Thanks to the @MLB dick move last night, I'll be selling all my MLB memorabilia on eBay over the next few days. The hell with them. If you know of anyone that likes the Yankees, let me know. I have some autographed baseballs, cards, etc... that I'll be posting.
The other day I saw that there was a badge for earning 100 points in one day. I can't even imagine doing that much. My top point total in 1 day is 61. How about you lovely people? What's your best "one day point total"? Also, motivation obviously has a lot to do with it. What do you do to stay motivated?
Solar flares are in the news recently, mainly focused on four recent x-class solar flares this week. You can see images of these flares in the image below (http://goo.gl/LjHdG). So why all the buzz?
A solar flare is an intense burst of energy released at the surface of the Sun. It is caused by a process known as magnetic reconnection. The rotation of the Sun occurs at different rates depending on latitude. It has a rotational period of about 25 days at its equator, but about 34 days near the poles. This means the equatorial regions of the Sun rotate faster than the polar regions. Because of this differential rotation, the magnetic field of the Sun is twisted, so that over time the field lines of the magnetic field gradually wrap around the Sun.
You can visualize a magnetic field by thinking of field lines running from the North pole to the South pole. For the Earth’s magnetic field, the lines basically run from North to South, similar to longitude lines. The Sun’s magnetic field lines might start in a similar shape, but because the equator rotates faster than the poles, the lines twist around the Sun near the equator.
But the magnetic field lines would like to simply run North to South. So when they are twisted tighter and tighter around the equator region, they reach a point where they snap back into place, which is known as magnetic reconnection. When this happens a great deal of energy is released, causing a solar flare.
Solar flares are categorized by how intense they are at a specific x-ray frequency. The most intense category is known as an x-class solar flare. The smaller classes are further broken into a linear scale from 1 to 9. Since the x-class is an open class, its number ranking is a doubling scale, so that X3 is twice as powerful as X2. These most recent solar flares from from X1.7 to X3.2.
While it is a bit unusual to see so many x-class flares in rapid succession, flares of this size are completely normal during the Sun’s active period. While flares of this size can have an impact on satellites, the only impact for most people is a glimpse of northern lights if we happen to be at the right latitude.
Intense solar flares can have larger effects on us, such as causing power outages. In 1989 an X15 solar flare triggered a regional blackout in Quebec. So when solar flares hit the news there are the range of websites predicting the dreaded “big one”. Theses sites often reference the “Carrington Event” of 1859, which was so intense it produced northern lights as far south as the Caribbean. It also induced currents in telegraph lines. The storm induced enough current in the lines that messages could be sent across them even while the lines were disconnected from their power supplies.
If such an event occurred today, it would likely cause massive blackouts worldwide. It could cause trillions of dollars in damage, and would take several years to fully recover. It would be a massive disruption, but it wouldn’t be the end of civilization. Fortunately, studies of ice cores indicate that solar storms such as the Carrington Event only occur about once every 500 years, and there is no indication that such an event is likely to happen any time soon.
In 1801 a new planet was discovered in our solar system. Just twenty years earlier the planet Uranus was discovered beyond the orbit of Saturn, and was the first planet discovered since the dawn of civilization. The location of Uranus agreed with a (now defunct) model of planetary distances known as the Titus-Bode law (http://goo.gl/wuLIr), which had correctly predicted the distances of the known planets. But the Titus-Bode law also predicted the existence of a planet between Mars and Jupiter, which had not been seen until the discovery of this new planet. The 1801 planet had a distance within 1% of the prediction of Titus-Bode, and it was named after the Roman goddess of agriculture, Ceres.
Until the mid-1800s, Ceres was considered to be a planetary body. In less than a decade after the discovery of Ceres, three more planets were discovered between Mars and Jupiter, and given the names Pallas, Juno and Vesta. In 1846, Neptune was discovered beyond Uranus, raising the total number of planets in our solar system to 12. Within ten years of Neptune's discovery, dozens of new planets were discovered between Mars and Jupiter: Astreae, Hebe, Iris, Flora, Metis, Hygiea, and the list continued to grow.
While Uranus and Neptune were similar to the historical planets, these new planets were very different. They all had roughly the same orbital distance (between Mars and Jupiter). They were also significantly smaller than the other planets, even much smaller than our moon. Rather, they were more like Ceres, itself a small, rocky body. It soon became clear that referring to all of these bodies as planets wasn't very accurate. So they were put into a new category of Sun-orbiting objects: asteroids. Thus, Ceres lost its planetary status, demoted to King of the asteroids. The number of planets in our solar system was thereby reduced to eight.
In 1930 a new planet was discovered, and given the name Pluto. While Pluto was a small world (smaller than our Moon), it seemed alone beyond the orbit of Neptune. But in the 1990s more objects were discovered beyond the orbit of Neptune. By the mid-2000s, trans-Neptunian objects of a size similar to Pluto were discovered, and in 2005 one larger than Pluto was found. It was named Eris, and for a while enjoyed status as the tenth planet.
But by then it was clear that Pluto was not alone. Rather there were lots of objects that, like Pluto were small, icy and beyond the orbit of Neptune. Again it was clear that referring to all these bodies as planets wasn't an accurate description. So in 2006 the International Astronomical Union formalized the definition of what constituted a planet. They had to orbit the Sun, they had to be massive enough to be roughly spherical, and they had to be distinct among objects of their distance. Pluto and Eris did not satisfy the last condition, being similar to other trans-Neptunian objects. Like Ceres before them, they lost their status as planets.
But the IAU also defined a secondary category for objects that satisfied the first two, but not the third. They were given the name dwarf planets. Under this definition, Pluto and Eris were categorized as dwarf planets. Ceres was also promoted to dwarf planet status, as were two other trans-Neptunian objects, Haumea and Makemake. So currently our solar system has 8 planets, 5 dwarf planets, and countless other small solar system bodies.
As our understanding of the solar system has grown, we have had to refine our naive concept of what makes a planet. If you mourn Pluto's exclusion from the solar planets, you should also mourn Ceres, who suffered her loss a century earlier.
Unable to locate a "contact us" for the people @ #googleplay so let's hope this works:
Is there any way that you lovely people @ #googleplay would to space out the "open/upgrade" & "uninstall" buttons within the app? Somehow I manage to unintentionally click the "uninstall" button about 10 times, before my phone recognizes my intended "upgrade" click. Thanks!