Daily Archives: September 13, 2010

Facebooking Moose Busted for Bombing Conspiracy

Justin Carl Moose used his Facebook page to advocate violence against health care clinics where abortions are preformed, and urged violent attacks on people who work in such facilities. But, just like if you get stone drunk and photographs of you half naked wearing a lampshade on your head in some dive appear on Facebook then you can get in trouble, Moose’s Facebook activities have come back to haunt him. A secret undercover FBI agent approached Moose and asked for help building a bomb to blow up a clinic. Moose complied, and is now under arrest for conspiracy. I wonder how many other people (not informants or agents) Moose taught to make bombs, and I wonder if is bombs even work?

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Three Tropical Energy Blobs

Tropical storms and hurricanes are eddies in the massive current of solar energy transiting from the equator, where there is lots of it, to the poles, where there is less. And when I say equator, I mean the ITCZ.

Anyway, there are three such concentration of energy in the Atlantic worthy of a close look. Igor is a hurricane of Category Four strength that will probably turn north and avoid land, but maybe not. Julia is a tropical storm that is expected to come close to hurricane strength in about two days, but will most likely not become a full scale hurricane. Julia is likely to turn north even farther out to sea than Igor.

The third blob of energy is a bunch of showers and thunderstorms linked to a large low pressure system in the west-central Caribbean that has an almost (but not quite) fifty-fifty chance of developing into a tropical storm.

There is a fourth blog that is currently located on the Mali-Niger border that I’m betting on to be the next named Atlantic storm. Karl with a K.

New in Paperback Book on Permian Mass Extinction

i-10092cedc7be5d8a5cb3f10bec59f6b5-lifedied.jpgWhen Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time is a book by Michael Benton on the Permian Extinction now out in paperback. From the press release:

Today it is common knowledge that the dinosaurs were wiped out by a meteorite impact sixty-five million years ago, which killed half of all species then living.

Far less well-known is a much bigger catastrophe – the greatest mass extinction of all time – which occurred 251 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period. In this cataclysm, at least ninety per cent of life was destroyed, both on land, including sabre-toothed reptiles and their rhinoceros-sized prey, and in the sea.

After the event the Earth was a cold, airless place, with only one or two species eking out a poor existence. What caused destruction on such an unimaginable scale, and how did life recover?

Michael Benton’s book about this catastrophe – When Life Nearly Died: the greatest mass extinction of all time – has been published in paperback this week. Michael Benton is Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Bristol.

James Lovelock said of the book: “Michael Benton’s book brings back to Earth Science a sense of adventure … it is both a wonderfully good read and a valued reference”.

When Life Nearly Died documents not only what happened 251 million years ago, but also the recent rekindling of the idea of catastrophism, after it was seemingly extinguished in a great battle of ideas in the early nineteenth century. Scientists have at last come to accept that the world has been subject to huge cataclysms in the past. For the end-Permian event the killing models are controversial – was the agent the impact of a huge meteorite or comet over ten kilometres in diameter, or prolonged volcanic eruption in Siberia? The evidence has been accumulating through the 1990s and into the new millennium, and Michael Benton gives his verdict at the very end of this book.

~ A repost for Back to School Special ~

Teachers Gone Wild

My wife, a biology teacher, gets crazy in the biology classroom. She is famous for her interpretive dance renditions of numerous cellular processes. The students in the first class of the day reportedly stare in disbelief and roll their eyes, but the students in the other classes throughout the day seem to love it. Several of her students have taken to filming her pedagogical paroxysms, and you know that some day, Amanda will be a YouTube Star.
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