Archive for the ‘research’ Category

A compact model of the heliosphere, supported by the latest data [Credit: Dialynas, et al.]

It seems the interstellar magnetic field is a lot more powerful than scientists expected, as reports.

New data from NASA’s Cassini mission, combined with measurements from the two Voyager spacecraft and NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, suggests that our sun and planets are surrounded by a giant, rounded system of magnetic field from the sun—calling into question the alternate view of the solar magnetic fields trailing behind the sun in the shape of a long comet tail.

The sun releases a constant outflow of magnetic solar material—called the solar wind—that fills the inner solar system, reaching far past the orbit of Neptune. This solar wind creates a bubble, some 23 billion miles across, called the heliosphere. Our entire solar system, including the heliosphere, moves through interstellar space.

The prevalent picture of the heliosphere was one of comet-shaped structure, with a rounded head and an extended tail.

Despite Saturday’s so-called “March for Science,” the almost simultaneous release of a Second Edition of a Research Report showing the exact opposite of what some of the marchers claim to be the conclusions of climate science, has brought home the Orwellian reality that the marchers have gotten their claims concerning what the science says exactly backwards, as Alan Carlin explains.

The Climate March website says their forces of “The Resistance” won’t tolerate institutions that try to “skew, ignore, misuse or interfere with science.”

If the marchers really support science, they should be supporting climate skeptics, not the climate alarmists. How Orwellian can you get? The science is clear.

Carving at Göbekli Tepe

The alleged event appears to pre-date the Göbekli Tepe site itself by at least 1,500 years, which seems at odds with the idea that the carvings were intended as observations of it.

Ancient stone carvings confirm that a comet struck the Earth around 11,000BC, a devastating event which wiped out woolly mammoths and sparked the rise of civilisations, says the Daily Telegraph.

Experts at the University of Edinburgh analysed mysterious symbols carved onto stone pillars at Göbekli Tepe in southern Turkey, to find out if they could be linked to constellations. The markings suggest that a swarm of comet fragments hit Earth at the exact same time that a mini-ice age struck, changing the entire course of human history. 

Scientists have speculated for decades that a comet could be behind the sudden fall in temperature during a period known as the Younger Dryas.

Quote: ‘Flying through Steve, the temperature 300 km above Earth’s surface jumped by 3000°C’.

Thanks to social media and the power of citizen scientists chasing the northern lights, a new feature was discovered recently, as ESA reports.

Nobody knew what this strange ribbon of purple light was, so … it was called Steve. ESA’s Swarm magnetic field mission has now also met Steve and is helping to understand the nature of this new-found feature.

Speaking at the recent Swarm science meeting in Canada, Eric Donovan from the University of Calgary explained how this new finding couldn’t have happened 20 years ago when he started to study the aurora.

While the shimmering, eerie, light display of auroras might be beautiful and captivating, they are also a visual reminder that Earth is connected electrically to the Sun.

The satellites won’t land as the surface pressure – 92 times that of Earth – and heat of Venus would destroy them. Instead they will look for a ‘mysterious substance’ thought to be lurking in its atmosphere.

NASA has spent $3.6 million to build 12 small satellites to explore the planet Venus in search of a mysterious substance that absorbs half the planet’s light, reports The Daily Caller.

The CubeSat UV Experiment (CUVE) mission will launch the satellites to investigate atmospheric processes on Venus. The 12 satellites vary in size. One is less than four inches across and weighs a few ounces. Another weighs 400 pounds.


The hurdle of scaling up to industrial size awaits, but the idea sounds interesting. They say “The ultimate goal is to create a filtration device that will produce potable water from seawater or wastewater with minimal energy input.”

A UK-based team of researchers has created a graphene-based sieve capable of removing salt from seawater, says BBC News. The sought-after development could aid the millions of people without ready access to clean drinking water.

The promising graphene oxide sieve could be highly efficient at filtering salts, and will now be tested against existing desalination membranes.

It has previously been difficult to manufacture graphene-based barriers on an industrial scale. Reporting their results in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, scientists from the University of Manchester, led by Dr Rahul Nair, shows how they solved some of the challenges by using a chemical derivative called graphene oxide.

View from Titan [artist’s impression]

‘The grains that cover Saturn’s [largest] moon act like clingy packing peanuts.’ An obvious question might be: where is Titan’s electrical charge coming from?

Experiments led by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology suggest the particles that cover the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, are “electrically charged.”

When the wind blows hard enough (approximately 15 mph), Titan’s non-silicate granules get kicked up and start to hop in a motion referred to as saltation. As they collide, they become frictionally charged, like a balloon rubbing against your hair, and clump together in a way not observed for sand dune grains on Earth — they become resistant to further motion.

They maintain that charge for days or months at a time and attach to other hydrocarbon substances, much like packing peanuts used in shipping boxes here on Earth. The findings have just been published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

“If you grabbed piles of grains and built a sand castle on Titan, it would perhaps stay together for weeks due to their electrostatic properties,” said Josef Dufek, the Georgia Tech professor who co-led the study. “Any spacecraft that lands in regions of granular material on Titan is going to have a tough time staying clean. Think of putting a cat in a box of packing peanuts.”

The electrification findings may help explain an odd phenomenon. Prevailing winds on Titan blow from east to west across the moon’s surface, but sandy dunes nearly 300 feet tall seem to form in the opposite direction.

Who gets a say in deciding whether to interfere with nature on a global scale?


From Activist Post, by Derrick Broze

At a recent geoengineering conference two Harvard engineers announced plans for a real-world climate engineering experiment beginning in 2018.

The science of geoengineering has increasingly become a part of the public conversation around climate change and an ever-controversial topic within the scientific community. Geoengineering is a type of weather modification (or climate engineering) which has been researched, but, until recently, has been considered too unpredictable to attempt on a large scale.  According to a 2013 congressional report:

The term ‘geoengineering’ describes this array of technologies that aim, through large-scale and deliberate modifications of the Earth’s energy balance, to reduce temperatures and counteract anthropogenic climate change. Most of these technologies are at the conceptual and research stages, and their effectiveness at reducing global temperatures has yet to be proven. Moreover, very few studies have been published that document the cost, environmental effects, socio-political impacts, and…

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Credit: IB Times

It’s not yet known what the origin of asteroid (or comet) ‘Bee-Zed’ is or if it’s one of a class of similar objects in retrograde co-orbital resonance, as reports. The researchers say ‘how it got there remains a mystery.’

For at least a million years, an asteroid orbiting the “wrong” way around the sun has been playing a cosmic game of chicken with giant Jupiter and with about 6,000 other asteroids sharing the giant planet’s space, says a report published in the latest issue of Nature.

The asteroid, nicknamed Bee-Zed, is the only one in this solar system that’s known both to have an opposite, retrograde orbit around the sun while at the same time sharing a planet’s orbital space, says researcher and co-author Paul Wiegert of Western’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Quiet sun [image credit: NASA]

Solar variation influencing climate is suddenly plausible, say researchers. Who knew? Well, nearly everyone except climate modellers. Although they still mutter about human influence, the reality of the solar slowdown is starting to bite it seems. If as they suggest ‘A weaker sun could reduce temperatures by half a degree’ what might they expect from a ‘stronger sun’?

For the first time, model calculations show a plausible way that fluctuations in solar activity could have a tangible impact on the climate, reports

Studies funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation expect human-induced global warming to tail off slightly over the next few decades. A weaker sun could reduce temperatures by half a degree.


If someone applied to a top position at a company, you’d hope a hiring manager would at least Google the applicant to ensure they’re qualified.

A group of researchers sent phony resumes to 360 scientific journals for an applicant whose Polish name translated to “Dr. Fraud.” And 48 journals happily appointed the fake doctor to their editorial board.

This sting operation was the first systematic analysis on editorial roles in science publishing, adding concrete evidence to a problem past stings have shed light on.

Electric car charging station [credit: Wikipedia]

Electric car charging station [credit: Wikipedia]

The battery can be made from ‘earth-friendly materials’ like sodium, which can be extracted from seawater.

A new longer-lasting battery technology that can’t catch fire has been developed by a team of engineers led by 94-year-old Professor John Goodenough, the co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, the Daily Mail Online reports.

Lithium-ion batteries are one of the most popular types of rechargeable batteries used in many mobile devices, but they can sometimes explode and catch fire – as was the case for Samsung’s Galaxy 7 exploding battery fiasco.

But this new battery technology could increase the distance electric cars can drive for between charges, and recharge within minutes rather than hours.

Tropical beach

Tropical beach

Can the tropics ever get too hot for life on Earth, or not? That’s the question posed by this research. As the report notes: ‘these theories are controversial’.

New research findings show that as the world warmed millions of years ago, conditions in the tropics may have made it so hot some organisms couldn’t survive, reports

Longstanding theories dating to the 1980s suggest that as the rest of the earth warms, the tropical temperatures would be strictly limited, or regulated by an internal ‘thermostat.’

These theories are controversial, but the debate is of great importance because the tropics and subtropics comprise half of the earth’s surface area, greater than half of the earth’s biodiversity, as well as over half the earth’s human population.

But new geological and climate-based research indicates the tropics may have reached a temperature 56 million years ago that was, indeed, too hot for living organisms to survive in parts of the tropics.

They admit the hiatus, or pause, is still a puzzle: ‘processes remain unclear’. What is clear is that the observed temperature trend in the study period is unlike the carbon dioxide trend.

The increasing rate of the global mean surface temperature was reduced from 1998 to 2013, known as the global warming hiatus, or pause.

Researchers have devoted much effort to the understanding of the cause, reports The proposed mechanisms include the internal variability of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system, ocean heat uptake and redistribution, and many others.

However, scientists also want to understand the atmospheric footprint of the recent warming hiatus as the dynamical and physical processes remain unclear.

Arctic sea ice [image credit:]

Arctic sea ice [image credit:]

Variations of this aerosol claim have been around for many years. These researchers seem uninterested in known oceanic cycles which might help to explain the observed temperature changes, instead relying on climate models. But another researcher notes that ‘black carbon emissions in some parts of the Arctic are still quite common’, as confirmed recently here. An earlier study (2007) reported ‘There is, however, at least a fourfold uncertainty in the aerosol forcing effect.’ So it looks like the jury is still out regarding air pollution in the Arctic.

Humans may have been altering Arctic sea ice longer than previously thought, according to researchers studying the effects of air pollution on sea ice growth in the mid-20th Century.

The new results challenge the perception that Arctic sea ice extent was unperturbed by human-caused climate change until the 1970s, reports Scientists have observed Arctic sea ice loss since the mid-1970s and some climate model simulations have shown the region was losing sea ice as far back as 1950.

In a new study, recently recovered Russian observations show an increase in sea ice from 1950 to 1975 as large as the subsequent decrease in sea ice observed from 1975 to 2005.

Proposed path of Planet 9 around the sun with Neptune and several notable TNOs for reference [credit: Wikipedia]

Proposed path of Planet 9 around the sun with Neptune and several notable TNOs for reference [credit: Wikipedia]

Researchers suggest the pair may have got too close to the hypothetical Planet Nine, resulting in their current orbits.

The dynamical properties of these asteroids, observed spectroscopically for the first time using the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, suggest a possible common origin and give a clue to the existence of a planet beyond Pluto, the so-called ‘Planet Nine’, reports

In the year 2000 the first of a new class of distant solar system objects was discovered, orbiting the Sun at a distance greater than that of Neptune: the “extreme trans Neptunian objects” (ETNOs). Their orbits are very far from the Sun compared with that of the Earth.

We orbit the Sun at a mean distance of one astronomical unit (1 AU which is 150 million kilometres) but the ETNOs orbit at more than 150 AU. To give an idea of how far away they are, Pluto’s orbit is at around 40 AU and its closest approach to the Sun (perihelion) is at 30 AU. This discovery marked a turning point in Solar System studies, and up to now, a total of 21 ETNOs have been identified.

Recently, a number of studies have suggested that the dynamical parameters of the ETNOs could be better explained if there were one or more planets with masses several times that of the Earth orbiting the Sun at distances of hundreds of AU.

It looks more like ‘winding down’ at this stage, but ‘scrapping’ eventually. Not unexpected, if it goes ahead as suggested.
H/T Europe Breaking News

Donald Trump is poised to eliminate all climate change research conducted by Nasa as part of a crackdown on “politicized science”, his senior adviser on issues relating to the space agency has said.

Nasa’s Earth science division is set to be stripped of funding in favor of exploration of deep space, with the president-elect having set a goal during the campaign to explore the entire solar system by the end of the century. This would mean the elimination of Nasa’s world-renowned research into temperature, ice, clouds and other climate phenomena.

Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

This runs counter to claims that a warming world leads to more extreme weather. The summer monsoon strength shows a consistent decline over the study period. But last year was an exception – possibly related to the big El Niño?

In one of the most comprehensive studies on trends in local severe weather patterns to date, an international team of researchers found that the frequency of hail storms, thunderstorms and high wind events has decreased by nearly 50 percent on average throughout China since 1960, as reports.

The team analyzed data from the most robust meteorological database known, the Chinese National Meteorology Information Center, a network of 983 weather observatories stationed throughout China’s 3.7 million square miles. Meteorologists have been collecting surface weather data through the network since 1951 or earlier, which provided the researchers an unprecedented look at local severe weather occurrences.

The research team thinks its results are ‘difficult to understand in terms of dark matter’, reports The study was earlier reported here.

The distribution of normal matter precisely determines gravitational acceleration in all common types of galaxies, a team led by Case Western Reserve University researchers reports.

The team has shown this radial acceleration relation exists in nearby high-mass elliptical and low-mass spheroidal galaxies, building on last year’s discovery of this relation in spiral and irregular galaxies.

This provides further support that the relation is tantamount to a new natural law, the researchers say.

Dwarf galaxy NGC 5264 [image credit: ESA/Hubble]

Dwarf galaxy NGC 5264 [image credit: ESA/Hubble]

Dark matter faces quantised inertia. One of these ideas must leave town, or the galaxies, it seems.

British physicist Dr Mike McCulloch, who previously used quantised inertia to explain how the controversial electromagnetic space propulsion technology EmDrive works, says that he has new evidence showing his theory can also explain galaxy rotation, which is one of physics’ biggest mysteries, as the IB Times reports.

McCulloch, a lecturer in geomatics at Plymouth University’s school of marine science and engineering, says he now has even more evidence that his “new physics theory” about quantised inertia works, and that it makes it possible to explain why galaxies are not ripped apart without using theory of dark matter.

One of the biggest problems in physics today is how galaxies rotate. Galaxies are collections of millions of stars swirling around, and galaxies spin so rapidly that their centrifugal force should cause them fly apart, as there isn’t enough visible matter in them to hold them together by the force of gravity.