Something else to cheer you up.


The biggest problem we face is a philosophical one: understanding that this civilization is already dead.

via Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene –



Don’t put off for millenniums what you can do today!


…if you wait long enough, the planets will all eventually spiral inwards towards the center of our Solar System, where they’ll be gobbled up…

via Putting Einstein to the Test – Starts With A Bang.


Devotional No. 14

IT’S fantasy, amusing, but as technology closes in upon mimicking God, once again are we up to it? Who shall live, who shall die? We’ll save the pandas and the whales that sing prettily, but, like godlings, we’re playing with fire and water, tides and industry.

via Pity Earth’s Creatures –

But the blunt truth is that the living world is a restless, churning enterprise in which nothing endures forever. Astonishingly, almost every life form that has ever existed on the planet has died out.

via BBC News – Why such a fuss about extinction?.

December 2 All the animals in the zoological gardens have been killed except the monkeys; these are kept alive from a vague and Darwinian notion that they are our relatives, or at least the relatives of some of the members of the government, to whom in the matter of beauty, nature has not been bountiful.

via From Zoo to Table – Lapham’s Quarterly.


The restaurant at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.


Surprisingly, these primitive, single-celled organisms were twice as active at the bottom of the trench than they were at a nearby 6km-deep four miles site. They were feasting on a plentiful supply of dead plants and creatures that had drifted down from the sea surface, the decomposing matter becoming trapped within the steep walls of the trench. “The amount of food down there and also the relative freshness of the material is surprisingly high – it seems to be surprisingly nutritious,” said Dr Turnewitsch.

via BBC News – Mariana Trench: Deepest ocean teems with microbes.



Watching this hole being torn in the planet’s crust and charting the crater’s subsequent development over hours, months and years would be a remarkable opportunity for planetary geologists. Most of the solid surfaces in the solar system are pockmarked with large craters, and much has been deduced about the processes that take place when they form. Actually seeing one created would put those deductions to the test.

via Cometary billiards: Have you heard, it’s in the stars | The Economist.

Look! Up in the Air!

If it is clear enough, you may be able to see a meteor shower on Tuesday night.

via Quadrantid Meteor Shower 2013 Peak: When to Watch – Park Slope, NY Patch.

On Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 4:57 PM, I wrote:

Regarding your Quadrantid meteor article of Jan. 2, where exactly in Park Slope would I be able to see that?

'Only' 14 Million Miles Away (NASA, Hartley 2,...

(Photo credit: NASA)

Some time later, Todd wrote:

Subject: Re: Patch – Quadrantid Meteor Shower 2013 Peak: When to Watch
John: The best way to see it is to find the darkest place possible. That prevents the “light pollution” from obscuring the view. Happy showering!

A little while later, I wrote back:

I apologize. You mistook my good-natured cheek for a serious inquiry.

I observe that Park Slope is snug in the middle of the largest city in the United States. On most nights, only one or two stars are visible. I have never heard of anyone’s attempting to view a meteor shower in Brooklyn, but I am sure it would be futile. The best we can hope for, nocturnal astronomical event-wise, are lunar eclipses.

Anyway, I would have let it pass, but I noticed that your article says it was published Wednesday, which appears to be the day after your recommended viewing time. It would lend credence to your Web site if you would consider some of these details the next time.

A reader

Thanks, Park Slope Patch.

We’re Getting Lonelier

…the tropical freshwater Living Planet Index has fallen by nearly 70%, while the temperate freshwater LPI has risen by 36%.

via WWF – Biodiversity: Land vs Water.

Either the Way, It Is the Same Thing

“It’s unclear whether the Earth will also be swallowed up by the Sun in its red giant phase — but even if it survives, its surface will be roasted.”

via Solar Systems Death Glimpsed in White Dwarf Stars | Wired Science |

Chickens! In! Space!

Last month, when the sun unleashed the most intense radiation storm since 2003, peppering satellites with charged particles and igniting strong auroras around both poles, a group of high school students in Bishop, California, knew just what to do. They launched a rubber chicken.

via Rubber Chicken Flies into Solar Radiation Storm – NASA Science.