The Sun is Going to Lose 7% of its Energy in about 30 years

The Sun is Going to Lose 7% of its Energy in about 30 yearsThis is brand study in the field of science that has been recently posted which describes a phenomenon that is referred to as the solar “grand minimum.” It is sometimes called the “prolonged sunspot minimum” as well, and it is a timespan that occurs whenever the magnetic pull of the Sun’s begins to diminish. When it happens, we see fewer sunspots, and there is less ultraviolet radiation that is reaching the Earth’s surface. This is because of random fluctuations in the magnetic field of the Sun. All of this scientific activity results in cooler temperatures for those of us on Earth, and it will also cause the Sun to look dimmer.

Periodicity of the Sun

Presently, our Sun is engaged in an 11-year up/down cycle, however this grand minimum is going to be particularly cold, as we will see the activity of the Sun sink lower than its normal 11-year low. And this will translate to much cooler temperatures for certain regions of the world.

Exactly how cold will it get? Forecasts which are based on studies of prior sunspot reductions that have preceded a grand minimum period, are saying that we will see about a 7% reduction in the Sun’s heat and light. And we need to keep in mind that this is 7% lower than the low point of the Sun’s normal 11 year cycle that we have typically seen.

History of the Grand Minimum

This is kind of grand minimum happened previously during the mid-1600s. It was referred to as the “Maunder Minimum” (it was actually named after 2 very well respected astronomers of their time, who were Edward Walter Maunder and Anne Russel Maunder), the cooler temperatures of the times witnessed the freezing of the Thames river, and also the Baltic Sea — which actually let a Swedish army invade Denmark as they marched right across the ice.

And at the very same time, they observed the warming of Alaska and Southern Greenland, because of the thinning of the stratospheric ozone layer over the planet, which resulted in changes of weather and wind patterns all throughout the world.

As far as predicting the precise date and even the event’s severity, that is still a bit of a mystery, but clues are all pointing to everything reaching its bottom sometime around the year 2050. This event could actually begin as early as 2030. In case you are wondering, the previous Maunder Minimum took place from the year 1645 until around 1715.

So is this going to help save us from the effects of global warming? These very same scientists do not believe this will be true.

“The cooling effect of a grand minimum is only a fraction of the warming effect caused by the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” as stated in the study.

Read more here

Who Will Get to Own Outer Space?

Who Will Get to Own Outer SpaceThere have been countless great American industrial projects that occurred during 20th century. One of the most ambitious and perhaps the most romantic was none other than the Apollo project. America first sent a human to outer space during May 1961, and only 8 years later they were standing on the surface of the moon was an amazing accomplishment.

America Progressing Through Space Projects

As a follow up to walking on the moon, NASA created the incredible space shuttle, which ushered in an exciting new period of space exploration. America then created several space vehicles like Discovery, Eagle, and the Endeavour – all of which came with ambitious new plans for outer space.

And it wasn’t only reaching new levels of space exploration that was the motivation of America. There was also the desire to demonstrate industrial prowess and technological ingenuity over the Soviet Union. After all, the very first rockets that America blasted into outer space began as ballistic missiles, which were intended to carry nuclear warheads into Moscow. The space race became part of the Cold War, and it became a battle of ideologies between democracy and communism — or even capitalism.

Establishing America’s Role in Spaceflight

Recently, President Trump expressed his intention to begin sending Americans back to the moon again and maintain an orbital presence permanently, before directing his attention to Mars. This is a shift from the vision that President Obama expressed earlier that was Mars centered. It has been about 45 years since anyone walked on the moon, so this brings in a brand new age of spaceflight, and it is likely that capitalism will have a much larger stake in future space projects.

Where flying in outer space during the 20th century was looked upon as acts of heroic exploration, advances of science, and even national pride, spaceflight during the 21st century will be characterized by an unprecedented increase by private spaceflight investment. These investments will come from an assortment of defense contractors and even startups funded by Silicon Valley. A company that is called Moon Express, which is funded by investors like Peter Thiel, first got permission for a mission to the moon, along with the intention of constructing a mining colony there. And then there is SpaceX, which is setting its sights on Mars.

Traveling to outer space merely for the sake of doing it is typically reason enough for governments to sink money into space exploration. But for corporations to justify going to space, it must generate some kind of return. So does this mean that unchecked capitalism will take over most space projects in the future? Could the government ensure that American spaceflights would still be a humanitarian endeavor in the future in that environment?

Let us look at the short-term reality. Thus far, in NASA’s present affairs with private companies, capitalism is presently working as intended. Competition is generating innovation and keeping costs low.

So when astronauts once again land on the moon, they will do so in spacecraft called Orion that has been built by Airbus and Lockheed Martin, but operated and owned by NASA. However, Orion is not expected to ready for at 5 years at the least, and it will not be servicing the International Space Station, NASA’s one and only existing crewed mission.

So for the very first time, 2 private companies — SpaceX and Boeing — will operate and own the vehicles that will send American astronauts into outer space. This is part of a increasing movement to privatize space projects. When SpaceX leases out Launchpad 39A located at Kennedy Space Center, it will be a dramatic shift from government to private interests regarding human exploration of outer space.

“You can think of it as a difference in ultimate financial responsibility,” claims Casey Dreier, who is the director of space policy from the Planetary Society, which is a nonprofit group who advocates for space exploration. “It’s like the post office instead of UPS — instead of owning the infrastructure and facilities, and owning the vehicles themselves, NASA is paying for a service. For the International Space Station, they’ve been doing this for the past few years for cargo, and they’ll be doing it soon with humans: NASA is buying a ticket and then the companies guarantee transit and deliver.”

When NASA contracts out the ISS delivery, they are insulated from any cost overrun — such as when vehicles take more time or more money and goes over budget. That is a stark departure from the ordinary contractor model, which usually results in big delays and huge cost overruns — that the Department of Defense has to withstand. This is also why NASA sought more than just one capsule design. They demanded to get one from both Boeing and SpaceX. Capitalism is promising to increase innovation and to reduce costs via competition.


10 Top Influential Scientists of All Time

Do you know who the most influential scientists of all time are? Think about the biggest contributions through the ages and see how many you can guess. After you have done that, then check out the video below and find out how many you listed.

Of course, such a list is somewhat subjective 🙂

Did Our Solar System Form Inside a Giant Space Bubble?

Did Our Solar System Form Inside a Giant Space BubbleSo much for the Big Bang theory – here is a theory that wonders if our solar system formed inside a giant space bubble. We all know that there are several theories out there about the way our solar system came to be in existence. And there is no doubt that scientists have not been willing to agree and accept one single model that will explain every little quirk regarding our tiny corner of outer space as it presently exists.

Brand New Model of Solar System Creation

Recently, some scientists from the University of Chicago have crafted yet another new model that will explain some enduring mysteries in regarding to our solar system in its earliest stages. They have hypothesized a view that has our solar system forming within a huge space bubble, that had been created by a star that was some 40 to 50 times as big as our sun. This new  research was recently posted in the publication Astrophysical Journal.

Huge stars like these are referred to as Wolf-Rayet stars and they burn by far the hottest of any other type of stars in our entire universe. This activity results in stellar winds that surround the star by the elements they are creating, and this will eventually form a giant bubble around that star. When this happens, gas and dust becomes trapped within the outer shell of this massive bubble. And many scientists believe that this is an ideal place in which new stars can be formed.

The Location of Formation

The existing hypothesis pertaining to the creation of our solar system is it was born somewhere near a supernova. However, the one big glitch with this latest theory is that it does not explain the vast abundance of the aluminum-26 isotope that existed in the solar system during its early stages, and it also doesn’t address the absence of isotope iron-60. The amounts of these 2 elements during the stages of the early solar system, when compared to the galaxy at large, are actually quite a mystery. However the Wolf-Rayet theory could have furnished a solution to these dilemmas: While it is known that supernovae releases both of these isotopes in at least some quantity, a Wolf-Rayet star only produces aluminum-26 and not iron-60.

The giant star housing our early solar system could have been long gone (perhaps from a supernova explosion or even a direct collapse via a black hole), but prior to its death, the shell of the bubble would have deflated and collapsed partially. And the results of this could have been was the creation of our solar system. Just like with any other theory, we know that we can’t take anything for certain when it comes to the things we actually know about deep outer space, but this is no doubt that this is definitely an interesting theory that should be studies further.

The world is eager to find out if our solar system was formed inside a giant space bubble. Just think of the science fiction movie that could be made from that.


Artificial Intelligence Found Two New Exoplanets

Artificial Intelligence Found Two New ExoplanetsIt is very exciting to hear that artificial intelligence found two new exoplanets. A machine learning method referred to as a neural network has actually found two brand new exoplanets within our own galaxy – according to software engineer from Google and NASA scientists. The amazing part of the story is how these new worlds were made know because of the awesome ability of artificial intelligence.

The Art of Finding Exoplanets

The discovery of new exoplanets—which are planets that reside outside our own solar system—is actually a very common event. The one tool that scientists have used to find them in the past has been using the Kepler Space Telescope – a tool that has previously found and confirmed around 2,525 exoplanets to date.

But the interesting wrinkle of finding these two exoplanets is because researchers were able to use an AI system locate these two new worlds – which have been named as Kepler-80g and Kepler-90i. The 90i planet is particularly interesting to astronomers because makes the total number of planets orbiting this particular star to 8, which matches our own solar system. The temperature on 90i is believed to be quite warm – higher than 800 degrees Fahrenheit actually.

Using Neural Networks

Neural networks are those where software actually learns from the data they accumulate. The fact is that these networks are as common as the discoveries of exoplanets. For instance, it is neural networks that are powering the language translation function on Facebook, that power the FaceID process now available on the brand new iPhone X, and that power image recognition available for Google Photos. A prime example of how neural networks learn is by considering pictures of dogs and cats—if you present labeled pictures of dogs in a neural network, at a later date it ought to be quite able to discover new images of dogs just as it has been trained.

“Neural networks have been around for decades, but in recent years they have become tremendously successful in a wide variety of problems,” says Christopher Shallue, who is a senior software engineer at Google AI, during a recent NASA teleconference. “And now we’ve shown that neural networks can also identify planets in data collected by the Kepler Space Telescope.”

Astronomers will need great tools such as telescopes to look for exoplanets, and will also need artificial intelligence scientists to evaluate huge quantities of labeled data. In this particularly instance, Shallue had trained this neural network by employing 15,000 labeled signals obtained from Kepler. These signals which are actually called light curves, are measurements of just how the light of a star dips whenever an orbiting planet passes between Kepler’s eye and a star – this method is referred to as the transit method. Of these 15,000 total signals, around 3,500 of them were actually light curves from passing planets, and the remaining one were false positives—which are light curves made by something other than an orbiting planet.

Eventually, Shallue and his associate, Andrew Vanderburg, who is a distinguished NASA Sagan postdoctoral fellow from the University of Texas at Austin, submitted the Kepler data to this neural network. It evaluated data from the systems of some 670 stars and focused on the weak signals that might potentially be coming from an undiscovered planet. And this was how they discovered these two new worlds.

“Machine learning really shines in situations where there is too much data for humans to examine for themselves,” Shallue stated.

While artificial intelligence methods and tools have been employed in the past for this type of research before, “this is the first time a neural network specifically has been used to identify a new expoplanet,” Shallue pointed out during a recent conference.


NASA Simulated Missions Show the Need for Martian law

NASA Simulated Missions Show the Need for Martian lawWhen we think about space travel, very few of us ever consider the need for Martian law. There were six people who returned recently from an 8 month long isolation period in order to test the endurance of humans for future long term missions in space. This “journey to Mars” exercise required that the participants reside in isolation in Hawaii – right below the summit of the largest active volcano in the world. The test was created to gain a better understanding of psychological effects from manned missions.

Preparing for Mars Missions

NASA, who hopes to be sending expeditions to the planet Mars by the 2030s, is planning to use results from tests like these to help in the selection of crew members for these future missions. And of course, NASA is not the only one looking to Mars. Millionaire Elon Musk and also Lockheed Martin have both expressed intention of separate Mars missions sometime between the years 2022 and 2028.

So now the conversation is starting to turn toward what laws would govern humans on the planet Mars because survival would obviously be a priority for any mission there. As an afterthought, this could very well be an issue that these isolation experiments could also test.

Settled Law on Space Stations

In the past, the laws within space has supported a position that stations and objects which are placed on celestial bodies will remain under the ownership of the nation who put them there. Thus, private companies and also entrepreneurs are not allowed to have dominion over or mine any of these bodies for natural resources unless they are acting lawfully through a sovereign state.

Existing rules state that the creation and construction of any space station along with the structures needed for its existence must notify the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Afterwards, these structures would operate under the jurisdiction of the nation where the spacecraft was registered or the nation who delivered the components to the station.

Most people agree that this is logical and makes perfect sense. It would be difficult to have a permanent space station located on Mars operate without some set of laws from the ground. The same thing could be said for structures required for its daily maintenance. The closet such example in existence today are the stations in Antarctica.

While what we have discussed so far seems logical, there are certain parts of the law that needs updating. As the construction and the number of Martian space stations increase, there is also a new liability for the possibility of debris to damage Martian properties or even kill people who live on the planet. So the question becomes which laws are needed to govern these kinds of incidents?

Martian Property Rights and Crime

As activities on Mars increases, more questions will arise in regards to what corporations and states are allowed to do these Martian colonies. Will they have exclusive dominion over the inhabitants of the colony? Or would there be another entity devoted to enforcing the laws there?

And there is also the topic of manufacturing in space. Along with that come new discoveries and materials. What laws will govern the patents and the commercialization of these new products? And then there are the inevitable mining operations – which require all sorts of laws regarding patents, restrictions and even safety for the workers.

Many experts fear the law will be ignored in the early stages. This could diminish the enthusiasm of anyone wishing to volunteer for future mission.

There is also the line of thinking that recognizes the commander of a given space station as having exclusive power – much similar to the laws given to a ship’s captain his or her powers. Regardless how the affected parties feel, there is certainly a need for Martian law.


Small Slowdown in Earth’s Rotation Can Cause Major Earthquakes

Small Slowdown in Earth's Rotation Can Cause Major EarthquakesNew research has indicated that even a tiny slowdown in the rotation of the Earth next year could very trigger several more major earthquakes than normal. Previous incidents of slowing rotation over the past 100 years have correlated with above average earthquake activity, according to brand new research that was unveiled at a recent meeting by the Geological Society of America.

Amazing Correlation

“The numbers of earthquakes that have occurred each year in the past century are well known. The changes in Earth’s rotation rate are also well known,” claimed Roger Bilham, who is currently a geophysicist from the University of Colorado Boulder, and who was the study’s co-author. “All we have done is to compare these two well-known lists of numbers and report an interesting and useful relationship.”

The general idea is that when the Earth spins slower, it causes the equator to shrink. But the problem is that the Earth’s tectonic plates are not capable of shrinking as easily as the equator, when means the plates’ edges get squeezed. Even though the amount of squeezing is not very significant, it actually puts more stress on those plates which already are under stress, and where earthquakes more likely to occur.

Historical pattern

Bilham and also his associate, Rebecca Bendick, who is also a geophysicist but comes from the University of Montana in Missoula, examined the past history of earthquakes that have a magnitude of 7 or more since 1900.

Since 1900, there have been roughly 15 major earthquakes annually on average. But during certain time periods there have been anywhere from 25 to 35 earthquakes with magnitudes greater than 7 occur annually. So when the researchers examined these periods more closely, they discovered these time periods correlated to those periods when the Earth was spinning slower, which means the days get a little longer. Modifications in the Earth’s rotational speed are often created by weather events like El Niño, sometimes caused by ocean currents, and even the currents of Earth’s molten core. When these fluids speed up, then the solid Earth has to slow down.

It is because NASA has been tracking the day’s length to each microsecond that these Earth spin slowdowns can actually be forecasted some 5 years in advance.

Based on this information, Earth is now entering a period of slower rotation that will be prolonged. And because of this, next year will most likely see more earthquakes, according to past data. Where the average year will experience around 15 earthquakes with a magnitude of 7 or more, the upcoming four years may something like 20 major earthquakes.

“Knowing that earthquakes will be more plentiful in five or six or seven years is useful because if a city planning department is considering retrofitting buildings to make them earthquake-safe now, or in 10 years’ time, the knowledge that more earthquakes are on their way may make them act now, rather than later,” Bilham stated.

However, this rotation effect will usually only impact the areas that have faults which are experience great stress already and at elevated risks of rupture.

“We have no information on where these earthquakes will occur, except that they will occur at the world’s plate boundaries,” Bilham noted.

Possible effect

“It’s a very interesting possible effect,” claims Amos Nur, who is a notable geophysicist from Stanford University in California, who did not take part in this research. “Even though the rotation rate changes so little, the size of the mass [of the Earth] and the inertia are so great, you don’t need a huge change in rotation to have a change in stress.”

Researchers still suffer from a poor understanding of the things that actually trigger an earthquake, and really don’t currently have any way to predict them. So he believes it is still quite impossible to definitively attribute any earthquake on the Earth’s rotation. But he still believes there are several ways to validate the results of this study.

“The next step would be to go back and try to model what happens to the stress inside the Earth,” when its rotation changes, Nur said. “It’s not ridiculous. It’s quite feasible.”