Star Trails

NorthStarTrailsImage: © Sérgio Conceição

Short star trails circle the North Star, Polaris, above a gorgeous landscape on Flores Island in this long-exposure image by astrophotographer Sérgio Conceição.

Dark Matter That Won’t Let Go



I’ve had this book for some time now but for some reason, never read it. I started it last night and finished it this afternoon.
Well, holy hell was this good!

Not just good. Mind-bendingly cranial. Awesome. Brilliant. Mind-blowing. All of these and more that I don’t even have the words for. This is the first speculative fiction novel that I had to put down for a minute every other chapter (or so) and stop and absorb what I’d just read. The basic concepts weren’t new to me, although the fish and pond analogy was new. Personally, I like the premise that each time we make a choice, a new world is created, a slightly different world. Who among us has not wondered, “What if I had done X instead of Y?”

This book is one man’s answer, and dilemma, and horror.
This book asks us what makes us unique? What makes us better than the next person in line, or more moral?
I love it when a story makes me think. This one will stay with me for a long time. Heck, it might never leave, just sit in the back of my mind poking me every now and then and say
‘hey, what if…?’
And that will be just fine with me.

Not Enough Greenhouse Gases?


Science fiction writers have long featured terraforming, the process of creating an Earth-like or habitable environment on another planet, in their stories. Scientists themselves have proposed terraforming to enable the long-term colonization of Mars. A solution common to both groups is to release carbon dioxide gas trapped in the Martian surface to thicken the atmosphere and act as a blanket to warm the planet.

However, Mars does not retain enough carbon dioxide that could practically be put back into the atmosphere to warm Mars, according to a new NASA-sponsored study. Although the current Martian atmosphere itself consists mostly of carbon dioxide, it is far too thin and cold to support liquid water, an essential ingredient for life. On Mars, the pressure of the atmosphere is less than one percent of the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere. Any liquid water on the surface would very quickly evaporate or freeze.

Proponents of terraforming Mars propose releasing gases from a variety of sources on the Red Planet to thicken the atmosphere and increase the temperature to the point where liquid water is stable on the surface. These gases are called “greenhouse gases” for their ability to trap heat and warm the climate.

“Carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (H2O) are the only greenhouse gases that are likely to be present on Mars in sufficient abundance to provide any significant greenhouse warming,” said Bruce Jakosky of the University of Colorado.

Read the rest of the reasons here why terraforming Mars isn’t possible just yet.

One Giant Step For Womankind



Two of NASA’s astronauts are scheduled to make history this month.

On March 29, Anne McClain and Christina Koch will leave the relative safety of the International Space Station for a spacewalk to upgrade the craft’s batteries. As well, two other women will play important roles behind the scenes for this spacewalk — Mary Lawrence and Jackie Kagey will serve as the spacewalk’s lead flight director and lead spacewalk flight controller, respectively.

A third woman, Canadian Space Agency flight controller Kristen Facciol, will support the spacewalk from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Not history making? I disagree. This is a giant step forward for all women in the sciences!

What do you think?

Solar Farts Are Dangerous!

yellow sphere illustration

Photo by Pixabay on

So here’s something I learned today from Popular Science…

“Our great big ball of gas and plasma continuously churns and showers the solar system with charged particles and radiation, collectively called solar wind. Solar wind is quite dangerous for human beings, and would likely cause gastrointestinal, neurological, and circulatory issues for us in addition to cancer with enough exposure. Thankfully, we’re all protected from such effects thanks to Earth’s magnetic field.”

I can imagine my boys saying something cheeky here about the Sun passing wind. Solar farts are dangerous, folks!

100 Billion Stars…Is Anyone Out There?

sky space telescope universe

Photo by Pixabay on

There’s a really great article at National Geographic today about the probability of life on all those other planets in Earth’s so-called ‘habitable zone’. According to astrophysicist Sara Seager, there are more planets than there are stars, and at least a quarter are Earth-size planets in their star’s so-called habitable zone, where conditions are neither too hot nor too cold for life. With a minimum of 100 billion stars in the Milky Way, that means there are at least 25 billion places where life could conceivably take hold in our galaxy alone—and our galaxy is one among trillions.

An influx of private funding has reenergized the search for life elsewhere among the stars, so it’s conceivable that we may find life as early as the next generation of planet-hunting satellites, if not this one. There’s an informative and interesting info-graphic on planet hunters within the article that’s worth a look too. Research has broadened from merely listening for radio signals to searching for optical and infrared emissions as well.

The article I’ve linked above is meaty with infographics, new research and lots of spectacular photos. If you have any interest at all in life beyond our own, you’ll find the article of interest. Check it out, I’d love to know what you think!

Dragons Are Real, Look!


I can’t be the only one who missed this news, right?

Early in February of this year (2019 in case you’re reading this in the future), NASA captured a stunning image of a dragon aurora over Iceland. NASA said, “The aurora was caused by a hole in the sun’s corona that expelled charged particles into a solar wind that followed a changing interplanetary magnetic field to Earth’s magnetosphere.”

The aurora is pretty cool, but even more remarkable than you’d think because it appeared during a time of low sunspot activity, according to NASA, which means the sun is not emitting as many charged particles as it normally does.

The writer in me wants to believe this is just another sign that dragons are real.