Penumbral eclipse of moon

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 Penumbral eclipse
Penumbral eclipse of the moon, 2:40 a. m., November 30, 2002.

There was a penumbral eclipse of the moon last night. During a penumbral eclipse, the moon enters the penumbra of the Earth’s shadow, rather than the umbra, or the deep shadow. Unless I am mistaken, if you were in the penumbra, on the moon, you would see a partial eclipse of the sun. At any rate, the penumbral eclipse was supposed to last from 12:32 a. m. to 4:53 and peak at 2:42, Mountain Standard Time, this morning. I went out with my trusty digital camera and a 210-millimeter lens at about 12:30 and 1:30, but I could see nothing, and the photographs revealed nothing. At 2:40, however, I exposed the photograph above. Although I adjusted the exposure using Affinity software, the image is not doctored in any way. You can see a darkening of the limb in the upper-right corner. Once I saw the photograph in the camera, I could see the limb darkening with the naked eye, but evidently my retina was overexposed slightly, because I had to squint to see it. Given my lack of success at 1:30, I forwent the opportunity to take a picture at 3:30 and retired.

I had the good fortune to see a total eclipse of the sun and a total eclipse of the moon not very long ago. Unfortunately, the penumbral eclipse, though mildly interesting in principle, could not hold a candle to either of those.

What are the most important misconceptions about evolution?

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Street art from Teheran, 2007. Photo by Paul Keller

Misconceptions about evolution abound, but rather too little is said about them. I’d like to open a discussion here, in the comments. In the slightly longer run, we could have a series of articles about them; I’d be happy to post these on behalf of their authors. But first, it would help to have a discussion of what are the most important, and most misleading, misconceptions about evolution.

Another good source of information on this is the Talk Origins Archive which has quite a few excellent articles. The most widely-cited is probably Doug Theobald’s outstanding “29+ Evidences of Macroevolution”. Without detracting from the great service that the TOA is providing, it has been less actively updated lately. So having some more discussions here seems like a good idea. Perhaps we can compile a master list of misconceptions. Let’s discuss.

Counterexample to Mark Champneys’ argument about natural selection: more technical details

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This post will supply some more technical details of my counterexample to Mark Champneys’ arguments that approach of physical and biological systems to equilibrium prevents natural selection from being effective. The counterexample is explained in my previous post. Below I provide the relevant equations and some simulation results showing what the effect of genetic drift will be. To avoid taking up too much space on the site’s front page, I will put most of that content “below the fold” …

Less than optimistic view of Pfizer vaccine

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I heard an interview with Laurie Garrett last night on Democracy Now. Ms. Garrett, a distinguished science journalist and the author of the apparently prescient 1995 book, The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World out of Balance, is not quite as optimistic as the stock market regarding Pfizer’s recent announcement of a potentially successful coronavirus vaccine. So I looked up Ms. Garrett’s recent article in Foreign Policy magazine.

Ms. Garrett seems generally pessimistic, because cases are surging, the United States has roughly one-fifth of known cases worldwide, and possibly one-third (!) of the population will probably refuse a vaccine, once one is available. Though optimistic that President-Elect Biden has appointed a Covid task force, she also notes that the present lame-duck administration will be in charge for more than two months and the presidential scientific advisor, Scott Atlas, advocates “what amounts to a do-nothing approach to Covid-19 control” (as we noted here). Ms. Garrett foresees a “mass exodus” of health officials from the government this fall.

What about the vaccine? Ms. Garrett says,