If only we could just keep politics out of it.
What is the Sequester?
The exact definition is a general cut in government spending. But, what exactly is a “general” cut when the reason there are going to be “general” cuts is due to the government’s inability to make decisions on where to make cuts in the first place? “General” refers to cuts across the board where the bureaucrats are not allowed to decide where to make the cuts, causing cuts of the useless as well as the vital (CBSNews, 25Feb13).
I don’t typically like to get involved with politics because nothing good ever come of it. However, yesterday, word around campus was that today, March 1st, with the start of the sequester, congress is cutting funds to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA, essentially killing the advancement of science in the United States. There are still private organizations which provide funds for science, but those are few and far between. NIH and NSF provide billions of dollars to scientific research annually. Billions of dollars is a lot of money so you may think, why can’t we take away just a few million from them and put it somewhere else? Well, because it actually doesn’t make that much of a difference in regards to the US budget but does make a HUGE impact on scientific discovery. The $37 billion annual budget of NIH is less than 1% of the US budget. The 10% cut to NIH from the sequester totals a savings of 0.08% in the US budget (Forbes, 14Jan13). 80-85% of projects submitted to NIH this year are going to have to be turned down because of this cut. One of those projects could be a life changing medical discovery. Is 0.08% worth it?
I tried looking up the Sequester without NIH as the focus and all I managed to find was that the failure to stop automatic spending cuts is a blame game. Republicans say it’s Obama’s fault while Obama points the finger at the Republican Congress. This isn’t junior high, guys. Get your heads out of your asses and start spitballing ideas as to how to get out of this mess.
In my opinion, the first thing that should be cut is the salaries of these politicians (like this whimsical meme suggests), not because we will get a lot of money from it, but because it will put a fire under their butts to do what they are being paid to do. You don’t get money unless you make some decisions. What are these politicians doing anyways? Raising money for their next campaign? Fraternizing with lobbyists? The budget seems to have been one of the biggest issues for quite some time, so, whatever they ARE doing, it's not what they should be doing. They need to set some priorities and start making some compromises, and those compromises shouldn’t be cuts to the sciences!
Without science there’s no innovation, discovery or progress. The US is already falling behind in the sciences.
Stop holding us back!
"In fact, we have now found over one hundred of [this type of hellish planet], rending them so common that the question really emerges, which ones are the weirdos, them or us?"
~Prof Geoff Marcy, astronomer, University of California Berkley
How the Universe Works, "Planets from Hell", Science Channel, First Aired July 25, 2012
Click to go to www.mappinglife.org and try it out for yourself!
Have you ever wondered where on the planet you could find a particular animal? Ever wondered where an animal has historically been found? Where they are now? A collaborative project with such renowned organizations as Yale, University of Colorado Boulder, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, the National Science Foundation and NASA have brought this information conveniently to your fingertips with the creation of an interactive map of the global distribution of every species of animal in the world! A demo version is available online. Simply put in the scientific name of your favorite animal and click “Go”. Depending on the species, you can get information from point observations, regional checklists, expert maps and local inventories layered on a map for your visual pleasure. It kept me entertained for a couple hours. Enjoy!
I am a biologist and my life is crap!