keep up with astrophysics news
and improve your cultural literacy 
.... now in its 7th year
 
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last updated:  1 a
m  October 17, 2019

October guide to the bright planets   or the   This Week's Sky-at-a-glance



solar system


stars

exoplanets
(and ET life)

galaxies &
cosmology


relativity, quantum, & particle physics

cultural
literacy

teaching/education,
science & tech

late October 2019



Whence the ice at the Moon's south pole?
(Earth & Sky)
multiple sources?
multiple ages?






🔥 
yes, there is a  climate crisis 🔥




how we know the planet is warming
the big picture


The climate crisis
(The Guardian)
the most important
story to be covered


The 4 worst countries on climate
(American Prospect)
the U.S., China, Russia, & Saudi Arabia
worst-behaving and least-prepared for consequences


environment

$12 trillion and counting: the cost of the world's broken food system
(Nature)








Physical cosmology was overdue for a Nobel Prize
(Starts with a Bang)

Avoiding (thinking about) wormholes
(Forbes)
since they don't exist




read with caution

Dark matter and the nightmare of
nonlinearity

(BackReaction)

Incoherence and
incompetence

(Washington Post)
in the White House


Lucky that American nuclear bombs are still in Turkey
(New Republic)
not


American workers

It's back to The Jungle
(New Republic)
in the meat industry
'The Jungle' of Sinclair Lewis fame


It's not the robots. it's the oligarchs
(American Prospect)
coming for our jobs


Why GM workers are on strike
(HuffPost)
it's not complicated:
corporate greed



Survival of the fittest cells
(Nature)
the secret battles fought inside your body


Boosting inclusivity in the Nobels
(Nature)
after this year's science prizes are all won by men


The first all-female spacewalk
(Earth & Sky)
Friday, 10/18/19,
7:50 EDT
watch it here
with Christina (Hammock) Koch, NCSSM '97


bad tech

Google continues to support climate deniers
(The Guardian)




limited time?  read the most important stories from  early October 2019:


1)  2019 Nobel Prizes

exoplanets & cosmology; lithium batteries;
how cells use and adapt to oxygen


2)  American inequality grows

and so does whining by the rich


3)  a variety of climate solutions

will we choose any of them?


4) does the universe still make sense?  Hubble constant, again 

a cosmic controversies conference doesn't make much news


5)  Dems debate.....  Trump destroys


6) physics teaching enters a new era?


7)  bad tech gets worse

colleges spy on applicants with hidden cookies

Fbook allows lying in political ads



8)  is it really OK to eat meat?





early October 2019


2I/Borisov: making
Oumuamua look weirder

(Science News)

but it's like the solar system's comets
(Astronomy)


Preparing for a CME
(Neurologica)
a coronal mass ejection is inevitable


nearly life?

"We found life on Mars in 1976"
(Scientific American)
in the Viking labeled-release experiment


New organic compounds found in Enceladus' ice grains
(Earth & Sky)
are ingredients of amino acids


& nearly water

Sutton Island: a former oasis on Mars
(Earth & Sky)
found by Curiosity



Nirgal Vallis: running water
and a lake

(ESA)
found by Mars Express


--------------------

20 newly-discovered moons for Saturn

(Astronomy)
now with 82, more
than Jupiter


How did water get on Earth?
(Scientific American)
it's still comets vs. asteroids
the never-ending question




🔥 
yes, there is a  climate crisis 🔥




how we know the planet is warming
the big picture

How fast will seas rise?
(Science)
a dying Greenland glacier holds the clues
read it while it's still free


Where Earth stores its carbon
(Science News)
mostly in the mantle

but beware of asteroid impacts


measuring climate change

Frozen into the Arctic
(Scientific American)
to study climate change



Dramatic glacier melt in Peru
(Earth & Sky)


Radical warming in Siberia
(Washington Post)


An island breaks up with Antarctica
(NY Times)
is this global warming unhinged or just the normal flow of things?


Some NC birds in trouble due to global warming
(Raleigh N&O)


climate solutions

The economic case for taking on global warming now
(Vox)
unfortunately, the author's attempt at an attention-grabbing title demeans the actual story -- and not for the first time


The problem with net-zero emissions targets
(Carbon Brief)
they need to be net-negative
instead


How millennials are killing climate-change denial
(Inverse)


What you can do for burned Amazon forests
(Smithsonian)
give up hamburgers; donate $5 to Amazon conservation



The climate problem: it's not just cars
(Vox)
low-carbon steel and concrete
options are scarce & expensive


Do we have the carbon tax backwards?
(Anthropocene)

published article:
Declining CO2 price paths
(PNAS)


Living in a geo- engineered world
(Gizmodo)

Is geoengineering worth the risk?

(Science News)


Why climate change won't be solved by individuals
(Areo)
only by voting for people who will reduce emissions
but that shouldn't prevent individuals from doing their share



The most effective
climate tax

(EPFL)
for Switzerland
lessons for the US?



Where to buy 'Impossible Foods' and 'Beyond Meat'
(Vox)


climate disasters

The worst human side of fossil fuel extraction
(Scientific American)
violence against and trafficking of Native women


--------------------

A detailed map of
auto emissions for every road in America

(NY Times)
find your metro area

in Durham-CH, emissions up 74% since 1990


Plastic waste is
everywhere

(Vox)
in grocery stores
can/will  we get rid of it?



Why does Duke Energy get to be a monopoly?
(Raleigh N&O)


Uncertainty in the solar opacities?
(EOS)


Are magnetars the result of stellar mergers?
(Astronomy)

published article
(Nature)
paywall



Are pulsars responsible for too much antimatter?
(AAS Nova)
hitting Earth in cosmic rays




Are repeating FRBs neutron-starquakes?

(New Scientist)


The matter of molecules
(Scientific American)


Tidal disruption of a star by a black hole
(Sky & Telescope)
10,000x rarer than a supernova
with a short simulation


When black holes shred sun-like stars
(AAS Nova)
a short summary




What keeps stars from eating their newly-born planets
(Max Planck)


Why just being in the habitable zone doesn't make an exoplanet livable
(Science News)


What we can learn from hot Jupiters
(Smithsonian)


An exoplanet that orbits in 18 hours
(Universe Today)
a new record


The giant planet orbiting a dwarf star
(Earth & Sky)



ET

Intelligent ways to search for extraterrestrial life
(New Yorker)


Are we prepared to discover extraterrestrial life?
(Seth Shostak, NBC)


The most suitable galaxies for life?

(Discover)
large spirals and dwarfs with high metal content

Has the universe stopped making sense?
(LiveScience)
yes, H0, again

and with a nice Ωm-H0 constraint diagram

pre-reviewed
paper
(arXiv)
by Katie Mack et al., NCSU


who gives intro talk at next NC-AAPT meeting
@NCSSM, Nov14-15


Milky Way:
galaxy kidnapper

(UC Riverside)


Milky Way:
gas raider

(Hubble)


Did universe's structure grow from the top down -- or from the bottom up?
(Starts with a Bang)
spoiler alert:
some of both


but SMBHs stunt dwarf galaxies'  growth
(UC Riverside)


Cosmic Controversies
conference

(U Chicago)
October 5 - 8
program
and
videos:
day 1: panel on esolution of the H0 discrepancy

day 2: panel on explanation of cosmic acceleration

day 3: panel on explanation of dark matter

day 4: panel on what we can learn about cosmology from particle physics


A galaxy's size and SMBH-mass are correlated
(Astronomy)
how they grow in size together


3.5 Myr ago, the
Milky Way's center exploded

(Earth & Sky)
and it lasted for 0.3 Myr



How the cosmic web fuels the growth of galaxies and SMBHs
(RIKEN)

a 3-D view
(Science News)


Probing a galaxy's halo via an FRB
(Sky & Telescope)
the halo is 'calmer' than expected
low turbulence & magnetization;
thin gas content?



The violent history of Andromeda
(phys.org via ANU)
multiple bouts of galactic cannibalism


The violent history of the Milky Way

(Astrobites)
from a sausage to a splash -- a head-on crash 10 Gyrs ago


Massive galaxies in the early universe
(Physics Today, October 2019 issue)
hiding in plain sight

Can the neutrino's tiny mass solve big mysteries?
(Quanta)
or not


Discovery of hidden info in the Hall effect constant?
(Gizmodo)
but discussable in an intro physics class?
uh, no.


published paper
(Nature)
free to read, but not to save



7 more black-hole-merger candidates found by not-LIGO
(Sky & Telescope)
LIGO silent
of course


But is it science?
(Aeon)
Jim Baggott on separating real science from pseudodscience
(viz., multiverse crap)



and Sabine Hossenfelder on the same in particle physics
(BackReaction)

and Do we need a more powerful particle collider?
(Inside Science)



2000-atom olioporphyrins placed in quantum superposition
(Scientific American)
but writers should stop saying that the molecule was in 2 places at once!... that's nonsense!


read-only published paper
(Nature Physics)


IceCube neutrino traced back to
BL Lac object

(Max Planck)

more details
(IceCube)



The hunt for useful quantum computers
(Nature)
beyond quantum supremacy


10-cubit register breaks new ground in quantum computing
(Physics World)



read with caution

The tantalum crystal that mimics an some axion properties
(Gizmodo)
but no, we're not closer to finding dark matter


What the quark?
(New Scientist)
why quarks may not exist
paywall


read with disbelief

Looking for a wormhole through the Milky Way SMBH

(Scientific American)




Dem debate #12
takeaways


Vox
winners: Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg;
losers: Gabbard, Biden


Washington Post
winners: Warren, Sanders, Klobuchar;
losers: Biden, Steyer


Politico
winners: Buttigieg, Samders, Warren, Klobuchar
fading: Biden



NY Times
stood out: Buttigieg, Klobuchar;
reassuring: Sanders, Warren;
uneven: Biden



Dems continue to
defend the American empire

(The Intercept)


but the debates -- and the Dem primary  --  is now a sideshow
(The Atlantic)


and then there were 5?
(New York)
is Joe Biden one of them?

------------------

 What Dan McCready learned in losing NC-9
(NY TImes)
lead with values;
promote common- sense policies; don't give up on rurals



A Nobel for poverty-fighting (economics)
science

(Science News)
when did economics become a science?


Columbus Day

Who really discovered
America?
(ZME Science)
not Columbus


Columbus Day: a whitewashed  history
(USA Today)

Indigenous peoples and Columbus Day

(Smithsonian)


American inequality

Consequences of Americans not sharing a common lived experience
(Washington Post)
are not good


We should tax our way to equality
(NY Times)
not the other way 'round, which is what we're currently doing


How American CEOs got so rich
(Vox)
stock buy-backs aren't the only way


the perils of being rich

Yes, billionaires pay lower taxes than the rest of us
(NY Times)

for the first time ever
(Washington Post)
billionaires pay a lower tax rate than the working class


The triumph of injustice
(Washington Post)
the richest Americans paid the lowest tax rate of any other income group
and yet they want more (tax cuts)


Why the IRS audits poor people more than the rich
(ProPublica)
it's cheaper & easier


and now the rich want our pity, too
(NY Times)

-------------------------

Why Trump voters stick with him
(NY Times)
unexpectedly revealing
or maybe not?


or
Why Republicans  aren't turning on Trump
(The Atlantic)


All the President's crimes
(The Intercept)
a collection


the damning texts
(Vox)
explained


'the smoking texts'
(Politico)

------------------

Inside story at the border war
(NY Times)
'shoot them in the legs"
... moats with snakes & alligators, electrified fences, and much more


Baseball: does it matter if no one sits in the seats?
(NY Times)
or afford to?



Jamal Khashoggi
(Washington Post)
one year later


A missing voice,
a growing chorus

His final seconds

1 year later, Saudi clampdown still exists

Still owed justice
(NY Times)

Where is justice for Yemen?

undone by the
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
(PBS Frontline,
2-hr documentary)


------------------

books

Deep State
(NY Times)
how the FBI made a mess of the 2016 election


2 new books confront climate change:

On Fire
by Naomi Klein

The Green New Deal
by Jeremy Rifkin


travel/art/museums

Where is da Vinci's
Salvator Mundi?

(The Guardian)
a no-show for
the Louvre exhibit?



William Blake at the Tate Modern
(The Guardian)
is not my idea of art

Kamchatka
(NY Times)
wildlife & volcanoes


The Bungle Bungles
(The Atlantic)
a photo tour of the beehive domes of western Australia


The true cost of being a teacher
(Vox)
94% of U.S. teachers spend their own money on  their classrooms
7 teachers on what they buy and how much it costs


science

2019 Nobel Prize
winners

Physics

James Peebles for 'physical cosmology'
and
Maynor & Queloz for 'exoplanet discoveries'

press release

New perspectives on our place in the universe
popular info

advanced scientific background
cosmology:
pp. 1 - 14
exoplanets:
pp. 15  - 24


The 3 exoplanet encyclopedias


from France

from NASA Goddard

from NASA IPAC
why does NASA need 2?

-------------------

Chemistry

Goodenough, Whittingham, & Yoshino for development of lithium batteries
press release  developing


the world's most powerful batteries

popular info

advanced scientific background



Quanta comments

How lithium batteries work
(How Stuff Works)
in multi parts


-------------------

Medicine

Kaelin, Ratclifffe, & Semenza
for how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability
press release

advanced scientific background

------------------

Nobel Prize, misc.


Humans, humility, and Nobel Prizes

(Washington Post)
there are more things, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy...



2019 Nobel Prize predictions for the sciences
(Inside Science)
goes 1 for 3



What wins a Nobel Prize
(Chemistry World)
the data behind 100 years of prizes


Should the press be covering the Nobel Prize?
(Ars Technica)


the biggest injustice in NP history
(Starts with a Bang)

------------------

other science

Copernicium is strange
(Science)
element 112

as its P.T.- predecessor mercury


The danger of a single study
(Undark)
exoplanets & life



Lab-made primordial soup yields RNA bases
(Nature)
support for RNA-world?



(some) Pigs conquer tools
(Vox)


Woolly mammoths' last stand?
(Earth & Sky)
on Wrangell Island



Federal attack on government science research reaches breaking point
(Gizmodo)


China: how science made a superpower
(Nature)


Simplest parking strategies
(J Statistical Mechanics)
just the math, please
paywall


Language and the brain
(Science)
a special issue
entirely paywalled,
of course



Abdus Salaam, the first ****** Nobel Prize winner
(Netflix)
in Physics (1979)

a review
(Physics World)


9 things parents should do to raise successful kids
(INC via getpocket)


nearly science

Infinities, equalities & equivalences
(Quanta)


anti-science

Mark Meadows (NC-R) and the dinosaur caper
(New Yorker)

-------------------

College students just want normal libraries

(The Atlantic)
it's glitz vs. physical texts


teaching

Teaching Physics for tomorrow
(Physics Today, October 2019 issue)
equipping students to change the world



The coming revolution in physics education
(
Physics Teacher,
October 2019 issue)
paywall



Teaching at the university level should not be a hassle
(Nature)
if it is, perhaps you shouldn't be at university


Paying for your neighbors' kids' Christian indoctrination
(The Atlantic)

-----------------------

diet and health

A new theory of obesity
(Scientific American,
October 2019 issue)
it's the processed food


Red meat is now OK?
(NY Times)
but mixed messages aren't ok



Is eating beef healthy?
(Vox)
or not harmful?



The actual reason meat is not healthy
(The Atlantic)


In defense of meat: we're all gonna die sometime
(Reason)
who knew there was right-wing take on meat?

-------------------


bad tech

Colleges hide tracking cookies on applicants' computers
(Washington Post)
surreptitously during college visits

trying to match Fbook's criminality?


Fbook will allow Trump to lie in his ads
(
Popular Info)
and anyone else, for that matter



The lies that Fbook tells
(
Washington Post)
jail them!



Fbook vs critics,
competitors, & the government

(The Verge)
the leaked audio



bad sports

NCAA

California did the right thing... in allowing pay for athlete endorsements
(Washington Post)
don't buy into NCAA propaganda


NCAA rejects recommendations to stop academic fraud
(Raleigh N&O)


NBA

NBA capitulates to China
(Washington Post)

instead of exporting democratic values, it's importing dictatorial ones


For the NBA, it's all about the Benjamins
(Houston Chronicle)
money defeats democratic values every time


NBA collides with China, retreats with bruised spine
(NY Times)





limited time?  read the most important stories from  late September 2019:


1)  climate news reigns

new IPCC report: Ocean and Cryosphhere

global warming is accelerating

melting ice: not just the Arctic

climate policy:
  many roads to take, but none chosen


2)  new limits on neutrino mass

3)   bird loss: a cause for concern?
 

4)  the Ukraine, Trump, Biden mess:

a turn toward impeachment



5) a new focus on Venus


6)  a new black-hole visualization

7)  has Google reached quantum supremacy?



 
late September 2019


An alternative to Planet X:
a primordial black hole?

(Vice)

preprint
(arXiv)


Still no solution in Hawaii telescope protest
(phys.org)


disasters

How bad can a cataclysmic solar superstorm be?
(Scientific American)


How worried should we be about an asteroid collision
(Smithsonian)

---------------------

Venus
again

Super-rotation of Venus's cloudtops
(Earth & Sky)


Why we need to go back to Venus
(Astronomy)

The clouds of Venus
(Sky & Telescope)
are still puzzling

Was Venus once habitable?
(Europlanet Society)

Yes -- and for 3 Gyr
says
Smithsonian

---------------------

Autumnal equinox:
Monday, 9/23/19,
3:50 am EDT

(Vox)
9 things to know


Why Earth has 4 seasons
(Earth & Sky)
just in case you didn't go to grade school


The spectrum of
interstellar comet
Borisov

(Inst. Astro. Canarias)
but don't expect to actually see the coemt... it will be fainter than Pluto at peak brightness

preprint
(arXiv)
CN in the spectrum


The age of Saturn's rings
(Earth & Sky)
is still being debated



Euro Planetary Society
meets in Geneva


Day 4 summary
science at Venus;
ocean worlds & icy moons


Day 3 summary
planetary defense;
upcoming missions


Day 2 summary
asteroid missions

Day 1 summary
50 years after Apollo; exploring Kuiper belt; completing solar system's  inventory


The snow-cannon Enceladus
why Saturn's inner moon are so radar-bright

----------------------


🔥 
yes, there is a  climate crisis 🔥




how we know the planet is warming
the big picture


A new IPCC report:
Oceans & Cryosphere


commentary:

The evidence for accelerating sea-level rise
(Carbon Brief)
a relatively short
explainer


IPCC: humans are turning oceans into warm acid basins, hostile to life
(Vox)


IPCC: big risks for coastal cities and food supplies
(NY Times)


The ocean is the key
(Science)
to achieving climate and societal goals


IPCC: intense storms and loss of marine life are inevitable
(The Guardian)
once-per-year extreme sea-level event by 2050



IPCC: extreme coastal flooding yearly
(Washington Post)
massive changes are already here


and the actual reports:
Summary for Policy Makers
(45 pages)

Full Report
(1170 pages)

--------------------

The melting, drying, and flooding Earth 
(Nature)
global warming in pictures




Global warming is accelerating
(WMO)
report prepared for the UN summit this week
(which Trump won't be attending)



The climate crisis
(The Guardian)
explained in 10 charts


Summer 2019: hottest on record for N. Hemisphere
(Earth & Sky)
tied with 2016
....
and 2nd warmest winter in S Hemisphere


NOAA has even more charts
and the
August 2019 summary


 Dramatic sea ice melt caps a tough Arctic summer
(Nature)
the top of the world is screaming for help


What Arctic warming means for the rest of us
(Earth & Sky)


Trapped: why 300 scientists are locking themselves into Arctic ice
(Nature)


Earth's 3rd-largest ice sheet (Hindu Kush-Himalaya)
is melting quickly

(The Guardian)
an IPCC report preview



climate solutions

How to shop, eat, and cook in a warming world
(NY Times)


Getting to 100% renewables requires cheap energy storage
(aka batteries)
(Vox)
how cheap?




12 excuses for climate inaction
(Vox)
and how to refute them



climate reporting

Listen to the scientists!
(Starts with a Bang)
what Greta Thunberg has taught us
(or should have)


12 more years to climate disaster?
(NY Times)
true and not true



Climate change:
about to alter the
face of global conflict

(New Republic)
looking back from 2100


The climate policy with the most potential is the one most neglected
(Vox)
green energy R&D to spur innovation is overlooked and underfunded


 
Act now and avert a climate crisis
(Nature)
Covering Climate Now:
250 organizations band together


Most U.S. teens are frightened by climate change

(Washington Post)
maybe they should spend some time convincing their parents


climate policy

How the Trump administration tried to bury climate science
(IndyWeek via
The Guardian)


The hard truths of global warming: how little progress is being made
(Nature)
in charts and graphs
 


The human imperative of stabilizing global warming at 1.5
°C
(Science)


A new scenario logic for the Paris agreement long-term temperature goal
(Nature)
paywall


money & climate

How money fuels global warming
(Bill McKibben,
New Yorker)

from banking, insurance, and asset management


Where cash to solve global warming is flowing
(Nature)
and why it's not enough


The billions behind the climate-denial movement
(Smithsonian)
Donors Trust, Mellon-Scaife, Koch, Bradley, & more
from 2013, but still telling


---------------------

Trump admin tries to kill cleaner air, better cars
(NY Times)


Climate Action summit
(United Nations)
is September 23


Making travel to conferences climate-sustainable
(Nature)
7 steps


environment

Dumping chemical and nuclear waste
(Mosaic)
is a warning enough?



The Sun's corona and its connection to the solar wind
(Annual Reviews of Astronomy and
Astrophysics)
paywalll?


Uniting short
γ-ray bursts and neutron star mergers
(AAS Nova)


Pinning down the spins of black holes in mergers
(Astrobites)



Most massive neutron star measured
(West Virginia U)
2.17 Msun

VPLanet: a virtual planet simulator for modeling pllanets across Gyrs of time
(U Washington)
and
VPL website

pre-published article
(arXiv)


A new method of finding exoplanets

(Astrobites)
by using the gaps in the protoplanetary disk


A follow-up to the
first H2O-vapor detection on an exoplanet: K2 18-b

(Earth & Sky)

pre-print of paper 1
(arXiv)

abstract of paper 2
(Nature Astronomy)
paywall for entire article

but no, we didn't find liquid water
on K2 18-b

(Starts with a Bang)
proving water is liquid is much harder



A new explanation of Tabby's star dimming
(Columbia U)
the capture and slow annihilation of an exomoon?



exolife

What life might be like in alien oceans
(BBC)


crazy stuff?

Where ET might be lurking
(Earth & Sky)
in the solar system



Planets made of quarks?
(arXiv)


A new visualization of a black-hole accretion disk
(NASA)
has a nice explanatory diagram

but
  Earth & Sky
has a short video



The oldest cluster of galaxies  (so far)
(Astronomy)
or, more properly,
a galaxy protocluster



Milky Way's SMBH is eating more
(Earth & Sky)
it's now at maximum recorded brightness

The delayed-choice quantum eraser
(Preposterous Universe)


Has Google achieved quantum supremacy?
(MIT Tech Review)

is it true?
(Starts with a Bang)

what it means
(IEEE Spectrum)



Neutrinos: the Standard Model's greatest puzzle
(Starts with a Bang)
based on first results from KATRIN

KATRIN pre-print
(arXiv)
released 9/16/19


Constraining dark matter by using the Milky Way's satellite galaxies
(AAS Nova)


Constraints on the constancy of G
in time

(Astrobites)
from a pulsating star


Chasing Einstein
opened in theaters
9/13/2019
(it's in Franklin, NC, but not in Durham,
Raleigh, or CH)

a review
(Not Even Wrong)

and the trailer
(IMDB)


LEP -- the greatest lepton collider ever built
(CERN Courier)
its run ended in 2000


The main trouble
with Many Worlds

(BackReaction)
it doesn't solve anything



read with caution

Again, yes.  We have no idea what goes on inside a black hole
(Live Science)


Can time travel survive a theory of everything?
(Science News)
let's hope not



Universe as hologram?
(BackReaction)



read with disbelief

Did a strange Higgs particle steal antimatter from the universe?
(LiveScience)


Dark matter made before the Big Bang?
(Science Daily)

and how it might
have happened?

(Starts with a Bang)

U.S. prepares to shut the door on refugees
(Daily Kos)
an end to what made America great


It's the environment,
stupid

(NY Times)
the biggest 2020 campaign issue


Trump, Ukraine,
Biden

just the facts

The Trump-Ukraine
timeline

(Washington Post)
as of now


Trump and the Ukraine call
(NPR)
what happened?
what's next?


Bidens in Ukraine
(Wall Street Journal)
an explainer
paywall


Will Biden's son
jeopardize his father's campaign?

(New Yorker)

the Biden/Ukraine accusations
(Vox)


The Ukraine facts are clear
(Washington Post)
but does the truth matter any more?

--------------------

Donald Trump v. the USA
(NY Times)
in 40 sentences


American politics is broken
(Politico)
how to fix the gridlock, misinformation, polarization, corruption, & inequality
some interesting,
some crazy



Edward Snowden reminds of how he stopped an unconstitutional conspiracy by the US government
(Fresh Air, 1-hour podcast)
recording every citizen's phone calls, texts, & Google searches  without ever asking or even telling us
a violation of the 4th Amendment


Trump's clown
(The Guardian)
yep, Giuliani



NC elections

New NC maps pass legislature
(Raleigh N&O)
but judges still get to approve
GOP unanimous;
Dems split



New House maps are half as GOP-biased as previous ones
(Election Law Blog)
Senate maps are
⅓ as biased
with graphs showing where the district-drawing falls in terms of bias


A longer analysis of the likely result of the new district drawings

(Old North State Politics)
by Michael Bitzer,
political scientist,
Catawba College



NC Election Board voting-equipment decision didn't follow the law
(Carolina Public Press)
election security experts send complaint to NCEB


New districts still favor the GOP
(Raleigh N&O)


primary election endorsements


Indy Week

People's Alliance

Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People


-------------------------


Language
(Nautil.us)
thoughts, words, actions



American migration patterns
(The Atlantic)
terrifying -- or good
-- for the GOP?



books

Imagined life
(Science News)
imagining the odd critters elsewhere


After Geoengineering
(Penguin Random House)
climate tragedy, repair, & restoration


an excerpt:
The desperate race to cool the oceans
(MIT Tech Review)
before it's too late


100 best books of the century
(The Guardian)
Wolf Hall at #1


Waters of the world
(Nature review)
the roots of climate science

the story of the the scientists who unraveled the mysteries of the seas, glaciers, & atmosphere



what not to read

The Number of Heavens
(Not Even Wrong review)
the worst of multiverse propaganda



art/trips/museums

Francis Bacon:
deep, dark, & bleak

(NY Times)
in Paris

science

Pterosaurs: monsters of the Mesozoic skies
(Scientific American)


Is CRISPR the only hope left for the banana?
(Nature)


Why we don't shoot our garbage, nuclear waste, etc. into the Sun
(Starts with a Bang)
it's dangerous (think launch explosion)... not to mention prohibitively expensive


the vanishing of
the birds


3 million birds lost in N American since 1970
(Science News)


Grassland habitats and sparrows fared the worst
(Science)

With a map of bird loss
(NY Times) 

Extinction is for the birds?

(The Guardian)


7 simple actions to help birds

(3billionbirds)
by the authors of the scientific paper


False alarm?
There is no impending bird apocalypse

(Slate)
what happens when marketing gets more attention than the science



bad tech

Uber: drivers are not central to our core mission
(Vox)
explaining why they don't have to pay drivers as employees
'tech is our mission'


schools

NC gets an F for unsafe drinking water

(Raleigh N&O)
time to get the lead out



limited time?  read the most important stories from  early September 2019:


1)  solar system news & speculation

  life elsewhere in the solar system?

a return to Venus (the living?)

Jackrabbit on the far side of the Moon


2)  proton news


3)  an end to partisan gerrymandering in NC?

and more election news


4)  general relativity

GR passes another test -- this time with a pulsar wind

and overtones in gravitational waves supporting the no-hair theorem

5)  a climate 'town hall'

and

Democratic candidates' climate policies  (with grades!)

6)  first water detection on an exoplanet

7)  EdWeek rates K-12 schools

8) bad tech:

the states go after Google

California goes after Uber/Lyft







  early September 2019


What Yutu-2 has found on the far
 side of the Moon

(Earth & Sky)


Another interstellar visitor?
(Sky & Telescope)


Saturn's history is written in its rings
(Sky & Telescope)


Viewing Saturn
(Hubble)
images & videos



Titan's lakes:
craters formed by underground explosions?

(Universe Today)


What Ryugu told us
(Earth & Sky)


Venus is alive
(Eos)
resurrecting interest in a dead planet

and Why we need to go back
(The Conservation)

Venus: a laboratory
for exoplanetary science

(arXiv)

are microbes controlling the albedo?
(Earth & Sky)
when in doubt, blame it on aliens?


Roadblocks still in Hawaii ...and now at the back-up site in the Canary Islands
(Science)



🔥 
yes, there is a  climate crisis 🔥




how we know the planet is warming
the big picture


Beyond the 2 °C limit
(Washington Post)
large parts of the globe have already passed the threshold
including most of Canada, Alaska, Europe, & Russia

plus
6 takeaways
&
extreme climate change arrives in America
annual temperature rise in Durham =
0.6
°C since 1895


West Antarctica's ice loss is due to humans
(Physics Today)


A new 'heat blob' arises in the Pacific
(NOAA)
rivaling the one 5 years ago


Flight shame
(NY Books)
 the climate hazards
of air travel


climate policy

Fracking: best cases 'for' and 'against'
(Vox)


4 inconvenient
facts about
climate change

(This Week)


climate town hall

Climate Crisis
Town Hall:
10 candidates,
40 minutes each

(CNN)
happened 9/4/2019



7 takeaways
(Scientific American)
candidates are not afraid of big ideas, but some key differences emerge



6 winners, 3 losers
(Vox)
in CNN townhall
Joe Biden: incoherent as usual

other 2 losers: meat and fossil-fuel companies


10 questions to ask at a climate townhall
(Vox)


and suspiciously in time for the CNN event:

Kamala Harris's climate plan
(Kamala Harris)


Julian Castro's
climate plan

(Julian Castro)


Pete Buttegieg's climate plan
(Pete Buttigieg)


Elizabeth Warren has a climate plan, but not on her web site -- rather on one you have to register to see

yet she's very good pouting about others' lack of  transparency ...  
what a hypocrite


summaries

Grading the candidates' climate plans
(The Guardian)
only Sanders,  Warren, & Booker get As



A summary of Dem candidates' climate plans
(Vox)



-------------------

climate solutions

Global Commission on Adaptation delivers
90-page report

(Global Commission on Adaptation)
claims $7.1 trillion in benefits are possible with investment in climate-resilient infrastructure et al.

the Adapt Now report


The real news about electric vehicles
(The Conversation)
countering the fake news



Is nuclear power a viable solution to global warming?
(Vox)

-------------------

climate apocalypse?

read with disbelief

The climate apocalypse is coming
(New Yorker)
what if we stopped pretending?


instead, believe
the following responses to it


Ban rich white guys from writing about climate change
(Gizmodo)

Should The New Yorker have published it
(Vox)
if it's wrong on the science?

not to mention wrong on the politics and wrong on the psychology... not to mention he's a novelist, not a scientist

It's a choice -- not a foregone conclusion
(Scientific American)
a climate scientist responds


--------------------

the Amazon fires
contradicting claims

So why is the Amazon burning?
(Washington Post)


Fires mostly set by farmers
(Smithsonian)
to clear land

what happens next?


4 reasons it's burning
(Earth & Sky)


The real data on Amazon fires
(Global Fire Data)
highest rate of fires since record-keeping began in 2013


More dangerous than WMDs?
(The Atlantic)
one person shouldn't have the power to doom the planet


Brazil's Bolsanaro
finally responds

(Vox)
military deployed after threat from Macron


or Everything you're reading about the Amazon is wrong?
(Forbes)
well, not everything



Do the Amazon fires justify environmental interventionism?
(The Guardian)


long-term Amazon

Rainforest on fire
(The Intercept)
on the front lines in the Amazon
: conservation, agribusiness, & ranching


Increasing wildfires threaten carbon release from boreal soils
(Nature)

but the Amazon is *not* the 'lungs of the world'
(The Atlantic)
its contribution to the oxygen atmosphere is pretty much zero


Unrecoverable -- once it's gone
(The Atlantic)


Is the Amazon near a tipping point?
(Science Advances)


How the Amazon could self destruct
(NY Times)
the threat of dieback



 
The risk of Amazon forest dieback
(PNAS)
a scientific review


environment

Mapping the strain on our water
(Washington Post)
NC is in the top 10 of water use per day and has medium/high risk of water stress





more on the First pair-instability supernova?
(Quanta)

maybe pulsational,
maybe not


A mass gap between neutron stars and (stellar) black holes?
(Starts with a Bang)
and is LIGO about to fill in the gap?
and with a nice diagram of supernova type as a function of mass and metallicity


It's raining sun
(Scientific American)
null-point topologies are the solution to solar

mysteries?


First detection of H2O in an exoplanet atmosphere
(Earth & Sky)

of a habitable super-Earth
but not necessarily liquid water of clouds


ET life

How life could
start in interstellar space
(Science Alert)


Life on Europa?
(Starts with a Bang)


Can we avoid harming alien life?
(Astronomy)
if we find it



life on Enceladus?

Enceladus -- the best hope for life beyond Earth?
(Starts with a Bang)


What life would look like an ocean moon?
(Gizmodo)
in cartoons
humor... I think


prospects for life in the solar system
all from September 2019 issue of Astronomy

on Mars

on Europa
beneath the crust

on Titan

on Enceladus

on Triton
beneath the ice

on Pluto


Why is a SMBH periodically flaring?
(Earth & Sky)
in x-rays



Galaxy collisions and star formation
(Astrobites)
not as big a bump as once thought



Formation and evolution of star clusters in the LMC
(Hubble)
nice pictures, little else
typical Hubble



Radio-emitting bubbles found near galactic center
(Earth & Sky)
like the hourglass-shaped Fermi bubbles, but smaller



Dark matter in
DF2 and DF4?

(Astronomy)
still no definitive answer



What's going on inside those 2 Fermi bubbles?
(Space)



A very short history of the Milky Way
(Astrobites)



read with caution

An expanding controversy
(Science)
an update on H0
... with a summary of a new method, albeit with large (10%) uncertainty
paywall


Starts with a Bang
claims it requires new physics
at least we get a summary of recent results





First overtones heard in the ringing of a black-hole merger
(Caltech)
in first black-hole merger discovered, but belatedly noticed

and supporting the no-hair theorem
(Science News)



A new confirmation of General Relativity
(Science News)
  using a pulsar's winds

Time flies: the 4th anniversary of the first gravitational-
wave discovery

(Scientific American)


The evidence for dark matter
(The Conversation)
it's not about 'belief'


Quantum mechanics is fine
(Starts with a Bang)
it's human bias about reality that's the problem?
with a summary table that displays differences between quantum-interpretation theories


the proton

Has its centennial
(Physics Teacher)
and it's not the simple particle you thought


New measurement favors smaller proton size
(Science News)
rP ~ 0.83 fm

and hope dies for new physics
(Quanta)
but apparently a proton's size depends on the context

---------------------

Physicists don't want to understand quantum mechanics?
(NY Times)
no, just a thoroughly embarrassing article
if, like Sean Carroll, it means accepting non- falsifiability and
the multiiverse , that's a good thing!

and
Not Even Wrong
exposes the Carroll's silly claims in

Quantum Reality II
 and
Regarding Papers about Fundamental Theories
which remembers the time when papers on GR were not wanted


read with caution

5 (most promising) ways to quantize gravity
(BackReaction)


Where's the quarkonium?
(Space)
and the tetraquarks, and the glueballs, ...?
 

Are we all wrong about black holes?
(Quanta)
given how little we know about black holes, it's hard to take this question seriously...
although deleting the silly pictures of surfer-philosophers (is there possibly a lower life form?) would help



read with disbelief

Where quantum probability comes from
(Quanta)
more multi-universe nonsense from one of its lead purveyors

and worse
Splitting the universe
(Aeon)


A quantum of life?
(Scientific American)
psychobabble


The 3rd Democratic debate
(538)
in 7 charts
O'Rourke &Warren impress;
Castro & Biden do not


Time for Joe to go
(Rolling Stone)


NC's legislature embarrasses itself
(Raleigh N&O)
again and again


The Presidency and the Lost Generation Z
(The Atlantic)
is Kamala Harris their only chance?
warning: The Atlantic now limits you to reading 5 free articles/month

or maybe it falls to
The heir
(The Atlantic)
Ivanka or Don, jr?


Supreme Court disses asylum seekers
(Vox)
acting like an arm of the GOP


9/11


Happy birthday, 9/11
(Washington Post)
welcome to war without end



Has the 18-year war in Afghanistan been worth it?
(Washington Post)
what it got right and wrong... and the consequences


When luck meant everything
(The Atlantic)
to life or death


NC GOP override budget veto while Democrats attend 9/11 ceremony
(Washington Post)
tricked again


elections

NC district drawing

Judges appoint referee, give legislature until 9/19
(NC Policy Watch)

why they're likely to ask Nathan Persily to draw new maps?
(Election Law Blog)
and bypass the NC legislature


Watch NC district- drawing live on-line
(Raleigh N&O)
but only because the judges made them do it in public
but
Off to a bad start on Day 1?
(Raleigh N&O)
the lottery ball
affair


The Hofeller affair was the prelude to
Sharpie-gate

(Indy Week)


The end of partisan gerrymandering
in NC?
(Raleigh N&O)
pardon us if we're skeptical...
of an end to GOP trickery


3 NC judges embarrass
CJ Roberts

(NY Times)



Are NC Democrats backing away from non-partisan redistricting?
(Raleigh N&O)
they'd better not


NC's 9th district

A Democratic defeat or a GOP wake-up call?
(Vox)
HB2-author Bishop wins special election


Two Dans, two elections, and now winners
(New Republic)


Or are Dems going in reverse?
(NY Times)


Trump makes unfounded voter fraud claim while campaigning for a House seat opened by GOP cheating
(Vox)

oh, the irony


-------------------

Michigan's smart idea for fixing gerrymandering
(Vox)
conservatives want to crush it


The legless armless FEC
(Washington Post)
just when a robust one is needed most


Information gerrymandering and undemocratic decisions
(Nature)
bet you hadn't been thinking about that


An all-hands-on-deck moment for American democracy

(Washington Post)
O'Rourke, Bullock, Castro, Abrams, etc.:
stop wasting out time



Protecting elections from social media manipulation
(Science)
we can't understand
it if we're not measuring it



NC Election Board chooses not to have secure voting
(Raleigh N&O)
until 2020 or maybe even beyond



and elections past

Impact of NC
Gerrymandering

(Raleigh N&O)
dividing races, cities, and a campus


-------------------

books

Permanent Record
(Washington Post)
Edward Snowden explains how he did it... sort of


they wanted him gone
(The Guardian)
'they' is us, the USA


The Economist's Hour
(Vox)
a generation of economists got us into our present mess...can a new one get us out of it?

proving again that economics is NOT a science, not even a social one



The Guarded Gate
(NY Books)
keeping southern and eastern European immigrants out of America



Quantum Mechanics:
the graphic novel

(Physics Today)
a review


She Said
(The Guardian)
bringing down Harvey Weinstein



 Einstein's War
(Physics Today)
Einstein & Eddington ... war heroes?



No shadow of a doubt
(Physics Today)
the significance of the 1919 total solar eclipse



An autumn reading list
(Science)
Fashionopolis??


art/trips/museums

Remembering Robert Frank
(Smithsonian)
the photographer who chronicled the alienation and heartbreak in America


36 hours in Geneva
(NY Times)
but no CERN?



Portugal's Alentejo
(NY Times)


Labor Day thoughts

The case for a 4-day work week
(Vox)
32 hours of work,
3-day weekends


Uber & Lyft:
fighting to keep their employees poor

(NY Times)
will Californians let them?

It's 'Labor Day',
not 'Contract Employee' day!

(LA Times)


What working Americans deserve
(Pete Buttigieg)


Bargaining for more
(American Prospect)


Unions for all:
a new plan to save American Labor

(Vox)
'sectoral bargaining' is the future?



The jobs most threatened by machines
(American Prospect)
cashiers, not truckers

-------------------

America, the gerontocracy
(Politico)
old in leaders, old in voters, old in system of government



The last 5 Navajo code talkers
(USA Today)
share their story


Brexit:
fools rush out

(NY Books)


guns & shootings
yet again

Mass shootings:
both increasing and increasingly deadly

(LA Times)

Texas gun laws loosened after 2nd mass shooting this month
(Vox)
because it's Texas
:, where guns are more important than people

American gun madness
(Vox)
in 16 maps & charts




K-12 schools

EdWeek rates the states

NC ranks 37th overall
on achievement, financing, & chance for success


NC 23rd in K-12 achievement
with an average grade of C-


NC 30th in 'chance of students success'
with a grade of C+


NC ranks 46th in per-pupil spending
NC spends $9,367,
~$3400 below US average... and gets
a grade of F


Raleigh N&O
comments


but We're getting what we pay for
(Raleigh N&O)
and it's not good
57% of students passed reading tests .... and 60% of schools with a majority of low-income students were rated D or F


A failing grade for NC's top 'educatpr'
(Raleigh N&O)
taking away resources from public school education


A surge in the number of integrated schools
(Washington Post)
but not in the big cities


college

How to end the PhD problem?

(Policy Options)
end the PhD bashing


17 questions colleges should be asking
(Sen Ben Sasse, R-KS,
The Atlantic)

When did college become so cruel?
(NY Times)


Why college became so expensive
(The Atlantic)


Why dorms are so nice now

(The Atlantic)

---------------------

space

The ISS is more valuable than people realize?
(Scientific American)
only if you care about space effects on human biology.... not if you actually care about science


Can spaceflight save the planet?
(Scientific American)
just pie-in-the-sky


human origins continued

When was America first occupied by humans?
(Sapiens)


science

Light from dark
(Science News)
how this thermoelectric generator works


The delusion of
scientific omniscience

(Scientific American)

Death by diet soda?
(NY Times)

mass extinctions

A long-ago mass extinction
(Stanford)
2 Gyr ago, when life was microbes


A 6th major mass
extinction?

(Historical Biology)
the end-Captinian
although perhaps unnoticed because it preceded the Permian one by only 8 Myr


no, the end-Captinian wasn't 'major'
(Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology)
with rankings of the top 10 extinctions
now that's a journal title!


A reversal of the biological clock?

(Nature)
 

How capitalism created dinosaurs
(Nautil.us)


'Fundamental Physics' Prize for first SMBH image
(Breakthrough Institute)
another 'Breakthrough'  prize for underachievement and hype?


bad tech

Has 'Science' let radiation scare us to death?
(RealClearScience)
no, but this bogus article (transparently pro-nuclear) is pretty scary in trying to get us to think it's safe


50 states/territories start antitrust investigation of Google
(Washington Post)
or why the Internet is far from being free
every state but CA & AL

or Google's very bad day
(Vox)


Uber/Lyft 'contract workers' about to become employees

(LA Times)

in CA at least
but

Uber/Lyft say they won't
(Vox)


MIT Media Lab

Hype vs. reality
(Chronicle of Higher Education)
Harper & the food computer


The moral rot of the MIT Media Lab

(Slate)


Epstein and the moral bankruptcy of the techno-elites
(The Guardian)
solutions: close MIT's Media Lab; disband  the TED talks; boycott John Brockman


----------------------

How social networks can be used to bias voters
(Nature)



Protecting elections from social media manipulation
(Science)
we can't understand
it if we're not measuring it


limited time?  read the most important stories from  late August 2019:


1)  upper limits to neutrino masses  

2)  gravitational-wave rumors

another ns-bh merger?
the least-massive black hole?
the most-massive (stellar) black hole?
an unnoticed kilonova (pre-LIGO-upgrade)?


3)   climate change news

methane regulations removed

new solutions for solving climate change
and talking about it


4)  origins of American slavery: 400 years ago

5)  Ryugu news:  little dust, despite violent origin

6)   First Americans:  in Idaho, by sea from Japan?

7) first observed pair-instability supernova?

8)  climate policy

Bernie Sanders climate plan

Andrew Yang's climate plan


9)  good and bad news for Earth-like exoplanets





learn more about
neutrinosdark energy, the multiverse,   climate change,
exoplanet biosignatures (1) and exoplanet biosignatures (2),
Hubble tension


previous astro/culture updates

from 2019:

july-august 2019

january-february 2019          march-april 2019          may-june 2019


from 2018:

july-august 2018           september-october 2018           november-december 2018
 
january-february 2018         
march-april 2018            may-june-2018


from 2017:

july-august 2017          september-october 2017          november-december 2017

january-february 2017         march-april 2017          may-june 2017           


 from 2016:

july-august 2016          september-october 2016             november-december 2016

                  may-june 2016          march-april 2016          january-february 2016  


 from 2015:

november-december 2015          september-october 2015          july-august 2015

may-june 2015          march-april 2015         
january-february 2015


 from 2014:

november-december 2014          september_october 2014          july-august 2014

may-june 2014          march-april 2014          january-february 2014


from 2013:

november-december 2013         
september-october 2013         july-august 2013