Its Not Real…Really Its Not.

Planet-X, Niburu, whatever your local conspiracy theorist wants to call it, does not exist.

After decades of astronomical observations and data, there is NO trace of a 12th planet (yes, counting Pluto).

The believer’s in Niburu believe that this rouge planet will come smashing through the solar system sometime in the 21st century to destroy the Earth.

These believers also think the the asteroid belt was made from one on Niburu’s moons destroying a planet between Mars and Jupiter.  Scientifically, we know that this isn’t the case, the gravitational tug between Jupiter and the rest of the inner solar system (including the Sun) would prevent any planet from forming in this region.

Please don’t confuse Niburu/Planet X with the other crackpot ideas like: Hercolubus, Nemesis, Comet Elenin, Tyche, Sedna or Eris or any of the other bizarre doomsday scenarios that these charlatan’s devise.  Any and all of these types of bodies would have already destroyed all life on Earth.  Also, the disruptions to the solar system would still be evident.  Asteroids flying all out of orbit, planets careening about. None of this has happened or will happen.

NASA - WISE Mission patch

NASA announced last week that the data from the WISE mission study shows that Niburu will  never be found, because it doesn’t exist.  Please stop the madness.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

RAS General Meeting Recap.

This month’s speaker for the RAS, was Heather A. Knutson.  She is an assistant professor in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology.  She is working onthe physics and chemistry of exoplanetary atmospheres, planet formation and migration, and the search for new low-mass eclipsing planetary systems.

As usual, our meetings are held at Cossentine Hall at La Sierra University.

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Dr. Knutson spoke about her research into smaller exoplanets.  Most of the exoplanets are large, like Jupiter large.  She is trying to find Earth analogous planets.

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She also spoke about some of the planets that have been discovered.

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One particular planet has 6,000 mph winds and liquid rock for clouds!  Trust me, the science works, it just seems odd.

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She also explained that instead of looking at large suns for Earth sized planets, they are starting to look as smaller suns.  It makes perfect sense.  If you can’t make the planet larger to detect, look at smaller suns and the planet gets bigger by default.

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It was also interesting to note that Kepler imaged a very, very tiny part of our galaxy.  That spot with the red arrow is as much as we have looked at to date.  There are a lot of other exoplanet missions planned, but the galaxy, and the universe, are really big.  Lots more data to come.

Remember, everyone is welcome at the meetings and you can find out about the topics by visiting www.rivastro.org.

 

 

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Its PI Day!

If you are mathematical geek like me, today is a special day.   March, 14th of every year, 3-14, or 3.14, or fully expanded below..

Pi actually goes on for quite a while, infintity actually.  It has no discovered repeating pattern.

Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.

reflections-on-pi

Pi has many different properties, as shown in the Robert Deupree Jr. design above.  Who knew that math (or maths if you are English) could make you hungry?

congress

In 2009, Congress officially recognized 3.14 as National Pi Day to encourage math and science in schools.

You can even find your birthday in pi here, or have pie for your birthday.  Both will work!  My birthday position in pi starts at 5301.

The official Pi Day website (www.piday.org) has all sorts of fun filled activities related to pi for you.  If you like math or are just intrigued by this number, you should check it out.

As for me, I started a Pi(e) day event at work.  Tasty and educational.  The recipe for the dessert pi above can be found here.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Is the Large Hadron Collider…Too Small?

More power, bigger, better, faster!  Well, maybe not faster, the speed of light is pretty much it for now.  But bigger and more powerful we can do.

Although the Large Hadron Collider is 17 miles (27 kilometres) long and covers a large area of Switzerland.

At depths ranging from 164 to 574 ft (50 to 175 metres) underground, the LHC has been smashing atoms for research since 2009.  It is currently undergoing upgrades and is scheduled to re-start operations in 2015.

Even with the re-start there are already plans on the table for a new collider, tentatively called the Geneva Basin Collider that is a 100km in length.  So why the need for the bigger badder collider?

Even though the LCH can get particles moving near the speed of light, it turns out that you need even more power to produce particles (like the Higgs Boson) that occurred close to the Big Bang.  As two beams of particles travel in opposite directions, they are directed toward each other and then the computers capture what happens when beams collide.  A couple of billion times a second.  But to produce higher energy particles, you need to add more energy.  The only way we know how at the moment is to build a bigger, badder collider.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

WARNING! Don’t Go to Bed Earlier.

You may be familiar with the Higgs Boson.  The Large Hadron Collider has found evidence that it does exist and Peter Higgs is now a Nobel laureate for his work on this.

However, he did miss out on being part of the group that was credited for devising the Standard Model (commonly called the “theory of everything”).

In 1960, then Professor Higgs was in conversation with physicists Shelley Glashow, Abdus Salam and Steven Weinberg.  The latter three received a Nobel prize in 1979 for ideas that lie at the heart of the Standard Model.  Had Professor Higgs not been tired and gone to bed, he could have been a double Nobel winner.

So the moral of the story is: Going to bed early doesn’t pay, stay up late, drink and think about the theory of everything.  I believe I have done that in my youth, but I never got a Nobel prize for it.  Perhaps if I had shown my work….

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

A New ISS Commander and a First for Japan.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata is the new commander of mission 39 of the ISS.

Koichi wakata.jpg

Wakata has been a member of four NASA Space Shuttle missions and a long-duration stay on the International Space Station.  He has logged more five months in space over the past twenty years.

International_Space_Station_after_undocking

Yesterday, March 10, 2014, Wakata took over command of the ISS.  Previously, Wakata was a crew member on ISS missions 18, 19, and 20.  He is the first person  serve on five different crews without returning to Earth: STS-119, Expedition 18, Expedition 19, Expedition 20 and STS-127.

Congratulations Commander Wakata, it is well deserved.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Where Can You See the Northern (or Southern) Lights?

Beautiful and magical, the both the Aurora Borealis (Northern) and the Aurora Australis

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Aurora australis image by Samuel Blanc.

Where can you see the lights of the aurora?  How can you plan to take an image?

The first place you would want to star is here, at Space Weather.  You can see how the local weather caused by the Sun is going to affect the Earth’s atmosphere and when it is going to send enough charged particles at us to light up the day and night.

I live pretty far south in Pasadena, but about three time a year on average, the Northern lights are visible this far south.  Granted you have to go to a dark sky sight, but it can still be done.

For the more adventurous, you can book a trip with my friend Dennis Mammana on one of his many journeys up to the Northern climes to photograph the aurora.  Dennis just finished up his Alaskan aurora trip but has four more planned this year.  If you would like to join Dennis an learn how to photograph aurora from him, you can book your trip here.  If you are planning on going solo, Dennis has a lot of good information on how to capture your own Northern lights image here.

You can also sign up for alerts from spaceweather.com for when there is a possibility of the Northern lights being visible in your area.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

How the Crisis in the Ukraine Affects Space Science.

I normally do get involved with politics, but this is a special case.  Without a reasonable resolution to the situation in the Ukraine, space could be adversely affected.

If the trouble between Russia and the rest of the world doesn’t work itself out soon, there could be dire consequences for the International Space Station.

Without a viable transport to the ISS, we and the other nations that have an interest in the space station rely on Russia to get personnel back and forth.

Although there are alternative supply transports, the only way that scientists and other crew member, Russia is currently the only human space taxi available.  Without the Soyuz spacecraft, the ISS is effectively dead.

Although the crisis in the Ukraine has had its dramatic moment, I believe (and hope) that it stabilizes quickly.  However, this should give all the other ISS member countries pause to think about alternative transportation to and from the station.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Plato to Take on Kepler

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Science Policy Committee has selected a successor to NASA’s highly successful Kepler.  The mission, the PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars, or Plato, is scheduled to launch in 2024.

Similar to Kepler, the Plato mission should cost just over 600 million euros, although hardware contributions from other parties will push the cost closer to a billion euros.  Still this is relatively inexpensive as far a modern space missions are concerned.

Working off the data returned by Kepler, Plato will be tuned specifically to seek out rocky worlds orbiting in the “goldilocks” or “habitable zone,”  which is the region around a star where water can exist in a liquid state.  So Plato is going to be more specific to finding Earth-like planets, where Kepler was designed to  just find the planets.

Image Credit: University of Warwick

“Plato will be our first attempt to find nearby habitable planets around Sun-like stars that we can actually examine in sufficient detail to look for life,” said Dr Don Pollacco, the University of Warwick researcher who leads the Plato Science Consortium.

Plato will be parked at the L2 Lagrange point, so it will be in permanent orbit.  However, like Kepler, no rescue missions are currently possible if something goes wrong.

Plato is a suite of 34 telescopes mounted on a single satellite.  The array will image about half the sky, to investigate some of its brightest and nearest stars and search them for planets using light curves.

The array will have 136 charge-coupled devices (CCDs) made by e2v in Chelmsford.  The total imaging surface will be about a square meter and have 2.5 billion pixels.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Bikini’s In Space.

Well almost.  In a move that is sure to draw the interest of the 18-45 male demographic to careers in space, Sports Illustrated has taken one of its most famous models for a ride on the “Vomit Comet.”

Watch Kate Upton posing in zero gravity in a bikini because science

Kate Upton, a two time SI swimsuit edition cover model, was taken on the aircraft in a photo shoot that has been in the planning stages for 4 years (I hope that’s confetti floating around with her).  More photos can be found here, for purely scientific research of course.

 

It must have been very interesting for photographer James Macari and his staff to get any of these images while bouncing bouncing around in zero-g.

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To set up the shots, Macari had to time everything with the ups and downs the aircraft takes to produce the effect.  It must have been a challenge for lighting and expensive camera equipment not to go bump, crash and break on the journey.

But you don’t have to feel left out.  For a measly $4,950 (tax and shipping not included), you too can book a trip on G-Force One.

The complet Sports Illustrated story appears in the 2014 Swimsuit issue. To purchase a digital copy of the magazine and to subscribe to Sports Illustrated, go here. To see exclusive photos and videos of this year’s swimsuit models and shoots, check out SI Swimsuit 2014.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman