Saturday, August 28, 2010
I have noticed a lot of my Youtube subscribers have been following my blog, Thanks so much for your support! I'm going through a tough time right now with losing my job and supporting my two sons and all of you have been a inspiration! I love you all!
Friday, August 27, 2010
When the Kepler team announced Thursday the discovery of a multiplanet system orbiting a star identified as Kepler 9 some 2,283 light-years from Earth, it was confident about two planets, but coy about a third.
Thursday night, however, the team released a new analysis of the data regarding the third, using a unique model they've dubbed BLENDER. The conclusion: The odds are excellent that the object is a planet some 1.5 times larger than Earth – and so close to its star that one orbit around the sun-like furnace takes 1.6 Earth days.
In our solar system, the closest planet to the sun is Mercury, which orbits every 88 days at a distance that ranges from 29 million to 43 million miles.
If the BLENDER analysis holds up, the planet – for now known as KOI-377.03 – will be the smallest yet found. Moreover, the methodologies used in BLENDER appear to be a promising way for Kepler planet-hunters to confirm more "super Earths" elsewhere in their survey.
Confident it's a super Earth
There remains some uncertainty in the object's nature, acknowledges Guillermo Torres, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., and the leader of the effort to put the Kepler data through BLENDER.
But the probability that the detection was caused by something other than a planet is sufficiently small, he says, that he's confident it's a planet.
"We tried to be very conservative in our assumptions" about how many planets of this size orbiting at this distance from its host star occur, as well as about how often one might find the kinds of objects that would yield "false positives" matching the signature Kepler detected.
Kepler detects planet candidates by tracking subtle changes in the light coming from each of more than 156,000 stars in a patch of sky near the constellation Cygnus. Kepler tracks these stars simultaneously. As an object passes in front of the star, the starlight dims for a period, then returns its original brightness.
*But the dimming can be caused by several factors other than a planet's passing. For instance, the star itself can dim and fade over short time scales. A companion could be a second, low-mass star or brown dwarf.
Or, from Kepler's perspective, a target star might appear to be right next to a binary star (though one is in fact light-years behind the other). The cumulative light of the target star and binary star together might be great enough to make the dimming of the binary star system, when it is in eclipse, less pronounced. When that happens, it could fool observers into thinking that a smaller, potentially planet-like object is eclipsing the target star.
BLENDER: just the right mix
That's where BLENDER comes in. "The idea of BLENDER was to play with a bunch of these combinations, as many as you can think of, and see how well those fit the observed light curve," Dr. Torres explains.
Indeed, for the duration of Kepler's 3-1/2-year mission, BLENDER may be the only tool to confirm so-called "super Earths" like the one the Kepler team is convinced it has found. The planet is too small and too close to it's host star to be confirmed through other techniques, such as those that rely on observing the effect gravity from an orbiting planet has on the spectrographic signature of its host star. The wobble the planet would impart would be too small to detect with current instruments and telescopes, the researchers say.
This new approach for analyzing planet candidates is one more example of Kepler's unexpected power in analyzing the planets it discovers.
"Kepler is turning out to be a fantastic machine for making statements we didn't think we'd be bale to make at the beginning" about the planets the orbiting telescope discovers.
To date, Kepler has discovered more than 700 planet "candidates," and has seven confirmed planets to its credit. Assuming confidence in KOI-377.03's status increases, make that eight.
Step outside tonight and be dazzled: the planet Mars will be as large as the moon in the night sky!
It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Don't believe it.
It's just not true.
But for the seventh consecutive year, the "Mars Hoax" is making the rounds on the Internet, spreading like some sort of malicious virus that infects everyone in your address book.
Here are the facts:
Mars right now is about 314 million kilometers from Earth, or just about as far away from us as the planet can get. Just after sunset tonight, Mars will rise in the western sky and look pretty much like an ordinary star that just happens to have a red tinge to it.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Save the Animals
Ever heard the call of the wild? What about the wolf howling in the distant mountains? For most people the answer is no. This is because the wolf was eradicated from most areas of our country when the white man decided that he wanted to settle the west. Most of the extermination was because ranchers and farmers lost a good deal of livestock to wolves. Wolves were selected for extermination by the US government untill1976 when the government declared the Mexican gray wolf endangered in the lower 48 states. The trapping and killing of wolves was done by private trappers, hunters, or ranchers. After wolves were declared endangered, several private enterprises sought to give the wolf a chance to come back from almost extinction. One of these groups, P.A.W.S., petitioned, debated, and fought for the reestablishment of the wolf into the southwest and other areas of the country where they once roamed freely. These private enterprises achieved their goals, but they still need the support of the everyday American. Without their support, the wolf could still become extinct, and then the children of America would never know what it was like to hear the call of the wild. People need to understand that to balance nature, wolves need to be reintroduced into areas where they were once abundant.
To claim ownership of this fight, one must understand our planet and its animals. What would our world be like if there were no animals? Animals on this planet are disappearing at an alarming rate. If we do not do something about it, our world will become a barren landscape. A common thread among scientists and naturalists is that we need to preserve animals in their natural habitats. Why? Because they preserve the natural habitats that people love going to. By keeping predators around, they balance out each other. Someone said in regards to cougars coming back into Arizona, “That’s just too many predators.” Well there is no such thing as too much of anything when it is applied to nature. In this case, “too many predators” means that the numbers of predators will increase, but nature will balance them out. The predators will have to fight for territory, meaning they will be more spread out; also, they will use each other as prey, and they will keep the number of prey animals under control. By bringing prey animal numbers up, we will be adding food for predators, and the ecosystem as a whole will be kept in balance. Prey animals, are rabbits, mice, mountain goats, elk, deer, fish, and assorted other animals. What classifies them as prey animals is, they are herbivores, which means they only eat plants. For the most part, they assist in the reproduction and distribution of plants in nature.
The Mexican gray wolf is an animal that has had much controversy over its reintroduction into the Southwest. It was called “Extermination—‘The Final Solution’” (Brown, 54). The government did its best to completely eliminate the wolf until the 1970s. After that, the government realized that it was harming the natural habitat to continue the extermination. In the late 1970s the Mexican gray wolf was put on the national Endangered Species List (ESL). After being placed on the ESL, there has been much opposition to reintroduction of the wolf. Several people believe reintroducing wolves into the Southwest is the biggest mistake the government has made in several years. Here are some of the reasons they give explaining their beliefs.
For one, the wolves eat cattle, which is some ranchers’ only means of income. Farmers lose from wolves because their cows, sheep, goats, and dogs get eaten or killed by wolves. Either way, wolves infringe on the rights of farmers and ranchers, so they should not be reintroduced into the Southwest.
Another reason wolves are bad for our society in the Southwest, is income and food are raised from hunters every year. With wolves being in the wild, the best animals would be eaten by wolves. This would reduce the number of animal tags that are being sold every year. In turn this reduces the money generated by hunting permits. Every year hundreds of people purchase hunting licenses and tags for elk and deer. All of that money goes to the forest service’s fund for improving trails, roads, and safety systems in the national forests. In addition to money being lost from fewer permits being issued, the best animals will be taken down by wolves; leaving the hunters to go for small, sick, injured, or extremely old animals. The effect of releasing wolves into the wild would be detrimental to the southwest’s hunting community.
If the wolves are raised in captivity, they will know humans, and then the wolves will think that they can take handouts from people. This poses a great safety issue. If an animal attacks someone in the outdoors, the government is at fault for the animal being there. The government reimbursing someone for their psychological trauma, physical injuries, and possible death, is something to think about. The fact is, people do not want wolves in the wild because they want to enjoy the outdoors without being threatened by an animal.
Put simply, their arguments are: wolves eliminate income from farmers, and ranchers, by eating their livestock. They hurt our forest service because the revenue generated from hunting permit sales will decrease because fewer animals will be available to hunt. Also, people who use the back country for recreational use will be afraid of wolves, preventing them from venturing off of the pavement.
The arguments proposed against the reintroduction of wolves are not even worth considering. People do not know what they are talking about when they speak about wolves. For ranchers and farmers, wolves kill about 1% of livestock every year. If your animal is killed by a wolf, there is a fund within the Government of the United States to refund you an amount of money based upon what animal is killed. If you have private land then put up the proper fencing and deterrents for wolves, if you have free ranged livestock, then understand that they might be eaten by wolves. These are some things you should realize when you live out in the rural areas. There are predators out there. They were there before humans. They will be there long after humans are gone.
For hunters, wolves do not pose much of a problem. Wolves go after old, weak, or injured animals. A large pack would not waste the energy to pull down a completely healthy animal. The numbers of permits might go down, but that has been on the decrease for some years now without the help of wolves. Originally hunting programs were set up in the United States to control the elk, deer, and other animal populations. Wolves need to be reintroduced to begin controlling these populations without human influence. Some revenue might decrease, but most of the money that is allocated to the forest service comes form other funding sources, and most of the work done through the forest service is volunteer work.
Campers, hikers, and others using the backcountry, understand that if you were a pioneer, you would not have the sophisticated equipment that you do today and that you would have to face much greater dangers than wolves. Wolves do not like humans, or the scent of humans, so you have nothing to be worried about. If you see a wolf in the wild you should appreciate its beauty. Also you should know that you have seen one of the most efficient hunters, and it saw you and it kept going. Wolves do not want to interact with humans. They keep to themselves, which is why they should be reintroduced.
All across the US there is a great deal of animals that are currently being raised in captivity that are scheduled to be placed into the wild. Most of these animals have not had any opposition to their release. Some of these animals needing to be reestablished in the wild are: California condors, prairie dogs, iguanas, sea otters, several types of sea turtles, lynx, Mexican gray wolves, red wolves, and grizzly bears. These animals have something in common; they have all been pushed to almost extinction by humans. For some reason people have finally realized that our environment is going to suffer if we do not start treating it better. A great start to that is creating wild groups of animals surviving without human interaction.
A challenge of reintroducing any animal into the wild is the people factor. This means the difference of regular people letting their animals go compared to trained researchers reintroducing animals into a specific habitat. Professionals should be the only ones letting animals go in the wild. When an untrained person sets an animal free, they risk the animal coming back to them, and the animal possibly going to other people and being destroyed. Only professionals should be releasing animals they have trained to live in the wild.
What is the cost to our children if we do not reestablish these animals? They can never appreciate the call of the wild
Picture this: it is a crisp evening; the moon is rising on the horizon. The stars are just becoming visible. The campfire in front of you is crackling; it’s almost talking to you. The scent of wet grass and pine trees reaches your nose as a slight breeze blows by. There is a calming sensation that comes upon you and you completely relax, sinking into the log you are sitting against. As you close your eyes, you hear in the distance a long howl. It lasts for several seconds then it stops. Then hair on your neck raises and then relaxes again, then you hear a second and third call, the wolves are talking to each other. You sit back and enjoy the sounds of the wild.
This is how it is when someone is sitting in Alaska. They hear the wolves and know that they are safe from them, but it still makes the adrenalin run in their veins. If one was to do the same thing in the lower 48 states, it would be similar, but you would not hear the call of the wolf. Their song was silenced decades ago. People still think the wolf should stay silent in the Southwest; most of them would be farmers and ranchers. Others have pushed for reintroducing the wolf into the Southwest. The people who have achieved their goals are the ones who were lobbying for the reintroduction of the Mexican gray wolf within the southwest. They proved to the government that a majority of Americans want the wolf back into the wild parts of the USA. They have proven that wolves do not kill as much livestock as first speculated. Also they have determined that revenue from hunting sales will not decrease as wolves start to manage the wild herds of elk, deer, and other prey animals. Furthermore people who travel into the back country have realized that wolves will not approach them, if people do not tempt them to their campsites. The goal of having the Mexican gray wolf released into the lower 48 states was reached, but not without much support. Still, support is needed to convince others that wolves and other animals are good for maintaining the balance of our environment. If the wolf does not have the support of the every day American, the cost to the children of the world would be greater than any amount of money the world could possess. They would not be able to hear what few have heard as children, the call of the wild.
(I did not write this, I took this from http://www.123helpme.com/preview.asp?id=35295 it is my thoughts.)