|Map of polarization of dust in the universe as seen by Planck--more below|
Pollyanna is with you again as we enter the Hebrew month of Adar during which we are all supposed to be very happy.
We soon will have our Purim holiday and spring is right around the corner.
For starters, let us refer you to the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights action blog. Over two years have gone by without Miriam and we continue to realize what we have lost. She got us into the human rights struggle. Please act on behalf of people who are so much in need of support in their trials and tribulations at the hands of oppressive regimes and corporations.
CHARITY CORNERThis week Pollyanna refers you to Project Concern International. PCI is rated highly by Charity Watch and is committed to fighting poverty worldwide. PCI’s mission is to prevent disease, improve community health, and promote sustainable development worldwide. We recommend it to your consideration. In particular, Pollyanna recommends the WE-Women Empowered initiative as worthy of support.
GOOD NEWS COMES BEFORE THE RANTSRodney Reed in Texas was about to be executed for a crime for which he was convicted on flimsy evidence. We are told that a stay of execution has been granted for the presentation of new evidence that may exonerate him. Also, a Dominican man arbitrarily deported to Haiti on 19 February was able to return to his hometown in the Dominican Republic. These things show that human rights actions really work, so please join the activists, says Pollyanna. She is also pleased with the legalization of pot, not that she encourages its use, but thinks that the resources expended on fighting it should be used for stopping the spread of hard drugs. She also adds a cartoon that won the Herblock award this year and congratulates Jen Sorensen the artist:
CHEERS FOR NORWEGIAN MUSLIMSPollyanna is pleased to share with you a posting by Rabbi Melchior of Oslo. A ring of young Muslims came to protect the synagogue this week.
GOOD NEWS FROM MEDICINEPollyanna is happy to tell you about a new horizon that has appeared for cancer patients. It involves using a "basket" of drugs to treat tumors that share mutations. It has opened a vista of hope for many patients who were considered terminal and we all hope to see the research continue and expand its scope. She is also pleased to pass on the news that the mortality rate from Ebola has decreased in Africa although the doctors from MSF are puzzled by the effect.
A FEW RANTSPollyanna is in full support of the striking oil refinery workers in the US. They are on strike for health and safety, demanding stronger measures to protect workers and surrounding communities from hazards inherent in the industry. Workers cite outsourcing, short staffing, and forced overtime that produces dangerous fatigue—in a job where mistakes can be fatal.
THE JIHADI BRIDES TRAILEight British schoolgirls have traveled to Syria in the last seven months using a route which has become known as the 'jihadi bride trail' - and hundreds more besotted British women have proposed marriage to extremists online.
This week three British schoolgirls vanished and are believed to be headed to Syria to join the Islamic State extremist group. They were good students at an East London high school and no one thought that they had been radicalized. It is apparently done online.
A SECOND RAPEIn Israel the macho sexist exploitative behavior of a large number of senior police officers including the deputy to the national Chief of Police has finally led to some real investigations. Unfortunately, the investigations and the interrogation of the victims amount to a second rape. The pressure is extreme and the investigators go into intimate anatomical details. One woman complained that she fainted during the interrogation. These women are victims,not accused. Pollyanna cannot suppress a feeling that this is an attempt by the investigative body in the Ministry of Justice, which includes police officers, to protect their colleagues who are under a cloud at the moment. It implies the norms of the Mafia, as we have seen with our "most moral in the world" army, as well.
ESA’s Planck space telescope has much to tell us about the universe in which we live.
|Planck sees the microwave background|
Planck was launched on 14 May 2009, and the minimum requirement for success was for the spacecraft to complete two whole surveys of the sky. In the end, Planck worked perfectly for 30 months, about twice the span originally required, and completed five full-sky surveys with both instruments. Able to work at slightly higher temperatures than HFI, the Low Frequency Instrument (LFI) continued to survey the sky for a large part of 2013, providing even more data to improve the Planck final results.
Planck was turned off on 23 October 2013. The high-quality data the mission has produced will continue to be scientifically explored in the years to come. Now ESA has given us a new interface for Planck data and a summary of the findings up to now. They include the result that gravitational waves are still elusive, information about the magnetic field structure in the Rosette Nebula, studies in galactic structure and much more. While much of the standard cosmology has been confirmed, there are discrepancies that will necessitate more modeling and rethinking, which is great because that is how science works.
MATTER OVER ANTIMATTER
Credit: NASA[Click to enlarge image
Have you ever wondered why the universe is primarily made up of matter and not antimatter? Pollyanna certainly has lost much sleep over the question. At the time of the Big Bang equal amounts of each kind of matter were produced and should have annihilated one another totally. Nonetheless, here we are and here is our universe. Recent work by physicists at UCLA and the University of Minnesota claims to provide an answer on the basis of the behavior of the Higgs boson and the Higgs field associated with it in the early universe. It is an intriguing idea says Pollyanna.
What If? asks What would happen if all of the rivers in the US were instantly frozen in the middle of the summer?
Zoe Cutler: The answer is around as bad as it gets. Please, Zoe, do not freeze the rivers.
Pollyanna is pleased to share with you some of her knowledge of fundamental physics:
Physicist also talk a lot abut the vacuum and the great zero point energy:
She also thanks Randall for giving us the speeches that, to our great good fortune, were never given:
Technology is great, but sometimes, if you try to combine voice recognition software with GPS: