The moon orbits around the earth every 29.5 days and since our months typically have 30-31 days that leaves some leftover time (0.5-1.5 days). Eventually that adds up and we get an extra cycle in one month, and that means an extra full moon. Typically, months only get one full moon and so having two is pretty rare, happening every 2.7 years.
Hence, the phrase, “once in a blue moon,” which is a lot like saying “once in about 3 years”.
I love this stuff (orbits, planets, stars) and have been a star-gazer since I was a kid. If you are too, then you can enjoy the “blue moon” this Friday, August 31, 2012.
Yep, it’s been around three years since the last one (2.67 years to be exact, the last blue moon was on New Year’s Eve – Dec 31, 2009). I also think you should try, at whatever the cost, to say “once in a blue moon” about something. Think of something you know you won’t do or won’t happen until July 2015 (the next blue moon).
After reading a recent story about local blue whale sightings, San Diego photographer Jerry Allen shared a stunning image of a blue feeding on krill off the county’s coast at Nine Mile Bank.
He took the photo in November. “There were about 10 blue/fin whales that day. I now call it the ‘magic day,'” Allen said.
Allen said blues are very difficult to photograph. “I figure I’ll get a photo op about one time in 10 trips,” he said. “It’s also illegal to chase them, so you have to get lucky with an animal choosing to come to you.”
Harnessing the power of supercomputers and their million hours of processing power has allowed some very intriguing physics calculations to take place. One of them is the study of matter in the universe on a subatomic level.
The question, how did we arrive at a universe composed almost exclusively of matter with virtually no antimatter?
The calculation took 54 million processor hours on the IBM BlueGene/P supercomputer at the Argonne National Laboratory in the U.S.
The new research, reported in the March 30 issue of Physical Review Letters, represents an important milestone in understanding kaon decays — which are a fundamental process in physics. It is also inspiring the development of a new generation of supercomputers that will allow the next step in this research.
“It has taken several decades of theoretical developments and the arrival of very powerful supercomputers to enable physicists to control the interactions of the quarks and gluons, the constituents of the elementary particles, with sufficient precision to explore the limits of the standard model and to test new theories,” says Chris Sachrajda, Professor of Physics at the University of Southampton, one of the members of the research team publishing the new findings.
The process by which a kaon decays into two lighter particles known as pions was explored in a 1964 Nobel Prize-winning experiment. This revealed the first experimental evidence of a phenomenon known as charge-parity (CP) violation — a lack of symmetry between particles and their corresponding antiparticles that may explain why the Universe is made of matter, and not antimatter.
via Science Daily – continue reading about the next generation of supercomputers, 10-20 times more powerful…