5 Lies You Were Taught About the Earth

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

5 Lies You Were Taught About the Earth

When it comes to our home planet, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. For instance, in spite of what you may have heard in history or science class, it’s not, in fact, possible to see the Great Wall of China from outer space.

And that’s not the only common misconception about Earth. Here are some of the biggest lies you were probably taught about Earth.

Columbus Discovered That the Earth Is Round

An old model ship
Credit: Theera Disayarat / Shutterstock.com

You’ve probably heard the famous “in fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” poem. As the legend goes, against all odds, Christopher Columbus headed out on a voyage to East Asia by heading west instead of east from Europe. The monarchy (who funded the trip) was worried that Columbus would never return because, of course, Earth was a big flat pancake and he might fall off.

Even by the 1400s, flat Earth theories had already been debunked, and the orb shape was already accepted after being proposed by Pythagoras thousands of years before. In fact, the voyage was plotted out based on the fact that the Earth was round! Coming upon America was a surprise, however.

You Can See The Great Wall of China From Space

The Great Wall of China
Credit: zhao jiankang / Shutterstock.com

It makes for a great story: Way up from outer space, astronauts can gaze upon the Great Wall of China. We hate to tell you, this not true.

While the wall may be great, according to NASA, it’s less visible than you might think from outer space. In fact, Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei reported that he wasn’t able to see the structure from space. Other astronauts have reported that it’s barely visible with a telephoto lens but not to the naked eye.

However, there’s still some good news for astro-followers: Certain landmarks, like cities and major reservoirs, are visible from space.

Earth Is Closer to The Sun in Summer

The sun rising above Earth in outer space
Credit: Skylines / Shutterstock.com

It seems like sound logic: it’s hotter in the summer because the Earth is closer to the sun at that time of year, right? Sorry, but no.

Consider this. If that were the case, how could it be summer in the southern hemisphere at the same time it’s winter in the northern hemisphere?

While it’s a little harder to wrap your mind around, it’s all based on the angle of the Earth. The Earth tilts, and its axis can vary throughout the course of its cycle. This is what causes the difference in seasons. A greater tilt means hotter summers and colder winters.

A Compass Always Points Due North

A compass sitting on a rock
Credit: R_Tee / iStock

If you trust movies and TV, then you’re apt to think that a compass will always point due north. However, this isn’t quite the case. A compass points to the magnetic north. This is an important distinction because the magnetic pole changes based on activity in the Earth’s core.

That’s right: the magnetic pole that attracts all compasses is a moving target. It has been moving rapidly in recent years — as much as 30 or more miles per year. So be sure to take your compass reading with a grain of salt!

Deserts Are Always Hot

A desert landscape in Joshua Tree National Park
Credit: Joke van Eeghem / Shutterstock.com

While the term “desert” probably makes you think of miles of sand and heat-induced mirages, deserts are not always hot.

A desert is considered any place that receives less than 10 inches of rain per year. This isn’t limited to hot places. For example, many of the polar regions of the world could be considered deserts because they don’t get much precipitation.

Doesn’t it feel good to unearth (get it?) the truth? There are plenty of misconceptions about the planet that we call home. But as time goes on and we learn more, we’re correcting these long-held, so-called “truths.”

750 FT asteroid barreling towards an Earth APPROACH at 18,800MPH

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE UK EXPRESS NEWS)

 

NASA asteroid tracker: A 750 FT asteroid barreling towards an Earth APPROACH at 18,800MPH

AN ASTEROID nearly twice as tall as the Great Pyramid of Giza is hurtling in Earth’s direction at more than 18,800mph, NASA’s asteroid trackers have revealed.

Met Gala: Gigi Hadid stuns in feathered outfit

Play

Mute

Current Time 0:06
/
Duration 0:12
Loaded: 0%

Progress: 0%

FacebookTwitterShareFullscreen

The -tracked asteroid, dubbed Asteroid 2011 HP, is flying towards our planet on a so-called Earth Close Approach trajectory. NASA predicts the imposing space rock will shoot past Earth on the morning of Thursday, May 30. According to NASA’ Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the asteroid will approach the planet around 11.48am BST or 6.48am Eastern Time. When this happens, NASA said the asteroid will break speeds of around 8.43km per second or 18,857.4mph (30,348kmh).

Asteroid HP is an Apollo-type Near-Earth  (NEA) or Near-Earth Object (NEO).

NASA’s JPL estimates the space rock measures somewhere in the range of 328ft to 754.6ft (100m to 230m) in diameter.

At the upper end of that scale, the asteroid is as tall as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, US, and the Space Needle in Seattle.

However, even at the lower end of the estimate, the space rock is still almost as tall as Big Ben’s clock tower in London, UK.

READ MORE: 

NASA asteroid tracker: Giant space rock over Earth

NASA asteroid tracker: A colossal space rock will zip past the Earth on Thursday, May 30 (Image: GETTY)

The space rock orbits the inner circles of the solar system on a trajectory similar to that of asteroid 1862 Apollo.

The asteroid’s trajectory takes it beyond the orbit of Mars but it does not fly past the Asteroid Belt in-between Mars and the gas giant Jupiter.

All NEOs are comets and asteroids on paths, which orbit the Sun from distances smaller than 1.3 astronomical units or 120.8 million miles (194.5 million km).

One astronomical unit measures approximately 93 million miles (149.6 million km) – the distance from the Earth to the Sun.

READ MORE: 

Next week, Asteroid HP will significantly cut this distance down to around 0.03149 astronomical units.

Near-Earth Objects can occasionally approach close to Earth

NASA

This means the asteroid will near-miss the Earth from a distance of just 2.92 million miles (4.7 million km).

In other words, the  rock will approach our home-world 12.26 times as far as the Moon is.

NASA said: “As they orbit the Sun, Near-Earth Objects can occasionally approach close to Earth.

READ MORE: 

NASA asteroid tracker: Giant space rock over Earth

NASA asteroid tracker: The asteroid was discovered on April 13, 2011 (Image: GETTY)

NASA asteroid tracker: Giant space rock over Earth

NASA asteroid tracker: Thankfully, the space rock will not hit the Earth and pass safely (Image: GETTY)

“Note that a ‘close’ passage astronomically can be very far away in human terms: millions or even tens of millions of kilometres.”

After the asteroid ups past the Earth next week, NASA predicts HP will visit us again on May 17, 2027.

Then, the space rock will make many more approaches every few years until September 2, 2184.

NASA asteroid trackers first observed the asteroid on April 13, 2011.

This Exoplanet’s Hellish Atmosphere Is a Big Deal in the Search For Alien Life

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GIZMODO)

 

Why This Exoplanet’s Hellish Atmosphere Is a Big Deal in the Search For Alien Life

How observers on Earth can detect molecules on entirely other planets. (Image: ESO education and Public Outreach)

By all accounts, the exoplanet known as WASP-19b is a pretty inhospitable place. As one of the closest known hot-Jupiters to its star—orbiting just two percent of the distance between the Earth and the Sun—it’s home to a scorchingly hot, violent atmosphere. The side of the planet which always faces the star churns with massive convection currents, dredging up heavier molecules from the planet’s lower layers.

Unsuitable for life as it may be, WASP-19b’s proximity to its star happened to make it a perfect candidate for atmospheric observation. A paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature has found the very first evidence of titanium oxide on any known exoplanet, in the upper atmosphere of WASP-19b. And that’s significant for a number of reasons.

“We will be able to constrain models and understand the structure of these atmospheres [and] where they were formed,” Elyar Sedaghati, European Southern Observatory astronomer and co-author of the study, told Gizmodo. “Because if we know what’s in the atmosphere, we can turn the clock back a little bit.”

WASP-19 is a pretty average star about 815 light years away from us, located in the Vela constellation. Its only known planet, WASP-19b, was detected by the Wide Angle Search for Planets in 2009, and it only takes three quarters of a day to orbit its star. That proximity made it a perfect target for a spunky little spectrograph called FORS2 (FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph), which was originally installed to the Very Large Telescope in Chile in 1999, almost 20 years ago. But there was work to do before observations could begin.

“[The instrument] had to be upgraded,” said Sedaghati. “All that meant was basically replacing these two prisms that correct for some atmospheric distortions as the star goes near the horizon. These were causing some issues in the exoplanet observations that we were doing with this. So, in November 2014 we made the exchange.” He also hopes with these initial promising results, they go back and do even more improvements on the venerable device.

If you wanted to check on WASP-19b yourself, start here in the Vela constellation (Image: ESO education and Public Outreach)

The researchers began peering at WASP-19b around that time, and they got some intriguing data in something called a light curve, which is the measure of how much the light dims when a planet transits a star. Spectrographs work by observing the light emitted by an object and breaking it into its spectra, much like when you shine white light through a prism and it turns into a rainbow. Using this data, you can determine what kind of chemicals are present in whatever the light is shining through. Because this particular planet is so close to its star, the researchers could see the spectra of its ferociously roiling atmosphere, which extends way further into space than, say, the atmosphere of a more distant gas giant like Jupiter does.

Getting better at decoding the atmospheres of exoplanets, even inhospitable ones like WASP-19b, will contribute to the holy grail of exoplanet research: hunting for signs of life. “Methane — that could be in combination with other molecules, a sign of life — will have very similar absorption features with titanium oxide. This basically gives us hope for future observations for example with the James Webb Telescope,” said Sedaghati.

There are still a lot of steps before that moment, as the JWST won’t launch until the latter half of 2018, and then will need to time scan the skies. But these WASP-19b results are nonetheless encouraging.

“It’s a very nice result,” said Sara Seager, a professor of planetary sciences and physics at MIT, in an email. “I can say this is an outstanding achievement from a ground-based telescope and nature delivered us a fantastic hot planet atmosphere. So far, too many planets are literally “clouded out” and we can’t observe any spectral features. [Titanium Oxide] seems obscure, but is actually a very strong absorber—kind of like a skunk smell, only a tiny amount can make a difference.”

Seager says planets like WASP-19b have a “treasure trove” of features which are really useful to observe.

“It’s an amazing relief to see that planet atmospheres are behaving as expected. Hot planet atmospheres can be nearly as hot as cool star atmospheres and the cool stars are dominated by TiO,” she said.

Jonathan Fortney, an expert in exoplanet atmospheres at UC Santa Cruz, actually predicted that metal oxides would be present in nearby hot-Jupiters. But he admits discoveries in the field will be slow for now because most “general use” instruments can’t pick up the level of detail required for terrestrial exoplanetary atmospheric analysis. Even though the FORS2 tool has been really successful in this project, it was installed before we had even discovered exoplanets using the transit method.

“To me this shows that understanding exoplanet atmospheres is an extremely challenging observational field,” he said. “We must be thoughtful in how we design instruments to detect and understand exoplanet atmospheres. And we must be patient. I really think that this long time lag will be repeated, likely on an even longer time scale, for the atmospheres of temperate terrestrial planets.”

As the study of exoplanet atmospheres continues, be prepared to see stories of successful characterization where the evidence is a little sketchy, Fortney warns.

“People will make claims about these atmospheres, some will end up being correct, some will end up not being correct, and it will take a lot of time for the field to settle out, to correct itself. It will be exciting, but not clear-cut in the first findings,” said Fortney.

Bryson is a freelance storyteller who wants to explore the universe with you.

Eight Times Dead

Eight times dead

 

Nine lives like a cat

When we are born

We awake with a slap on the ass

When we close our eyes last

Was our life a nightmare or a dream

 

 

Two times drowned, going out going down

One torch from Heaven to touch the bones

Cut stem to stern the ticker to fix

Four other times visited by the light

When your heart stops it’s clicks

 

 

At the tender age of three years

These visions I began to see

Visions only with words while deep in sleep

Molested by babysitters teen age son

Later that day, the first time, the vision I see

 

 

A Lord’s Angel the visitor in the sun

If I chose to live my life for the Light

At the young age of eleven years

Shown the death I would be unworthy of

 

Murdered by the heart filled with evil

An honorable way to live and to die

Eight times dead in this life I’ve given

Like a cat, the ninth time will I die

MXCHELLEEX by Michelle Sanders

Postcards From Around The World

JOVIAL

It's all about life and it's glory. No negativity in it though it always remains in everyone's life.It is our duty to make sure that negativity doesn't stop us from living a life of King Size.

The History Interpreter - Janet Few

Presenting and Preserving the Past

travels.trails.triumphs

It might not always go according to plan. But plans are made to be broken.

Glitters and Mayhem

You mustn’t be afraid to sparkle a little brighter!

Julia's Travels

juliamhammond

Another Header

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Life and Life Lessons

discover what's in my heart, let our minds travel and discover, see the world in my head

Learning from Dogs

Dogs are animals of integrity. We have much to learn from them.

janbeek

Loving One Another

%d bloggers like this: