The New Scientist offers new information about the relationship between car exhaust and lightning strikes, which is best illustrated during the work week when there is the most commuting.
In the south-eastern states, lightning strikes increased with pollution by as much as 25 per cent during the working week. The moist, muggy air in this region creates low-lying clouds with plenty of space to rise and generate the charge needed for an afternoon thunderstorm.
Surprisingly, the effect was not strongest within big cities with high pollution, but in the suburbs and rural areas surrounding them. “There is a misconception that if you get away from cities, you get away from the pollution. Actually, it follows you for hundreds of miles,” says Rosenfeld, who presented the research at the American Geophysical Union meeting in December.
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A group of astronomers looking for “faint signs of heat” from long-dead stars has found, instead, a booming sound of unknown origin.
Of course, sound waves can’t travel in a vacuum (which is what most of space is), or at least they can’t very efficiently. But radio waves can.
Radio waves are not sound waves, but they are still electromagnetic waves, situated on the low-frequency end of the light spectrum.
Many objects in the universe, including stars and quasars, emit radio waves. Even our home galaxy, the Milky Way, emits a static hiss (first detected in 1931 by physicist Karl Jansky). Other galaxies also send out a background radio hiss.
But the newly detected signal, described here today at the 213th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, is far louder than astronomers expected.
About six times louder, apparently.
Detailed analysis of the signal ruled out primordial stars or any known radio sources, including gas in the outermost halo of our own galaxy.
Other radio galaxies also can’t account for the noise – there just aren’t enough of them.
Via Boing Boing.
2. Rick Warren to give inaugural invocation–Bad move!
3. So, what to do about the fact that Warren is doing the invocation. This is the message I sent to Emmett Beliveau, director of the inaugural committee:
I am appalled that Rick Warren has been chosen to give the invocation at President-Elect Obama’s inauguration. This is a slap in the face to women and LGBT people. I can’t imagine that any person so callously promoting the hatred and oppression of any other groups would be chosen to have such an important role in this or any ceremony of the Obama Administration.
I thought the Obama Campaign was about change for everybody. Apparently not — bashing LGBT people and denying women control of their own bodies continue to be just fine on Obama’s watch.
Selecting Rick Warren is not an act of inclusivity. It’s a clear message that marginalized people will continue to be excluded, while the farthest fringe of anti-liberty, anti-equality, pro-theocracy fundamentalists will continue to be pandered to.
Contact Beliveau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Over at Alas, Ampersand offers an excellent analysis of anti-fat bias in a recent study, thereby tearing the study to shreds.
4. Bush’s Midnight Attack on Farm Workers: These will be the most far-reaching changes in the laws regulating agricultural guestworker programs since 1942. They will return us to an era of agricultural labor exploitation that many thought ended decades ago. –Via A Slant Truth.
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I’m writing this just before eight o’clock on Monday evening, but by the time you’re reading it — assuming you’re reading it on Tuesday morning or afternoon — I will be some 38,000 feet in the air, on my way to visit Emily in New York City. I don’t think blogging will be much affected by my trip, but if it is, you’ve been forewarned. We have planned a lovely week of museum tours and gallery visits.
Anyway, my girlfriend, Jessie, pointed me toward this bizarre video of an “alien-like” squid filmed very deep in the see. It’s freaky. I couldn’t even watch the whole video, that animal is so strange. Wow.
There’s a really interesting and almost poetic article about light pollution up on the National Geographic website.
Darkness is as essential to our biological welfare, to our internal clockwork, as light itself. The regular oscillation of waking and sleep in our lives—one of our circadian rhythms—is nothing less than a biological expression of the regular oscillation of light on Earth. So fundamental are these rhythms to our being that altering them is like altering gravity.
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1. Great Expectations — Melissa McEwan on the importance of expecting great things of the Obama administration.
2. Taslim Solangi–links at Off Our Pedestals.
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Happy Halloween everybody! Get into the spirit by checking out this wonderful collection of very old Halloween pictures on Flickr entitled Halloween in the Time of Cholera. Truly haunting!
Via Country Gown.
The first is via Alas, A Blog, and is very cute.
Couldn’t catch most of the lyrics, but I’m sure it’s going to be stuck in my head for weeks regardless.
The second video, via Boing Boing, is an eerie and telling montage of the three presidential debates.
Did watching the 2nd and 3rd debates give you a feeling of déjà vu? This montage of synced-up footage from all three presidential debates confirms our deep-seated belief that every debate was exactly the same.
Watch it here.