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Science and Energy

TWO COSMIC MYSTERIES. I have personally encountered two cosmic mysteries early in my career – like about 40 years ago. They both involved massive, unprecedented sources of energy. The mysteries continued for decades and occasionally the two encounters kept popping up in my memory. Only in the last few years have both these mysteries been solved – and both explanations involve black holes. This is Part 1. Part 2 will come later.

GAMMA RAY BURSTS. I flew into Los Alamos, New Mexico in 1972 to work at the famous scientific laboratory there (only an hour and a half drive from where I now live in Albuquerque). My job was to study data recorded by satellites (called Vela) that looped around the earth – data on high energy protons and electrons specifically.… More

I WAS IN STARBUCKS IN LUBBOCK, CLOSE TO TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY. Waiting for a woman I had never met. I told her I was tall and with a gray beard. After sipping a decaf mocha frappe, she tapped me on the shoulder and I stood and shook hands.

She was young (at least compared to me) with brown hair, attractive, and her face held a perpetual smile. Her voice and movements were filled with enthusiasm. She had just flown in from Wisconsin, where she had given a talk about the intersection of faith and climate change.

She opened her laptop and showed me a picture of Science in one circle and Faith in a second circle. The two circles were not touching.… More

I gave a talk this past week called Fracking and Global Warming: What’s the Connection? I appreciate the invite by Dr John Korstad who teaches two different courses on Sustainability at Oral Roberts University (ORU).

Sustainability is getting to be a hot subject: it implies conserving the present environment for our grand-kids, to use a simple definition. For businesses the application is People, Planet and Profits: People meaning quality of life and employee retention, Planet being environmental stewardship and waste reduction, and Profit meaning responsible economic growth. At ORU, staff like Dr Korstad are leading the way.

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The world-class lecture room at ORU, where I was video’d automatically. 

I did a lot of research on the topic and decided some critical slides would be of interest and make a good summary.… More

WHATS IN THIS BLOG: • The Delaware basin. • How much oil? • Budget surplus. • Will the shale oil boom improve New Mexico living conditions? • What about wind and solar?

THE SAN JUAN BASIN. We’ve always had the mighty San Juan basin, in the northwest of the state, but that’s been predominantly a natural gas basin. Then in the 1980’s coalbed methane came on and that boomed for quite a while. While working at Amoco, I was lucky to be able to work on coalbed methane in the San Juan basin in the late 1980s and most of the1990s.

The San Juan basin was ranked at the top of natural gas basins in the USA. But that was before shale-gas became a revolution in the 2000 years – which pushed the San Juan down to fifth by 2015.… More

WHATS IN THIS BLOG? Text from Australia: 71 wildfires burning. Bats and flying foxes killed by the thousands. Where was the heatwave the worst? Australia has been getting warmer.

TEXT FROM AUSTRALIA.“Heat wave in eastern Australia. 71 wildfires in New South Wales and Victoria. It’s a bit different to your part of the world in USA.”

This text was sent by my brother Clive just a few days ago – 17 January 2019. Less than a week before that I had sent him a video of a three-inch snowfall I experienced here in the USA. What a contrast!

Some of the following is excerpted from BBC News. The heatwave has broken heat records at more than ten places around Australia. The record-setters included Port Augusta which reached 48.9C or 120F.… More

WHATS IN THIS BLOG: • Einstein is a hero to me. • TV series called Genius. • The God Einstein believed in. • Richard Dawkins missed out. • Einstein defined happiness. • The full God-letter.

ALBERT EINSTEIN IS A HERO TO ME. Always has been. E = mc2 and all that. I was trained as a physicist after all. I even wrote a blog about Einstein’s startling prediction of gravity waves (when two neutron starts collide) and their even more startling discovery in late 2017.

It was surprising to hear about a letter that he wrote the year before he died called Einstein’s God-letter. He was 74 years old and concerned daily about his physical deterioration. But his mind was as sharp as ever.… More

WHATS IN THIS BLOG: • Wildfires in California. • Greenhouse gases reach new high. • New US government report – what does President Trump think?

There is a reason for Part 6 in this series on Climate Change. I am concerned that the world is on the cusp of a pretty big crisis. And I sense that events of the past couple months are moving USA opinions to a tipping point.

Part 5 and Part 6 here present information to support this tipping point. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts – please use the Comment box at the bottom of the blog.

If you’re interested in reading previous Parts 1-5 you can do a search on Climate Change in the SEARCH box on the main page of my blog article.… More

WHATS IN THIS BLOG: • The situation is worse than we thought. • Between 70 and 90% of coral reefs expected to die off, including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. • Individuals can do something about it. • Being aware of what we eat, where it comes from, how we travel, how we heat our homes, can impact energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. • Drastic action is required but will require global political engagement.

NEW IPCC REPORT OUT IN OCTOBER 2018. I live in the southwest USA. Seeing more pine trees killed by pine-bark beetles is sad. The huge numbers of wildfires in the west got to me this past summer. Hearing about the terrible droughts now in Australia is dwpressing.… More

WHATS IN THIS BLOG: • Eugene Parker. • Parker model of sun’s magnetic field. • Parker Solar Probe. • Warning to Earth. • Life-Learnings.

I worked in space science for over ten years. This blog article is Part 2 about my initial study of cosmic radiation. It was another step in my R&D career. You can read Part 1 by clicking HERE.

The following is a mix of personal history and technology in the dramatic discoveries of space science in the 1960s. My involvement was minor, but I did reach out and touch some famous personalities who influenced my career. The story concludes with some valuable life-learnings.

EUGENE PARKER. Soon after I entered graduate school at the university of Adelaide, I flew to Tasmania to a conference.… More

WHATS IN THIS BLOG: • Space science started with Sputnik. • Discovery of Van Allen belts of radiation. • Cosmic rays. • My supervisor was famous. • Life-learnings for me.

I worked in space science for over ten years. This blog article is about my initial study of cosmic radiation. It was a critical step in my R&D career.

But first, a brief laugh. In my early days in the USA an airline stewardess leaned across the empty seats and said, “I just love your accent.” After I explained it was an Australian accent, she asked what my work was. “I’m a space scientist,” I said. She looked blank for a minute, then said with a big smile, “Oh, I’ve always loved spices.”

The following is a mix of history and technology in the dramatic discoveries of space science in the early days.… More

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