Sunday, August 16, 2015

Surprise.. Surprise.. from the New Horizon's Pluto Flyby data

So I went to our monthly geeky sessions at the Exploreum at the SM Mall of Asia and the topic was all about the Pluto Flyby mission. 

I am not a planetary scientist, and unlike particle physics(which I eternally love), this large scale event might have slipped from my prodding. So here are what surprises me:

- Pluto has craters. Should I have expected it since it is residing at the brethren of the Kuiper Belts? 
- Pluto's already thin atmosphere is even thinner than previously expected. It's, in fact, 700 times thinner. Should I have also expected it because Pluto is primarily made up of Nitrogen, Methane and complex Hydrocarbons, perhaps, causing greenhouse effect on its atmospheric layers?
- Pluto's south polar region is darker than the north, which were previously thought to be uniform and boring!!!
- Non-uniformity of the Pluto's surface gave tantalizing hints of the possible activities underground. Should I have also expected this since a combination of thin atmosphere, no magnetosphere, methane possibly forming into liquid methane underground, may have excited carbon particles and consequently heats up the layer underneath?
- Pluto is not a dog
- That Pluto is nothing but a second rate, trying hard "trying-to-be-a-planet" object may never change despite emotional erosion brought by the excitement and hype of the flyby mission

New Horizon just ace us around 6% of the entire data collection, so keep abreast of updates and more wave of surprises to follow.  

Where have all the Heliums gone

I have come across a video of two gentlemen drinking a Helium-infused beer. I know just one guy who has the "alcoholistic quotient" and "geeky demeanor" combined to pull a stunt like this, who happens to be in Germany also.

Watch the video here:

Before you perform the same feat at home or show off a hilarious Mickey Mouse ingenuity in front of your pals, you may want to consider this:

Helium is so scarce on Earth and science badly need it. Today's proton colliders requires liquid Helium(because of its zero viscosity superfluid characteristics, meaning it will never come to rest or lose energy once in motion) to cool electromagnets. Perfect at a 4 Kelvin boiling point. 

So where do we mine Helium. 

Our exosphere contains five parts per million of Helium only, so we don't source it there. And besides, it won't stay in there forever. (We all know this in our school physics by calculating a fraction of the Boltzmann distribution that’s above escape velocity). The only way where we do it is to get it underground. The radioactive decay of heavy elements like Uranium, Thorium, Radium, and Radon, which has been there for billions of years(although it also took billion of years to decay)produces a first type of decay called "alpha decay" and the radioactive particles emit Helium nucleus. There are only 16 Helium mines in the world, and they are threatened to depletion, so let's make productive use of it before it runs dry. It will probably run short for the next 30-50 years, perhaps sooner. 

Helium is inert(is it a rootword for "introvert?") and non-recyclable. So you might want to ask: "Why has it become so scarce on Earth when it's the second most abundant element in the universe, Hydrogen being the first".

First, it has a very low molecular weight. Particles in a gas of uniform temperature roughly follow a particular probabilistic distribution of kinetic energies. A typical Helium atom has 1/7th the mass of a Nitrogen molecule, so Helium jostle about at roughly the square root of 7x the speed of Nitrogen. This is too fast for Earth to retain Helium over geologic time periods. 

Second of it being an anti-social element. It is a noble gas and does not bond chemically, unlike Hydrogen, to form compounds or heavier molecules.

Plaza Ibarra: An All-Occassion Venue

Plaza Ibarra has been one of the formidable event venues in the metropolitan Manila, having served close to a hundred events a year. They took events management to a whole new level, by offering a classical rustic-themed, Mediterranean-inspired design elements. 

Notice the Spiral staircase of the Sofitel Hotel's buffet? Plaza Ibarra has the similar embodiment, poised to give the celebrator's deserving limelight. It's in fact a fusion of garden and indoor ballroom, that incorporates the Hellenistic and urban setting. 

So when my wife's family friend invited us to grace into her daughter's venue, we simply couldn't say no. After all, they also didn't say no on the incredibly late announcement of our marriage. 

Let's round what they have for our gastronomic delight. 

Thank you Des for a wonderful evening and we're hoping the best for your lovely "the-baby-is-now-a-lady" daughter. 

Orient M-Force Beast: An Everyday Watch

I am the kind of person who gets gravitated by the sheer elegance and ornate beauty of a lovely timepiece, that whenever I pass by Rolex, IWC, Omega, Audemars Piguet shops, I usually would stop by, as if my eyes gets fixated into a hypnotic trance that let me dispense my (imaginary) exuberant bank account. 

However, these are typically the witches that I may only wear on a 'black tie event', to which I don't frequently go to. 

So in my prodding to have a cheapskate watch that is not harmful to the hard-earned savings and does not tolerate fictitious fatty imagination, I have come across Orient watches, particularly M-Force variant. 

Despite the fact that there's already a newer iteration of the M-Force model that year, I still choose the lefty "Beast"(EL06) model. For one, though they may have relatively the same specs, I am just privy about the 2014's EL07 single lug bracelet. (Who knows, I might upgrade my skillet and add serious diving into it that I have to use Nato straps)

So let me account the deal-breakers of my decision points:

- It's made in Japan. And I usually put high stake in Japanese products
- It's a solid timepiece(sturdy built, solid end links, thick spring bars)
- It has an ISO 6425 certification as a diver's watch
- It has a power reserve indicator(I don't have to guess how much winding will have to make to set it into full power)
- It has an incredibly bright lume
- And the most important thing is that it's Sapphire glass(it is meant to remain flawlessly fresh despite the number of years being used)

And I have been wearing this watch for almost two months now. And so far it has served its purpose well. I am alternating this with my Swiss-made watch and another Japanese, from Orient's parent company, Seiko GMT watch. So essentially I have all of them for a purposely driven lifestyle, one is for beach hopping(I don't know how to swim though), another for driving(I don't race though), and another for world traveling(I haven't travel a quarter of the world yet). 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Exoplanets: Facts about Feasibility of Life

Man has always been fascinated by life outside our own, that is why most of the Hollywood concepts hinges on the fictional exploratory endeavors of looking for final frontiers such in the fames of Star Trek, Star Gate, and Battle Star Galactica. 

In the onset, there has been a concerted effort to terrraform Mars. 

Kepler Space Telescope for many years sweeps the sky with incredible "mass-distance" detail on possible planet that we can call close to our own, perhaps something we can colonize once we have realized interstellar travel. 

Yet most of Earth's twins aren't identical, not even close(or so we think). With close top 3,000 planet candidates under its hood, including those approximately Earth-sized planet and those planets within habitable zone from its parent star, we know that at the very least, by planetary size and distance ratio to our own, we are not alone. 

In fact, there are a staggering 17 billion Earth-sized planets just within our Milky Way galaxy, but it takes more than the size to classify a planet as "Earth's long lost twin". We may have taken major breakthroughs in terms of discovery techniques but nowhere are we close enough to realize our ultimate goal: to find another Earth that can harbor life form, at least the same chemical ingredients as much as our own. 

Even if it were the same as ours some 500 million years ago, that would be viable enough for a research funding. There are a plethora of possibilities though that life could grow outside our notion of life-formation models, which may be more common that that we know. 

Let's look at our Sun first. Our Sun is a G Class star, and while we think that it is a common sight, we are all dead wrong. In fact, that class is 95% heavier than most of the typical stars out there which are M Dwarfs, the most common type, at about 3 out of every four star belong to the M category. Our oceans will boil a billion years from now, but M stars burn at a stable temperature for tens of trillions of years. 

Why are we saying all these. It's because if we think about Earth's twin, we should first be thinking about Sun's twin first, a star that is roughly the same temperature, spectral class and age. 

It takes time for life to develop and evolve into multiple celled organisms. That means we need a star that is also several billion years old. But we can't wait for too long because as stars age, the region of the core that fuses Hydrogen into Helium grows and ultimately thwarts off heat and raise the temperature of a planet, causing the surface water to boil and ending life in the process. 

There are 200-400 billion stars in our galaxy and 7.6% of them are G class stars.  Just 10% of the 7.6% from the total star population are almost similar to our Sun which technically belong to the G2V star of the G Class star system. About 10% of G2V stars have the same age as our Sun, so the figure keeps on trailing down to s a slimmer value. Not only that, at the 25% of the stars that were formed about the same age as our Sun, 15% of those has the same metallicity as our Sun. 

In total, that is just about 11 million stars in our galaxy has the same type as our Sun, same abundance of the heavy elements and same time to form complex life. But we haven't really take into consideration which of the elements are fewer as compared to others. 

So out of the 11 million, how many could have harbored 'Earth twin' planets. For one, we need to have the same rocky planet, the same amount of water in its surface and the same distance ratio from its parent star. All of the three factors were inter-related.

The first may not be a challenge after all. If the central star has the right elemental abundances, the planets it formed should have the same density radius relationship just like our Solar System. 

The problem is, Kepler isn't designed to extrapolate these type of information. So our best estimate is that, 4% of the Sun-like stars have the Earth-sized planets in the inner star system, and about 10% of those will have similar location much as Earth to our Sun. 

In calculable hindsight, we are down to 45,000 Earth twins with same age, same elemental abundance and same orbital distance from its star. 

But the number doesn't stop there. We need to find more than that. How many of those Earth twins have the same significance of oceans and continents like ours. How many have the same rotation speed of night and day for organisms to rest and regain energy. How many have oxygen-rich atmosphere. How many have magnetically active dynamos in its core. And just how many of them have the same Moon size like ours. 

To conclude, looking for Earth twin that has the same Earth life like ours may not be exactly like looking for a needle in a cosmic haystack, it's looking for the same kind of needle in which the numbers may be in rarity(considering our current set of technology). 

Unless we're grossly wrong about our definition of life that it's not based on the same elements as how ours formed, then maybe we have to revisit and rethink our yardstick on how planets formed and how life evolved. 

A Modest Getaway

And so we went to somewhere far and wide(but not far enough from Manila) for our much needed break. 

And this is it. What you simply see is what you simply get, with the root word "simple" as an operative word. 

A spectacle from the top. 

A view from our room.  

The pool. 

One might say it seem to look like those budding beaches in Santorini but not quite as the Thunderbird Resort. 

Kichitora Tokyo at the Bonifacio High Street Central Square, BGC

International food franchises have been aggressively storming into the Philippine market, as Filipinos are known to have a balance taste bud than other nationalities which may went from wryly bland to the extreme spectrum. 

Kichitora Tokyo is one of the fairly new Ramen chain players that went into the mainstream food scene. And with rainy season, who else wouldn't want to have a Ramen into their guts. 

On the onset, you will be graced with generally black design elements as their thematic interior. What will probably strike you is picture of a tiger on their wall, kind of reminiscent to the my Mac wallpapers(Mac being known to have used feline families as their OS variant). That tiger is the restaurant's iconology, with "Kichi" means lucky and "Tora" means tiger. 

Gyoza, it's a Japanese pan-fried dumpling, savoring the delicious blend of meat, vegetables, herbs, and spices - Php150

Paitan Ramen Zenbu, a variation of the famous Paitan Chicken Ramen, made using original white broth, topped with additional pieces of pork chase, dried seaweed, molten lava egg, and given a dash of flavorful garlic oil - Php420. 

To the unfortunate in me, they ran out of dried seaweed that they offered compensating it with bamboo shoots or green vegetables. 

To the fortunate in me, the whole gamut is paid by my line manager. 

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