Entries tagged with “Space”.


The Conversation is carrying an enormously insightful article by Dr Matthew Bailes, the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Research at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.

Dr Bailes was one of the discoverers of the ‘diamond planet’ that you can’t fail to have heard about recently if you follow any kind of science news. It even made a sizeable appearance in the mainstream media all across the world.

…the diamond planet has been hugely successful in igniting public curiosity about the universe in which we live… Our host institutions were thrilled with the publicity and most of us enjoyed our 15 minutes of fame. The attention we received was 100% positive, but how different that could have been.

How so? Well, we could have been climate scientists.

As Dr Bailes goes on to point out, the scientific process involved in discovering a diamond planet is exactly the same scientific process involved in gathering data on climate change. And yet, the media and the general public is happy to accept the scientific community’s assessment of one and not the other.

I highly recommend you read this article and Tweet it, Like it and otherwise recommend it to your friends.

(Oh, and seriosuly, make sure you subscribe – for free – to The Conversation. Real news, real journalism, no agenda. As it should be.)

♫ Everybody’s talks about a new world in the morning… new world in the morning so they say-ee-ay-ay… ♫ I myself don’t talk about a new world… Hey! WTF! What are you all doing here? Weren’t you killed by the earthquakes and the volcanoes and the asteroids? Goddamnit! Do you mean to say that I spent all that money on a Vivos Underground Fallout Shelter for nothing? You’re not going to tell me that noted astrologer Richard Nolle, who predicted apocalyptic events as the FULL moon approached perigee, and who was quoted on Space.com, ((Who, I hope, are still sitting in the corner with their dunce cap on…)) was wrong? Son of a bitch!

Yes loyal Cowpokes, it’s true. Once again, the unhinged blathering of a woo personage turns out to be categorically and unequivocally wrong. I’ll just say that again:


You can read about Space.com’s embarrassing article (which tries to pretend it’s not really quoting an astrologer), here, but for the real meat of this sandwich you need to read what Mr Nolle said, in his own waffly words:

Of course you can expect the usual: a surge in extreme tides along the coasts, a rash of moderate-to-severe seismic activity (including magnitude 5+ earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions), and most especially in this case a dramatic spike in powerful storms with heavy precipitation, damaging winds and extreme electrical activity. Floods are a big part of the picture in this case, although some of these will be dry electrical storms that spark fast-spreading wildfires. ((Gee, care to add anything else to that, Mr Nolle? Just in case that wide net misses something?))

No doubt Mr Nolle will do what all purveyors of this kind of nonsense do when they are shown to be WRONG, and start claiming everything in the vicinity as an endorsement of his prediction, including the recent tragic Japanese tsunami.

That makes this [the date of the ‘extreme supermoon’] a major geophysical stress window, centered on the actual alignment date but in effect from the 16th through the 22nd.

Geez. Even when he hedges his bets with the dates, he’s WRONG. ((I’m posting this on March 20, Australian time, so there are are still three more fudge days to go, but you know what? I’m saying here and now that in those three days nothing at all of any geophysical significance will happen. I’m sure Mr Nolle is well on his way, though, to claiming that what he REALLY meant by his predictions was that the UN would endorse military strikes on Libya. That’s the way this stuff invariably works…)) The Japanese tsunami occurred on March 11. Of course, that won’t stop him!

The March 19 SuperMoon is by far the most significant storm and seismic indicator this month, but it’s not the only one. Lesser geocosmic shock windows also up the ante for unusually strong storms ((‘Unusually strong’ could mean anything more than a bit of blustery wind.)) and moderate to severe seismic activity ((Moderate to severe? That’s really narrowing it down.)) (including ((Including??? There’s a weasel term if ever I heard one – the addition of ‘including’ actually means that this sentence says in effect: “Any earth movements of any kind”)) magnitude 5+ earthquakes, subsequent tsunami, and volcanic eruptions). These lesser windows include March 1-7 (surrounding the new moon on the 4th), March 23-26 (bracketing the lunar south declination peak on the 25th), and from late on the 31st on into early April. ((Into early April…? When’s ‘early’? April 5th? April 10th? Fuck me.))

Hahaha. Look at all that risible equivocating (I’ve enumerated all the hedging for you in the footnotes). That covers just about every possible day in March and every possible earthquake above a magnitude 5. Since the planet experiences more than 1500 earthquakes of magnitude 5 and above every year (divide that by 12 months and you get over 125 magnitude 5+ earthquakes somewhere in the world every month) Nolle can make a prediction like this with complete impunity. When you include his dates for the Super Moon, Nolle has every day in March covered except March 8 – 15 and March 27 – 30! That’s predicting 20 whole days of March might possibly have an earthquake of magnitude 5+ somewhere in the world! And he still missed March 11! Whoopsy. I guess a fucking ginormous earthquake that causes massive tidal surges and kills thousands of people is easy to overlook with that extreme spike in electrical storms and amongst all the floods and volcanic eruptions. Oh wait. None of those happened on March 19 either. ((I’ll just note here for the sake of amusement, the introduction to Mr Nolle’s pages which says in part “If you were expecting some kind of sun sign nonsense, forget about it. This is real astrology for the real world, not some mystical mumbo-jumbo word salad.” Got that? No mumbo-jumbo in this town, no way!))

So, let’s just see what scientists predicted for the approach of the Super Moon. John Bellini, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey:

Practically speaking, you’ll never see any effect of lunar perigee. It’s somewhere between ‘It has no effect’ and ‘It’s so small you don’t see any effect.’

Oh, lookit that. Once again, science is…



Earthquake chart purloined from IRIS with thanks. I’m pretty sure that, in the interests of proper science, they will be OK with it.

Space.com is carrying a story about how, on March 19, we are all going to be thrashed to within an inch of our lives here on little planet Earth, due to what they are calling a ‘super moon’:

Huge storms, earthquakes, volcanoes and other natural disasters can be expected to wreak havoc on Earth.

… they claim, quoting astrologer Richard Nolle, who goes on to say that… WHAT THE FUCK? Let me read that again… Yup, I wasn’t hallucinating: ‘noted astrologer Richard Nolle’. Space.com is taking an astrologer as an authority on what’s going to happen in the realms of science. That would have to be an all-time-low. Oh, wait, there is a qualifier:

It should be noted that astrology is not a real science, but merely makes connections between astronomical and mystical events.

You’re darn tootin’ that it should be ‘noted’ that it’s not a real science. If you had an ounce of grey matter, Mr Space.com editor, it should be noted instead that it’s a daft concoction of primitive magical thinking promoted by badly-educated people who don’t know their astronomical asses from their celestial elbows. So why the hell are you endorsing it on a website that’s supposedly about astronomy!? Furthermore, why are you carrying it as a scaremongering ‘we’re all gonna die!’ tabloid tract?

But do we really need to start stocking survival shelters in preparation for the supermoon?

No we don’t. You’re basing this entire story on the daft lunatic ((I use the word completely mindful of its roots.)) ravings of an astrologer you halfwits.

The question is not actually so crazy

Yes it IS. It’s entirely and utterly shit-crazy. You’re quoting an astrologer. ((You could visit Richard Nolle’s website, if you were to be so wild and crazy. It is one of the most annoying and badly designed sites I have encountered on the web in recent times.))

Natalie Wolchover, the writer of this nutty piece of handwringing has added an additional embellishment which she may or may not have received from the wisdom of astrologer Richard Nolle:

On March 19, the moon will swing around Earth more closely than it has in the past 18 years, lighting up the night sky from just 221,567 miles (356,577 kilometers) away. On top of that, it will be full.

On top of that, it will be full. And that, Natalie, makes a difference HOW? Just because it has more light shining on it doesn’t mean it’s heavier or something… ((There is the VERY faint chance that Natalie does know enough about science to understand that when the moon is full it means that the sun is directly behind the Earth, creating slight amplification in the tides due to the effect of gravity on wave dynamics, but somehow, given the fact that she can’t tell the difference between and astronomer and an astrologer, I figure that’s fairly unlikely.))

Predictably enough, some people are already puffing and waving their hands around and pointing at yesterday’s huge Japanese earthquake as ‘proof’ that this is happening. And yet the moon is nowhere near its closest point at the moment. That happens on March 19 you simplistic under-educated nitwits. At which time, I predict, NOTHING of any consequence will happen anyway, except maybe some good surf at Bondi. (If you should bother to read the entire article on Space.com, you will find that as it goes on, all the scientists – as opposed to astrologers – who are interviewed for this piece say things such as: “The moon’s gravitational pull at lunar perigee is not different enough from its pull at other times to significantly change the height of the tides and thus the likelihood of natural disasters” and “Practically speaking, you’ll never see any effect of lunar perigee. It’s somewhere between ‘It has no effect’ and ‘It’s so small you don’t see any effect.” Quite obviously, a bunch of sensible people saying ‘Don’t panic, nothing happened 18 years ago in 1993 ((March 8, as it happens. Go look it up. Earthquakes? Volcanoes? Plagues of locust? Not so much.)) when the same alignment took place, and nothing’s going to happen this time’ doesn’t make for as a good a headline as ‘We’re all going to die horribly in earthquakes and volcanic lava flows!!!’)

I have two suggestions. The first is for Space.com: sack Natalie Wolchover and find another writer who actually knows the difference between science and fairy tales.

The second suggestion is for you, Faithful Cowpokes. Be back here on March 19 for another End Times review. I’m going to bet my entire whisky collection that my predictions are better than Richard Nolle’s.


Story found by Atlas. It really does look like I may have to get out my shelf building tools again…

This just in from NASA:

On August 1st, almost the entire Earth-facing side of the sun erupted in a tumult of activity. There was a C3-class solar flare, a solar tsunami, multiple filaments of magnetism lifting off the stellar surface, large-scale shaking of the solar corona, radio bursts, a coronal mass ejection and more.

The solar flare has spawned a coronal mass ejection heading in Earth’s direction due to hit about the time you read this. Everybody duck.

This last week it has been my very great privilege to have experienced two extraordinarily moving works of art. The first was Bill Viola‘s heart-wrenching ‘Ocean Without a Shore’, a new permanent acquisition of the National Gallery of Victoria. Sadly, it is a large installation piece which you must visit in person to fully embrace. The next time you come to Melbourne, I’ll take you there.

The second is a little more modest but just as poignant, and was created by some dude who goes by the name of Colorpulse (and Melody Sheep). I am proud to be able to share it with you here on The Cow.

If ever anyone had any doubts that copylefting can create truly moving experiences and must be allowed and encouraged as a valid form of expression, let this wonderful observation serve as an example.

The surface of the Earth
Is the shore of the cosmic ocean
Recently we’ve waded a little way out
And the water seems inviting

Carl Sagan, we miss you.

Throw Your Money Away

Acowlytes! I have some amazing news to bring you!

According to American astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, a white dwarf star in the constellation of Centaurus, next to the Southern Cross, has been found to contain a 3000-kilometre-wide toilet into which you can throw all your money!

Well, that’s not exactly the way they put it on a site I just found called Space Diamond – I’ve just fixed it so it’s closer to the truth.

What the people at Space Diamond actually want you to believe is that the white dwarf in Centaurus contains a GIANT DIAMOND[tippy title=”*”]It actually might, believe it or not. But that’s entirely beside the point.[/tippy] and if you send them some money for a ‘Space Diamond Gift Certificate’, you will be entitled to… well… to a gift certificate. That’s right Cowpokes, these people are selling NOTHING. OK, to be accurate, the certificate promises that it is ‘good’ for ‘the first carets harvest from space’. Hahahaha! The first carets harvested from a white dwarf star that is in a constellation five light years away from our own solar system! By my calculation, even if they sent up a spaceship with accredited jewellers right now, we’d all be well and truly dead before they got back.

With this in mind, I wrote to the smiling lady at Space Diamond’s ‘Customer Service’ department. I think I’ll call her Wanda. This is a picture of her:


Dear Space Diamond,

When do you anticipate the first diamond harvest will occur? Your offer seems almost too good to be true, and I don’t want to waste my money on something that is not scientifically feasible.

Yours sincerely

Reverend Anaglyph

I expect to hear from Wanda promptly with a detailed description of Space Diamond’s near light-speed propulsion system and their strategy for the penetration of the core of a massively dense star and the excavation thereof. I’m also curious to peruse their proposal for how they plan to get several trillion tons of diamond back here, and why doing so wouldn’t immediately cause diamonds to become as worthless as gravel.

Stay tuned.


*It actually might, believe it or not. But that’s entirely beside the point.