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A Timelapse of the Surface of the Sun in Stunning 4K Video

Hot solar action
Science • Views: 31,162

YouTube

One of the most amazing videos I’ve seen this year is this absolutely stunning timelapse of the wildest frontier, the surface of our Sun, composed of images taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory. What you’re looking at is actually a gigantic self-sustaining nuclear fusion reaction. The center of our solar system is not a very peaceful place.

If you’re lucky enough to have a large Retina or other high resolution display, check out the 4K version in full screen mode — the detail is mind-blowing.

(h/t: Randall Gross.)

The surface of the sun from October 14th to 30th, 2014, showing sunspot AR 2192, the largest sunspot of the last two solar cycles (22 years). During this time sunspot AR 2191 produced six X-class and four M-class solar flares. The animation shows the sun in the ultraviolet 304 ångström wavelength, and plays at a rate of 52.5 minutes per second. It is composed of more than 17,000 images, 72 GB of data produced by the solar dynamics observatory (sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov) + (helioviewer.org). This animation has been rendered in 4K, and resized to the Youtube maximum resolution of 3840×2160. The animation has been rotated 180 degrees so that south is “up”. The audio is the ‘heartbeat’ of the sun, processed from SOHO HMI data by Alexander G. Kosovichev. Image data courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.”Image processing and animation by James Tyrwhitt-Drake. To use this video in a commercial player or in broadcasts, please email licensing@storyful.com

In Which My Tweet About #Ebola and Evolution Goes Viral

Creationists get upset
Science • Views: 41,707
Image via Shutterstock

I’m going to kick off the week by humble-bragging about this off-handed tweet I posted over the weekend that has now gone viral (ironic considering the subject), with more than 7200 retweets as I write this.

This really touched a nerve, I guess, and I’ve now received hundreds of replies (possibly over a thousand, I haven’t counted), many of them from creationists.

One common theme in replies from conservatives is that “not all conservatives” are creationists or deny the science of evolution — but while it may be true that not every single conservative is a creationist, for years every poll on the subject has shown that a majority of Republicans not only disbelieve evolution, they’re hard core young Earth creationists.

(And by the way, my tweet didn’t even say that “all conservatives” are creationists, but it sure upset the ones who are.)

Two other common responses from creationists:

  1. We don't deny micro-evolution, just macro-evolution. If Ebola evolves, it's only micro-evolution.
  2. If Ebola ever becomes airborne, that won't be evolution -- it will be mutation. That's different.

Both of these talking points are well-worn creationist dodges, and they’re both bogus.

1. While biologists do use the terms “micro-evolution” and “macro-evolution,” they both refer to the same well-understood mechanism of evolution; the only difference is the scale, both in time and in size. Micro-evolution can take place much more quickly, because microorganisms breed much faster and have much shorter life spans.

2. The “mutation isn’t evolution” talking point is another nonsensical dodge, because biologists know that mutations are one of the most important mechanisms through which evolution occurs. If Ebola does ever become airborne (a very remote possibility, according to those who’ve studied the disease), it will most likely be due to a mutation that enables the virus to adapt better to its environment — leading to a general trend of evolution within the virus population, by means of natural selection.

I’ve answered these talking points just for reference, because unfortunately the people who spout them are impervious to logic, and simply don’t care about the truth of these issues. They’re rejecting the science of evolution because of an atavistic fear that it renders their cherished belief systems irrelevant, not out of logic — so they’ll never be convinced by logical arguments.

Also for reference, I highly recommend TalkOrigin’s Index to Creationist Claims, an exhaustive list of the many deceptive, false, and/or misleading talking points creationists use in these kinds of arguments (no matter how many times they’ve been debunked).

A Not-So-Simple Question: Why Do We Laugh?

Robert Provine, Doctor of Laughology
Science • Views: 23,662

Vimeo

Laughter is universal, but we know very little about the reasons we do it. Dr. Robert Provine has been studying the social and neurological roots of laughter for 20 years, and has come to surprising conclusions about how we operate as human beings.

For more on the health benefits of laughter, visit: theatlantic.com

To learn more about Dr. Provine’s research, read his latest book, Curious Behavior: bit.ly

Finally: a Truly Fair Representative Climate Change Debate From John Oliver

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)
Science • Views: 21,399

YouTube

John Oliver beautifully illustrates the disparity between climate change “skeptics” and the scientific community, with help from a special guest.

Stunning New NASA Image: Uranus Seen From Saturn

Saturn’s neighbor seen from Cassini for the first time
Science • Views: 16,369
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute (click to enlarge)

This view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft features a blue planet, but unlike the view from July 19, 2013 (PIA17172) that featured our home planet, this blue orb is Uranus, imaged by Cassini for the first time.

Uranus is a pale blue in this natural color image because its visible atmosphere contains methane gas and few aerosols or clouds. Methane on Uranus — and its sapphire-colored sibling, Neptune — absorbs red wavelengths of incoming sunlight, but allows blue wavelengths to escape back into space, resulting in the predominantly bluish color seen here. Cassini imaging scientists combined red, green and blue spectral filter images to create a final image that represents what human eyes might see from the vantage point of the spacecraft.

Uranus has been brightened by a factor of 4.5 to make it more easily visible. The outer portion of Saturn’s A ring, seen at bottom right, has been brightened by a factor of two. The bright ring cutting across the image center is Saturn’s narrow F ring.

Uranus was approximately 28.6 astronomical units from Cassini and Saturn when this view was obtained. An astronomical unit is the average distance from Earth to the sun, equal to 93,000,000 miles (150,000,000 kilometers).

A Fun Animation Explaining a Huge Concept: How Big Is the Universe?

Pretty danged big
Science • Views: 16,892

Vimeo

Beakus were commissioned to create three animated films that explain key concepts about our universe, with humour helping to explain the ‘almost’ unexplainable! Director Amaël Isnard also designed the films.

In ‘How Big Is The Universe?’ ROG astronomer Liz shows us the expanding nature of the Universe and how this affects the light reaching us from distant galaxies, some of which will remain forever hidden from our view.

Creationists Demand Airtime on ‘Cosmos’ for the Sake of Balance

“Creationists aren’t even on the radar screen”
Science • Views: 17,717

For some reason, they can’t understand why real scientists aren’t giving them equal time to spread their inane nonsense.

SoundCloud

Danny Faulkner of Answers In Genesis and the Creation Museum appeared on The Janet Mefferd Show yesterday to criticize Cosmos for not providing airtime for Creationism adherents. When Mefferd asked if Cosmos will “ever give a Creationist any time,” Faulkner responded by lamenting that “Creationists aren’t even on the radar screen for them, they wouldn’t even consider us plausible at all.”

Mefferd agreed that the show isn’t being very fair and balanced: “Boy, but when you have so many scientists who simply do not accept Darwinian evolution it seems to me that that might be something to throw in there, you know, the old, ‘some scientists say this, others disagree and think this,’ but that’s not even allowed.”

It’s almost like Cosmos wants to talk about real science..

More at Right Wing Watch: Creationists Demand Airtime on ‘Cosmos’ for the Sake of Balance

Amazing Video Preview From NASA of What’s Next for the Cassini Spacecraft Orbiting Saturn

We’re going inside the D ring
Science • Views: 15,237

YouTube

Video: Stephen Colbert Interviews Neil deGrasse Tyson - Update: Catholic League Defends Inquisition

MOAR SCIENCE
Science • Views: 20,094

Click to open the videos:

Comedy Central

Comedy Central

UPDATE at 3/11/14 1:16:22 pm

Any show that can get the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue to defend the Inquisition is OK in my book: “COSMOS” SMEARS CATHOLICISM - Catholic League.

At first I thought he was just going to deny the Catholic Church had anything to do with the Inquisition, but no — he actually defends it as a force for “order and justice.”

The propagandists involved in this show, represented most conspicuously by Seth MacFarlane, told viewers last night that “the Roman Catholic Church maintained a system of courts known as the Inquisition and its sole purpose was to investigate and torment anyone who dared voice views that differed from theirs. And it wasn’t long before [Giordano] Bruno fell into the clutches of the thought police.”

The ignorance is appalling. “The Catholic Church as an institution had almost nothing to do with [the Inquisition],” writes Dayton historian Thomas Madden. “One of the most enduring myths of the Inquisition,” he says, “is that it was a tool of oppression imposed on unwilling Europeans by a power-hungry Church. Nothing could be more wrong.” Because the Inquisition brought order and justice where there was none, it actually “saved uncounted thousands of innocent (and even not-so-innocent) people who would otherwise have been roasted by secular lords or mob rule.” (His emphasis.)

As for Bruno, he was a renegade monk who dabbled in astronomy; he was not a scientist. There is much dispute about what really happened to him. As sociologist Rodney Strong puts it, he got into trouble not for his “scientific” views, but because of his “heretical theology involving the existence of an infinite number of worlds—a work based entirely on imagination and speculation.”

In short, MacFarlane, who is no stranger to the Catholic League, has once again shown his true colors.

Overnight Space Photo: The Glory of Saturn’s Rings

Spokes
Science • Views: 15,371

Among the interplay of Saturn’s shadow and rings, Mimas, which appears in the lower-right corner of the image, orbits Saturn as a set of the ever-intriguing spokes appear in the B ring (just to the right of center).

Scientists expect that spokes will soon cease to form as Saturn approaches northern equinox. The exact mechanism of spoke formation is still the subject of debate, but ring scientists do know that spokes no longer appear when the Sun is higher in Saturn’s sky. It is believed that this has to do with the ability of micron-sized ring grains to maintain an electrical charge and levitate above the rings, forming spokes. Thus, these may be some of the last spokes ever imaged by Cassini.

This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 38 degrees below the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Oct. 22, 2013.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.6 million miles (2.6 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 146 degrees. Image scale is 93 miles (150 kilometers) per pixel.

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Anti-Gay Hate Preacher Accidentally Tweets 4,000 Followers Cartoon Clip of Him ‘Confessing’ to Be a ‘Homosexual Sodomite’
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 Frank says:

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry.