February 26, 2013

A Slight Chance of "BOOM!"

As one of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes points out, "Boom!" does not do justice to what may be coming to the planet Mars.



"2x1010 Megatons is hard to visualize so think of it as being about this much 'splody."

It seems that recently discovered fast parabolic comet C/2013 A3 is going to pass pretty close to Mars. Exceedingly close. Best guess now has it passing within 63,000 miles of Mars. However the margin of error in plotting its course due to uncertainties about it's mass, its extreme speed and the limited time this object has been observed mean that the cone pf probability extends from 74,000 miles out from Mars to 0.000 miles.  This is much closer to Mars than the moon is to Earth.

The comet is moving exceedingly fast and is a retrograde orbit to boot so its relative velocity is around 35 miles per second, or 5 TIMES Earth escape velocity!

Since C/2013 A1 is a hyperbolic comet and moves in a retrograde orbit, its velocity with respect to the planet will be very high, approximately 56 km/s. With the current estimate of the absolute magnitude of the nucleus M2 = 10.3, which might indicate the diameter up to 50 km, the energy of impact might reach the equivalent of staggering 2×10¹º megatonnes! This kind of event can leave a crater 500 km across and 2 km deep. Such an event would overshadow even the famous bombardment of Jupiter by the disintegrated comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 in July 1994, which by some estimates was originally 15 km in diameter. - See more at: http://spaceobs.org/en/2013/02/25/comet-c2013-a1-siding-spring-a-possible-collision-with-mars/#sthash.SS7W2n7v.dpuf
The comet is 50 clicks across (by comparison the "Dinosaur Killer" was only 10 clicks in diameter). This would be a planet changing event.

Scott Lowther has thoughts on what the (admittedly unlikely) impact might mean for ambient Martian atmospheric pressure. Assuming it didn't blow the atmosphere clean off, it could be interesting indeed.

In any event, with a magnitude of 8.0 as seen from Earth, the comet should be visible with the naked eye in rural areas, which means we get a neat show regardless of whether it hits.

"Science Babe" is Shizune Hachimaki, from Katawa Shoujo.
Since C/2013 A1 is a hyperbolic comet and moves in a retrograde orbit, its velocity with respect to the planet will be very high, approximately 56 km/s. With the current estimate of the absolute magnitude of the nucleus M2 = 10.3, which might indicate the diameter up to 50 km, the energy of impact might reach the equivalent of staggering 2×10¹º megatonnes! This kind of event can leave a crater 500 km across and 2 km deep. Such an event would overshadow even the famous bombardment of Jupiter by the disintegrated comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 in July 1994, which by some estimates was originally 15 km in diameter. - See more at: http://spaceobs.org/en/2013/02/25/comet-c2013-a1-siding-spring-a-possible-collision-with-mars/#sthash.SS7W2n7v.dpu

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February 19, 2013

Oh Dear

Just got this via twitter.

CNN.com is reporting this afternoon that NASA has lost contact with the International Space Station.


Please no.

UPDATE: Oh good. They are confirmed OK. It appears to be a com failure but they can communicate with Moscow via walkie talkie when they are overhead.

UPDATE 2: And it's fixed.


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February 18, 2013

How Bad can the Google Bubble Get?

The Google Bubble is is explained here. Note that it's basically an ad for Duck-Duck Go, but it does explain the problem succinctly.

How bad can it get?

I noticed hadn't cleared my search history or cookies all year when a recent search on my computer for BAD APPLE CHINESE resulted in Newt Gingrich vs. Piers Morgan  and a search for AMVs in general included Bill Whittle videos.

No doubt someone to the left of me would be getting Obama hymns and  such.

It can be somewhat mitigated by clearing ones search history and all cookies periodically.

 On the political level this means that getting people to change their minds about things political is going to be even more of a herculean task than is discussed here, here, here and here.

On a rather more profound level it cannot be good for the nations polarization or getting people to change their minds about important things like immunizations and GM foods.

This is a huge structural problem, but I'm at a loss as to what to do about it.

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February 16, 2013

Asteroid Addendum

Well, that was exciting.

We had a near miss from an asteroid big enough to cause a 5 megaton blast if it hit. Over a thousand people were injured in Russia  this morning when a small meteor detonated above (and impacted just outside of) the town of Chelyabinsk. This afternoon, bolide exploded above Rodas Cuba causing minor damage and another bolide lit up San Fransisco this evening but did no damage.

The near miss asteroid has pretty much been established to be unrelated to the Russian meteorite, though its unclear if the two bolides were related to the Russian event.

2012DA14 which passed inside Geostationary Orbit got some buzz in the press over the last few days and Drudge, of course, hyped it like it was the Sweet Meteor Of Death. It was discovered by an amateur astronomer in Spain, not NASA or any other credentialed body, so if not for him we never would have seen it coming until it was upon us (if then). If it had been the tiniest bit off its actual course it would have hit. At this point we could have done nothing about it.

The objects that caused so much excitement in Chelyabinsk, Rodas and  San Fransisco, well, we never saw them coming.

This pic is making the rounds today....because it's true.



Next time the S.M.O.D. Squad comes visiting they may not be so congenial.

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February 15, 2013

Aiee. Aiee I say.

Doom. It is upon us.



....or Drudge is milking this for all it's worth.

UPDATE: 5 min Later




UPDATE 2:










But I did laugh...

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February 11, 2013

Something, ANYTHING Else

Tearful, fearful, Sayaka is giving me the creeps, so I've gotta post something just to get the creepiness off the top front post. 



Via

Wait...

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