Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

Summer with the Schmooze

from the desk of Bob Siederer

Hello again Science fans!

Weather is something we all like to talk about.  Be it nice or bad outside, it always generates comments.  We’re lucky here in the Bay Area in that we don’t have extremes like much of the rest of the country.  Our summers are primarily dry and sunny, our winters mild.  A recent visit to the midwest reminded me, once again, of the heat and humidity that is there for much of the summer, along with severe storms.

Our old friend Phil Plait (@BadAstronomy) just posted an item about this that includes some time-lapse photography taken by Mike Olbinski of supercells and the resulting weather they create that’s worth a look.

There are several things of note in Astronomy this week.  The Perseid Meteor shower is usually the most reliable show of the summer, but this year it will coincide with a full moon, making it far more difficult to see.  Instead, look for the Delta Aquarids shower, with tonight being the peak.

Most of us didn’t know it, but last Thursday saw a 100 meter wide asteroid pass Earth at a distance of about 70,000 km.  That’s between us and the moon.  It was only discovered a few days before it passed by because it was coming directly from the area of the sun.  Had it hit us, the energy released would have been at least 30 times that of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

Then there is news of further validation of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, this time from examining a star that is very close to the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.  Einstein was one smart cookie!

Closer to home, you can head to the annual Novato Space Festival at the Space Station Museum next Sunday.  If you are interested in volunteering to help, today is the last day to sign up as a volunteer.  Several astronauts will be on hand next week.

I’m one of those people who can’t remember their dreams.  Occasionally I will remember one, or part of one, but while the dream seems so real while I’m having it, it fades away quickly once I’m awake.  My father used to work out problems in his sleep and kept a pad and pen by his bed so he could write down whatever he solved, lest he forget it by morning.  Well, now we know why we can’t remember dreams.

Someday soon, baldness may be obsolete, at least for the wealthy who can afford a new treatment that shows promise.

Sometimes scientists looking for one thing discover something completely different, often with very practical uses.  The Post-It note comes to mind as a perfect example of this.  The adhesive used on the Post-It is the result of a failed experiment to create something very different.  Now, we have liquid magnets!

Lastly, my picks for this week include:

  1. To the Moon and Beyond… – 07/30/2019 06:30 PM at swissnex in San Francisco
  2. The Dead Do Tell Tales – 07/31/2019 07:30 PM in Santa Cruz
  3. ‘The Bit Player’ – 08/02/2019 06:30 PM in Mountain View

Have a great week in Science!

Bob Siederer

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