First, some unfinished business…
A couple of weeks ago, we talked about my experiences with the Wemo Smart Lighting system. The Wemo Smart Lights are part of the Wemo suite of products designed for the smart home. The suite includes a variety of wi-fi controlled devices — everything from light bulbs, wall switches and power outlets to dehumidifiers, coffee makers and crock pots. All of these devices are operated and monitored from a smart phone. The entire system is very nicely integrated. From my perspective, however, there was one small problem. I couldn’t get it to work.
My first inclination was to blame the lights. The instructions only require six steps, none of which were more complicated than installing the WeMo app from the app store. Even so, I’ve been in technology long enough to know that I probably did something wrong. After repeating the process a couple of times, I reached out to their customer support. At the end of a 3-1/2-hour chat session, we resolved that it really was the lights. The system didn’t play well with the latest iOS upgrade.
UPDATE: We finally found my daughter’s Kindle a few days later. She hasn’t used it since she got her iPhone, so it was actually put nicely away. (Who looks there, right?) I download the Wemo app, and on the first try, the app connects with the Wemo. Yes, you read that correctly — the first try. Fifteen minutes later I had two strands of lights sync’d up and lighting up the front yard. I can make the bushes red or green or yellow or whatever. The lights really provide a nice accent. Overall, I would say I’m pleased with the final result.
In case you are wondering… no, I have not checked to see if the iPhone app is fixed. Several Star Wars books were released last month, so I have appropriated my daughter’s Kindle. It’s now the official Wemo management/Star Wars book reader for the house.
Now for an Interplanetary News Flash…
Scientists this week confirmed that the Martian atmosphere was blown away by the solar wind. Yes, that’s right. The fireball in the middle of our solar system is responsible for the tremendous climate change that occurred on Mars during the early history of the planet.
When Mars was formed, scientists believe that it possessed a strong magnetic field that protected the planet from the solar wind. However, as the interior of the planet cooled, the magnetic field became weaker. Sometime around 4.2 billion years ago, Mars lost its magnetic field altogether. With no protection from the solar wind, the atmosphere was quickly stripped away. The lakes and rivers that existed at the time evaporated away. Any chance for life on Mars was stolen by the solar-powered extinction level event.
So was does this mean for Earth? Are we susceptible to the same fate of Mars? As it turns out, well, the answer is complicated.
Like Mars, the magnetic field of the Earth shields us from the solar wind and other devastating solar phenomena. The magnetic fields of planetary bodies originate from the motion of conductive fluids (e.g., molten iron) within the planet’s core. As long as the core stays liquid, the magnetic field will be stable. Unfortunately, the Earth’s core is cooling at a rate of 100 degrees celsius per gigayear. In theory, sometime within the next 50-100 gigayears, the Earth will cool sufficiently to lose its magnetic field.
In practicality, the Earth will never reach that point. At least, not without our help. The sun only has enough hydrogen to last another five gigayears. When the sun runs out of hydrogen, it will expand into a red giant, completely engulfing the inner solar system. In order to save the Earth, the human race will need change the Earth’s orbit, perhaps even moving the planet to a new star. Undoubtedly, this is going to be a tremendous challenge with countless unknown obstacles. But if we’re truly going to save the planet, we better start now.