Jump to content


AF Member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by efaardvark

  1. Bruce Hornsby & The Range - The Way It Is Bob Seger - Night Moves Harry Chapin - Cat's In The Cradle I may be doing a run of classic 70s this evening..
  2. Don't come to California. You don't even have to visit the wilderness areas. I regularly find black widow spiders in the garage. Tarantulas too, though not so much. There's also the occasional scorpions, fire ants, and rattlesnakes in the yard. Every so often someone finds a colony of "Africanized" - aka "killer" - bees or a nest of yellow-jacket wasps somewhere in the neighborhood. I see coyotes all the time, even in the city streets. They come down out of the hills late in the evening to rummage through the trash and eat any dog or cat food that's left unattended - sometimes the dog or cat as well - then they go back up to their dens just before sunrise. I can hear them yapping in the middle of the night, especially if they find a rabbit or a cat to chase they get all excited and loud. Two or three times a year we even have bears, bobcats, and / or mountain lions wander through, especially in drought years. In the water offshore there's Great White sharks, with stingrays and scorpion fish hidden in the sand, and of course jellyfish. The only place I know that might give us some competition in this regard would be Australia.
  3. Depends on how you do it. I recently saw a "toy hauler" type RV, the 2024 wolfpack 365pack16, that comes complete with living room, bedroom, kitchen, porch, and attached garage. The bedroom has a king-sized bed, built-in wardrobe, and an en-suite bathroom with shower. The kitchen has a stove, sink, microwave, side-by-side refrigerator/freezer and pantry. There's even air conditioning and a fireplace! Put some solar panels and a mobile starlink ground station on the roof and you're good to go. Actually cheaper per sq foot/meter than your average "entry level" shack here in sunny So. Calif. too. (Wish I were joking.) Not sure if you can still call it "camping" at that point however.
  4. No, this one hasn't been in the right position to throw things at Earth yet. In fact it has been on the opposite side of the sun for the past couple/few days so it hasn't even been visible. That must have been from last week's sunspot activity. Or it might have been normal aurora activity. My brother lives near the Great Lakes in Wisconsin and he says he can see the northern lights from his place. Not always, but if the viewing conditions are good he says they're fairly common.
  5. The ESA has a good graphic on how "space weather" affects things on, in, and around Earth. Things have been quiet this week but there's a new sunspot group on the horizon - literally.. right on the edge of the sun - that has already been seen to throw off some strong M-class flares. Nothing like last week's series of X-class flares has definitely been attributed to AR3685 but something emitted an X-class flare seen emerging from behind the sun's limb a few days ago. AR3685 is the most likely candidate. We'll have to see what it looks like next week when it swings around to point at Earth. In the meantime, here's a short move of a CME blowing the tail off a comet. The sequence of frames is from the STEREO-A spacecraft, taken a few years ago. (STEREO-A is the surviving member of a pair of spacecraft that was designed to take 3D images of solar events. Communication with "B" was lost in 2016 so no more 3D pics but "A" can still be used to monitor the flares and the solar wind.. and take these sorts of pictures.)
  6. I think that was the one caused by a software bug that didn't allow an alarm to ring when a power line overloaded. Eventually something overheated and shut down, taking the power with it. It must have sucked to be in someplace like New York for that. In a solar flare situation I think cars would be ok. Maybe not if they're plugged in and charging though. The damage from a flare is caused by the power surges created in long wires. If it was just the car then I think it'd be ok. You're probably thinking about something like an electromagnetic pulse from a high altitude nuke going off. That's similar but the difference is that it is massively more powerful. The "E1" component of a nuclear blast absolutely can destroy electronics. The "E3" component can interact with the magnetic field similar to the way a solar flare does and produces a lot of the same effects as a solar flare. A solar flare doesn't have anything like E1 or E2 however, just E3, so it's a lot less likely to do the sort of damage a bomb would. As for maps.. I was in my late 20s when the WWW was invented. Google maps didn't come along until I was almost 40. If I wanted to get anywhere the only options were Thomas Guides and Rand McNally Road Atlases. I hear they're collectors' items these days. (Unfortunately I threw my last Thomas Guide away decades ago. This is probably why I'm still working on my first $million. I throw away old stuff like that instead of keeping it for 40 years and selling it on ebay. Then again if I'd kept it all I'd probably have wound up being featured on that TV show "Hoarders".)
  7. At any given time there's an extremely low probability of any damage from one. If they're big enough then they can certainly cause huge amounts of damage but the last really big one to hit the Earth was back in 1859 and was called the Carrington event. We've seen quite a few of these types of CME's thrown off by the sun that have missed the Earth so we know they exist and we've studied them enough to have quantified their properties so we know what they're capable of. Fortunately the bigger they are the less common they are and nothing that big has hit the Earth in modern times. We'd also have a bit of warning. Spacecraft like SOHO, ACE, and STEREO (and the upcoming SWFO) are designed for this. They're the ones that are currently (or will be, in the case of SWFO) feeding the data to the NOAA "space weather" site. Maybe we'd only get a few hours or a couple days notice, but that's enough time to shut down and disconnect important bits of infrastructure in an orderly manner. That said, in my own lifetime I remember in 1989 there was a big power outage in Canada caused by a large CME. It wasn't nearly as powerful as the Carrington event but it was still very disruptive to power and communications even back then. This was before things like the internet and smartphones and AWS. I can only imagine what it would be like today. We still haven't implemented a lot of the lessons learned from back then in today's infrastructure either. A physics textbook will tell you that changes in magnetic fields can effect changes in electric currents in wires, and vice versa. Things like motors in electric vehicles and generators in hydroelectric plants are possible because of this. In a motor or generator the wire carrying the electric current is all wound up in a compact coil, and the coil is shielded by the structure of the device, which generally only lets the electrical field interact with magnetic fields also within the device. But a straight wire is also subject to the same physics. If you have a long wire in a fluctuating magnetic field then the field can create an electrical current in the wire. The magnitude of the electrical current is directly related to the length of the wire and the rate of change in the magnetic field. There are many instances of very long wires exposed to the geomagnetic field in the modern world. A power transmission line or a phone line are a couple of examples. They are electrically insulated against things like short circuits but they're not shielded from magnetic fields and these wires are embedded in the earth's magnetic field along with everything else on earth. Normally this is not a cause for concern because the Earth's magnetic field is pretty stable. The Earth's magnetic field usually doesn't change much, or at least not quickly, so any effect from the geomagnetic field is normally manageable. That can change if a CME hits the Earth's magnetic field. The main cause of damage from CMEs is secondary effects from the huge, rapid fluctuations in the magnetic field caused by the charged particles when they hit the Earth's magnetosphere. This affects a large geographic area. When the magnetic field lines surrounding a power or communications cable that is hundreds or thousands of miles long start to change rapidly it can generate huge electrical currents in the cable. The ends of these cables will be connected to things like power plants, homes and offices, and communications centers. These currents would be far more than the equipment is designed to withstand and might go on for minutes or hours. In severe cases the induced currents can generate more power than the wires themselves can handle, in which case the wires will overheat, melting insulation and/or the metal wires themselves, and causing short circuits and fires. This last is what happened in 1859. Hundreds of miles of telegraph wires laid out between cities across the world channeled large electrical currents into the equipment at telegraph offices. Batteries overloaded and exploded, wires overheated, electrical arcs injured people and started fires, etc. Generally the damage was limited however. This was long before computers and even household electricity. Electric lightbulbs didn't even exist until the 1870s, and most homes weren't wired for electricity until the early 1900s. There just wasn't that much infrastructure around to be affected, electrically speaking. In today's high-tech world I think there is far more potential for damage, and the damage would be far more expensive and it would take much longer to repair or replace it all. If a Carrington-level CME hit the Earth these days it would immediately cause widespread power outages as circuit breakers tripped. Some circuit breakers would not be fast enough however, in which case the equipment power lines are connected to would be damaged and would have to be replaced before service could be resumed. Electrical arcs could damage or destroy nearby equipment as well. Things like datacenters would also be very vulnerable. They're connected to the power grid like everything else of course. They're also typically at the hub of a web of long-distance communications wires and the communication equipment is used to dealing with well-behaved low-voltage communications signals, not megawatts of unmanaged power coming down those wires at them. Satellites would also be affected. Communications systems that are used to dealing with faint data transmissions would likely be damaged or destroyed by induced electrical surges far beyond what they'd been designed for. Satellites in space would also be directly affected by the radiation of the CME. That radiation can penetrate to the computer chips and do things like scramble memory and disrupt the programs that are controlling the spacecraft. The other, and I think bigger problem with a Carrington-level CME event would be the sheer scale of the damage to the electrical, computing, and communications infrastructure. It's bad enough if one power plant or a particular datacenter goes down even temporarily. This would likely be a big event, geographically speaking. Bigger by far than something like an earthquake or a hurricane/typhoon. A large number of power plants, transmission lines, communications hubs, and data centers worldwide would be damaged and taken offline within minutes or hours of each other. A lot of the damaged or destroyed equipment would likely be very expensive and the inventory available for immediate replacement thereof would be limited. There are some high voltage, long distance power transmission transformers that would probably be vulnerable for instance but they're very expensive, they take months to build, and there's only a few dozen of them in use in the whole US. How big is the replacement inventory for that sort of thing? How many replacement GPS satellites could be quickly launched, especially if half the world's long distance power lines were down, along with the power plants and communications centers they'd been connected to? How long will it take to rebuild all the datacenters when most of the destroyed equipment will not be available from existing stock in warehouses and will have to be manufactured anew? Will the factories even be able to function to produce the replacement equipment? Some level of basic service could probably be restored relatively quickly, but rebuilding all of it could easily take months or even years. Some level of chaos would also be a quite likely outcome, and there's the question of if our bozo "leaders" in government would be able to effectively manage that chaos and the recovery efforts without creating even more problems.
  8. That's a bit of a tricky question. Best guess is that the alignments will again start to become favorable(?) sometime next week. Maybe Wednesday/Thursday? TL;DR version.. This is all being driven by a huge sunspot, "AR3664". The sunspot itself is 15x as wide as Earth and it is positioned on the sun at a place that is periodically magnetically aligned with the Earth. The sunspot is very active and throwing off huge flares. Sometimes the flares detach and become giant coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that escape the sun. If one or more of these CMEs escape when it is at that perfect spot then the charged particles of the CME follow the magnetic field lines and hit the Earth. That's what causes these auroral displays, among other things. Of course the sunspots are on the surface, and the sun rotates. On average the sun spins on its axis once every 25 (Earth) days at the equator and once every 36 days at the poles. Additionally the sun's surface is not solid and moves around as the sun spins. The sunspots themselves drift around and come and go as well. The magnetic field lines that are associated with the sunspots flow out from the sun and get all twisted around by all these different motions, following the so-called "Parker Spiral" that was recently discovered by the Parker Solar Probe. That makes prediction of the trajectory of CMEs and their effect on Earth a bit like predicting Earth weather. I usually follow spaceweather.com for this sort of thing. Spaceweather had this to say: NOAA also has a very good site, especially if you're a science nerd.
  9. Aaaand I didn’t. Between the latitude, the light pollution, and a bit of haze or fog I could barely even see any stars. Never mind any aurora. Anyone else have better luck?
  10. I saw that! *3* X-class flares! One was a 5.8! Several smaller as well. Nothing Carrington level but there ought to be some good aurora displays not just tonight but all through the weekend and even into next week. The sunspot activity that has been causing them will have moved to the other side of the sun after that but there could even be a repeat when it comes back around. Unfortunately I'm in Southern California - and in a highly light-polluted urban area besides - so I'm unlikely to be able to see anything interesting. I told my brother in Wisconsin though. Last time he got some good pictures.
  11. I just realized... I knew I'd seen Tinasha somewhere before. She's Yumiella a few hundred years later.
  12. Not a big fan of the big warpipes or the bagpipes but I'm ok with the quieter smallpipes or the uilleanns. To me the bagpipes sound like they're trying to be brash and loud. They would go fine over with the brass. Uilleanns would be over with the flutes and clarinets.
  13. I've only just finished ep2 so far but yeah, the pacing seems kinda Non Non Biyori-ish. (Not that that's a bad thing. I'll probably finish it.)
  14. That's on my to-watch list as well.
  15. When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again Or not.. Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
  16. Putting Tonari no Youkai-san on the watchlist.
  17. Decided to give the first 3 episodes of Unnamed Memory a watch. Not quite done with all 3 yet but I can already tell this one will go on the end of season to-be-watched list.
  18. Prowling the 'net looking for news on Take Two's layoffs, specifically as they relate to the closing of the Private Division office in Seattle, where Kerbal Space Program was being developed. Unfortunately it's not looking good for KSP2.
  19. This was the old 60s version from before color was invented*. As a kid I watched TZ and Outer Limits all the time. The first season of OL was kinda cheezy but after that the writing, directing, and acting all got better, though mostly it was still unknowns on the writing and acting side. Even now it's fun to go back and see the works of some actors and writers (especially for Outer Limits) before they became big names. Captain Kirk before he became Captain Kirk for instance, or Harlan Ellison or Clifford Simak on the writing side. (* And yes, everything before the 70s was monochrome. Things like sunsets and rainbows were a lot less interesting back then. )
  20. At the risk of dating myself, yes, I do remember “V”. Going even further back there was that Twilight Zone episode, “To Serve Man”. Spoiler, the episode title on that TZ episode is the name of a book the aliens gave us, which turns out to actually be a cookbook once it’s deciphered so.. yeah.
  21. Maybe different aliens? Or maybe the same aliens! Maybe their civilization was so advanced that all their socks were made of plastic so they lost them in the Great Lid Catastrophy as well. I wonder if maybe they have a dryer research team at Area 51 as well?
  22. Got a replacement spinny drive for my NAS drive that's going bad.. .. and a second M.2 SSD for my computer.. Guess I know what I'm doing this weekend.
  • Create New...