Spotted on GM Test Track

Seeing Porsche’s most capable EV wearing Michigan manufacturer plates and lapping GM’s test track adds fuel to the rumor that GM could be spinning off the Corvette nameplate as its own brand, with an all-electric sedan and SUV. 

The rumor…suggests the two Corvette-branded EVs could launch by 2025 using an 800-volt architecture, a two-speed transmission, brake-by-wire, four-wheel steering, and torque vectoring. None of this has been confirmed by GM, of course.


Previously noted…I’m a gearhead!

I sort of murmur my way around hill and dale, leaving the 6,000+ foot altitude of our La Cieneguilla neighborhood, going into town in Santa Fe or…more likely…off into “hills” or mountains in beautiful northern New Mexico.

My usual ride is my beloved Hemi-powered Ram Pickmeup. Speedo stopped working several years ago at around 225,000 miles. Mostly garaged, now.

The all-purpose family ride nowadays is Helen’s Ford Maverick. Also an eye-stopper…and nigh unto impossible to buy. Not certain if they’re even running a waiting list, anymore. Prolly ran out of ink and paper roll.

So, why the photo of that coupe up top? End of an era, folks. The sort of toy I enjoyed for decades. Not that I resent the quiet riots starting to leave electro-fabs in Detroit and elsewhere. I’m too old, now, to start learning new tricks. Though, I relish the additions that computer geeks will be able to slip past spies who used to rely on removing gas caps to sniff for secret sauce.

The first evidence of “cosmological coupling”

Researchers have uncovered the first evidence of “cosmological coupling” — a newly predicted phenomenon in Einstein’s theory of gravity, possible only when black holes are placed inside an evolving universe.

The researchers studied supermassive black holes at the heart of ancient and dormant galaxies to develop a description of them that agrees with observations from the past decade.

Their findings are published in two articles, one in The Astrophysical Journal and the other in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The first study found that these black holes gain mass over billions of years in a way that can’t easily be explained by standard galaxy and black hole processes, such as mergers or accretion of gas.

According to the second paper, the growth in mass of these black holes matches predictions for black holes that not only cosmologically couple, but also enclose vacuum energy—material that results from squeezing matter as much as possible without breaking Einstein’s equations, thus avoiding a singularity.

With singularities removed, the paper then shows that the combined vacuum energy of black holes produced in the deaths of the universe’s first stars agrees with the measured quantity of dark energy in our universe.

Wish I had sufficient lifespan available to start all over again. Studies, acquiring knowledge enough to join the scientific circles key to this sort of research. Fascinating stuff!

“Turn off all the lights” in our solar system. There’s still light leftover!

The night sky may appear like an inky black canvas, but astronomers are still attempting to answer the questions: “how dark can the night sky get?” and “will there be any light leftover after that?”

It’s not exactly possible, or advisable, to go across the cosmos turning out the lights in the form of the sun, other stars, or distant galaxies, so a team of researchers did the next best thing…They went through a whopping 200,000 images collected by the Hubble Space Telescope, systematically making measurements to account for the light from our solar system in order to hunt for any background glow that remains and is thus from an unknown source. The work was carried out as part of an initiative called “SKYSURF.”…

The discovery is similar to turning out all the lights in your room, drawing the curtains, shuttering the windows, and still observing a ghostly glow filling the room…

Not to worry though; there’s definitely a scientific explanation for this eerie leftover glow. The team may have been surprised by this spooky solar system glow, but they have a few ideas about its origins.

For geeks like me, half the fun remaining after finding a question like this one…is learning the answer.

Has Earth’s Inner Core Shifted It’s Spin-Cycle…Again?

Thousands of kilometres beneath your feet, Earth’s interior might be doing something very weird. Many scientists think that the inner core spins faster than the rest of the planet — but sometime in the past decade, according to a study, it apparently stopped doing so…

“We were quite surprised,” say Yi Yang and Xiaodong Song, seismologists at Peking University in Beijing who reported the findings today [January 23rd] in Nature Geoscience.

The results could help to shine light on the many mysteries of the deep Earth, including what part the inner core plays in maintaining the planet’s magnetic field and in affecting the speed of the whole planet’s rotation — and thus the length of a day. But they are just the latest instalment in a long-running effort to explain the inner core’s unusual rotation, and might not be the final word on the matter…

Researchers discovered the inner core in 1936, after studying how seismic waves from earthquakes travel through the planet. Changes in the speed of the waves revealed that the planet’s core, which is about 7,000 kilometres wide, consists of a solid centre, made mostly of iron, inside a shell of liquid iron and other elements. As iron from the outer core crystallizes on the surface of the inner core, it changes the density of the outer liquid, driving churning motions that maintain Earth’s magnetic field…

Now, Yang and Song say that the inner core has halted its spin relative to the mantle. They studied earthquakes mostly from between 1995 and 2021, and found that the inner core’s super-rotation had stopped around 2009. They observed the change at various points around the globe, which the researchers say confirms it is a true planet-wide phenomenon related to core rotation, and not just a local change on the inner core’s surface.

Now, we ALL can feel unsteady on our feet.

Understanding How Atmospheric Rivers Control Most of Earth’s Precipitation

The rain currently pummeling coastal California is relieving parched crops. It’s also a nuisance that’s delaying flights, uprooting trees, and causing devastating flooding.

Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are to blame. These regions of humid air flow from the tropics into colder climates as strong winds, and condense when they encounter mountains. The warm air rises and cools over elevated land, forming clouds that dump rain and snow onto the earth below. ARs originate in the tropics because warm air holds more moisture.

“Atmospheric rivers are literally rivers in the sky, the rivers of water vapor that transport massive amounts of water in the atmosphere,” Marty Ralph, a hydrometeorologist, tells Popular Mechanics…To predict precipitation over the West Coast, Ralph and a co-researcher began studying atmospheric rivers. “We’re essentially measuring the atmospheric river itself over the ocean,” Ralph says. “We need to know the vertical details of the AR and [analyze] the lowest 10,000 feet.” Very little data exists on this region, because clouds tend to block ARs from a satellite’s view.

So, Air Force planes do the job; they fly into atmospheric rivers, dropping 10–12 little sensors that are about the size of a Coke can and equipped with parachutes. As they descend, the sensors measure temperature, pressure, wind, and moisture, and then communicate that data back to the airplane via radio. Next, the airplane sends the data via satellite to “a big bucket of weather data that weather prediction models around the world draw from to start the next forecast,” Ralph explains.

Meteorology has advanced so much in recent decades. It boggles the mind. Though there remains insufficient connections between informed professionals and a public which might live a safer, more productive life with more information available…in understandable form.

Maverick Notes

Our Maverick continues to perform beyond expectations.

I was reluctant about getting a hybrid – preferring to wait for an affordable and available full-electric vehicle. Helen had done a better job of research than I had. That was certain. Most of my reading, R&T test drives, etc. left me convinced these hybrids were mostly limited to electric performance only below 20-25mph. Our Mav usually runs all the way up to 45mph (or a tad more) before blending in the ICE (infernal combustion engine). Consequently the dash readout for mileage at the end of any trip – mostly local stuff – like, today, for example, read out at 70+mpg. And even that varies greatly whether going to town (more uphill) or returning home (more downhill).

I can live with that any time.

Part, certainly, is Helen’s skill at feeling how much she can put her foot into it or stay feathering. She has the touch and delights in reading out the numbers after 20 or 30 miles of errand-running for our wholly-retired household. 70mpg or more isn’t unusual. Stops at our friendly neighborhood filling station are a lot more rare than my father-in-law or I make with our RAM pickups. Even though his is a turbodiesel-powered critter.

I’m now convinced another critical part of this equation is Ford’s software engineers. They’ve built-in acres more flexibility than I’ve read about in anyone’s test drives of competing iron. That allows for easily maintaining whatever cruising speed Helen wants. Not a lot of shifting forth-and-back between power sources. The “blending” is clean and virtually unnoticeable.

I’ve been remiss about taking pictures of our new Mav. It lives in the garage until we go out somewhere and I keep forgetting to take a photo when we get get wherever we’re going. Or even to just get my butt back out and take a quick snap in the driveway. Ours is cactus gray. The photo up top is supposed to be cactus gray – lifted from DuckDuckGo. Tomorrow morning is grocery day and I’ll try to remember to take a couple pictures with my iPhone.

Ukraine’s nuclear power base quickly returning to capacity

All nuclear power plants that are located in the government-controlled territory of Ukraine are already connected to the power system. In 1-2 days it will be possible to return to scheduled power outages instead of emergency ones.

“Now the energy system is fully integrated, all regions are connected. It is again connected to the energy system of the European Union… All three nuclear power plants located in the unoccupied territory are working… In 1-2 days, they will reach their normal planned capacity, and we expect that it will be possible to return to scheduled power outages instead of emergency ones,” Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, CEO of Ukrenergo national energy company, said during the nationwide telethon on Thursday evening.

As a result of the November 23 attack, Ukraine lost a significant part of electricity generation at various types of power plants: nuclear, thermal, and hydroelectric, he noted.

I tend to take note of incidents like this in wartime. Mostly because most educated nations in the broad West/East ensemble rely much more on nuclear power generation of electricity than the “advanced” USA. We’re at 20%. Nations like France [for example] are up to 70%.

Everything we’re told we should worry about have been dealt with generations ago…elsewhere…satisfactorily.