Warning: I’m about to rant.

If I hear one more person say “look at this winter and all this snow… global warming… yeah right” I’m going to punch them in the fucking face. If you believe for one second that this winter’s excessive snow and cold weather in the southeastern US proves global warming is a myth, then you are simply solidifying your incredible ignorance and utter stupidity. There is a big difference between the terms “weather” and “climate.” Weather refers to the day-to-day changes in precipitation, temperature, barometric pressure, wind, etc… Climate refers to long-term, general trends in weather. We’re talking decades and centuries. That’s why global warming is referred to as “climate change,” not “weather change.” We will still have variations in seasons, even as global warming continues. Some winters will be colder and snowier than others, and some summer will hotter and drier than others. Some springs will be stormier, and some falls will have more hurricanes. These small-scale variations can be affected by long-term climate change, but there are many MANY other factors that come into play with small-scale weather events. One thing you may not realize about this winter (if you’re from anywhere east of the Mississippi) is that while we’ve had a cold, snowy winter in the east, most areas in the American west have had a very warm, dry winter. This is why there have been so many problems with Olympics. The mountains around Vancouver have not had as much natural snow as usual, and it’s also been warmer than usual. The direct reason for this winter’s weather is best described as a perfect combination of El Nino and the Arctic Oscillation. The AO is in a more negative phase this year than it has been in decades, which means the cold air at the northern latitudes is dropping farther southward into the US. This, combined with the very active and moist southern jet stream (which resides mostly over Mexico, Texas, and into the Gulf states), has resulted in a snowy winter for the southeastern US. This does NOT mean global warming is false! The average GLOBAL temperature is still warmer than normal. All this is explained in a much-less rant-y fashion at the Weather Underground blog. More details about the negative AO can be found in this AccuWeather article. Hey, Sen. James Inhofe, you just proved your massive ignorance and incompetence with your little igloo stunt next to the Capitol.

Rant over. Now for some much more pleasant science goodies…

The latest shuttle mission to the ISS, still in progress, delivered the new Tranquility node with a huge 7-panel window called Cupola, which was officially opened on Wed. Check this article on Universe Today for more details and to see pics of it. Look for many spectacular photos from this window to be released soon.

What would normally be a fairly unimpressive, routine rocket launch turned into a spectacular event last Thursday. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite launched on top of an Atlas V rocket. What makes this so special is the amazing coincidence of the rocket’s sonic boom (created as it surpasses the speed of sound) with its passage through the cirrus cloud layer. The weird looking ripples you see at about 1:50 into the video below are REAL. It looks like some kind of computer effect, but it’s NOT. There are still shots of them as well. What’s even more amazing is that another atmospheric phenomenon called a sun dog was happening at the time as well, and it appears that the sonic boom disrupted the ice crystals in the cloud, destroying the sun dog. All this via Bad Astronomy.

So tonight I’m heading off to SXSW with my bandmate Seth Graves, Ryan Bruce from the Deli Nashville, and possibly Seth’s friend Carmen. There have been a lot of last-minute plan changes, which is par for the course in all things SXSW-related. But if travel goes as planned, we’ll be driving all night and arriving Wed. morning. We’ll drop some shit off at the house we’re sub-letting for the weekend and then the festivities shall begin. I have no idea how much or often I’ll be able to blog, so don’t expect too much. I will be updating my facebook and twitter stati, so if you’re my friend on facebook or follow me on twitter, those are the way to go. I will be, as usual, photographing for the Scene, and slideshows should be appearing on Nashville Cream daily, so be sure to check there first for pics.

Now for a few quick links:

You can buy a LOST Dharma Initiative jumpsuit on Ebay. For the obsessed LOST fans only. I sure as hell don’t have 85 bucks to shell out for something like that.

The Pixies are back. Though, I must say I really don’t understand this band photo. They look awkwardly posed, and… is Frank Black about to go to the gym for a workout? Head to the park for a jog? WTF?

In all the doom and gloom predictions of global warming, there is one discovery that’s slightly comforting- the Greenland ice sheet may not pass the proverbial “tipping point” quite as soon as they originally thought. The tipping point is the point at which the sheet is 100% guaranteed to melt completely. The research shows that the ice sheet should be able to withstand a global temperature increase of more than 3 degrees Celsius. Of course, some of the ice will still melt and contribute to overall sea level rise. Via the Daily Galaxy.

Quick update on the near-Pavement-reunion last weekend: The Scene’s blog got even more national press- including Rolling Stone’s blog and Stereogum. Wooo!

Apparently Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice, which is owned by PepsiCo, is reverting to its old carton design. The new design unveiled in January resulted in a lot of emails and letters from consumers who didn’t like the new look. Thus, they decided to appease the disgruntled customers and go back to the classic design. I personally liked the new typeface, but I agree that the straw-in-orange image was classic, and central to their message of pure, unaltered juice, straight from the fruit. I say return the straw-orange image, but keep the new typeface… but that’s just me. Via NY Times.

Credit: Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune-Herald

Credit: Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune-Herald

The first fragments of the Texas fireball from last sunday have been found, proving to the doubters that it indeed was NOT fragments from the satellite collision. They’re hoping to find much larger fragments in the near future. The Arizona group of meteorite hunters estimate that the original meteor was about the size of a refrigerator or even a little bigger. It would have to be that big to be seen in the daytime and cause a sonic boom. Very cool!

The whole field of environmental science and protection took a major blow early this morning when NASA’s new Orbiting Carbon Observatory crashed into the ocean near Antarctica. A shield intended to protect the 972-pound spacecraft failed to disengage about 3 minutes after lauch, and caused the overall assembly to fall short of orbit and crash back to earth. This satellite was intended to study CO2 levels in the atmosphere and better understand its natrual cycles. Sad, indeed.