Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
We interupt this blog for an announcement. Chrispy has been frequently asked - "when is PART TWO of your Waverly Hills essay coming out." Well, it's HERE. Part two exposits my hair-raising interpretations of my experiences in Waverly Hills. Pictures included. (It really was weird being there. Spooky stuff did happen.)
If you missed part 1 fear not. It's now FREE. The publishers are taking a chance that if you like it in pdf, you're going to buy it and cherish it as a collector's item in print. Get a free pdf here.
Who knows, with this economy, paper may become more valuable than gold leaf.
Click here. for more news, and to order part 2. Fran Friel posted an image of issue 10, which I just received tonight. There's a contest to WIN a copy. Sign up. More... here.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
About 100 people sprinted to the 495kg creature's 6m tank inside Wellington's museum when the doors opened at 10am.
The squid, the largest of the museum's three specimens of the world's largest invertebrate, proved a gigantic hit.
"It's huge," said a wide-eyed Inzimam Ali, seven, of Johnsonville, who pestered his parents for a week to visit the exhibition after seeing a billboard about it.
"It makes me hate the sea," said Lena Riki, 20, of Upper Hutt, who took her children, three-year-old Iranui and 12-month-old Arapeta to the exhibition.
Luis Laria explained that, since last summer, vandals got in by taking advantage of a temporary door, smashed windows and broke display cases containing male and female giant squids each measuring ten metres long as well as skeletons of whales, tortoises, marine birds and fossils.
Describing their actions as "deplorable," the naturalist said that what hurt most was the "complete lack of respect" shown for fifteen years' hard work.
The CEPESMA exhibiition houses 21 examples of giant squid, which, although common on the Cantabrian coast, have never been filmed in their natural habitat.
by Kate TsubataSunday, December 14, 2008
by Tom Stienstra Sunday, December 7, 2008
In another episode, a gang of Humboldt squid had circled the boat New Salmon Queen from Emeryville. The squid were in full attack, with the anglers aboard hooking up on every drop. Capt. Craig Shimukuzu got out his video camera to film the action and as he pressed the record button, the ocean "blew up" - a pod of 10 killer whales came to the surface in a feeding frenzy of their own, slashing the squid to bits with their teeth.
On Thursday morning out of Bodega Bay, 20 fishermen aboard the New Sea Angler caught an estimated 15,000 pounds of Humboldt squid in 90 minutes; 400 squid that averaged 30 pounds and topped out at 70, with 90 percent of them hooked near the surface. Capt. Rick Powers said he found the squid on the northwest edge of Cordell Bank.
Humboldt squid were first seen off California in 1930, then not again until the El Niño year of 1997. They disappeared again for five years, but since 2002, they have been here to stay, according to the Monterey Bay Research Institute, taking over new territory. They are best known off the coast of South America, and in recent years, Baja California, but have expanded their range north along the Pacific Coast.
They are one of the fastest growing creatures in the world, transforming from a single cell to as much as 100 pounds during an average life span of about one year. They average 15 to 60 pounds and measure up to 6 feet long.
"They're an eating machine," Powers said. "They eat their body weight daily."
Humboldt squid are built for the job. They have 10 tentacles that are filled with teeth-lined sucker cups, including two extended tentacles that pull victims into razor-sharp beaks. "We've seen them eat each other," said Craig Stone at Emeryville Sportfishing.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Lovecraft was NOT a fan of hillbiilies and such, but he might smile askance at the Patsy Cline (1963) lyrics had he have heard them twang out: Blue moon of Kentucky keep on shining. Shine on the one that's gone and left me blue ...
Well, it wasn't a BLUE moon yesterday, but it was a WEIRD full moon. (A blue moon has several meanings, but of recent vintage - though spurious - it means two full moons in one month.) I'll rely on National Geographic to fill in the details. Lovecraft WOULD have enojoyed seeing Perigee and Full Moon convergence. If any weird things happened to YOU under the "Long Nights" moon let us know.
Although a full moon happens every month, the one that rises tomorrow will appear about 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than the other full moons seen so far this year. That's because our cosmic neighbor will be much closer than usual. The moon will be at its closest perigee — the nearest it gets to Earth during its egg-shaped orbit around our planet.
At its farthest from Earth, the moon is said to be at apogee.
Perigee and apogee each happen generally once a month, but the moon's wobbly orbit means that its exact distance at each of those events varies over the year.
The moon's phase can also be different during each apogee and perigee.
"Typically we don't have the full moon phase and perigee coinciding at the same time, so that makes this event particularly special," said Ed Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California.
What's more, tomorrow's event will be the closest lunar perigee since 1993, at 221,560 miles (356,566 kilometers) from Earth.
The moon's farthest apogee for the year will occur a couple weeks later on December 26, when the natural satellite will be 252,650 miles (406,601 kilometers) from Earth.
11 year old Lovecraft would have experiencd a nice Full Moon on 1901 Dec 25 12:15 (Wed) - other full moon events: on 1920 Dec 25 12:39 (Sat); he would have had it on Christmas Eve on 1912 Dec 24 04:30 (Tue ) and 1931 Dec 24 23:24 (Thu)
Perigee and Paogee calculator -
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wow, have we come aong way!
09 December 2008
Hubble finds carbon dioxide on an extrasolar planet
The Jupiter-sized planet, called HD 189733b, is too hot for life. But
new Hubble observations are a proof-of-concept demonstration that the
basic chemistry for life can be measured on planets orbiting other
stars. Organic compounds can also be a by-product of life processes and
their detection on an Earth-like planet may someday provide the first
evidence of life beyond Earth.
Previous observations of HD 189733b by Hubble and the Spitzer Space
Telescope found water vapour. Earlier this year Hubble found methane in
the planet’s atmosphere.
"This is exciting because Hubble is allowing us to see molecules that
probe the conditions, chemistry, and composition of atmospheres on
other planets," says first author Mark Swain of The Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, USA. "Thanks to Hubble we're entering an era
where we are rapidly going to expand the number of molecules we know
about on other planets."
The international team of astronomers used Hubble's Near Infrared
Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) to study infrared light
emitted from the planet, which lies 63 light-years away. Gases in the
planet's atmosphere absorb certain wavelengths of light from the
planet's hot glowing interior. The team identified not only carbon
dioxide, but also carbon monoxide. The molecules leave their own unique
spectral fingerprint on the radiation from the planet that reaches
Earth. This is the first time a near-infrared emission spectrum has
been obtained for an extrasolar planet.
"The carbon dioxide is kind of the main focus of the excitement,
because that is a molecule that under the right circumstances could
have a connection to biological activity as it does on Earth," Swain
says. "The very fact that we're able to detect it, and estimate its
abundance, is significant for the long-term effort of characterizing
planets both to find out what they’re made of and to find out if they
could be a possible host for life."
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
That's a bit surprising since he once wished to be an astronomer (or chemist). He obviously had an amazing memory, and yet didn't graduate from high school. At an earlky age, he had tutors who helped, and visiting Brown University professors noticed him, and attempted to groom him for an academic career - Appleton and Upton, for instance.
Then, *poof*. Even before his grandfather died, he was doing poorly in school, and missed a great deal of class time.
Studies show that talents such as writing, history, and so forth can be maintained over a summer - or other extended breaks - but not math. Children who practice math by going to summer school, or science camp, do exceedinlgly well the following term, but children who do nothing over the summer break lose and have to do remedial work to catch up and maintain what they'd learned the previous term. Lovecraft, then, was doomed. His long illnesses would have made him a wretched math student, and even with rote memorization, his applications of those techniques would have been rusty. It's unknown how many real calculations he did in his amateur astronomy, but his newspaper articles quote facts and statistics, and not actually how to perform math.
A new article may shed more light on how Lovecraft failed to achieve his goal of being an astronomer.
FOR KIDS: Math is a real brain bender
Learning mathematics may make the brain reorganize the way it worksBy Tia Ghose Web edition : Monday, December 8th, 2008 Text Size Zoom
MATH ON THE MINDPracticing arithmetic may cause the brain to restructure its processes, helping kids move from rough estimates to symbolic, precise math at older ages.
As kids grow up, the parts of the brain used to do math problems change. In elementary school kids, a region of the brain called the prefrontal cortex lights up while doing arithmetic.
But by the time kids become adults, that region takes a backseat when crunching numbers, and another part of the brain, called the left superior temporal gyrus, kicks in. A nearby region called the parietal cortex also plays a bigger role in adults’ calculations.
Scientists have shown that the left superior temporal gyrus may help connect the sounds of speech to written letters. The region may also get in gear when you play an instrument, helping you link the sound of your clarinet solo to the notes written on sheet music. It’s possible that this part of the brain helps adults tie the symbols for numbers to precise amounts, says Daniel Ansari, of the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. Ansari and his colleagues conducted the study that uncovered the shift in brain regions used for math.
To understand how the brain tackles math at different ages, Ansari’s team matched 19 children, ages 6 to 9, with 19 adults, ages 18 to 24. The researchers showed both groups pairs of written numbers from one to 10, and then asked the kids and adults to say which number was bigger. Next, the people were shown pairs of images — each one with a group of one to 10 squares. The volunteers were asked to say which image in the pair had more squares. During the experiment, the scientists took pictures of the participants’ brains using a functional MRI scanner. This machine measures blood flow, which offers clues about the activity of certain regions of the participants’ brains during each task.
Adults performed the tasks better than children, but it took everyone longer to choose the bigger amount when the difference between the numbers was smaller. (For instance, deciding if two squares is more than three squares was harder than comparing one square and nine squares.)
The scientists found that as the numbers got closer together, the parietal cortex got more active in adults, but didn’t rev up in kids’ brains.
“Our results demonstrate that the brain basis of number processing changes as a function of development and experience,” Ansari says.
The findings suggest that people’s ability to link symbols with precise quantities builds on an older system used to gauge rough amounts. Animals like monkeys use this older number sense, for instance, to estimate the better deal when choosing between handfuls of sunflower seeds.
After many years of math problems, however, people’s parietal cortex takes over from the older system, jumpstarting translation of approximate amounts into symbolic, precise numerals. And after even more practice, the left superior temporal gyrus takes over major math tasks, Ansari suspects.
Short for magnetic resonance imaging, MRI is a method that uses magnets to create pictures of internal organs, especially the brain.
This type of MRI tracks blood flow in the brain by measuring oxygen levels. The changes in blood flow give scientists hints about which parts of the brain are most active during certain tasks.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
June 11, 1929
SEES GIANT METEOR FALL
Prospector Reports One “Big as a Ship” Hitting Lake Superior.
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. June 18 (Canadian Press). -- A strange tale was brought down to “The Soo” today from Michipicoten Island by Frank Kushick, a prospector, who said a huge meteor "about the size of a ship" fell into Lake Superior close to the island about 10 o'clock on the night of June 11. The meteor illuminated the island brilliantly and created a rumbling noise which was heard at Puckasaw and Pipe Rivers, twenty and twelve miles away, respectively, for two minutes after it fell.
Kushick’s story is supported by his brother Gordon and Augusta Weidman, camped about two miles away on the island.
The meteor fell between the island and the mainland, and there appeared to be two balls of fire, either following the meteor closely or attached to it. The air was full of sparks, he said. Quite a sea arose after the meteor struck the water. The rumbling noise is believed to have been caused by boiling water.
This is the original reference: N.Y. Times, June 19, 1929, p. 14
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