It also took me on a curiosity journey: Lightning strikes Earth’s surface about 45 times every second. But not every spot on Earth is struck by lightning at the same frequency. Some places, like Antarctica, almost never see lightning. And some places, like a certain area of Democratic Republic of Congo, get almost 160 strikes per square kilometer every year. This area of Arizona gets about 10 strikes per square kilometer every year.
Let’s use a conservative guess for the age of the Grand Canyon at about 6 million years (although some controversial estimates have put its age at up to 17 million years. Or even 70 million). The ridge area that the lightning is striking is about 1 square kilometer in area (I checked on Google Earth, below)
If we assume that the Grand Canyon region’s climate has been fairly consistent over that time (which is a big assumption, and most likely not true), then this same sight has happened somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 million times.
Lightning does strike twice. And that’s a beautiful thought.
Know were you stand: Modern Day Locations blended with Major Historical Events by Seth Taras
1. The Hindenberg Disaster of May 6, 1937
2. Allied soldiers rushing the beach at Normandy in June 1944
3. The Fall of the Berlin wall in 1989
4. Adolf Hitler touring Paris and standing in front of the Eiffel Tower in 1940
This feat, the “terraforming” of Mars from its current lifeless or near-lifeless state to a living, breathing world supporting multitudes of diverse and novel life forms and ecologies, will be one of the greatest and noblest enterprises of the human spirit. No one will be able to contemplate it and not feel prouder to be human.
Life in the initial Mars settlements will be harder than life on Earth for most people, but life in the first North American colonies was much harder than life in Europe as well. People will go to Mars for many of the same reasons they went to colonial America: Because they want to make a mark or a new start, or because they are members of groups who are persecuted on Earth, or because they are members of groups who want to create a society according to their own principles. Many kinds of people will go, with many kinds of skills, but all who will go will be people willing to take a change to do something important with their lives. Out of such people are great projects made and great causes won. Aided by ever-advancing technology, such people can transform a planet and bring a dead world to life.
- Robert Zubrin, Entering Space: Creating A Spacefaring Civilization
Hubble and the Horsehead, Then and Now
The clouds of stellar gas almost jump right out of my screen! It’s a far cry from the view of the nebula that we’re used to, in the bottom image. Phil Plait has a great description of what you’re seeing at Bad Astronomy:
Just off the top of the Hubble picture is the bright star system Sigma Orionis, composed of five incredibly luminous stars. Combined, they shine with the power of over 75,000 Suns! They are responsible for heating and exciting the gas behind the Horsehead.
The Horsehead itself is the site of ongoing star formation. The dense gas and dust inside the nebula is collapsing to form stars, and, at the same time, the edges are being eroded away by the fierce ultraviolet light of Sigma Orionis. The top of the Horsehead is acting a bit like a shield, protecting the material beneath it, which is why it’s taken on that umbrella-like shape. You can see more sculpted pillars of material around the sides, too, like sandbars in a stream.
Well done, Hubble team. Keep up the good work. You’ve inspired millions.
ca. 1870-1900’s, [tintype portrait of two cloaked ladies smiling demurely from behind a palm fan]
via Cowan’s Auctions
Astronomers this week announced they have found a new miniature version of a supernova they are calling Type Iax. Up until now, supernovae were thought to come in two main flavors – core collapse and Type Ia.
CREDIT: Christine Pulliam (CfA)
A really cool solar system scale graphic by 3D artist Roberto Ziche (via Bob’s Spaces)
ca. 1880-1900’s, [tintype portrait of a woman on a prop studio horse]
The discovery and analysis of an extremely rare African American Y chromosome pushes back the time of the most recent common ancestor for the Y chromosome lineage tree to 338,000 years ago. This time predates the age of the oldest known anatomically modern human fossils.
ca. 1880-90’s, [tintype portrait of two women adorned with stringed popcorn and possibly peanuts]
ca. 1855, [daguerreotype portrait of a elderly woman holding spectacles with a young girl who appears to be cross-eyed]
Street boys playing billiards at Bancroft-Foote Boys Club in Connecticut in 1909. (via Shorpy)