We’d probably make a mess out of Super Earths

November 12, 2012

Oh, what I wouldn’t give to go live on beautiful and aptly named HD 40307.

That, my friends is the name of the new Super Earth that was discovered in our own galaxy, not too far far away. It’s pretty slick. They (being relevant scientists) took a second look at a not too distant solar system which I believe was only known to have 3 planets. Now they’re discovered a few more, and one has the potential to be a super Earth, which to qualify have to have the right conditions for life, and….. well I think that’s pretty well it. Hopefully to qualify it doesn’t have to be inhabited by a bunch of idiots. And by bunch, I mean shitload… Did you WATCH that election last week? I was worried there for a bit.


This game just might be handy in the future

When I hear about stories like this, I tend to think of things that we don’t necessarily take for granted, but that we tend to forget about incredibly unique to our planet. Such as the 24-hour system! Just think how different life in general would be on a planet 7 times the size of Earth, and not necessarily the same distance from its star as Earth is from our Sun. Each day could be 72 (Earth) hours long, a year could be 3 (Earth) years, oohh the possibilities are endless! Taking a plane from one side of the planet to the other might be a 2-day trip! Well I guess everything would be kind of relative. I believe I read that they did detect (don’t ask me how) that HD 40307 could have a slight tilt, just like Earth, which means seasons! Faaantastic…. Months and months of winter, ooohh man! Again, all relative.

Sidenote, watched Prometheus last week, kind of like visiting another planet with possible humans on it…… meh, not bad. SPOILER = They turned out to fucking suck.

More Icelandic Boom Boom!!

April 15, 2010

I’m telling you, Iceland’s gonna go ooooffff!

The same volcano in Iceland, which for some reason doesn’t have a name, which erupted last month, is at it again!  It’s located in the Eyjafjallajoekull area, so we’ll just call it that… but not out loud, because that’s just ridiculous.

Unlike the last eruption, this one actually occurred under glacial ice, raising water levels in rivers by several metres before the eruption even began.  No casualties whatsoever, however quite a few villages had to be evacuated.

This isn't Iceland, but pretty cool, yeah?

But while this eruption is wreaking havoc for parts of Iceland, the stories in the news are concentrated elsewhere.  Again, unlike the last eruption, this one released tons and tons of volcanic ash into the air, and prevailing winds are smackin’ Europe in the face!!  Long story short, don’t get on that plane, yo!  Flights anywhere to and from most of Europe, are grounded because of all the ash flying about.

Why does this mess things up?  Well when most people think of ash, they think of the stuff left in firepits basically… wood ash.  Volcanic ash is a little different.  Think of it as smashing a window down to a dust, because that’s what volcanic ash is…. glass.

Getting fine glass sucked up into an engine just isn’t a good thing.  Haven’t you ever seen Dante’s Peak?!  Actually, however lame that movie is, scientifically it’s probably more accurate than any other volcano movie.  Except for no geologist looks like Pierce Brosnan…. except for me, I’m fucking dashing.

So for your enjoyment, here are pictures of me in geology action!:

Here I am getting ready to unload some samples...

Here I am questioning my career choices...

FIRE AND ICE!! The battle continues…

March 22, 2010

More geology!  And oh man, I do love volcanoes.  If you haven’t heard, Iceland’s been acting up, and it’s putting on quite the show.

Wicked shot of a the volcanic fissure that erupted near the Katla volcano in Iceland.

Iceland’s about to go off, I swear!  This tiny little country (only a population of over 200,000) is the most geologically active country on this non-stop action planet of ours.  The reason…?  The mid-atlantic ridge, where the North American and the Eurasian tectonics meet, and in this case, are being pushed apart.  The ‘push’ is cause my recycled magmatic material being pushed up along the mid-atlantic ridge, causing the plates to extend some 10’s of centimeters a year.  The fact that Iceland is directly on the ridge is the reason, you may have noticed, that this volcano occurs more along a ‘line’, other than the typical crater style volcano you see all over the place.  I’m not going to go into the differences, unless you ask, because it can get retarded.

However, I have noticed that on the CBC article, they refer to this volcano as a hot spot, which it definitely isn’t.  Alright, looks like I’m getting right back into this, shit it’s getting late.  A hot spot is defined as a volcanic event not related to any plate boundary activity… seeing as Iceland is right on a boundary, it’s not a hot spot.  The most famouse of hot spots…..?  Hawai’i…. take a look at where it lies, right smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, or geologically speaking, the Pacific Plate.  Ok really, I’ll stop…. if you actually want to know more, just comment on here, and I’ll lay it all out!!  Holy shit my brain is oofffffff, it took me an hour to figure out what I was writing… damn you TV!!!  Every time I look at it, I forget what I’m writing about, and now this entry is way too effing long.

Anyways, while this Icelandic eruption was relatively small, it’s causing a stir over whether it not it will be a precursor to a much larger eruption from the nearby Katla volcano, so I’ll keep you posted on what happens….. by flying over and camping out.  I watched the video below on mute, so I don’t know if there’s any chatter in there, I’m assuming there is… enjoy!

Earthquake in Haiti

January 14, 2010

As many of you may have heard, a fairly large earthquake devastated Haiti earlier this week.

The variables just didn’t work out for this, hitting an impoverished country such as Haiti, but the worst being that the epicenter of this earthquake was a measly 15km from Port-au-Prince, making the 7.0 magnitude quake all the more devastating.

USGS map showing epicenter of quake.

As mentioned, the main reason for such a disaster is the proximity to the epicenter, and taking a look at the tectonic plates around the globe, the Dominican Republic lies directly south of the plate boundary between the Caribbean and North America plates.  That is, the North American plate (correct me if I’m wrong) is subducting beneath the Caribbean plate, however the Caribbean plate is so small in relation because it itself is being subducted beneath the South American plate.  So basically it’s getting squeezed out and in millions and millions of years, will be completely subducted.

Simple map of the tectonic plates around the globe.

When people think of subduction zones, they’re pretty much thinking of a cut-and-dry scenario, where one plate goes under another, and that’s that.  However, depending on it’s orientation, there are several places along a plate boundary where they don’t meet head on, and you get what’s called ‘strike-slip’ faulting, where instead of one plate going underneath the other, they slide past.  Combine that with subduction, and you have an area like that in the Caribbean.  Eventually, the area that’s undergoing strike-slip will eventually subduct, but at the moment (geologically speaking), this small area slides past.  Now, even my explanation is pretty simple in relation to what’s really going on, but I’ll leave it at that.  Hopefully countries worldwide will come to the aid of the tiny nation of Haiti!

Below is a better picture of Haiti in relation to the plate boundary from Google Earth.

Google Earth image of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The red star is the epicenter of the quake, and the line to the north is the Caribbean-North American plate boundary. Click for hi-res photo.

Dubai: You’re just so crazy…!

January 11, 2010

I’ve been meaning to write about Dubai for probably the better part of a year now, but now so much has happened since then, that I can’t fit it all into one post!  So there’s going to have to be…. MORE THAN ONE!!

The Burj Dubai..... best Wi-Fi hotspot in town.

If you haven’t been following the news at all, the Burj Dubai finally opened it’s doors last week, officially becoming the tallest building in the world.  Now, I honestly don’t know how I feel about Dubai.  Here you have a city that, over the past decade, has built itself up into one of the greatest, and definitely expensive and posh, cities in the world, completely built on oil.  And while I’m not a big fan of such luxuries being created due to this, I can’t ignore the other side of the coin.  That is, that this bizarrely successful city presents a number of opportunities for the creative types to put their creations on the map.  The Burj Dubai being one of them.

The Burj Al Arab... your retirement wouldn't last 2 days.

The first being the Burj Al Arab, the famous ‘sail’ hotel off the coast of Dubai, becoming the first 7-star hotel in the world.  And it’s a hotel alright… I think I heard just to have lunch there (without booking a room) is somewhere in the range of $2500, which is freaking ridiculous, but so is Dubai itself.

To get an idea of just how huge the Burj Dubai tower is, the video below is a fly-by of the now famous building, which still blows my mind.

That’s about all for now, but maybe I’ll actually write about something interesting next time, who knows!

Chemistry gets awesomized!

September 16, 2009

Holy crap I hate chemistry… Doesn’t it suck when stupid profs ruin shit for you?  Yep, it happens…. But, I’m briefly interested in chemistry again!

A couple weeks ago, scientists photographed a single molecule for the first time, which I figured was pretty cool to begin with.  Then I realized that it was pretty intense, not thinking that chemistry, like much of science, is borderline still theory because many interactions or say, individual molecules, can’t be directly observed.  So this is kind of a big deal.

The first photographed molecule..... pentacene.

The first photographed molecule..... pentacene.

Why I think this is so incredible is because before this photograph, the structure of any molecule is ‘predicted’ using energy, repulsion, and interactive techniques of individual atoms to figure it out.  So, the fact that this picture turned out to be pretty much identical to the ball and stick model of a pentacene molecule predicted using the interactions between carbon and hydrogen atoms, is pretty incredible.

Now let’s see how it interacts with fire again…

The universe ‘explained’

August 24, 2009

First off, I have to excuse for the last couple posts… they’re basically pity posts.  I just haven’t found the time to finish off the ones I’ve started, then time flies and it becomes old news.

But fake apologies aside, this is pretty cool.  Obviously, the universe can never be explained, it can only be speculated upon.  This can be fun, but also frustrating at the same time  Fun because when you’re dealing with something like the entire universe, there’s so much potential for wondering how it was created that you can think of anything, and it would be plausible.  And frustrating because, you’ll never find out… But this video below is pretty wicked, and the woman easily explains all the theories that are out there about how the universe may have come to be, and what it actually is.

I do have to wonder about when they show the Earth, and they show an age of 6.77 billion years.  I’m not sure if there recording that as the age (because it’s really only 4.56Ba), or they’re trying to explain something else that I’m missing.  Someone figure it out for me!

I can see why the thought of multiple universes out there is appealing… it’s just effing cool… I dunno, you start thinking that there are other universes out there, then you’d start thinking about, hmmm, maybe they’re parallel universes, and then, oh man, what if there’s another me out there, and cut off jeans are still cool, so I’d be a total ladies man.  Not bad… But it does put things in perspective about our place in the universe… or universes… universi?  Not so much a question of if we’re just a blip in the cosmos, but more like how small of a blip, because we’re guaranteed to be only a blip.  Most likely smaller than we thought, which is pretty damn small.

But don’t worry my fellow blips!  Life still seems pretty big from down here, so there’s plenty of it for everyone… go enjoy!  Which is hard to say when you’re stuck in this damned airport going back to where you just came from because your flight’s been cancelled due to…. yes… lack of available aircraft.  Enough said…