Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

Frosty Sand Dunes of Mars, as seen from the Mars Reconnaissance orbiter.

from the desk of Bob Siederer

Hello again Science Fans!

Tonight the moon will rise full, and it will be the first of four “super moons” in a row. Super moons occur when the moon isfro at its closest to Earth and appears larger than usual. This one is known as the Worm Moon as, according to some Native American folklore, March is when the earth thaws and earthworms come out.

Further from home, our exploration of Mars continues. The image above was taken 196 miles from the surface of Mars by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Meanwhile, on the surface itself, Perseverance Rover continues to prepare for geologic sample collection. Here’s an animation showing how that process will work.

Earth is far from finished developing. The Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland erupted earlier this month. Here are some spectacular images of the eruption. Some of the people look awfully close! I was a child and vividly remember my aunt, who was a grade school teacher, bringing some filmstrips (remember those?) of Kilauea on the Big Island in Hawaii erupting and being fascinated by them.

Every 17 years, a brood of cicadas emerge from beneath the ground along the East Coast, with the sole task of breeding. The noise made by billions of these insects is unrelenting and lasts for weeks. “Brood X” is expected to emerge this year. But some portion of the brood came out 4 years early, something that is happening more often now.

A few years ago I was in Kansas City for a couple of days. There was a school science fair on display inside the train station building and I went to take a look. I was impressed by the complexity and breadth of the projects on display. A high schooler in Iowa has invented a surgical suture that can change color if it detects infection…using beet juice! Kudos, not only to Dasia Taylor, the student, but to her teacher who worked with her and encouraged her work. The potential impact of this is profound, especially in underprivileged countries.

One clear difference between the Biden and Trump administrations is the focus on Science to support the Federal Government’s decisions. One such prominent example is the newly created post of climate adviser to NASA, and the man tapped to fill the post.

Know someone who is reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Here are the most common myths that are causing people to be concerned and the answers you can use to educate that someone. Meanwhile, Californians 50 and older will become eligible to receive the vaccine starting Thursday. Then on the 15th, anyone 16 or over will become eligible. How far we have come in just a matter of a couple of months! While California has administered some 15.7 doses of the vaccines (as of Friday), and that is more than any other state, we’re still in the middle of the pack when measured by shots per-capita.

The cosmic web has been predicted for a long time. It is made up of filaments of hydrogen that feed and form galaxies and tie space together. Now, for the first time, scientists have directly imaged the web!

Have a great week in Science!

Bob


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