Weather Network gallery

It’s always good to remember that weather is both heartless and beautiful, to watch out for its vagaries and to enjoy its beauty. The Weather Network Gallery is a good place to browse through hundreds of beautiful images in several categories: scenes of the season, active weather, beautiful weather, animals, gardening, outdoor activities, and travel.


All about rope

I found an interesting Web site that describes the kinds of rope, its history, and how it is made. Two-strand rope may have been invented more than 17,000 years ago. The Egyptians built tools for making rope. In the Middle Ages, “laid” or twisted rope used to be made in long sheds called “rope walks” up to 300 yards long, thus giving rise to the “cable length” of rope. Three-strand rope is “hawser-laid” or plain rope, while four-strand rope is “cable-laid.”

Ropes can be twisted or braided. A plaited rope is made of braided strands twisted together. Brait rope is a combination of braided and plaited.

A cable is made up of three or more ropes twisted together. A rope made for a special purpose is called a line. Read “Ropes” at Solar Navigator.

Meteorite strikes southeast Russia

Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy has a roundup of links for the meteor strike this morning just east of the Ural Mountains: Huge Meteor Blazes Across the Sky: Windows Shatter.

Penicillin breeding experiments!

Scientists used their understanding of the MAT (mating) genes to induce penicillin mold to reproduce sexually, producing spores with new gene combinations. They hope to breed new strains that will kill antibiotic-resistant disease germs. And now that they have induced penicillin to breed, instead of merely producing identical spores, for the first time in a hundred years, they’ll try the same with other important fungi, such as those that produce other antibiotics.

Which air temperature records are valid

Jeff Masters has a detailed analysis of heat records around the world: “Hottest air temperatures reported on Earth.”

Conclusion: Death Valley has the hottest verified records, but much of Africa is not monitored by properly sited instruments.

Global climate change: Earth nears dangerous tipping point

There’s a right time to stop an avalanche: before it really gets rolling. And there’s a right time to stop climate change: before it becomes irreversible, with multiple positive feedback cycles making widespread disaster and extinctions inevitable. Right now, we may only have five years to implement substantial changes in our greenhouse-gas emissions: Evidence of impending tipping point for Earth.

This March was the warmest on record for much of the U.S.

Temperature anomalies for March 2012 compared to average since 1981

The map above shows anomalies compared to the average from 1981-2010, which in itself is a shifted baseline since temperatures started to warm up noticeably in 1986.

Over 16,000 high-temperature records were broken in the U.S. during March 2012, and by large margins of around 4.5° Centigrade or 9.8° Fahrenheit. The U.S. Northeast was particularly warm, which enabled tornadoes to form. The Pacific Northwest coast was cooler than usual right along the ocean. All regions except the Pacific Northwest had unusual temperatures, with either above-average temperatures or an unusual number of warm days: “NOAA confirms unprecedented warmth in March.” Maps are available at NOAA.

The map below shows state temperature records for March. The red is warmest in 118 years. The orange is warmest in 113 – 117 years, and so on.

Temperature records: warmest/coldest in this many years

From The Rational Optimist

An article: “Out of Africa–but When?“Out of Africa, but when?

My latest Mind and Matter column for the Wall Street Journal is about the exodus from Africa, either 125,000 years ago or 65,000 years ago.

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