Friday, April 27, 2007

A New Home?

Earth-like Planet Gliese 581c

The first known planet beyond the solar system that could harbor life as we know it has been discovered, scientists report.

The most Earthlike planet yet found, it orbits a red dwarf star and likely contains liquid water, said the European astronomers who made the discovery.

The planet is estimated to be only 50 percent larger than Earth, making it the smallest planet yet found outside the solar system, according to a team led by Stephane Udry of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland.

Known as Gliese 581 c, the newfound world is located in the constellation Libra, some 20.5 light-years away.

The planet is named after the red dwarf star it orbits, Gliese 581, which is among the hundred closest stars to Earth.

Because the planet is 14 times nearer to its star than Earth is to the sun, a year there lasts just 13 days. Gravity on the planet's surface, though, may be twice as strong as Earth's gravity.

Despite the close proximity to its parent star, however, Gliese 581 c lies within the relatively cool habitable zone of its solar system. That's because red dwarfs are relatively small and dim, and are cooler than our sun, the team explained.

The scientists estimated the planet's surface temperature at between 32 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit (0 and 40 degrees Celsius).

"This means water can exist in liquid form," Udry said. "If you want life like our own, then you need water."

Rock or Oceans

The new world could feature familiar, rocky terrains or be completely covered with oceans, the researchers said.

In either case, Gliese 581 c will likely become a target for missions in search of extraterrestrial life, they added.

"We still have a long way to go before reaching that point. But for sure it's the best candidate we know of right now," Udry commented.

"The planet is really close to us," he said. Still, it would take 20 years to get there if traveling at the speed of light, and another 20 to return.

Check out the article at National Geographic News.

Interesting discovery! It would be nice if we had the technology to go check it out. I'm sure that we will in the future, hopefully in my lifetime!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Sun in 3D!

The first Stereo image of the sun - 2D

The first Stereo image of the sun - 3D
View image with 3D Glasses

NASA's Stereo Satellites

How the Stereo satellites work

April 23, 2007 — Break out those 3-D glasses and get ready to see the sun in a whole new light.

NASA released the first three-dimensional images of the sun ever compiled, a feat made possible by the agency's twin Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft.

Like a person's two eyes providing depth perception, the two spacecraft orbit the sun at a set distance from each other to offer a stereo view.

"The improvement with STEREO's 3-D view is like going from a regular x-ray to a 3-D CAT scan in the medical field," Michael Kaiser, STEREO project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a press release.

Until now, 2-D images of our star (such as the one at top) have allowed scientists to see the sun's weather, but the flat views made it difficult to decipher the exact motion of solar eruptions and the distance they spanned.

Understanding the sun's physics is critical, scientists say, because especially strong events called coronal mass ejections create radiation storms that can disrupt satellites and radio communications and can even knock out power grids on Earth.

The new 3-D images (such as the one at bottom) will help researchers better track these ejections—like meteorologists tracking hurricanes—and thus predict when and where violent storms are headed.

"Previous imagery did not show the front of a solar disturbance as it traveled toward Earth, so we had to make estimates of when the storm would arrive," STEREO investigator Russell Howard of the Naval Research Laboratory told

"These estimates were uncertain by a day or so. With STEREO, we can track the front from the sun all the way to Earth and forecast its arrival within a couple hours."

Check out the article at National Geographic News.

I broke out an old pair of 3D glasses and checked out the images... AWESOME! These satellites have delivered more than I expected they would when they were launched last year!

I'd be very interested to see images of Earth if they would develop Earth Stereo satellites!

Be sure to check out all of the Stereo images at the NASA website.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Gun Control???

Self Defense is a Basic Human Right!

Self Defense is a Basic Human Right!

The police might arrive in time to call for the clean-up crew.
A quicker response is required to ensure the corpse isn't you!

Self Defense is a Basic Human Right!

Guns don't kill people, people do!

"We have created a shopping list for madmen! If guns are the problem, why don't we see things occurring at skeet and trap shoots, at rifle and pistol ranges, at gun shows, at NRA conventions? We only see it where guns aren't allowed. The sign of a gun with a slash through it is like a neon sign for gunmen, 'We're unarmed. Come kill us.' "

-Suzanna Hupp, Texas State Representative

Self Defense is a Basic Human Right!

House Bill 1022 would ban SAFETY FEATURES!

No gun is safe, they want to ban them all!

No gun is safe, they want to ban them all!

That rifle hanging on the wall of the working-class flat or labourer's cottage is the symbol of democracy.
It is our job to see that it stays there.

-George Orwell

Typical Left Wing Attitude!

No gun is safe from their ban... get them while you can!

I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness,
nor the arrow for its swiftness,
nor the warrior for his glory.
I love only that which they defend.

-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

Marksmanship is a safe and rewarding sport which MILLIONS participate in!

Jan. 31, 2006 - A bill that would have given college students and employees the right to carry handguns on campus died with nary a shot being fired in the Virginia General Assembly.

Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was happy to hear the bill was defeated. "I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus."

Last spring a Virginia Tech student was disciplined for bringing a handgun to class, despite having a concealed handgun permit. Some gun owners questioned the university's authority, while the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police came out against the presence of guns on campus.

Check out the Roanoke Times article.

It's sad how quickly a terrible tragedy such as this is exploited by the anti-gun politicians. They sight mass killings as the reason for the need of a new gun ban! They don't mention that guns were already banned on the Virginia Tech campus and that shooting people is already 'banned' by Federal law. It seems that criminals don't pay attention to the laws... imagine that!

So, if criminals do not acknowledge or obey the law, what could possibly come of a new gun ban?... Why, the disarming of your average law-abiding citizen, of course! The conversion from armed citizen to helpless victim - totally dependent on the government for protection of life, liberty and property.

Yeah, I'm going to depend on the local cops to be my family's personal bodyguards. Maybe they'll arrive 15 minutes later to fill out the paperwork and call the coroner, while some thug is miles away with my TV.

I don't think so... we don't need more government control!

It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!

If you're interested in preserving your 2nd amendment rights, contact your State Representatives and sign this Online Petition against HR-1022!

Check out this article: Gun Control: Myths and Realities.

Check out this article: Self Defense: Common or Rare?.

Read about Texas State Representative Suzanna Hupp's first-hand encounter with mass murder, and how she is forever changed by it.

Join the NRA!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Pirate of the Pacific

62nd Anniversary of Kamikaze Attack on the USS Kidd

USS Kidd - DD-661

Actual Photograph of the Kamikaze moments before hitting the USS Kidd

USS Kidd Memories

USS Kidd Museum Plaque

A-7E Corsair Attack Aircraft at the USS Kidd Veterans Memorial

USS Kidd - DD-661

A vessel docked on the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge was flooded with heartfelt stories of courage and spirit Wednesday.

A gun salute marked memorial services for the 62nd anniversary of the kamikaze attack off Okinawa by a Japanese aircraft against the USS Kidd.

Since that time, shipmates have gathered each year, first at a small church in Massachusetts and now aboard their former vessel that's docked in Baton Rouge.

William Barnhouse, who travels from Albuquerque each year to honor his crew members' memories, says, "It's just like it was yesterday. It's as clear in my mind as the day the airplane hit."

38 crew members were lost and 75 wounded aboard the USS Kidd April 11, 1945.

Check out the article at

USS Kidd - DD-661

USS Kidd (DD-661), a Fletcher-class destroyer, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who died on the bridge of his flagship USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Admiral Kidd was the first flag officer to die during World War II.

Kidd (DD-661) was launched 28 February 1943 by Federal Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Kearny, NJ; sponsored by Mrs. Isaac C. Kidd, widow of Rear Admiral Kidd, and commissioned 23 April 1943, Commander Allan Roby in command.

During her initial cruise to the Brooklyn Naval Shipyards, she sailed across New York Harbor flying the skull and crossbones of the Jolly Roger on the foremast. Subsequently, during outfitting, her crew adopted the pirate captain William Kidd as their mascot, and commissioned a local artist to paint a pirate figure on the forward smokestack.

Check out the article at Wikipedia.

It's great to have the opportunity to visit such an amazing piece of history! I never get tired of spending a day, or night, on board - imagining what it was like on the open ocean, never knowing when a wave of Japanese planes were going to appear over the horizon. It makes me realize how lucky I am to live in this place and time, and it reminds me even more of the sacrifices our countrymen have made for us.

I encourage you to come to Baton Rouge and walk the decks of the KIDD in person. See the aircraft that soared through the skies of Southeast Asia during two eras of conflict. Examine the dented helmet of an infantryman who stormed the beaches of Normandy. Touch the names of the fallen Americans whose names are carved into the black granite walls of the Louisiana Memorial Plaza... you won't be the same afterward.

Be sure to check out the USS Kidd Veterans Memorial website.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter 2007!

Happy Easter 2007!

Easter is the annual festival commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the principal feast of the Christian year. It is celebrated on a Sunday on varying dates between March 22 and April 25 and is therefore called a movable feast. The dates of several other ecclesiastical festivals, extending over a period between Septuagesima Sunday (the ninth Sunday before Easter) and the first Sunday of Advent, are fixed in relation to the date of Easter.

Connected with the observance of Easter are the 40-day penitential season of Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday and concluding at midnight on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday; Holy Week, commencing on Palm Sunday, including Good Friday, the day of the crucifixion, and terminating with Holy Saturday; and the Octave of Easter, extending from Easter Sunday through the following Sunday. During the Octave of Easter in early Christian times, the newly baptized wore white garments, white being the liturgical color of Easter and signifying light, purity, and joy.

The Christian festival of Easter probably embodies a number of converging traditions; most scholars emphasize the original relation of Easter to the Jewish festival of Passover, or Pesach, from which is derived Pasch, another name for Easter. The early Christians, many of whom were of Jewish origin, were brought up in the Hebrew tradition and regarded Easter as a new feature of the Passover festival, a commemoration of the advent of the Messiah as foretold by the prophets.

Check out the article at The History Channel.

Easter is more than chocolate, eggs and bunnies. Remember the orgins of the holiday, and have a Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Twin Sunset

Twin Sunset on Tatooine - from Star Wars IV

Telescopic Image of a Binary Star System

Hypothetical view from a moon of planet HD 188753 Ab

The latest data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope suggests that the universe might be brimming with planets that have two suns like the desert world that Luke Skywalker called home.

More than half of all known star systems are binaries, with twin stars locked in a gravitational dance, NASA scientists say.

The new data show that dusty disks of debris that could be indicators of planet formation are just as abundant around binaries as they are around single stars.

"There could be countless planets out there with two or more suns," lead study author David Trilling of the University of Arizona, Tucson, said in a press release.

Twin Suns

Existing techniques for looking directly for planets don't work very well when searching around binary stars.

Normally, planet hunters look for the so-called Doppler wobble as evidence of a planet's gravity tugging on its host star.

"But everything in a binary system is more complicated," Trilling told National Geographic News.

That's because, in addition to any planets in orbit, both stars are tugging on each other, he said. Each star's effect on the other would be great enough to mask the planet's effect.

So Trilling's team used Spitzer's infrared cameras to scan for planetary disks instead.

"Spitzer is very good at detecting emitted thermal radiation from dust," Trilling said. "When we're searching for the dust disks, we're looking at a wavelength at which the stars are faint but the dust is bright."

Of the 69 binary systems the team studied, 40 percent were shown to have these dusty disks, meaning they could very well have planets in orbit.

Tatooine Plausible

Astronomers had previously found that planetary disks exist in binary systems where the twin stars are very far apart from each other—about a hundred times farther apart than the distance between Earth and the sun.

Nearly 200 planets outside our solar system have been discovered so far with the wobble technique. About a quarter orbit one star in a binary system.

The latest project focused on binary stars that are much closer together—less than 500 times the distance between Earth and the sun.

What really astonished astronomers was that 60 percent of the tightly circling twin stars they saw had dusty disks—a setup that could create a scene like the Tatooine sunset in Star Wars.

Check out the article at National Geographic.

That would be quite a sight! Imagine how bad global warming would be with 2 suns!

It's amazing how binary star systems work! For more information, check out the Binary Star article at Wikipedia.