Friday, October 22News That Matters

Tag: Earth

Sometimes Life Imitates Art. William Shatner Is Headed To Space With Blue Origin.

Sometimes Life Imitates Art. William Shatner Is Headed To Space With Blue Origin.

Technology
Mr. Branson and Mr. Bezos have made the billionaire space race more literal and personal, and often speak in dreamier language. Mr. Branson launched first, in July, and Mr. Bezos followed days later. Speaking “to all the kids down there” from the edge of space, Mr. Branson said, “if we can do this, just imagine what you can do.”Mr. Bezos, after landing, said simply, “Best day ever!”In front of assembled press, he made an attempt to convey a sense of collectivity, or at least humility. “I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all this,” he said. He was clearly moved, and his performance was earnest, but it also resulted in a backlash that, from perhaps any other perspective in the world, would have been easy to anticipate. “Amazon workers do...
NASA Says an Asteroid Will Have a Close Brush With Earth. But Not Until the 2100s.

NASA Says an Asteroid Will Have a Close Brush With Earth. But Not Until the 2100s.

Technology
An asteroid the size of the Empire State Building has a slight chance of hitting Earth.Don’t worry. You’ll long be dead before that has any chance of happening. So will your children. Probably all of your grandchildren, too.At a news conference on Wednesday, NASA scientists said there was a 1-in-1,750 chance that an asteroid named Bennu, which is a bit wider than the Empire State Building is tall, could collide with Earth between now and 2300.That is actually slightly higher than an earlier estimate of 1 in 2,700 over a shorter period, between now and 2200.“It’s not a significant change,” said Davide Farnocchia, a scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and lead author of a paper published in the journal Icarus. “I’m not any more concerned about Bennu than I was befor...
Finding the ‘Believers’ Who Will Remake a Damaged Earth

Finding the ‘Believers’ Who Will Remake a Damaged Earth

Technology, World
BELIEVERSMaking a Life at the End of the WorldBy Lisa Wells“Believers” is a young woman’s book of wandering at a time when our human footprint on earth matters more than ever. Lisa Wells follows a cast of unruly and colorful characters who believe their work on the land and with one another is a healing force. Sometimes it is, sometimes it misses the mark. Eccentrics, New Agers, old radicals, they struggle to go beyond what the essayist Adam Phillips calls the “nostalgia” of “apocalyptic thinking.” And this is the pull of Wells’s wanderings, both her false starts and satisfying journeys: She never loses sight of her inspired objective, to restore and revive what she refers to as “the promised land.”In Wells’s long introduction, she states that the “point of no return” is the background as ...
How the Moon ‘Wobble’ Affects Rising Tides and Flooding

How the Moon ‘Wobble’ Affects Rising Tides and Flooding

Technology
The moon also revolves around the Earth about once a month, and that orbit is a little bit tilted. To be more precise, the moon’s orbital plane around the Earth is at an approximate five-degree incline to the Earth’s orbital plane around the sun. (Here are a couple videos to illustrate this.)Because of that, the path of the moon’s orbit seems to fluctuate over time, completing a full cycle — sometimes referred to as a nodal cycle — every 18.6 years. “It happens on such a slow scale,” said Benjamin D. Hamlington, a co-author of the paper who leads the Sea Level Change Team at NASA. “I think ‘precession’ is a more specific word than wobble.”At certain points along the cycle, the moon’s gravitational pull comes from such an angle that it yanks one of the day’s two high tides a little bit high...
‘Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet’ Review: A Dire Warning

‘Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet’ Review: A Dire Warning

Technology, World
“Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet” is a documentary about the end of the world. It focuses on nine planetary thresholds, outlined by the Swedish scientist and environmental science professor Johan Rockstrom, which, if exceeded, will make life on Earth no longer sustainable. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, the perennial voice of the British nature doc, “Breaking Boundaries” is brimming with grim scientific insight and urgent cautionary pronouncements, but its style feels fussy and belabored — as if the end of the world were not dramatic enough. It’s hard to concentrate on land composition and vanishing biodiversity amid the barrage of bizarre visual effects and histrionic music.Streaming on Netflix, Jon Clay’s film presents a variety of credible talking heads to explain su...
Will the Next Space-Weather Season Be Stormy or Fair?

Will the Next Space-Weather Season Be Stormy or Fair?

Technology
The big news about the sun is that there is no big news. We are blessed, astronomers like to say, to be living next to a “boring star.”But the inhabitants (if there are any) of the planets orbiting the neighboring star Proxima Centauri, only 4.2 light-years away, are less fortunate. In April astronomers announced that a massive flare had erupted from its surface in 2019. For seven seconds, as a battery of telescopes on Earth and in space watched, the little star had increased its output of ultraviolet radiation 14,000-fold, in one of the most violent such flares ever seen in our galaxy.This was more than serious sunburn territory. “A human being on this planet would have a bad time,” said Meredith MacGregor, an astronomy professor at the University of Colorado who led the worldwide observi...
Super Blood Moon and Lunar Eclipse 2021

Super Blood Moon and Lunar Eclipse 2021

Technology
Australians were among those lucky enough to see it on Wednesday evening, a rare astronomical event marked by a dazzling array of sunset colors like red and burnt orange: a “super blood moon.”From Brazil to Alaska, California to Indonesia, people with the right view of the celestial phenomenon marveled as their moon, usually a predictable, pale, Swiss-cheese-like round in the sky, was transformed into a fierce, red giant. As one Twitter user, words failing, put it: “Man I’m in love with this urghhh.”The striking display was the result of two simultaneous phenomena: a supermoon (when the moon lines up closer than normal to our planet and appears to be bigger than usual), combined with a total lunar eclipse, or blood moon (when the moon sits directly in the Earth’s shadow and is struck by li...
When Is China’s Rocket Supposed to Fall?: Here’s What to Know

When Is China’s Rocket Supposed to Fall?: Here’s What to Know

Technology
A piece of China’s largest rocket is tumbling back to Earth this weekend. No one really knows when or where it will land.On April 29, a Long March 5B launched a big piece of China’s next space station, Tiangong. Usually the large booster stages of rockets immediately drop back to Earth after they are jettisoned, but the 23-ton core stage of Long March 5B accompanied the space station segment all the way to orbit. Because of friction caused by the rocket rubbing against air at the top of the atmosphere, it has been losing altitude since and will soon make what is called “uncontrolled re-entry” back to Earth.The chances that any debris from the Long March 5B rocket will strike anything or hurt anyone are slight but not zero.Here’s what you need to know about the Long March 5B’s journey.When ...
Lyrid Meteor Shower 2021: How to Watch

Lyrid Meteor Shower 2021: How to Watch

Technology
All year long as Earth revolves around the sun, it passes through streams of cosmic debris. The resulting meteor showers can light up night skies from dusk to dawn, and if you’re lucky you might be able to catch a glimpse.The next shower you might be able to see is known as the Lyrids. Active from April 14 to April 30, it is expected to be at its peak from Wednesday night into Thursday morning, or April 21 to 22.There are records from ancient Chinese astronomers spotting these bursts of light more than 2,700 years ago. They blaze through the sky at about 107,000 miles per hour and explode about 55 miles up in the planet’s atmosphere. This shower comes from Comet Thatcher, which journeys around the sun about every 415 years. Its last trip was in 1861 and its next rendezvous near the sun wil...