Archive | November 2014

Migration in the U.S. – Monday Map

A informative migration map showing what percentage of each state was born there.

It also shows where the largest groups of migrants came from. Some interesting surprises as migration shifts across the years.

Clicking on this migration map takes you to a page at nytimes.com where one may compare these figures with those from 1900 and 1950.

ny times migration map

Colors representing migrant origins
Red – Northeast
Green -South
Blue – Midwest
Yellow – West
Gray – Outside the U.S.
Significant migration from specific states is labeled as well.
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I found it fascinating that the southern states only about half of the southern states are comprised of natives, compared to nearly 90% on average in average in 1900, while the western states had incredible incoming migration over the past century and now retain most of their native born residents.
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This map is related to a series of charts showing a state by state history of who came and who went and where they went.
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ny times migration chart

Lewis and Clark – Monday Map

Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery reached the Pacific Ocean on November 19, 1805

They were the first people of European origin to cross North America and their many discoveries along the way have reverberated through the years ever since.

Here is the map that Lewis and Clark created, which was published in 1814. Clicking on it will take you to a fabulously large version that you may zoom into and see in amazing detail

Lewis and Clark map

Source: David Rumsey Map Collection

The United States of America had purchased an enormous tract of land from France, known as the Louisiana Purchase. President Jefferson commissioned the expedition, peopled by U.S. Army volunteers commanded by Captain Meriwether Lewis and his friend Second Lieutenant William Clark.

This is the second edition of the map from 1815, published under the full title of:

A Map of Lewis and Clark’s Track, Across the Western Portion of North America From the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean; By Order of the Executive of the United States, in 1804, 5 & 6. Copied by Samuel Lewis from the Original Drawing of Wm. Clark. Neele, sculp. 352 Strand, London … April 28th, 1814 by Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orne & Brown, Paternoster Row.  

And here is a map showing the political boundaries of the day, with outlines of the modern states that Lewis and Clark traversed when they were wilderness.

Clicking on this map will take you to an interactive version at PBS.org, which has much additional information about the Corps of Discovery Expedition.

Lewis and Clark map PBS

Source: PBS.org

 

Philae Lands on Comet

The robot probe Philae touched down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at about 1605 GMT.

An enormous achievement for human kind that will be barely noticed by most people.

For 99% of human history comets were thought to be portends if not the cause of disaster, disease, and death, sent by a god or demon to warn or punish mankind. Every society on Earth known for its supposedly divinely inspired holy texts thought so.

Rosetta_at_Comet_ESA

photo: ESA/Rosetta/Navcam

Now these dusty snowballs from the edge of the solar system, formed billions of years before humans evolved, are known for what they really are. And should stand as a symbol of the power of science, reason, and enlightenment to sweep away the destructive veils of ignorance, prejudice and superstition masquerading as “belief” that is sadly influencing most of the world still. And that is not just referring to barbaric hoards like IS.

In an episode of the television series Cosmos, host Neil deGrasse Tyson mentioned that most of us could name more serial killers off the top of their heads than scientists responsible for the greatest advancements of our civilization. And continually we hear politicians and other civic “leaders” declaring that verifiable truth like global warming and the evolution of species from earlier forms can be believed in or not with equal validity, like other things they choose to believe in or not based on what they wish was so.

You want prophesy that actually comes true? Nothing outside of science comes close to Edmund Halley using Newton’s Laws of Gravity to predict in 1705 that a comet would appear in 1758, 16 years after his death, and every 76 years thereafter.

And yet it took until the twentieth century before we learned with certainly what comets actually are and where they come from.

And now we have successfully landed a man made machine on a comet! But it has taken the collective courage and investigation of centuries of scientists to get there.

The Historic Comet Landing

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft was launched on March 2, 2004, and traveled 6.4 billion kilometers (3.97 billion miles) through space to reach the comet on August 6, 2014. After studying the comet from a distance, Rosetta moved within 10 kilometers for closer inspection. And today the Philae probe made a successful landing on the comet’s icy surface – a first in human history.

The decent took 7 hours, without propulsion and with no certainty that it would not crash into a cliff or end up swallowed by a fissure.

“After more than 10 years travelling through space, we’re now making the best ever scientific analysis of one of the oldest remnants of our Solar System,” said Alvaro Giménez, Director of Science and Robotic Exploration at the ESA.

It will take some hours before they know exactly where it landed and to start receiving photos and data of the chemical composition of this ancient piece of the solar system, which likely formed before the planets were born some 4 billion years ago.

Comet_over_London ESA

Comet 67P Over London – photo: ESA/Rosetta/Navcam; Map data ©2014 Google, Bluesky

Related Links

Official ESA Press Release

Edmund Halley entry at Britannica.com

I cannot post a link to Episode 3 of Cosmos, which focuses on comets, Newton and Halley. But it is currently available on Netflix, and I highly recommend it. It is inspiring and entertaining, and has some breathtaking visual effects.

 

Armistice Day Essay

While we dedicate this day to honor all veterans, the reason we do it on this specific day should never be taken for granted. The eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month was when the First World War came to its official close, back in 1918. Ninety-six years ago today.

 The end of a war should be commemorated, with giving thanks and celebration, both. Just as its beginning should never be forgotten, while we mourn all that was lost during the war.

 Anyone who went to war will have their own personal sacrifice to live with, if they were fortunate enough to live through it in the first place. One does not have to serve in a frontline unit end up in harm’s way, but only the veterans who served in actual combat know the full measure of such service. And yet, we can all know that such events give good reason to mark the end of wars, lest we forget what happens in them.

The Great War of 1914-1918 remains unique in our collective history. Tactics developed during the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War met and were bested by modern weaponry capable of horrors never before visited upon mankind. The results exceed what civilized humans can imagine.

In one battle alone, on the River Somme, there were over one million casualties, with 310,486 killed outright and many more dying in the coming months as a result of their wounds. On a single day in 1916 the British army lost over 57,000 men in one engagement. Such numbers make the American losses on D-Day seem like footnotes. The losses of the French and Germans during the many battles around Verdun are beyond comprehension. And they kept at it; bravely charging into the face death again and again.

On the whole, the world had never seen anything like it. Unfortunately we cannot say such things were never seen again.

Today the 11th November is referred to as Veterans Day and has been expanded to remember and honor all veterans who served their country ever since, in peacetime and in war. That is a good thing…

1912 U.S. Sailors Armistice Day

Read the Full Essay

Exoplanets – Monday Map

A place to call home? The location of known exoplanets relatively near Earth appear in this map.

Exoplanets, or extrasolar planets, are planets orbiting stars other than our own Sun.

Someday the Sun will evolve into a red giant star, swallowing the inner planets. Our distant decedents will need to seek other worlds to inhabit before the Earth can no longer sustain life. Already, people are exploring which galactic neighborhoods may be most appealing.

Exoplanets near Earth

click to enlarge

A hi-res, poster-size version of this map is available HERE

On Wednesday the following image was released showing planets forming around a star, captured at the international astronomy facility in Chili, known as ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array.) At 450 light years from earth, star HL Tau is approximately one millions years young.

HL Tau planetary disc formed by expoplanets

Never before has such a clear image of an accretion disc been captured, showing where definite gaps have been cleared by new planets, collecting material with their gravitational fields.

“When we first saw this image we were astounded at the spectacular level of detail. HL Tauri is no more than a million years old, yet already its disc appears to be full of forming planets. This one image alone will revolutionize theories of planet formation…”  – Catherine Vlahakis, Lead Program Scientist for the ALMA Long Baseline Campaign.

Verified reports of the initial exoplanets appeared in the journal Nature in 1995. At present over 1800 exoplanets have been discovered in over 1100 different planetary systems. Most of these are giant gas planets, like Jupiter. But many smaller planets have been verified as well.

The earliest finds were detected by their gravitational tug upon their home star, which “wobbled” slightly as the planet orbited around it. This technique was first suggested by astronomer Otto Struve in 1952. But it took another 40 years before the instruments required were perfected to accomplish the task. Many other methods of detection have been used to discover or confirm other exoplanets.

A survey by the Kepler space telescope of a small portion of the night sky has already identified a few thousands stars likely to harbor exoplanets. And that is but a drop in the galactic bucket.

Related Links About Extrasolar Planets

Official ALMA Press Release

University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo’s Habitability Planetary Laboratory – other cool exoplanet maps

Scientific American’s interactive map of exoplanets – see the Earth-like planets, compared to the gas giants.

NASA’s Quest for Another Earth page

NASA’s Kepler telescope page