Monday, February 19, 2018

Light Pollution and the Future of Astronomy

Light pollution is a big problem for astronomers.  The abundance of lights near larger population centers makes building visible telescopes anywhere near civilization a lost cause.  Thus most optical telescopes (those that use mirrors and observe visible wavelengths) are built far from cities and at higher elevations.  There are usually fewer cities near high elevations area, but higher elevations also gets you above some of the atmosphere, increasing the quality of images obtained.  But there's only so far astronomers can go from large cities and the population of the world continues to increase, resulting in increased light.

Another problem, explained in detail in the article linked below, is the switch from incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs to LED light bulbs.  LED light bulbs use less energy and can save one a great deal of money over the lifetime of the bulb, but produce more light at the bluer end of the spectrum, thus decreasing astronomers ability to observe at these wavelengths.  That's not good for those wanting to learn more about our cosmos.

Pollution is endangering the future of astronomy

There's not much to be done about this either.  The use of LED bulbs will continue since they are cost effective and help limit the burning of fossil fuels.  Astronomers and engineers will continue working on methods to allow astronomers to observe the night sky and I'm sure some technology will be developed that will help.  I just find it ironic that a technology that allows us to light areas we need lit while using far less energy, is causing problems in another area of science. 

Example of an LED light bulb used in homes.

Friday, February 16, 2018

This Blog's History: Can you Drink From a Cactus?

In case you missed it last time, for This Friday in This Blog's History, I point you back to a post I wrote on a misconception that can literally kill you.  The odds of this scenario taking place are slim, but you never know.  If you find yourself lost in a desert and in desperate need of water, should you cut open that cactus and drink the liquid inside?  Nope!  For more details, read the post found at the link below.

Misconceptions That Kill #8: Drinking From a Cactus

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Oh No Ross and Carrie Podcast

Today I have another interesting podcast to share with you.  I've known about this podcast for some time, but never listened to an episode until a former colleague of mine recommended it.  I checked it out and really liked it and have since added it to my podcast listening list.  The podcast is titled "Oh No Ross and Carrie".

Oh No Ross and Carrie Podcast

The hosts are, to the surprise of no one, Ross and Carrie.  Each week they dive deep into the specifics of some area of spirituality, supernatural, fringe science, or paranormal, and discuss the pseudoscience they find.  As you can imagine, they find quite a bit of pseudoscience at play.  All of this is done in a very humorous format, making this an especially interesting podcast to listen to.  A discussion of science combined with humor?  Can't beat that!  I encourage you to check out this podcast and listen to a couple of episodes.  I think you'll like it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Misconceptions that Kill #9: Natural Supplements are Better

It's very common to go to the pharmacy aisle in a store and see boxes and bottles with "all-natural" labeled in big bold letters.  It sends the message that natural ingredients are better that non-natural ingredients in medications.  This is a huge misconception that can cause harm to your health and literally kill you in some instances.  First, what does all-natural mean?

All natural does not mean good or better.

All-natural simple means there are no artificial ingredients or preservatives.  It doesn't, however, mean the product is better for you.  Having artificial ingredients does not mean the medicine is harmful.  It's a big misconception that causes some people to forego traditional medicines in favor of all-natural products that are too often homeopathic in nature.  This essentially means there is no active ingredient and therefore you are ingesting something that will do nothing to help cure or alleviate your symptoms.  

Most of the time this just means it'll take longer for you to heal, but refusing traditional medicine can allow a medical condition to linger and possibly result in more damaging medical conditions.  This could ultimately lead to someone's death.  My best advice is to listen to your doctor and do what he/she says.  Don't ignore your doctor in favor of all-natural remedies because someone tells you it will work better.  Listen to you doctor!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

More Fun With Slime

My 10 year old continues making different forms of slime.  It's the thing she's been into lately and it's cool watching her experiment with different ingredients and testing out different types of slime.  The other day she made this red colored slime, that when I picked it up I thought she had messed up the ingredients in some way.  The slime was very sticky on my hand and did not come off very easily.  She gave me this weird look and said I wasn't playing with the slime right and then she showed me you keep the slime from sticking by moving it quickly from hand to hand in abrupt motions.  LOL!  I should have realized this, but it was great to see my 10 year old school me on science!  A bit later we made the video below showing how this slime works.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Foil as an Insulator

Let me start with a warning that this post brings up my true geekiness!  I usually have a cup of coffee each morning that I take with me in a travel mug to work.  The travel mug keeps the coffee hot for a longer period of time.  At the start of this year I finally went in for the annual blood draw my doctor asks for...about 8 months late!  My annual physical is coming up so I figured I'd better get in and do the blood draw my doctor ordered at my physical LAST year!  I always go in when the office opens because a blood draw requires me to fast with no food or drink, other than water, after bed.  That includes coffee.  Okay, not that big of a deal, but it was really cold out and I didn't want my coffee in my travel mug in the cold car getting cold, so I did this to it.

Travel mug wrapped in foil.

I wrapped my travel mug filled with coffee with foil.  Foil acts as a good insulator to retain heat, thus keeping my coffee warm.  My wife may have given me a weird look in the morning and those at my office watching me carry this foil wrapped mug were probably wondering what the hell I was doing, but you know what?  My coffee was still hot!  And that's all that matters!  :-)  The moral to this story?  If you're trying to keep something hot (or cold), foil is a could substitute to use when in a pinch.  It retains heat in and prevents additional heat from entering. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

This Blog's History: More Births at Full Moon?

In case you missed it last month, for This Friday in This Blog's History, I point you back to the post I wrote on the misconception of the connection between full moon and human births.  Short answer?  There is no connection.  For the details, click the link below and read the full details.

Do More Births Take Place at Full Moon?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Paddington 2

When the trailer for Paddington 2 came out several months ago we, as a family, were very excited for it to come out in the theaters.  When it did, we went out on opening weekend and the wait was well worth it!

Paddington 2

Both Paddington movies are great movies for the whole family.  The kids loved the movies and my wife and I enjoyed them as well.  There's plenty of good humor for both kids and adults, but there's also a good message of treating others the way you would want to be treated.  Throughout the movie Paddington treats everyone he meets with respect and kindness, even those characters who mean to take advantage of him.  It's a lesson many in the world could use.

Will there be a Paddington 3?  I don't know and it's always hard to say whether an additional sequel is good or not.  I tend to like sequels, but with each sequel it's harder to keep the same level of 'magic' that made the original so great.  Paddington 2 was a great sequel that had the same level of 'magic' as the original.  I'd love to see a Paddington 3, but only if it's done just as well as the previous two.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

It's Not Too Late To Get Your Flu Shot

Just read an article yesterday stating that 136 people have already died of the flu in my home state.  The flu is serious business people and not something to take lightly.  Yes, it is late in the season to get a flu shot, but not too late.  If you haven't received your flu shot yet, go out and do so immediately.  The flu season will run through March and the protection from the shot now could save you a few awful days later in March and potentially save your life.  

The flu can kill you.  Typically it is the very young or very old that succumb to the flu, but young healthy adults die from the flu too.  It's not something to mess around with.  Getting the flu shot is quick, easy, and if your insurance doesn't cover it, typically low in cost.  Much lower in cost than a trip to the doctor or ER when you have the flu.

If I haven't made it clear yet, go out and get your flu shot!  Even in years in which the flu shot is not as effective (that's this year), the flu shot still provides some protection and can minimize symptoms if you do get the flu.  This is an easy decision!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Living Tuesday Like a Cat

It's Tuesday and I happen to have the day off.  And the kids are at school!  Lucky me!  I'd like to say I'm getting a ton of house projects done, but let's face it, I'm living life today like my cat.  Just don't tell my wife.  :-)

He look so peaceful, but ten minutes before this picture was taking he was tearing through the house!