Cumberland Times-News

Bob Doyle - Astronomy

June 15, 2013

What are the odds of this happening to you?

I recently purchased an intriguing book with the title of “What Are the Odds?” by Tim Glynne-Johns.

The table of contents include: Life & Death, Sport, Money, Achievement, Crime, Health, and History. The ISBN is 13: 978-0-7858-2803-7. To narrow my review, I’ll consider dangers that confront us.

The odds against being struck by lightning in a lifetime are 1 in 3500. In the U.S. an average of 50 people are killed by lightning strikes each year. Worldwide, about 1200 each year are lightning fatalities, with Mexico at No. 1, claiming an average of 223 deaths per year.

The United States has an average of 1200 tornadoes a year, most frequently in Oklahoma and Kansas during the month of May. Most countries don’t have the conditions to spawn tornadoes. Windstorms are now the biggest natural threat worldwide with 2.45 deaths per million people.

The National Safety Council reports the odds of causes of U.S. deaths: Heart Disease 1/5, Road accident 1/100, Suicide 1/121, Shooting 1/325, Drowning 1/9,000, Plane Crash 1/20,000, Flood 1/30,000 and Earthquake 1/132,000.

Worldwide, the most dangerous animal is the mosquito, responsible for several million deaths per year by spreading malaria and dengue fever.

Your odds of being diagnosed with a new case of cancer this year are 1 in 500. In the developed world (industrialized with mechanized farming), your chances of surviving 10 years after the diagnosis is about 45 per cent, 52 per cent for women versus 39 percent for men.

Your chance of having a heart attack in the U.S. each year are 1 in 226. The risk of having heart disease rises with age from 1 in 14 for both sexes (ages 40 to 59), to 1 in 4 for males (60-79) and 1 in 6 for females (60-79).

The risk of stroke increases with age from 1 in 100 (males 40-59), 1 in 37 (females 40-59) and 1 in 13 for both males and females (ages 60-79).

SKY SIGHTS AHEAD: This evening, the moon appears half full (like a tilted D) in the southwestern sky. Tonight and the following few nights are great times to see the lunar craters and mountain ranges near the left edge of the moon (where the sun is rising).

On June 19, the brilliant planet Venus and Mercury are closest low in the 9:20 p.m. western dusk.

June 21 is the first day of summer, the time when the sun’s direct rays reach farthest North.

The sun’s track across the sky peaks at 73 degrees in the south with the sun rising farthest to the north of east and setting farthest to the north of west.

Those in this area that have flat eastern and western horizons will experience about 15 hours of sunlight, the maximum for the year. Those who live in valleys may have a few hours less of sunlight.

  The Cumberland Astronomy Club will meet June 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the LaVale Public Library. The library is just off the National Road (Route 40), about a mile to the east of the Maryland State Police barrack in LaVale. All interested sky gazers are welcome to attend.

Bob Doyle invites any readers comments and questions. E-mail him at rdoyle@frostburg.edu . He is available as a speaker on his column topics.

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Bob Doyle - Astronomy
  • Odds are good that you didn’t know this

    Odds or Probabilities fascinate many people. There is a special website called www.BookOfOdds.com and an accompanying location on Facebook at /BookofOdds .This website lists 400,000 odds. Three of the people who are involved in this media display have coauthored a book, “The Book of Odds” that presents some of key odds, drawing from polls and statistics published in journals. The authors are A. Shapiro, L.F. Campbell and R. Wright. This paperback was published this year by Harper Collins with ISBN 978-0-06-206085-3.

    April 20, 2014

  • Early morning lunar eclipse this Tuesday

    For the first time since 2011, our area may see a total lunar eclipse as the moon will pass through the Earth’s deep shadow.

    April 13, 2014

  • Here’s a fine guide to new Cosmos series

    This columnist recommends the new series: “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” presented on FOX on Sundays at 9 p.m. and on the National Geographic channel at 10 p.m. on Monday and Friday evenings.

    April 5, 2014

  • Which species is truly the most successful?

    When the question of success is raised, most of us think of lavish homes, sports arenas, cars or stocks owned.

    March 29, 2014

  • Earth’s climate keeps changing, but why?

    Earth’s climate has been subject to change, long before humans walked the Earth. Why should the climate change?
    The Earth is a dynamic planet, subject to the shifting of the crustal plates (which can lead to increased volcanic eruptions), the advance and retreat of glaciers and changes in the Earth’s motion about the sun (Earth’s axial tilt and the varying ovalness of the Earth’s orbit).

    March 22, 2014

  • History book starts from the beginning

    There is a new world history book, using a great variety of graphs. It is the collaboration of an Italian graphic designer, Valentina D’Efilippo and British journalist James Ball.
    Their book is “The Infographic History of the World,” published this year by Firefly with ISBN – 13: 978-1-77085-316-4.

    March 15, 2014

  • New ‘Cosmos’ debuts on television tonight

    Now that our clocks are on daylight saving time, today’s sunrise and sunset are coming about an hour later than yesterday. Yesterday’s sunrise was about 6:38 a.m.; today’s sunrise is about 7:36 a.m.

    March 8, 2014

  • What do these vital measurements mean?

     A while back, I wrote a column on how the U.S. has firmly held onto British units that the British themselves have abandoned (inch, pound, quart).

    March 1, 2014

  • Here’s an up-to-date guide to the universe

    There has been a surge in beginner’s books about the universe. The number of probable exoplanets (planets orbiting other stars) grows by several dozen each month.

    February 22, 2014

  • People and pet food have lots in common

    In our house reside one dog and three cats. I found Chapter 2 in Mary Roach’s “Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal” very interesting.

    February 15, 2014

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