Low activity because...

For the few who were wondering about the low activity and slow response to comments... I am busy this semester with teaching two courses, one of which is new (on fluid mechanics), so between preparing clear class notes and trying to continue research, my sciencebits.com response time has slowed down. Rest assure, it is only temporary.

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Kelvin Helmholtz Clouds in the Jerusalem Skies

Kelvin Helmholtz cloud rolls
Yesterday, I noticed (and photographed ;-) ) Kelvin-Helmholtz Clouds forming in Jerusalem's sky. This instability arises when very large shears are present in the velocity fields, in this case, just below the jet stream.

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On the IPCC's summary for policy makers, and on getting interviewed without noticing

Yesterday I was surprised to find out that the IPCC didn't really come out with the Fourth Assessment Report (4AR). I was also surprised to find an article with something which appeared to look like an interview of me. Since I am not senile (getting there, but not just yet) I found it strange that I didn't remember actually being interviewed!

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Influenza and a Human Chain Reaction

Some time ago, I pondered about the effects that mass hysteria could have on a flu epidemic. In particular, on how a fright about flu vaccination (which happened in Israel a few months ago) would cause less people to be vaccinated, and thus be responsible for a larger flu outbreak. A recent news item, though, made me rethink.

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The Best Proof that Paranormal Phenomena do not Exist

Alleged paranormal phenomena tend to pop-up from time to time. The best example is probably that of Uri Geller. He became famous in the 70's with his "abilities" to bend spoons, read thoughts, etc. Unfortunately, Uri Geller decided to return back to his native Israel, and worse, got a prime time television program, presumably to find an heir.

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Climate Sensitivity - an interesting IPCC bias

Some time ago, I noticed an interesting bias in the TAR scientific report (the third assessment report of the IPCC - the intergovernmental panel for climate change) regarding the climate sensitivity, that is by how much the average global temperature will increase if we double the amount of CO2. The report mentions quite a few times that climate sensitivity "is likely to be in the range of 1.5 to 4.5°C". Why is this interesting? Because ...

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Flu Vaccinations - Another example of group stupidity

Most people, when let alone, are not dumb. They can make reasonable decisions if given the right information. However, when people are part of large groups, somehow it seems, the IQ of an average individual, and even the effective IQ of the group as a whole, appears to decrease. Members of the group can then do really dumb things.

One such example of group stupidity is the case of Influenza vaccinations here in Israel.

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Earth's magnetic field protecting us from deadly radiation - A common misconception

From time to time, I hear the statement that Earth's magnetic field is important because it protects earth from "deadly" radiation, and that when the magnetic field will reverse, this lethal radiation will be... very bad. One such example is this promo for a NOVA program called "magnetic storm". Well, I have news. Nothing really bad will happen to us!

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No life on Earth either!

After finding out that Earth is not a planet (it didn't clear out its orbit...), I now learned that Earth's doesn't have life on it. Sounds strange? Well, Navarro-González et la., in a recent paper that appeared in PNAS, showed that the same tests used on the Viking program and that came out negative for life on Mars, showed negative results also in ...

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The Hebrew University and Nobel prizes

As is the case in recent years, the Nobel prize announcements last week made me proud of my home institute yet again. This year, Chemistry recipient is Prof. Roger Kornberg, who has been a regular visiting professor at the Hebrew University for already 20 years.

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"SKY" experiment demonstrates link between cosmic rays and condensation nuclei!

After a long embargo, results from the Danish National Space Center (DNSC) Sky experiment were finally published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. The results demonstrate a clear link between cosmic ray induced atmospheric ionization and the formation of condensation nuclei, thus strengthening the claims that cosmic rays affect cloud cover and climate (and consequently implying that a large fraction of 20th century global warming should be attributed to the increased solar activity).

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On Ramadan, the lack of arctic muslims, and why autumn is ideal for the Yom Kippur

While buying diapers on the weekend from my muslim neighbors, I learned that the holy month of Ramadan has just recently started. The hot weather made me realize that Ramadan fast cyclicly varies from an easy obligation to one which is very hard. Fasting in summer implies abstaining from drinking while it's hot, and fasting for more hours a day. In fact, a muslim living north of the arctic circle would not survive a summer Ramadan, implying that no muslim can permanently live in arctic (or antarctic) regions. It also made me think about the Yom Kippur fast which turns out to be ideally placed in the autumn.

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Recycling A/C water?

The other day I found out to my dismay that the balcony underneath my air conditioner at home leaks water into the living room below it. Instead of sealing the balcony (as I should...) I temporarily solved the problem by placing a baby bath tub underneath. After "recycling" the water on the lawn, I wondered, could A/C reclaimed water be economically useful?

Comments on nature's "A cosmic connection"

Last week, a report by Jeff Kanipe appeared in nature. In it, Kanipe explains the solar → cosmic-ray → climate connection, and the planned CLOUD experiment in CERN, expected to finally resolve the issue. Given that my work is mentioned in the review, I through I should mention a few relevant points.

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Planet, Gone!

The Plutonian system: Pluto and two moons viewed from a third.
In the last general assembly of the international astronomical union, astronomers voted to demote planet Pluto, to strip it of its planetary status. The reasons for the reduced status are clear. (And it was coming for a long while!) The surprising bit, however, was the definition the particular astronomers concocted, eh, came up with. They were looking for a precise definition, and indeed found one, one which is precisely wrong. According to it, Earth is not a planet either!

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