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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 22, 2017 1:09 pm 
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DogRunner wrote:
I agree with TillerBee. But I also want to know how Henry comes up with his daily fact ideas. I've noticed some of them are date driven, but others are so "what made him think about that today". Thanks Henry.



My pleasure, DR.

I have a number of sites that inspire these daily facts ... and you're right, sometimes I have a senior moment when things just pop into my head.

I typically just use the text from these sites, but I sometimes add or delete some things depending on my vetting of the "facts". The rest is up to Google and their images.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 23, 2017 8:44 am 
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Is Reaching Out To Alien Life Really A Good Idea?

It's a question that's bothered scientists and writers alike for centuries: are we alone in the universe? For most of human history, it's been a matter of idle speculation. But now, our broadcast technology has advanced to the point that one of those alien civilizations, if they're out there, could eventually hear us. Do we want them to, though? According to some experts (Stephen Hawking, for one), the answer might be "no."

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It's practically a must-have scene in any alien invasion story these days. The UFOs descend, and their passengers already know everything there is to know about the Fonz, Bart Simpson, and Katy Perry's new album.

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After all, they've been listening to our TV and radio waves for years. But listening in on Earth isn't really that easy — and anyway, it raises the question of why we haven't found the billion-year-old broadcasts of alien sitcoms.

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TV signals aren't nearly strong enough to remain clear at such vast distances. Instead, to communicate with aliens we'll need to make a concerted effort to broadcast such a signal out into space. Therefore, any extraterrestrial messages that we eventually pick up would almost certainly have been sent on purpose as well.

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Actually, Stephen Hawking is working on finding exactly those signals. Breakthrough Listen is a part of the larger Breakthrough Initiative, which is being funded by the esteemed theoretical physicist and Digital Sky founder Yuri Milner. Its mission? To search the skies for suspicious signals that might indicate advanced civilizations. And they've already got a couple hundred targets.

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Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking

In 2016, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (aka SDSS) identified strange frequencies coming off of 234 stars that, according to some scientists, are a sure sign of somebody reaching out. Don't get too excited, though. Those abnormalities may just be a result of human error, or interference from space junk. It's way too early to say that these are aliens. But it's definitely not too early to put the planet's most notable astrophysicist on the case, so that's exactly what Breakthrough Listen is doing.

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The Breakthrough Initiative isn't just listening, however. Breakthrough Watch is keeping its eyes open for rocky, Earth-like planets that might support life. Breakthrough Starshot is trying to develop a proof-of-concept model for a starship that could get us there. And Breakthrough Message is offering a million-dollar prize to anyone who can come up with a message to represent the planet Earth (and be comprehensible to extraterrestrials). But if we develop such a message, should we really be sending it?

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The Sloan Digital Sky Survey's map of the Universe, with each dot as a galaxy.

If something's out there, we definitely want to know about it. The question is, do we want it to know about us? That depends on how optimistic you are about its intentions.

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When the Breakthrough Listen Project launched in 2015, Hawking had this to say: "A civilization reading one of our messages could be billions of years ahead of us. If so they will be vastly more powerful and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria." Not exactly somebody you'd want to lay out a welcome mat for.

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Of course, his is only one opinion (Carl Sagan and his Golden Record would certainly disagree), but even if we wanted to talk to our interstellar neighbors, we've got to figure out how. While some favor the universal language of math, astronomer Seth Shostak from SETI thinks the answer is linguistic brute force.

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Carl Sagan and his golden record

Basically, hit them with every communication we've got, from math to art to plain old English — in hopes that something sticks. Hopefully we won't insult them, though...you know what? Maybe Stephen Hawking has the right idea after all.

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SETI’s Seth Shostak

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 23, 2017 4:37 pm 
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Apropos of absolutely nothing, but it goes to show how my mind works: I've often wondered if the trail that wends its way through Bear Creek Lake Park is called "Bear Creek Lake Park Trail".

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 24, 2017 8:43 am 
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How Did “Wrongway” Corrigan Get His Name?

On July 18, 1938, an American pilot named Douglas Corrigan took off from Floyd Bennett field in New York on a flight that was supposed to take him to Los Angeles, California.

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Douglas Corrigan

Twenty-eight hours later, Corrigan landed his plane in Dublin, Ireland, stepped out of his plane, and exclaimed, “Just got in from New York. Where am I?” He claimed that he lost his direction in the clouds and that his compass had malfunctioned.

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The authorities didn’t buy the story and suspended his license, but Corrigan stuck to it to the amusement of the public on both sides of the Atlantic. By the time “Wrong Way” Corrigan and his crated plane returned to New York by ship, his license suspension had been lifted, he was a national celebrity, and a mob of autograph seekers met him on the gangway.

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Corrigan’s Curtiss Robin aircraft nick-named “Sunshine”

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 25, 2017 8:39 am 
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How Many Cars Were There In The Longest U.S. Railroad Train?

Have you ever stopped to count the number of cars in a passing railroad train? If the train was a very long freight train, you may have counted more than 100 cars.

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But you would have to count for a long time to reach the number the cars in the longest U.S. railroad train of all time. This train consisted of 500 coal cars and 6 engines, three pulling and three pushing, and traveled more than 150 miles in West Virginia in 1967. The train was about four miles long and probably weighed more than 90 million pounds!

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If you were waiting at a railroad crossing while this train passed, you’d have plenty of time to count the cars. For if the train traveled by you at a speed of 12 miles per hour, it would take about 20 minutes to pass by!

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The world’s longest rail line is the Trans-Siberian Railroad, in the Soviet Union, which stretches over 5,864 miles from Moscow to the Pacific Ocean, and takes more than eight days to travel!

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 25, 2017 9:38 pm 
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keg wrote:
Apropos of absolutely nothing, but it goes to show how my mind works: I've often wondered if the trail that wends its way through Bear Creek Lake Park is called "Bear Creek Lake Park Trail".


i love it. often wondered why all these nouns-turned-adjectives were retained in naming the site. i think the trail signage should hence be called "Bear Creek Lake Park Trail Marker", or some such asinine continuance of the ridiculous.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 25, 2017 9:50 pm 
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when i still lived in littleton, i often counted coal train cars while waiting at the lite rail station. longest i can remember is 124 cars. once in wyoming (can't remember where) i got up to 146, but by then i had lost all confidence in my count and abandoned it. i cannot imagine a 500-car counting session!

the trans-siberian railway sounds like an awesome bucket list addition, if someone were so inclined. should include some beautiful scenery and very different cultures, if one had the time and political means to stopover a few nites.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 26, 2017 8:38 am 
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What Is The Longest River In The World?

At 4,180 miles (6,688 kilometers) long, the ancient and famous Nile River in Africa can lay claim to the title of longest river.

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The Nile flows from Lake Victoria, on the equator, and twists and turns (an indication of its old age) to its mouth, or outlet, on the Mediterranean Sea.

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Some experts claim that the Amazon River in South America is actually longer than the Nile. The difference of opinion stems from how the river’s distance is measured. If you take into account all the interconnecting tributaries, or side rivers, the Amazon is the longest.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 27, 2017 8:42 am 
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NASA Wants To Send Your Name To Mars

The hottest deep-space destination of the moment is undoubtedly Mars. We're counting down the days until humans set foot on the Red Planet, but that date may not exactly be right around the corner. Fear not, Mars lovers; NASA has another option for getting people to Martian soil much quicker. But I’m not talking about astronauts — I’m lookin' at you.

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In 2014, NASA premiered its Frequent Flyer program. Now, it's not quite what it sounds like; the space agency isn't giving out free miles for rocket travel like some credit card perk. For the program's kick-off, NASA put out a call to the public to submit their names. They then compiled the list of names to etch onto a tiny microchip that hitched a ride on the Orion spacecraft test flight. About 1.3 million names rode up with Orion, the vehicle that will eventually take humans back into deep space. Quite the class of astronauts!

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Orion Spacecraft

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Microchip

Those who entered their email address automatically signed up for frequent flyer miles, which means that NASA will shoot them an email when another opportunity to put their name in space comes along. After submitting your name and email address, you'll also receive a mock boarding pass that you can share around social media. Trust me when I say it's super cute.

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Boarding Pass


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Frequent Flyer Program

FOMO (fear of missing out), right? Though you missed your chance to get on board the first test of Orion, there are more chances to get up into space without leaving your couch. NASA plans to send the InSight lander to Mars in 2018, but not without two microchips full of symbolic passengers. You still have time to jump aboard!

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InSight Lander

NASA is accepting names until November 1, 2017 for the 2018 launch. Click here to include your name on this mission. But hurry … you only have until November 1 (about 5 days away).

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Microchip for the InSight Lander

Unlike the Orion test flight, InSight is actually going to break ground on Mars. That's right — we're all going to Mars, ya'll! But remember, this ain't no vacation. We've got science to do. According to NASA, "InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is a NASA Discovery Program mission that will place a single geophysical lander on Mars to study its deep interior." InSight is on a mission to answer one of science's most fundamental questions: How did the terrestrial planets form?

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InSight Lander in assembly building

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InSight Lander on the job

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 27, 2017 12:47 pm 
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too cool. i've got a boarding pass! ;-) i'm surprised they aren't asking for $1 - think of the millions of DOLLARS they'd b raking in!!


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 28, 2017 8:30 am 
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mtnhsmama wrote:
too cool. i've got a boarding pass! ;-) i'm surprised they aren't asking for $1 - think of the millions of DOLLARS they'd b raking in!!


I'm wondering if in fact they could ask for $1, being a government agency and all. 8O

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Last edited by Henry on Oct 28, 2017 9:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Facts
Post Posted: Oct 28, 2017 8:35 am 
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Light Pillars Are An Alien Illusion Made By Ice

What do you think when you see a pillar of light? If you've grown up on a diet of sci-fi films, you probably think there's an alien abduction in progress. It turns out that pillars of light actually happen in nature, though they wouldn't happen without mankind's influence.

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Light pillars sure look like a beam of light shooting from a single source on the ground, but they're not — it's just an illusion. They happen in frigid conditions when icy clouds hover close to the Earth's surface, at a height of a few thousand feet or fewer. The clouds contain millions of ice crystals, each one a flat hexagon floating horizontally in the air like a multitude of microscopic mirrors. That's exactly how they behave: like mirrors, each one bouncing light from the ground off of its surface and into your eyes.

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Of course, the clouds aren't shaped like columns. So why is that what you see? The surface of every ice crystal is generally pointing in the same direction, so they're all reflecting light at roughly the same angle. If the ice crystals are too far away, that angle makes the light go past you; too close, and it comes up short. The column you see is the portion of the ice crystals that are at the exact right distance to reflect light into your eyes.

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Of course, that leaves us with a question: where does the light come from? That's where this phenomenon stops being so natural. As physicist Les Cowley told the New York Times, "Although they look pretty, they're also a sign that someone, somewhere could do better with their lighting. You might call them light pollution pillars if you wanted to be environmental about it."

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Light pollution may not sound like a big deal, but it can affect the environment and society in surprising ways, such as by disrupting animal migratory patterns and even increasing crime rates.

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