Category: Technology

The End of Ice

Climate disruption at its worst!

Margaret K. recently emailed me a link to a recent Ralph Nader Radio programme.

As I said in my email to her after Jeannie and I had listened to it:

OK. Have listened to it just now.
I don’t know what to say.

Frankly, I’m overwhelmed. I need some time to let it settle down but it’s going to be featured on the blog very soon.
Thank you

Paul

I’m still ‘processing’ it but that doesn’t stop me from sharing it with you.

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Ralph spends the whole hour with independent journalist, Dahr Jamail, author of “The End of Ice,” his first person report on the front lines of the climate crisis.

In late 2003, award-winning journalist, Dahr Jamail, went to the Middle East to report on the Iraq War, where he spent more than a year as one of only a few independent US journalists in the country. Mr. Jamail has also written extensively on veterans’ resistance against US foreign policy. He is now focusing on climate disruption and the environment. His book on that topic is entitled, The End of Ice.

“So much of what we talk about is so dire and so extreme and so scary and also disheartening that I quote Vaclav Havel, the Czech dissident writer and statesman. And he reminds us that as he said, ‘Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something is worth doing no matter how it turns out.” And that’s where I get into this moral obligation that no matter how dire things look, that we are absolutely morally obliged to do everything we can in our power to try to make this better.”  Dahr Jamail, author of “The End of Ice”

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Now here’s the link to the radio programme: Link

(It’s a download so wait just a short time for it to play.)

Do put an hour to one side and listen to this important and compelling programme.

Please!

It’s the nose!

The remarkable noses of our dogs.

Dogs have about 220 million olfactory cells in their noses. Compared with 50 million in a human nose.

But it’s not a case of saying that a dog’s nose is roughly four times better, as in 220 divided by 50, they are even more skilled at detecting scents.

Therefore a recent item in Mother Nature Network makes incredible reading. You see for yourself! (Well, OK, it was originally published in 2014 but that doesn’t make a difference.)

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Dogs know you have cancer before you do

Studies show that man’s best friend can detect cancer with surprising accuracy. Researchers hope to one day develop an electronic nose that mimics canines’ extraordinary noses.

By LAURA MOSS
May 20, 2014.

Photo: Bart Hiddink/flickr

A Labrador retriever could be just as effective at detecting cancer as a laboratory, according to ongoing studies that test dogs’ abilities to sniff out cancer in patients.

A recent study found that trained dogs were able to detect prostate cancer in urine with 98 percent accuracy.

Two 3-year-old, female German shepherds were trained at the Italian Ministry of Defense’s Military Veterinary Center using positive reinforcement to recognize prostate cancer-specific volatile organic compounds.

The dogs analyzed more than 400 urine samples, and one dog detected prostate cancer with 100 accuracy, while the second had 98.6 percent accuracy.

However, prostate cancer isn’t the only type of cancer dogs have successfully sniffed out.

Man’s best friends have also proved their noses can detect breast, ovarian, colon, bladder, skin and lung cancer, typically by smelling breath samples.

Cancer causes the body to release certain organic compounds that dogs can smell but people cannot, and scientists hope that researching the phenomenon will help them one day develop an electronic nose that can detect cancer as dogs’ noses can.

With 220 million olfactory cells in their snouts — compared with a mere 50 million in a human nose — it’s estimated that a dog’s sense of smell is up to a million times better than ours.

In addition to scientific studies, there’s also anecdotal evidence that dogs can detect cancer.

Numerous dog owners tell stories of their pets persistently sniffing or nudging an area of their body that later turned out to harbor a tumor.

Such was the case for Maureen Burns, whose 9-year-old collie mix, Max, started acting strangely. Her dog would insistently sniff her breast and back off with what Burns called a “sad look in his eyes.”

Burns did have a small lump in her breast, but her mammogram had been clear. But as Max’s peculiar behavior persisted, she returned to the doctor and asked for a biopsy.

Doctors were surprised to learn the lump was cancerous.

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A million times better than a human nose! Wow!

This is such a positive story about the power of a dog.

They really are our best friend.

Awesome, just awesome!

This young girl’s wishes are truly special.

This is from Mother Nature Network and I’ll quickly get out of the way!

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Terminally ill girl’s wish is a letter from your dog

A 7-year-old Wisconsin girl with a brain tumor asks for photos and letters from pups to help her feel better.

By MARY JO DILONARDO
February 28, 2019.

Emma Mertens really loves dogs. (Photo: Geoffrey Mertens/GoFundMe)

There’s a little 7-year-old girl in Wisconsin who is dealing with a rare and inoperable brain tumor. To help deal with the pain of her disease, Emma Mertens is asking people to send her letters and photos from their dogs.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family cover medical expenses and in the comments, people from all over the country and in many parts of the world have shared notes and photos from their four-legged friends. They have sent hugs, kisses and tail wags. They’ve written about their favorite hobbies, movies and treats. Most of all, they’ve told Emma she is in their thoughts and she is loved.

Emma has diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an aggressive, hard-to-treat tumor found at the base of the brain. So far, she’s had two surgeries and radiation therapy.

According to her GoFundMe page:

Last weekend she was having a normal weekend playing with friends, playing in the snow, and wrestling with her brothers. On Sunday though, she got a headache and started having flu like symptoms. By Wednesday, she was rushed into surgery to reduce swelling on the brain. She has had a second surgery now and is preparing for 6 weeks of daily radiation therapy. She is a fighter and she and her family along with everyone on Team Emma are here to fight for her.

While she fights, dogs everywhere are showing their support.

Burley and Babette in Ottawa, Ontario. (Photo: Tania Calverley)

Tania Calverley sent a photo of her two snow-covered pups with the note: “Burley and Babette send lots of love and doggie kisses from cold Ottawa, Ontario Canada.”

Daisy and Tymber send love from Michigan. (Photo: Megan Janofski)

Megan Janofski wrote from Michigan. “Hi Emma! Our names are Daisy and Tymber and we live in Michigan. We love cuddling and playing fetch. Our owner told us you aren’t feeling good. We are sending all our love to you! We think you’re pretty incredible for going through this. Stay strong and brave. Love, Daisy and Tymber.”

Shelby and Nikki send kisses from Virginia. (Photo: Maria Emilia)

Maria Emilia sent greeting from her two dogs in Virginia Beach. “Hi sweet and beautiful Emma! My two Aussie pup pups want to send you tons of hugs and kisses – little Shelby and big brother Nikki boy say that you are AWESOME!”

Lola wrote the note, but included photos of her canine siblings. (Photo: Ursula Bedeaux)

Ursula Bedeaux’s dog Lola sent the message: “Hi Emma, our mom told us about you and how brave you are. She also told us that you love dogs, so Harriett, Maggie, and I (Lola), thought we would send you some hugs and kisses from Minnesota!!! ❤️❤️❤️”

She included photos of Harriett and Maggie, too.

Harriett and Maggie (Photo: Ursula Bedeaux)

If you (or your dog) want to send a message to Emma, you can post them to a special Facebook page.

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Emma, you are in our thoughts and, we have no doubt, in the thoughts of all those that read this. Paul & Jeannie xxxx, plus Brandy, Pedi, Sweeny, Oliver, Cleopatra and Ruby! Woof, woof.

The End of Ice – A review

Background

On January 21st this year I republished a post by Tom Engelhardt and called it The song this planet needs to hear. His post was essentially a piece written for Tom by Dahr Jamail. It was called A Planet in Crisis and it included reference to a recently published book The End of Ice.

Subsequently, I decided to order the book by Dahr Jamail, it arrived a week ago and I ended up finishing it last Saturday.

I was minded to publish a review of the book, and here it is:

The End of Ice by Dahr Jamail

This is a book that I wished I had not read.

Yet, this is a book that once started I wanted to finish, and finish quickly.

It’s a brilliant book. Very impressive and very readable.  But I speak of it from a technical point-of-view.

Now that I have finished it life will never be quite the same again. Nor, for that matter, for anyone else who chooses to read it.

Dahr Jamail has a background as a reporter, with some other books under his belt. But his reporting skills really come to the fore with The End Of Ice. For he has travelled the world speaking to experts in their own field and listening to what they say about the future prognosis of the planet that you and I, and everyone else lives on.

Earth has not seen current atmospheric CO2 levels since the Pliocene, some 3 million years ago. Three-quarters of that CO2 will still be here in five hundred years. Given that it takes a decade to experience the full warming effects of CO2 emissions, we are still that far away from experiencing  the impact of all the CO2 that we are currently emitting. (p.5)

And if you are below the age of 60 or thereabouts you are going to experience this changing world head on. To be honest, whatever age you are things are starting to change.

Take this:

We are already facing mass extinction. There is no removing the heat we have introduced into our oceans, nor the 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere every single year. There may be no changing what is happening, and far worse things are coming. (p.218)

It really is a grim read. A grim but necessary read.

The eight chapters in the book spell out what is already happening. The diminishing glaciers and rising snow levels, the loss of coral, the rise in sea level and the loss of vast tracts of land as a consequence. Then there is the future of forests around the world. As I said, it is a grim read but a necessary one.

Towards the end of the book Dahr Jamail quotes author and storyteller Stephen Jenkinson:

“Grief requires us to know the time we’re in,” Jenkinson continues. “The great enemy of grief is hope. Hope is a four-letter word for people who are willing to know things for what they are. Our time requires us to be hope-free. To burn through the false choice of being hopeful and hopeless. They are the two sides of the same con job. Grief is required to proceed.” (p. 218)

Upon finishing this superb book, that you really do need to read, the one emotion that I was left with was grief. For what we have done to this planet. For what we are doing to this one and only home of ours.

Grief.

P.S. Dogs would not have done this to our beautiful planet.

On atheism!

Musings about truth, faith and reason.

One of the Christmas cards that we received said this:

So glad we are friends and neighbors. And I will pray you will have a year full of the peace, love and hope that Jesus promises.

With Love, Hugs and Prayers.

Now I understand to a degree why the sender, a neighbour of ours, would write that. But at the same time I do not. We are clearly atheists. Indeed, back in 2012 on first meeting I happened to say that I was not a believer and it produced a shock; a reaction that how could anyone not be a believer.

And I think yesterday’s post supports the view that the reality of the existence of our solar system, all 2.6 billion years of it, shows that religious beliefs of all forms come from an age where the world beyond one’s doorstep was unknown and scary. Things are different now.

But to go back to the age of things.

That existence of our solar system came about some 9.2 billion years, give or take some 60 million years, after the Big Bang.

In other words, the Big Bang, that started the whole thing off, came about three and a half times earlier than the creation of the solar system.

So read the following by Prof. Jerry Coyne. It makes perfect sense.

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Yes, there is a war between science and religion

   Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago

As the West becomes more and more secular, and the discoveries of evolutionary biology and cosmology shrink the boundaries of faith, the claims that science and religion are compatible grow louder. If you’re a believer who doesn’t want to seem anti-science, what can you do? You must argue that your faith – or any faith – is perfectly compatible with science.

And so one sees claim after claim from believers, religious scientists, prestigious science organizations and even atheists asserting not only that science and religion are compatible, but also that they can actually help each other. This claim is called “accommodationism.”

But I argue that this is misguided: that science and religion are not only in conflict – even at “war” – but also represent incompatible ways of viewing the world.

Opposing methods for discerning truth

My argument runs like this. I’ll construe “science” as the set of tools we use to find truth about the

The scientific method relies on observing, testing and replication to learn about the world. Jaron Nix/Unsplash, CC BY

universe, with the understanding that these truths are provisional rather than absolute. These tools include observing nature, framing and testing hypotheses, trying your hardest to prove that your hypothesis is wrong to test your confidence that it’s right, doing experiments and above all replicating your and others’ results to increase confidence in your inference.

And I’ll define religion as does philosopher Daniel Dennett: “Social systems whose participants avow belief in a supernatural agent or agents whose approval is to be sought.” Of course many religions don’t fit that definition, but the ones whose compatibility with science is touted most often – the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam – fill the bill.

Next, realize that both religion and science rest on “truth statements” about the universe – claims about reality. The edifice of religion differs from science by additionally dealing with morality, purpose and meaning, but even those areas rest on a foundation of empirical claims. You can hardly call yourself a Christian if you don’t believe in the Resurrection of Christ, a Muslim if you don’t believe the angel Gabriel dictated the Qur’an to Muhammad, or a Mormon if you don’t believe that the angel Moroni showed Joseph Smith the golden plates that became the Book of Mormon. After all, why accept a faith’s authoritative teachings if you reject its truth claims?

Indeed, even the Bible notes this: “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.”

Many theologians emphasize religion’s empirical foundations, agreeing with the physicist and Anglican priest John Polkinghorne:

“The question of truth is as central to [religion’s] concern as it is in science. Religious belief can guide one in life or strengthen one at the approach of death, but unless it is actually true it can do neither of these things and so would amount to no more than an illusory exercise in comforting fantasy.”

The conflict between science and faith, then, rests on the methods they use to decide what is true, and what truths result: These are conflicts of both methodology and outcome.

In contrast to the methods of science, religion adjudicates truth not empirically, but via dogma, scripture and authority – in other words, through faith, defined in Hebrews 11 as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In science, faith without evidence is a vice, while in religion it’s a virtue. Recall what Jesus said to “doubting Thomas,” who insisted in poking his fingers into the resurrected Savior’s wounds: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

Two ways to look at the same thing, never the twain shall meet. Gabriel Lamza/Unsplash, CC BY

And yet, without supporting evidence, Americans believe a number of religious claims: 74 percent of us believe in God, 68 percent in the divinity of Jesus, 68 percent in Heaven, 57 percent in the virgin birth, and 58 percent in the Devil and Hell. Why do they think these are true? Faith.

But different religions make different – and often conflicting – claims, and there’s no way to judge which claims are right. There are over 4,000 religions on this planet, and their “truths” are quite different. (Muslims and Jews, for instance, absolutely reject the Christian belief that Jesus was the son of God.) Indeed, new sects often arise when some believers reject what others see as true. Lutherans split over the truth of evolution, while Unitarians rejected other Protestants’ belief that Jesus was part of God.

And while science has had success after success in understanding the universe, the “method” of using faith has led to no proof of the divine. How many gods are there? What are their natures and moral creeds? Is there an afterlife? Why is there moral and physical evil? There is no one answer to any of these questions. All is mystery, for all rests on faith.

The “war” between science and religion, then, is a conflict about whether you have good reasons for believing what you do: whether you see faith as a vice or a virtue.

Compartmentalizing realms is irrational

So how do the faithful reconcile science and religion? Often they point to the existence of religious scientists, like NIH Director Francis Collins, or to the many religious people who accept science. But I’d argue that this is compartmentalization, not compatibility, for how can you reject the divine in your laboratory but accept that the wine you sip on Sunday is the blood of Jesus?

Can divinity be at play in one setting but not another? Jametlene Reskp/Unsplash, CC BY

Others argue that in the past religion promoted science and inspired questions about the universe. But in the past every Westerner was religious, and it’s debatable whether, in the long run, the progress of science has been promoted by religion. Certainly evolutionary biology, my own field, has been held back strongly by creationism, which arises solely from religion.

What is not disputable is that today science is practiced as an atheistic discipline – and largely by atheists. There’s a huge disparity in religiosity between American scientists and Americans as a whole: 64 percent of our elite scientists are atheists or agnostics, compared to only 6 percent of the general population – more than a tenfold difference. Whether this reflects differential attraction of nonbelievers to science or science eroding belief – I suspect both factors operate – the figures are prima facie evidence for a science-religion conflict.

The most common accommodationist argument is Stephen Jay Gould’s thesis of “non-overlapping magisteria.” Religion and science, he argued, don’t conflict because: “Science tries to document the factual character of the natural world, and to develop theories that coordinate and explain these facts. Religion, on the other hand, operates in the equally important, but utterly different, realm of human purposes, meanings and values – subjects that the factual domain of science might illuminate, but can never resolve.”

This fails on both ends. First, religion certainly makes claims about “the factual character of the universe.” In fact, the biggest opponents of non-overlapping magisteria are believers and theologians, many of whom reject the idea that Abrahamic religions are “empty of any claims to historical or scientific facts.”

Nor is religion the sole bailiwick of “purposes, meanings and values,” which of course differ among faiths. There’s a long and distinguished history of philosophy and ethics – extending from Plato, Hume and Kant up to Peter Singer, Derek Parfit and John Rawls in our day – that relies on reason rather than faith as a fount of morality. All serious ethical philosophy is secular ethical philosophy.

In the end, it’s irrational to decide what’s true in your daily life using empirical evidence, but then rely on wishful-thinking and ancient superstitions to judge the “truths” undergirding your faith. This leads to a mind (no matter how scientifically renowned) at war with itself, producing the cognitive dissonance that prompts accommodationism. If you decide to have good reasons for holding any beliefs, then you must choose between faith and reason. And as facts become increasingly important for the welfare of our species and our planet, people should see faith for what it is: not a virtue but a defect.

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I would love to have your views.

A very useful piece of advice.

Times they are a changing!

I am speaking of the summer months and the risk of animals being burnt. Mind you, as the following article shows, summer is stretching it a bit. This article was published on December 10th!

But whenever it was published it’s a good news story.

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Cats, dogs and a bobcat are the latest burn victims saved with fish skin

By JACQUELINE GULLEDGE   December 10, 2018.

Just this past month, California suffered its worst wildfire in the state’s history. Camp Fire in Paradise, California burned 220 acres and claimed the lives of 85 people. The vast majority of residents had little-to-no warning to evacuate, and many pets were left behind and left to fend for themselves along with the wildilfe.

This kitten along with three other cats received care at the University of California Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital after they were found with severe burns during the Camp Fire. (Photo: Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

Several dogs and cats burned in the fire ended up at Valley Oak Veterinary Center in Chico. When Dr. Jamie Peyton, chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, heard about the animals, she volunteered to treat them with the innovative method of using tilapia skin on their burns. (This is the first time dogs and cats have been treated with tilapia skin for burns.) The kitten pictured above suffered third degree burns on some of his paws and lost the pads to all his feet.

“Their paws have been badly burned,” said Dusty Spencer, a veterinary surgeon at VCA Valley Oak Veterinary Center. “Their whiskers are singed or gone. Some of them have had really bad burns on their eyelids and nose.”

Olivia’s skin started to grow back just five days after the tilapia skin was applied. (Photo: Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

An 8-year-old Boston terrier mix named Olivia was one of the first dogs to receive treatment.

Olivia’s owners, Curtis and Mindy Stark, were out of town when the blaze began. Fortunately, Olivia has a microchip and was reunited with her owners. She suffered second-degree burns to her paws, legs and side, but it wasn’t long till she was feeling better thanks to the tilapia skin.

The Stark family was able to check Olivia out of the veterinary hospital. (Photo: Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

“It was a day and night difference,” said Curtis Stark. “She got up on the bed and did a back flip. That is the first time we saw her acting like she was before.”
Treatment also works for the most severe burns

The bobcat suffered third- to fifth- degree burns on all of its pads. (Photo: Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Pets weren’t the only animals to suffer during the wildfire. Many wild animals desperately tried to flee but couldn’t.

A bobcat was also brought in for treatment. Peyton tells MNN the bobcat suffered third- to fifth-degree burns on his paws. A fifth-degree burn means the burn goes down to the bone. The animal was very thin due to his inability to hunt for food and lack of food sources after the fire. In the week since the bobcat received his first treatment, he has had three tilapia bandage changes. “Each one seems to be showing marked improvement and he is moving well and showing a lot of spunk at his rehabilitation home,” said Peyton.

It will be several months before the bobcat can be released back in the wild, but Peyton’s goal is to “help him heal as soon as possible to allow him to get back to his home.”

Previously, Peyton treated a bear cub injured in California’s Carr Fire back in August and before that two bears and a mountain lion from the Thomas Fire earlier this year.

Previous success for other injured wildlife

This summer, the Carr Fire near Redding, California burned for more than a month and scorched more than 229,000 acres — also forcing many wild animals to try and escape.

On Aug. 2, a Pacific Gas & Electric Company contractor spotted an injured black bear cub lying in the ash, unable to walk on her paws. She was the latest victim of the Carr Fire — and luckily, one the contractor knew he could help. The contractor called Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, a certified wildlife rehabilitation facility.

A team was quickly mobilized to rescue the cub. Officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) cleared a safe path and tranquilized the cub to carry her to safety. The cub was brought to a lab to be treated by a team of veterinarians from CDFW and the University of California, Davis.

“Generally speaking, an animal that has survived a fire and is walking around on its own should be left alone, but that wasn’t the case here,” CDFW’s Environmental Program Manager Jeff Stoddard said. “In addition to her inability to stand or walk, there were active fires burning nearby, and with the burn area exceeding 125 square miles and growing, we weren’t sure there was any suitable habitat nearby to take her to.”

How does tilapia skin work for treating burns?

Tilapia skin is malleable enough that it can be cut into custom sizes to mold around an animal’s wounds. (Photo: Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

“The tilapia skins provide direct, steady pressure to the wounds, keep bacteria out and stay on better and longer than any kind of regular, synthetic bandage would,” Peyton said. “The complete treatment also includes application of antibiotics and pain salve, laser treatments and acupuncture for pain management.”

The cub is the third bear in the state to be treated for burns with tilapia skin. Earlier this year after the Thomas fire, two bears and a mountain lion also received similar treatment. With each animal being treated, Peyton and her team grow more optimistic that tilapia skin is an effective treatment for burns that can be used in veterinary hospitals around the world.

“Just like we’ve seen in other species, we’re seeing increased pain relief. We’re seeing wound healing and an overall increased comfort,” said Peyton. “One of the most important things about being at UC Davis VMTH is that we are learning new techniques, but they don’t make much of a difference unless we can use them in the community.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated since it was originally published in August 2018.

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Reading this article leaves me with the impression that there are a great number of good people out there!

Out of this world

The text, and more photographs, of that Sunday Picture Parade.

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33 out-of-this-world images of the Milky Way, aurora borealis and more

Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest reveals dozens of photos before winners are announced.

By JACQUELINE GULLEDGE   July 20, 2018

‘Rigel and the Witch Head Nebula’ (Photo: Mario Cogo)

An aurora borealis that lights up the night sky in Iceland. The Milky Way that illuminates in a remote area in Australia. Even nebulae that display dazzling colors. All these phenomena have delighted astronomy enthusiasts for years, and many people travel the globe to capture such events.

The Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition honors amateur astronomy photographers who capture stunning images of space. The organization released several dozens images out of the more than 4,200 entries it received ahead of its announcement this October of this year’s winners. The competition began in 2009 and is organized by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in the United Kingdom.

The photographers featured here are a mixture of amateurs and professionals, but their images are universally stunning.

The photo above entitled “Rigel and the Witch Head Nebula” was taken by Mario Cogo in Namibia. “The dark Namibian sky was the perfect location to capture the wonder of the Witch Head Nebula and Rigel,” said Cogo in his submission. “The Witch Head Nebula is a very faint molecular gas cloud which is illuminated by supergiant star Rigel, the seventh brightest star of the sky and the brightest star in the constellation of Orion.”

The caption listed below each photo was written by the photographer and provides additional context.

‘Thunderstorm under milky way’ (Photo: Tianyuan Xiao)

“A glorious Milky Way looms over a thunderstorm that lights up the Florida sky. The photographer wanted to show the great contrast between stable (Milky Way) and moving (thunderstorm) objects in the sky.” — Tianyuan Xiao

‘The Orion Nebula in 6-Filter Narrowband’ (Photo: Bernard Miller)

“One of the brightest nebulae, the M42 or the Orion Nebula, is located in the Milky Way south of Orion’s belt. It is an emission nebula about 1500 light years away in the constellation Orion. This image was produced by combining 36 hours of total exposure using six different filters; Ha, SII, OIII, Red, Green, and Blue. The central Trapezium cluster of the nebula is so bright that it is usually over exposed with the long exposures needed for the nebula. In this image a series of short 3-second exposures in each filter were blended with the long exposures to create a high dynamic range image that produces detail in the faint nebula and bright Trapezium.” — Bernard Miller

The neglected neighbour’ (Photo: Kfir Simon)

“Taken from Tivoli Southern Sky Guest Farm in Namibia, the great Horsehead nebula is overlooking the striking and often overlooked Nebula NGC 2023. At 4 light years in diameter it is one of the largest reflection nebulae ever discovered.” — Kfir Simon

‘The Hidden Galaxy’ (Photo: Tom O’Donoghue and Olly Penrice)

“Camelopardalis, also known as the Hidden Galaxy is one of the largest Galaxies visible from the Northern Hemisphere; however it is also obscured by foreground stars and dust, as it lies in the Milky Way plane. The photographer added a Ha filter to this LRGB image in order to enhance the emission nebula regions in the galaxy and after stacking single exposures (subs) the brilliant spiral arms at the core were revealed.” — Tom O’Donoghue and Olly Penrice

‘The Eagle nebula’ (Photo: Marcel Drechsler)

“The Eagle Nebula, also known as Messier 16, is a young open cluster of stars, surrounded by hot hydrogen gas in the constellation Serpens and lies at a distance of 7,000 light years from Earth. Taken at the Baerenstein Observatory in Germany, the photo is a RGB-Ha-OIII image and shows off the radiant red and blue colours of the nebula. In the centre you can spot the famous Pillars of Creation.” — Marcel Drechsler

‘Stars over Sacred Mongolian Ovoo’ (Photo: Qiqige Zhao)

“Taken during a summer night in Mingantu in Inner Mongolia, star trails are sweeping over the colourful and extraordinary sacred altars, called Ovoo, creating a spectacular painting.” — Qiqige Zhao

‘NGC 6726 and NGC 6727’ (Photo: Mark Hanson, Warren Keller, Steve Mazlin, Rex Parker, Tommy Tse, David Plesko, Pete Proulx)

“These spectacular reflection nebulae in the Corona Australis constellation depict the characteristic vivid blue color produced by the light of hot stars, reflected by silica-based cosmic dust. A rare high resolution view of the cores NGC 6726 and 6727 is captured on camera. The data was acquired by Star Shadows Remote Observatory at CTIO’s PROMPT2, using LRGB filters, stacked with CCDStack and post-processed in Photoshop and PixInsight.” — Mark Hanson, Warren Keller, Steve Mazlin, Rex Parker, Tommy Tse, David Plesko and Pete Proulx

‘Mosaic of the Great Orion & Running Man Nebula’ (Photo: Miguel Angel García Borrella and Lluis Romero Ventura)

“The Orion Nebula, also known as Messier 42, M42, or NGC 1976, is a diffuse nebula situated in the Milky Way, south of Orion’s Belt in the constellation of Orion. It is one of the brightest nebulae and is visible to the naked eye during a clear night sky. M42 is 1270 light years from our planet and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth. It is estimated to be 24 light years across and it has a mass of about 2,000 times more than that of the Sun. This image is the result of the efforts of two astrophotographers using different equipment from their observatories. Located hundreds of kilometres away from each other, they chose the Orion Sword are as a common target to render. The software suites used in this image are Maxim DL, Pixinsight and Photoshop CC 2017.” — Miguel Angel García Borrella and Lluis Romero Ventura

‘Milky Way shining over Atashkooh’ (Photo: Masoud Ghadiri)

“The Milky Way stretches across the night sky between four columns in the ancient Atashkooh Fire Temple near Mahllat city in Iran. The camera was placed on the ground in the centre of the four columns, and with no use of any other equipment, the photographer managed to capture our magnificent galaxy using just one image.” — Masoud Ghadiri

‘Magic’ (Photo: Jingyi Zhang)

“The magical Aurora Borealis explodes from the clouds and looms over the mountains in Stokknes on the south coast of Iceland. Snow has melted and created pools of water between the dunes, creating a perfect foreground for this image.” — Jingyi Zhang

‘Kynance cove by night’ (Photo: Ainsley Bennett)

“On a family trip to Cornwall after visiting Kynance Cove, on the Lizard Peninsula, the beautiful landscape seemed to be the ideal place for the photographer to capture the glimmering stars and the striking colours of the Milky Way illuminating the beautiful rocky coastline. This is a composition of two separate exposures, one for the sky and one for the foreground blended together post-processing to achieve the desired result, producing a more even exposure.” — Ainsley Bennett

‘Keeper of the Light’ (Photo: James Stone)

“The Milky Way rises above an isolated lighthouse in Tasmania. The photographer planned his position to shoot the perfect composition positioning the Milky Way in conjunction with the lighthouse and observing how to best light the tower for artistic effect. This image is part of a time-lapse sequence, allowing the photographer some time to climb the tower into the lantern room of the lighthouse and reflect on the hard and lonely, yet incredible life the former lighthouse keepers would have lived.” — James Stone

‘ISS sunspots’ (Photo: Dani Caxete (Fernández Méndez))

“The International Space Station (ISS) was captured between two massive sunspots, the AR 12674 and AR 12673, during its solar transit. The image was taken in Madrid and it took ISS less than a second to cross the solar disk.” — Dani Caxete

‘Ice Castle’ (Photo: Arild Heitmann)

“A remarkable display of the Northern Lights reflecting shades of green and yellow on the snow. Squeezed into a tiny cave on Lake Torneträsk, in Swedish Lapland, in minus 26 degrees with the camera lens just a few centimeters away from the icicles, it was a challenge well worth it for the photographer.” — Arild Heitmann

‘Holy Light II’ (Photo: Mikkel Beiter)

“The Black Church at Búðir in Iceland beneath the stripes of the Aurora Borealis and the bright stars in the night sky. Fighting the worst weather the photographer had ever encountered in Snæfellsnes Peninsula and with strong gale winds around 30 meters per second on the night the image was taken, his hard work paid off.” — Mikkel Beiter

‘Holding Due North’ (Photo: Jake Mosher)

“A weathered juniper tree in Montana’s northern Rocky Mountains is filled with arced star trails and in the centre sits Polaris, the brightest star in the constellation of Ursa Minor. It took several test frames of long exposures to make sure that Polaris was in the right position, but eventually things lined up and the Moon provided enough light to the foreground, yet plenty of dark skies to allow a high enough ISO to capture lots of stars.” — Jake Mosher

‘Guarding the galaxy’ (Photo: Jez Hughes)

“The Milky Way rises over some of the oldest trees on Earth in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, set within the Inyo National Forest along the White Mountains in California. Growing at altitudes of over 10,000 feet, these trees can live for over 4,000 years. The high elevation also results in thin air and incredibly dark skies on display. This photograph was taken in between rolling thunderstorms which were passing through the Eastern Sierras, leaving time for only a few exposures.” — Jez Hughes

Guardian of Tre Cime’ (Photo: Carlos F. Turienzo)

“This panoramic image, composed out of eight photos, depicts the Milky Way emerging over the rocky Dolomites in Tre Crime on the left and on the right the lights from a house illuminating the beautiful terrain. The photographer noted that the image represents sharing unforgettable moment with the ones you love.” — Carlos F. Turienzo

‘First Impressions’ (Photo: Casper Kentish)

“After a few days of cloudy skies the photographer finally got the chance to use his birthday present, a new telescope. The clouds were moving fast so there was not much time to capture the Moon. With the help of his grandfather who kept moving the telescope and trying to keep an iPad at the right position, he managed to capture this wonderful and artistic image of his first viewing of our Moon.” — Casper Kentish

‘Expedition to Infinity’ (Photo: Jingpeng Liu)

“The photographer captured the splendor of our galaxy in Badlands National Park, in South Dakota and is a panoramic view of a 6-shot composite, three for the sky and three for the foreground, all of which were taken successively using the same gear and equivalent exposure settings, from the same location, within a short period. The raw files were initially processed in Lightroom for lens correction only, followed by merging to panorama in Photoshop. Final retouching was applied back in Lightroom, including WB correction, basic toning and local adjustments.” — Jingpeng Liu

‘Empyreal’ (Photo: Paul Wilson)

“A flared up Aurora reflects bright pink and yellow colours on the water at Southern Bays near Christchurch, New Zealand. The incredible combination of the radiant Aurora colours, the wide green fields and the dark blue, starry night sky paint a spectacular picture and accentuates the wonders of our galaxy.” — Paul Wilson

‘Earth Shine’ (Photo: Peter Ward)

“During a solar eclipse, the brightness of the solar corona hides the details of the moon. By layering 9 exposures ranging from 2 seconds to 1/2000th of a second and with Extreme High Dynamic Range photography or XHDR the image shows not just the radiant solar corona, but the newest possible of new moons, seen here illuminated by sunlight reflecting off the earth.” — Peter Ward

‘Deep Space’ (Photo: Dave Brosha)

“Exploring the remarkable underbelly of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacial tongue in Iceland. With this image the photographer wanted to pay tribute to the serenity and wonder he felt while he spent some time in this peaceful and magnificent place.” — Dave Brosha

‘Daytime Moon’ (Photo: Helen Schofield)

“Earth’s only natural satellite is situated above the horizon of our planet so it is visible during daytime and the waxing gibbous phase can clearly be seen in the sky. The photographer captured this imposing image in Malaga, Spain while vacationing with her children.” — Helen Schofield

Color-Full Moon’ (Photo: Nicolas Lefaudeux)

“A phenomenal image depicting the incredible colours and details of the surface of the Moon. The photographer applied a similar procedure he used for capturing the solar eclipse and noted that this lit up the full Moon like a Christmas tree ornament, with a great variety of hues and shades.” — Nicolas Lefaudeux

‘Cable Bay’ (Photo: Mark Gee)

“The magnificent Milky Way stretches across the night sky reflecting on the Cable Bay near Nelson, New Zealand. The photographer had to take the picture before the light washed out the sky. 42 individual images were stitched in to a large multi row panorama to create this image.” — Mark Gee

‘Aurorascape’ (Photo: Mikkel Beiter)

“The conditions the night the image was taken were not ideal because of the bright moon lighting up the sky. The photographer managed to overcome this obstacle and capture the incredible Aurora Borealis above the fjord at Haukland in the gorgeous Lofoten archipelago, Northern Norway. The small pool of water with rocks made the perfect foreground and a natural leading line into the frame.” — Mikkel Beiter

‘Aurora Borealis on the coast of the Barents sea’ (Photo: Michael Zav’yalov)

“From the city of Yaroslavl in Russia to the coast of the Barents Sea in the Arctic Circle, a party of three travelled 2000 kilometers to capture the magnificent Northern Lights. The photographer stayed in the village of Teriberka in the Murmansk Oblast district for five days. After four days of bad weather, with heavy snow and thick clouds the sky finally cleared on the last day and the Northern Lights appeared in all their glory.” — Michael Zav’yalov

‘AR 2665 and Quiescent Prominence’ (Photo: Łukasz Sujka)

“The sunspot AR2665 was one of the most active regions in 2017 on the right you can see a phenomenal quiescent prominence extending from our star, the Sun. This type of prominence lasts for a very long time and its structure is quite stable. The photo is a composition of two images: one of the magnificent prominence and one of the Sun’s surface. The surface is much brighter than the prominence so it is a negative to reveal details of Sun chromosphere (spicules and filaments).” — Łukasz Sujka

‘Andromeda Galaxy’ (Photo: Péter Feltóti)

“Andromeda Galaxy has always amazed the photographer. The dust lanes and bright star clusters in its arms, the emblematic galaxy shape of it, and the magnificent look of this great star city make it one of his most desired objects to photograph. This image was taken using a 200mm mirror and creating a three panel mosaic.” — Péter Feltóti

‘A Magnificent Saturn’ (Photo: Avani Soares)

“In high resolution planetary photography having a good view of a planet is a key factor but also completely out of a photographer’s control. In this image the photographer was lucky to capture our second largest planet, Saturn, in all its glory. After stacking 4,000 out of 10,000 frames we can admire details such as the beautiful polar hexagon, the Encke Division and even the crepe ring.” — Avani Soares

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These are the most beautiful images of the cosmos that I have ever seen!

Brushing one’s teeth!

A delightful post, and one that had an edge to it.

Brushing one’s teeth is hard enough for us to do, let alone our dogs.

No more from me than to reproduce this item which is a republication of a post that appeared in The Conversation site.

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Why is it such a pain to brush a dog’s teeth?

This ‘magic stick’ claims to provide a solution to the problem.

by MARY JO DILONARDO

August 11, 2018
It’s a toy and a toothbrush rolled into one. (Photo: Bristly)

You eye each other across the room. You’re using your sweetest, most coaxing voice, but behind your back you have a toothbrush covered in chicken-flavored paste. Your pet eyes you warily, knowing something is up. Those teeth haven’t been pearly in a very long time, but it’s not for a lack of trying.

About 80 percent of dogs will have some periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old. In addition to dental checkups by your vet, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends regularly brushing your dog’s teeth as “the single most effective thing you can do to keep their teeth healthy.” It may even eliminate the need for occasional dental cleanings by your veterinarian.

In addition (or in place of cleaning, if your dog isn’t a fan), you may have also tried dental chews or dental toys. The hope is that by gnawing on these items, your pet will scrub off the tartar and plaque buildup all by himself.

Personally, I’ve tried them all. My beautiful boy, Brodie, has breath that will make your eyes water. We’ve worked very hard on brushing. Normally he acts like I’m going to torture him when I persuade him to sit in the bathroom for a dental session. He either clamps down on the bristles as hard as he can or performs impressive gymnastics trying to evade my grasp. A few teeth get lightly grazed in the process.

The dental chews are equally unsuccessful. My pup doesn’t understand that he’s supposed to be taking his time with them. Instead, he manages to gulp them down (even frozen) which, I’m pretty sure, defeats the purpose of the exercise.

My friend has offered to scrape Brodie’s teeth with a dental tartar scraper he bought online (and uses on his well-behaved dogs), but I’m pretty sure my anxious boy would never recover.

A glimmer of green hope

If only it were this easy. (Photo: KPG Payless2/Shutterstock

There may be a solution. Years ago, Petros Dertsakyan lost his childhood Pomeranian to dental disease. As an adult and the father of two dogs of his own, Dertsakyan knows the importance of dental care but also knows first-hand the struggles of taking care of a dog’s teeth.

He decided to come up with a solution and, after lots of prototypes and testing, he developed what he calls Bristly, a “magic” toothbrushing stick that dogs hold down with their paws while gnawing on rows of flavored bristles. There’s also a reservoir to dispense toothpaste during the whole process.

Dertsakyan put his invention on Kickstarter, hoping to raise $15,000 to fund his project. He way underestimated how much people want to avoid getting anywhere near their dogs’ teeth. Just hours before the campaign ended, more than $437,000 had been raised from more than 10,000 backers. The products are scheduled to be shipped in October.

Here’s the Bristly in action. I know my dog has high hopes it will work.

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I love these dogs!

A Letter to Mr. Cosmos, Page Two

The concluding part of my letter to Mr. Cosmos.

Your Universe, Mr. Cosmos, is an enormous place.

Just the view at night from one small planet, the one that I happen to live on, Planet Earth, reveals millions upon millions of stars. It is then beyond inconceivable that there are not, in turn, countless numbers of other planets.

Extending this line of thought and recognising that a ‘mere’ billion years after the formation of our solar system and Planet Earth, some 4.54 billion years ago, the earliest life appeared, we can’t surely be alone!

Granted it was only cyanobacteria, as in blue-green algae, but, but, but ……… that this evolution of life on Planet Earth, and that evolution eventually leading to intelligent life, including the gift to us humans of the genetic separation of the dog from the wolf some 100,000 years ago, has not occurred on other planets is also totally inconceivable.

So, dear Mr. Cosmos, why have we not detected any signs of that intelligent life. Where are they?

Mr. Cosmos, back in June this year there was an article on the Big Think site that asked just this question.

Are we alone in the universe? New Drake equation suggests yes

A fresh take on the decades-old Drake equation incorporates new factors and greater uncertainty, suggesting a high likelihood that humanity is alone in the universe.

By , 25th June, 2018

At the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1950, physicist Enrico Fermi famously posed to his colleagues a simple question borne of complex math: ‘Where are they?’

He was asking about aliens—intelligent ones, specifically. The Italian-American scientist was puzzled as to why mankind hasn’t detected any signs of intelligent life beyond our planet. He reasoned that even if life is extremely rare, you’d still expect there to be many alien civilizations given the sheer size of the universe. After all, some estimates indicate that there is one septillion, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, stars in the universe, some of which are surrounded by planets that could probably support life.

So, where are they, and why aren’t they talking to us?

Now, as the article reveals, there is a lot to tackling this question, much of it involving statistics and mathematics, but it does prove one very important fact: Finding another planet as good for life and humanity as this one is just about impossible.

This is our only home!!

My wish, dear Mr. Cosmos, to you is this: That before I die it becomes clear beyond question that the peoples of this sweet Planet, from the lone individual living on some island out in the wilderness to the Governments of the most powerful nations on Earth, understand that nothing is more important than loving, caring for and looking after Planet Earth.

I remain, dear Mr. Cosmos, your respectful servant.

Paul H.