Friday, July 15, 2011
Driven by a weak but steady ion engine, Dawn has been accelerating 1000
days in a four-year spiral to reach the giant, 350 mile wide, Vesta
asteroid, the second largest asteroid in the solar system. By probing its
secrets scientists hope to catch a glimpse of how the planets, including
Earth formed out of a disc of gas and dust. It is the second most massive
asteroid in the solar system, with an unusually dark surface. It is
reassuring to see that the great science-NASA is still alive.
There are five-billion cell phones in use worldwide according to industry
figures, and yet there is not a single verified case of cancer being caused
by cell phone radiation. The science that explains why cell phone
radiation can't cause cancer is more than 100 years old
. Nevertheless, the Environmental Health Trust, founded by Devra Davis, exists solely to warn
the public about the nonexistent cancer hazard of cell phones, and perhaps
sell a few copies of her book. On the other side is the webcomic xkcd. Go
to http://xkcd.com/925/ .
One week after a House subcommittee proposed terminating the James Webb
Space Telescope (JWST), NASA's costly successor to the orbiting Hubble
observatory, agency officials told an advisory panel on Thursday that JWST
can be launched as soon as 2018, but political realities could delay the
mission's start well into the 2020s. "Political realities" could terminate
it completely. Meanwhile, the 2012 budget request NOAA sent to Congress in
February asked for $47.3 million for the Deep Space Climate Observatory
(DSCOVR) and $11.3 million for Constellation Observing System for
Meteorology Ionosphere and Climate-2 (COSMIC-2). The House bill would not
provide funding for either. Republicans oppose any mission that would give
evidence of global warming. Otherwise celebrity billionaires might be
called on to pay taxes at the rate of working people.
Two years ago, e-mail files of the Climate Research Unit at the University
of East Anglia were hacked and selectively posted on the web. Rupert
Murdoch newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, expressed shock at
the "criminal conspiracy" and "scientific blacklisting"
The "gate" suffix was added to
invite comparison with the infamous break-in at the Watergate by Nixon's
goons, but the climategate burglars were treated as heroes. There was not
one line of criticism about the only criminal offense in the whole sordid
climategate affair of hacking into private files. It is ironic that
hacking by the Murdoch papers is now threatening the Murdoch empire.