Saturday, July 21, 2012

Weekly Science Roundup #4

This week's roundup is hot. Quite hot.


So thanks to the Spitzer telescope, another new planet has been found orbiting a star about 33 lightyears from us. It's one of the very few exoplanets that's actually smaller than Earth - which is awesome in and of itself because detecting planets that tiny is no easy feat - but that's not why it's in my roundup.

It's in my roundup, because this planet is ONE BIG BALL OF MAGMA.

Er...probably. Or at least, it's got a lot of melty rock all over it.

Also, since it's only 33 lightyears away, when we invent lightspeed travel, you could totally visit AND make it back to Earth before you die. If, ya know, seeing a world of MAGMA is one of your ultimate dreams or something.

The reason it's so hot is because it revolves ridiculously close to its sun. Much closer than Mercury does to our sun. In fact, it only takes 1.4 Earth days to travel its full year. Dang. Since it's so close, it's a whopping 1000 degrees Fahrenheit on its surface, which means (you guessed it) IT'S PROBABLY ONE BIG BALL OF MAGMA.THAT IS AWESOME.

2. Huge Iceberg Breaks off Greenland

Less awesome is the news that a giant chunk of the Petermann Glacier in Greenland broke off this week, dropping an iceberg of enormous size into the ocean.

Greenland's glacial covering has been changing rapidly as global warming continues. This is just the latest in a string of collapses, and the ice breaking up isn't going to stop anytime soon. I'm really at a loss as to how anyone can deny global warming, but I guess some people just don't want to admit they're hurting the planet. Probably because if they do, that implies it's their responsibility to change their ways and fix it up. 

3. It's really hot outside. 

Speaking of warming, it's been a ridiculously hot year, and it's taken its toll on most of the U.S.

Despite today actually being a comfortable 80 degrees around where I live (finally), most of the country is still suffering from drought that has no end in sight.

64% of the country is in a drought, and 42% is in a severe drought. We've broken the record (again) for the hottest 12 month period on record, and now we're on our way to breaking the record for the driest.

I don't know if much else needs to be said. Why is it so hot? Why do we keep breaking the records for each 12 month period we go through? While climate is a complicated business, it's obvious that we are seeing the effects of global warming in action. We are doing this to ourselves.

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