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Upcoming meeting October 11th!

By Bob Snodgrass
Posted: 10/06/2021

 Hello and we’re swinging into a good fall season. Our next meeting is Monday the 11th at our usual 4 PM time. Waiting on deck is a great talk that Howard has arranged for November 8th at our usual time. I hope that you all remember the fabulous talk from Jay Marx about LIGO and the implications of frequent gravitational waves. That was April 2020. During the question phase he proved himself a master of all things astrophysical. And again, it was Howard who arranged his talk.

The world of Science is jumping as usual. I promised a short report on the September 14th talk by Dr. Karen Meech from University of Hawai’i on interstellar objects.  The basic outline is clear- we’ve had two ISOs pass through the solar system recently: first Oumuamua in 2017, which got lots of attention and then more recently, 2L/Borisov, which got much less. How do we know that an object comes from interstellar space? How many others have visited us?

There’s  the very recent discovery of human footprints in White Sands, NM believed to be about 23,000 years old. That is earlier than the Beringia land bridge was open. There is strong genetic evidence linking Siberians and Amerindians. The famous Clovis culture, the oldest verified culture of the Americas, was about 12,000 years old.


We now have Chinese astronauts back on earth, three of them, after working on the Chinese Tiangong space station for 92 days in orbit. Three more visits will be needed to complete the station; the work will extend into 2022.

Then there is Lake Kivu in Rwanda, one of three known exploding lakes in Africa, and by far the biggest and most dangerous. These lakes are prone to limnic eruptions or overturns, when carbon dioxide at the bottom of the lake is released into the nearby environment and kills humans and animals by asphyxiation. The two smaller exploding lakes in Cameroon both erupted in the 1980s. 
Lake Monoun ‘s 1984 eruption killed 37 people living nearby. A second, deadlier eruption from neighboring Lake Nyos in 1986 released over 80 million m3 of CO2, killing about 1,700 people and 3,000 livestock, again by asphyxiation.

A third lake, the much larger 
Lake Kivu, rests on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, and contains massive amounts of dissolved CO2. This Lake is 1700 times larger than Lake Nyos, 31 miles wide at its widest part and contains 300 billion m3 of carbon dioxide and 60 billion m3 of methane. Sediment from the lake showed events caused living creatures in the lake to go extinct about every 1000 years and nearby vegetation to be swept back into the lake.  Rwanda is trying to stave off explosions by using some methane to generate power. The lake is near to several active volcanoes, whose eruption could trigger limnic eruptions.


Spectrum 10K, the largest study of genetics and autism in the United Kingdom, has been suspended following criticism that it failed to properly consult the autism community about the goals of the research. Study leaders say that the research “does not aim to eradicate autism” and that it could contribute to a better understanding of co-occurring conditions, such as epilepsy and gut-health problems.

Now consider an amazing “deep fake”.

The Emmy for interactive documentary was awarded this year to “In Event of Moon Disaster”, a project that uses ‘deepfake’ technology to have former 
US president Richard Nixon deliver the speech written by William Safire in case Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had died in their attempted moon landing. The film was made by the MIT media lab in collaboration with Scientific American.

I tried to get the video without success, but there is a recent story about it in Scientific American,

You can see the film at

Finally, in the same vein, Yale University, after decades of investigation has declared the Vinland map, which came into their possession in the 1960s, a fake to enhance the status of the Viking civilization. Yale will not destroy or discard the map. They will continue to exhibit it as one form of disinformation.

With best wishes and my hope to see many of you next Monday. I will report on the Interstellar object lecture then, but none of the other things I’ve mentioned.

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