Greetings from Palmia Observatory
Well this week we have had a lot of local rain and a lot of snow in nearby mountains, so keep your scopes inside.
|Local view of snow on low mountains (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
In the meantime, we have a whole hodgepodge of other astronomical and cosmological events to discuss. First up is this remarkable conjecture that the dark energy, responsible for the acceleration of the expansion of the universe, is coming from black holes.
|Evidence for Black Holes being Dark Energy? (Source: Dr. Becky)|
Whoa, how would this idea even work? The offered evidence comes from observation of galaxies and finding that models of how the black holes became so massive fits very well with the dark energy conjecture. Dr. Becky appreciates the conjecture, but as an expert on merging of black holes in galaxies, she says there are still too many unknowns to accept the proposed conjecture as the final answer. The referenced YouTube video has many of the original arXiV papers so you can go over all the evidence yourself.. Also modern GR experts, such as Robert Wald, say they can't make any sense of the idea. So, we are left wondering what the final answer will be.
Other internet girlfriends, like Ellie in Space, are shown here playing with a flame thrower in front of the The Boring Company sign at their facility in Austin, TX. I guess it might turn out that if your girlfriend knows how to operate a flamethrower, that your behavior might be a little more considerate. The rest of the story, about where Tesla employees will live as more and more operations are built up in the Austin area, and how she same to be holding a flame thrower is found in the referenced YouTube video.
|Playing with a flame thrower (Source: Ellie in Space)|
So as much as I would like to meet up with Ellie in Space in Austin or maybe even in Boca Chica, TX, this is not a good time for travelling right now. Even attending the AlienCon 2023 in Pasadena seems too much in that it seems to deal more with getting an autograph or photo with one of your favorite alien story authors. For me , I would rather have a more scientific discussion about alien life and how we might find it. But, I too have fallen for getting my photo taken with expert astrophysicist, Dr. Janna Levin, at one of the local Science Salon meetups in April 2016.
|Resident Astronomer meets up with Janna Levin at Science Salon, April 2016 (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
In other space related news, we attended one day of the online MEPAG meeting. If you have any interest in Mars, then following activities of the MEPAG, which represents the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group, would be of major interest to you. Here is a slide from their presentations which outlines the four major goals of the organization.
|The four major goals of the MEPAG (Source: MEPAG)|
I really liked one of the summary presentation about what the Mars lander, InSight, had discovered about Mars. A lot more detail about the internal structure of Mars, in this presentation by Bruce Banerdt, is shown here in comparison to the Earth and the Moon. Even though one of Insight's major tools to measure the geothermal heat flux from the planet failed early in the life of the probe, much was still learned.
|Some of the latest Mars internal structure findings from Insight (Source: Bruce Banerdt)|
Bruce went on to describe the final date of operation when Insight batter voltage finally collapsed.
|The last days of Insight as the battery voltage collapses (Source: Bruce Banerdt)|
The collapsing battery voltage problem was monitored over many Martian days and changes in the battery demand by limiting the power draw for Insight operations and observations were done to try to extend battery life, but none could keep up with the decrease in power from the increasingly dust covered solar panels. Here we see one of the last "selfies" of Insight taken and we can see the dust covering the solar panels.
|InSight and its dust covered solar arrays (Source: Bruce Banerdt)|
For comparison purposes here is an earlier selfie showing the bright and shinny solar arrays.
|Earlier dust free view of InSight solar arrays (Source: Bruce Banerdt)|
While we follow up on the possibility of detecting ancient life on Mars, we also reviewed a presentation by Adam Rutherford, on "Human Origins", which presented some of the most recent findings from genetic analysis from humans around the world. Here, in this screenshot, we see the latest genetic findings of the diverse history of human beings on Earth. It is interesting to see how the human origins from several million years ago had split into several lineages, only three of which are still found on the Earth today. It was especially interesting to see how interbreeding between early Neanderthals and lineages alive today created a mixture of human genes. Yes, my own personal DNA analysis confirms I have somewhere around 2% of the old Neanderthal genomes. Dr. Rutherford further explained that the three remaining lineages today are not really separate races just lineages that appear because of mostly geographical isolation. Check out the whole video for more details.
|Human Origins by Adam Rutherford at Darwin College (Source: Adam Rutherford)|
During the presentation, Rutherford mentioned one of the early pioneers in eugenics, the early version of genetic analysis, was Francis Galton. He told an anecdote about Galton, where the topic of how to cut a fruit cake and still maintain the maximum freshness, was being evaluated. I looked up the original reference from December 20, 1906 in Nature magazine. Here we see what Galton proposed as the best way to cut a fruit cake and maintain freshness for the remaining portions. Hmm, the approach seems very good!
|Francis Galton describes how to cut a fruit cake (Source: Nature, Dec 20, 1906)|
Finally, it is hard to remain out of touch with ongoing world events like the war in Ukraine and other other spots around the world and to wonder about the state of the world. In this cartoon, by SkeletonClaw, we see how one worried soul is discussing during his counseling session, his fears and getting the "good news" from his advisor
|Hmm, not clear if this is good news? (Source: SkeletonClaw.com)|
Until next time,