Absolutely Amazing UFO But Not Why You Think #ufo #citizenscience #skeptic #video #ufos

A Chilean chopper spotted something unidentified on November 11, 2014, and the search for an explanation began.

If the object had a prosaic explanation, then you would certainly expect such a group of experts to be able to identify it—or at least provide a plausible explanation… CEFAA could not figure out what it was, and after two years they made an announcement declaring it a genuine unexplained phenomena. They released the video. csicop.org

That’s when something fascinating happened. Five days later, the case was solved. All the details of possibilities considered, rejected, and finally identified are here: the UFO involved persistent aerodynamic contrails and some incorrect assumptions made in the original investigation.

A group of experts could not identify this UFO after two years of study. So how could a few people on the Internet possibly figure it out in five days? Because while no panel of experts can possibly include an expert in everything – the internet can and does. Remember that, and remember that assume is spelled ass-u-me: Assume makes an ass out of you and me.

Gravity Fights Dark Energy, Expanding Space the Winner #physics #quantumphysics #science #poem #poetry

NASA’s detailed, all-sky picture of the infant universe reveals 13.77 billion year old temperature fluctuations (shown as color differences) that grew into galaxies.

Where space holds no matter,
There vacuum is the void.
Where you expect there’s nothing,
Instead there’s quantum’s ploy.

Dark energy that causes
A strange propensity
Is driven by the vacuum
Decreasing density,
With vast immensity
It dissipates the energy,
But retains the mystery
Of quantum gravity –
The structure of space-time.

By Kate Rauner

2nd edition now available! Expanded!

Thanks to livescience.com and a new study published in the May 15 issue of the journal Physical Review D. I don’t have the math to speak quantum physics, and it still boggles my mind. Gravity – the only one of the four basic forces I have an intuitive feel for – refuses to fit into theoretical physics. But if gravity is the shape of space-time, then it’s not a force at all? Is it?

Find new science-inspired poetry on my blog here, about every other post, or in one of my collections.

Weight Loss Surgery Works – Not Why You Think – This is What Happens When #weightloss #health #diet

Overweight and ready to take action?

Every year nearly 200,000 Americans opt for a more extreme, old-fashioned solution: surgery. Physically altering the size and shape of the stomach. wired.com

But it may be that drastically chopping up your gut makes the lasting change by rearranging your internal bacteria.

You, and every human being, are a zoo of microbes – on your skin and inside your body. I’ve seen estimates that four pounds of your body weight isn’t you at all – it’s your resident flora and fauna. One of the things they do is secret hormones that supplement what your human organs provide.

You can’t yet buy a supplement that would place weight-loss bacteria into your unaltered gut, and most of those “as seen on TV” products are hooey. But “the end goal is to come up with a probiotic that can be used to enhance weight loss instead of surgery,” and it may be possible.

Wouldn’t that be nice? Or, at least, interesting? Like Alice’s mushroom, if one side makes you smaller will you need another to make you bigger?


Fire Season #poem #poetry #firefighter

Firefighter by Charles White

Sawmill, Arizona,
Was a target practice start.
At West Mims Fire in Georgia,
There lightning played a part.

All before the summer
Begins Memorial Day,
Before the weekend warriors
Come to the woods to play.

When living in a city
You look for weekend gigs.
Or if you’re in suburbia,
Fast food jobs are big.

But in the rural places,
In forests dry or desert low,
It’s during fire season
That you make extra dough.

By Kate Rauner

R&R 1 2nd edition ebook coverMy spouse was barely home long enough to clean and repair his gear – now gone to the Baca Prescribed Burn – hoping to remove accumulated fuel so wildfires don’t turn deadly. You bloom where you’re planted! In you live on a shore, you fish and swim and maybe get a boat. In a city, I suppose there are clubs and entertainments. But in rural America you hunt, go 4-wheeling – and learn wildland firefighting.

Visit my blog for a new poem, every-other-post (about) or try one of my collections – rhyming poems for fun, inspired by science. And a few haiku too.

Is Perception Reality? #psychology #science #education #WW2 #history

There’s a lot of discussion these days about how media influences people – both real and fake news. I ran across an interesting example that predates our current political mess by decades: Mad Gasser of Mattoon in 1944

Mrs. Kearney and Daughter First Victims
Both Recover; Robber Fails to Get Into Home

Even for a newspaper, that’s a lot of assumptions: first, that these were only the “first” victims; second, that the prowler was using some sort of anesthetic; and third, that he was a robber. But it was enough. Within days, several more people called police saying that they too had been attacked by the prowler they read about in the newspaper. Their stories were published in the paper on September 5, owing to no publications on Sunday and the Labor Day holiday.

And that’s when the real melee began.



[Then] the character of the newspaper reports changed dramatically. The headlines became: THE MANHUNT FOR MR. NOBODY

And as soon as that became the tone, suddenly there were zero more police reports. skeptoid.com

No residue of gas or lasting symptoms were observed, no gas is known to cause all the symptoms reported, and no prowler was ever caught – though there is an anecdotal suggestion that the initial attack could have been real.

In 1945 the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology published one research article on the Mad Gasser.

Comparing newspaper space in square inches to the number of reports showed a very apparent causal effect. If the morning newspapers dedicated more space to the Gasser, more reports came in that day. And the Mad Gasser was as silent as the newspapers during that initial 2-day Labor Day publishing break.

The Mad Gasser of Mattoon became one of the most famous case studies in mass hysteria. skeptoid.com

A tense and fearful public was primed during wartime to believe with little evidence.

Consider Americans today, reading and viewing stories over and over, day after day. Maybe a single story gets repeated a dozen times – it feels as if it happened a dozen times.

As individuals zero in on fewer outlets, they get caught in the echo chamber of their own fears, hopes, and biases. Depending on which rabbit hole each of us chooses to fall down, we end up in living in different worlds. With so much media available, one outlet abandoning a debunked story has little affect.

No one can save us from ourselves.

Podcast of Berserk, a Norse Fantasy #podcast #scifi #fantasy #shortstories

A short read from my new collection is coming to audio! Listen to the June 14th podcast of 600 Second Saga – episodes go live at 6pm CST US.

Eirik takes his first voyage with a Norse raiding party. He admires and fears the berserker warriors who lead them into battle, but the magic that makes them invincible is not what he expected.

Can’t wait? Read Eirik’s story and more – short stories, flash and microfiction, and excerpts from my Mars colony series. Available now on Amazon

There are plenty of short science fiction and fantasy pieces on 600 Second Saga, so visit today. Perfect for a break during your day, or anytime.

And watch this blog for a reminder when Berserk goes live.

Sometimes Astronomy is Jaw Dropping – maybe all the time #astronomy #space #exoplanet #astrophysics #spacetelescope #NASA

That’s the star – dead center. Looks a lot like any other star in visible light.

Astronomers have spotted water vapor and evidence of exotic clouds in the atmosphere of an alien planet [HAT-P-26b]… about 430 light-years away from Earth. space.com

How’d they do that!?

Sing, Wakeford and their colleagues analyzed observations made by NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes when HAT-P-26b crossed its parent star’s face from the telescopes’ perspectives. The planet’s atmosphere filtered out certain wavelengths of starlight during these “transits,” allowing the study team to identify some of the molecules swirling in HAT-P-26b’s air.

I have to wonder how many photons that passed through HAT-P-26b’s atmosphere made it to Earth – to capture and analyze that tiny amount of data is awesome. The planet’s atmosphere is mostly hydrogen and helium, but it’s the trace elements that are most fascinating. The planet doesn’t fit the pattern we see in our own solar system regarding planet size, distance for the star, and composition.

There’s so much to learn, and our tiny sample size of one solar system isn’t nearly enough to figure it all out. If you’re wondering what difference it makes – well, it won’t change what I eat for breakfast tomorrow. I’ve never regretted learning something, even if it didn’t put a penny in my pocket. If we don’t look up at the stars how will we ever get out of the mud?

Here’s one description based on HAT-P-26b’s atmospheric composition to marvel at as you look up.

This would be a very alien sky… you’d see a kind of scattery, washed-out, gray sky.

Of course, when working on the edge of detection it’s easy to get things wrong. But a staggering amount of data is rolling in, many researchers are busy, and even more amazing telescopes are in the works – hypotheses will turn into theories.

It’s only getting better.

PS: Oddly enough, I had trouble finding an easy source to tell me where in Earth’s sky HAT-P-26b’s star is located – not that I expect to see it with my eyes, but it seems like a fun thing to know. I think I found the coordinates: RA = 14:12:37.5, DE = +04:03:36. Those are the coordinates I used to get the image above. And according to my trusty W. Tirion Sky Atlas 2000.0, that puts it in the constellation of Virgo. But I’m a bit rusty – can anyone confirm or correct me?