MAGA with Russian weapons, eh?

The Trump Make America Great Again committee, which serves as the fundraising arm of the president’s campaign, ran the offending digital ad for several days last week. It shows armed soldiers silhouetted below three fighter jets and above the words “Support our Troops”, with a link to donate to the group’s coffers.

However, according to an aeronautical engineer quoted by Politico, the planes flying overhead are Russian MiG-29s; one of the soldiers, meanwhile, carries an AK-47. The image is a stock photo taken from Shutterstock.

Thanks, Raymond Koenig

What? Did you think the nutballs working for the Fake President’s re-election were any smarter, less ignorant, than he is?

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.

Your street – and your roof – may be polluting the air as much as your car

Extreme rising temperatures are known to increase the risk of environmental hazards like drought and wildfires. But new research published last week in Science Advances adds another danger to the list: extreme heat sends harmful emissions into the air courtesy of hot asphalt…The study, published by a team of Yale researchers, reveals that asphalt is likely an overlooked but major source of hazardous pollutants being released into the air.

“A main finding is that asphalt-related products emit substantial and diverse mixtures of organic compounds into the air, with a strong dependence on temperature and other environmental conditions,” says Peeyush Khare, a Yale chemical and environmental engineer and the lead author of the study…

On a typical summer day in Los Angeles, asphalt can reach to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. At this threshold, the asphalt will release a steady and significant stream of emissions. Under these conditions, scientists predict hot asphalt could become a long-lasting source of pollution…

Researchers estimated that in California’s South Coast Air Basin, the total amount of aerosols formed from hot asphalt emissions is comparable to those released by gas and diesel motor vehicles…

And in some environments, the pollution from asphalt can be higher than internal combustion engines powering our transport.

Strange happening on Mars [explained]

Devil Girl from Mars (1954)

The moons of Mars are not quite like our Earth’s Moon. Phobos, the larger of the two, is much closer to its planet; compared to the Moon’s 27-day orbit, Phobos swings around Mars in line with the planet’s equator thrice every Martian day (sol).

Solar eclipses, therefore, are much more frequent than those here on Earth. Phobos passes in front of – but never entirely covers – the Sun for an annular or partial eclipse somewhere on Mars most sols. Because Phobos is moving so fast, it never transits for more than 30 seconds…

To the surprise of Mars scientists, during Phobos eclipses, the lander’s seismometer – the instrument that records ground motions to monitor possible quake activity – tilts, just an infinitesimal little bit, towards one side.

Take a guess at why this occurs. Then, RTFA, and get the real scoop. [Cripes…I almost said “nitty-gritty”. How’s that for dating myself?]

Fake President’s Flotilla

A parade of boats in Texas celebrating their support for Donald Trump ended in disarray when multiple vessels got into trouble on apparently choppy waters leading to several sinking and a slew of distress calls.

Multiple media reports described a chaotic scene on Lake Travis, near the state capital of Austin, when a procession of boats waving Trump flags and banners motored over the waters but then got into potentially serious trouble.

About as well-organized, safe and sound, as anything bearing our Fake President’s name.

Sound of two black holes colliding

With a nod to Zen students.

“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.”

Douglas Adams, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” [originally a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978]

Dust devil…on Mars

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover spotted this dust devil with one of its Navigation Cameras on Aug. 9, 2020…Taken from the “Mary Anning” drill site, this dust devil appears to be passing through small hills just above Curiosity’s present location on Mount Sharp. The dust devil is approximately one-third to a half-mile away and estimated to be about 16 feet wide. The dust plume disappears past the top of the frame, so an exact height can’t be known, but it’s estimated to be at least 164 feet tall.

As we explore this tiny corner of our solar system, sometimes we discover new, sometimes we find same or similar. As someone with a basic understanding of what should be high school-level science…would know.

Don’t let air traffic distract you


The FBI will be investigating an incident that took place near Los Angeles International Airport after an American Airlines pilot reported seeing a mystery person in a jetpack flying in the path of incoming jets Sunday evening…

The American Airlines pilot reported via radio to the control tower seeing a “guy in a jetpack” as he was approaching LAX at about 3,000 feet and ten miles out for a landing. In the video on this story, you can listen to the actual call to the control tower.

Efforts to find out more from the pilot went nowhere…The FAA said they turned the report over to the LAPD for investigation, possibly trying to locate the person via a helicopter or ground patrol. The LAPD says they performed a flyover in the area but were not able to locate anyone that matched that description.

Looney Tunes is no longer just cartoons and short subjects in a movie theater. They’re walking the streets of LA. Flying above.