Friday, June 29, 2012

Anaerobic Waters are found Worldwide

Anaerobic waters can be either salt or fresh that are suffering from a depletion of oxygen.  An example of a salt water body that suffers from depleted oxygen is the Black Sea.  The lower levels of this sea cannot support life except for some anaerobic bacteria, a form of bacteria that doesn’t need oxygen to support its life functions.

Generally, the bottom of anorexic waters have a depleted oxygen level, and an elevated level of hydrogen sulfide that is generated by the decay of organic matter that settles to the bottom of a body of anaerobic water.  This is usually the bottom layers of a closed body of water such as a lake or an arm of the sea that is isolated from the oceans in general with the anaerobic waters settling to the bottom. 

Anaerobic water is not limited to large bodies of water it can occur anywhere there is a body of water that is receiving an over supply of organic matter, or other oxygen depleting chemicals.  These are usually nitrates and phosphates that act as nutrients in the water.  It is a bloom of lifeforms feeding on these nutrients that by dying and decaying cause the water to become anaerobic

One of the places that this is apt to happen is in a sewer, or septic tank.  The anaerobic bacteria that are found in such places generate copious quantities of hydrogen sulfide that causes the stink that are associated with such places.  The lifeforms found in such waters get their nourishment mainly from sulfur bearing compounds.  Under the same conditions the sulfur bearing compounds combine with dissolved iron in the water forming pyrite that is iron sulfide.

One of the families of anaerobic bacteria is the botulism bacteria that are one of the deadliest diseases to afflict mankind.  This forms under conditions of depriving a source of nutrient of a supply dissolved oxygen, such as in canned goods that are improperly canned allowing the contents of the can to decay in an anaerobic condition fostering the growth of the botulism bacteria. 

This bacteria is present as spores on many foodstuffs that are canned, the most common cause of botulism poisoning is found in canned goods that weren’t brought to a high enough heat to kill the botulism spores. 

Anaerobic bacteria also perform another function producing both carbon dioxide and methane.  Usually this vents to the open air, but both of these gases are greenhouse gases.  The buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is blamed for global warming, but methane is an even stronger green house gas. 

Methane is also “natural gas” that has a multitude of uses in the modern world.  Many of us cook our meals or heat our homes on natural gas.  The same natural gas also is used by many power generating companies to produce electricity.  When it is burned it does produce carbon dioxide, but not in such great quantities as coal or oil. 

Many people take advantage of this methane production to power or heat many different devices.  One example of this is the collection of methane production to operate modified diesel engines that power equipment around a waste water facility.  Other uses for it are found around dairy farms and commercial feedlots that are equipped with special methane generators that digest the cow manure to produce methane that is used as a fuel.

Acid Rain an Environmental Scourge:

An acid rain damaged gargoyle
Photo by Nino Barbieri  

Acid rain is rain or any other form of precipitation that is unusually high in acid content from natural or demographic sources.  It is produced by burning sulfur containing fuel such as coal or petroleum or by nitrogen combining with oxygen during the process of combustion.  An associated source of acid rain can be found in the minerals found in the fuel.  This takes the form of toxic minerals of which many can be found in nature.  Acid rain is also produced from many different sources.  Volcanic activity is one of the many sources, so is ocean spray.  It is particularly damaging to animals, vegetation and buildings.  In the later 20th century many governments have taken steps to alleviate the problem by enacting laws to reduce these emissions.  The term acid rain has entered the popular language as any type of water particle carrying airborne acid.  A closely allied problem is the depositation of trace elements into the air from trace elements contained in the natural and demographic sources. 

Acid rain is a manifestation of a larger problem air pollution that becomes excessive in areas suffering from poor atmospheric circulation as the Los Angeles Basin.  Here a combination of a high range of mountains encircling Los Angeles allows stagnate air to accumulate over Los Angeles allowing the air to become heavily polluted.  Although draconian measures have been taken over the past half century air pollution is still a major problem.  The unfortunate for the residents of the city a good share of the air pollution is from the burning of fuel by those same residents.

As can be seen on Figure 1 the heaviest concentration of acid rain is in the northeastern part of the country and adjoining Canada.  Much of this is acid rain caused by the combustion of coal in coal fired electric generating plants located in the north central part of the country along the lower Great Lakes and east to the Atlantic Ocean.

Since the start of the industrial revolution in the 1700s acid rain has increased due to the emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere.  Although acid rain was discovered in 1852 it wasn’t until the 1960s that scientists started to investigate the problem.  The name “Acid Rain” dates from 1972 when the Canadian Scientist Harold Harvey was one of the first scientists to study a “dead lake.”   The New York Times made the public aware of the problem through reports about the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire outlining the numerous deleterious effects on the forest as a result of Acid Rain.

Acid rain is measured by taking a series of samples throughout the suspected affected area and measuring their pH.  Neutral or distilled water has a pH of 7 anything below that level is acidic; anything above pH7 is alkaline.  By measuring a series of samples over a wide area then comparing the results a map of the affected area can be generated.  This map will help scientists to trace their way back to the source much as a prospector traces a placer gold deposit back to its source as a lode deposit.

The reason why there is such a concentration of acid rain in the Northeast is because caused by the concentration of cities, and the heavy industrialization of the Midwest and the Northeast.  Coal fired power plants located in the Midwest are blamed for much of this pollution.  This is combined with the prevailing soil and bedrock in the Northeast being unable to generate enough dust to neutralize the acid rain.  The reason the Northeast receives so much acid rain from the Midwest is because of the prevailing
Westerly winds.   

There is no easy solution to this problem except to try to discover methods to decrease pollutants in the atmosphere.  To address this problem there have been concerted efforts by both government and private institutions. 


Acid Rain, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,

What is Acid Rain, USGS,

Manahan, Stanley E., Environmental Chemistry Fourth Edition, © Lewis Publishers, 1990, Pages, 9, 10, 48, 286, 327, 336, 427, 486

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How the Universe was Formed

The origin of the Universe
Author Fredrick

Most people would not consider the formation of the Universe as a part of geology but it is.  In order to make sense of geology one has to know where it all came from; hence the formation of the Universe. 

The closer you get to the beginning it seems that the closer you get to God.  The first book of genesis in the bible gives as good of an explanation as any of the scientists have been able to conjure.  It simply says, “Let there be light,” and that was what happened.  Scientists that deal in such matters are called “Cosmologists,” the amazing thing is that the same name is applied to theologians studying the same thing.  The “Big Bang” is the common name applied to the beginning of the Universe; it is also called the “Singularity” by some scientists.

One thing that is certain is that all the matter in the Universe came from this one event, but not in a form that we would recognize.  Our curiosity has driven us to question the beginning of the universe?  Where did the matter come from?  How old is the universe?  How did it get created?  Even modern science has not been able to answer these questions, and a good deal of what we know is pure speculation.  Modern science is not able to add firm answers to these questions bringing in them beyond the realm of hypothesis.

Of course for any question that is answered the answer generates a plethora of new questions.  Of these questions one of the most vexing is, “how many universes are there?”  We do know that our universe is finite in size, so what occupies the rest of the Cosmos?  One of the theories that has been put forth is that our universe is only one of an infinite number of universes.  If there are parallel universes do we exist on them also?  If we exist on these parallel universes is it possible for us to go from one universe to another?  And even more vexing question is if we do need to exist in parallel universes are we the same person?  Does this explain the paranormal existence of the doppelgangers, our spiritual doubles?  As a matter of fact it actually brings up the question is there a God?

For scientists that for the most part are believers in God this is probably the most vexing question of all.  This brings forth the question, “Where did this all come from?”

Laymen look upon this as some sort of vast explosion, but it really isn’t.  The beginning of the universe really happened more like someone inflating a balloon that has been expanding ever since.  Although genesis says, “Let there be light,” for the first hundred million years or so of the universe’s history there was no visible light.  It wasn’t until the first proto-galaxies appeared that light may have become part of the universe.  

According to NASA the universe was born 13.7 billion years ago.  It was about 300,000 years later that hydrogen atoms were able to capture electrons forming the first atoms.  Six hundred million years after the Big Bang the first galaxies were formed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Thirteen Thousand Years ago Fragments of a Comet could have collided with Earth

Woolly Mammoth
By Tracy O

It is been postulated that the earth was barraged by a cloud of debris from a disintegrating comet 13,000 years ago. The degree of fragments raining down on the earth could have resulted in a series of mega ton explosions similar to the Tunguska event of 1908 in Siberia. Instead of this 4 km in diameter comet instead of striking a single blow in the ice sheet covering North America could have broken up into smaller fragments that had the effect of a shotgun blast on the surface of the earth.

By that time the earth was pretty well populated with humans and an event of this sort would have been handed down word-of-mouth for thousands of years later. This may be another explanation for some of the events that occurred in the Bible. One of the effects would be mega-tsunamis that could very well explain the legends of floods that are found all over the world.

The breaking up of this comet would've resulted in a series of fiery blasts that would have been as deadly as one big impact. It may be one explanation for the demise of the North American mega-fauna. The impacts could have also caused the deaths of many other animals including humans. There have been frozen mammoths found in Siberia that still have fresh butter cups in their mouth. Their deaths have been a mystery ever since discovering the first frozen woolly mammoth as to why they had fresh vegetation in their mouths. It appeared that they had all been killed instantly.

A possible explanation could be that the impact of a giant meteorite could cause shockwaves that are manifested by high velocity winds striking all at once that would have been able to kill everything they struck.

The proposal for this happening comes from Bill Napier, an astronomer who works at Cardiff University in England. In 1982 Napier along with Victor Clube co-authored a book that is titled The Cosmic Serpent. In this book they suggest that the outer planets sometimes divert giant comets from their orbits allowing them to penetrate the inner solar system. They propose that one of these giant comets had entered the solar system 20,000 to 30,000 years ago that over thousands of years the giant comet broke up into a series of fragments.

They developed a new theory based on this theoretical comet known as the theory of constant catastrophism where they claim we are living in a time of increased meteor impacts. The theoretical comet left behind it the Taurid meteor shower along with the comet Encke and a whole collection of other debris's.

In a new paper on display at that is to appear shortly in the monthly notices of the Royal astronomical Society in London. In this paper Napier explains that the real catastrophe was the Earth hitting a clump of debris that came from a comet that was 50 to 100 km in diameter.

It has been theorized that running into thousands of fragments from this comet would've been just like running into the blast from a shotgun. It is felt by Napier that this is more likely to have happened than a single large collision.

Even if this didn't happen 13,000 years ago there was a different kind of catastrophe that did occur than with the sudden drainage of a huge lake in Canada holding meltwater at the edge of the North American ice sheet. This lake at a cumulated as the glacier melted because it didn't have any place else to go. Whatever held this lake in place eventually broke down or melted causing a tremendous flood.

For years geologists have looked in vain for evidence that this flood went down the St. Lawrence River Valley. A recent paper however shows that some 9500 km³ of water drained out through the Mackenzie River instead. Wallace Broeckner of the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades New York suggests that an Arctic release of this nature might have been an even better trigger for initiating the cold spell that happened over 13,000 years ago.


Did an Exploding Comet cause Extinctions 13,000 Years Ago, Fraser Cain, Universe Today

Did a Comet Swarm Strike America 13,000 Years Ago, Jeff Hecht,
New Scientist,

Mega-flood Triggered Cooling 13,000 Years Ago, Reuters,

What makes Rubies Red

An uncut ruby crystal on a limestone matrix
Photo by Rob Lavinsky

Why rubies are red is a question that many people ask themselves when they see this beautiful gemstone that is a member of the larger family of gemstones that are termed corundum that are naturally occurring crystals of aluminum oxide. Pure corundum itself is colorless, but the interjection of those specific metallic ions as an impurity is what gives all these gems their color. It is a specific type of impurity chromium ions that are found replacing some of the aluminum ions in the ruby crystal creating the red color. Other members of the corundum family are also colored by the same mechanism only with different ions, or combinations of ions replacing the aluminum.

In the case of rubies the color you see, red, is because all the rest of the colors of the rainbow are absorbed within the crystal structure allowing you to see only red. The entire range of colors that is seen in the family of corundum gemstones is also based on the same mechanism of absorbation caused by different metallic ions that have different levels of energy. The ruby actually has two large absorption bands one of which transmits blue, and the other transmits red.  These bands are 480 nm in blue and 610 nm in red because the 610 nm is more highly energetic and the light coming from the 480 nm scale. In effect the red light coming from the gem blanks out the blue light.

A cut ruby with inclusions
Photo by Humanfeather

The amount of chrome that replaces the aluminum ions in the crystal lattice determines the density of the red that is going to appear; the more chromium there is the deeper the red color will be.

Geologically it takes a special set of circumstances to produce corundum, and especially the variety that we call Ruby. The best rubies in the world are produced in the Mogok Valley of Myanmar. Other rubies are also found in Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Africa and in the Cowee River Valley outside Franklin, North Carolina.

The finest color for Ruby is what they call pigeon blood red that is a deep red with almost bluish flashes when moved around in the daylight. Rubies also fluoresce under ultraviolet light source, and in some specimens it is even possible to see they also fluoresce under the influence of sunlight.

A red version of this star sapphire would be a star ruby
Photo by Ligar

A large ruby gem weighing more than 10 carats is the most expensive gemstone on earth being higher-priced than the finest diamonds. Large masses of imperfect ruby crystals are used extensively for carving. Many of the rubies that are on the market have been heat-treated to remove the needles of titanium dioxide that causes them to become cloudy; insert cases however the same needles of rutile produce a star effect called asterism that causes a star to appear on the face of a cabochon cut stone. Some of the stones can be almost as valuable as a regular faceted gem.

Planting in a Flower Pot

Flower pots waiting to be used
Photo by Rod Allday

When it comes to planting in a flower pot most people don't have the slightest clue about what they are doing; they just fill the pot with potting soil. This works after a fashion, but there are right ways to do everything. The purpose of this article is to tell you the right way of how to plant in a flower pot.

You started the bottom warbles flowerpots have a small hole to allow for drainage. Cover the small hole with a piece of broken flowerpot, or the plastic lid from a bottle that has a series of holes cut in its bottom that will also promote drainage. This lid is placed upside down on the bottom of the pot so that it covers the hole completely.

Once the lid is a place cover the bottle cap completely with three-quarter inch gravel or crushed stone. On top of this layer continue with about an inch of 3/8 crushed stone. When this layer is in place add another inch of clean sand. On top of the sand place a layer of peat, or you can substitute by using a thin layer of crumpled up facial tissues.

The purpose of the facial tissue or peat is to retain some moisture in the pot without the plants becoming waterlogged.

Fill rest of the pot with a good potting soil of your choice or one that you make yourself. Many potting soils are formulated with a particular type of plant in mind. Be sure you match the potting soil with the planet type you are going to have in the flowerpot.

These measurements can be adjusted to take into consideration different sized flowerpots it is obvious that you wouldn't want to use the same set of measurements on the flowerpot that is 3 inches by on one of his 2 feet high.

When you are planting in a pot you can use either seeds, or seedlings. You should match the size of the plant to the size of the pot even though you are starting from seed. Sometimes you can use several seeds per pot; at other times you may be using bulbs instead. As a general rule depending on the size of the grown plant bulbs may be either planted singly as in the case of the amaryllis or in small groups as is the case of the daffodil or iris. 

How to Plant Seeds Indoors:

Kiwi fruit seeds
Photo by Frank Vincentz

How to plant seeds indoors depends strictly on what you're going to do with the plants once they come up.  The first thing that you should do though is find a sunny window in your house and that is where you ultimately will put the seeds once you've planted them in a seedbed.

If you are intending the plants to be transplanted outdoors it is usually enough to sow the seeds in the large flowerpot with planting soil.  Indoor plants are usually planted one seed at a time in a small flowerpot

For seeds it then planted in a large flowerpot as a seedbed once the plants are up and about an inch tall you can transplanted into a tray capable of having several different recesses made of plastic.  In some cases as many as six plants are placed in a single recess in the planting flat.  Other plants are placed one other time in small flowerpots.

In all cases the seedlings are initially transplanted into potting soil that has been fertilized usually with a product called Rapid Grow or a similar product. Allow the plants to grow in the growing flats until they are about 4 to 5 inches tall when they can then be transplanted into your regular garden.

No matter what else you do you have to start with clean containers to plant your seats in.  You must also provide an adequate amount of light for this can begin by setting your planters on a windowsill where they get natural sunlight.  It is often necessary to supplement this light with a so-called growing bulb that mimics the light of the sun.  With one of these lights it is often necessary to leave the seedlings under the light for 10 to 12 hours a day.  Keep in mind that as your seedlings grow they are going to require new Pots told them, or have to be planted outdoors.

There is such a wide variety of seats available on the market that is often difficult to make a choice of what you want to grow.  Too often the amateur gardener must've tried them all and quickly finds out that there is enough room in his house for them.

Another difficult thing to determine is when is the latest frost date in your area, and you want to start the seeds so that they will be ready to be transplanted after the last frost.  A very handy way of getting the right time is to mark down the date of the last frost on the calendar and plan accordingly by using the calendar as a guide.

A handy way to handle small seedlings is to make yourself an improvised trowel from a pen nib that is stuck into holder with the pointed end up solo was sticking out of the pen holder looks like a miniature trowel.  This is a technique the author became familiar with from operators of commercial greenhouses.

If you find that after a few days after coming up your plants are infested with some kind of pest act quickly because there are no natural predators for these pests indoors.  Aphids and mealy bugs are the most likely to attack your plants in an indoor setting although fungus another plant diseases are also possible.  A pest can go through a tray of seedlings very quickly and even spread to your normal indoor plants.