It is time for a recap of June. It was not a very remarkable month except for the fact that it was the 9th month in a row with above normal temperatures. We did not set any new daily records but the very warm days were consistently only about 5 degrees away from record highs. The most interesting events of the month were frost and heavy rain. We had a very late frost in some areas on June 1st. In Wausau the low was only 38, but people the northwoods and cranberry bogs had to protect plants from the cold.
The precipitation for the month was almost normal and almost all of it fell in one week from the 14th through the 20th. It came just in time to keep crops and gardens growing, but then it was mainly dry for the last 10 days of the month, which means we need another “just in time” heavy rain event right now. Crops on heavier soil are still doing well, but I suspect the corn will start to curl up and leaves will start to burn (turn yellow/brown) this week if we don’t get much rain.
There were no odd trends in the numbers except that on 5 different mornings had a low 0f 64, which was the most common number of the month. Here are the stats for June in Wausau:
Average High: 80.7 (normal: 75.8)
Average Low: 55.8 (normal: 53.9)
Precipitation: 3.94″ (normal 4.31″)
Snowfall: 0.0″ (normal 0.0″)
Highest Temperature: 90, June 19th
Lowest Temperature: 38, June 1st
Now for something completely un-related but definitely a scientific curiosity – the beginning of the Universe. Ok, maybe more than a curiosity. The beginning of the Universe has been debated both scientifically and philosophically since humans first had thought in their heads, and it seems we might not be any closer to the answers than when we began.
I for one am generally open to consider most theories, even wacky or controversial theories. I like to take the skeptics viewpoint first and challenge what is commonly known. This process tends to make existing theories stronger – if they are correct, or sends them to the dustbin if the are wrong. The Big Bang Theory (not the TV show) is one that I have always questioned, not because the data is egregiously or obviously flawed, but because it is philosophically incomplete. Since the first day some science teacher mentioned the Big Bang as “the way the universe started” (no debate what-so-ever) I have always wondered, as many have, what existed and what happened before the Big Bang. To this, there is no answer. Something (actually everything) coming from nothing is an interesting philosophical viewpoint, but I have always been more comfortable with permanent cyclical existence (as are most religions of the world). Fred Hoyle’s continuous creation theory was always more philosophical appealing to me.
What brought this subject to my mind recently is more data poking holes in the Big Bang theory of the Universe. There are a lot of small leaks in the theory that have needed filling throughout the years, and they seem to be growing bigger. The proposition of “dark matter” and “dark energy” are particularly stupefying. According the to Big Bang and inflation theory of the Universe, there should be a lot more mass that what we can currently detect and there appears to be something unknown that keeps the Universe expanding. So in order to keep the Big Bang Theory intact, astronomers had to conjure up dark matter and dark energy. It sounds rather unscientific to “conjure” up matter and energy to fills holes in a theory, but this is not uncommon. Many times scientists will discover some effect going on and not be able to determine the cause because of limited understanding or data. When better theory and instrumentation come along, then the “cause” or force is discovered and science progresses.
In the case of dark matter and dark energy it might turn out that way. There is a chance that these do not exist as currently conceived and that there is a better explanation for why the universe looks and acts as it does today. If dark matter existed everywhere in the universe, one would think we could detect it around the sun and in our solar system, but there doesn’t appear to be any. Recently discovered star clusters around the Milky Way galaxy also challenge the dark matter theories. The only place dark matter has been seen lately is in virtual reality (computer simulations). It will be an interesting scientific exploration in coming years to find out if dark matter and energy do exist and how theories of the Universe might have to be adjusted. It will likely be a heated debate as their are many entrenched cosmologists who favor the Big Bang theory.
In a little follow-up to a story I highlighted just a few days ago, about lasers and lightning. How could science get any cooler than combining lasers and lightning!? It would be cool, except some people are proposing that laser-directed should (or could) be used as a weapon. I often mention how new technology has the potential to great good or harm, and I instinctively focused on the potential for lasers to protect people from lightning (although it is most likely not economically feasible). Of course, someone had to dream up a way to use lasers to direct lightning (or high voltage electricity) at “enemy” targets. It kind-of bothers me that these new military weapon ideas always seem to come from the U.S. Then again maybe all the ideas from other countries are just more clandestine.
Have a fine Monday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.