Thank you Cassini!

So after launching in 1997, 20 years in space and 13 years around Saturn, the Cassini mission over Saturn has come to a fiery end. Over those years the satellite has stunned us with beautiful images Saturn & the accompanying moons as well as greatly expanded our knowledge of that small local system. This is what science is about, absolutely amazing and there’s still so much for us to learn.

I encourage everyone to gaze at some of the beautiful photos on the NASA website thank the scientists & engineers that made this happen.  Keep inspiring the young to reach for the stars and I wish Juno the artificial satellite a long productive life as well!

Hehe check this out

So earlier in the week I picked up the FLIR Scout TK because well I was impulsive and this little thing is pretty darn awesome. Even a couple of years ago something like this would be well over $2k but well anyway it’s pretty affordable now. 😀

It’s slightly larger than my Vortex monocular and it allows me to see heat.  So if there were a lot of smoke or in a place where there was no light (and where my night vision would be useless), I could still see with this thing.  The refresh rate is slow at 9 Hz and the sensor is small but it can help me see hot spots as far away as 100 meters.

There are a whole bunch of different settings, I like the black and white image tha thighlights hot points in orange, that seems to help thing stand out the most. LOL I’ve already gone around my house to see where it’s leaking energy and I will see improve the insulation so I’m not wasting so much energy. 🙂

Now this is cool!

Today Telsa announced all its cars produced moving forward will have the hardware to be fully autonomous!

Build upon Enhanced Autopilot and order Full Self-Driving Capability on your Tesla. This doubles the number of active cameras from four to eight, enabling full self-driving in almost all circumstances, at what we believe will be a probability of safety at least twice as good as the average human driver. The system is designed to be able to conduct short and long distance trips with no action required by the person in the driver’s seat. For Superchargers that have automatic charge connection enabled, you will not even need to plug in your vehicle.

All you will need to do is get in and tell your car where to go. If you don’t say anything, the car will look at your calendar and take you there as the assumed destination or just home if nothing is on the calendar. Your Tesla will figure out the optimal route, navigate urban streets (even without lane markings), manage complex intersections with traffic lights, stop signs and roundabouts, and handle densely packed freeways with cars moving at high speed. When you arrive at your destination, simply step out at the entrance and your car will enter park seek mode, automatically search for a spot and park itself. A tap on your phone summons it back to you.

Source: Tesla

Maggie and I have talked briefly about maybe buying a used Model S but this is a feature I’m going to want so I guess I’ll just stick with the Model 3 we have on preorder.  Hopefully they won’t be delayed too long, we’ll see Q4 18.

Gravitational Waves!

So today LIGO announced that it detected gravitational waves!!!  This is huge news in the realm of physics and opens so many new research opportunities…

The groundbreaking discovery opens several doors, and has the potential to win a Nobel prize.

Since gravitational waves were predicted by general relativity, they offer a chance to verify that Einstein’s theory really is the correct account of gravity. So far, general relativity is passing with flying colours: the observed signal is perfectly explained by Einstein’s equations.

But the real excitement is that gravitational waves can show us a side of the night sky we’ve never seen before. Until now, there had been no sign of black holes in this size range – much less two of them.

Now that the first event has been detected, the era of gravitational wave astronomy is under way, says Avi Loeb of Harvard University in Massachusetts.

Source: NewScientist

Absolutely amazing, this is a peer reviewed discovery so yeah it’s confirmed.

The possibilities…

So NASA announced today that it has evidence of water flowing on the surface of Mars during the warmer seasons and that’s freaking amazing!

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured the strongest evidence yet that salty liquid water flows on the planet’s surface during warm seasons.

Whether or not these salty flows could sustain life depends on how salty they are, says Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, who has reported the findings, along with his colleagues. “If the water is completely saturated with perchlorates [hydrated salts], then life as we know it on Earth wouldn’t be able to survive in that sort of concentrated water,” he says. “But if the water only has a tiny percentage of perchlorates in it, then I think we should be fine.

Source: NewScientist

The presence of water doesn’t equal life but still if another planet in our celestial backyard could harbour life, just think about the possibilities in the universe!  Given enough time, what we consider rare events (like say life) are guaranteed to happen elsewhere.  I just hope I’m alive when we confirm it, that will be a wonderful time. 🙂

Science!

I saw this news article yesterday and thought it was pretty amazing.

For the first time, aggressive breast, lung and bladder cancer cells have been turned back into harmless benign cells by restoring the function which prevents them from multiplying excessively and forming dangerous growths.
Source: National Post

That’s pretty huge news but the cynic in me thinks that the pharmaceutical companies will try and quash this or hold it back as long as possible because cancer makes them a lot of money. Still it’d be nice if cancer became a thing of history in my lifetime. 🙂

Hello Pluto!

Today is a great day for science and the New Horizons probe flew by the dwarf planet Pluto this morning.

NASA’s New Horizons probe flew by Pluto this morning (July 14), capturing history’s first up-close looks at the far-flung world — if all went according to plan. (Mission team members won’t declare success until they hear from New Horizons tonight.) Closest approach came at 7:49 a.m. EDT (1149 GMT), when the spacecraft whizzed within 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) of Pluto’s frigid surface. To celebrate, NASA unveiled the latest photo of Pluto, showing a reddish world with a stunning heart-shaped feature on its face.

Source: Space.com

After spending a bit of time with Pluto, it’s onto the Kuiper belt for New Horizons and who knows what it’ll find out there at the edge of the known solar system… I’m definitely going to share pictures and the video with Brandon when I get home tonight, it’s amazing what we’ve done since the start of the space age. 🙂

Is anyone surprised?

So apparently ExxonMobil knew that CO2 emissions could cause global warming back in 1981

While evaluating the potential impact of developing a gas field it was interested in off Indonesia, ExxonMobil found one major reason for concern: the field in question was 70 percent carbon dioxide. If the field were developed, and that gas vented into the atmosphere, it could become the “largest point source of CO2 in the world,” accounting for a full one percent of climate change-causing emissions.

According to Leonard S. Bernstein, a former chemical engineer at the company, Exxon recognized the potential for global warming concerns to lead to regulations that would impact the project and others like it.

The year was 1981.

Source: Salon

Of course acting on these concerns would have hurt profits so instead the oil companies embarked on a 34 year (so far) campaign of smears and questioning clilmate science when they god damn knew what they were doing.  LOL what a screwed up world we live in when the pursuit of money is more important than ensuring survival of humanity…  As I tell skeptics, the planet and life will go on well after we’re all dead it’ll just be in a world that we wouldn’t recognize.

Anything big business is bad for the people of this planet whether it’s banks, insurance, pharmaceuticals and they’re all cancers onto this world.  Corporations are not people and we really need to do something to limit the power of businesses!

Huge face palm…

I saw this last week and wanted to blog about it but didn’t have time…  Anyway apparently 41% of Americans either definitely or probably think humans and dinosaurs coexisted

YouGov’s latest research shows that 41% of Americans think that dinosaurs and humans either ‘definitely’ (14%) or ‘probably’ (27%) once lived on the planet at the same time. 43% think that this is either ‘definitely’ (25%) or ‘probably’ (18%) not true while 16% aren’t sure. In reality the earliest ancestors of humans have only been on the planet for 6 million years, while the last dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago.

I don’t even know how to respond to that but the US has a systemic problem with science education. Fine I get it, people are religious but to have citizens that are blatantly ignorant (willingly or not) of basic scientific facts boggles the mind! While everyone else in the world moves ahead, the US is going backwards.

The option I like most

So over the last couple of weeks I’ve been gathering quotes from various vendors on putting solar panels on my roof and the option I like like most (so far) is from New Dawn Energy Solutions. While I know it’s possible for business to lie, they rate pretty well on HomeStars and they’ve had no complaints since registering at the BBB 3 years ago.

The other quotes I received say my home can generate 9-10kW of power per year, New Dawn Energy Solution says they prefer to quote conservative (8kW) numbers and I understand that point of view.  No maintenance is required during the winter and the system should pretty much run forever though they recommend I go up and clean the panels once a year…  I like the Standard + power optimizer and panel level monitoring option and it’s about what I expect to spend.

Maggie’s reluctantly on board, she knows it’s one of my dreams to have a home that can generate its own power and I’m really close to achieving that capability!  There’s no way for me to store the power at the moment however I can add that ability at any time so maybe I’ll buy a Tesla wall when they’re available in Canada. 😉