Posts Tagged ‘baffled scientists’


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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Credit: cherishthescientist.net

Credit: cherishthescientist.net


We’ve ignored the early history and jumped in further on in this Space.com article about sunspots and the solar cycle. The astrophysicist author wonders if it will take another 400 years to figure out why the solar cycle (the period between magnetic reversals) is around 11 years on average. Maybe a few Talkshop posts could be helpful, dare we say?

What the heck was going on to cause these spots? In the early 1900s, a few key observations pointed astronomers and physicists in the right direction. For one, sunspot activity seemed to cycle every 11 years, from lots of sunspots to just a few-sunspots and back to lots of sunspots.

The cycle was even apparent during the weird “Maunder Minimum,” when there was very little activity in the 1600s (the term was coined much later). 

Then there’s the temperature. Sunspots look dark, but that’s only in comparison to the blazing solar surface around them; they’re cooler than the rest of the sun, but still ragingly hot in their own right.

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aliens1
Aliens might be the ‘Hollywood solution’ but those tend to be fictional. On the other hand, plausible explanations are elusive.

Astronomers may have to think a little harder to solve the mystery of Boyajian’s star reports Space.com.

In September 2015, Yale University’s Tabetha Boyajian and her colleagues reported that the star KIC 8462852 has dimmed dramatically multiple times over the past seven years, once by an astounding 22 percent. 

NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope spotted these dimming events. But the brightness dips of “Boyajian’s star,” as it has come to be known, were far too significant to be caused by an orbiting planet, so astronomers began thinking of alternative explanations.

Researchers have come up with many possible causes for the dimming, including a swarm of broken-apart comet fragments, variability in the activity of the star itself, a cloud of some sort in the interstellar medium between Kepler and Boyajian’s star, and, most famously, an orbiting “megastructure” built by an alien civilization to collect stellar energy.

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Where to find Proxima Centauri [credit: Wikipedia]

Where to find Proxima Centauri [credit: Wikipedia]


Co-author Jeremy Drake said: “The existence of a cycle in Proxima Centauri shows that we don’t understand how stars’ magnetic fields are generated as well as we thought we did.” Let the head-scratching begin.

Observations confirm that the closest star to our solar system has a regular magnetic cycle similar to our Sun, reports Sky & Telescope.

With the recent discovery of a potentially habitable planet around Proxima Centauri, astronomers have been studying this star with renewed fervor. Part of their attention focuses on the star’s behavior. M dwarfs are notorious for their flares, and such stellar tantrums could be deadly for budding life on nearby planets.

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Spiral galaxy NGC 5457 aka the Pinwheel Galaxy [image credit: European Space Agency & NASA]

Spiral galaxy NGC 5457 aka the Pinwheel Galaxy [image credit: European Space Agency & NASA]


One in the eye for dark matter theorists it seems, as Phys.org reports.

In the late 1970s, astronomers Vera Rubin and Albert Bosma independently found that spiral galaxies rotate at a nearly constant speed: the velocity of stars and gas inside a galaxy does not decrease with radius, as one would expect from Newton’s laws and the distribution of visible matter, but remains approximately constant.

Such ‘flat rotation curves’ are generally attributed to invisible, dark matter surrounding galaxies and providing additional gravitational attraction.

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This plot shows the QBO during the 1980s. [credit: Wikipedia / FU Berlin]

This plot shows the QBO during the 1980s. [credit: Wikipedia / FU Berlin]


Another climate mystery – this time the QBO – for scientists to get their teeth into, as the Mail Online reports.

For more than 60 years, atmospheric scientists have observed the consistent behaviour of a wind pattern known as the ‘quasi-biennial oscillation’ – a phenomenon that repeats every 28 months. But in late 2015, the long-reliable pattern suddenly changed. 

The winds have since returned to their normal course, and while no immediate effects were detected, astronomers are working to understand if this was just a one-time ‘black swan’ event, or a ‘canary in the coal mine’ signalling unseen conditions.

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Ah, natural variability – the curse of the fanatical warmist.
They don’t understand it and don’t want to believe it exists.
But it does, so they’ll have to put up with it.

NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

By Paul Homewood

image

http://dailycaller.com/2016/08/27/an-inconvenient-truth-few-signs-of-global-warming-in-antarctica/

From the Daily Caller:

Antarctica has confounded scientists, defying the dire predictions of scientists the South Pole would shrink and exacerbate sea level rise in the coming decades.

Climate models predicted Antarctic sea ice would shrink as the world warmed, and that warming would boost snowfall over the southern continent. Neither of those predictions have panned out, and now scientists say “natural variability” is overwhelming human-induced warming.

“Truth is, the science is complex, and that in most places and with most events, natural variability still plays a dominant role, and undoubtedly will continue to do so,” Chip Knappenberger, a climate scientist with the libertarian Cato Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“This applies to goings-on in Antarctica as well as in Louisiana,” Knappenberger said, referring to the recent flooding in Louisiana activists have already blamed global warming for.

What recent studies have shown is that…

View original post 856 more words

Aurora on Jupiter [image credit: NASA/ESA]

Aurora on Jupiter [image credit: NASA/ESA]


NASA’s Juno spacecraft is closing in on Jupiter. Here the Daily Mail Online reviews the project from a layman’s perspective. Plus we get some Hubble pics.

On Earth they produce mesmerising riots of colour that light up the night sky around the poles. But our planet is not the only world to enjoy stunning aurora – better known as the northern and southern lights.

Now scientists are hoping to unravel the secrets of the biggest such polar light show in our solar system by focusing their attention on Jupiter’s aurora.

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Gentoo penguins at Palmer Archipelago, off the Antarctic Peninsula [image credit: Liam Quinn / Wikipedia]

Gentoo penguins at Palmer Archipelago, off the Antarctic Peninsula [image credit: Liam Quinn / Wikipedia]


Looks like Antarctic climate warming scares have gone into a death spiral. What a shame after all those man-made attempts at doom and gloom, and harsh attacks on critics.
H/T GWPF

A group of scientists have just published a study that tries to explain why Antarctica isn’t warming as predicted, and its ice isn’t melting as climate models say it should be.

As Reuters reports, the researchers identified flows of cold, deep water as the primary reason our models are failing down there: A persistent chill in the ocean off Antarctica that defies the global warming blamed for melting Arctic ice at the other end of the planet is caused by cold waters welling up from the depths after hundreds of years, scientists said on Monday.

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credit: cgtrader

credit: cgtrader


This will have theorists scratching their heads.

The idea that the young Earth had a thicker atmosphere turns out to be wrong. New research from the University of Washington uses bubbles trapped in 2.7 billion-year-old rocks to show that air at that time exerted at most half the pressure of today’s atmosphere.

The results, published online May 9 in Nature Geoscience, reverse the commonly accepted idea that the early Earth had a thicker atmosphere to compensate for weaker sunlight.

The finding also has implications for which gases were in that atmosphere, and how biology and climate worked on the early planet.

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Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Cornell/SSI

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/Cornell/SSI

The text below is the caption to the graphics shown here, taken from a new Phys.org report. It gives some interesting insights into the physics of moons and sets some new puzzles for theorists.

This set of images from NASA’s Cassini mission shows how the gravitational pull of Saturn affects the amount of spray coming from jets at the active moon Enceladus. Enceladus has the most spray when it is farthest away from Saturn in its orbit (inset image on the left) and the least spray when it is closest to Saturn (inset image on the right).

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Ultraviolet image of Venus' clouds [credit: NASA]

Ultraviolet image of Venus’ clouds [credit: NASA]


Is it the cloud cover or the enormous atmospheric pressure at the surface that makes Venus hot? Whatever, it seems the poles are colder than Earth, and by a wide margin, as Astronomy.com reports. Models based on a ‘greenhouse effect’ weren’t expecting this.

Thanks to a thick layer of cloud cover trapping in heat, Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system, with temperatures boiling over at 850 degrees Fahrenheit (454 C). But in a study published last week in Nature Physics, the European Space Agency found something surprising at the planet’s poles: temperatures more frigid than anywhere on Earth.

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Intense X-ray flares thought to be caused by a black hole devouring a star [credit: NASA]

Intense X-ray flares thought to be caused by a black hole devouring a star
[credit: NASA]


The astronomers are reported to say such a ‘large-scale spin distribution has never been predicted by theories’. A professor states: “This is not obviously expected based on our current understanding of cosmology. It’s a bizarre finding.”

Deep radio imaging by researchers in the University of Cape Town and University of the Western Cape, in South Africa, has revealed that supermassive black holes in a region of the distant universe are all spinning out radio jets in the same direction – most likely a result of primordial mass fluctuations in the early universe.

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