Friday, August 25, 2017

Music Friday: Unlucky in Love Maia Sharp Wonders, 'How Much Gold Can You Find If You Never Go Mining?'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you awesome songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, singer-songwriter Maia Sharp ponders the question: "How much gold can you find if you never go mining?" in "Underneath," an intimate, self-effacing song about a woman who's been unlucky in love.

Sharp uses the mining simile to illustrate her passive approach to romance. She admits that she has no one but herself to blame for her loneliness, but she's confident that it will all work out in the end. Perhaps the best things will come to those who wait.

She sings, "How much gold can you find if you never go mining / They say the wine gets better if you let it breathe / Oh, the deeper the digging, the sweeter the finding / I want to know what’s underneath / Oh, I want to know what’s underneath."

"Underneath" appears as the third track on Sharp's sixth studio album The Dash Between The Dates, which was released in 2015. Providing the harmonies on the track is singer-songwriter Gabe Dixon.

In describing the album, Sharp noted, "I was trying to look at things with a wider-angle lens and bring more breadth to the songs without sacrificing the intimacy."

Interestingly, the artist admitted that she worked on the album during a period of extreme writer's block. Critics countered that it was her best work to date.

Born in California's Central Valley in 1971 to a singer-songwriter dad and a college professor mom, Sharp wrote her first song as a five-year-old. By the time she was a teenager, she had already shown proficiency with a number of instruments, including keyboards, guitar, oboe and saxophone. She studied music theory at California State University and honed her songwriting skills. As a 22-year-old, Sharp began performing her own music in Los Angeles clubs.

A few years later, she was discovered by music executive Miles Copeland, who managed The Police. During her 20-plus years in the music business, Sharp has written songs for some of the industry's top acts, including Cher, Kim Richey, Amanda Marshall, Paul Carrack, Edwin McCain, The Dixie Chicks, Trisha Yearwood and Kathy Mattea.

We know you will enjoy the audio track of "Underneath." The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

Written by Maia Sharp. Performed by Maia Sharp with Gabe Dixon.

No one but myself to blame
If I ain’t got a love to call my own
Maybe it takes some chippin’ away
Before you get down to the cornerstone

How much gold can you find if you never go mining?
They say the wine gets better if you let it breathe
Oh, the deeper the digging, the sweeter the finding
I want to know what’s underneath
Oh, I want to know what’s underneath

When the new ran out, I ran out
I took off one time, took off the shine
I never could shake my shadow of doubt
And the only heart I ever really broke was mine

How much gold can you find if you never go mining?
They say the wine gets better if you let it breathe
Oh, the deeper the digging, the sweeter the finding
I want to know what’s underneath
Oh, I want to know what’s underneath

Underneath these
Underneath what’s shown
Past the shallow waters
To uncharted undiscovered unknown

How much gold can you find if you never go mining?
The wine gets better if you let it breathe
Oh, the deeper the digging, the sweeter the finding
And I want to know what’s underneath
Oh, I want to know what’s underneath

I want to know what’s underneath

Credits: Screen capture via Sharp.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Experiment Supports Theory That 'Diamond Showers' Take Place on Uranus and Neptune

At Stanford University, an international team of scientists finally simulated the "shower of diamonds" that they believe is taking place deep within Uranus and Neptune.

Uranus and Neptune are both classified as "ice giants." Unlike the Earth, their solid cores are likely swathed in thick layers of "ice" made from the combination of water and ammonia.

At a depth of 6,200 miles, researchers speculate that the hydrocarbons encounter so much pressure and heat that the bonds between the hydrogen and carbon molecules are broken. Once free from the bonds, the carbon atoms are compressed into microscopic diamonds, resulting in what can be described as "diamond showers."

Previously, no one had been able to directly observe these sparkling showers in an experimental setting, according to Dr. Dominik Kraus, who is the head of a Helmholtz Junior Research Group at the German research laboratory Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf.

But, that was precisely the breakthrough Kraus and his international team have now achieved. In their experiment, polystyrene (a plastic made from carbon and hydrogen) was exposed to a simulation of the immense pressure found deep within Neptune and Uranus. They blasted the plastic with shock waves generated by an optical laser and x-rays.

At a pressure of about 150 gigapascals and temperatures of about 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the shock waves compressed the plastic and successfully broke the carbon-hydrogen bonds. The carbon atoms instantly transformed into microscopic diamonds.

"The first smaller, slower wave is overtaken by another stronger second wave," Kraus explained. "Most diamonds form the moment both waves overlap. Our experiments show that nearly all the carbon atoms compact into nanometer-sized diamonds."

Kraus theorized that the cores of Uranus and Neptune could contain "oceans of liquid carbon" with gigantic "diamond icebergs swimming on top of it."

While it's unlikely man will ever have the ability to mine diamonds on these distant planets, the experiments at Stanford are already yielding innovative and efficient ways of producing nano-diamonds — diamonds that may find their way into electronic instruments, medical equipment and cutting devices.

The results of the research were published in the scientific journal Nature Astronomy.

Credit: Illustration by Greg Stewart / SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Monday, August 21, 2017

'Diamond Ring Effect' Will Add Excitement to Today's 'Great American Eclipse'

Today, the Great American Eclipse will be visible to nearly everybody in North America, but those of us lucky enough to be viewing from a narrow path that runs from Salem, Ore., to Charleston, S.C., will experience a total solar eclipse and a bonus phenomenon called the “Diamond Ring Effect.”

During a total solar eclipse, the moon aligns itself precisely between the sun and Earth. Sunlight gets blocked out and a 68-mile-wide shadow of the moon (also called its umbra) gets cast upon the Earth, resulting in total darkness for about 2 1/2 minutes. The Diamond Ring Effect occurs in the instant right before the total solar eclipse and in the moment just after.

Francis Baily in 1836 surmised that the Diamond Ring Effect owed its magic to the rugged surface of the moon. As the moon slowly grazes past the sun, tiny beads of sunlight, now called Baily’s Beads, can shine through in some places and not in others. When only one single point of sunlight remains, the burst bears a remarkable resemblance to a diamond, and the halo of the sun still visible behind the moon looks like a ring.

NASA also noted that more than a century earlier, English astronomer Sir Edmond Halley (who discovered Halley’s Comet) also gave a correct explanation of the Diamond Ring Effect during an eclipse of 1715.

The moon's shadow will race across the continental U.S. at speeds ranging from 2,410 mph in western Oregon to 1,502 mph in Charleston. That means that the Diamond Ring Effect should be visible starting in Oregon at about 10:15 a.m. PST and ending in South Carolina at about 2:48 pm EDT. The duration of the 3,000-mile, coast-to-coast celestial show will be about 90 minutes.

Viewers in the path of the total solar eclipse can expect temperatures to plunge by as much as 20 degrees.

Those not living in the direct path of the total solar eclipse will still see a partial eclipse, which resembles a crescent moon, but in this case it's a crescent sun. New York City dwellers, for instance, will see 70% of the sun covered by the moon.

We can not overemphasize the importance of utilizing proper solar glasses or filters when viewing the Great American Eclipse. Solar eclipse eye safety is reviewed at NASA's website here...

Don't miss the Great American Eclipse of 2017. The next total solar eclipse will take place in North America on April 8, 2024.

Credits: Eclipse viewing image by Arches National Park [CC BY 2.0 or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Diamond Ring Effect image by Lutfar Rahman Nirjhar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Map by NASA.