Here’s an interesting tidbit that came across my radar today: A very illusive and rare meteor shower may flare up tonight for the first time since 1930! On June 11th of that year, a small group of astronomers reported a short-lived meteor shower that was sought out in subsequent years, but never seen again. Now an astronomer named Peter Jenniskens with NASA and SETI has suggested that Earth is passing through the same comet trail it did back in 1930, and thus we could see this rare outburst, called the Gamma Delphinids, again- TONIGHT. Fortunately the moon will have set several hours before the expected peak between 2:30 and 4:30am CDT, leaving only the weather to stand in the way of getting to witness this rare event. I must point out, however, that scientists aren’t nearly as certain about this meteor shower as they are about the more reliable yearly showers such as the Leonids, Geminids, Perseids, etc… So if you’re a fan of meteor showers and have the will power to get up in the wee hours and sit outside to watch, tonight could reward your efforts with a show not seen in 83 years. (Via Universe Today and the American Meteor Society)
In other science news, more evidence of normal, habitable water on the ancient Mars surface was discovered recently. You’re probably thinking this discovery came from the Curiosity rover, but it actually came from Opportunity, one of the twin rovers that landed on Mars in 2004. Opportunity’s team sent her to investigate an interesting rock outcropping, and they found evidence of certain clay minerals that could only have formed in water that would be habitable to life as we know it. This discovery is right in line with Curiosity’s findings from February, and strongly supports the theory that Mars once had running water on the surface, and might have even supported microbial life! As Curiosity keeps trekking toward Mount Sharp, the rover will keep looking for these same minerals to help paint a clearer picture of Mars’ watery past. (Via New Scientist)
September 1, 2009
After way too long, I’ve finally gotten the photos from our trip to Yellowstone National Park on my flickr. We had a great time and I will never, ever tire of seeing that place. It is literally one of the most fascinating places on earth and everyone should go see it. It had been 9 years since I last saw it, and while reading some of the information plaques I realized that some major geologic changes had taken place just since the last time I was there. The place is just teeming with hydrothermal activity and is always changing. Not to mention that the scenery is absolutely gorgeous. So please go take a look at the photos. We also visited Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, Grand Teton Park, and came back by driving through Colorado and New Mexico, making a quick stop at Philmont. Not only was the land beautiful, but we also got to see a pretty nice light show in the sky almost every night we were in Yellowstone. The Perseid meteor shower peaked while we were there, and with the absence of light pollution from cities, we could see them quite well. (That is, until the gibbous Moon rose around 11pm…) Literally, we could look up at any given time between sunset and Moonrise and see a meteor within a minute.
Some other random scientific tidbits:
A team of Swedish scientists, with the help of some other Chinese researchers, have discovered a very exact location and date for the birthplace of dogs. Apparently dogs originated from a group of tamed wolves about 16,000 years ago in an area of China south of the Yangtze River. Sadly, it’s also thought that those dogs met their fate in the stomachs of humans. (Via EurekAlert)
By now I’m sure you’ve heard of Apple’s new OS Snow Leopard. It’s not a total upgrade, since the last major update was called Leopard, but it is a significant advance in how the computer utilizes those multiple-core processors that have become standard over the past few years. It all boils down to the OS providing a way for applications to run multiple processes in parallel, or at the same time. Gizmodo has an article that explains it quite well, and I suggest reading it. I’ll probably be upgrading to Snow Leopard pretty soon.
And now I’m simply going to leave you with this incredibly creepy video using time-lapse footage of a rotting apple. No pun on the previous paragraph intended. (Via Kottke)