Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Last Piece Of The Jigsaw

Firstly... the morons over at Fox, Sean Hannity being the lead moron, are at it again stating that the current snow storm pounding the east coast is proof that global warming does not exist, and the poor fools who watch him probably believe it.
Well, wrong again Sean. This is simple Sean, even you might be able to follow along.
Global Warming is a long term trend.
From NASA: "A new analysis of global surface temperatures by NASA scientists finds the past year was tied for the second warmest since 1880. In the Southern Hemisphere, 2009 was the warmest year on record. The past year was a small fraction of a degree cooler than 2005, the warmest on record, putting 2009 in a virtual tie with a cluster of other years –1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2007 — for the second warmest on record. January 2000 to December 2009 was the warmest decade on record. Looking back to 1880, when modern scientific instrumentation became available to monitor temperatures precisely, a clear warming trend is present, although there was a leveling off between the 1940s and 1970s."
The present ice storm, although devastating, is a short term event.
Saying a short term event disproves the existence of a long term trend is like saying a heat wave during a California summer proves that it'll never rain in England. The heat wave is short in duration and will go away, and it freaking rains all of the time in England.
Further, the current warming trend affects that entire weather system making it more active, not less, creating larger weather events like monster hurricanes during the summer, and guess what... snow storms, big ones like the one we are experiencing right now, in the winter.
Got it Sean? No?! I didn't think you would.
Okay, on to more fun things.
The last space shuttle to launch at night, the shuttle Endeavor, and with only four more missions scheduled before they are all retired later this year, docked with the International Space Station today, bringing along with it the last major component, which happens to have something they never had up there. Some windows.
Yeah, up until now if you took all of the time and trouble, not to mention risk, to get up there, you wouldn't be able to see diddly squat except through monitors hooked up to TV cameras outside, and what's the fun in that? Might as well stay home and watch it on your own TV, and kick back with some ice cold Coke and peanuts (won't have to contend with that pesky weightlessness either).
The component's name is Tranquility, or if you prefer, Node 3. It was built by a bunch of Europeans, namely the European and Italian space agencies. It will contain the most advanced life support systems ever brought into space. It also has a bathroom.
And the Copula (dome), the observation platform, has six trapezoidal windows on the sides, and one circular window on top. It will be used to directly look outside while performing experiments, or docking maneuvers, or looking down at the Earth, or other interesting things that may be floating around up there, or in the eternal night of space. The windows are made of four panes of fused silica and borosilicate glass (boron added to traditional glass in the manufacturing process) which is known for a very low thermal expansion coefficient, this reduces material stresses caused by temperature gradients, thus making it more resistant to breaking, which is a hell of a good thing up there in outer space, because it's very cold outside (about -387.4 Fahrenheit, or almost forty degrees above absolute zero), and there's no air! They also have metal shutters to protect them from space junk and micrometeoroids smacking into them. The trouble with that is you never know when that might happen.
Our friend, Stephen Colbert actually won the online naming contest with 230,539 votes for calling the module "Colbert." But those NASA bastards told everyone that even though they would take the winning name into consideration, they still reserved the right to make the final decision in choosing an appropriate name. Stephen threatened a law suit if they didn't respect the choice of the voters, and NASA named it Tranquility, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing on the Moon's the Sea of Tranquility, which occurred 40 years ago... last year.
Instead Colbert got a treadmill named after him. Big thrill.
He dropped the law suit though.
With the instalation of Tranquility the space station will be anywhere from 85 to 95 percent complete, with those four more shuttle flights, and a few from our Russian friends as well.
So happy viewing astro and cosmonauts (and euronauts)! Next week I'll stand out in the garden and wave.

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