On Earth, one can indirectly find what the structure of inside the planet is by measuring the waves created by an earthquake. The Earth’s interior, having layers with different compositions, will refract and reflect those waves, and by measuring the wave all over the Earth, what can make a reasonable assumption as to what the Earth is like inside it. Unfortunately, we can’t exactly place seismographs in other planets. In the case of Saturn, though, there is a structure you can measure which will indirectly tell us what is going on inside the planet. It is the rings, which it turns out that while its shape is predominantly affected by Saturn’s moons, they alone don’t account for all the waves on it. The planet itself affects the rings, and one of the findings is that the inside of the planet is sloshing around. More details is in the link above.
There is exciting news for extrasolar planet enthusiasts. A planet smaller than Mercury has been discovered around a regular star, one similar to the sun. This is another excellent discovery done with the already very productive space telescope Kepler. The discovery was helped by the fact that the planet rotated very close to the star. After all, an astronomer needs to detect at least three signals in order to confirm a planet, and finding a planet that comes in front of the star from Earth’s view is more probable the closer it is. The latter is important because Kepler finds planets by looking at a dip in the star’s brightness caused by the plane moving in front of it.
Now, is it the smallest planet discovered ever? Possibly not, it is probably one of the planets of a pulsar system. But it kind of isn’t fair, since pulsars have a very regular rotation period, which one can measure because it sends out jets of lights that crosses the Earth everytime it rotates. One can use discrepancies in the rotational period to detect planets that are very small in mass. For the transit method, though, this is very good. It means we are well on our way to discovering rocky planets in habitable zones. We just need to observe a lot longer. Three years for an Earth sized object that goes around in one year. And we get even more variety in our discoveries, instead of just gas giants and superearths, which have been dominating discoveries because finding bigger things is easier.
This webcomic says it all.
After all, there is a f–ing hexagon on Saturn! You don’t believe me? Well, here it is:
It is summer and so far, I am reading two books.
Firstly, I am reading Broca’s Brain, by Carl Sagan. The book is basically about his reflection on science, knowledge, bamboozlers, religion, etc. Even though each chapter is separate, each one tells fascinating stories of science, pseudoscience, and the people involved in it. I really love the way he conveys ideas in a wonderful and clear manner. It really makes you see the beauty in science, and you can tell he himself loves science. So far, the reading is on hold because I am reading…
…Death from the Skies by Phill Plait, AKA the Badastronomer. The basic premise of the book is that the universe is filled with dangers, and they could bring about the end of civilization as we know it. So far, I have only read a few chapters, and even with my large amount of basic astronomical knowledge (which means I don’t know much, really), I learned a lot. So far, I read the asteroid, sun bursts, supernova, gamma ray bursts, and death of the sun chapters, and there are plenty of horrors in each chapter to make you wonder at the humongous forces at play. My favorite chapter so far is the death of the sun. I knew pretty much the basics of it, like the running out of hydrogen fuel, the growth into red giant, the helium fusion, and the eventual demise into a white dwarf. But there was so much more to it than I ever imagined! The first thing I wondered after reading that was: “how the heck did they figure all of that out?!” Because the death of the sun is complex, and epic. It feels like reading a narrative of an epic story that went wrong for the travelers somewhere in the middle, and then the main character suffered a convulsion and blew up. ^_^ Indeed, the death of the sun in the book is as detailed as it can get, and yet, I promise you, this book is understandable to everyone. Basically, it is chock full of science, but it does not compromise the narrative nor its clarity.
Oh, and a few more things. I like the puns of the book. Someday, I wish to live in a world where people don’t have to apologize for making lame sounding puns. People should appreciate them more. After all, puns are the basis of all humor, right? ^_^
Secondly, this book has a choke full of ideas for disaster novels and fiction. Plus, I feel sorry for the occasional people in the book, since Phil Plait subjects them to the occasional disasters each chapter. Like that poor astronaut who had his consciousness expanded in his last second for the black hole just so that the astronaut and readers could know what would happen.
And lastly, there is a note at the bottom of a certain page that says that the best way to tick off an astronomer is to call them an astrologer. I can relate to that. I was at an FFA end of year dinner, and in a page of one of the leaflets describing the event, it listed all members, the college they were going to, and the major. I want to major in astronomy. And guess what they put right besides my major? If you thought astrology, you got that right. Let’s just say I got really ticked off.
I am really late at the party, but Oprah has been in my conscience for quiet some times. Sure, she can be nice, and give scholarships to 4 students from my school. On the other hand, she is a perpetuator of the typical uninformed, feel the gut type ignorance, thereby promoting horrible woo woos such as… Sorry, it is too horrible… The Secret. All I will say about it is that it is a woo of magnitude -10 in the logarithmic scale of stupidity, stupid quantum woo…
But now, Oprah is beyond redemption. Anyone who gives multimillion dollar contracts to people who put the public in danger, in this case Jenny McCarthy, who espouses antivaccine lies all the time, is dead to me. There is no way I will ever forgive her for this. I really don’t understand. What knowledge do people think they have so that they are able to promote whatever ideas they want without questioning the validity of their products? What makes their opinion more valid than the scientists who figured out all of the medicine and all? Is it that McCarthy is a parent, and parents know for sure what is wrong with their children? Is the fact that Oprah’s show is so popular makes whatever she utters the truth, which could possibly be illusory truth? What do these people have? Are they more comforting? Because if so, that is just lame. Because all it seems to me is that they are just driving a type of informational conformity. Because they know freaking nothing, and perhaps they at least once in a life time invite an actual expert and forget all of the “two sides in an argument” BS. Because you know what? The world just doesn’t work the way YOU freaking want them tttooo!!!!! And because of that, I just want to yell at all of you people who are promoting her stuff to STOP!!! I am sorry, I am just angry that Oprah… *furious breathing*
This is all just messed up. People would rather believe in pseudo intellectuals. And you know another thing that is just messed up? A great pop sci magazine Scientific American messed up, that is what is so messed up. What were they thinking? Inviting a homeopath to actually talk on science? Because really, the only “science” I have seen them do is just to give it to someone, and when they just get better, or the disease is in remission, they go tell everyone it works while ignoring all the cases which didn’t work. Not that it is a surprise really, because all it is, it is just water with ultra diluted chemicals, so diluted not even a single foreign molecule is in there. But of course, water has “memories”, while at the same time, forgetting all the dinosaur craps that have been dumped in our oceans for millions of years.
SciAm, what do you think we are, though? Stupid? Why did you give us this cheap article on beauty?Was it to attract the female components? Hell, that is the way it feels like! What, did you just underestimate the female audiences just like that? Are actual science underneath women? Because you should go back and stick to actual science because you know what? In the end all you are is a freaking science magazine, and I am sorry that you are not a magazine for medical quacks or one of those stupid girly magazines.
Next target… *Creepily turn head around to fake doctor* Stupid chiropractors. So, being offended is libel, ain’t it? Wow, I just committed libel! Because you can’t make no wrong, apparently, so any criticism that you are wrong is libel. But you know what? You are wrong, because you are all full of scientifically unproven shit, no evidence whatsoever to back up your claims except for stories, whose conclusions you wish it were true, or true for everyone else. You are doing this lawsuit, and why? Just because someone had the temerity to tell you in your faces that you were wrong, here is part of the article:
I can confidently label these treatments as bogus because I have co-authored a book about alternative medicine with the world’s first professor of complementary medicine, Edzard Ernst. He learned chiropractic techniques himself and used them as a doctor. This is when he began to see the need for some critical evaluation. Among other projects, he examined the evidence from 70 trials exploring the benefits of chiropractic therapy in conditions unrelated to the back. He found no evidence to suggest that chiropractors could treat any such conditions.
Worst of all, the judge somehow ruled against Simon Singh, in part because in UK, it is the person accused of libel who has the burden of evidence, and it is just much tougher in general. Anyways, read the link the third link of the above paragraph, the ruling is just plain stupid.
When something gets this frustating, don’t you just want to pull your hair out of your follicles? That is how I feel. I swear, I want to understand the phenomena behind these black hole of stupid. Which is why I feel like venting my final anger into spammers. Well, in this case, it is a questionnaire, not a rant because I am curious. They just tick me off for some reason. I don’t get them. Their job is to post links to the websites they promote, and… is that all they do? Tell me, spammers, what is the lucrative business of spamming like? Do you get a life out of doint that? What is your intrinsic and extrinsic reward? There has to be some sort of reward, or you woudn’t be doing it, I am guessing there is some money involved, right? Besides, aren’t your efforts stupidly futile? Because in all of the blogs I have read, none of them allow spam. Oh, I get it, you are hopin to find a crack, that is it. Right? Right? *sigh* Probably discussing stuff with spammers are futile, they probably have the reading and writing skills of 3rd grade, plus, they don’t care anyways.
Wow, maybe I should cut down on my rants next time. But as a final note, Measels, rubella, and mumps, three not so fun viruses, thanks Jenny McCarthy at a chance for life.
a) The violencean, or b) the experience and freedom and sense of accomplishment? According to research, the answer is b). There is a video on it:
Video game violence is a concern, and rightfully so because people after all do imitate behaviors based on certain models, and it has been shown that the brain part that has to do with aggression do lit up. Also, blames after certain violent crimes are placed on games, and the question is whether they can be blamed on games. From what I know, certain crimes did increase when TV became very popular. While they are correlations, an onset of one did follow the onset of another one. So it is a complex thing. Of course, I doubt most people go into a criminal frenzy after playing video games, but it is a good area of research to follow.
To end in a lighter note, someone did a Mario Paint music version of a theme in Mario Galaxy. It is an incredibly accurate version:
On the webpage of Scientific America, there is an article (thanks to skepchick.org!) about how perception affects the geniousness of a kid. I thought I would put a psychology post, as a start up to my first year ever in a psychology class (and in High School!). ^_^ Basically, if you reinforce to a person that intelligence stays the same, then the person will not do the work required to succeed. Even geniuses recquired effort to reach where they were, but to these people, challenging works are kind of an attack on their egos, and since they believe that intelligence can’t change, they are not motivated to work on it. Go and read it, it is fascinating.
It is about time that a candidate responds science based issues. It is my belief that the politicians, as a 21st century candidates, must take science into great importance. Science can help us solve a variety of issues like global warming, health, and good old scienctific exploration. Which is why I am so glad that Obama responded to the questions of 2008 Science Debate. Here is a link to his views. Not only that, his answers are detailed and concise. I would link McCain’s view, but unfortunately, he hasn’t answered any of the questions yet. Here is one of his answer to a question, which is below the fold.
I love science, and I think it is weird when people ask why is one suppose to care. For example, space exploration. People say it is a waste of time and money (money? are you kidding me!? science is one of the least of things a government spends on). I say to them, do you not have any curiosity? Science is all about investigating the beauty of nature, and reality itself. If one digs far enough, one finds things like: gravity is a manifestation of the curvature of space-time created by matter, which is really cool. From what I hear, most scientists do science for fun or to find out things, not to see whether they can find a useful application or be famous. (science at cutting edge is rarely useful, and they become useful only later)
From what I have seen, most children loves science. Then, something inexplicable happens. When kids grow to teenagers, most lose the curiosity and it is replaced by indifference and fear. I blame the suckish science and math education in schools, scaring the heck out of them and sucking their curious souls like leeches at the same time. I think people must refind the coolness that is in science, and I believe outreach is really important. That way, the scientific community gets people supporting the big science stuffs, and at the same time, get governments fundings for them. Those who considers it as unnecessary should ask themselves whether art or music is necessary at all. If one doesn’t like the idea of science as just figuring out nature and how wonderful and cool it is, fine, remember the non-stick frying pan and the computers, jerks .
Science is interesting, and if you don’t agree, you can fuck off
Richard Dawkins (biologist), who took it from a former New Scientist mag editor