The Strange Return Of A Wandering Cloud

High-velocity clouds (HVCs) are enormous, floating blobs of hydrogen gas that wander throughout the entire halo of our barred-spiral Milky Way Galaxy. Our Milky Way, like other galaxies inhabiting the Cosmos, was born at a very ancient time–less than a billion years after the Big Bang that occurred about 13.8 billion years ago. HVCs are important to our scientific understanding of the many mysteries of galactic evolution because they contain a large quantity of the atomic (baryonic) matter that exists in galactic halos. In January 2016, Hubble Space Telescope (HST) astronomers announced that they have observed an invisible high-velocity cloud racing toward our Galaxy at the almost incredible speed of 700,000 miles per hour. Even though literally hundreds of similar, immense HVC gas clouds zip around the outskirts of our Milky Way, this so-called “Smith Cloud” is one-of-a-kind because its trajectory is well-known–and HST observations indicate that this speed-demon of a cloud was evicted from the outer regions of the Galactic disk around 70 million years ago!

Spiral galaxies, like our Milky Way, are surrounded by nearly spherical regions composed of thinly scattered stars, globular clusters, and wispy, tenuous gas–which are known as halos. Galactic halos stretch far beyond the primary, visible component of galaxies, and they seem to be devoid of dust. Also, their shining stellar inhabitants are generally elderly, ancient stars.

The speedy Smith Cloud was first spotted in 1963 by the Dutch astronomer Dr. Gail Bieger, nee Smith. Then an astronomy student at Leiden University in the Netherlands, she discovered the radio waves emitted by its hydrogen. The giant cloud is on a return collision course with our Milky Way, and it is expected to crash into our Galaxy’s disk in approximately 30 million years. When this blast occurs, astronomers believe that it will trigger a spectacular and brilliant explosion of beautiful baby star birth–perhaps providing enough gas to create 2 million new and dazzling neonatal stars!

Therefore, the boomerang-like Smith Cloud is rushing back towards our Galaxy, after having been tossed out. Many astronomers think that this celestial speed-demon will blast into our Galaxy’s disk at a 45 degree angle, and that its impact will result in that predicted explosion of brilliant baby star birth. However, there is an alternative possibility. The gigantic crash may form a supershell of neutral hydrogen.

As they tracked the Cloud’s trajectory through time, the scientists were able to determine that it had traveled through our Galaxy’s disk about 70 million years ago–and in order for it to have survived this treacherous earlier encounter, they suggest that it is lodged within a massive halo of the mysterious dark matter–whose identity has not yet been determined. Dark matter is much more abundant than “ordinary” atomic matter, and it is generally thought to be composed of as yet unidentified non-atomic particles that do not interact with light, or any other form of electromagnetic radiation–which renders it invisible.

By using the National Science Foundation’s Robert C Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, radio astronomers have discovered that the Smith Cloud measures 9,800 light-years long by 3,300 light-years wide in projection.

The bulk motions of these speedy clouds display velocities which are measured in excess of 70-90 kilometers per second. These huge hydrogen clouds can be massive in size–some are as large as millions of times the mass of our Sun. HVCs cover large regions of the sky–and they have been detected in other galaxies, as well as our own. In addition, when these clouds tumble into the disk of a galaxy, they provide the precious material that can give birth to baby stars, adding to the dilute star-forming material already swirling in the disk. The new material helps to maintain the star formation rate of the galaxy.

The origins of the HVCs remain undetermined. No one existing theory is able to provide an explanation for all of the HVCs in our Galaxy. However, it is known that some HVCs probably form as the result of interactions between the Milky Way and its satellite galaxies, such as the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, which have produced a well-known HVC called the Magellanic Stream. Because of the various possible origins of these huge clouds, there are still many unanswered questions pertaining to HVCs for astronomers to answer.

High-Velocity Clouds

Mysterious and dense clouds of gas were first discovered outside of the Galactic plane back in the middle of the 1950s. This proved to be a very important discovery because the then-current models of our Milky Way showed the density of gas decreasing with increasing distance from the Galactic plane–and the discovery of these strange clouds presented a puzzle. This is because, according to then-prevailing Galactic models, the dense gas clouds should have fallen apart a very long time ago. A solution to this puzzle was provided in 1956, that suggested the dense blobs of gas were being stabilized by a searing-hot, gaseous corona that surrounds the entire Milky Way. The Dutch astronomer, Jan Oort, of Leiden University in the Netherlands, proposed that cold gas clouds might be detected within the Galactic halofar, far away from the Galactic plane.

These cold clouds of gas were soon discovered less than a decade later as a result of their neutral hydrogen radio emissions. They were zipping toward the Galactic disk at an amazingly high velocity relative to other entities inhabiting the disk. The first two clouds that were discovered were dubbed Complex A and Complex C. The two speed-demons were called “high velocity clouds” because of their anomalous velocities–distinguishing them from both gas wandering around at more normal velocities, as well as from their somewhat slower cousins already named “intermediate velocity clouds.” Several astronomers suggested explanations–which ultimately proved to be inaccurate–in respect to the mysterious nature of the HVCs.

A northern-sky survey of neutral sky radio emissions was completed in 1988 by astronomers using the Dwingeloo radio telescope in the Netherlands. This survey uncovered still more HVCs.

In 1997, a map of our Galaxy’s neutral hydrogen was reaching completion. This map helped astronomers to discover more HVCs. In the late 1990s, using data derived from the La Palma Observatory in the Canary Islands, the HST, and, later, the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE), the distance to an HVC was calculated for the very first time. At about the same time, the chemical composition of HVCs was first measured. In addition, in 2000, a southern hemisphere survey of neutral hydrogen radio emissions was finished by astronomers using the Villa Elisa radio telescope in Argentina from which even more of these rather abundant LVCs were detected.

Later observations of Complex C revealed that the speedy cloud, originally believed to have a low metallicity, contained some sections that possessed a higher metallicity compared to the rest of the cloud. This indicated to astronomers that it had begun to mix with other gas in the Galactic halo. In the terminology that astronomers use, metals are all of the atomic elements heavier than helium. The inflationary Big Bang birth of our Universe, almost 14 billion years ago, produced only the lightest atomic elements–hydrogen, helium, and some lithium and beryllium. All of the heavy metals were manufactured in the searing-hot cores of stars–or else in the supernova blasts heralding the raging stellar death throes of the most massive stars. Therefore, the higher percentage of metals in some sections of the gas cloud indicates that these sections have been more heavily “polluted” by heavy metals–manufactured by stars–than the rest of the cloud. Using observations of the highly ionized oxygen and other ions, astronomers were able to determine that the hot gas in Complex C is an interface between hot and cold gas.

HVCs generally represent the coldest and most dense constituents of the Galactic halo. However, the halo itself also sports a multi-phase structure: frigid, dense neutral hydrogen, warm and warm-hot gas, and searing-hot hydrogen gas. Because of this, cool clouds floating through the diffuse halo medium run the risk of being ionized, during the course of their travels, by the warmer and hotter gas. This can form a pocket of ionized gas that surrounds a neutral interior in an HVC. There is evidence of this cool-hot gas interaction occurring in the Galactic halo.

Galactic Constituents

There are more than 100 billion galaxies dwelling within our observable Universe. The observable, or visible, Universe, is that relatively small region of the entire, and unimaginably enormous Universe, that we are able to observe. Most of the Cosmos is situated very far beyond what we can see, because the light emitted from those incredibly remote regions–residing so very far beyond our visibility–has not had sufficient time to reach us since the Big Bang.

In the primordial Universe, opaque clouds, composed primarily of hydrogen gas, congregated together along massive filaments of the Cosmic Web, which is made up of invisible, transparent dark matter. So-called “ordinary” atomic matter accounts for only 4.6% of the Universe, while the transparent, ghostly dark matter accounts for about 24% of it. Most of the Universe is actually composed of the bizarre dark energy. Indeed, it is currently proposed that dark energy accounts for about 71.4% of the Universe, and this weird stuff is causing the Universe to accelerate in its expansion.

Spiral galaxies, like our Milky Way, are composed of flat, rotating disks, that are set on fabulous fire by the sparkling brilliant light of a host of stars. The disk also harbors a rich abundance of both gas and dust. In addition, a spiral galaxy hosts a central concentration of stars–called a bulge–which is surrounded by a much dimmer halo of stars, many of which are the sparkling constituents of globular clusters. Spirals got their name from their pin-wheel-like spiral arms that reach out from the center of the disk.

The Strange Return Of A Wandering Cloud

“The (Smith) Cloud is an example of how the Galaxy is changing with time. It’s telling us that the Milky Way is a bubbling, very active place, where gas can be thrown out of one part of the disk and then return back down into another,” explained HST team leader, Dr. Andrew Fox, in a January 28, 2016 HST Press Release. Dr. Fox is of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

“Our Galaxy is recycling its gas through clouds, the Smith Cloud being one example, and will form stars in different places than before. Hubble’s measurements of the Smith Cloud are helping us to visualize how active the disks of galaxies are,” Dr. Fox continued.

This comet-shaped region has been measured by astronomers to be 11,000 light-years long and 2,500 light-years across. If this speedy Cloud could be observed in visible light, it would stretch across the sky with an apparent diameter 30 times greater than the size of a full Moon.

For years, many astronomers have thought that the Smith Cloud might either be a starless failure of a galaxy, or gas tumbling into our Milky Way from intergalactic space. If either of these two theories proved to be correct, the Cloud would be composed mainly of hydrogen and helium–and be bereft of the heavy metals created by stars. However, if it originated within our Milky Way, it would contain more of the heavier atomic elements found within our Sun.

The team of astronomers used HST to measure the Smith Cloud’s atomic chemical composition for the first time. This was done in order for them to determine where it really originated. The astronomers observed the ultraviolet light emanating from the brilliant cores of a trio of active galaxies that dwell billions of light-years beyond the Cloud. Using HST’s Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, the scientists then measured how this light filters through the Cloud.

In particular, the astronomers went on the hunt for signs of sulfur in the Cloud which can absorb ultraviolet light. “By measuring sulfur, you can learn how enriched in sulfur atoms the Cloud is compared to the Sun,” Dr. Fox continued to comment in the January 28, 2016 HST Press Release. Sulfur is a valuable indicator of how many heavier elements–metals–are contained in the speedy Cloud.

The astronomers ultimately discovered that the Smith Cloud is as richly laden with sulfur as our Milky Way’s outer disk. Our Galaxy’s outer disk is a region approximately 40,000 light-years away from the Milky Way’s center (approximately 15,000 light-years farther out than our own Sun and its family of planets, moons, asteroids, and comets). This indicates that the Smith Cloud was enriched by material manufactured in the searing-hot hearts of stars. This would not happen if it were pristine hydrogen originating beyond our Galaxy, or if it were the tattered remains of a failed, starless galaxy. Instead, this mysterious Cloud seems to have originated in our Galaxy, but was booted out of it–and it is now in the process of speedily boomeranging back home.

Even though this provides a solution to the intriguing and captivating mystery of the Smith Cloud’s origin, it raises some new questions that need to be answered. How did the Cloud get to where it is now? What catastrophic event could have shot it out of our Milky Way’s disk, and how did it manage to stay intact after such a violent eviction? Could it be that a region of dark matter floated through the disk and snared Milky Way gas? The answers may finally be found in the future.

The team’s research appears in the January 1, 2016 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

Israel Says She Loves You to Beatles Paul McCartney

Life is certainly a magical mystery tour. And for those of us who live in Israel, the long and winding road just became a bit more scenic. With the surprise announcement by Beatles singer and composer Sir Paul McCartney that he will be performing in Tel Aviv next month, the Jewish nation has taken a smiling leap back 40 years in time.

From car radios, open market CD players and inside elegant, modern stores, the warm, loving, magical and mythical blends of Beatles music permeate every city and town in Israel. From Metulla, Haifa and Katzrin in the North, to Hadera, Ra’anana, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to Ashkelon, Ashdod, Rehovot, Dimona and Eilat in the south one can hear the sweet voices Paul, John, Ringo and George.

A host of Web 2.0 Facebook and MySpace groups with a number of YouTube videos have been created to celebrate and promote Sir Paul McCartney’s historic visit to the Holy Land.

In January, Israel ambassador to Britain, Ron Prosor, handed a letter of apology to Julia Baird, sister of the late John Lennon, apologizing for a ban that Israel had placed on the Beatles back in 1965.

The story begins back 43 years ago when the Beatles were invited to perform in Israel with a concert which never took place. At the time Israel officials cited financial problems, but it was more than money that kept the Beatles away. Official permission required to withdraw precious foreign currency to pay the Beatles was denied because a ministerial committee feared the corrupting influence of four long-haired Englishmen.

The Israel committee report put it: “The Beatles have an insufficient artistic level and cannot add to the spiritual and cultural life of the youth in Israel.”

Sounds like this Israel committee was smoking stronger stuff than anything the Beatles may have experienced with Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. The Israel politicians believed that The Beatles would corrupt innocent Israeli youth. But was it really naive Israel politicians?

Criticism over the cancellation was directed at former Israel Education Ministry Director-General Yaakov Schneider, whose ministry was required to approve the performance of foreign bands in Israel.

In a page one story in the newspaper Haaretz, former Minister of Education and Environment Yossi Sarid stated that real cause of the cancellation was due to a rivalry between two promoters in Israel. One had been offered a Beatles concert in 1962, before their star had risen, by Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, and had turned them down. When a competitor booked them three years later, the first promoter used his government connections to keep the needed money from being disbursed.

“I can assure you that my father had never heard of the Beatles,” Sarid said this week. “The promoter of course didn’t come to the government and say, ‘I don’t like this other guy and I don’t want him to get the money.’ He said it is a lousy group and will corrupt the spirit of the wonderful, brilliant, pure Israel youngsters. He exploited their ignorance.”

Fast forward to 2008 in Liverpool. Prosor, one of Israel’s most senior and long-serving diplomats, was only seven years old when the “misunderstanding” between London and Jerusalem took place. But Prosor is a man who quite likely knows the lyrics to most Beatles tune and was not about to miss out on an opportunity to enhance the celebration of Israel’s 60th birthday.

In a letter he wrote to the Beatles and their relatives: “There is no doubt that it was a great missed opportunity to prevent people like you, who shaped the minds of the generation, to come to Israel and perform.”

The two surviving Beatles, Sir Paul McCartney, 65, and Ringo Starr, 67, were expected to join the anniversary celebrations in Israel in May but never showed.

But McCartney is no fool on the hill. He realizes the importance of Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East and may even see himself as one who may be able to bridge and come together with some peace through his music.

A huge outdoor concert in Tel Aviv on September 25 has been confirmed by Sir McCartney.

In his Website, Sir Paul McCartney announced his ‘Friendship First’ concert in Israel stating: “Israel will finally get the chance to experience a night of music and history Macca-style; the night they have been waiting decades for.”

Sir Paul added: “I’ve heard so many great things about Tel Aviv and Israel, but hearing is one thing and experiencing it for yourself is another. We are planning to have a great time and a great evening. We can’t wait to get out there and rock.”

The Paul McCartney show, produced by promoter Dudu Zerzevsky, is expected to cost upward of $8 million to produce and will require a 100-person production team, extensive security, an extra-large stage, an expansive sound system, and two vegetarian kitchens at the show’s location.

The producers of the single appearance by Paul McCartney in Israel expect to break even with a take of 10 million NIS on the event. These numbers kick in before any sponsorships take place. The businessman backing the event, Yakir Sha’ashua believes it will attract a capacity crowd to Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park, which can accommodate up to 70,000 people.

The Israel business newspaper Globes states that the cost of bringing Beatle Paul McCartney to Israel will reach over NIS 30 million, half of which will go to McCartney and his promoters, while the other half will cover production costs. Price now stand at NIS 1,500 for a front row ticket and NIS 500 for just a seat on grass in the park. The promoters will have to sell 50,000 tickets only to cover the cost. This is the initial quantity which will go on sale at the Leean ticket offices.

According to British media, McCartney, has invited his girlfriend, 47-year-old New York Long Islander Nancy Shevell, to accompany him on the tour. The couple just finished a monthlong road trip across the famed Route 66 in the US, where they were spotted by shocked fans at campsites, gas stations and motels.

But the McCartney trip to Israel will be far from stealth.

Dozens of hate sites have also popped up by Palestinians, Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizbollah, Islamic Jihad and all those who believe that Paul McCartney is an infidel.

Propagandist Eileen Fleming, who deserves a gold Olympic medal for hateful incitement on an Arab Web site, does not give peace a chance.
She states: “I wondered what Lennon might have said to his old mate in regards to making money from an apartheid state. Apartheid Israel continues to illegally occupy Palestinian and other Arab lands.”

We in Israel ask what Apartheid?

Israel Arabs serve in the Knesset, they are equal citizens.
It is extreme Islam which truly practices apartheid with the clear separation of men from women, treating women as second class slaves, the murdering of homosexuals, labeling anyone who is not Islamic an infidel and deserves to be beheaded in the same manner as Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

In fact, Islamic apartheid transcends mere separation and ups the ante with the beheading of anyone who argues with the Satanic verses of the Koran. Can we also add Holocaust denial and clearly stating to “wipe Israel off the map” to the above?

Fleming continues: “Israel has been “committing horrific war crimes in the occupied Gaza Strip, where its illegal and immoral policy of collective punishment – through a hermetic military siege and an almost complete blockage of fuel, electric power, and even food and medicine – is pushing 1.5 million Palestinian civilians to the brink of starvation. Israel’s wanton killings of civilians, demolition of homes and property, uprooting of more than a million fruit bearing trees, incessant theft of land and water resources, denial of freedom of movement to millions, dividing indigenous Palestinian’s into Bantustans caged by walls, fences and hundreds of roadblocks, is not to be celebrated, but condemned and changed.”

Can Fleming pass the pipe? Is that grass, hash or crack?
She is about as stoned as the committee which originally rejected the Beatles back in 1965!

Eileen, sorry to bust your bubble, but if you have not heard, Iran backed Hamas controls Gaza, not Israel. And as for starvation where are the Arab nations helping the citizens of Gaza? They don’t need too as over 300 humanitarian UN and Red Cross trucks defy Hamas daily, bringing in food, medicine and fuel.

Gaza has food and water. They only thing that Gazans lack are freedom and democracy.

Eileen, do you think Iran will invite Sir Paul to play in Teheran? Nah, they will probably think that he will corrupt Iran youth.

David Horovitz, editor of the Jerusalem Post puts it right.

Horovitz states that: “after all these years of waiting for you, Sir Paul, what we’re getting is just “a day in the life.” David now places some Beatles lyrics into Israeli reality.

Any Time At All – Let me get the complaint in early: I know we banned you in 1965, but did it really have to take this long? “Any time at all.” That’s what you promised. “All you gotta do is call, and I’ll be there.” That was 43 years ago! Forty-three years to answer the phone?

Come Together – All credit to John Lennon for this astoundingly prescient critique of our internal divides, of the boundless intolerance we in the Jewish state exhibit for approaches to Judaism that differ from our own. I guess we’re not “good looking” enough, because those opportunities for Jewish harmony really shouldn’t be “so hard to see.”

Drive My Car – In Israel? Are you crazy? Take my advice, Sir Paul: Let someone else drive it.

Eight Days A Week – You sing it, Israel lives it – six-day work week, two-day weekend. What we really need is nine days a week, so that the Orthodox among us get a proper weekend too.

Give Peace A Chance – Believe me, Paulie, we’ve tried. We said yes to two states in 1948, and we’ve been doing so ever since. Have you thought about singing this to the Iranians?

The Beatles were a pop and rock group from Liverpool, England which was formed in 1960.

The talented and creative group consisted of John Lennon (rhythm guitar, vocals), Paul McCartney (bass guitar, vocals), George Harrison (lead guitar, vocals) and Ringo Starr (drums, vocals).

The Beatles are recognised for leading the 1960s musical “British Invasion” into the United States. Although their initial musical style was rooted in 1950s rock and roll and homegrown skiffle, the group explored new musical sounds ranging from Tin Pan Alley to psychedelic rock. Their clothes, hair styles, and political statements made them trend-setters, while their growing social awareness saw their influence extend into the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.

After the band broke up in 1970, all four members embarked upon solo careers.

The Beatles are one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands in the history of popular music, selling over a billion records internationally. In the United Kingdom, The Beatles released more than 40 different singles, albums, and EPs that reached number one, earning more number one albums than any other group in English chart history. This commercial success was repeated in many other countries; their record company, EMI, estimated that by 1985 they had sold over one billion records worldwide.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, The Beatles have sold more albums in the United States than any other band. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked The Beatles number one on its list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. According to Rolling Stone, The Beatles’ innovative music and cultural impact helped define the 1960s, and their influence on pop culture is still very evident today.

The Hebrew name for the Beatles back in 1965 which was printed on the tickets is worth noting. The performers may have been universally known as the Beatles, but in Israel, then still trying to create a culture buffered from foreign words and influence, they were Hipushiot Haketzev, or the Beat Beetles (like the bugs). What will the tickets look like in 2008?

In the rapidly growing Facebook group – Israel Welcomes Beatles Sir James Paul McCartney To Tel Aviv – this writer comments: “The producers Dudu and Boaz Zerzevsky and yourself are very well aware that your visit represents a true, defining moment of history. As such, please be aware that Tel Aviv is not New York, London, Montreal, Rome or Paris. One out of four children live in poverty in Israel. The average wage is 1,500 USD per month.

The average Israeli cannot even dream of seeing nor hearing you live.
Please, as a respected humanitarian, produce two more concerts – one in Jerusalem and the other in Haifa. Donate a part of the proceeds to our hungry children.

Please lower the cost of the non-VIP tickets. For as of this moment, the non-VIP tickets ARE VIP tickets – well out of the reach of the Israeli public.

Paul – we wish you a safe, fun and comfortable trip to this magical Holy Land.
May your presence and music unite the many divisions for which the peoples of this region suffer from.

And perhaps you just might want to drop in on English educated Syria President Bashar Assad and ask him to remove a few landmines from the Syria and Lebanon borders. Don’t let it be.”

Three Signs That It’s Time to Hire a SEO Company

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a byproduct of the widespread popularity of the Web. It, like most online marketing services, started as an experiment by avant garde companies that used the Web to differentiate themselves as a competitor. Before the dotcom bubble burst, the preface “e” and the suffix “.com” were buzzwords in the marketing community, and it seemed that anybody was willing to call their business an online business.

Today, though, it’s no longer enough to merely be online. It’s now vital to the survival of your business to be discoverable online, and this is where a reliable SEO services company can help by increasing your visibility.

How do you know you need a SEO company? How do you know that your site isn’t doing perfectly fine without the help of an outside party? Here are three ways to know:

You Don’t Own Your Domain

Is your website in something of the format “” or similar? This means that you don’t own your domain. Rather, you are renting a subdomain from another company. Usually, this means that your website and its hosting are completely free. And, unfortunately, you aren’t too likely to rank well in Google if that’s the case. If you have this problem, your website needs a lot of other SEO help on top of the task of migrating your site to its own domain.

Your Site Employs Keyword Stuffing, Masking or Other Search Trickery

When the Web was new, maybe you did hire a SEO consultant to get your site ranked. He probably employed tricks which are now absolutely guaranteeing that you do not rank on the first page of the site. What was once able to get by search engine algorithms has now been found and almost completely purged from the algorithm, and offenders are now punished in the search engine results pages (SERPs). If your site has any elements which are designed to trick search engines into sending irrelevant traffic, you need a new, reliable SEO services company to bring your business into modernity.

You Aren’t On Social Media Networks

Today, social media marketing and SEO go hand in hand. You need to be popular on social media for Google to rank you well, but you also need a solid website. Of particular note is Google+, Google’s social media outlet. Google uses Google+ as a factor in search. Clearly, if you’re not on social media, then you’re missing a piece of search, and your business is in dire need of a reliable SEO services company.

The Death of Google Adsense And Other Myths

Recent changes in the Google AdSense program has many online
website owners and marketers seriously concerned. Many have
seen their AdSense profits and income flatline… seen their
four or five figure monthly AdSense income disappear overnight.
For many the Google AdSense bubble has burst.

What happened?

First, Google made a change in its AdSense program, letting
advertisers choose between putting their ads in the search
results or on the content pages of AdSense publishers. Search
won out and started to receive the higher bids. Search results
convert better than content ads.

Next, Google has cracked down on Junk AdSense sites, like
they should. These sites consisted mainly of software generated
re-hashed search engine links and were totally annoying to say
the least. But Google also cracked down on ‘squeeze pages’ or
‘affiliate landing pages’ — a lucrative source of income for
many online marketers, mainly because these pages helped
marketers build an opt-in list or use permission based email.

The results of these changes produced an AdSense meltdown for many
online marketers.

Some Internet marketers are speculating recent changes
could even mean the death of Adsense. One online marketer,
Scott Boulch even published a free report entitled ‘The Death
of Adsense”.

Many affiliate marketers would agree with Boulch on some
of his points, especially the obvious fact that using AdSense
on your web content is starting on the bottom rung of the online
marketing ladder. Instead of receiving pennies per click with
Adsense, alert marketers and webmasters have already discovered
that by using CPA (Cost-Per-Action) and direct affiliate links,
they can produce significantly more revenue from their web pages.
Why earn pennies per click when you can earn $5, $10 or
OVER $100 per click?

But the fine people at Google are catching on…

In the past Google has made its own swing to the Cost-Per-Action
direction with its referral system for the Firefox Browser
and giving webmasters credit for signing up AdWords and AdSense

Many online marketers believe Google needs to expand on these
baby steps and open their AdSense affiliate program up to third
party products/advertisers. In a recent company statement Google
offered some hope: “We’re always looking for new ways to provide
effective and useful features to advertisers, publishers, and users,”
the company stated “As part of these efforts we are currently
testing a cost-per-action (CPA) pricing model to give advertisers
more flexibility and provide publishers another way to earn revenue
through AdSense.”

Basically, in cost-per-action, advertisers pay for leads,
purchases or customer acquisition. It would help with the
click fraud issue and the monetary returns could potentially
make Adsense’s revenues pale in comparison.

As more and more commerce goes online… acquiring customers for
such diverse services as insurance, real estate, telephone,
marketing, web hosting, travel, mortgage loans, cable TV,
banking… you name it, almost any service or product sold
in the marketplace is now turning to the Internet for customers
and lifelong clients.

Enormous sums of money will change hands. Perhaps, the most
lucrative of these is customer acquisition. Advertisers are
turning to the Internet and webmasters/marketers for acquiring
these lifelong customers for their respective services and
products. Businesses and companies are quickly realizing paying
an attractive lead generating fee/commission is smart business.
They quickly build a client base for their services or products
and quickly recoup their expenses – realizing in the long run
these leads will generate huge profits.

It can also mean huge profits for the CPA networks like
ValueClick’s Commission Junction and Rakuten’s LinkShare who
supply the advertisers with publishers and website marketers
to harvest these leads. It can be a lucrative venture for
all involved, especially for those online marketers who
have cornered the search engines for lucrative niche
markets in big ticket items. Even small ticket items
pay quite well for those marketers who know how to market

Contextual advertising is fine, but CPA (Cost-Per-Action)
will offer much better returns for the website owner. Making
any profitable site much more profitable. It will and is
opening up a whole area of marketing opportunities that
never existed before we had the Internet. Creating a complex
structure of advertisers, publishers and the Affiliate/CPA
companies that connect the two.

Of course, cutting out the middle man has always been even
a more profitable venture for most marketers. As more and more
webmasters realize they can make much more with dealing directly
with companies, rather than going through a middle process like
Google AdSense or the countless other affiliate/CPA networks
… online marketers can reap even bigger rewards.

For an online marketer when you get a phone call or email from
the CEO or the affiliate manager with a company or service
you’re promoting with your website — you know you have made it!
Dealing directly with a company usually means bigger commissions
and special exclusive deals just for you or your sites.

Only fly in the ointment, all that extra paperwork and business
wheeling and dealing. Many marketers and website owners like the
idea of someone else handling all the tracking, collecting payments,
promotional materials… they just like to sit back and build more
websites and content. It gives the affiliate marketer a lifestyle that
they are looking for on the web. They just like to market and promote
with their sites and let someone else worry about the details.
Therefore, there will always be a place for contextual ads like
Google Adsense… Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.

However, could CPA be a better alternative for the current AdSense
contextual ads?

Google would be the natural choice for a middleman if there
ever was one. Besides, many savvy marketers know the Google
brand name is trusted online, any product/service promoted
through Google would be an easy sell. Many argue Google
already dominates the web, why should it not be the one to
handle these CPA transactions through its AdSense program.

On the flip side, over countless updates and changes to
its indexing, many webmasters have experienced more than a
few negative dealings with Google. Many have won, many have
lost in this Google Age, but all have realized riding
the Google Search Engine is like running with the bulls
at Pamplona, totally thrilling unless you’re one of the
unfortunate few who get trampled in the process.

An Ancient Baby Galaxy Is Caught In The Web

How do galaxies, like our own large, majestic, star-splattered Milky Way form, and how do they evolve through time? When we gaze in wonder up at the night sky above our planet, we see that it is dazzling with the distant fires of a host of brilliant stars. However, most of the Universe is dark, made up of exotic, transparent material, the identity of which constitutes one of the most profound and bewitching of all mysteries. In August 2015, a team of astronomers led by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California, announced the discovery of a gigantic, whirling disk composed of gas that is a very remote 10 billion light-years away. This enchanting, bewildering, bewitching ancient structure is thought to be a galaxy-in-the-making–and it is actively being fed a nutritious formula of cool pristine, primordial gas that can be traced all the way back to the very beginning–the Big Bang birth of the Universe almost 14 billion years ago, and its discovery sheds new light on this great and profound mystery.

Using Palomar Observatory’s Cosmic Web Imager (CWI), that was designed and built by Caltech, the astronomers were able to image the distant protogalaxy and found that it is bound to a filament of the intergalactic medium–the great Cosmic Web that is constructed of diffuse gas that weaves its way between galaxies and extends throughout the entire Universe.

The enormous Cosmic Web is a large-scale, web-like structure that is embellished with the starry luminous fires of the galaxies, and it is thought to have played a major role in the evolution of galaxies that occurred long ago and far away in the ancient Universe–only a few billion years after the Big Bang.

The way that galaxies and matter are distributed in the Universe is not random. The distribution of galaxies, up to the present time, resembles an enormous network–the transparent Cosmic Web of ghostly invisibility–a strange transparent structure flecked with countless stars. This weird, ghostly web has denser regions composed of dazzling groups and clusters of galaxies. There are also regions that are almost–but not entirely empty–which are the cosmic voids. The filaments link the regions of greatest density, somewhat like bridges that connect the densest regions of the Cosmic Web. This filamentary structure has been compared to threads woven into the web.

Galaxies located in the regions of lesser density have a greater probability of actively giving birth to brilliant, new baby stars (protostars). In contrast, galaxies situated in denser regions give birth to their stellar inhabitants much more slowly. Our own Milky Way Galaxy is located in a region of lesser density.

The billions of starlit galaxies and enormous clusters of galaxies are embedded in mysterious, invisible halos of transparent, ghostly dark matter. Dark matter is a bizarre and bewildering form of exotic matter that is generally believed to exist because it exerts gravitational effects on objects that can be observed–such as galaxies that blaze with starlight and glowing clouds of gas. However, the true identity of the dark matter is unknown, even though it is the most abundant form of matter in the Universe. Dark matter is thought to be composed of exotic non-atomic particles that do not interact with light, or any other form of electromagnetic radiation. The starry galaxies are suspended throughout this invisible, enormous structure in a way that evokes the haunting image of glittering dewdrops on the web of a waiting spider.

Even more abundant, and more mysterious, is the dark energy–a strange substance that is causing our Universe to speed up in its expansion. Some scientists even propose that, billions and billions of years from now, the bizarre dark energy will tear our entire Universe apart–even ripping atoms into non-existence.

The most recent measurements suggest that the dark energy accounts for most of the mass-energy of the Cosmos–68.3% of it. The dark matter accounts for 26.8% of the Universe, while familiar atomic matter–the stuff of planets, moons, people, and literally all of the elements listed in the Periodic Table of the Elements–accounts for a mere 4.9% of the Cosmos. The runt of the Cosmic litter, so-called “ordinary” atomic matter, is really very extraordinary. Without it, life would not be possible.

Most astronomers think that the Cosmos was born about 13.8 billion years ago in the Big Bang. It began as an unimaginably tiny Patch, that was smaller than an elementary particle, and then–in the briefest instant–expanded exponentially to reach macroscopic size. Something–it is not known precisely what--caused that very small Patch to experience this wild period of inflation. This little Patch, that was too small for a human being to see with the naked eye, was so exquisitely tiny that it was almost, but not quite, nothing–and it was so extremely hot and dense that everything that we are, and everything that we know, originated from it.

The neonatal Universe was filled with energetic radiation, a violent, stormy sea of searing-hot particles of light, that we call photons. The entire baby Cosmos was brilliant with light, and it resembled the glaring, blinding surface of a star. What we now witness almost 14 billion years after our Universe’s mysterious birth, is the dimming and greatly expanded and still-expanding aftermath of that primordial birth. As our Universe evolved and grew to its present unimaginably enormous size, the ancient fires of its birth cooled–and now we bear witness as we watch from our tiny, rocky, obscure little planet as our Universe grows ever larger and larger, darker and darker, colder and colder, fading like the lingering, eerie, haunting grin of the Cheshire Cat in a Wonderland dream.

The most widely accepted theory suggests that the Universe, at the instant of its birth, underwent a brief period of accelerated expansion termed inflation. Even though inflation still remains in the realm of theory, the most recent measurements and observations show that it is the most likely explanation known that could have caused the Cosmos to evolve in the way that it has over the course of billions and billions of years. In the smallest fraction of a second, it is thought that inflation blew up like an extraordinary bubble each and every region of our tiny Patch of space by a factor of at least 10 to the 27th power–that is, 10 followed by 26 zeroes. Before inflation enlarged this Patch, the region of the Universe that we can observe today–the visible Universe–was a smooth little bit that was smaller than a proton. At this very ancient era, our Cosmos was composed of a strange plasma of elementary particles. Speedy, high-energy photons slowly lost their energy as time went by and started to travel more slowly. In other words, they cooled off as the Universe continued to expand. The energy flowed into the expansion. In the almost 14 billion years since our Universe was born, it has expanded by yet another 10 to the 27th power.

It is generally thought that the dark matter dominated Cosmic Web formed in the very ancient Universe, and that it began as exquisitely small initial fluctuations in the primordial Universe. Such a strange skeletal Cosmos must have played a starring role in galactic birth and evolution, but historically this has proven to incredibly difficult to study and understand.

An Ancient Baby Galaxy Is Caught In The Web

The new research conducted by Caltech astronomers provides the most powerful observational support yet for what is termed the cold-flow model of galaxy formation. According to this model, in the ancient Universe, relatively cool gas flowed down from the Cosmic Web directly into the ancient galaxies, and this triggered rapid star birth.

The paper describing this finding, as well how CWI made the observation possible, appears in the August 13, 2015 print issue of the journal Nature, under the title A giant protogalactic disk linked to the cosmic web.

“This is the first smoking-gun evidence for how galaxies form. Even as simulations and theoretical work have increasingly stressed the importance of cold flows, observational evidence of their role in galaxy formation has been lacking,” noted Dr. Christopher Martin in an August 5, 2015 Caltech Press Release. Dr. Martin is a professor of physics at Caltech.

The protogalactic disk that the team of astronomers identified is approximately 400,000 light-years across. This makes it about four times larger in diameter than our Milky Way. The distant disk is located in a system that is dominated by two brilliant quasars. Quasars are extremely bright, and especially energetic, active galactic nuclei (AGN) that are most often found residing in the ancient Universe. They are, in fact, the swirling, glaring accretion disks surrounding supermassive black holes inhabiting the dark hearts of galaxies. The closest quasar inhabiting this particular system is designated UM287, and it is fortuitously situated in just such a way that its emission is beamed like a flashlight. This helps to illuminate the otherwise invisible Cosmic Web filament that is funneling gas into the voracious, spiraling, newborn protogalactic disk.

In 2014, Dr. Sebastiano Cantalupo of ETH in Zurich, Switzerland (then at the University of California at Santa Cruz) and his team published a paper that appeared in the February 6, 2014 issue of the journal Nature, announcing that they had detected what they believed was a large filament close to UM287. The structure that they saw was considerably more brilliant than it should have been–if it had been only a filament. The astronomers began to suspect that there was something else hiding there in secret.

In September 2014, Dr. Martin and his colleagues, including Dr. Cantalupo, followed up on their intriguing observations of the system with the CWI. The CWI is an integral field spectrograph, and it enabled the scientists to gather images in the vicinity surrounding UM287 at hundreds of different wavelengths at the same time. The images showed details of the system’s mass distribution, velocity, and composition.

Dr. Martin and his colleagues targeted a range of wavelengths around an emission line in the ultraviolet termed the Lyman-alpha line. That line serves as a tattle-tale fingerprint of atomic hydrogen gas, and is frequently used by astronomers to trace primordial matter in the ancient Universe.

The scientists gathered a series of spectral images that they combined to create a multiwavelength map of a region of the sky surrounding the brilliant quasar duo. This newly acquired data showed the areas where gas is emitting in the Lyman-alpha line, and it indicated the velocities at which the primordial gas was traveling with respect to the center of the system.

“The images plainly show that there is a rotating disk–you can see that one side is moving closer to us and the other is moving away. And you can also see that there’s a filament that extends beyond the disk,” Dr. Martin explained in the August 5, 2015 Caltech Press Release. The astronomers’ measurements suggested that the disk is rotating at a speed of about 400 kilometers per second. This is somewhat faster than our own Milky Way’s rate of rotation.

“The filament has more or less constant velocity. It is basically funneling gas into the disk at a fixed rate. Once the gas merges with the disk inside the dark matter halo, it is pulled around by the rotating gas and dark matter in the halo,” Dr. Matt Matuszewski noted in the August 5, 2015 Caltech Press Release. Dr. Matuszewski is an instrument scientist in Dr. Martin’s group and a coauthor of the paper. Galaxies are thought to be born within extended dark matter halos.

The observations and measurements provide the very first direct confirmation of the cold-flow model of galaxy formation. The subject of heated debate among astronomers since 2003, this model stands in stark contrast to the older, standard view of galaxy formation. The standard model indicates that when dark matter halos collapse, they hoist in a large amount of “ordinary” atomic matter in the form of gas along with them, heating up to searing-hot temperatures. The gas then slowly cools, and this provides a slow and steady flow of cold gas that can give birth to fiery, brilliant baby stars in growing young galaxies inhabiting the ancient Cosmos. Although it may seem counterintuitive, gas has to be very cold in order to give birth to a hot neonatal star.

The older model was generally accepted until 1996, when Dr. Charles Steidel, who is Caltech’s Lee A. DuBridge Professor of Astronomy, discovered a remote population of galaxies giving birth to stars at a furious rate a mere 2 billion years after the Big Bang. The standard model is unable to explain the enormous fuel supply for these rapidly-forming galaxies in the ancient Universe.

However, the cold-flow model does provide a potential explanation for this nagging mystery. Scientific theorists suggested that relatively cool gas, delivered by filaments of the great Cosmic Web, funnels directly into the forming primordial protogalaxies. Once it is there, the cool gas can rapidly condense to give birth to a brilliant, fiery host of dazzling newborn stars. Supercomputer simulations reveal that as the gas tumbles in, it possesses enormous amounts of angular momentum, or spin, and creates extended rotating disks.

Dr. Martin explained in the August 5, 2015 Caltech Press Release: “That’s a direct prediction of the cold-flow model, and this is exactly what we see–an extended disk with lots of angular momentum that we can measure.”

Dr. Phil Hopkins called the study “very compelling” in the same Press Release. Dr. Hopkins is an assistant professor of theoretical astrophysics at Caltech, who was not involved in the research. He added that “As a proof that a protogalaxy connected to the Cosmic Web exists and that we can detect it, this is really exciting. Of course, now you want to know a million things about what the gas falling into galaxies is actually doing, so I’m sure there is going to be more follow up.”

Dr. Martin told the press on August 5, 2015 that the team has already detected two additional disks that appear to be receiving gas directly from filaments of the Cosmic Web in the same way.

2011: To Infinity and Beyond!

I read an interesting article recently on how cloud computing is going to take the world by storm this year. The premise is that eventually none of us will need our individual portable computer devices, we’ll simply use a relatively dumb device to hook into a global computer network.

The idea sounds great, but I’m not so sure we’re ready yet. Cloud computing will certainly be a great step forward, but I’m not ready to give up my own computer or hand over all my data to the cloud.

I discussed the article I read with a colleague and they made an interesting comment. All these smart phones and tablets end up being replaced much faster than laptops. How many cell phones have you had compared to computers? Of course, many years ago it was predicted the world would only ever need a handful of centralized computers, and we saw how that played out.

One thing is for certain though, the ability to get online and access data will only become easier, faster and cheaper. The only limitation I see on the size of portable computer devices right now is the interface, we need a way to enter the data and read the results. Remember those calculator watches? Great if you don’t have fat fingers like me.

Still, I do look forward to being able to surf the internet while stuck in traffic or waiting for a doctors appointment.

Cloud computing has become a sort of ‘buzz phrase’ of late. Microsoft is promoting it like they own it, indeed I’ve seen several Windows 7 commercials recently where cloud computing appears to be part of the installation feature set.

It reminds me somewhat of how the internet itself was going to be the pinnacle of human achievement, way back in the dust of the year 2000. Back then if you said dot com, it was followed by the word bubble.

The similarity carries over to the usefulness of it all. The internet, or more precisely the web, was a tool looking for an application. Everyone ‘knew’ it was going to be useful, we just hadn’t figured out how yet. Now, I’ve been working in IT long enough to see the cyclical nature of it. Cloud computing is a useful technology and we have already figured out some uses for it, but the meat and potatoes are still cooking.

Sure it’s nice to host your server somewhere out there in cyberland. It’s great to remove the overhead of running that server room with it’s fancy air conditioning system and caffeine swilling administrators. It’s great to pull music out of thin air or collaborate on your presentation with key players in your organization that are spread around the globe, while you sit in the airport or even the mens room.

These are all nice, handy, useful features, but the killer app has yet to arrive. Now if I could figure out what that app is and either write it, patent it or invest some venture capital in it, I’d be laughing all the way to the bank.

It’s nice that we still have a frontier to explore. What thrills me about this barren expanse though is the same thing that scares me a little. The sheriff can’t patrol all of it, even with a posse. The solid, reliable techie who hid in your company computer department can now be replaced with someone on the other side of the world who has an internet connection and some remote support tools. That’s progress though.

If I look back to the dimly lit days that heralded my entry into commercial IT, way back in the late 1980’s, I can see all the changes that have taken place since then. I remember the excitement that 3.5″ disks gave me, which in turn paled compared to the shiny CD-ROM, and don’t even get me started on DVD media.

Back then we had BBS systems and 1200 baud modems. Glory Days. Now we’re streaming video across the globe from one home PC to another. My children can see their grandparents on the other side of the world, in real time and for no cost. The future is now my friends.

So, in closing, cloud computing is going to do some amazing things for us in 2011. Just don’t expect it to replace every desktop device with a dumb terminal. When they make the device that uses holographic imaging display systems, force field positive feedback projected keyboards and sensory input gloves, then we’ll be about ready to say things are getting close to done.

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