The Philippine Astronomical Society

PROPELLING ASTRONOMY EDUCATION TOWARD THE ACHIEVEMENT OF SCIENTIFIC EXCELLENCE AMONG FILIPINOS

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Why Are Oceans Salty

Posted on May 9, 2011 at 8:21 PM Comments comments (0)

 

Why are oceans salty?                                                                by Fr. Victor Badillo

If we are in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean, there will be water all around us, but not a drop to drink.  The ocean is salty. The concentration of salt in seawater is about 35 parts per thousand.  The most common salt is sodium chloride. Why is the ocean salty?


Salt in the ocean comes from the continents.  What rain dissolves is carried in the runoff to streams and rivers to the ocean.  What are dissolved are salts.  The water leaves the ocean by evaporation but the salt cannot and remains in the ocean. The runoff from the land is slightly salty. The oceans get saltier with time.


Salts also come from below the ocean, from underwater volcanoes and from salts dissolved out from the earth’s crust.


This process can be seen in a small scale in the case of the Dead Sea.  Slightly salty water from the Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea which has no outlet.  The low input of fresh water plus the large evaporation rates make the Dead Sea saltier than the oceans. Because of its density, it is easy for men to float.


A similar process is seen in the salt making in the Philippines.  Sea water is fed to the salt bed.  When the water has evaporated, a new supply of sea water is fed, etc. until the salt maker thinks it is time to totally remove the water.  Then he just rakes in the salt crystals into containers.  They are for sale in wet markets and sought by makers of bagong and patis. I find this tastier and more nutritious than the salt from salt mines.


This can be done in regions with pronounced dry seasons, namely several months without rain.  The regions are in the western part of Luzon and Mindoro.  In the Metro Manila area, one place is Las Pinas.  The word for salt is asin. The name Pangasinan may be understood as where salt is made, pangasin an, just as we have pala isda an,or place for raising fish or isda.This has been done as a small family affair. Now there are corporations making salt. But the Philippines still has to import salt.


Not to be neglected are the roles of the sun, gravity, dust particles and cosmic rays. The sun is needed to evaporate the water that becomes rain.  In evaporation, the vapor-laden air immediately above the ocean surface is warmed and gravity makes it rise to cooler upper air where they can condense.  Still needed are dust particles to serve as nuclei for the vapor to condense on.  Serving also as nuclei are ions caused by the passage of cosmic rays. Then gravity makes the water drops fall to the ground and makes the water flow down to the ocean.

The Amazon River in Brazil contributes so much river water to the Atlantic Ocean that miles from the mouth of the river, water is still fresh and can be drunk.  The small amount of salt in the river water from the Amazon and other rivers added to the ocean continuously for centuries cumulates to the present salinity.  If a poor man patiently sets aside savings, he can rise above poverty.

 

 

Newton's Apple by Fr. Victor Badillo

Posted on April 10, 2011 at 3:47 PM Comments comments (0)

The young man had read or wrote physics books under his favorite apple tree many times before.  During the days he read, flowers blossomed attracting bees.  They came to carry off apple nectar and deposit pollen from other trees. Bees knew that there was no free nectar.

 

 

 

In time the flowers wilted to give way to fruits. One was directly above Newton’s head.  It had never fallen before.  Gravity tugged at it to no avail, not because Newton’s body was blocking the force, but because it was held in place by its stem.  Eventually the tree said, “The little fellow is now equipped with the necessities of life, but he cannot propagate our species up here.“ So it stopped nourishing the stem and gravity had its way. Cut was the umbilical cord that kept the apple from falling.

 

 

It bounced off Newton’s head and fell to the ground, some distance from the tree.  This was good, for it had a better chance of life away from the mother tree.  Better still, if picked up and eaten far away, the species would be propagated over the globe.

 

 

Another person would have looked up and reasoned,“The fruit fell.  That leaf when it dries will fall.  That branch when it rots will fall.  Anything not held up will fall.”  For Newton it was, “The fruit fell.  Therefore the moon is falling.”  He had discovered the law of universal gravitation.  Physical laws valid on earth are valid out of the earth.

 

 

 When he got home, he told his mother, “The moon is falling.”  To which she replied, “So is the sky”. Clearly Newton had his work cut up.  His intuition had to result in something measurable.   It had to predict results.

 

 

Earlier, Kepler reduced to a neat mathematical expression mountains of observations of planets.  He showed that the paths of planets were elliptical, correcting Galileo and others who thought they were circular.  He found too the relation of the distance of a planet to its period (the time it took to orbit the sun).  Knowing the period of a planet (which is easy to determine) he did not have to spend years and equipment to determine its distance.  He just had to use paper and pencil.   This was a big step.   What Kepler did was curve fitting, or summarizing data neatly, namely mathematics. But why are planetary paths elliptical and their distances from the sun calculable from their periods?

 

 

 

Newton gave the answer with his celestial mechanics.  It was because gravity makes planets fall to the sun.  He provided the physics to the mathematics of Kepler.

Celestial mechanics provide the means to determine the existence of extra solar planets, the mass of a galaxy (containing billions of stars), even the mass of the whole universe.  Newton provided the method  to weigh the universe.

 

 

 

Humbly, Newton acknowledged, “I have seen further than other men, because I stood on the shoulders of giants”.  On another occasion he said, “To myself I seem to he only like a boy, playing on the seashore, and now and then finding a smoother pebble, or a prettier shell, while the great ocean of truth lay undiscovered before me.''

 

 

It was not the shiny red color of the skin, or the delicious taste of the apple that was decisive.  All that was needed was an object that could fall, an object that had mass.  It could have been a stone, or even a McIntosh.

 

 

Adam’s apple made him lose heaven.  Newton’s apple made him conquer the heavens.

 


Geminids Meteor Shower 2010

Posted on December 16, 2010 at 12:03 PM Comments comments (1)

I was happy to see 36 meteors last night (11:15 pm of the 14th to 1:30 am of the 15th) after the disappointing overcast weather on the 13th. Three of them were fireballs, brighter than Venus and yellowish in color! 

 

Also had the pleasure of accompanying two friends who'd never seen a shower. Glad the weather cooperated.

 

Sharon Fangonon

 

Nice... nice

Posted on September 15, 2010 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (1)

I just received this text from Engr. Dacanay after they met with Andre Germain and wife Lievan at a hotel in Ermita tonight (Sept. 15) to receive Andre's donation.

 

"Got it! Such a wonderful guy. Such a nice telescope. Such a nice organization. Such a nice evening. Such a nice feeling. Such and such and such... Last load."

 

Thank you very much, Andre. You made everyone at PAS happy.

A Funny Reply

Posted on September 3, 2010 at 4:24 PM Comments comments (0)

Engr. Dacanay's reply to my text re picking up Sir Andre Germain's donation at Ermita makes me laugh, and here it is,

 

"I'm 99% available by all means rain, no moonshine, earthquake, tornado, tsunami, hostage-taking, whatever else there is - LET'S GO!"

Pedro Calungsod's Canonization

Posted on August 12, 2010 at 10:26 PM Comments comments (7)

From. Fr. Victor Badillo

 

Pedro Calungsod was a Jesuit Lay-Collaborator who labored with Diego de San Victores in Mindoro, Marikina and Guan. They were martyred in Guam and were beatified.

 

This blog is dedicated to him that he may be better known and that his cause of canonization may progress.

 

 

 

 

I Killed Fr. Galdon

Posted on August 12, 2010 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (0)

 

by Victor L Badillo, SJ

 

One evening, Fr. Asandas Balchand (Province Prefect of Health) came to me right after he had visited Joe Galdon across the corridor.

 

He said, “Joe is dying. He is just waiting for some one before he dies.” I had seen an ever increasing number of visitors and there was that feeling in the air when the end is near. No one wanted to come late. I remembered what our neighbor in Singalong, Dr Amparo Sanchez, told me. “I told my aunt. ‘Tia Cale, malaki na ang mga pamangkin ninyo. May mga asawa at anak na sila. Inalagaan ninyo ng mahusay. Maari na kayong magpahinga.” (Aunt Cale, your nephews and nieces are all grown up. They are married and have families. You brought them up good and responsible persons. It is alright to rest now.) In a short time she quietly passed away, though she was healthy. It was as if she had just willed to die.”


I thought of these coincidences: Balch coming to me. His message. What Amparo told me. Why me? Was Joe waiting for a close relative, a close friend? Was it I Joe is waiting for? I got the strength from the light to cross the corridor. I said to Joe, “Joe, I love you. I want you to live and get well. But you have suffered long and much. It is time to rest, to be with Jesus. Let me give you my blessing. May the almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless you. Amen” Joe has not been able to communicate in any way. He could not have heard what I said.

 

Before dawn, the visitor Joe has been waiting for came. I came to nudge him to death. Jesus to bring everlasting life. No Alzheimer’s disease, nor thrones nor principalities, nor anything over the earth or under the earth, could prevent him from heeding . “Let us home, Joe. To my father and to your father.”