NOAA-NASA Satellite Image
I look at maps frequently and at length. I find them fascinating. Aerial images also appeal to me, because they have a map-like quality. Among those that have intrigued me are images of Earth showing lights at night. I came upon a new one to me recently and am sharing it here, in case others might has a similar interest.
I snagged this image from a section of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Web site devoted to the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite. Interested readers can go to the page called “Our Earth at night” to read lots more, but here’s a snippet to explain a bit.
Political pundits are second in line after the politicians themselves in putting spin on political poll data to make those data sound as if they support a particular interpretation. But there is another class of analysts who do not prognisticate. Instead, they simply examine the data and tell what those data show at this time.
Nate Silver of the New York (NY) Times has gotten a lot of publicity recently for his versions of this sort of work, but there are several others who are doing similar work (and to me, some are maybe even better, but let’s not argue about that right now). These people aggregate data from the polls (and, in many cases, other sources of evidence) to arrive at statistically dispassionate estimates of the situation. They don’t use hunches about momentum, ad-buys, and so forth. They follow the data.
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a blog about marine debris chocked full of interesting entries. As are many other agencies, NOAA is using social media extensively (e.g., see the Facebook page for its Office of Exploration and Research, the Vimeo shows for its Climate Program Office, and, of course, its own Twitter feed and weather information on its own YouTube channel), but the marine debris blog is a bit unique. It has a voice of its own. It’s focused, friendly, informative, and entertaining. It’s a good use of my tax dollars.
Bob Carroll announced that he’s completed his latest project, a Skeptic’s Dictionary for Kids, in his weekly newsletter dated 7 August 2011. In the newsletter he explained why he took on this new complement to his massive and long-standing Skeptic’s Dictionary:
I wrote the SD for Kids to promote science and scientific skepticism among young people. I haven’t seen anything else like it on the Web or in print. I was encouraged to do an SD for kids by one big person who thinks kids deserve an SD of their own and by some little people who are already questioning some of their teacher’s beliefs. My 12-year-old consultant took down from her parents’ bookshelf a copy of The Skeptic’s Dictionary to look up “astrology” after her teacher told her class that she believed the stars and planets affect who we are and what happens to us. My consultant thought my writing was a bit obtuse. OK. She said “hard” and “too long.” My 10-year-old consultant wanted more pictures. He especially wanted to see a picture of Area 51, which was mentioned in some movie he saw. He wanted to know more about aliens and UFOs, too.
Mr. Carroll recommends SD for Kids for children ages nine and older and suggest that they start with the about pages and the introduction to scientific reasoning. It’s all at http://sd4kids.skepdic.com/
Amid the concern about diminishing sea ice extent in the Arctic Ocean, and there’s plenty of concern to go around, came a report adding to that unease: An announcement from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center indicates that the sea ice extent averaged only a little over 3.06 million square miles during the July 2011, down more than 80,000 square miles below the low that was recorded in 2007. Apparently, weather patterns have changed in the last couple of weeks, but the overall effect is still dramatic.
In “The 5 Worst Promoters of Nonsense,” the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF) announced this year’s awards to folks who promote misleading, dubious and sometimes downright disingenuous ideas and products—essentially, pitching poop.
The foundation calls these awards “Pigasus Awards” and refers to them as “a Dubious Honor for Dubious Claims.” Its Web site continues, “The Pigasus Awards have been bestowed on the most deserving charlatans, swindlers, psychics, pseudo-scientists, and faith healers—and on their credulous enablers, too. The awards are named for both the mythical flying horse Pegasus of Greek mythology and the highly improbable flying pig of popular cliche.”
Here is a list of the awardees for this year:
That venerable green group, the Nature Conservancy (TNC), is taking crowd sourcing on an interesting mission. On its Web site, there is a request that readers research the source of drinking water for US localities and submit the results to a TNC project. TNC has recommendations for tracking down the info on water sources, a multimedia feature showing images and such about the places (63 cities as of this writing) where people have submitted info about water sources, and an interactive map from which one can select those that have been submitted (yes neighbors, C’ville is already marked, of course; TNC has an outpost in the gracious hinterlands here).
Link to the Nature Conservancy’s Where Does Your Water Come From? Is your locality listed? When we lived out in North Garden, our water source was very local; we didn’t share it with anyone.
Jonas Salk, the medical researcher who developed the first safe and effective polio vaccine in the early 1950s, was born in New York City on this day in 1914. His scientific work on the creation of the polio vaccine was important not only because it addressed a great clinical need, but also because it applied a previously unused technique—killed virus in a vaccine. What is more, because it occurred at a time of rapid progress in mass communications (TV was just becoming commmonplace), the news of the scientific developments spread nearly instantly and Dr. Salk attained great celebrity.
As a young child I remember the stir about the vaccine, discussions of the live and dead virus, eggs, polio, iron lungs, swimming pool water, and on and on. And, of course, I remember getting vaccinated. Before the vaccine, I have a vague sense that maybe some child at the edges of my peer group may have gotten polio and disappeared into the shadows. But the rest of us stood in lines at the armory. Maybe a second or third dose was in the form of a sugar cube?
Anyway, hats off too Dr. Salk and the many others who have worked so diligently to develop preventive vaccines and to immunize populations.
I see from a search of the 350.org site that there is now a second event planned for 10-10-10 WHICH IS TOMORROW! Some folks near Crozet will be flagging 350 trees to be left standing during mowing and bush-hogging operations, thus helping to develop natural CO2-scrubbing systems for the future.
Scurry on over to http://www.350.org/ to learn more.
It seems sort of fitting that in this season of the announcements of the Nobel prizes, it’s the birth day of a Nobel Laureate, Niels Bohr. Born in 1885 in Copenhagen, Denmark, Niels Henrik David Bohr became a professor and director of an institute of theoretical physics by age 33. Professor Bohr received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922 “for his services in the investigation of the structure of atoms and of the radiation emanating from them” (Nobel Prize citation). He was also the first recipient of another award because, in the judgment of the trustees of a foundation established to administer the Atoms for Peace Award, he was “among the world’s scientists, engineers, and others who… had made the greatest contribution to the development of peaceful uses of atomic energy” (Guide to Atoms for Peace Award Records). According to the Wikipedia entry about him, Professor Bohr was apparently a pretty fair footballer (soccer player) too. Professor Bohr’s son, Aage N. Bohr, also was a Nobel Laureate in Physics (1975).