Spring is Here! The Vultures Have Returned #nature #birding #springday

turkey vulture in flight

A little fuzzy – I’m not the best photographer! But, here’s a vulture flying above my home.

I spotted the first turkey vulture. That’s how I know spring has come to my ridge-top home. I don’t count vultures in town, which is at a lower elevation. I wait until… Are you frowning? Skeptical? Spring is about cute little tweety birds, so why do I mark its arrival with a vulture?

The timing fits perfectly. Like most birds, vultures migrate seasonally. This can mean the northern population moves to where the southern population spent the summer, and depending on your location, looking out your window, you’d never know anything changed.

But for me, in the Gila Forest of New Mexico USA, turkey vultures disappear in fall and return right around the equinox. Our dry, windy season is starting too, and a few brave spring flowers poke through the dry grasses left from last year. Or cling to the ground – I mentioned the wind.

Hummingbirds fight at a feederOn April 1st I’ll put out my hummingbird feeder, ready to welcome the next major migration. Ah, you say. Cute, colorful, little hummers. That’s a bird for spring. But if you’ve ever watched them you know they are ferocious warriors. The vultures are a more even-tempered sign of spring.




2019 March Equinox #space #solarsystem #springequinox in Northern Hemisphere

It’s so cool to watch the cosmos right at your feet – here’s someone who did just that. Go to 2019 March Equinox  for the excellent slide show and watch the equinox arrive.

Wednesday March 20th is an equinox day… we spent the day at a Museum on the equator, Mitad del Mundo. I brought along my over-sized protractor knowing in advance that we would be at the museum. So at mid-day I had my wife stand on the equator (yellow line) and hold a string to the top of her head while Cathy, a sister of our exchange student, held the protractor. bobs-spaces.net


You Could Fly Like a Bird – Is That a Reason to Colonize a Frozen Moon? #NASA #planet #Saturn #moon

Titan - science fiction book cover

Titan’s a great place for science fiction, like my latest release. A cult thinks their colony will become paradise, but not if things keep going like this!

Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, has an atmosphere so dense and gravity so low, you could strap wings to your arms and fly like a bird.

That atmosphere will protect you from cosmic radiation too, and so from resulting cancer and brain damage, but  you can’t breathe it. There’s no oxygen. But even if there was, one breath would freeze your lungs. There is water ice, so if you had enough power you could electrolyze (electrolysize?) yourself some oxygen.

Titan is the only place besides Earth known to have liquids in the form of lakes and seas on its surface. These liquids are made of methane but, armed with the right kind of protective gear, one could theoretically be able to swim without harm! NASA’s Janelle Wellons futurism.com

Hmm… if you used oxygen to burn a stream of liquid methane from the plentiful lakes, could you generate enough electrical power to keep the cycle going and still produce heat and light for your habitat? Other chemical reactions might work better, like hydrogen/acetylene, or maybe turbines running on tides in the larger lakes. Saturn is so far from the sun that solar panels aren’t efficient, but there is sunlight. A sort of perpetual sunset – orange, thanks to the hydrocarbon haze.

True color image of atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan

True color image of atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan

For a research station, perhaps you could carry everything you need with you, but for a colony you’ll need resources. There’s plenty of hydrocarbon feed so expect everything possible to be made of plastic, but what about minerals and metals? Titan may have a rocky core, but it’s buried under ice hundreds of kilometers thick. Saturn’s not hopeful either. Its outer layers are hydrogen and helium, and if you dive very deep you’ll never get out again. Maybe you’ll find meteors and asteroids captured in the rings.

Good luck!

Life Always Surprises, Won’t Stay in Your Categories #biology #genetics #poem #poetry

Yoruba twin statues

The Yoruba have the highest twinning rate in the world, as reflected in this art, but still no sesquizygotic twins as far as western science knows.

Sesqui – zygotic
Makes babies most exotic.
Rarest people you could meet,
Their genes are quite quixotic.

Buckets you put words in
Are only there as stand-ins.
Cling to them
and fool yourself,
The word is not the thing.

Nature’s not confined
By what is in your mind.
When shadows dance in Plato’s cave,
Escape the chains that bind.

You’ll never force reality
Into the form you want to see.
The world is bigger,
Than claimed by you and me.

Kate Rauner

We humans are so invested in language, we sometimes forget that words are imperfect representations of reality. Like the words “male” and “female.”

The twins in Australia are 4 years old now… the second known case [of] ‘sesquizygotic twins’: not identical, but not fraternal either. They’re somewhere in between.

The twins are actually chimeras, meaning they both have a mix of XX and XY cells in their body, but in different proportions. The one who looks like a boy has an XX:XY mix of 47:53; the girl has a mix of 90:10. In the 2007 case [the first reported occurence], one of the twins actually had ambiguous genitalia, which is what tipped doctors off to something previously unknown about the twins. The Atlantic

Great eBook Deals – All Genres – Hurry – This Week Only (thru March 9, 2019) #ebook #ebooks #amreading

Try putting a hard cover book in your back pocketIt’s Read an eBook Week at Smashwords – load your reader now with great deals in all genres and read all summer 🙂

Of course, if you enjoy science fiction, you can’t beat my complete Colony on Mars set. All 5 books for $5, that’s 50% off.

science fiction book cover - Colony on Mars Complete Series by Kate Rauner

Farther, Colder, Darker Than Sun’s Other Planets, if it’s there… #poem #poetry #solarsystem #space #planet

Orbits of extreme trans-Neptunian objects

Orbits of extreme trans-Neptunian objects

Are objects in the Kuiper Belt
Clustering in truth?
Or is that simply how they seem
Because of how we sleuth?

Bias observational
May lead
analyses astray,
Create this Planet 9 that we
Hypothesize today.

If it’s there,
It’s far away,
And very hard to see,
And yet the theory’s testable
As theories
all must be.

Kate Rauner

There’s an intense international search underway. If Planet 9 is out there, far from the Sun, “it is the solar system’s missing link of planet formation. Over the last decade, surveys of extrasolar planets have revealed that similar-sized planets are very common around other sun-like stars. Planet 9 is going to be the closest thing we will find to a window into the properties of a typical planet of our galaxy.” phys.org Not that we’ll get a probe there anytime soon.

Screen shot from Plan 9 From Movie, Outer Space

I’m rhyming about Planet 9 in outer space, Not Plan 9 From Outer Space!

Opportunity’s End

I couldn’t resist sharing this one. Hahaha…

Planet Pailly

I’ve been asking around among some of my extraterrestrial friends.I have it on good authority that this is what happened to the Opportunity rover.

So please… nobody tell that kid about the big, fancy, new rover we’re sending to Mars next year.

View original post