Welcome to ScienceBits

Estimate the conditions at the Center of the Sun or the Chandrasekhar Mass Limit using simply energy arguments.
A random (and subjective) walk in science and physics in particular.

In the blog and bits sections, you'll find various interesting science related anecdotes you'll find nowhere else (e.g., an exhaled breath condensation calculator, or a snow probability calculator), and also things you will (such as a pension calculator written for my needs).

In the Research section, you'll find articles which are more directly related to my personal research in astrophysics, or on the role of cosmic rays behind climate variability. For example, you'll find articles on the Milky Way and Ice-Ages, or on the question of which mechanism is behind the 20th century global warming, is it Solar or Anthropogenic?

If there are any comments about the site you would like to post, feel free to post them here.

Enjoy your stay in \( \int c_i e^n ce \sim B i^ts \) !

Note, you're more than welcome to post comments, however due to some flooding by spam (mostly for v-pills), some precautions were placed. There are now two options to place comments:
  1. Anonymous comments, using a captcha and moderation (i.e., after I verify and approve that the content is legit.)
  2. Register/login using a captcha, and then comment without a captcha. If the comment appears legit., the next comments will not require any approval

Euthanizing Overholt et al.: How bad can a bad paper be?

Last month I visited the U of Washington to give a talk in which I discussed the effects of cosmic rays on climate. At the end of it, not one, but two people independently asked me about Overholt et al., which supposedly ruled out the idea that passages through the galactic spiral arms affect the appearance of glaciations on Earth. I told them that the paper had really stupid mistakes and it should be discarded in the waste bin of history, but given that Overholt et al. is still considered at all, I have no choice but to more openly euthanize it.

Bits of Science / Roundup #1

Blog topic: 
Aurorae on Ganymede
Since I look for interesting science bits (mostly astro bits) for the Monday coffee of our astrophysics group, I realized that I could share it with the readers including some interpretation (and hopefully some added value) by your humble servant. So, here’s my try. If it works (and won’t be too much time) I’ll continue! Although for the coffee I bring mostly astrophysics and some planetary science, here I’ll also try to bring interesting results in climate (those that aren't lame...).

Sights from a Field Trip in the Milky Way: From Paleoclimatology to Dark Matter

32 million year oscillation in the paleoclimate data
I was recently asked to write an article to “The Institute Letter” of Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, where I am spending a wonderful sabbatical year. It briefly describes a very interesting discovery that my colleagues and I made, which is that the 32 million year oscillation of the solar system perpendicular to the galactic plane can clearly be seen in the paleoclimate data. In the article, I also discuss how the discovery came and some of its implications. I am bringing a slightly expanded version here (with more figures and elaborated caption), and references of course. Enjoy.

A friend has passed away

Nigel Calder's the weather machine movie about the imminent ice age
I just found out that a dear friend had passed away. Nigel Calder was the voice of rationality within a sea of extreme, something which is very much missing in the global warming debate. He didn't accept things for granted, but on the other hand didn't make extreme claims in the opposite direction either. He was simply driven by science (i.e., curiosity). One of his interests was of course that of climate.

Gravity waves in rain clouds over the Arava valley

Lee Waves in Rain Clouds over the Arava Valley

Spring weather here in Israel was rather strange. Although winter with most of its precipitation should have been over, we had a few very rainy days. We're now in the midst of a heat wave with temperatures as much as 20°C higher than just a week before. In between there was a nice gravity wave appear over the Arava Valley, the first one I have ever seen in a rain radar!

Predicting a supernova precursor (on SN2010mc)

A very interesting paper recently appeared in nature. It describes the detection of a precursor eruption of a supernova progenitor more than a month before the supernova explosion itself. It is particularly interesting because this detection was not serendipitous—it was based on my prediction.

Dust Dendrites

Dust dendrites on nylon sheath

My wife and I had our kitchen renovated aaa. Since this involved breaking a few walls (and cutting out a new window), we knew it would raise a lot of dust. Mind you, here in the middle east houses are built from concrete and concrete blocks, not wood. To minimize the dust annoyance (and damage), we decided to quarter off the living room from the kitchen by using large nylon sheets hung from the ceiling to the floor.

The worst of the BEST

Blog topic: 

I was asked by quite a few people about my opinion on the BEST analysis of Richard Muller and his group in Berkeley. Since I didn’t want to keep my friends without an answer, I took a more careful look into the analysis. Here is what I think of it.

There are two parts to the analysis. The first part is a reconstruction of the temperature over the 20th century. The second part includes analyzing this reconstruction and drawing various conclusions out of it.

The eye of the Hurricane

Blog topic: 

After being busy with the submission of two research proposal and trying to stay afloat with the pretty heavy teaching load I have this semester, I decided I should take a short break and post something on my blog. I actually have quite a few things I have been wanting to write about, but it seems that the most relevant thing is the the mini-war which is raging not to far from here. So, I thought I'd stray from my usual and write about the middle east.

Does the global temperature lag CO2? More flaws in the Shakun et al. paper in Nature.

Over the past two weeks, perhaps a dozen people asked me about the recently published paper of Shakun et al. in Nature. It allegedly demonstrates that the global temperature followed CO2 around the warming associated with the last interglacial warming, between 20 to 10 thousand years ago. One even sent the story as a news item on NPR. So, having no other choice, I decided to actually read the paper and find what is it all about. Should I abandon all that I advocated over the past decade?




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