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

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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!

No life on Earth either!

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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 ...

"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).

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

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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.

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.

Planet, Gone!

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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!

Recently Added Articles: (1) surpassing Eddington (2) Walking on Ice

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The coming of another ice-age?

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A few days ago I stumbled upon an interesting article from Time magazine, entitled: "Another Ice Age?". No it is not a recent article. It is politically incorrect to talk about global cooling these days. The article appeared in 1974, after "three decades of cooling" prompted some to believe that an imminent ice-age may be coming. It is interesting to read it in perspective, and perhaps there is a lesson we could learn from it. Here are a few excerpts from it. Read and enjoy.

3 is dead

Everyone in Israel has heard of the Galsgow scale. Why? Because our former prime minister Ariel Sharon was and still is in a coma. The Glasgow scale, of course, measures the level of consciousness (or lack of). Ariel Sharon, for example, scored 6 out of 15. 8 or less is defined as a coma. 6 doesn't sounds that bad, doesn't it? So why am I writing about it? What's so curious?

On Google's PageRank

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Anyone who runs a website knows that a successful site has to have a high Google PageRank. Unfortunately, though, Google updates their publicly available PRs only every a few months. Moreover, the PR is only given in discrete increments, so it is hard to know whether a site improved if the actual increase is less than a PR point on average. Given that I am curious about the PR of my site, I thought I should do something. And I did, the bottom line of which is a calculator to estimate the PageRank of any site you wish.

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