SPECIAL SECTION: Message For Our “Friends” In The Middle Kingdom
I normally save this for near the end, but…basically…up your shit-kicking barbarian asses. Yes, barbarian! It took a bunch of sailors in Western Asia to invent a real alphabet instead of badly drawn cartoons to write with. So much for your “civilization.”
Yeah, the WORLD noticed you had to borrow the Latin alphabet to make Pinyin. Like with every other idea you had to steal from us “Foreign Devils” since you rammed your heads up your asses five centuries ago, you sure managed to bastardize it badly in the process.
Have you stopped eating bats yet? Are you shit-kickers still sleeping with farm animals?
Or maybe even just had the slightest inkling of treating lives as something you don’t just casually dispose of?
Zhōngguò shì gè hùndàn !!!
China is asshoe !!!
And here’s my response to barbarian “asshoes” like you:
OK, with that rant out of my system…
Biden Gives Us Too Much Credit
…we can move on to the next one.
Apparently Biden (or his puppeteer) has decided we’re to blame for all of the fail in the United States today.
Sorry to disappoint you Joe (or whoever), but you managed to do that all on your own; not only that, you wouldn’t let us NOT give you the chance because you insisted on cheating your way into power.
Yep, you-all are incompetent, and so proud of it you expect our applause for your sincerity. Fuck that!!
It wouldn’t be so bad, but you insist that everyone else have to share in your misery. Nope, can’t have anyone get out from under it. Somehow your grand vision only works if every single other person on earth is forced to go along. So much as ONE PERSON not going along is enough to make it all fail, apparently.
In engineering school we’re taught that a design that has seven to eight billion single points of failure…sucks.
Actually, we weren’t taught that. Because it would never have occurred to the professors to use such a ridiculous example.
The So-Called Vax
I think I can actually make sense of the Vaxers now. (And I’m going to call it the “treatment” from here forward.)
Everything they do makes sense (from their point of view, that is), if you assume that they believe the purpose of the treatment is to prevent the recipient from infecting others. It’s not to protect the recipient from others, it’s to protect others from the recipient.
(Now it is true that an actual vax helps slow the spread of the disease. I know you can sometimes transmit a disease if vaxed, but it’s more difficult if you don’t actually don’t catch it. But I am not talking about the side-benefit of a real vax; I’m talking about what they think of THIS treatment, where, apparently the only benefit it confers is to prevent people from transmitting it.)
Under those circumstances, they can consider you selfish for not wanting to protect others. After all you refuse to take a treatment that will prevent others from catching the disease from you. And, indeed, they do consider you “selfish” and not in the positive way that Ayn Rand used the term.
But it’s yet another one of those things where ONE non-compliant individual ruins it for everyone else–at least, that’s what they think it is. ONE untreated person could infect the entire human race, because they aren’t protected from him.
Never mind that this is not what a vaccine is supposed to be doing. If you assume that the motherf*cking toilet licker in front of you shrieking about how you’re Satan Incarnate for not being jabbed believes that the sole purpose of the treatment is to prevent the recipient from spreading the disease–not to prevent the recipient from catching it–suddenly his behavior makes sense, at least based on what he believes (and you can’t expect anyone to behave in accordance with things they don’t believe).
So perhaps the best way to argue with these people is to simply point out calmly that a vaccine (their word) is supposed to protect the recipient from those with the disease [which of course we say] not prevent them from giving it to other people [identify their false premise and face it head on] they might actually feel like they’re being argued with, rather than talked past.
If you don’t confront their actual premise, arguing with them can accomplish nothing.
Justice Must Be Done.
The prior election must be acknowledged as fraudulent, and steps must be taken to prosecute the fraudsters and restore integrity to the system.
Sedate. The adagio (2nd movement) from his clarinet concerto.
And a bit…less sedate. Last movement of his Symphony #41 which is the last one he wrote.
(Don’t be fooled by the fact that there’s a Symphony #42, or 43, or…well up to #55 at least…as I explained last time the numbering isn’t really chronological. To the best of my knowledge he’s got at least 51 symphonies under his belt (though some are disputed), so if we were ever to renumber them, this one would be #51. But we never will renumber them; that would cause confusion for centuries.)
By the way, that sucker ends in a five part fugue. Not easy to write!
Lawyer Appeasement Section
OK now for the fine print.
This is the WQTH Daily Thread. You know the drill. There’s no Poltical correctness, but civility is a requirement. There are Important Guidelines, here, with an addendum on 20191110.
We have a new board – called The U Tree – where people can take each other to the woodshed without fear of censorship or moderation.
And remember Wheatie’s Rules:
1. No food fights
2. No running with scissors.
3. If you bring snacks, bring enough for everyone.
4. Zeroth rule of gun safety: Don’t let the government get your guns.
5. Rule one of gun safety: The gun is always loaded.
5a. If you actually want the gun to be loaded, like because you’re checking out a bump in the night, then it’s empty.
6. Rule two of gun safety: Never point the gun at anything you’re not willing to destroy.
7. Rule three: Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
8. Rule the fourth: Be sure of your target and what is behind it.
(Hmm a few extras seem to have crept in.)
All prices are Kitco Ask, 3PM MT Friday (at that time the markets close for the weekend).
This week, markets closed for the weekend at 3:00 PM Mountain Time
Is this a break out? Platinum and palladium are up like gangbusters. Rhodium hasn’t moved much, but gold and silver are up fairly nicely (again, today they’re down, Thursday’s close was even higher).
Is the inflation of the “Fern” (Federal Reserve Note) finally manifesting?
The James Webb Space Telescope has succesfully deployed all 18 pieces of the primary mirror and the secondary mirror from their “stowed for launch” positions. That involved moving them half an inch (12.5mm) from where they were before, using the same actuators that will be used over the next three months for the next major phase of the mission.
I was surprised to see that NASA had slipped the L2 insertion burn a day. I didn’t think that was possible; at some point the spacecraft has reached where it needs to be to do this, and you don’t want to miss the window. Obviously, I don’t know all the details…because despite being originally scheduled for Sunday, it’s now slated for Monday.
More about the orbit.
At some point after that, I believe, they will begin the process of lining up the mirror segments with each other. They need to mimic a single parabolic mirror, and that will require them all to be re-positioned with accuracies of less than ten billionths of a meter. This will be done with the same motors that took the mirrors out of “stowed” position. That motion was a million times larger, yet the same actuators were responsible. It’s as if you had a combined brain surgery scalpel/chain saw for cutting things around the house. The mirror alignment is expected to take three months, and the impression I’ve received is that they will be done one at a time and checked with algorithms that have benefited people with certain visual impairments here on Earth (including one that I have). I have no idea how much, if any, NASA will be updating people during the process.
Meanwhile the sensors that these mirrors gather the light for, continue to cool and will also be brought on line and calibrated. We’re still looking at June for the first meaningful pictures, which will be false-color infrared pictures.
The First Exoplanets Not Orbiting Star Corpses
One Last Detection Method
There’s one more, rather rare, method of detecting extrasolar planets (or “Exoplanets” for short) and the surprising thing about this method is it actually has happened.
Occasionally we will see one (fairly close) star pass directly in front of a more distant star; the closer star will appear to be moving faster (more likely) than the distant one.
When that happens, the gravity of the nearer star bends some of the starlight from the more distant star, and that star is “gravitationally lensed.” More light from that star reaches us than would otherwise be the case and it gets brighter as the other star crosses in front of it.
This has actually been observed to happen. Furthermore, sometimes there’s a secondary “spike” in the brightness of the distant star, which we believe is due to gravitational lensing around a planet of the nearby star. It’s a lot weaker and of shorter duration than the main event, but it can be detected.
It seems incredibly unlikely that this should ever happen, but it has. A small (but significant) number of exoplanets have been detected this way. However, we’ll almost certainly never be able to confirm the planet by the same means, because the star would have to pass directly in front of yet another star for this to happen.
But that’s getting ahead of our story for tonight.
Geoffrey WIlliam Marcy (b. 1954) was, in the early 1990s, chasing rainbows. He was having trouble with his main line of research, and was beginning to think he was a failure as an astrophysicist. So he decided to flame out with a bang…and search for exoplanets.
Remember that back then, this was something no one wanted to be caught dead trying to do; it smacked too much of looking for E.T.
That didn’t stop Marcy; he began trying to use the Doppler Shift method I described last week. And I should have been more careful describing it; it turns out it’s called the “Radial Velocity Method.”
He looked for years, and found nothing. His instruments weren’t sensitive enough to detect a small (Earth size, say, or smaller) planet, and there simply weren’t any indications of large planets, either. He had spent years looking for a signal of a large planet, in a large (and therefore long-period) orbit. This is what everyone expected. But, nothing.
But then in December, 1995, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, Swiss astronomers, reported having found an exoplanet in orbit around a star named 51 Pegasi.
“51 Pegasi” is a “Flamsteed designation” according to a system invented by John Flamsteed in the early 1700s; he essentially numbered the stars in each constellation, and 51 Pegasi is a star in the constellation Pegasus. Almost every naked-eye-visible star visible from England got a Flamsteed number. This includes stars that already had a Bayer designation (constellation name plus a Greek letter). For instance Betelgeuse, Alpha Orinonis, is also 58 Orionis according to the Flamsteed designation.
The upshot is that 51 Pegasi is a faint star, but is visible to the naked eye (barely) on a very dark night far away from city lights. In fact, it’s of almost exactly the same spectral class as our Sun; it’s a G2IV whereas our Sun is a G2V. It’s believed to be a bit older (6.1-8.1 billion years versus 4.6 billion) than our Sun.
But it’s a nice, ordinary star, maybe getting a bit long in the tooth, but a nice, ordinary star. Not some pulsar corpse of a star, made of solid neutronium, spewing massive amounts of radiation everywhere like a firehose as it spins like a top hundreds of times a second!
The planet was immediately designated 51 Pegasi b (according to that convention I complained about two weeks ago), and it fell to Marcy and his team mates to confirm it.
Which they almost immediately did.
It didn’t take long to do so. They were able to watch it orbit 51 Pegasi a couple of times, because this planet (originally dubbed Bellerophon, after the mythic rider of Pegasus, but now called Dimidium), has a 4.23 day year. So they could look for a Doppler “wobble” with that period, and they found it, immediately.This is a damned short year. Mercury is the closest planet to our Sun, and its year is 88 days.
In other words, no one expected such a short year, from any sort of planet.
But that wasn’t the biggest surprise. The planet’s mass is 0.46 Jupiter masses; in other words, it’s more massive than Saturn. It’s a gas giant!
OK, now if you remember back two weeks, I described what we expected a “typical” planetary system to look like…based on our own. And the gas giants should be far away from their stars. Not just because that’s what we see here, but because there’s simply no way they could form any closer to a star; it’s simply too hot for the ices, and the hydrogen and helium, to hang around long enough for the rocky core of such a planet to be able to capture them. Out at 5 AU, it is possible–that’s Jupiter’s distance–but at 0.05 AU, where 51 Pegasi b is, no way!
That sound you’re imagining is the sound of bullshit meters pegging in the skulls of every astronomer and astrophysicist in the world.
But here was a discovery, from Switzerland, confirmed by a team in the United States, of something that shouldn’t exist.
Well, OK…maybe the planet formed farther out and somehow migrated inwards? Seems unlikely, but it could happen. Current thinking is that much of the time, planet formation is a very chaotic process and planets, as they form, fling other planets clear out of the planetary system, to wander forever in interstellar space as “rogue” planets. Or planets can be flung into their stars. Or into some close orbit.
But it gets better: Marcy and his team may not have bagged the first planet orbiting a normal star, but they had been gathering spectroscopic data from hundreds of stars for years. When they went back and looked–this time for very short period signals instead of ones with periods of several years–they found a lot of exoplanets like 51 Pegasi b.
Within two months, Marcy’s team was able to announce planets orbiting 47 Ursae Majoris (the Big Bear) and 70 Virginis (Virgo).
47 Ursae Majoris b is at least a bit more normal. The parent star is again, very much like our Sun. The planet orbits in just under 3 years at a distance of 2.1 AU. But it is at least 2.5 times as massive as Jupiter. (Remember that masses found by the Doppler method are minimums; if the orbit is tilted with respect to our line of sight, then some of the velocity of the star induced by the planet is transverse, rather than radial and the Doppler effect is smaller than it “should” be…meaning the planet is more massive than the signal would indicate.)
That’s still a bit close to its star for a gas giant. And yes, as mentioned, it’s a bigger planet than Jupiter. How big can a planet get? Once it gets to be about 10-14 Jupiter masses, it’s considered a “brown dwarf” star since some nuclear fusion of rare isotopes of hydrogen and helium can (and does) occur.
(Today, we know there are two other planets orbiting 47 Ursae Majoris orbiting at 3.6 and 11.6 AUs. That outer planet takes almost 40 years to orbit and has the distinction of being the longest-period planet ever discovered by the radial velocity method.)
70 Virginis is a star a bit more massive than the Sun and might be starting to swell into a red giant phase. It has a planet orbiting it, about 7.5 Jupiter masses…and it’s in a 116 day orbit. Although not as extreme as 51 Pegasi b, it’s too close to be a gas giant. But the bigger surprise is that the orbit’s eccentricity is 0.4!
One of the other things we expected, based on our own Solar System, was that planets would be in almost circular orbits. A circular orbit has an eccentricity of 0.0. 0.4 starts looking distinctly oval shaped.
(Mercury is the most eccentric planetary orbit in our Solar System, at about 0.2. Which is why it was possible to spot the precession of its aphelion so easily, as figured into Einstein’s discovery of general relativity.)
A large planet in an eccentric orbit will tend to destabilize things in orbits in between its periastron (closest approach) and apoastron (furthest distance) from the star it’s orbiting. So this is yet more evidence of chaos in planetary system formation.
Many of Marcy’s exoplanets turned out to be gas giants orbiting “too close” to their stars…so we’ve given this absurd-seeming class of planets a name: we call them “Hot Jupiters.”
And they don’t seem to make sense. But they were, for a while, by far the most common kind of planet we knew of.
But…and this is an important lesson…that is because they were far and away the easiest to detect! They orbited close to their parent star (which increased the Doppler wobble) and they are massive (which increases the Doppler wobble). Remember, a nice normal planet like Earth would be undetectable by this method! So of course they didn’t find anything like Earth, because they couldn’t.
Kepler Space Telescope (2009-2018)
Fast forward to 2009. The business of looking for exoplanets is now very respectable.
And NASA launched a space telescope named Kepler, after Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), who first identified the laws of planetary orbital motion. There couldn’t be a better choice of name.
This was a very specialized instrument. It did exactly one thing. It hunted for exoplanets.
It simply stared at a patch of sky near the constellation Cygnus (the Swan, it contains the Northern Cross). It continuously stared at 150,000 stars all at once, watching their brightness.
What was it doing? It was applying the transit method of detecting extrasolar planets.
If you recall, this method relies on the planet crossing between us and the star it’s orbiting. This is a very unlikely configuration (the orbit could be tilted at any angle with respect to the line of sight; it has to be very, very close to crossing directly through our line of sight to see the planet move in front of its star). But if you’re looking at a hundred and fifty thousand stars all at once, you will get some hits. If there are any planets. And remember that if you can detect a planet this way, you won’t just get its mass and its orbital period, you’ll get a good estimate of its physical size…and hence you’ll be able to compute its density. And that tells you whether it’s made of rocks or gas…or ice.
In other words, we could collect a statistically meaningful sample to find out just how common exoplanets really were (many times as common as were detected, because most planets won’t transit as seen from here). The transit method is more sensitive and can detect planets closer to Earth-like if it works at all.
One vital condition of “earthlike” is the size of the planet…but another is its distance from the star it’s orbiting. We want to know if the planet is at a temperature where water can be a liquid on its surface. And that requires that it be in the “Goldilocks zone.” Not too hot, not too cold…but just right. More formally, this is called the star’s habitable zone. This is about 1 AU out for a star the size (and brightness) of our sun. Most stars are smaller and cooler and their habitable zones are closer to the star as a consequence.
The mission ran until 2018, when Kepler ran out of fuel. It was switched off on November 15th, the 388th anniversary of Johannes Kepler’s death.
And Kepler found 2,662 confirmed exoplanets–plus an additional 3600 unconfirmed candidates. Every star that seemed to have planets got a Kepler number, e.g., Kepler 1544, so the exoplanets have imaginative names like Kepler-1544 b.
In many cases multiple planets were detected orbiting a star.
A handful of these planets orbit in the habitable zone and appear to be rocky planets. In fact, Kepler-1544 b is one of them. Its radius is 1.78 times as much as Earth, and the mass is 3.84 times as much as Earth.
There are a number of these “Super Earths,” in fact, many not in their stars’ habitable zones. It’s hard, even with this method, to detect smaller planets. The planet orbits at about .54 AU with a year of 168 days. This is NOT too close to the star, however, because Kepler-1544 is a cooler star than our Sun. In fact most finds seem to have been around stars markedly cooler than the Sun.
Want to see the list? Here you go, knock yourself out.
Here’s another one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler-1649 . This star appears to have both a Venus-like planet and an Earth like planet in orbit about it. The star itself is a red dwarf, so the planets orbit at less than 0.1 AU, and their years are 8 and 19 days long, respectively.
Kepler did a lot of work, but others have been adding to the count.
One system that is famous right now is TRAPPIST-1. It’s 39 light years away in the direction of Aquarius, and is 9% as massive as the Sun–hence much cooler in temperature. In 2016-17, astronomers at the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope in Chile discovered that there are no less than seven terrestrial (rocky) planets in orbit about this star. Three, or maybe even four, of the planets appear to be in the habitable zone. Orbits range from 0.011 to 0.06 AUs. Remember this is a cool star. In fact, it radiates mostly in the infrared, so even at noon on the planets, it probably wouldn’t seem brighter than at sunset here on Earth, though temperatures would be closer to “normal.”
(Apparently Kepler did look at this star at one point.)
There is also a new satellite, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), launched in 2018. It has already found over four thousand candidate planets, yet to be confirmed.
Using the gravitational lensing method, in 2020 astronomers reported an earth-mass rogue planet (one that is wandering interstellar space). Apparently it crossed in front of some star when someone was looking at that star.
A device called a vortex coronagraph has allowed astronomers to directly image large, distant exoplanets more easily than before. Recall that direct imaging works for such planets (the farther out the better; the closer the star to us, the better); I’ve even seen a time lapse GIF of four planets orbiting a star. The Hale Telescope at Mount Palomar has been very useful for this sort of thing. (Seventy years old and still going strong!)
So, we’re getting better at this. I’ve pointed you to lists and some number counts, but let’s look at a diagram that might clarify things:
The higher up you go on that diagram, the bigger the planet. You can see pictures of Jupiter, Neptune and Earth at the right to give a sense of scale. To the left, planets orbit near their star. Hot Jupiters appear here. To the right, they’re further out and you will see a group labeled “Cold Gas Giants.” Then further down you see large planets that appear as though they may consist largely of water, or ices.
But the overwhelming majority of dots, mostly Kepler detections, are “Rocky planets” like our own, many, many of them much larger than Earth (which is the largest rocky planet in this planetary system). And ones very close to their star are expected to have molten lava surfaces, simply because that close to the star they get very hot.
But in the lower right, is the “Frontier.” If there are planets here, we can’t detect them yet. (And we know of some such planets, for instance Mars.)
This is very, very much a story in progress. The James Webb Space Telescope is expected to be able to not only see some of these planets, but also detect and analyze their atmospheres.
What we would be really excited to see is planets with water and an oxygen atmosphere.
Water, because that’s the one thing every life form we know of must have. Even oxygen isn’t as universally necessary. (There are bacteria that manage to live in water near boiling, and others that manage to thrive inside nuclear reactors, and of course there are plenty of anaerobic critters out there (like botulism) but nothing we know of can live without water.)
Oxygen, because if we find an oxygen atmosphere it’s almost certainly a sign that life exists on that planet.
If plants stopped photosynthesizing right now, no oxygen would be created. And the oxygen in the air would slowly combine with other things on Earth and be bound up, much like on Mars, which is largely a rusty planet. In other words, an oxygen atmosphere is not stable, because oxygen is so reactive. An oxygen atmosphere can only exist if something continually creates more oxygen. And although there are some other possibilities a strong candidate for creating oxygen would be living things. It would be by far the strongest evidence we have that life exists elsewhere. Though that doesn’t mean “ET” because that life might just be algae–pond scum in other words.
But pond scum is still life, after all no one accuses Joe Biden of being dead, just demented.
Obligatory PSAs and Reminders
China is Lower than Whale Shit
Remember Hong Kong!!!
Zhōngguò shì gè hùndàn !!!
China is asshoe !!!
China is in the White House
Since Wednesday, January 20 at Noon EST, the bought-and-paid for His Fraudulency Joseph Biden has been in the White House. It’s as good as having China in the Oval Office.
Joe Biden is Asshoe
China is in the White House, because Joe Biden is in the White House, and Joe Biden is identically equal to China. China is Asshoe. Therefore, Joe Biden is Asshoe.
But of course the much more important thing to realize:
Joe Biden Didn’t Win
Qiáo Bài dēng méi yíng !!!
Joe Biden didn’t win !!!