A steady wind, discovered by ESA’s Cluster mission, is slowly escaping from Earth’s plasmasphere - the torus of plasma that surrounds our planet’s atmosphere. The outflow amounts to almost 90 tonnes a day. Predicted by theory two decades ago, this is one of the main mechanisms that replenishes Earth’s magnetosphere with fresh plasma.
It’s got solid and liquid parts, it’s almost as hot as the sun, and it may be teeming with life.
In the latest Chrome experiment, Google mapped cloud coverage around the world in Cloud Globe. The interactive animation shows coverage from July 1, 2010 to September 12, 2012, with a globe that you can move around as expected and a timeline on the bottom that indicates high levels of coverage.
A favorite theme of science fiction is “the portal”—an extraordinary opening in space or time that connects travelers to distant realms. A good portal is a shortcut, a guide, a door into the unknown. If only they actually existed….
It turns out that they do, sort of, and a NASA-funded researcher at the University of Iowa has figured out how to find them.
“We call them X-points or electron diffusion regions,” explains plasma physicist Jack Scudder of the University of Iowa. “They’re places where the magnetic field of Earth connects to the magnetic field of the Sun, creating an uninterrupted path leading from our own planet to the sun’s atmosphere 93 million miles away.”
As a child, you are told a lot of things about this great planet of ours. We are the third of nine planets in the Solar System (now eight and one dwarf planet), Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on the planet, and the Earth’s surface is 70% water. With a figure like that, it’s easy to assume that water is pretty much an infinite resource. However, according to the U. S. Geological Survey, if you were to take all of the water on the planet (including fresh water, sea water, ground water, water vapor and water inside our bodies), it would only make a sphere 860 miles in diameter. 860 miles!? You can drive that in a day – it’s about the distance from Salt Lake City to Topeka, Kansas.
Space debris remains one of the biggest challenges for a space-faring humanity in the 21st century, as even the smallest pieces can pose a serious threat to satellites, manned spacecraft and the International Space Station. Now our friends at Fast Company have stumbled on a nifty infographic by Austrian designer Michael Paukner that lays out the space clutter situation more clearly.
At Google we like to create solutions for the future. And we imagine a future where web use won’t be restricted simply to Earth. Rather, people will want to visit their favorite sites while cruising around the rings of Saturn with friends or relaxing at the (inevitable) Mercury tanning facility.When the galaxy is our playground, marketers, analysts and webmasters will want to understand location use beyond Earth. For example, if you had a chain of taco stands and noticed many users visiting your website from the Mars outpost, well, that might help you make a business case to begin expanding your business to serve Mars colonists.
This visualization shows ocean surface currents around the world during the period from June 2005 through December 2007.
NASA has released its “Eyes on the Solar System” 3D environment, a free web browser-based application that lets you navigate a 3D version of the solar system. The app uses video game technology to let you control your point of view from anywhere in our solar system, speeding up time so you can see the motion of the planets, their satellites and NASA spacecraft.
Earth at seven billion
In an era of high anxiety, few issues rattled people in the 1960s and 1970s more than the Earth’s seemingly runaway population growth. The sense of imminent overcrowding doom was chillingly articulated by Paul Ehrlich, the Stanford University biologist whose 1968 book, The Population Bomb, became an unlikely bestseller, propelled in part by the academic’s numerous appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. The swelling ranks of humankind would lead to “hundreds of millions” dying of starvation by the 1970s, a substantial increase in the global death rate and assorted ecological disasters, he predicted. Involuntary sterilization might be needed to lessen the coming cataclysm.
“We can no longer afford merely to treat the symptoms of the cancer of population growth; the cancer itself must be cut out,” he wrote. Four decades later, the Earth’s population has doubled and the United Nations predicts a newborn’s arrival some time this fall will push the total to seven billion souls.
By 2050, another two billion humans are likely to be jostling for elbow room. Yet the doomsaying predictions of Prof. Ehrlich and others have in most cases failed to materialize. The world still has more than its share of misery: Almost one billion people go hungry every day and 1.4 billion live in extreme poverty. But as the population expanded at a pace never seen before, the overall death rate dropped rapidly, life expectancy climbed and the number in poverty — though still huge — shrank.
With his 1893 Map of the Square and Stationary Earth, Orlando Ferguson made visual his emphatic claim that the earth was flat. One hundred and eighteen years later, one of the last remaining copies is being donated to the Library of Congress, which inexplicably does not already own a copy of this dotty gem. Only one other copy is known to exist. More (including a high-resolution scan) at The History Blog. Via io9 and MapHist.