Discovery of phosphine in Venus’ atmosphere could be sign of life


James Clerk Maxwell Telescope…1 of 2 used to detect phosphine on Venus

With phosphine in mind, an international team of researchers used two ground-based telescopes — the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array in Chile — to search for any possible signatures of phosphine in Venus’ atmosphere. Sure enough, they found the gas at a concentration of five to 20 parts per billion in the atmosphere. That’s a lot when you compare it to how much is found on Earth, where the gas is concentrated in parts per trillion and parts per quadrillion. “That is all very much evidence pushing towards this exotic explanation of something replenishing it and something making it at large quantities,” says Clara Sousa-Silva…

If the phosphine detection is confirmed, then people will set to work figuring out where it’s coming from. It may turn out that life isn’t even the best explanation. The phosphine may have been found in clouds with moderate temperatures, but the area is still a ghastly place for life to survive, even for the hardiest of microorganisms. “There’s nothing definitive saying it is biology,” Rakesh Mogul, a biological chemist at California State Polytechnic University focusing on extreme microbial life, who is not involved in the study, tells The Verge. “There’s still a lot of unknowns. And it’s nice to put biology as the answer, but really, as scientists, we need to back it up and make sure we exhaustively study all the other possibilities.”

Nice to see scientists in charge of this information gathering and analysis. Imagine the hullabaloo if our politicians had authority over this research.

Mapping drone sent to a watery grave by a Bald Eagle

An Upper Peninsula bald eagle launched an airborne attack on a drone operated by a Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) pilot last month, tearing off a propeller and sending the aircraft to the bottom of Lake Michigan.

The brazen eagle vs. EGLE onslaught took place near Escanaba in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on July 21 when EGLE environmental quality analyst and drone pilot Hunter King was mapping shoreline erosion for use in the agency’s efforts to document and help communities cope with high water levels.

King was watching his video screen as the drone beelined for home, but suddenly it began twirling furiously. “It was like a really bad rollercoaster ride,” said King. When he looked up, the drone was gone, and an eagle was flying away. A nearby couple, whose pastimes include watching the local eagles attack seagulls and other birds, later confirmed they saw the eagle strike something but were surprised to learn it was a drone. Both King and the couple said the eagle appeared uninjured as it flew from the scene of the crime.

The eagle was fine. Rescue expeditions failed to find the EGLE.

Fox with a foot fetish


Christian Meyer via Twitter

For Christian Meyer, it wasn’t so much about what the fox said but what the fox may have stolen. A resident of the Berlin neighborhood of Zehlendorf, in late July, Meyer made the shocking discovery of 100 pairs of stolen footwear after he had followed a thieving fox to its hideout…

Meyer caught the furry fiend in the midst of stealing a pair of blue flip-flops but was unable to see the investigation through. Then, days later, he spotted the thieving fox again. Meyer followed the animal into the woods, presumably headed toward its hideout.

Dedicated to solving the mystery of the locals’ missing shoes, Meyer followed the fox through the woods where he spent about an hour crawling around the brush in pursuit of the four-legged bandit. Luckily, Meyer’s perseverance paid off: the fox led him to a stash of more than 100 pairs of shoes.

All reasonably clever critters have their own tweaks, I guess. Shoes ain’t one of mine, though.

“Unique” corona shape?

Read this blog often enough over this summer, you know I love the numbers of Osha in our meadows here in Northern New Mexico. I also get a chuckle when I see articles about the shape of the coronavirus being unique. In nature in general, not so unique. Whether you’re enjoying the scent of Osha on a sunrise walk or – for that matter – fishing from a coastal breakwater and catching a spiny Pufferfish. :-]

And the world will live as one…

I changed my walk schedule today – to summertime time because it almost feels like spring is summer, today. Put on my Mister Robot hat and headphones over it to keep it from blowing away in the afternoon gusty winds. Except they were gusty early evening winds, tonight. Because summertime walks move my last couple of fence line laps to just before sunset. It’s cooler than late afternoon has become.

Didn’t pay any mind of what playlist came up or what followed what. So, I ended my walking, tonight, with tears. For the past and for some day, no doubt, I will not live long enough to see.


Click to run 1971

The coronavirus is killing more men than women in the US

Kaedrea Jackson has noticed something peculiar during her shifts inside the emergency department at Mount Sinai Morningside hospital…“It seems there are more men coming in with really severe illness,” said Jackson, an emergency physician. “In general, I’ve seen more male patients. And when they do come in, they are at a sicker state.”

Coronavirus data reported by more than a dozen states and the nation’s largest city support Jackson’s experience. In most states, slightly more women are getting infected than men. But of more than 3,600 deaths in 13 states and New York City that report fatalities by gender, the majority of victims are men.

The disproportionate toll of the virus appears to have deep biological roots. An emerging body of research has revealed that women’s bodies are better at fighting off infection, thanks to the hormones in their systems and the genes on their two X chromosomes.

Scientists say these differences may partly explain why men have been hit hardest by the covid-19 pandemic. And they may provide a vital clue in the search for a cure.

RTFA for more detail. Some of which just adds more variables, obscuring a conclusion. Some is useful – in my mind’s eye, anyway.

My first reaction flows strictly from evolution. Women are mothers, the final resource of our species. I would hope that nature succeeds at keeping us around, healthy, in secure numbers. Even if we seem to be spending much of recent history trying to wipe ourselves out.