Recent Articles

The Beauty of the Sun – Spectacular Nasa Visuals

| May 26, 2015 | Reply

Published on Feb 11, 2015
February 11, 2015 marks five years in space for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which provides incredibly detailed images of the whole sun 24 hours a day. Capturing an image more than once per second, SDO has provided an unprecedentedly clear picture of how massive explosions on the sun grow and erupt ever since its launch on Feb. 11, 2010. The imagery is also captivating, allowing one to watch the constant ballet of solar material through the sun’s atmosphere, the corona.

In honor of SDO’s fifth anniversary, NASA has released a video showcasing highlights from the last five years of sun watching. Watch the movie to see giant clouds of solar material hurled out into space, the dance of giant loops hovering in the corona, and huge sunspots growing and shrinking on the sun’s surface.

The imagery is an example of the kind of data that SDO provides to scientists. By watching the sun in different wavelengths – and therefore different temperatures – scientists can watch how material courses through the corona, which holds clues to what causes eruptions on the sun, what heats the sun’s atmosphere up to 1,000 times hotter than its surface, and why the sun’s magnetic fields are constantly on the move.

Five years into its mission, SDO continues to send back tantalizing imagery to incite scientists’ curiosity. For example, in late 2014, SDO captured imagery of the largest sun spots seen since 1995 as well as a torrent of intense solar flares. Solar flares are bursts of light, energy and X-rays. They can occur by themselves or can be accompanied by what’s called a coronal mass ejection, or CME, in which a giant cloud of solar material erupts off the sun, achieves escape velocity and heads off into space. In this case, the sun produced only flares and no CMEs, which, while not unheard of, is somewhat unusual for flares of that size. Scientists are looking at that data now to see if they can determine what circumstances might have led to flares eruptions alone.

Goddard built, operates and manages the SDO spacecraft for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. SDO is the first mission of NASA’s Living with a Star Program. The program’s goal is to develop the scientific understanding necessary to address those aspects of the sun-Earth system that directly affect our lives and society.

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Eric Barker sums up how to be happy all the time

| May 26, 2015 | Reply

Eric Barker distills LOTS of good advice, providing ample links for more details. I have taken much of what he has provided in his blog, Barking Up the Wrong Tree, and practiced it. This is not hyperbole – I have found his information/advice to be among the most useful I have encountered anywhere.

His latest post is titled, “4 Rituals To Keep You Happy All The Time,” and I’m a believer (though I’m not actually happy ALL the time!). Here’s how he sums things up:

  • Write down three good things that happened to you that day before you go to bed.
  • Imagine something meaningful to you never happened. Then appreciate how lucky you are to have it.
  • Think about something bad that happened to you — and how it made you feel lucky to have gotten past it and how you have grown.
  • Do a gratitude visit. Write a letter of gratitude to someone who has done something for you and read it out loud to them in person.

Enjoy!   Literally.

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Lee Camp Compares Elections in the U.K. and the U.S.

| May 24, 2015 | Reply

Once a person can clearly state the problems, the solutions becomes clear. With regard to the corrupt bread and circus elections in the United States, Lee Camp makes the problems crystal clear. Note, especially the short campaign season in the U.K. (a matter of weeks) and the fact that in the U.K. TV and radio political ads are banned.

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How to get richer by squeezing money out of the poor: invest in trailer parks

| May 23, 2015 | Reply

Here’s where free market fundamentalism leads us: dulled consciences and oppression of those on the brink of homelessness.

From the U.K. Guardian:

Some of the richest people in the US, including billionaires Warren Buffett and Sam Zell, have made millions from trailer parks at the expense of the country’s poorest people. Seeing their success, ordinary people from across the country are now trying to follow in their footsteps and become trailer park millionaires. The Guardian went to Orlando to learn the tricks of the trade from Frank Rolfe, the self-appointed dean of Mobile Home University, as he led would-be investors around a trailer park for sex offenders.

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The sickness of the U.S. political system in one graph

| May 4, 2015 | 1 Reply

Bottom line of this research: It doesn’t matter what most Americans want their politicians to do.

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The Plan of Represent.US to wipe out legalized political corruption

| May 1, 2015 | 1 Reply

Josh Silver of Represent.US presents the plan:

Here is more.

The plan boils down to this:

We are protecting our communities and our country from corruption by passing city, state and federal Anti-Corruption Acts.

Problem = Corruption.
Solution = Anti-Corruption Act.

The American Anti-Corruption Act sets a standard for city, state and federal laws that break money’s grip on politics:

  • Stop political bribery by making it illegal for elected officials to raise money from interests they regulate.
  • End secret money by mandating full transparency of all political spending.
  • Empower voters with an opt-in, individual tax rebate for small political donations.

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How artificial sweeteners cause obesity

| April 27, 2015 | Reply

I had heard that using artificial sweeteners can cause obesity, but hadn’t before seen an explanation. This article by Tom Philpott of Mother Jones describes the mechanism:

[A] slew of studies have shown that faux sugars may actually contribute to the very diet-related maladies they’re marketed to protect us from—type 2 diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, strokes, and heart attacks… [T]hose who drank at least one diet soda per day were 43 percent more likely to suffer strokes and heart attacks than people who drank none, even after controlling for such factors as weight, level of exercise, diabetes, high blood pressure, and intake of calories, cholesterol, and sodium. Another large population study, published in 2009, found that daily diet soda drinkers were 67 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who shun them—again, even after adjusting for lifestyle and demographic factors. …

Purdue University behavioral neuroscientist Susan Swithers suggests that fake sweeteners do their dirty work by confusing our digestive systems’ Pavlovian response to sugar. When you smell food, she explains, you begin to salivate and your stomach begins to grumble; that’s your body preparing for what it assumes from experience is a hearty meal to come. Similarly, she says, a sweet taste is a “pretty good indication that sugar is going to arrive in your body”—that is, a blast of easily digestible calories. So, quaff Pepsi, and your body starts releasing digestive hormones and increases its metabolic rate, “because you have to expend energy to get energy out of your food,” she explains.

Fake sweeteners appear to subtly disrupt the trillions of microbes that live in our digestive tracts. But when you start ingesting sweet blasts that then don’t deliver the usual calorie blast, your body no longer knows what to expect. As a result, Swithers says, tests have found that “animals who have experience with artificial sweeteners don’t seem to be as good at regulating their blood sugar levels when they get real sugar”—hence the associations with diabetes and other metabolic troubles. And this mechanism would appear to be independent of the kind of low-calorie sweetener used.

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A Fun Way to be More Successful

| April 26, 2015 | Reply

Eric Barker shows the research: worker bees are not the most successful workers, and it’s because they are focusing only on the work while ignoring their social needs and becoming unhappy in the process.

Barker recommends this excellent TED talk by Shawn Achor:

Another helpful post is Barker on getting organized/happy.

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About ignoring the Old Testament

| April 26, 2015 | Reply

Most Christians I meet embrace only the most popular teachings from the New Testament, but ignore all of the embarrassing passages from the Old Testament, all the while claiming that the Bible is the most important book in the world.

This site reminds Christians that Jesus himself embraced all the Old Testament.

1) “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV) Clearly the Old Testament is to be abided by until the end of human existence itself. None other then Jesus said so.

2) All of the vicious Old Testament laws will be binding forever. “It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.” (Luke 16:17 NAB)

3) Jesus strongly approves of the law and the prophets. He hasn’t the slightest objection to the cruelties of the Old Testament. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Matthew 5:17 NAB)

3b) “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16 NAB)

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