Tomorrow (Sunday 21 June) is the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, and the shortest day in the south--that is, the "June solstice". The exact moment of the solstice is Sunday, June 21st, at 12:38 pm EDT (16:38 UT). This marks the beginning of summer in the north and winter in the south. Happy solstice!
The main event occurs on June 30th. On that night, Venus and Jupiter will be a jaw-dropping 1/3rd of a degree apart--less than the diameter of a full Moon. You'll be able to hide the pair behind your little pinky finger outstretched at arm's length. Mark your calendar and enjoy the show!
Groundbreaking new documentary offers real solutions for our food security and environmental troubles
“All we need to live a good life surrounds us. Sun, wind, people, buildings, stones, sea, birds, plants. Cooperation with all these things brings harmony. Opposition brings disaster and chaos.” ~ Bill Mollison, co-developer of permaculture.
Unfortunately, instead of cooperating with nature, we’ve been in conflict since the industrial revolution. Scientists and researchers have been sounding the alarm about our path of ecological disaster for years. While the word “sustainability” generally evokes images of deprivation and damage control, permaculture approaches ecological balance from a stance of leaving a positive footprint, instead of no footprint at all.
The idea is beautifully captured by Inhabit, where individuals and groups who are “walking the permaculture talk” are profiled throughout the documentary. Ben Falk is once such person. Founder of Whole System Design Permaculture Research Farm in Vermont, United States and author of The Resilient Farm and Homestead, Falk has created what many consider a small slice of paradise.
The design of the farm is a far cry from traditional agriculture, the former being a type of strip mining more than anything else. Trees, land, plants and animals work together in permaculture, supporting ultimate well-being for everything and everyone involved. Falk helped the process along by creating swales (marshy depressions between ridges) to collect water and revitalize areas of land that were essentially barren. Before long, plant life began to thrive, creating another habitat and food source for animals and humans alike. By working with the natural design and water flow of the property, along with grazing animals and native plants, Falk was able to build a living ecosystem that not only regenerated the land, but also provides exceptional crop yield compared to conventional farming — without the use of harmful pesticides or toxins. Granted, many of us are not quite at the point where we can move out to the country and create our very own bucolic oasis. Even so, the advantage of permaculture is that it can be applied to any situation — rural, urban or suburban.
Examples like Eric Toensmeier, co-author of Edible Forest Gardens and manager of Paradise Lot, a 1/10th acre permaculture educational garden in the heart of Massachusetts, demonstrate that suburbia is an excellent place for permaculture. Growing over 70 perennial greens and 40 different kinds of fruit, Toensmeier observed the bare backyard lot for a year before planting the garden in order to gain an understanding of the patterns of sun, wind and shade. The house on the property also utilizes a composting toilet, which provides rich soil for the plants and creates a closed-loop cycle of regeneration.
The documentary highlights the fact that in New York City alone, there are one million buildings with 38,256 acres of rooftops, which are ripe for permaculture development. The possibilities are truly endless.
Another solution to the problem of storm water is to construct a rain garden. A teenager involved in the project describes how an old gas station was turned into a lush landscape, simply by diverting water from roadways during storms and structurally altering the land for the most efficient use of the water. The end result is a thriving garden of trees and plants which had previously been a wasteland.
Permaculture can also be taken out into the forest. Faced with an overabundance of cut wood, one man decided to use decomposition in his favor — by starting a shiitake mushroom farm with the logs. He then introduced ducks and geese into the mix to keep the slugs that eat mushrooms at bay. Again, all the elements work seamlessly in natural harmony to support one another.
Inhabit director Emmett Brennan leaves us with this final thought: “Humanity is more than ever threatened by its own actions; we hear a lot about the need to minimize footprints and to reduce our impact. But what if our footprints were beneficial? What if we could meet human needs while increasing the health and well-being of our planet? This is the premise behind permaculture – a design process based on the replication of patterns found in nature. Inhabit is on the growing edge of media and cinema, presenting solutions to issues of food, water, medicine, governance, and more, and providing an impressive introduction to the permaculture worldview. The film illuminates the interdependence of all life and it presents an array of projects and people within this growing movement. “
Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective ~ Trailer ‘Inhabit provides an intimate look at permaculture peoples and practices ranging from rural, suburban, and urban landscapes.’
Jenna Lacurci : Nature World News : 12 May 2015
© University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Benjamin Foster
What is referred to as "breaking wave" cloud patterns in our atmosphere reportedly disturb Earth's magnetic field (or magnetosphere) surprisingly often - more often than scientists previously thought, according to new research. The phenomenon involves ultra low-frequency Kelvin-Helmholtz waves, which are abundant throughout the Universe and create distinctive patterns - which can be seen from Earth's clouds and ocean surfaces, to even the atmosphere of Jupiter.
"Our paper shows that the waves, which are created by what's known as the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability, happens much more frequently than previously thought," co-author Joachim Raeder of the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Space Science Center within the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, said in a statement. "And this is significant because whenever the edge of Earth's magnetosphere, the magnetopause, gets rattled it will create waves that propagate everywhere in the magnetosphere, which in turn can energize or de-energize the particles in the radiation belts." In fact, data shows that Kelvin-Helmholtz waves actually occur 20 percent of the time at the magnetopause and can change the energy levels of our planet's radiation belts.
So why is this important? Well, first of all, Earth's magnetic field protects us from cosmic radiation. Not to mention these changing energy levels can potentially impact how the radiation belts either protect or threaten spacecraft and Earth-based technologies. But the UNH team presses that their discovery is less about the effects of so-called "space weather" and more about a better understanding of the basic physics of how the magnetosphere works. "It's another piece of the puzzle," Raeder said. "Previously, people thought Kelvin-Helmholtz waves at the magnetopause would be rare, but we found it happens all the time."
Kelvin-Helmholtz instability waves - named for 19th century scientists Lord William Thomson Kelvin and Hermann von Helmholtz - can be seen in everyday life, such as in cloud patterns, on the surface of oceans or lakes, or even in a backyard pool. The distinctive waves with capped tops and cloudless troughs are created by what's known as velocity shear, which occurs when a fluid or two different fluids - wind and water, for example - interact at different speeds to create differing pressures at the back and front ends of the wave.
Though these waves are ubiquitous in the Universe, their abundance was not known until scientists used data from NASA's Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) mission, which launched in 2007 and provides unique, long-term observations. The results are described further in the journal Nature Communications.
Becky Oskin : Live Science : 28 May 2015
Published on 8 May 2015
Full title: Living with a star (and how it will change everything you thought you knew about weather)
The connection between the Sun and the Earth is a complex one, describing a relationship between us and our star that is both life-sustaining and life-threatening. This relationship is colloquially known as 'space weather'. Aerospace engineer Ryan McGranaghan takes you into outer space to look at the beauty and power of space weather, what it means for our technologically-dependent lifestyles and the fascinating field of research surrounding it. Ryan envisions a time when we can protect our space-faring lifestyles with forecasts of space weather just like tomorrow's chance of rain here on Earth.
Ryan is a Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado Boulder who uses elements of space physics and aerospace engineering to study the weather in space.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx
RT : 10 May 2015
A new technique is enabling a patient's lung to keep breathing for up to a day outside their body. Doctors are hailing it as a success that could see the number of transplants in a year double and allow them to save hundreds more lives.
Until now, donor organs have had to be placed in a refrigerated box and stored in ice to keep them working as new as they were being ferried to and from hospitals. But that only allowed the organ to live for six hours. The machine at London's Royal Brompton and Harefield hospital can stretch this to 24 hours.
The Organ Care System, or OCS, not just stores the organ, but keeps it in the same condition as it exists in the body. It consists of a sealed plastic box, a pump that feeds blood to the organ and a device to inflate and deflate the lung. The technology could also improve the lung's condition, the developers say. That in itself increases the likelihood of the lung's suitability for a patient; it should be noted that, at present, only about 20 percent of donor lungs are good.
Jason Kornwitz : Phys.org : 19 May 2015
Five Northeastern University student-researchers have worked to address the worldwide water crisis, designing a solar-powered desalination system that produces potable ocean water.
They created the device for their senior capstone project, which was supervised by mechanical and industrial engineering professor Mohammad Taslim. Team members comprised Eric Anderson, Jon Moll, Dave Rapp, Murphy Rutledge, and Ryan Wasserman, all E'15. In their project report, the students pointed to the urgent need to solve the global water shortage: Some 750 million people lack access to clean water, according to water.org, and approximately 840,000 people die each year from a water related disease. Indeed, the water crisis represents the greatest risk facing the world today.
"We wanted to work on this project precisely because of the world's water problem," said Wasserman, who recently graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. "Developing nations like Haiti need a cost-effective method for obtaining usable water without power input."
The team's desalination system consists of a parabolic mirror, a copper heating pipe, and two tanks—a storage tank and a condenser tanked filled with cold water. Here's how it works: A user pours a small jug of salt water into the pipe. The mirror reflects sunlight onto the pipe, causing the water to evaporate. This process creates water vapor, which in turn flows through a condenser coil located inside the condenser tank. The resulting potable water drips from the bottom of the condenser tank into the storage tank, leaving the salt behind in the pipe.
In tests, the system produced one gallon of potable water per day. While comparable products on the market produce a fraction of this quantity, Wasserman plans to fine-tune the prototype before considering its marketability.
The prototype's design, he noted, was shaped by his co-op experience with Instron, the maker of materials-testing equipment, and QinetiQ North America, the defense technology company. "Both these co-op jobs were influential," Wasserman said, adding that he recently landed a full-time job with QinetiQ. "I took in a lot of general knowledge that I was able to apply to the assembly of the system."
Taslim underscored Wasserman's sentiments, saying that capstone represents the culmination of five years of hard work in class and on co-op. "During their senior year, students put all their engineering knowledge to work by going through the entire design process from A to Z to bring an idea to reality in a fairly short time," he said. "This is a real-life experience for them so they can join the engineering world prepared."
From Kryon Live Channel, "The Energy of the Future", December 2014 in Newport, CA
I will say to you something that I have said before, and I want you to hear it again and again. The reason for repetition is so you will understand what you see. The darkness will try to win now that the light has been turned on. They have one tool, which is potent - really potent. This tool can get to the highest of the high and ruin them. It can get to the Lightworker, the healer and the channeller. It's a four-letter word called fear.
If you're afraid, then they have won. I want you to think about that. They know this. Let your light shine through this in such an amazing way that there is no longer a horrible, controlling four-letter word. It doesn't even exist. March through these times and remember them, for you expected them and worked toward them. Work toward the new four-letter word - LOVE.
KRYON, through Lee Carroll
If you love stargazing, there's a date you should mark on your calendar. It's June. That's right, the whole month. Throughout the month of June 2015, the two brightest planets in the night sky are converging for an amazing sunset sky show. At closest approach on June 30th, Venus and Jupiter will be less than 1/3rd of a degree apart. Even now, a month ahead of time, the gathering is beautiful. Leo Caldas sends this picture from Brasilia, Brazil:
"The Hubble Space Telescope flew by the planets just as I was photographing the conjunction," says Caldas. "Perfect timing."
In the weeks ahead, Venus and Jupiter will draw steadily closer together. You can see the distance shrink every night. Dates of special interest include June 12th, when Venus passes by the Beehive star cluster. Using binoculars, scan the sky around Venus to observe the cluster. On June 19th, the crescent Moon joins Venus and Jupiter to form a bright isosceles triangle in the sunset sky. One night later, on June 20th, the triangle reappears with shape-shifted vertices. From then until the end of the month, the converging planets will rush together, seemingly on a collision course, but actually en route to a near-miss on June 30th-July 1st.
Keep an eye on the sunset sky for the rest of the month.
_This section is for interesting items which are brought to my attention but which do not merit a separate article.
I welcome your comments, questions or suggestions on any topics you wish to contribute to this section.