Watch: What happens when water and an effervescent tablet are combined in zero gravity

In January, the fifth SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station brought astronauts an Epic Dragon camera by RED, which is capable of shooting 6K video. In the above video, astronaut Terry Virts uses it to show what happens when you add an effervescent table to water in zero gravity. Here’s more information on the mission from NASA.

Panda loves snow

So, it’s snowing today in the nation’s capital, which is friggin’ annoying, but you know who fucking loves it? That’s right, that little bastard Bao Bao, our resident kind-of-a-baby panda at the National Zoo. It’s his first snow, and he friggin’ loves it. Like the bastard he is.

Anyways, carry on with your miserable day.

All hope has been abandoned, like ballots drifting into the ocean

I keep meaning to link to this story, because, holy shit, this is happening right now in Miami:

Every year, with the coming of high spring and autumn tides, the sea surges up the Florida coast and hits the west side of Miami Beach, which lies on a long, thin island that runs north and south across the water from the city of Miami. The problem is particularly severe in autumn when winds often reach hurricane levels. Tidal surges are turned into walls of seawater that batter Miami Beach’s west coast and sweep into the resort’s storm drains, reversing the flow of water that normally comes down from the streets above. Instead seawater floods up into the gutters of Alton Road, the first main thoroughfare on the western side of Miami Beach, and pours into the street. Then the water surges across the rest of the island.

The effect is calamitous. Shops and houses are inundated; city life is paralysed; cars are ruined by the corrosive seawater that immerses them. During one recent high spring tide, laundromat owner Eliseo Toussaint watched as slimy green saltwater bubbled up from the gutters. It rapidly filled the street and then blocked his front door. “This never used to happen,” Toussaint told reporters. “I’ve owned this place eight years and now it’s all the time.”

Climate change is at our doorstep. Hell, it’s not at our doorstep; it’s in our fucking house. It’s soaking into the carpet and ruining the furniture. Not in 100 years, not in 50, not in 10. The waters have risen, and they’re not going back.

The response?

Hence the construction work at Alton Road, where $400m is now being spent in an attempt to halt these devastating floods – by improving Miami Beach’s stricken system of drains and sewers. In total, around $1.5bn is to be invested in projects aimed at holding back the rising waters. Few scientists believe the works will have a long-term effect.

This is some great reporting, by the way: the article discusses the variety of scientific reasons why Miami (as opposed to the other hundreds of cities built on coastlines) in particular is vulnerable.

So, you’d think that this would warrant some kind of emergency response from the people in charge of the city, wouldn’t you?

But what really surprises visitors and observers is the city’s response, or to be more accurate, its almost total lack of reaction. The local population is steadily increasing; land prices continue to surge; and building is progressing at a generous pace. During my visit last month, signs of construction – new shopping malls, cranes towering over new condominiums and scaffolding enclosing freshly built apartment blocks – could be seen across the city, its backers apparently oblivious of scientists’ warnings that the foundations of their buildings may be awash very soon.

Fuck. Well, what about the people representing the people of that state of Florida, then?

Most of Florida’s senior politicians – in particular,Senator Marco Rubio, former governor Jeb Bush and current governor Rick Scott, all Republican climate-change deniers – have refused to act or respond to warnings of people like Wanless or Harlem or to give media interviews to explain their stance, though Rubio, a Republican party star and a possible 2016 presidential contender, has made his views clear in speeches. “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy,” he said recently.

You know what will destroy your economy, Senator Fucknuts? A MAJOR CITY FALLING INTO THE FUCKING OCEAN.

The response is downright criminal. These representatives (except Senator Bill Nelson, who “is holding field hearings where scientists can tell people what the data means.”) are perpetrating a criminal act against their people. I can understand it from representatives from the midwest or mountains, who are not in immediate danger;* but your city is flooding, and it’s only getting worse.

May want to do something about that.

* You are absolved from not caring about climate change, you are not absolved from denying it exists.

This is the greatest climate change debate of all time

Not content with standard American “balanced” coverage of climate change, as if there were a real debate, John Oliver made the score far more believable on his new show last night (Last Week Tonight). So much of conventional coverage is one skeptic/denier vs. one believer, making it look like there’s actually two sides. Instead, Oliver set up 97 scientists (including Bill Nye the Science Guy himself, because of course) against 3 deniers, a ratio with its origins in a famous study highlighting that 97% of papers published show that the climate is changing and that it is, indeed, because of human activity.

“Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there.”

I’ve been struggling all day to put together thoughts on the Challenger tragedy anniversary and the bigger question of what role the U.S. should maintain in humanity’s exploration of space. Part of it is the very happenstance of the calendar: it’s a thought that only occurred because of the anniversary, as probably any other day that isn’t already taken over by State of the Union madness would be a better day to meditate on the theme. Surely, unlike President John F. Kennedy’s address to Congress on May 25, 1961, or President George W. Bush’s own 2004 State of the Union address, President Obama won’t announce some new  space program or inspirational goal. 

That said, I’m barely older than the Space Transportation System, so for me at least, it’s practically been around my whole life. If you’re similar in age, there’s a good chance you remember that morning. Some school figure (people who are not astronauts in this story are not as cleverly remembered—I was pretty dang young at the time) wheeled in an old television, and we were sat down in front of it, because there was a teacher on the shuttle! It was approaching lunchtime in the Eastern Standard Time zone, so I’m sure we were especially restless. I just remember not caring at all.

Then the shuttle took off, and all of us were in awe. Look at that thing rocket into the sky! Wait, what just happened?

None of the pupils in that room had any faculty to understand what had just been seen. None of the school figures had any ability describe what had happened and what it meant. I’m not sure I ever figured out what happened without the assistance of years of inundation by news media. There’s a difference in knowing that it happened because you saw it and knowing that it happened because it’s common knowledge. In a way, I probably witnessed it the same way people born ten years later witnessed it: through watching the video, by reading about it, by hearing about it, by being taught about it.

The Space Transportation System was grounded for several years after it. That gave me time to catch up and understand what exactly these spaceships did. And when they started flying again, we were once again in awe. Years and hundreds of missions went by, and by seventeen years later, America would be bored of them. Very few watched the liftoffs anymore, very few followed the landings. But they didn’t stop being incredible feats of human ingenuity. Unfortunately, we were reminded that space travel is not ordinary on February 1, 2003, when Columbia met its demise, this time not on launch but on reentry.

The program endured for eight more years, but the last space shuttle to reach space descended safely to earth on July 21, 2011. With the end of the program comes the end of the era of U.S. domination in the arena of space exploration. American astronauts and equipment now must hitch rides from foreign space agencies. Soon, perhaps all American space travel will be firmly held in the hands of the private sector, which is quickly catching up to abilities previously only held by the most powerful countries.

Humans first walked on the moon on July 20, 1969. The last human to walk on the moon was December 1972. Humans have not walked on the moon in 41 years. It’s a damned shame that that’s destined to continue.

Smart Dolphins

Cool interview in NYT the other day with Diana Reiss, psychology professor/dolphin researcher.  This anecdote kind of floored me:

Let me tell you a story. One of the first dolphins I ever worked with was Circe. I’d bring her a fish when I wanted her to do certain things. If she didn’t do them, I did a “time-out” where I turned my back and walked away. Well, there was a certain type of fish that Circe loathed because it had a spiny tail. So I accommodated her by cutting the spines off of the tail. One day, I forgot to do that. Circe spit it out, swam to the other side of the pool and placed herself into a vertical position that mimicked my time-out. I wanted to test this. I gave her untrimmed fish on four different days. Whenever I gave her fish with spiny tails, she gave me a time-out. What that suggested was that she saw time out as a correction and used it back on me. Well, that’s how we learn to communicate.

I love the image of the dolphin, fins crossed over its chest, freezing out Reiss because she’s pissed about being fed the wrong fish.  Just the latest proof that Douglas Adams was right about dolphins’ smarts…

man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much–the wheel, New York, wars and so on–while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man–for precisely the same reasons.


 (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

Yes, it's hot outside, but the Potomac River is really not a good place to go swimming

As if we needed another reason to avoid swimming in the Potomac River, now we have to be afraid of…sharks?

Willy Dean has an incredible fish tale to tell. On Tuesday, he caught a shark while on the Potomac River in St. Mary’s County, Md.

Don’t believe him? He has the pictures to prove it.

Dean put out a net Monday at Cornfield Harbor in the Potomac three miles north of Point Lookout with hopes of catching cow-nosed rays for a Solomons Island Marina biologist. When he checked Monday night everything seemed normal. But when he checked again Tuesday morning, he made a startling discovery.

In the net was an 8-foot-long shark. He said it was a bull shark. According to National Geographic, experts consider them to be “the most dangerous sharks in the world.”

Unanswered: Whether the shark was a male that laid eggs.

Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning), or Welcome to the "No-Spin Zone"

Filed under “Science is freaking crazy.” Witold Fraczek from Esri ran some models using ArcGIS on an interesting—but unlikely—question: What would happen if the world actually stopped turning? The answer is actually rather fascinating:

If earth ceased rotating about its axis but continued revolving around the sun and its axis of rotation maintained the same inclination, the length of a year would remain the same, but a day would last as long as a year. In this fictitious scenario, the sequential disappearance of centrifugal force would cause a catastrophic change in climate and disastrous geologic adjustments (expressed as devastating earthquakes) to the transforming equipotential gravitational state.

The lack of the centrifugal effect would result in the gravity of the earth being the only significant force controlling the extent of the oceans. Prominent celestial bodies such as the moon and sun would also play a role, but because of their distance from the earth, their impact on the extent of global oceans would be negligible.

If the earth stood still, the oceans would gradually migrate toward the poles and cause land in the equatorial region to emerge. This would eventually result in a huge equatorial megacontinent and two large polar oceans.

Via Boing Boing.