Supermoon

 

People usually get excited when there is scheduled date for the appearance of a supermoon, like today, December 3, 2017.

What makes it more fascinating is remembering some exceptional photos in the past where objects are pictured either superimposed over or juxtaposed with the seemingly oversized moon.

Alas, I saw the moon tonight and there was really nothing spectacular about it. There was nothing of the much heralded events like the blood moon, the black moon, the blue moon, the strawberry moon and the harvest moon, among others.

But let me just share with you the explanation of the science and origins behind some of these events that will let you decide whether they are worth late nights or early mornings of moongazing.

According to James Lattis, an astronomer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the supermoon is a made-up term, meaning it is not an astronomical term.

Supermoon was actually coined by an astrologer in the 1970s, not by a scientist. The term has come to loosely mean a full moon that is at perigee, or when the moon is at its closest position to Earth along its orbit.

Dr. Noah Petro, deputy project scientist for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, also explains that the supermoon really shines when it is compared with the full moon at apogee, or its farthest position from Earth. Placing images of the two side by side, according to him, you can see the difference more easily – the supermoon is 14 percent larger than the apogee full moon and 30 percent brighter.

On average, the moon is about 238,900 miles away from Earth. During supermoons it gets closer – in November 2016  when the moon was at its closest approach since 1948, it was approximately 221,524 miles away.

Astronomers measure the distance of the moon from Earth by shooting lasers to the surface of the moon, which then bounce off mirrors called retroreflectors, which were left behind by the Apollo missions and two Soviet landers.

 

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New species of orangutan discovered

 

An adult male Tapanuli orangutan in the Batang Toru Forest (Photo from National Geographic).

Far from being the Fosseys and Goodalls of this world, both leading primatologists, the discovery of a new species of orangutan, however, brings excitement to ordinary people, like me, who loves and gets immensely entertained by this kind-looking, playful and intelligent variety among the primates, who generally are considered one of humankind’s closest relatives.

Orangutans long were considered a single species, but were recognized as having two species in 1996, one in Sumatra (Pongo abelii) and one in Borneo ((Pongo pygmaeus).

(Photo by National Geographic)

The new species, called Pongo tapanuliensis, is found in the isolated Batang Toru forest in Sumatra, Indonesia. And it’s estimated that there are fewer than 800 of these shaggy reddish tree dwellers left, making it very vulnerable to extinction. It makes the new species also the rarest great ape on Earth. Note that the Sumatran (estimated 14,000) and Bornean (estimated 55,000) have both been declared as critically endangered.

Although the Tapanuli orangutans were thought to belong to the species Pongo abelii, also known as the Sumatran orangutan, scientists discovered that the new species is more closely related to its cousins in Borneo than to its fellow Sumatran apes.

But according to scientists there had been a few hints in their observation that the so-called Tapanuli orangutans were different. Previous research showed that this population of orangutans behaved differently than other orangutans and had some genetic differences. But it wasn’t clear whether those differences were enough to name a new species, thus, it continued to be identified as belonging to the Sumatran orangutan.

The tell tale signs of significant difference later came when researchers got access to the skeleton of an orangutan found in the Tapanuli region. The orangutan, named Raya, had died after being harassed and injured by people, according to National Geographic. A comparison between Raya’s skull and teeth and those of 33 other adult male orangutans revealed that there were enough differences to grant a new species designation.

Orangutan means “person of the forest” in the Indonesian and Malay languages, and it is the world’s biggest arboreal mammal. Orangutans are adapted to living in trees, with their arms longer than their legs. They live more solitary lives than other great apes, sleeping and eating fruit in the forest canopy and swinging from branch to branch.

“It’s pretty exciting to be able to describe a new great ape species in this day and age,” said University of Zurich evolutionary geneticist Michael Krützen, adding that most great apes species are listed as endangered or critically endangered.

“We must do everything possible to protect the habitats in which these magnificent animals occur, not only because of them, but also because of all the other animal and plant species that we can protect at the same time.”

Matthew Nowak, of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, echoed the same sentiment, saying, that “In addition to threats like hunting by humans, significant areas of the Tapanuli orangutan’s range are seriously threatened by habitat conversion for small-scale agriculture, mining exploration and exploitation, a large-scale hydroelectric scheme, geothermal development and agricultural plantations.”

Talking about collateral damage!

High hopes for the visually impaired

 

Like bats that use sound waves and echoes – a technique called echolocation – to capture prey and find food, a visually impaired person may soon find its way easily and safely by practically using the same technique as additional aid methods like the cane and walking dogs.

To echolocate, bats send out sound waves from their mouth or nose. When the sound waves hit an object they produce echoes. The echo bounces off the object and returns to the bat’s ears.

The active use of sonar (SOund Navigation And Ranging), which actually is the essence of echolocation, along with special morphological (physical features) and physiological adaptations – allows bats to “see” with sound.

Ars Technica, a website covering news and opinions in technology, science, politics and society, was quoted in an article in Newser, saying that a man who recently lost his vision has a new device, a wristband, which lets the visually impaired navigate via sonar, and could be “the Fitbit for the blind.”

He wristband, called Sunu Band, is a devise that emits a high-frequency sound wave that bounces off objects and back to the hand, where it is translated into vibration.

Fernando Albertorio, one of the co-creators of Sunu, said that one of his friends call the devise his “sixth sense.”

Albertorio, who is legally blind, has used the wristband to avoid objects while walking, find doorways, identity crosswalk buttons, and even run a 5K race. He says the “feeling of independence” is “amazing.”

The Sunu team hopes their invention changes how the visually impaired live. Albertorio says people who are blind can be afraid to go outside, but not only will Sunu help them move about safely it allows the visually impaired to “blend in and be part of their community,” unlike a traditional cane.

 

“Aliens” are coming

 

Bryant Johnson

This is definitely not fake news. This is authentic.

The only problem is that the news came from an overly boozed up man who was accused of public intoxication and detained later after he told police that he traveled from the year 2048 to warn mankind of an impending invasion by extraterrestrials.

After reeking of alcohol and speaking with slurred words about his out-of-this-world warning, Bryant Johnson, who is from Wyoming, was eventually transported peacefully to the Natrona County Detention Center.

Johnson informed the officers that he was able to travel through time because the aliens filled his body with alcohol. He also claimed he stood on a “giant pad” which then transported him to the year 2017 — though he said he was supposed to be sent to the year 2018.

According to the news, Johnson didn’t specify an exact date or time for the aliens’ arrival except to say that “the aliens were coming next year and we needed to make sure to leave as fast as possible.”

A joke? Maybe.

But the joke could be on us if and when all this turns out to be true!

Making Earth great again

Don’t be a sucker.

It is not really about making America great again for it is now, has always been and will always be.

But for America to continue being great and for the rest of the world community, including the third world countries, to experience peace and contentment, there is a need for humanity to respect and be thankful for what Earth has been to the population.

What I am just saying is that let us all take care of mother Earth and believe that our collective inattention to her for her continued usefulness is what is causing havoc everywhere in an unimaginable manner, shape and form.

There is a truism, saying, “We don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

We should all be embarrassed and conscience-stricken for the legacy we are leaving behind which could only be attributed to man’s folly.

But it is never too late.

We can still atone for our mistakes and strive hard to make Earth more friendly and great again.

To convince you that, indeed, Earth is our only home today, tomorrow and in ages to come, allow me to share this video with you.

Bill Maher uses colorful language, but he is funny and telling the truth.

The case of the shoelaces getting undone

 

You probably have experienced and been puzzled, one time or another, why after lacing your shoes it loosens up and gets undone when walking or running.

Apparently, a detailed study was made about this phenomenon by engineering researchers and they found out that there are separate forces that act on the knot and on the laces which causes them to unravel when in motion.

Accordingly, the researchers used a slow motion camera filming a person running on a treadmill to figure out how it could happen.

What they discovered was that the running foot exerts a force seven times greater when landing on the ground than the one exerted while standing, forcing the knot tying the laces to stretch and relax, loosening it slightly.

At the same time, they also found out that as the knot loosens, the swinging of the laces that occurs as the leg moves forwards and backwards causes an inertial force to be applied on the free ends of the laces, pulling the already-loosened knot apart.

The researchers have been able to observe, saying, “The forces that cause this are not from a person pulling on the free end but from the inertial forces of the leg swinging back and forth while the knot is loosened from the shoe repeatedly striking the ground.”

Adding weights to the loose ends of a swinging laces showed that they untied themselves more often, as the inertial forces on their ends were greater.

The study also found that, while some laces might be better than others for tying knots, they all suffered from the same fundamental cause of knot failure.

The study and findings finally answers the mystery that many have been silently asking themselves of why shoelaces come undone even as they think it was tightly knotted.

The universe and us

There is really nothing much of interest that I haven’t written happening in this country and if there are some that I missed or left out it is simply because it is not worth writing – lacking in significance as it is or hackneyed as they call it and corny and stale. Besides who would want to write about love affairs of politicians? So people will get titillated? C’mon!

But what I am sharing with you here is definitely interesting, as it is educational, and mind boggling as well.

The title and the video you are about to see is enough to make you ponder the significance (or insignificance) of our existence.

The scale of the universe is almost beyond our imagination.

The universe keeps expanding (at 42.5 miles per second per megapersec), and we constantly form new hypotheses about how it was created and what will happen next. Our farthest space probe from Earth, the Voyager 1, is traveling a million miles a day, and after nearly 40 years, has barely left our solar system.

It was only late last month that scientists peered 50 million light-years away to find an extremely rare globular cluster, with far more mass than the Sun, that could birth stars and help explain how galaxies form. There are so many secrets waiting to be unlocked out there in the vastness of space.

Here are some shocking comparisons about the size and scope of the universe that help put it in perspective. Beware: this video will shock you! (Source: http://www.revealthings.com)