Mapping the Mountains of Antarctica

Antarctica (CIA World Factbook)

Just over 50 years ago during the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58, Russian scientists exploring Antarctica were astounded to discover that hundreds of yards below the heart of the continent, deeply buried beneath the ice, lay an extraordinary range of mountains — the Gamburtsev Range.

Hidden from view, locked in ice, the Gamburtsevs were a daunting challenge to understand. But now, an international team has invested two months of detailed study in the enigmatic peaks. The preliminary results of their endeavors are reported by the BBC News in Data to Expose ‘Ghost Mountains’.

We now know that the Gamburtsevs are not, as previously supposed, a concentrated cluster of mountains, but rather a linear chain like the Andes or the Appalachians, and not raised by volcanic action like the Hawaiian chain, but created by the tectonic clash of two crustal plates. As the wealth of data is analyzed over the coming months, yet more intriguing truths are certain to emerge.

Antarctic Bedrock Topography (Paul V. Heinrich)

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Published in: on December 24, 2009 at 8:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Secrets of the Universe

Barnes & Noble Review offers a wonderful and very positive review by A.C. Grayling of Paul Murdin’s new book Secrets of the Universe: How We Discovered the Cosmos, which he characterizes as a “large-format, lavishly pictorial book [which] introduces the skies through the history of their exploration, but — as noted — always with an eye to telling and luminous detail.”

Read the review and you’ll want to read the book.

Published in: on December 24, 2009 at 12:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Kay Brooks Wins Quilt

Each and every year our library quilters donate a unique and special creation to the library. The Friends of the Library then conduct a drawing, and the winner is announced at the conclusion of our annual Open House.

This year’s winner: Kay Brooks — long an active Friend of the Library. Congratulations, Kay!

Published in: on December 23, 2009 at 6:07 pm  Comments (1)  

Top 10 Science Stories, 2009 #2

The BBC News reports on Science journal’s top scientific breakthroughs of 2009 in Human-like Fossil Find is Breakthrough of the Year. Ardipithecus takes the honors, followed by the Fermi Space Telescope identification of new pulsars, magnetic monopoles and the Hubble Space Telescope’s final repair mission, among others.

Published in: on December 23, 2009 at 5:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Top 10 Science Stories, 2009 #1

From the restart of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN through the 4.4 million-year-old fossil Ardipithecus to epigenetics and the LCROSS mission, here is Scientific American’s take on the Top 10 Science Stories of 2009.

Published in: on December 23, 2009 at 5:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Voyagers: Interstellar Discovery

Launched just over 32 years ago, space probes Voyager 1 and 2 continue to expand our knowledge of the solar system and its surrounding medium. Most recently, scientists have used data collected by the two probes to solve a longstanding mystery: the passage of the solar system through a vast interstellar dust cloud 30 light years wide that should not, it was thought, exist. Now we know why it does. (A strong magnetic field sustains the cloud despite the pressure of million-degree gases expelled by the explosion of a cluster of supernovas some 10 million years ago.)

For several interesting sidelights to this story, see this item on the interstellar cloud.

Published in: on December 23, 2009 at 3:43 pm  Comments (1)  

. . . and Continues . . .

Published in: on December 23, 2009 at 2:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Open House Continues . . .

Published in: on December 23, 2009 at 12:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

County Compensation By Industry, 2008

The Bureau of Economic Analysis has released its study of County Compensation by Industry for 2008. They conclude that “compensation grew in over 80 percent of the 3,112 counties in the U.S., as the average annual compensation per job in the U.S. grew by 2.6 percent . . . . Total compensation of U.S. workers grew 2.3 percent in 2008, as net job losses partially offset compensation growth. Inflation measured by the national price index for personal consumption expenditures, grew 3.3 percent.”

Two Kansas counties, Johnson and Sedgwick, appear on the BEA list of 168 most populous counties. For Sedgwick, total compensation reached $14,643,000,000 in 2008, an increase of 3.9 percent from 2007. The average compensation per job in Sedgwick County in 2008 was $52,518.

Published in: on December 23, 2009 at 11:58 am  Comments (1)  

Open House Begins

Published in: on December 23, 2009 at 10:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Housing Affordability Worsens

The Center for Housing Policy has released a 12-page summary report on Housing Affordability Trends for Working Households: Affordability Worsens Despite Decline in Home Prices.

By analyzing recently-released American Community Survey data from 2008, the report concludes that “a close look at the data shows that rather than improving, housing affordability actually worsened slightly between 2005 and 2008. The share of U.S. households spending more than half of their monthly income for housing (including utilities) increased from 14 percent in 2005 to 15 percent in 2008. The same pattern held for the working households that are the principal subject of this report; the share of working households spending more than half their income on housing increased from 20 to 21 percent over the three-year period. Part of the blame for worsening housing affordability can be attributed to home utility costs – which rose by nearly 23 percent, or more than double the rate of overall inflation – but broader housing market trends during these three years also influenced owner and renter costs. As used in this report, the term ‘working households’ refers to households working 20 or more hours per week with incomes less than or equal to 120 percent of the area median.

“The increase in severe housing cost burdens for working households is due principally to increases in housing costs among homeowners (rather than renters). The share of working owners spending more than 50 percent of their income on housing costs rose from 18 percent in 2005 to 20 percent in 2008. So while housing prices have declined for those buying homes in the current market, this has not led to lower housing costs for homeowners overall, presumably because most homeowners have stayed put. Other potential explanations for the higher housing costs for owners include the increase in utility costs noted above and increases in monthly payments for households with adjustable-rate mortgages (between 21 and 26 percent of all single-family mortgages being serviced during this period). In sum, while the minority of homeowners who bought a home in the last few years may have benefited from modestly lower prices, the vast majority of U.S. households saw their mortgage payments remain the same or rise between 2005 and 2008, just as gainful employment became harder to find.”

Published in: on December 22, 2009 at 9:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Open House Reminder

Remember that on Wednesday the 23rd of December, the day after tomorrow, the Haysville Community Library staff and the Friends of the Library will host the library’s traditional annual Open House from 9 AM until 5 PM.

You’re invited, along with all our friends and patrons and members of the public. Join us for refreshments of all kinds, musical entertainment, and a day of constant holiday good cheer.

The Open House is our opportunity to say thank you to our friends, and to all the citizens of Haysville, for another wonderful year. Please come celebrate with us.

Published in: on December 21, 2009 at 10:56 am  Leave a Comment