Gravitational Waves keep rocking all of Astrophysics

❝ Cast your mind back four years, and gravitational waves were the talk of the town. On September 14, 2015, the first detection of these ripples in space-time was made by the LIGO-Virgo collaboration, revealed months later to deserved global fanfare. Now with the fourth anniversary of that discovery approaching, the field has matured dramatically with dozens of subsequent detections made—and the prospect of even more thrilling discoveries on the horizon…

❝ Including that first discovery, a total of 23 confirmed gravitational-wave detections have been made to date across three observing runs. Within those, 20 have been black hole mergers, two have been neutron star mergers, and one is the suspected first known instance of a merger between a black hole and a neutron star. Each has been exciting in its own right, but the sheer volume of detections—moving from one a month to nearly one a week, thanks to upgrades to LIGO in 2018 and 2019 that improved its sensitivity—is hugely impressive…Thanks to that explosive growth, remarkable progress is being made across multiple subdisciplines of astrophysics.

RTFA. Learn a bit more about another window opening in our view of the universe we live in.

Still dumb, still self-destructive


Getty Images

❝ Dr. John E. Parker was working at a West Virginia hospital in 2015 when a 31-year-old female patient was admitted with acute respiratory problems. A team of doctors ultimately suspected that her mysterious case of lipoid pneumonia might be related to vaping and weren’t sure they had seen anything like it before. They were intrigued enough to present the case report — a type of medical paper on unusual or provocative patient findings. Such reports can serve as a call to the medical community to be on the lookout, though they sometimes raise more questions than they provide answers.

❝ This summer, almost four years later, federal officials began investigating a national outbreak of severe lung illnesses linked to vaping that has struck more than 150 patients in 16 states…

❝ We really felt that it wasn’t going to be a one-off event and that it was what we usually called in public health a “sentinel” health event … that it was an example of a respiratory illness that can be caused by this exposure and that it probably wasn’t the first case ever seen nor would it be the last…

❝ I know we’ve seen a case [of alveolar hemorrhage syndrome] that we published, and in polling some colleagues we think we’ve probably also seen [cases of] cryptogenic organizing pneumonia as well as lipoid pneumonia and acute eosinophilic pneumonia. Yeah, we’ve certainly seen at least probably four forms of lung disease from vaping.

Interesting chronology of medical researchers discovering ailments from recreational, addictive foolishness. The medical community will continue to sort out deaths and impairment — while politicians and the government bodies chartered to preserve health sit around, twiddle their thumbs and do nothing for years.

Listen to the heartbeat of a stone spire near Moab

❝ Castleton Tower is one of many culturally significant desert rock formations that Jeff Moore, a geologist, and his team at the Geohazards research group at the University of Utah have been monitoring with audio recordings. Like a doctor listening to the beating of a human heart, they hope to learn about the structural health of these arches, bridges and towers and how their environments affect them…

❝ …Castleton Tower taps into the earth’s natural vibrations, finding that it pulsates at about the rate of a human heartbeat.

Way cool. Makes you want to lean up against this critter and listen…even if all you get to hear is the wind.

Fire cloud — up close


Click to enlargeNOAA/NASA

❝ On August 8, 2019, a team of atmospheric scientists got an exceedingly rare look at fire clouds as they were forming. NASA’s DC-8 flying laboratory passed directly through a large pyrocumulonimbus that day as it was rising from a fire in eastern Washington. The flight was part of a joint NOAA and NASA field campaign called FIREX-AQ. Scientists are studying the composition and chemistry of smoke to better understand its impact on air quality and climate…

❝ The photograph above, shot from roughly 30,000 feet (9 kilometers), shows the setting Sun shining through thick smoke at 8 p.m. Mountain Time. Particles in the smoke reflect light in ways that make the Sun appear orange…

The flight was the most detailed sampling of a pyrocumulonimbus in history, explained Peterson. A second research aircraft flew over the plume a few hours earlier in the day, and mobile labs on the ground also made detailed measurements.

Amazing photos. Quality and timing should offer useful analysis, learning for future events and their global effect.

Abortion Bans Based on So-Called “Science” Are Fraudulent

❝ We are scientists, and we believe that evidence, not ideology, should inform health care decisions. The wave of anti-abortion laws across the U.S. is the latest in a long string of attempts to falsely use the language and authority of science to justify denying people their basic human rights and inflict lasting harm. Although abortion is still legal in every state, recent legislation in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio threatens the future of abortion rights in the country. Scientists should, first and foremost, value evidence, and the evidence is clear: abortion bans cause harm. They make abortions less safe and especially harm historically marginalized communities…

❝ So-called heartbeat bills, which ban abortion as early as after six weeks of pregnancy, are not based on science. In fact, no heart yet exists in an embryo at six weeks. Yet six states and counting enacted such bills in 2019, in addition to Alabama’s near-total ban. Equally unscientific “abortion reversal” laws are also gaining traction. These laws, now on the books in eight states, require doctors to tell patients receiving a medication abortion, a safe and effective way to end an early pregnancy, that it can be reversed halfway through to save their pregnancy.

Not only is this law bad science, it is actively dangerous. The idea of abortion reversal is based on a single study of six participants that was (poorly) conducted without an ethics review board. The so-called abortion reversal procedure is experimental and has neither been clinically tested nor approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

❝ Both heartbeat bills and abortion reversal laws have been opposed by leading medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Real doctors, real scientists, don’t rely on ancient myths and legends to advance the health and welfare of our species. A primary reason they have success rate scores enormously higher than superstitious mumbo-jumbo.

The Climate Has Already Changed

❝ The Washington Post…published a massive, interactive feature on the effects of climate change in the United States, headlining the story by promising to illustrate the corners of the country that are warming fastest as the effects of a century’s worth of carbon emissions take hold.

❝ Climate change doesn’t warm the globe equally, according to the article, and some parts of the Lower 48 have already crossed the critical threshold of a 2 degrees Celsius temperature increase.

❝ “Today, more than 1 in 10 Americans — 34 million people — are living in rapidly heating regions, including New York City and Los Angeles. Seventy-one counties have already hit the 2-degree Celsius mark,” according to the article. Alaska is the fastest-warming state in the country. Rhode Island has already crossed the 2 degrees Celsius mark. New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, and Massachusetts are close. The article includes an searchable graphic that produces the increase in temperature for U.S. counties.

If you’re still catching a free peek at the POST, more power to you. Retirees managing their resources tight enough to maybe live as long as they’d like to…are more pennywise than that. Here’s a link to the Washington POST article. As more folk quote it – it will become available in widespread fashion. Sounds like a good one.