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Round Peg, Square Hole Revisited

June 13, 2011

The above is a composite infrared image of the nebula surrounding the star system MWC 922. You’ll notice it’s square and nobody seems to know why. One explanation is listed here

A leading progenitor hypothesis for the square nebula is that the central star or stars somehow expelled cones of gas during a late developmental stage. For MWC 922, these cones happen to incorporate nearly right angles and be visible from the sides. Supporting evidence for the cone hypothesis includes radial spokes in the image that might run along the cone walls. Researchers speculate that the cones viewed from another angle would appear similar to the gigantic rings of supernova 1987A, possibly indicating that a star in MWC 922 might one day itself explode in a similar supernova.

Astronomers have been keeping a close eye on SN1987A, named for the year in which the light from the star’s explosion reached the earth. The remnants of that one recently lit up like a Xmas tree after a couple decades of cooling and you can see a neat-O image of it from the Hubble telescope here. Clearly it doesn’t appear square from the vantage point of our blue marble at least.

The hypothesis proposed does make sense since not every phenomenon up in the sky faces the earth from the most convenient vantage point for viewing. But… Maybe I’ve been reading too many sci-fi novels again, but if an unexplained artifact were discovered on this planet showing straight edges and right angles, the most likely conclusion would be that somebody at some point made it that way.

While that is very likely not the case here, it sure is fun to think about.

29 Comments leave one →
  1. cometman permalink*
    June 13, 2011 12:25 pm

    Back here on Terror Firma, Uncle Sugar wants to make sure the cash flow for more bombs continues unabated so Bushwa Barry keeps trying to pound the square peg into the round hole and consequences be damned. Roubini, one of the few who correctly predicted the last economic meltdown, speculates that global economic problems could become critical by 2013. And he is far from the only Cassandra issuing warnings lately. But Barry continues to court those whose caused all the problems in the first place looking for more campaign cash in a NYC-suck-up-to-the-rat-fucking-bankers tour – Obama Seeks to Win Back Wall St. Cash.

    Put me on the first ride to MWC 922 please.

  2. cometman permalink*
    June 13, 2011 12:39 pm

    Some notes –

    I’d been unaware that you can look at everybody else’s front yards on Google earth but you can’t see Israel. Or Dick Cheney’s house either IIRC. Perhaps Google’s new motto is “Don’t show evil”…..

    Surprise, surprise! Monsanto and various world governments have been hiding the fact that regulators knew that the ubiquitous Round-Up is in fact dangerous.

    Several pics from a recent Greek protest here.

    More on the voting machines that don’t work and yet are still used by millions to cast ballots that may never be counted. Bradblog reports that a Vegas mayoral candidate watched as her own vote for herself got flipped to one for her opponent.

    Greenwald discusses a WAPO article indicating that the illegal attack on Libya is of course all about the oil. The key bit regarding who we have to thank for the relevant info-

    The reason — the only reason — we know about any of this is because WikiLeaks (and, allegedly, Bradley Manning) disclosed to the world the diplomatic cables which detail these conflicts. Virtually the entirety of the Post article — like most significant revelations over the last 12 months, especially in the Middle East and North Africa — are based exclusively on WikiLeaks disclosures. That’s why we know about Gaddafi’s increasingly strident demands for the “Libyanization” of his country’s resource exploitation. That’s how we know about most of the things we’ve learned about the world’s most powerful political and corporate factions over the last 12 months. Is there anything easier to understand than why U.S. Government officials are so eager to punish WikiLeaks and deter future transparency projects of this sort?

    And who knows if anything will come of it, but it’s pretty damn funny. Anonymous takes on the Ber-nank –

  3. artemis54 permalink
    June 15, 2011 7:17 am

    The tortoise and the Biden. Note links in latest comment

  4. cometman permalink*
    June 15, 2011 12:30 pm

    Here one with reading in full – The Epidemic of Mental Illness: Why?

    The author reviews three books which come to similar conclusions about prescription drug use to treat supposed mental illness. In short, it’s bullshit. Couldn’t agree more.

    If one really wants to know why so many people are so unhappy, they don’t need to do much more than turn on the TV to just about any channel for 5 minutes to see the worst aspects of humanity celebrated or just look out the window to see the whole planet physically going to hell.

    It isn’t people’s brain chemistry, it’s our sick and twisted society and all the damage it causes.

    • artemis54 permalink
      June 16, 2011 8:14 am

      Nice, esp the section on side efffects and “extra-strength placebos.”

  5. cometman permalink*
    June 15, 2011 12:34 pm

    Couple notes –

    Scott Walker gets his way – Supreme Court reinstates collective bargaining law. Sigh….

    Will the badgers fight back again? If so, they could take a lesson from the Greeks who continue to be up in arms – Greek Unions Stage 24-Hour Strike Against Austerity, Asset Sales.

    And some video of protests in Syntagma Square. Fuck ’em up!

  6. artemis54 permalink
    June 16, 2011 8:09 am

    Spongiforma squarepantsii

  7. cometman permalink*
    June 16, 2011 10:08 am


    Nothing else worth mentioning happened today.

  8. artemis54 permalink
    June 20, 2011 7:34 am

    Wonderful essay, well worth the time: To the Rainforest Room

    My experience with the Tasaday has rendered me hyperaware of the aura of desperation and melancholy surrounding our common need for the Authentic, especially in regard to Place and People. Call it a sixth sense. If I were a superhero, this might be my special power, though it might also be my singular weakness, my kryptonite, which was, after all, the only thing that could kill Superman, a chunk of authenticity from a home planet he could barely remember. And no wonder—because neither he nor his home planet ever existed, except in our minds, where they continue to exist, and powerfully so.
    . . . .
    It’s my theory that Nebraska has developed a severe case of landscape envy.

    . . . .
    These rooms are the Lied Rainforest equivalent of the actor’s dressing room and Morris enters respectfully, not wanting to encroach on the animals’ down time, but also concerned that a Francois’ langur monkey might snatch my glasses. But the black monkey with its bulging abdomen regards me from its wildness, sees that I am of no importance to its world, and ignores me. Somehow, this moment of disregard strikes me as the most authentic of the day.
    . . . .
    Here’s one test: if you want to replicate it but can’t, it’s probably authentic. . .

    • cometman permalink*
      June 20, 2011 1:18 pm

      Very nice. Reminded of all the tourists who stop by to photograph my family’s “quaint” dairy farm or the local artists who aren’t really from the area who like to paint it so it looks even more “quaint” than it actually appears, with all the dirt and manure left out, gawking as if farming weren’t really the way they made their living but the family ran the farm purely for the enjoyment of the visitors. I’m sure they’d be appalled to find out they have the internet inside the picturesque farmhouse.

      A David Foster Wallace essay about the presence of tourists pretty much ruining the very “authenticity” they came to see comes to mind…

      • artemis54 permalink
        June 21, 2011 11:20 am

        SciTechDaily has noted that Rainforest essay. This is the first time I have seen anything from Orion there.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 20, 2011 1:23 pm

      And speaking of Nebraska, for some reason I hadn’t realized there was a potential nuclear disaster in the works there. From a Pakistani paper – US orders news blackout over crippled Nebraska Nuclear Plant. I haven’t been scouring the interwebs for news lately but I do check a few sites every day to at least glance at the headlines and this is the first I’d heard of this.

      Guess nobody’s wants to alarm the natives and make them too scared to go visit the rainforest…

  9. cometman permalink*
    June 20, 2011 1:37 pm

    Some notes –

    Bushwa Barry acts more like Dubya every day – Obama rejects top lawyers’ legal views on Libya. Why is it that we’re supposed to be scared of the Republicans’ excesses again…..?

    Sci-fi writers have been writing about insect-sized remote weapons and surveillance tools for years and in this case I’m not really happy to see it coming true – Three words: Predator Drones. Domestically.

    This one warms the heart a bit as one man tries to beat the banks at their own game by repossessing their foreclosures using faulty paperwork, just like the banks do – Tucson Mayoral Candidate on Odd Spree of House Claiming.

    A Tucson mayoral candidate from a fringe political party has seized dozens of foreclosed homes in metro Phoenix, changing the locks, kicking out real-estate agents and posting “Do Not Trespass” signs.

    Marshall Home, who claims many foreclosures are illegal, has filed documents in the past two weeks with the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office showing he has supposedly taken ownership of at least 21 homes belonging to government-owned mortgage giant Fannie Mae. But none of the documents shows any money has changed hands, and Fannie Mae says it has not sold the houses.

    And this one seems worth noting as it captures the zeitgeist pretty well (and the mainstream news hasn’t seen fit to make a peep about it) – New Hampshire man lights himself on fire to protest America’s decline. Here’s the note the guy left behind. Caution: it’s a pretty byronesque rant about feminists destroying blah blah blah but for some reason I’m willing to wade through the nonsense in the attempt to find a point in these types of things, which seem to be occurring more and more often.

  10. cometman permalink*
    June 20, 2011 1:48 pm

    Sciencedaily had a few interesting ones today –

    Prostate cancer cured in mice.

    Memories turned off in rats with the flick of a switch.

    And this one was really fascinating, especially in light of the current corporate push for GM crops everywhere all the time – Dawn of Agriculture Took Toll On Health.

    “Many people have this image of the rise of agriculture and the dawn of modern civilization, and they just assume that a more stable food source makes you healthier,” Mummert says. “But early agriculturalists experienced nutritional deficiencies and had a harder time adapting to stress, probably because they became dependent on particular food crops, rather than having a more significantly diverse diet.”

    She adds that growth in population density spurred by agriculture settlements led to an increase in infectious diseases, likely exacerbated by problems of sanitation and the proximity to domesticated animals and other novel disease vectors.


    Some economists and other scientists are using the rapid physiological increases in human stature during the 20th century as a key indicator of better health.

    “I think it’s important to consider what exactly ‘good health’ means,” Mummert says. “The modernization and commercialization of food may be helping us by providing more calories, but those calories may not be good for us. You need calories to grow bones long, but you need rich nutrients to grow bones strong.”

  11. cometman permalink*
    June 23, 2011 8:06 am

    Been poring through the pulps I picked up the used sci-fi bookstore a couple weeks ago. Picked up a bunch of the old school writers – Harlan Ellison, Philip K Dick, Theodore Sturgeon, John Brunner (still couldn’t find The Sheep Look Up or Stand on Zanzibar but the store owner is on it – thanks again for the Brunner recommendation). Fairly dreary stuff, mostly because everything they warned about has come true.

    After reading about miniature insect sized drones that are in development, more surveillance programs being uncovered, oligarchs struggling to maintain a grip on power by lying to the rest of us as they put more and more people in prison on who knows what charges without a trial, etc., etc., etc. – well after all that happening in the real world, the fictional 50 year-old paranoid ramblings of Philip K Dick seem almost quaint.

    I need a vacation. Maybe a little fishing. Enceladus is starting to look like pretty nice spot to get away from it all…

  12. artemis54 permalink
    June 23, 2011 1:51 pm

    Celebrate the victories because they are so few:

    Tanzania abandons Serengeti Road

    This is a reat triumph for the scientific community, for one, which had universally condemned this nightmare in the making.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 24, 2011 9:27 am

      Good news! Thanks for the update.

      One fight ends and another begins. Hopefully this may have some effect on the next nightmare in the making – Environmental Leaders Call for Civil Disobedience to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline.

      A pipeline from the Alberta tar sands all the way to Texas refineries. What could possibly go wrong?!?!?!?!

  13. artemis54 permalink
    June 24, 2011 2:51 am

    Perfect illustration of one of the problems with DK:

    Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog is a favorite read of mine and in my estimation worth roughly ten thousand dailykoses.

    One of the authors there has ventured into the holy place and posted three diaries now at dk. I do not know who it is, or whether English is his first or even second language, or how familiar he is with DK and its place in the American hall of mirrors.

    His previous entry tried to make a technical point about policy on genetic manipulation of crops in Africa with specific reference to bananas, and a very good point it was too.

    The response was the same dead silence that greets anything other than Obama, Israel and whatever obsession du jour.

    His newest diary took a different tack, merely alluding to his beef with National Geographic and linking to the ABW entry on the subject. Fascinating too, he is right and Nat Geo is wrong.

    The immediate response is a bitchy comment about how he should have crossposted his article instead of linking to it.

    You can’t win with these fucking idiots.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 24, 2011 9:40 am

      Par for the course. I’ve had no interest whatsoever in trying to navigate that hellhole to find the few interesting articles ever since the last update.

      One somewhat related note. Been seeing a few articles lately documenting the dangers of Round-Up. Here’s one – Roundup: Birth Defects Caused By World’s Top-Selling Weedkiller, Scientists Say .

      Highly doubtful that any efforts will lead to a ban at this point since its use is so ubiquitous and Monsanto owns as many senators as any other conglomerate. But shining some light on the problem can’t hurt since many, many people simply assume it’s harmless. I’ve been hearing about how great it is ever since I used to mow lawns as a summer job 30 years ago. Maybe some publicity will at least lead people to pressure smaller farmers not to use it.

  14. cometman permalink*
    June 24, 2011 9:50 am

    This one has the makings of a Reese’s peanut butter cup commercial in hell. Two great killers that kill even greater together! What do you get when you combine large scale industrial disaster with remotely operated killing and surveillance machines?

    This – Drone Airplane Crashes Into Roof Of Damaged Fukushima Reactor #2.

    Caveat: the link is from zerohedge who claims the story came from Dow Jones but provided no link. Tried to find some other links and they all led back to the zerohedge post. I can certainly understand why after all the previous obfuscation authorities wouldn’t want to readily admit to something like this, but another source would be nice.

  15. cometman permalink*
    June 24, 2011 10:10 am

    Maine’s Chief Execrable Officer has been vetoing just about every piece of legislation that hits his desk, seemingly just for shits and giggles. But in the “Even a retarded clock that never worked to begin with and has been repeatedly beaten with a sledgehammer and subjected to an acetylene torch is still right once or twice in four years” department, LePage may have (probably accidentally) done something right when he vetoed legislation calling for a study on the effects of burning wood yesterday.

    I’m assuming this legislation was proposed by people with environmental concerns since in VT the legislature has already banned certain kinds of outdoor wood furnaces from being sold in the state because of supposed pollution from smoke. Coming from a family in which multiple members have heated their homes with wood sustainably for decades, these types of things really piss me off and the “environmentalists” who support them give people with real concerns about the environment a bad name. My dad has one of these furnaces and it is extremely efficient and actually uses way less wood than the indoor woodstoves that are still allowed. Luckily people who already had them were grandfathered in when the ban went through. My suspicion is that those leading the charge for the ban were not really all that concerned about the environment, they were likely transplants from out of state who don’t care for the habits of rural people all that much. Woodsmoke wafting into their backyards wasn’t the “quaintness” they had in mind when building their McMansions to escape from city life.

    If anyone disappointed with the governor’s veto happens to be reading, here’s your study for you. When you burn wood, it causes smoke and that smoke goes up in the air the same way it has for thousands and thousands of years of human beings producing heat from burning wood. See how easy that was! It’s the fossil fuel usage (which dwarfs wood burning) that is causing the problems, dummies. And it isn’t wood for home heating that is causing deforestation.

    Please stop protesting wood stoves and windmills and concentrate your efforts on the real problems. If these people are so concerned about even a few trees being cut, why aren’t they trying to eradicate beavers?!?!

    But hey, if we keep burning enormous amounts unsustainable fossil fuels, once the warming really kicks in we won’t need to heat homes in northern climes at all. Wood burning problem solved!

    • artemis54 permalink
      June 24, 2011 12:27 pm

      Forgive my ignorance, but I don’t understand the concept of an “outdoor furnace.” What does it do, and why outdoors?

      • artemis54 permalink
        June 24, 2011 12:54 pm

        Hmmm. Got it now. Strange, I’ve been in some pretty cold places where people used woodstoves etc. but not this. Guess I move in pretty poor circles.

        • cometman permalink*
          June 24, 2011 1:02 pm

          They got pretty popular in my dad’s circle a few years ago. Several friends of his and family members got them. They burn wood extremely slowly and unlike a wood stove where you can only adjust the damper, they actually have a thermostat that really regulates the temperature. And also unlike a wood stove that only heats the house, these also heat the hot water. You can throw whole logs in too which alleviates the need for a lot of wood splitting.

          I still prefer the old indoor wood stoves for aesthetic reasons and I was skeptical when my dad installed the new outdoor one. But it has made winter visits much less of a waste of time. We used to have a Vermont Castings cast iron wood stove and that thing threw off A LOT of heat. I’d come all the way from Seattle to see the folks and after sitting in the living room for about 20 minutes visiting, it would be so warm and cozy that we’d all nod off and fall asleep. We get to catch up a lot more now that the temp stays at a steady 68 or so.

  16. artemis54 permalink
    June 24, 2011 1:40 pm

    Jesus H

    I have come down with cacogeusia. That sounds bad enough, but my specific one in English is worse: pine mouth. Everything, even water, tastes like aluminum marinated in tar. I should have known it was too good a deal to be true. Apparently the Chinese have taken to tossing in pine nuts from some pretty marginal species in terms of food quality. Worth it really to go hog wild with them for once and now probably lose a few poinds.

    Great relief to get it figured out. I was thinking maybe brain tumor.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 27, 2011 11:40 am

      I’ve had that before too, but it usually came on late night after about six gin and tonics…

  17. cometman permalink*
    June 27, 2011 11:54 am

    Couple articles which taken together show some pretty skewed priorities.

    A small asteroid that was just discovered last week will be passing our blue dot today just over 7,500 miles above the surface. Nothing to worry about since it’s a small one and it would disintegrate before touching down even if it entered the atmosphere. However, we really don’t know how many of these things are out there –

    On Oct. 28, 1937, German astronomer Karl Reinmuth (1892-1979) accidentally photographed the long trail of a fast moving asteroid. Two nights later, this asteroid passed within 460,000 miles of the Earth. Reinmuth named it Hermes, after the Olympian god of boundaries and travelers.

    Since the vast majority of asteroids (so far numbering over 210,000) congregate between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, astronomers at that time felt that Hermes’ very close approach was an outstanding exception.

    “Astronomers of the day were somewhat biased,” explained NASA asteroid scientist Paul Chodas. “They had convinced themselves that collisions were too rare to consider.”

    Since then, astronomers have learned that asteroids can make very close approaches to Earth with far greater frequency than previously thought. Asteroid 2011 MD’s Monday pass is a prime example of that.

    Of the 8,099 Near-Earth objects that have been discovered, about 827 of them are asteroids with a diameter of approximately a half-mile (1 km) or larger. About 1,236 of these NEOs have been classified as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs).

    From what I understand, it isn’t all that difficult to divert an asteroid on a collision course with earth and existing technology can supply the means to do so. But probably not on just a few days notice.

    But rather than spend money to guard against what could be a truly existential threat, the US government spends more money annually to provide air conditioning to US troops who are fighting “terrorists” (who aren’t an existential threat to anybody except themselves) than it spends on the entire NASA budget.

  18. cometman permalink*
    June 27, 2011 12:09 pm

    Not sure what’s going on in Nebraska with the nuke plant there, but this guy seems to think it’s more than the government is letting on – Nuclear Catastrophe Imminent in Nebraska?

    Much like the Fukushima reactor, the one in Nebraska wasn’t built to withstand the strength of the natural disaster that is currently occurring there.

    In the wake of Fukushima people are protesting all over the world to get old and decaying reactors shut down before the inevitable happens. But in the US, not so much. In fact, the US government appears to be trying to thwart the will of the people in closing down old reactors, causing Bernie Sanders to issue a warning to the “Justice” Department to stay out of Vermont’s

    The state wants VT Yankee shut down when it’s current deal expires in 2012. VT Yankee owner Entergy believes it has some god-given right to continue producing nuclear power whether people want it or not. And the US government seems to agree with them. Not particularly surprising considering that Entergy was a major campaign contributor to Bushwa Barry –

    Sanders has alleged that the NRC asked the Department of Justice to intervene in the case on Entergy’s behalf. We say “alleged,” because the NRC commissioners, questioned by Sanders during a Senate hearing June 16, would neither confirm nor deny Sanders’ contention, saying only that any discussions between the NRC and the Department of
    Justice concerning Entergy’s lawsuit are confidential.

    “I was deeply disturbed that the commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission today refused to make public what, as I understand it, was a 3-to-2 vote recommending that the Department of Justice take Entergy’s side in their lawsuit against Vermont,” Sanders said in a statement issued after the hearing.

  19. cometman permalink*
    June 27, 2011 12:13 pm

    Couple notes-

    Due to overfishing, modern fish communities live fast and die young.

    The commies make an appearance in Greece in further austerity protests. Another general strike declared by Greek unions coming up later this week.

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