Posts Tagged ‘baffled scientists’

Pluto probe


Uncertainty abounds here. Scientists expected –173° Celsius but ‘the probe found temperatures closer to –203° — with no obvious explanation.’ Perhaps there is a place where enlightenment could be found, if they cared to look.

Meanwhile the ‘gas only’ theory is under pressure [sic] again, as Pluto’s atmosphere apparently defies expectations.

Pluto may be the only place in the solar system whose atmosphere is kept cool by solid hazes, not warmed by gas, says Science News.

Blame Pluto’s haze for the dwarf planet’s unexpected chilliness. Clusters of hydrocarbons in the atmosphere radiate heat back into space, keeping the dwarf planet cool, a new study suggests.

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Cities of the Black Sea [credit: Wikipedia]


Maybe that should say ‘alleged global trend’? We learn that ‘The results of the simulation…came as a surprise to scientists who were expecting to see at least some warming trend between 1960 and 2015.’

Using a model developed at the JRC, scientists have successfully simulated the Black Sea’s long term currents, salt water content and temperature for the first time, ScienceDaily reports.

Average surface temperatures of the Black Sea may not have risen, according to the surprising results of a new study from the JRC.

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Waves in Lake Ontario [image credit: SYSS Mouse / Wikipedia]


Researchers say ‘a consistent signal emerges’ over longer periods. In theory the Moon should be a suspect given its role in tides?

Beneath the peaceful rolling waves of a lake is a rumble, imperceptible to all but seismometers, that ripples into the earth like the waves ripple along the shore, reports Phys.org.

In a study published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research Solid Earth, scientists at the University of Utah report that these small seismic signals can aid science.

As a record of wave motion in a lake, they can reveal when a lake freezes over and when it thaws. And as a small, constant source of seismic energy in the surrounding earth, lake microseisms can shine a light on the geology surrounding a lake.

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Windy enough today?


One possibility is that ‘it could be due to ageing wind speed instruments producing inaccurate results’, says the GWPF. If not – bad news for wind turbine operators.

Wind speeds around the world seem to be decreasing in a phenomenon known as ‘stilling’ and European scientists are hoping to find out why.

Few people have probably noticed, but the world’s winds are getting slower. It is something that cannot be picked up by watching the billowing of dust or listening to the rustle of leaves on nearby trees.

Instead, it is a phenomenon occurring on a different scale, as the average global wind speed close to the surface of the land decreases.

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Star KIC 8462852 in infrared (2MASS survey) and ultraviolet (GALEX) [credit: NASA]


One observer commented about “Tabby’s Star” that ‘every explanation that doesn’t involve aliens has some sort of problem’. Its nickname is the WTF star, reports Phys.org.

Round 5 a.m. on a Tuesday this past May, Tabetha “Tabby” Boyajian sat staring at a laptop, cross-legged on her couch in the living room of her Baton Rouge, La., home. The coffee table was cluttered with the artifacts of an all-nighter: an empty wine glass to calm her nerves alongside an empty coffee mug to fuel her through the night.

Since midnight, Boyajian had been downloading and analyzing data from the Las Cumbres telescopes—two on Maui, Hawaii, and two more on the Spanish island of Tenerife off the coast of West Africa—that sat trained on an F-type star, bigger and hotter than the sun, near the constellation Cygnus.

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Juno Jupiter Mystery

Posted: September 30, 2017 by oldbrew in solar system dynamics
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‘Scientists are puzzled’ as usual when actual evidence arrives, but that’s only to be expected. Not looking good for metallic hydrogen theory?

Acksblog

The Current State of JUNO

The lead scientist, Dr. Scott Bolton, admits essentially that Jupiter is not a gas giant, stating ” We’re seeing a lot of our ideas were incorrect and maybe naive.” (1)  Scientists are puzzled to see that the familiar striped cloud layers ‘may be’ only skin deep. These zones and belts either don’t exist or the Juno microwave instrument just isn’t sensitive to it. (2) The gravity experiment is not seeing a concentrated core at the center of the planet or a pure hydrogen interior, the two competing hypotheses, Dr. Bolton stated “and what we found was that neither are true.” Instead, the data suggests a ‘fuzzy’ core, with unexplained ‘anomalous masses’. (3) The enormously powerful ultraoviolet auroral ovals are imagined to be due to energetic particles descending around the poles, but what the Juno JEDI energetic particle detector has detected to date are streams of…

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They admit that “The exact origin of water in the lunar interior is still a big question”, as Phys.org reports. The article also points out that ‘The idea that the interior of the Moon is water-rich raises interesting questions about the Moon’s formation.’ Perhaps they are suggesting that some prevailing theories might no longer…er…hold water.

A new study of satellite data finds that numerous volcanic deposits distributed across the surface of the Moon contain unusually high amounts of trapped water compared with surrounding terrains.

The finding of water in these ancient deposits, which are believed to consist of glass beads formed by the explosive eruption of magma coming from the deep lunar interior, bolsters the idea that the lunar mantle is surprisingly water-rich.

Scientists had assumed for years that the interior of the Moon had been largely depleted of water and other volatile compounds.

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School destroyed by mud flow [image credit: Hugh e82 / Wikipedia]


Whether caused by the blowout of a natural gas well, a distant earthquake or something else, the Sidoarjo mud flow is the biggest of its kind in the world.

The world’s most destructive mud volcano was born near the town of Sidoarjo, on the island of Java, Indonesia, just over 11 years ago – and to this day it has not stopped erupting, as The Conversation explains.

The mud volcano known as Lusi started on May 29, 2006, and at its peak disgorged a staggering 180,000 cubic metres of mud every day, burying villages in mud up to 40 metres thick.

The worst event of its kind in recorded history, the eruption took 13 lives and destroyed the homes of 60,000 people. But although the mud is still flowing more than a decade later, scientists are not yet agreed on its cause.

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Ship of Fools III – scientist says in effect: “It’s warming Jim – but not as we know it.” Irony alert…

A global warming research study in Canada has been cancelled because of “unprecedented” thick summer ice, reports James Delingpole at Breitbart News. Naturally, the scientist in charge has blamed it on ‘climate change.’

According to Vice:
The study, entitled BaySys, is a $17-million four-year-long program headed by the University of Manitoba. It was planning to conduct the third leg of its research by sending 40 scientists from five Canadian universities out into the Bay on the Canadian Research Icebreaker CCGS Amundsen to study “contributions of climate change and regulation on the Hudson Bay system.”

But it had to be cancelled because the scientists’ icebreaker was required by the Canadian Coast Guard for a rather more urgent purpose – rescuing fishing boats and supply ships which had got stuck in the “unprecedented ice conditions”.

“It became clear to me very quickly that these weren’t just heavy ice conditions, these were unprecedented ice conditions,” Dr. David Barber, the lead scientist on the study, told VICE. “We were finding thick multi-year sea ice floes which on level ice were five metres thick… it was much, much thicker and much, much heavier than anything you would expect at that latitude and at that time of year.”

Clearly not one to let a crisis go to waste, Barber seized the opportunity to perform the usual alarmist clown dance for the media, explaining why this incident definitely shows that global warming is a major problem and deserving of our urgent attention.

Continued here.

Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, the largest astronomical project in the world –
Magellanic Clouds near top of image [credit: NASA / Ames]


It’s unimaginably vast: astronomers say ‘this structure is a 75,000 light-year long filament of gas and dust’. Trying to separate out the effects of gravity and magnetism here should be an interesting challenge.

A magnetic field appears to span the space between the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, the two dwarf galaxies being consumed by our Milky Way Galaxy, reports Sky & Telescope via Sott.net.

For stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s easy to forget that the Milky Way is actively consuming two dwarf galaxies. Those in the Southern Hemisphere have a front row seat to watch our galaxy wreak havoc on the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC).

But there’s more to the story — the dwarfs are not only gravitationally interacting with the Milky Way but with each other as well.

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The Lined Wolf

Let’s face it: KIC 8462852 (also Tabby’s Star or Boyajian’s Star) is a weird star. Since its unusual light variations were discovered by citizen scientists using data of NASA’s Kepler space telescope in September 2015 many, many things have been written by professional and amateur astronomers, science communicators and “searchers of mysteries”, as an interesting hypothesis about its behavior was that it could be signs of activity associated with intelligent extraterrestrial life constructing a Dyson swarm. Of course, this just run wild in general media, and many astronomers since them have been asked by journalist to talk about “Mysterious Tabby’s Star”.

In particular, this theme soon captured the attention of some of my friends at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC, Spain), as they weekly produce an amazing ~2h science communication podcast Coffee Break: Señal y Ruido (Signal to noise). I’m proud to participate in this podcast from…

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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 Phys.org 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.
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Despite confessing to being ‘baffled by clouds’, climate science and its media followers are still prone to assertions like ‘as the world warms’ – as though it’s bound to do so indefinitely.

Though we see them every day, clouds remain such a mystery to scientists that they are inhibiting climate change predictions. But a new atlas could be a game changer, thinks DW.COM.

Nothing beats a lazy afternoon sitting on the grass and watching the clouds roll by. These white fluffy friends can feel like a constant and comforting presence in life. And since the dawn of air travel, as folk singer Joni Mitchell once sang, we’ve looked at clouds from both sides now.

But as Mitchell cautioned, somewhow we still don’t know clouds at all. Her words were true in 1969, and they are still true today.
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Damage on a farm caused by the Kekerengu fault [image credit: GNS Science]


One scientist said of the Papatea fault: “You can call it bonkers; it’s certainly a real puzzle.”

The big earthquake that struck New Zealand last year may have been the most complex ever, say scientists.

November’s Magnitude 7.8 event ruptured a near-200km-long swathe of territory, shifting parts of NZ’s South Island 5m closer to North Island, reports BBC News.

Whole blocks of ground were buckled and lifted upwards, in places by up to 8m. Subsequent investigations have found that at least 12 separate faults broke during the quake, including some that had not previously been mapped.

Writing up its findings in the journal Science, an international team says the Kaikoura event, as it has become known, should prompt a rethink about how earthquakes are expected to behave in high-risk regions such as New Zealand.
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Alaskan aurora [image credit: NASA]


When they say ‘an as yet unknown driver is causing the problem’ they probably don’t mean a motorist 😉

The leading hypothesis used to explain why the aurora borealis and its southern hemisphere counterpart, the aurora australis, play havoc with global positioning systems has been knocked into a cocked hat, reports Sott.net.

The spectacular auroras are produced when gas particles in the earth’s atmosphere collide with charged particles emitted by the sun. The resulting plasma turbulence has long been assumed to be the reason that the phenomena interfere with Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS).

Now, research led by Biagio Forte of the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Bath in the UK has discovered that the predicted turbulence doesn’t actually exist, meaning that an as yet unknown driver is causing the problem.
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gr_prob
The research team thinks its results are ‘difficult to understand in terms of dark matter’, reports Phys.org. 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.
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[click on image to enlarge]

[click on image to enlarge]


Another one to add to the ‘how and why did they do that?’ list of ancient sites. Years of research lie ahead.

Imagine you are about to plan and construct a building that involves several complicated geometrical shapes, but you aren’t allowed to write down any numbers or notes as you do it. For most of us, this would be impossible.

Yet, new research from Arizona State University has revealed that the ancient Southwestern Pueblo people, who had no written language or written number system, were able to do just that – and used these skills to build sophisticated architectural complexes, reports Phys.org.

Dr. Sherry Towers, a professor with the ASU Simon A. Levin Mathematical, Computational and Modeling Sciences Center, uncovered these findings while spending several years studying the Sun Temple archaeological site in Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, constructed around A.D. 1200.

“The site is known to have been an important focus of ceremony in the region for the ancestral Pueblo peoples, including solstice observations,” Towers says. “My original interest in the site involved looking at whether it was used for observing stars as well.”

However, as Towers delved deeper into the site’s layout and architecture, interesting patterns began to emerge.
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Credit: airbus.com

Credit: airbus.com


The observed radiation surges seem to occur ‘at relatively high latitudes, well above 50 degrees in both hemispheres’. They suspect certain magnetic phenomena could be at work. Korean researchers may have found something similar occurring at middle latitudes.

A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Space Weather reports the discovery of radiation “clouds” at aviation altitudes. When airplanes fly through these clouds, dose rates of cosmic radiation normally absorbed by air travelers can double or more, reports Spaceweather.com.

“We have flown radiation sensors onboard 264 research flights at altitudes as high as 17.3 km (56,700 ft) from 2013 to 2017,” says Kent Tobiska, lead author of the paper and PI of the NASA-supported program Automated Radiation Measurements for Aerospace Safety (ARMAS). “On at least six occasions, our sensors have recorded surges in ionizing radiation that we interpret as analogous to localized clouds.”
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venus_atm
A wave from pole to pole in the cloud tops that doesn’t move – but then disappears? Another Venus conundrum emerges.

A massive, un-moving structure has been discovered in the upper atmosphere of Venus, reports the IB Times.

Scientists detected the feature with the Jaxa’s Akatsuki spacecraft and they believe it is some sort of gravity wave – although they do not understand how it ended up at the altitude of cloud tops.

The bow-shaped structure was first spotted in December 2015 and a team led by scientists from Rikkyo University in Japan were able to observe it over several days.

It measured 10,000km in length and was brighter and hotter than the surrounding atmosphere. When scientists attempted to observe it again a month later, it had disappeared. The team published their findings in the journal Nature Geoscience.
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Take that [credit: universetoday.com]

Take that [credit: universetoday.com]


It seems that there’s always another Moon theory, or variation of an existing one, in the pipeline and here’s one of the newest contenders. Each seems to have its own issues though.

The most widely accepted theory about how the Moon formed has been challenged, with scientists saying a series of large impacts – rather than one giant collision – created our natural satellite, reports the IB Times.

By running numerical simulations, researchers say the Earth being hit by several large planetary bodies would help explain why our planet and the Moon are largely composed of the same material – a problem that has plagued scientists for decades.

The giant impact Moon formation theory was first proposed in the mid-1970s. It says a Mars-sized protoplanet called Theia smashed into Earth around 4.5 billion years ago. The ejected material created a disk of debris, molten rock and gas that eventually condensed to form the Moon.

However, there is a big problem with this theory. If it was correct, the Moon’s composition should be a mix of both Earth and Theia. For this to happen, Theia would have had to be almost identical to Earth in terms of its composition, which is highly unlikely.
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