Category: Science


About keeping oneself mentally healthy.

I follow the website The Conversation and read most of their posts on a very regular basis. Back in May they published the following. It caught my eye because my own mental health is drifting downwards, or so it seems, due to age, I shall be 80 in November, 2024, plus a couple of brain bleedings that occurred in 2017 that were attended to by the Regional Trauma Center in Eugene.

I then had two sub-durnal (sp?) operations overnight before being put onto the ICU ward. The lead surgeon explained that I was within 24 hours of dying! As in if I had not gone back to hospital.

I find that difficult to realise that it was 6 years ago! Anyway, to the post published by The Conversation.


Mindfulness, meditation and self-compassion – a clinical psychologist explains how these science-backed practices can improve mental health

Studies show that consistent meditation practice is key. pixdeluxe/E! via Getty Images

Rachel Goldsmith Turow, Seattle University

Mindfulness and self-compassion are now buzzwords for self-improvement. But in fact, a growing body of research shows these practices can lead to real mental health benefits. This research – ongoing, voluminous and worldwide – clearly shows how and why these two practices work.

One effective way to cultivate mindfulness and self-compassion is through meditation.

For more than 20 years, as a clinical psychologist, research scientist and educator, I taught meditation to students and clinical patients and took a deep dive into the research literature. My recent book, “The Self-Talk Workout: Six Science-Backed Strategies to Dissolve Self-Criticism and Transform the Voice in Your Head,” highlights much of that research.

I learned even more when I evaluated mental health programs and psychology classes that train participants in mindfulness and compassion-based techniques.

Defining mindfulness and self-compassion

Mindfulness means purposefully paying attention to the present moment with an attitude of interest or curiosity rather than judgment.

Self-compassion involves being kind and understanding toward yourself, even during moments of suffering or failure.

Both are associated with greater well-being.

But don’t confuse self-compassion with self-esteem or self-centeredness, or assume that it somehow lowers your standards, motivation or productivity. Instead, research shows that self-compassion is linked with greater motivation, less procrastination and better relationships.

Could mindfulness meditation be the next public health revolution?

Be patient when starting a meditation practice

I didn’t like meditation – the specific practice sessions that train mindfulness and self-compassion – the first time I tried it as a college student in the late ‘90s. I felt like a failure when my mind wandered, and I interpreted that as a sign that I couldn’t do it.

In both my own and others’ meditation practices, I’ve noticed that the beginning is often rocky and full of doubt, resistance and distraction.

But what seem like impediments can actually enhance meditation practice, because the mental work of handling them builds strength.

For the first six months I meditated, my body and mind were restless. I wanted to get up and do other tasks. But I didn’t. Eventually it became easier to notice my urges and thoughts without acting upon them. I didn’t get as upset with myself.

After about a year of consistent meditation, my mind seemed more organized and controllable; it no longer got stuck in self-critical loops. I felt a sense of kindness or friendliness toward myself in everyday moments, as well as during joyful or difficult experiences. I enjoyed ordinary activities more, such as walking or cleaning.

It took a while to understand that anytime you sit down and try to meditate, that’s meditation. It is a mental process, rather than a destination.

How meditation works on the mind

Just having a general intention to be more mindful or self-compassionate is unlikely to work.

Most programs shown to make meaningful differences involve at least seven sessions. Studies show these repeated workouts improve attention skills and decrease rumination, or repeated negative thinking.

They also lessen self-criticism, which is linked to numerous mental health difficulties, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Meditation is not just about sustaining your attention – it’s also about shifting and returning your focus after the distraction. The act of shifting and refocusing cultivates attention skills and decreases rumination.

Trying repeatedly to refrain from self-judgment during the session will train your mind to be less self-critical.

An interconnected group of brain regions called the default mode network is strikingly affected by meditation. Much of this network’s activity reflects repetitive thinking, such as a rehash of a decadeslong tension with your sister. It’s most prominent when you’re not doing much of anything. Activity of the default mode network is related to rumination, unhappiness and depression.

Research shows that just one month of meditation reduces the noise of the default mode network. The type of meditation practice doesn’t seem to matter.

Don’t be discouraged if your mind wanders as you meditate.

Establishing the formal practice

A common misconception about mindfulness is that it’s simply a way to relax or clear the mind. Rather, it means intentionally paying attention to your experiences in a nonjudgmental way.

Consider meditation the formal part of your practice – that is, setting aside a time to work on specific mindfulness and self-compassion techniques.

Cultivating mindfulness with meditation often involves focusing on paying attention to the breath. A common way to start practice is to sit in a comfortable place and bring attention to your breathing, wherever you feel it most strongly.

At some point, probably after a breath or two, your mind will wander to another thought or feeling. As soon as you notice that, you can bring your attention back to the breath and try not to judge yourself for losing focus for five to 10 minutes.

When I was just getting started meditating, I would have to redirect my attention dozens or hundreds of times in a 20-to-30-minute session. Counting 10 breaths, and then another 10, and so on, helped me link my mind to the task of paying attention to my breathing.

The most well-established technique for cultivating self-compassion is called loving-kindness meditation. To practice, you can find a comfortable position, and for at least five minutes, internally repeat phrases such as, “May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease.”

When your attention wanders, you can bring it back with as little self-judgment as possible and continue repeating the phrases. Then, if you like, offer the same well wishes to other people or to all beings.

Every time you return your focus to your practice without judging, you’re flexing your mental awareness, because you noticed your mind wandered. You also improve your capacity to shift attention, a valuable anti-rumination skill, and your nonjudgment, an antidote to self-criticism.

These practices work. Studies show that brain activity during meditation results in less self-judgment, depression and anxiety and results in less rumination.

Mindfulness also occurs when you tune into present-moment sensations, such as tasting your food or washing the dishes.

An ongoing routine of formal and informal practice can transform your thinking. And again, doing it once in a while won’t help as much. It’s like situps: A single situp isn’t likely to strengthen your abdominal muscles, but doing several sets each day will.

When thoughts pop up during meditation, no worries. Just start again … and again … and again.

Meditation reduces self-criticism

Studies show that mindfulness meditation and loving-kindness meditation reduce self-criticism, which leads to better mental health, including lower levels of depression, anxiety and PTSD. After an eight-week mindfulness program, participants experienced less self-judgment. These changes were linked with decreases in depression and anxiety.

One final point: Beginning meditators may find that self-criticism gets worse before it gets better.

After years or decades of habitual self-judgment, people often judge themselves harshly about losing focus during meditation. But once students get through the first few weeks of practice, the self-judgment begins to abate, both about meditation and about oneself in general.

As one of my students recently said after several weeks of mindfulness meditation: “I am more stable, more able to detach from unhelpful thoughts and can do all of this while being a little more compassionate and loving toward myself.”

Rachel Goldsmith Turow, Adjunct Assistant Professor in Population Health Science and Policy, Seattle University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


I do not meditate; have never done so.

In reading this article I think I should try and find a way to start the process. There are a great number of articles and websites. I will share my journey with you.

Time will tell!


It is one of many things that deteriorate with age!

Jeannie and I go to the Club Northwest locally in Grants Pass twice a week. It is a local gym. Jean goes to her Rock Steady class and I see a coach. Both of us spend time ensuring our balance is as good as it can be. For me that consists primarily of spending a minute standing on each leg on a vibrating platform; it is not easy.

So for all the more elderly people out there, here is an article that was recently published on The Conversation.


Balance declines with age, but exercise can help stave off some of the risk of falling

Published: May 19, 2023

About 1 in 4 adults ages 65 and up experience a fall every year. sasirin pamai/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Evan Papa, Tufts University

My wife and I were in the grocery store recently when we noticed an older woman reaching above her head for some produce. As she stretched out her hand, she lost her balance and began falling forward. Fortunately, she leaned into her grocery cart, which prevented her from falling to the ground.

Each year, about 1 in every 4 older adults experience a fall. In fact, falls are the leading cause of injuries in adults ages 65 and older. Falls are the most common cause of hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries.

Injuries like those are also risk factors for placement in a nursing home, where the fall risk is nearly three times higher than for people living in the community.

A number of physical changes with aging often go unseen preceding falls, including muscle weakness, decreased balance and changes in vision.

I am a physical therapist and clinical scientist focused on fall prevention in older adults, commonly ages 65 and older. I’ve spent most of my career investigating why older adults fall and working with patients and their families to prevent falls.

Why aging leads to increased risk of falls

Aging is a process that affects the systems and tissues of every person. The rate and magnitude of aging may be different for each person, but overall physical decline is an inevitable part of life. Most people think aging starts in their 60s, but in fact we spend most of our life span undergoing the process of decline, typically beginning in our 30s.

Older adults are more prone to falling for various reasons, including age-related changes in their bodies and vision changes that leave them vulnerable to environmental factors such as curbs, stairs and carpet folds.

Some straightforward measures to improve the safety of the home environment for older adults can significantly lower the risk of falls.

Based on my experience, here are some common reasons older adults may experience falls:

First, aging leads to a natural loss of muscle strength and flexibility, making it more challenging to maintain balance and stability. The loss of strength and poor balance are two of the most common causes of falls.

Second, older adults often have chronic conditions such as arthritis, Parkinson’s disease or diabetes that can affect their mobility, coordination and overall stability.

In addition, certain medications commonly taken by older adults, such as sedatives or blood pressure drugs, can cause dizziness, drowsiness or a drop in blood pressure, leading to an increased risk of falls.

Age-related vision changes, such as reduced depth perception and peripheral vision and difficulty in differentiating colors or contrasts, can make it harder to navigate and identify potential hazards. Hazards in the environment, such as uneven surfaces, slippery floors, inadequate lighting, loose rugs or carpets or cluttered pathways, can significantly contribute to falls among older adults.

Older adults who lead a sedentary lifestyle or have limited physical activity may also experience reduced strength, flexibility and balance.

And finally, such conditions as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can affect judgment, attention and spatial awareness, leading to increased fall risk.

Illustration of an iceberg underwater and just partially showing above water, annotated with a few of the age-related changes that can increase fall risk.
Falls reflect age-related changes happening under the surface. Annotated by Evan Papa via iStock/Getty Images

Theories of aging

There are numerous theories about why we age but there is no one unifying notion that explains all the changes in our bodies. A large portion of aging-related decline is caused by our genes, which determine the structure and function of bones, muscle growth and repair and visual depth perception, among other things. But there are also numerous lifestyle-related factors that influence our rate of aging including diet, exercise, stress and exposure to environmental toxins.

A recent advance in scientific understanding of aging is that there is a difference between your chronological age and your biological age. Chronological age is simply the number of years you’ve been on the Earth. Biological age, however, refers to how old your cells and tissues are. It is based on physiological evidence from a blood test and is related to your physical and functional ability. Thus, if you’re healthy and fit, your biological age may be lower than your chronological age. However, the reverse can also be true.

I encourage patients to focus on their biological age because it empowers them to take control over the aging process. We obviously have no control over when we are born. By focusing on the age of our cells, we can avoid long-held beliefs that our bodies are destined to develop cancer, diabetes or other conditions that have historically been tied to how long we live.

And by taking control of diet, exercise, sleep and other lifestyle factors you can actually decrease your biological age and improve your quality of life. As one example, our team’s research has shown that moderate amounts of aerobic exercise can slow down motor decline even when a person begins exercise in the latter half of the life span.

Fall prevention

Adopting lifestyle changes such as regular, long-term exercise can reduce the consequences of aging, including falls and injuries. Following a healthy diet, managing chronic conditions, reviewing medications with health care professionals, maintaining a safe home environment and getting regular vision checkups can also help reduce the risk of falls in older adults.

There are several exercises that physical therapists use to improve balance for patients. It is important to note however, that before starting any exercise program, everyone should consult with a health care professional or a qualified physical therapist to determine the most appropriate exercises for their specific needs. Here are five forms of exercise I commonly recommend to my patients to improve balance:

  1. Balance training can help improve coordination and proprioception, which is the body’s ability to sense where it is in space. By practicing movements that challenge the body’s balance, such as standing on one leg or walking heel-to-toe, the nervous system becomes better at coordinating movement and maintaining balance. A large research study analyzing nearly 8,000 older adults found that balance and functional exercises reduce the rate of falls by 24%.
  2. Strength training exercises involve lifting weights or using resistance bands to increase muscle strength and power. By strengthening the muscles in the legs, hips and core, older adults can improve their ability to maintain balance and stability. Our research has shown that strength training can also lead to improvements in walking speed and a reduction in fall risk.
  3. Tai chi is a gentle martial art that focuses on slow, controlled movements and shifting body weight. Research shows that it can improve balance, strength and flexibility in older adults. Several combined studies in tai chi have demonstrated a 20% reduction in the number of people who experience falls.
  4. Certain yoga poses can enhance balance and stability. Tree pose, warrior pose and mountain pose are examples of poses that can help improve balance. It’s best to practice yoga under the guidance of a qualified instructor who can adapt the poses to individual abilities.
  5. Flexibility training involves stretching the muscles and joints, which can improve range of motion and reduce stiffness. By improving range of motion, older adults can improve their ability to move safely and avoid falls caused by limitations in mobility.
  6. Use of assistive devices can be helpful when strength or balance impairments are present. Research studies involving the evaluation of canes and walkers used by older adults confirm that these devices can improve balance and mobility. Training from a physical or occupational therapist in the proper use of assistive devices is an important part of improving safety.

When I think back about the woman who nearly fell in the grocery store, I wish I could share everything we have learned about healthy aging with her. There’s no way to know if she was already putting these tips into practice, but I’m comforted by the thought that she may have avoided the fall by being in the right place at the right time. After all, she was standing in the produce aisle.

Evan Papa, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, Tufts University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Reading this article reminds me that Bruce, my coach at the Club Northwest, also has me walking toe-to-heel; with my eyes fully open, then blinking rapidly and then with my eyes closed. Plus I go bike riding as often as I can.

This getting old lark really sucks!

    The Power of a Gentle Touch

    An interesting film.

    On Sunday evening Jean and I watched a documentary on touch. It was most interesting and included the obvious thought (that I needed reminding of) that babies when they are born cannot see more than 30 centimetres and cannot hear at first. So touch is vital for the health and early bonding of the babe and its parents with the mother being the dominant parent and the provider of breast milk.

    Then yesterday I poked around online and found that the benefits of touch not only were for the very young but also for all ages and also were more broadly available across many animals, especially dogs.

    But here’s the first film:

    Touch shapes us as humans. Indeed, touch is fundamental to what makes us social beings. Touch influences how we perceive stress and pain, who we trust and who we fear. How does this work? And what happens to us in the absence of touch? Gentle touch is vital for us humans. It creates the first contact with the world for newborns, giving us a sense of security and belonging. Touch influences our immune system, and on our feelings for our fellow human beings. Especially strong feelings, such as love or compassion, can be better conveyed through touch than through words, facial expressions or gestures. Given how important touch is, it’s no surprise that humans have a highly specialized system devoted exclusively to perceiving gentle touch stimuli. Why does the touch of a stranger feel so different to that of someone we are emotionally close to? What is happening in our brain – and what role does the brain play in all this? In an era of social distancing, touch research is becoming increasingly relevant. How does it affect us, and our relationships, when we are required to keep our distance? Researchers explore what role touch plays in our physical and emotional well-being, and what the consequences are when touch is missing.

    Then moving on I found an article on the Johns Hopkins Medicine website called The Friend Who Keeps You Young.

    It opens:

    Adopting a pet may seem like a selfless act, but there are plenty of selfish reasons to embrace pet ownership. Research has shown that owning a pet provides an amazing array of health benefits, says Jeremy Barron, M.D., medical director of the Beacham Center for Geriatric Medicine at Johns Hopkins.

    Not ready for a full-time furry friend in your home? Offer to walk a neighbor’s dog, cat-sit for a friend, or donate time at a local animal shelter—even short interactions provide enough pet exposure to reap some of these rewards.

    And that wasn’t the end, far from it! had a powerful article The Health and Mood-Boosting Benefits of Pets. Here’s how it starts:

    The benefits of pets

    Most pet owners are clear about the immediate joys that come with sharing their lives with companion animals. However, many of us remain unaware of the physical and mental health benefits that can also accompany the pleasure of snuggling up to a furry friend. It’s only recently that studies have begun to scientifically explore the benefits of the human-animal bond.

    Pets have evolved to become acutely attuned to humans and our behavior and emotions. Dogs, for example, are able to understand many of the words we use, but they’re even better at interpreting our tone of voice, body language, and gestures. And like any good human friend, a loyal dog will look into your eyes to gauge your emotional state and try to understand what you’re thinking and feeling (and to work out when the next walk or treat might be coming, of course).

    Pets, especially dogs and cats, can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health. Caring for an animal can help children grow up more secure and active. Pets also provide valuable companionship for older adults. Perhaps most importantly, though, a pet can add real joy and unconditional love to your life.

    Dogs are the perfect companions to us!

    Dr Renée Lertzman speaking a great deal of sense

    She was at TED19 giving this talk.

    It is under 14 minutes in length so, please, watch it until the end. You will be pleased you did!

    It’s normal to feel anxious or overwhelmed by climate change, says psychologist Renée Lertzman. Can we turn those feelings into something productive? In an affirming talk, Lertzman discusses the emotional effects of climate change and offers insights on how psychology can help us discover both the creativity and resilience needed to act on environmental issues.

    Dr. Renée Lertzman is a researcher, educator and engagement strategist who uses psychological insights to unlock action on global climate and environmental crises.

    Why you should listen

    Dr. Renée Lertzman is a pioneer and leader at the intersection of psychology, climate and environment. She applies psychosocial insights to drive engagement and action on ecological issues. 

    Lertzman translates psychology and social science best practices into tools, resources and guidance that unleash the potential for creativity and courage. She guides companies and organizations in strengthening engagement campaigns and boosting their ability to connect with stakeholders to inspire action, ingenuity and resilience in facing one of the biggest challenges of our time.

    Her website is here:

    This is a very positive talk and the recommendation that Dr. Lertzman provides is simply music to our ears!

    One of the numerous effects of a warming climate.

    An article that I wanted to share with you!

    There is no question that we are warming the world, and in my mind, there’s very little doubt that it is us older persons who are the cause. Take this chart, for example, where the effects of populations in the 1980’s – 2000’s had a dramatic impact on the worsening trend:

    The reason for today’s post is to share an article that writes of the science of precipitation.




    The scientific consensus on climate change is that atmospheric temperatures are rising and will continue to rise. Mean global temperatures are already 1˚C warmer than preindustrial times (relative to 1850–1900), predominantly due to human activity increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (IPCC, 2018a). The 2020 Paris Conference of Parties (COP) agreed on the aim of a 1.5˚C cap on climate change-induced warming, although without rapidly introducing measures to reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, global warming could easily go beyond this limit. 

    In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that even a mean global temperature increase of 1.5˚C will lead to an increase in the frequency and intensity of rainfall events. But what links a warmer climate to an increase in intense rainfall events? This blog post will explain the physics behind the changes to precipitation rates in a warming climate.


    Climate projections simultaneously warn of higher annual mean surface temperatures, higher rates of intense rainfall and more frequent intense rainfall events. The atmospheric moisture content increases with respect to a change in temperature – essentially, the warmer the atmosphere, the more water is held in the atmosphere, and therefore higher rates of precipitation can be expected.

    This is explained by the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship between surface temperature and water vapour. According to the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship, atmospheric water content increases by between 6 and 7% per 1 °C. Therefore, even just an increase of 1.5°C could result in ~9% more water in the atmosphere, which could have a major impact on storm systems and subsequent rainfall.

    Storm systems travelling across oceans will have an increased moisture content from water evaporated from the sea surface, forming a larger storm system and therefore more precipitation. JBA has recently discussed the risk of flooding from intensifying rainfall due to climate change and this will be explored in respect to storm systems later in this blog.


    In meteorology, precipitation can be liquid or solid water that falls from the atmosphere and reaches the Earth’s surface. Types of precipitation include rain, sleet, or snow, depending on the temperature of the atmosphere. During the water cycle (fig. 1), water evaporates from the surface into the atmosphere, and changes state from liquid to vapour. The water vapour forms cloud droplets, which join together until the heavy droplets fall from the clouds as precipitation. Several processes affect this simple view of the journey from evaporation to precipitation.

    Figure 1: A diagram of the water cycle showing the connections between water masses, the atmosphere and the transpiration and condensation of water vapour.


    The connection between precipitation and surface temperature is defined by the Clausius-Clapeyron equations. The Clausius-Clapeyron equations calculate the energy required to cause a chemical reaction at a given pressure. In terms of precipitation, the Clausius-Clapeyron equations can be used to calculate the thermal energy required to condense water vapour into droplets when the atmospheric pressure is known. 

    When water droplets are evaporated into the atmosphere, they travel upwards. As the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship is dependent on atmospheric pressure, the thermal energy requirement for a phase change is lower at a lower pressure. As the water droplets travel upwards, two things happen: 

    1. The atmospheric pressure decreases, and 
    2. The atmospheric temperature cools (this is known as the temperature lapse rate and is typically estimated at -6.5°C per kilometre). 

    When the water vapour reaches an elevation where the atmospheric pressure and temperature satisfy the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship, the water vapour condenses into cloud droplets. 


    The release of carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases, into the atmosphere by humans has already led to climate change in the form of atmospheric warming. Long-term measurements show that the atmosphere has already warmed by 1°C since 1900. IPCC projections suggest that additional warming is inevitable, and attempts are being made to keep global atmospheric warming to under 1.5°C. Although, as previously mentioned, this could still increase the frequency and intensity of rainfall (IPCC, 2018b). To understand how an increase in annual mean surface temperature will influence rainfall events, we can apply the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship in a geographical context. 

    As the Clausius-Clapeyron equations define the relationship between vapour and pressure, they can also be used to define the saturation vapour pressure with respect to temperature. In meteorology, the saturation vapour pressure is the maximum pressure of water vapour, at a given temperature, before it condenses. Therefore, the pressure required to condense a water droplet increases exponentially with respect to a change in temperature. 

    This means that the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship can be used to determine the moisture content of the atmosphere. Warmer atmospheric temperatures will increase the atmospheric moisture content before condensation because the atmospheric pressure will not be affected by climate change in the same way as temperature. This results in the previously mentioned calculation that moisture content will increase by ~6.5% in the atmosphere per 1°C increase in temperature and means that atmospheric warming of 1.5°C will yield an increase in atmospheric moisture content of ~9%.


    This ~9% increase has an impact on storm systems and therefore rainfall. Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the coast of Texas in August 2017. Over seven days, areas of Texas including Galveston and Houston experienced nearly 1.5 metres of rainfall. 

    Research published since the event suggests that the intensity of Hurricane Harvey is attributable to a combination of the storm stalling over one location and climate change. The Gulf of Mexico, the source of moisture for Hurricane Harvey, has experienced anthropogenic-induced sea-surface temperature warming of 1°C since preindustrial times (Pall et al., 2017; Trenberth et al., 2018). Comparing Hurricane Harvey’s precipitation records with an equivalent event from 1950, extreme value analysis concluded that climate change contributed to a 5-7% increase in rainfall rates covering the full region affected by the hurricane (Risser and Wehner, 2017). 

    With an increase in rainfall events and the wider impacts of climate change, it’s important for organisations to think about the potential risk to their business. JBA’s UK Climate Change Flood Model assesses and quantifies future flood risk in the UK under a warming climate and complements our range of global Climate Change Analytics, helping clients to understand and manage the effects of climate change on their assets and to enable long-term planning.

    For more information on our climate change work, including bespoke consultancy services offered by our expert team, get in touch.


    IPCC, 2018a: Summary for Policymakers. In: Global warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, H.-O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J.B.R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M.I.Gomis, E. Lonnoy, T.Maycock, M.Tignor, and T. Waterfield (eds.)].]. World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

    IPCC, 2018b. Impacts of 1.5ºC Global Warming on Natural and Human Systems. In: Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, H.-O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J.B.R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M.I.Gomis, E. Lonnoy, T.Maycock, M.Tignor, and T. Waterfield (eds.)]. World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

    Pall, P., Patricola, C.M., Wehner, M.F., Stone, D.A., Paciorek, C.J., Collins, W.D. 2017. Diagnosing conditional anthropogenic contributions to heavy Colorado rainfall in September 2013. Weather and Climate Extremes, 17, pp 1-6.

    Risser, M.D., Wehner, MF. 2017. Attributable human-induced changes in the likelihood and magnitude of the observed extreme precipitation during Hurricane Harvey. Geophysical Research Letters¸ 44(24), doi: 10.1002/2017GL075888.

    Trenberth, K.E., Cheng, L., Jacobs, P., Zhang, Y., Fasullo, J. 2018. Hurricane Harvey links to ocean heat content and climate change adaptation. Earth’s Future, 6(5), doi: 10.1029/2018EF000825


    The IPCC states what is clearly known in science circles; a warmer atmosphere equals more moisture in the air and that translates into more rainfall.

    It comes down to warmer atmospheric temperatures increasing the atmospheric moisture content before condensation, simply because the atmospheric pressure will not be affected by climate change in the same way as temperature, as was described earlier in the paper. The reference to Hurricane Harvey was very powerful.

    The world has to focus on climate change in an urgent manner. Because there isn’t a great deal of time, something like 10 years, at most, to bring about huge changes in the way we consume energy.

    Dogs foraging!

    A plant list from the ASPCA.

    This list came in from the ASPCA recently and I though it worth sharing with you. But just before I do that let me select from the About Us page on the ASPCA website.

    We Are Their Voice

    The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) was the first humane society to be established in North America and is, today, one of the largest in the world.

    Our organization was founded on the belief that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans and must be protected under the law. Headquartered in New York City, the ASPCA maintains a strong local presence, and with programs that extend our anti-cruelty mission across the country, we are recognized as a national animal welfare organization. We are a privately funded 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, and are proud to boast more than 2 million supporters across the country.

    The ASPCA’s mission, as stated by founder Henry Bergh in 1866, is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.”

    Plus there is a YouTube video.

    Now to that plant list. It is a long list and I am going to only show you the first few dozen plants. If you want to see more of the list then you are going to have to go here and look it up for yourself.


    Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List – Dogs

    Plants Toxic to Dogs

    Adam-and-Eve (Arum, Lord-and-Ladies, Wake Robin, Starch Root, Bobbins, Cuckoo Plant) | Scientific Names: Arum maculatum | Family: Araceae 

    African Wonder Tree () | Scientific Names: Ricinus communis | Family:

    Alocasia (Elephant’s Ear) | Scientific Names: Alocasia spp. | Family: Araceae 

    Aloe () | Scientific Names: Aloe vera | Family: Liliaceae 

    Amaryllis (Many, including: Belladonna lily, Saint Joseph lily, Cape Belladonna, Naked Lady) | Scientific Names: Amaryllis spp. | Family: Amaryllidaceae 

    Ambrosia Mexicana (Jerusalem Oak, Feather Geranium) | Scientific Names: Chenopodium botrys | Family:Chenopodiaceae 

    American Bittersweet (Bittersweet, Waxwork, Shrubby Bittersweet, False Bittersweet, Climbing Bittersweet) | Scientific Names: Celastrus scandens | Family: Celastraceae 

    American Holly (English Holly, European Holly, Oregon Holly, Inkberry, Winterberry) | Scientific Names: Ilex opaca | Family: Aquifoliaceae 

    American Mandrake (Mayapple, Indian Apple Root, Umbrella Leaf, Wild Lemon, Hog Apple, Duck’s Foot, Raccoonberry) | Scientific Names: Podophyllum peltatum | Family: Berberidaceae 

    American Yew (Canada Yew, Canadian Yew) | Scientific Names: Taxus canadensus | Family: Taxaceae 

    Andromeda Japonica (Pieris, Lily-of-the-Valley Bush) | Scientific Names: Pieris japonica | Family: Ericaceae 

    Angelica Tree (Hercules’ Club, Devil’s Walking Stick, Prickly Ash, Prickly Elder) | Scientific Names: Aralia spinosa | Family:Araliaceae 

    Apple (Includes crabapples) | Scientific Names: Malus sylvestrus | Family: Rosaceae 

    Apricot (Group also includes Plum, Peach, Cherry) | Scientific Names: Prunus armeniaca | Family: Rosaceae 

    Arrow-Head Vine (Nephthytis, Green Gold Naphthysis, African Evergreen, Trileaf Wonder) | Scientific Names: Syngonium podophyllum | Family: Araceae 

    Arum (Cuckoo-pint, Lord-and-Ladies, Adam-and-Eve, Starch Root, Bobbins, Wake Robin) | Scientific Names: Arum maculatum | Family: Araceae 

    Arum Lily (Calla Lily, Pig Lily, White Arum, Trumpet Lily, Florist’s Calla, Garden Calla) | Scientific Names: Zantedeschia aethiopica | Family: Araceae 

    Asparagus Fern (Asparagus, Emerald Feather, Emerald Fern, Sprengeri Fern, Plumosa Fern, Lace Fern, Racemose Asparagus, Shatavari) | Scientific Names: Asparagus densiflorus cv sprengeri | Family: Liliaceae 

    Australian Ivy Palm (Schefflera, Umbrella Tree, Octopus Tree, Starleaf) | Scientific Names: Brassaia actinophylla | Family:Araliaceae 

    Australian Nut (Macadamia Nut, Queensland Nut) | Scientific Names: Macadamia integrifolia | Family: Proteaceae 

    Autumn Crocus (Meadow Saffron) | Scientific Names: Colchicum autumnale | Family: Liliaceae 

    Azalea (Rosebay, Rhododendron) | Scientific Names: Rhododendron spp | Family: Ericaceae 

    Baby Doll Ti Plant (Ti-Plant, Good-Luck Plant, Hawaiian Ti Plant) | Scientific Names: Cordyline terminalis | Family:Agavaceae 

    Barbados Aloe (Medicine Plant, True Aloe) | Scientific Names: Aloe barbadensis | Family: Aloaceae 

    Barbados Lily (Amaryllis, Fire Lily, Lily of the Palace, Ridderstjerne) | Scientific Names: Hippeastrum spp. | Family:Amaryllidaceae 

    Barbados Pride (Peacock Flower, Dwarf Poinciana) | Scientific Names: Caesalpinia pulcherrima | Family:

    Barbados Pride 2 (Bird of Paradise, Poinciana, Brazilwood) | Scientific Names: Poinciana gilliesii | Family: Leguminosae 

    Bay Laurel (Sweet Bag, Bay Tree, Tree Laurel, Laurel Tree, Laurel) | Scientific Names: Laurus nobilis | Family: Lauraceae 

    Bead Tree (China Ball Tree, Paradise Tree, Persian Lilac, White Cedar, Japanese Bead Tree, Texas Umbrella Tree, Pride-of-India, Chinaberry Tree) | Scientific Names: Melia azedarach | Family: Meliaceae 

    Begonia (Over 1,000 species and 10,000 hybrids) | Scientific Names: Begonia spp. | Family: Begoniaceae 

    Bergamot Orange (Bergamot, Citrus bergamia) | Scientific Names: Citrus Aurantium | Family: Rutaceae 

    Bird of Paradise (Peacock Flower, Barbados Pride, Poinciana, Pride of Barbados) | Scientific Names: Caesalpinia gilliesii | Family: Leguminosae 

    Bird of Paradise 2 (Peacock Flower, Barbados Pride, Poinciana, Pride of Barbados) | Scientific Names: Poinciana gilliesii | Family: Leguminosae 

    Bird of Paradise Flower (Crane Flower, Bird’s Tongue Flower) | Scientific Names: Strelitzia reginae | Family: Strelitziaceae 

    Bird’s Tongue Flower (Bird of Paradise Flower, Crane Flower) | Scientific Names: Strelitzia reginae | Family: Strelitziaceae 

    Bishop’s Weed (Greater Ammi, False Queen Anne’s Lace) | Scientific Names: Ammi majus | Family: Apiaceae 

    Bitter Root (Dogbane Hemp, Indian Hemp) | Scientific Names: Apocynum androsaemifolium | Family: Apocynaceae 

    Black Calla (Solomon’s Lily, Wild Calla, Wild Arum) | Scientific Names: Arum palestinum | Family: Araceae 

    Black Cherry () | Scientific Names: Prunus serotina | Family: Rosaceae 

    Black Laurel (Dog Hobble, Dog Laurel, Fetter Bush, Sierra Laurel) | Scientific Names: Leucothoe spp. | Family: Ericaceae 

    Black Nightshade (Nightshade, Deadly Nightshade) | Scientific Names: Solanum nigrum | Family: Solanaceae 

    Black Walnut () | Scientific Names: Juglans nigra | Family: Juglandaceae 

    Bobbins (Arum, Lord-and-Ladies, Adam-and-Eve, Starch Root, Wake Robin, Cuckoo Plant) | Scientific Names: Arum maculatum | Family: Araceae 

    Bog Laurel (Pale Laurel, Bog Kalmia) | Scientific Names: Kalmia poliifolia | Family: Ericaceae 

    Borage (Starflower) | Scientific Names: Borage officinalis | Family: Boraginceae 

    Boxwood () | Scientific Names: Buxus spp. | Family: Buxaceae 

    Branching Ivy (English Ivy, Glacier Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy, Sweetheart Ivy, California Ivy) | Scientific Names: Hedera helix | Family: Araliaceae 

    Brazilwood (Bird of Paradise, Poinciana, Barbados Pride) | Scientific Names: Poinciana gilliesii | Family: Leguminosae 

    Bread and Butter Plant (Indian Borage, Spanish Thyme, Coleus, Maratha, Militini, East Indian Thyme) | Scientific Names:Coleus ampoinicus | Family: Labiatae 

    Brunfelsia (Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, Kiss-Me-Quick, Lady-of-the-Night, Fransiscan Rain Tree) | Scientific Names:Brunfelsia species | Family: Solanaceae 

    Buckeye (Horse Chestnut) | Scientific Names: Aesculus spp | Family: Hippocastanaceae 

    Buckwheat () | Scientific Names: Fagopyrum spp. | Family: Polygonaceae 

    Buddhist Pine (Yew Pine, Japanese Yew, Southern Yew, Podocarpus) | Scientific Names: Podocarpus macrophylla | Family: Podocarpaceae 

    Burning Bush (Wahoo, Spindle Tree) | Scientific Names: Euonymus atropurpurea | Family: Celastraceae 

    Buttercup (Butter Cress, Figwort) | Scientific Names: Ranunculus spp. | Family: Ranunculaceae 

    Butterfly Iris (Spuria Iris) | Scientific Names: Iris spuria | Family: Iridaceae


    That was only the ‘A’ and ‘B’ selection!

    I did say it was a long list. Again, if you want to go there here is the link.

    If by sharing this information one dog’s life is saved then it was worthwhile.

    Moore’s Law

    In memory of Gordon Moore.

    From Wikipedia:

    Gordon Earle Moore (January 3, 1929 – March 24, 2023) was an American businessman, engineer, and the co-founder and emeritus chairman of Intel Corporation.

    It was in 1965 that Gordon Moore suggested that every year there would be a doubling of the number of components per integrated circuit. In 1975 he revised his forecast to a doubling every two years; that prediction has become a reliable outcome and became known as Moore’s Law.

    Just look at the left-hand scale of that graph above and ponder on the figures. From less than 10,000 in 1971 to more than 10 billion in 2021!


    Gordon Earle Moore in 1978. He died on March 24th, 2023 aged 94 years.

    What an amazing man!

    A treasure of a dog story

    A guest post from Connie Hart.

    This is a most amazing story about Connie’s dogs and was sent to me as a guest post.

    You will love it!


    A Dog Story

    by Connie Hart, March 14th., 2023

    Having been raised by my father from the age of three, I spent many hours sitting on his lap as he read to me. Often, as he read, I looked up at his face, and into his eyes. It was always a marvel to me. As an adult, I know it as heterochromia, or different colored eyes. He had one brown eye, and one blue.

    This is a condition that is very rare in humans; only 1% have this. But it was something that I, as a child, loved about my father.

    In dogs, heterochromia is more common, but still rare. It occurs 3.5% of the time in dogs. That being said, here is my story;

    This is Bernie:

    Bernie is 145 lbs. of pure love. He was a gift from a friend, after a tragic loss of two of my sweet dogs. I still had one old dog, Bo. But even he passed when Bernie was about a year old. So we took Bernie to the County Shelter, and let him pick out a new friend. Hence, Rosie came into our lives.


    But two years later, unfortunately, we lost Rosie.

    We moved after that, but Bernie was not to be alone. Believe it or not, the people who moved out of the house we bought, moved from Oregon to Arizona and left behind their dog, Endy. Endy was a sweet, old dog. When I inquired about him, the owners simply said, ‘Oh, he can fend for himself.”

    I was horrified. I couldn’t believe it as I watched those people drive out, leaving Endy crying on the porch.

    But we made it up to him. We loved him and played with him. He and Bernie became inseparable. But, alas, time and age forced a sad good-bye.

    Again, we took Bernie to the County Shelter to pick out a new friend. With Bernie in the ‘meet and greet’ yard, I went through and picked out a handful of dogs I liked, first. One in particular, struck me. A Shepard/Pyrenees mix, with one blue eye and one brown.

    One at a time, each dog was taken out to the yard to meet Bernie. Some, he barely even sniffed, some, he totally ignored. But when the heterochromatic dog was put in the yard, there was instant frolic!

    Bernie had lost three of his besties and we didn’t want him to have to go through that again. This dog, Cassie, was young and vibrant, in so many ways. They romped and played while I went in to do the paperwork. While looking through the paperwork, I noticed her birthdate. November 23….

    She and my beloved father have the same birthday!


    This is a lovely story.

    For those that want more information on Heterochromia, I took from the Mount Sinai website the following:

    Heterochromia is the presence of different colored eyes in the same person. Heterochromia in humans appears either as a hereditary trait unassociated with other disease, as a symptom of various syndromes or as the result of a trauma.

    What an unusual, but pretty, condition in her face.

    Thank you, Connie.

    Getting older and older!

    An interesting post for all of us, albeit, those on the right side of 70? will find this less important.

    It is very difficult for me to add anything useful to this article so I will not try.

    Except to say that the author, Aditi Gurkar, is Assistant Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh so she should know what she is talking about!


    Are you a rapid ager? Biological age is a better health indicator than the number of years you’ve lived, but it’s tricky to measure

    Healthspan measures incorporate quality of life in ways that lifespan does not. Ira T. Nicolai/The Image Bank via Getty Images

    Aditi Gurkar, University of Pittsburgh

    Do you ever wake up some days and think, “When I was younger, I could survive on just four hours of sleep, but now it seems like I need 10”? Or have you ever walked out of the gym and “felt” your knees?

    Almost everyone experiences these kinds of signs of aging. But there are some people who seem to defy their age. The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg stayed on the bench until her death at age 87. The “Great British Bake Off” judge Mary Berry, now in her 80s, continues to inspire people all over the world to bake and enjoy life. And actor Paul Rudd was named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2021 at age 52 while still looking like he’s in his 30s. Is age just a number then?

    Researchers have focused a lot of attention on understanding the causes and risk factors of age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia, osteoporosis and cancer. But many ignore the major risk factor for all of these diseases: aging itself. More than any individual risk factor such as smoking or lack of exercise, the number of years you’ve lived predicts onset of disease. Indeed, aging increases the risk of multiple chronic diseases by up to a thousandfold.

    However, no two people age the same. Although age is the principal risk factor for several chronic diseases, it is an unreliable indicator of how quickly your body will decline or how susceptible you are to age-related disease. This is because there is a difference between your chronological age, or the number of years you’ve been alive, and your biological age – your physical and functional ability.

    As the author notes in her TED Talk, aging is not just a number.

    I am a scientist interested in redefining “age.” Instead of benchmarking chronological age, my lab is invested in measuring biological age. Biological age is a more accurate measure of healthspan, or years lived in good health, than chronological age, and doesn’t directly correlate with wrinkles and gray hairs. Rapid agers experience a faster rate of functional deterioration relative to their chronological age.

    My grandmother, who lived to be 83 but was bedridden and could not remember who I was for the last few years of her life, was a rapid ager. My grandfather, on the other hand, also lived until he was 83, but he was active, functional and even did my homework with me until he passed away – he was a healthy ager.

    With the unprecedented growth of the world’s aging population, I believe that figuring out ways to measure biological age and how to maintain or delay its advance is critical not only for individual health, but also for the social, political and economic health of our society. Detecting rapid agers early on presents an opportunity to delay, change or even reverse the trajectory of biological aging.

    Genetics and biological age

    Biological aging is multifaceted. It arises from a complex mix of genetic traits and is influenced by factors like microbiome composition, environment, lifestyle, stress, diet and exercise.

    Genetics were once thought to have no influence on aging or longevity. However, in the early 1990s, researchers reported the first studies identifying genes that were able to extend the lifespan of a small roundworm. Since then, multiple observations support the influence of genetics on aging.

    For example, children of long-lived parents and even those with long-lived siblings tend to live longer. Researchers have also identified multiple genes that influence longevity and play a role in resilience and protection from stress. These include genes that repair DNA, protect cells from free radicals and regulate fat levels.

    However, it is clear from studies in identical twins – who share the same genes but not the same exact lifespans – that genes are not the only factor that influences aging. In fact, genes probably account for only 20% to 30% of biological age. This suggests that other parameters can strongly influence biological aging.

    Environmental and lifestyle effects

    Researchers have found that environmental and lifestyle factors heavily influence biological age, including social connectedness, sleeping habits, water consumption, exercise and diet.

    Social connectedness is essential for well-being throughout life. But social connections can be challenging to maintain over time due to loss of family and friends, depression, chronic illness or other factors. Several studies have reported a strong link between social isolation and increased stress, morbidity and mortality.

    Three women dancing together in a park
    Social connectedness and physical activity are linked to well-being throughout life. Filippo Bacci/E+ via Getty Images

    Similarly, diet and exercise are strong influencers of biological age. Blue zones, which are areas around the world where people live long lives, attribute their successful aging to diet, exercise and social connectedness. Mostly plant-based meals and spurts of activity throughout the day are well-known “secrets” of healthspan and longevity. Although newer studies on the effects of diet interventions such as intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding on longevity have not been rigorously tested, they do show multiple health benefits, including better glucose and insulin regulation

    While genetics is difficult to control, diet and exercise can be modified to delay biological aging.

    How to measure biological age

    Currently, there is no effective test to predict an individual’s health trajectory early enough in life in order to intervene and improve quality of life with age. Scientists are interested in identifying a molecule that is sensitive and specific enough to serve as a unique fingerprint for biological age.

    Considering the health and resilience of the individual instead of focusing solely on disease state is important in discussions on biological age. Resilience is the state of adapting and bouncing back from a health challenge and is often more predictive of functional health. A molecular aging fingerprint may provide a tool to help identify people who are less resilient and require more aggressive monitoring and early intervention to preserve their health and help reduce gender, racial and ethnic health disparities.

    There are several promising molecular markers that may serve as biological age fingerprints.

    One of these markers are epigenetic clocks. Epigenetics are chemical modifications of DNA that control gene function. Several scientists have found that DNA can get “marked” by methyl groups in a pattern that changes with age and could potentially act as a readout for aging.

    It is important to note, however, that while epigenetic clocks have been valuable in predicting chronological age, they do not equate to biological age. In addition, it is unclear how these epigenetic marks work or how they contribute to aging.

    Older adult holding gold balloons of the number 70 in a backyard
    Age is so much more than a number. Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision via Getty Images

    Another well-regarded marker of biological age is the build-up of dysfunctional cells called senescent or zombie cells. Cells become senescent when they experience multiple types of stress and become so damaged that they cannot divide anymore, releasing molecules that cause chronic low-grade inflammation and disease.

    Animal studies have shown that getting rid of these cells can improve healthspan. However, what clearly defines senescent cells in humans is still unknown, making them challenging to track as a measure of biological age.

    Lastly, the body releases unique metabolites, or chemical fingerprints, as byproducts of normal metabolism. These metabolites play a dynamic and direct role in physiological regulation and can inform functional health. My lab and others are figuring out the exact makeup of these chemicals in order to figure out which can best measure biological age. A lot of work still remains on not only identifying these metabolites, but also understanding how they affect biological age.

    People have long sought a fountain of youth. Whether such an elixir exists is still unknown. But research is starting to show that delaying biological age may be one way to live healthier, fuller lives.

    Aditi Gurkar

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


    There is no arguing the fact that more and more great articles are appearing online. Indeed, the whole world is changing radically in many areas.

    Onwards and upwards! 😉

    Footnote: This appeared online on the Inspiring Quotes website. The link is here, from which I reproduce the following:

    Growing older is one of the most pervasive preoccupations of humankind. The passing of time is, after all, an inescapable part of the human condition. And aging, like love, is one of the most common themes in literature, be it the calm of poet Robert Brownings’ “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be,” or poet Dylan Thomas’ raging against the dying of the light. 

    There’s more to water than one might think.

    This post attracted me and I wanted to share it with you.

    Here in Oregon we are lucky because the ground water is of a high quality and there is plenty of it. At home we drink our water straight from our well without any filtering or chlorination. Have been doing that ever since we moved in back in 2012.

    But water is a much deeper subject than I tend to think of and this article is an in-depth review of the topic. It is an article from The Conversation.


    Water in space – a ‘Goldilocks’ star reveals previously hidden step in how water gets to planets like Earth

    The star system V883 Orionis contains a rare star surrounded by a disk of gas, ice and dust.

    John Tobin, National Radio Astronomy Observatory

    Without water, life on Earth could not exist as it does today. Understanding the history of water in the universe is critical to understanding how planets like Earth come to be.

    Astronomers typically refer to the journey water takes from its formation as individual molecules in space to its resting place on the surfaces of planets as “the water trail.” The trail starts in the interstellar medium with hydrogen and oxygen gas and ends with oceans and ice caps on planets, with icy moons orbiting gas giants and icy comets and asteroids that orbit stars. The beginnings and ends of this trail are easy to see, but the middle has remained a mystery.

    I am an astronomer who studies the formation of stars and planets using observations from radio and infrared telescopes. In a new paper, my colleagues and I describe the first measurements ever made of this previously hidden middle part of the water trail and what these findings mean for the water found on planets like Earth.

    The progression of a star system from a cloud of dust and gas into a mature star with orbiting planets.

    Star and planet formation is an intertwined process that starts with a cloud of molecules in space.
    Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF, CC BY

    How planets are formed

    The formation of stars and planets is intertwined. The so-called “emptiness of space” – or the interstellar medium – in fact contains large amounts of gaseous hydrogen, smaller amounts of other gasses and grains of dust. Due to gravity, some pockets of the interstellar medium will become more dense as particles attract each other and form clouds. As the density of these clouds increases, atoms begin to collide more frequently and form larger molecules, including water that forms on dust grains and coats the dust in ice.

    Stars begin to form when parts of the collapsing cloud reach a certain density and heat up enough to start fusing hydrogen atoms together. Since only a small fraction of the gas initially collapses into the newborn protostar, the rest of the gas and dust forms a flattened disk of material circling around the spinning, newborn star. Astronomers call this a proto-planetary disk.

    As icy dust particles collide with each other inside a proto-planetary disk, they begin to clump together. The process continues and eventually forms the familiar objects of space like asteroids, comets, rocky planets like Earth and gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn.

    A cloudy filament against a backdrop of stars.

    Gas and dust can condense into clouds, like the Taurus Molecular Cloud, where collisions between hydrogen and oxygen can form water.
    ESO/APEX (MPIfR/ESO/OSO)/A. Hacar et al./Digitized Sky Survey 2, CC BY

    Two theories for the source of water

    There are two potential pathways that water in our solar system could have taken. The first, called chemical inheritance, is when the water molecules originally formed in the interstellar medium are delivered to proto-planetary disks and all the bodies they create without going through any changes.

    The second theory is called chemical reset. In this process, the heat from the formation of the proto-planetary disk and newborn star breaks apart water molecules, which then reform once the proto-planetary disk cools.

    Models of protium and deuterium.

    Normal hydrogen, or protium, does not contain a neutron in its nucleus, while deuterium contains one neutron, making it heavier.
    Dirk Hünniger/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

    To test these theories, astronomers like me look at the ratio between normal water and a special kind of water called semi-heavy water. Water is normally made of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Semi-heavy water is made of one oxygen atom, one hydrogen atom and one atom of deuterium – a heavier isotope of hydrogen with an extra neutron in its nucleus.

    The ratio of semi-heavy to normal water is a guiding light on the water trail – measuring the ratio can tell astronomers a lot about the source of water. Chemical models and experiments have shown that about 1,000 times more semi-heavy water will be produced in the cold interstellar medium than in the conditions of a protoplanetary disk.

    This difference means that by measuring the ratio of semi-heavy to normal water in a place, astronomers can tell whether that water went through the chemical inheritance or chemical reset pathway.

    A star surrounded by a ring of gas and dust.

    V883 Orionis is a young star system with a rare star at its center that makes measuring water in the proto-planetary cloud, shown in the cutaway, possible.

    Measuring water during the formation of a planet

    Comets have a ratio of semi-heavy to normal water almost perfectly in line with chemical inheritance, meaning the water hasn’t undergone a major chemical change since it was first created in space. Earth’s ratio sits somewhere in between the inheritance and reset ratio, making it unclear where the water came from.

    To truly determine where the water on planets comes from, astronomers needed to find a goldilocks proto-planetary disk – one that is just the right temperature and size to allow observations of water. Doing so has proved to be incredibly difficult. It is possible to detect semi-heavy and normal water when water is a gas; unfortunately for astronomers, the vast majority of proto-plantary disks are very cold and contain mostly ice, and it is nearly impossible to measure water ratios from ice at interstellar distances.

    A breakthrough came in 2016, when my colleagues and I were studying proto-planetary disks around a rare type of young star called FU Orionis stars. Most young stars consume matter from the proto-planetary disks around them. FU Orionis stars are unique because they consume matter about 100 times faster than typical young stars and, as a result, emit hundreds of times more energy. Due to this higher energy output, the proto-planetary disks around FU Orionis stars are heated to much higher temperatures, turning ice into water vapor out to large distances from the star.

    Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, a powerful radio telescope in northern Chile, we discovered a large, warm proto-planetary disk around the Sunlike young star V883 Ori, about 1,300 light years from Earth in the constellation Orion.

    V883 Ori emits 200 times more energy than the Sun, and my colleagues and I recognized that it was an ideal candidate to observe the semi-heavy to normal water ratio.

    A radio image of the disk around V883 Ori.

    The proto-planetary disk around V883 Ori contains gaseous water, shown in the orange layer, allowing astronomers to measure the ratio of semi-heavy to normal water.
    ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), J. Tobin, B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF), CC BY

    Completing the water trail

    In 2021, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array took measurements of V883 Ori for six hours. The data revealed a strong signature of semi-heavy and normal water coming from V883 Ori’s proto-planetary disk. We measured the ratio of semi-heavy to normal water and found that the ratio was very similar to ratios found in comets as well as the ratios found in younger protostar systems.

    These results fill in the gap of the water trail forging a direct link between water in the interstellar medium, protostars, proto-planetary disks and planets like Earth through the process of inheritance, not chemical reset.

    The new results show definitively that a substantial portion of the water on Earth most likely formed billions of years ago, before the Sun had even ignited. Confirming this missing piece of water’s path through the universe offers clues to origins of water on Earth. Scientists have previously suggested that most water on Earth came from comets impacting the planet. The fact that Earth has less semi-heavy water than comets and V883 Ori, but more than chemical reset theory would produce, means that water on Earth likely came from more than one source.The Conversation

    John Tobin, Scientist, National Radio Astronomy Observatory

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


    Now this was a long article and I hope some of you stayed with John’s piece until the very end.

    It really shows how the water trail is a much greater and longer journey than I assumed.