BAN #51: Space:1999, Arctic ice:2018

October 8, 2018 Issue #51

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Upcoming Appearances/Shameless Self-Promotion

Where I’ll be doing things you can watch and listen to or read about

For scifi nerds of a certain age, you may recognize this name: I did an interview with Jamie Anderson, son of legendary producer Gerry Anderson, for his podcast. The elder Anderson created such TV shows as U.F.O., Space:1999, Thunderbirds, and many more. If you’re my age or a little older, these shows (along with Trek, of course, and a few others) defined science fiction action adventure for you as a kid in the 1960s and 1970s.

Jamie and I talked mostly about Space:1999, one of my favorite shows (OK, fine, the favorite show of mine) when I was a young teen, including how it influenced me to become a scientist. I’ve written about this before, including when lead actors Martin Landau and Barry Morse died.

It was a lot of fun to talk about the show, especially with someone not only familiar with it but in a way related to it.

In fact, I loved the show so much that when my artist friend Len Peralta wanted to interview and draw me for his Geek-a-Week podcast series a few years ago, I chose Commander Koenig for my theme:

BTW Len is great and super nice guy, and a lot of his art is for sale. He does amazing commissions, too.


Is it hot in here, or is it just anthropogenic global warming?

Climate change is real, y’all

 [Arctic sea ice as of September 2018. The yellow line is the median extent calculated from 1981 – 2010.  Credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Polar mosaic courtesy of the Canadian Ice Service.] 

Every year, the sea ice floating in Arctic waters waxes and wanes with the seasons. It generally reaches a maximum in March and is at a minimum in September.

This year it reached a minimum on September 19th, grew a bit, then dropped down again to the same amount on the 23rd. The area of the ice was 4.59 million square kilometers, which puts it in a tie with 2008 and 2010 for the sixth lowest minimum in the 40 years of satellite records. It’s a staggering 1.63 million kilometers lower than the median from 1981 – 2010.

Guess why. Go ahead. Guess.

[Credit: NSIDC/NASA]

The obvious trend is that the minimum has been dropping since 1980, by a rate of about 13 percent per decade. That can go up and down due to weather patterns, of course, but the overall trend is down, with some models forecast that we could see an ice-free Arctic as early as 2040. The trend isn’t linear; as ice melts the drop accelerates because ice is white and reflective, while ocean water is dark and can more efficiently absorb heat from the Sun.

I’ll also note that the current government, when it’s not trying to ram credibly accused perjurous serial sexual assaulters onto the Supreme Court, completely ignores climate change at best and is actively trying to support and increase the use of coal and other fossil fuels. It’s one of the worst things the Trump administration is doing, and that’s saying a lot.

A lot

So, apropos of nothing, you should check to make sure you’re registered (I literally do this every Monday, given the majority party’s predilection for voting roll purges) and when November 6th comes around… vote.


Blog Jam

What I’ve recently written on the blog, ICYMI

A lot of very cool news this week:

Monday Oct. 1, 2018: Video from an asteroid’s surface!

Tuesday Oct. 2, 2018: A newly discovered *extremely* distant icy world points to Planet 9

Wednesday Oct. 3, 2018: More evidence piles up that we’re seeing an exomoon orbiting an alien world

Thursday Oct. 4, 2018: Is this faint smear of a light a galaxy or the guts ripped out of a galaxy 

Friday Oct. 5, 2018: Followup: I saw the Lunar Swirl!


Et alia

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