Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Can You See The "Black Moon" Today? Nope - Just Know It's Occurred

Ok, first the good news: there will be a black Moon occurring all across  North America today,  July 31st -- the first one since 2016.  The bad news? You won't be able to actually see it because all it means is there is a second New Moon.  This is not visible given it is in the position shown in the diagram below:
No photo description available.
So, while a 'blue Moon' derives from its rarity - the 2nd full Moon in a month, the  black moon is basically the second new moon of the month.  This is also something that rarely occurs but we use the word 'black' because, well, the Moon's non-sunlit side is facing Earth,  so 'black' to us. Get it?.
Another aspect to why this is possible lies in the difference between the Moon sidereal period (27.3 days), i.e. referenced to the distant stars, and its longer synodic period (29.5 days) referenced to its position relative to the Sun, or phase.  This difference is captured in the diagram below:
Over the period of the sidereal revolution, then,  Earth and Moon together revolve roughly 1/13 way around the Sun.  This is an angular distance of about 360 deg/ 13 =  27.6 degrees. In effect, the Sun then appears to move 27.6 degrees east on the celestial sphere over the Moon's sidereal revolution.  In other words, the Moon would not have completed a whole revolution about the Sun over the sidereal period.  Consequently it would not have completed a full cycle of phases (e.g. New to New, full to full).  A fractional phase increment is always left over.

 The  slight deviation in position, between synodic and sidereal, means certain observational anomalies can occur over time, and given the lengths of months can vary, i.e. 28 or 29 days for February, and 30 or 31 days for other months. Combine the two effects and you can get two full Moons some months, and also two New Moons, i.e. because the months in the latter cases (31 d) are slightly longer than the Moon's synodic period.
 So about every 32 months we can get two full moons or two new moons. The second full moon in a month is called a blue Moon, and the second new moon is called a black Moon. 

 Oh, by the way, "black Moon" can also refer to no New Moons in a given month!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Can We Agree, No More Idiotic 'Show of Hands' Questions For The Next Dem Debate?

Memo to the Democratic presidential candidates: Stop raising your hands
Dem candidates at last debate in June falling into the 'raise your hands' trap - which now Trump's campaign can use in an ad.

'Health Care Puts Democrats On Hot Seat' (WSJ yesterday, p. A4)  highlighted the "wages" that have now come due thanks to Dem presidential candidates decision to respond to a show of hands  question in the first debate.  Thus we read:

"Democratic presidential candidates who want Medicare for All are now preoccupied with explaining their stance on private plans"  

Adding they "seek to add nuance to their stances"

Recall this was in response to co-moderator Lester Holt's gotcha question (of the 'show of hands' variety) i.e. "Who here would abolish private insurance in favor of a government run plan. Show of hands!"

Effectively,  by their Pavlovian response,  giving the Trumpies a campaign gift that might have alarming consequences next year.  In the words of former Bill Clinton adviser Paul Begala, quoted in the piece (ibid.):

"Calling for ending employer -provided coverage could be a strategic catastrophe that re-elects Trump"

And it didn't have to happen! The Dem candidates could have paused, reflected on their actions and the consequences, then refused to partake in such a halfwit display.

Political analyst and University of Texas Poly-sci Professor Victoria Defrancesco didn't mince words last Friday in an MSNBC spot on the Stephanie Ruhle show. She said flatly: "I can just see Trump's campaign team now, cutting their ads from the last Democratic debate when they all raised hands."  

One such cringe -inducing  moment to which she referred  occurred when MSNBC debate co-moderator, Savannah Guthrie, squawked like a school marm impatient for class participation:

"This is a show of hands question so hold your hands up so people can see!"

At which point - had I been a candidate on that stage-    I'd have shot back: 

"What? Are you an idiot or something? I'm not raising my hand  to answer some flip-ass loaded question so the Trump campaign can use it in an ad!"

That would obviously be even before the question was burped out, because anyone with more than air between the ears would have to know such a "question" has to be loaded.  Evoking a similar disastrous occasion back in 1988 when CNN's Bernard Shaw asked Michael Dukakis: ''if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?" 

 You can see it asked in the link below, which will surely live in infamy:

 In this case the Guthrie show of hands question was;

"Raise your hand if your government plan would provide coverage for undocumented immigrants."

Whereupon all the candidates, so far I could see, promptly committed political hari kari and obeyed like a bunch of brain dead zombies.  If "nuance" is a crucial need in the next debate tonight, I'd say applying it to this ranks even higher than attention to Mr. Holt's question. Certainly if IQ was a critical attribute for a leader all of these dopes would fail.  Let's return to debate Co-moderator Lester  Holt who also  used the “raise your hand”  idiocy on both campaign nights, i.e.. “Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan?,” 

Abolish private health insurance?  You twit! You just asked the candidates to flat out volunteer who would take insurance away from 150m Americans.  That is 150 m potential voters you've  inflamed or upset. For what? A damned sound bite moment?
Once again, with virtually no exceptions, the Democratic presidential contenders fell into the “gotcha” trap.   Smelling blood,  Trump tweeted before the second debate had ended: “All Democrats just raised their hands for giving millions of illegal aliens unlimited healthcare. How about taking care of American Citizens first!? That’s the end of that race.” 
Again, most of those onstage committed hari kari in front of tens of millions of viewers. And Republican National Committee admen.

As anyone with even half a working brain ought to know, "show of hands" questions are the hallmarks of  indolent, dumbed down moderators, trying to cut corners, take short cuts.  They are designed to quickly, definitively, and somewhat simplistically separate candidates from one another on “hot button” policies.   You sure as shit can't get much more hot button than asking about whether you'd provide coverage to undocumented immigrants - especially in a polarized, immigrant anxious country.   Just as you can't get much more hot button than asking a candidate out of the freaking blue what he'd do if his wife was raped, say to get his stance on the death penalty.

But this is what our political, electoral landscape has devolved to: big circus freak shows posing as debates which give precious little leeway for thoughtful questions - opting instead for the noisome 'gotcha' kind.  It's enough to make a citizen barf.

Too, these asinine 'show of hands' questions  often force candidates to instantaneously display  positions they might never have with thoughtful consideration of the full risks, consequences.  This is why it's critical candidates at these events think before they put hands up - in a 'millions of viewers'  image or action - that can be captured by the other side for any purpose it desires.  Then replayed ad nauseam on local or national political ads.

There is, of course, the chance of getting a small win, say in attracting primary voters in their party.  However, in the end it's got way too high a damage potential and ends up scaring moderates or independents in the general election. Exactly the  types of voters you need to ensure Trump doesn't snatch a 2nd term thanks to a deformed Electoral College that long since ceased to live up to its purpose as the Founders envisaged.

In the end, I'd like to believe - I say 'like to' because I'm not sure if the lesson sunk in - that our motley crew of Dems would be able to say a resounding 'NO!' next time a moderator moron asks for a show of hands.  Besides, being able to say 'No' at a critical juncture should also be an essential attribute for a president to be.

Let's say that I hope that in the next two debates the candidates will have the cojones to tell the moderator(s) to stuff if the latter attempt a dopey 'show of hands gimmick.

See also:
by Lawrence Wittner | July 30, 2019 - 5:54am | 

Monday, July 29, 2019

After Last Week We Can Truly Say The Asteroid Peril Isn't just Science Fiction

Image result for images for Chelyabinsk asteroid
Image of the Chelyabinsk asteroid's exploded trail  over Chelyabinsk, Russia,  in 2013.

An interesting article by Gordon L. Dillow ('The Asteroid Peril Isn't Science Fiction', WSJ, p. C4, July 6-7) appeared barely two weeks before a real asteroid scare, which few humans may know about. This near hit concerned the asteroid 2019 OK  which was definitely not "ok" in terms of its near collision with Earth.  This is also given  no one picked it up until it had already passed.

Alan Duffy  - lead astronomer at the Royal Institution of Australia-   was  particularly confused in the aftermath.  This was given  a couple of forecasts had already predicted a couple asteroids were to pass close to the Earth  last week.   So, in Duffy's mind, everyone was getting hysterical over something already known to be coming, but evidently not. Because most did not know as 2019 OK whizzed past Earth.
That led Duffy to say:
I was stunned.  This was a true shock.”


So what happened and why wasn't it on more astronomers 'radars' so to speak?  According to Michael Brown - a Melbourne-based observational astronomer- this particular beast wasn't one that astronomers had been tracking. And it "seemingly appeared from out of nowhere". 

Let's back up here. By 'out of nowhere' he means from the direction of the Sun which of course will obscure any relatively small rock headed for us. In this case, we're talking of an object weighing in at nearly  6 x 10 14  kg and wider than an NFL football field. The trouble is, as Gordon Dellow's article makes clear, there are "hundreds of thousands of other near Earth asteroids both large and small which up to now haven't been identified." If they haven't been identified that means we don't have their orbital elements and hence can't predict what tracks they will take, including how close to Earth in the future.   The other not so sanguine news?  The funding allocated for asteroid defense this year is barely 1 percent of NASA's total budget of $21.5 billion.

Certainly, before planing expeditions back to the Moon and Mars we ought to be shoring up our defenses against oncoming asteroids that could wipe out whole cities - or islands - no?

Our previous asteroid wake up call occurred with the  Chelyabinsk object (est. 66 feet in diameter)  that blew up over that Russian city in 2013.  That event was energetic enough to injure over  1,000 people by flying debris as the shock wave from the explosion swept across the Russian city, shattering windows and leaving a trail of damage.  The explosion was estimated to have had a force greater than 30 Hiroshima atomic bombs, according to NASA scientists.  

By contrast, the object that just missed us would have been in the 1- 2 megaton energy range and had it struck a city like New York or Philly, would have incinerated it, reduced it to ashes. If it had struck Barbados, as I pointed out to Janice, it would have flatted that little 21 by 14 miles island. 

According to data from NASA, the craggy rock was large, an estimated 57 to 130 meters wide (187 to 427 feet), and moving fast along a path that brought it within about 73,000 kilometers (45,000 miles) of Earth. That’s less than one-fifth of the distance to the moon and what Duffy considers “uncomfortably close.”
It snuck up on us pretty quickly,” said Brown, an associate professor in with Monash University’s School of Physics and Astronomy. He later noted, “People are only sort of realizing what happened pretty much after it’s already flung past us.
Not good enough my Astro friends!   The asteroid’s presence was discovered only earlier this past week by separate astronomy teams in Brazil and the United States. Information about its size and path was announced just hours before it shot past Earth, Prof. Brown said.  He added:

It shook me out my morning complacency. It’s probably the largest asteroid to pass this close to Earth in quite a number of years.”

So how did the event almost go unnoticed?  Nothing this size is easy to detect,” Duffy said of Asteroid 2019 OK. ″You’re really relying on reflected sunlight, and even at closest approach it was barely visible with a pair of binoculars.”

Brown said the asteroid’s “eccentric orbit” and speed were also likely factors in what made spotting it ahead of time challenging. Its “very elliptical orbit” takes it “from beyond Mars to within the orbit of Venus,” which means the amount of time it spends near Earth where it is detectable isn’t long, he said. As it approached Earth, the asteroid was traveling at about 24 kilometers per second, he said, or nearly 54,000 mph. By contrast, other recent asteroids that flew by Earth clocked in between 4 and 19 kilometers per second (8,900 to 42,500 mph).

Regarding the elusive 2019 OK object, Prof. Brown went on to say:

It’s faint for a long time.  With a week or two to go, it’s getting bright enough to detect, but someone needs to look in the right spot. Once it’s finally recognized, then things happen quickly, but this thing’s approaching quickly so we only sort of knew about it very soon before the flyby.
Basically summarizing why we desperately need thousands, hell, millions, more asteroid detection volunteers with basic astronomy principles guiding them and the telescopes needed for the job.  Such an instrument would be along the lines of the Celestron-14 shown below:

Ironically in May, barely two months before the close pass of 2019 OK, a hypothetical  asteroid impact exercise had been conducted.   This was as part of the International Academy of Astronautics Sixth Planetary Defense Conference held in College Park, MD.

As described by Dellows (ibid.) the exercise began when astronomers in Hawaii detected an 800 foot wide asteroid they dubbed 2019 PDC.  In other words, roughly twice the maximum estimated diameter (427' )  of the actual 2019 OK that just brushed past us.   The decision of the team was then to try to "reduce its speed by a tiny fraction" using missile "kinetic impactors".   Then:  "By the time it reaches its predicted rendezvous point with Earth, our planet will have already moved in its orbit."  All well and good, right?  Not really, as Dellows continues:

"Three of the impactor ships smashed into the asteroid.  The main body was destroyed and would miss Earth.  Denver (the original target) was saved. Unfortunately, one of the kinetic impacts inadvertently broke off a 200-foot wide chunk of the asteroid - and that hurtling fragment was now on track to hit New York City,"

Let's pause here to point out the size of the fragment was smaller (by up to a factor 2)  than the estimated size of 2019 OK that just missed Earth.  Anyway, as we read on (ibid.):
"The only hope was to destroy the fragment with a nuclear device.  But existing ground -launched nuclear missiles were not designed to take on an space and there wasn't time to launch a nuclear armed device to intercept the asteroid chunk.  New York would just have to take the hit."

So what was done in the exercise?

"Millions of people were evacuated.  The asteroid exploded in a fireball over Central Park.- and Manhattan was wiped off the map."

Two takeaways:  First, at least the exercise saw a partial success in that the population of Manhattan was evacuated in time, though they had nothing to return to but ashes. Second, The much larger REAL asteroid that appeared last week, and would have REALLY destroyed Manhattan (or Barbados) missed us by an astronomical hair's breadth.

The consolation? "The chances of a civilization- destroying asteroid are exceedingly small".  Well, true, but they are not zero.  After one hit in 2013 and another near collision this month, I suspect it's time we get a real plan in place especially for these smaller, city-killer asteroids that emerge at the last minute.    As Dellows ends his piece:
"It isn't a question of whether humankind will have to confront the prospect of a destructive asteroid hurtling our way; it is only a question of when."

Let's hope that 'when' is still a long, long time away.

See also:

Baltimore Sun To Trump: 'Better To Have A Few Rats Than To BE A Rat' - Suck That One Up, Dotard!

Image result for Trump as a rat images
Trump the human rat - who is unable to see the ratlike nature of himself.

"The core of this man is racist in a way that is so fused to his sense of the world that he is incapable of seeing it as racist. It is instinctual for him to attack people of color. It is instinctual for him to denigrate the places they live and the countries to which they trace their heritage... 

Trump is a racist. Say that out loud. Say it with the profundity that it deserves. That to me is the beginning and the ending of the rationale I need to stand steadfast in my resistance."  - Charles Blow, NY Times, 'The Rot You Smell Is A Racist Potus'

It didn't take long before Baltimore's flagship, historically renowned newspaper (The Sun) had a spot- on response to the malicious human rat fouling the White House and the office of the presidency.  This was after the maggoty, orange-haired rodent fired off more deranged, racist tweets attacking Rep. Elijah Cummings.. This after Rep. Cummings properly reamed out one of Trump's Swamp Rats  (acting head of  Homeland Security) who agency oversaw horrific conditions at ICE facilities near the border.

Trump then attacked the House oversight committee chair, Elijah Cummings, on Saturday, claiming his congressional district in Baltimore was a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess”. But  this is choice, given Trump has had his own problems with rodents in his assorted domeciles, including Trump Tower and Mar -a Lago (where many human rodents also congregate). .  For example, in February, the Trump Tower Grille in the was reported for “live mice” and other health code violations.  (Including cockroach feces)

New York City health inspectors visited the restaurant on 11 July 2018 and found “evidence of mice or live mice” in and around the kitchen, a violation of sanitary standards that was deemed to be “critical”. The inspectors also found the restaurant not to be “vermin-proof”, adding that it was “conducive to attracting vermin” and “allowing vermin to exist”.  Well, what the hell does one expect when perhaps the most vile 2-legged vermin in history owns it, even as the same vermin is polluting the rest of the nation with his disgusting behavior every day.  

All this needs to be exposed now as Dotard is hurling rodent epithets at Rep. Cummings.  For those who missed it. Trump in his 'on the crapper' tweets also called Cummings a “brutal bully” and said that Baltimore was “FAR WORSE and more dangerous” than the border camps. Let's also point out that Trump TV shortly before Trump’s rant, aired a propaganda segment comparing Baltimore’s more impoverished areas to the border camps.

The descriptions - as with Trump's reference to "shithole countries: 2 years ago - became too much for the editors of The Sun who then wrote "it was “better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood” than to be one."

Which words basically nailed it, because as the top image depicts, Trump is a human slime and vermin - and really - calling him a rat in a way does a disservice to rats. In finding useful terms to describe Trump it is perhaps better to go to lower orders on the ecological or food chain hierarchy. Say, like the brain eating amoeba, e.g.

After all, Trump "eats" the brains - what few there are - of his Zombie followers each each and every day. Often in bites (bytes) with his tweets, but sometimes in gulps - as when he went to a rally in North Carolina and within minutes had all the yahoos chanting "Send them back"  Evoking his display back in 2017 when he praised Neo Nazis marching in Charlottesville.
Image result for brane space, Charlottesville

I mean you can't make this shit up. This is Trump. The national divider, the wannabe Fuhrer,  the foulest excuse for a president ever to occupy the office.   Thus The Sun correctly categorized Trump’s attacks on Cummings as a political ploy that can be filed with the maggot's other attacks - such as on the Squad. As the editors wrote:

Mr. Trump uses attacking African American members of Congress as good politics, as it both warms the cockles of the white supremacists who love him,”
The Sun’s most scorching lines were as follows, writing in parlance even I had to admire, because it embraced words I'd use myself,

"We would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are ‘good people’ among murderous neo-Nazis that he’s still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post.

Bravo to The Sun's editors for their robust defense of Baltimore - which city wifey and I lived near for just under nine years (after moving from Barbados) . We still have fond memories of, in terms of the arts, its symphony and the scientific conferences I attended at its Convention Center, near the Inner Harbor, e.g.
Image may contain: 1 person
Baltimore also has some of the finest scientific institutions in the nation including the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics lab, and the Space Telescope Science Institute. Of course, Donnie Dotard as obtuse human vermin (and orange mold) wouldn't know any of this when he hurls his rodent epithets. This is given he can't even see the rats in front of his own face, including the feral, two-legged one staring back at him in his mirror.

Lastly, it was almost inevitable that a garbage -eating, garbage- spewing rat like Trump would pick a rat like Rep.(R-TX) John Lee RAT-cliffe to succeed Dan Coats as Director of National Intelligence. Thereby replacing the last adult in the room with an overambitious, underqualified, juvenile delinquent and sycophantic butt kisser. (Recall how Ratcliffe sucked up to Trump during the Mueller hearing with his idiotic semantics act.)

We can now be certain whatever Kim and N. Korea do will be studiously ignored if RAT-cliffe becomes DNI, as national security takes a back seat to appeasing Dotard's boundless ego. In the meantime, Trump went off the mental rails again using projection to try to displace his racism onto the Democrats who've stood up to his sorry maggot ass.

We'd better hope with or without impeachment, we have enough citizens with sense to rid ourselves of this orange fungal infestation next year. Or, as Janice puts it, we will all "be for the high jump."

See also:

Friday, July 26, 2019

Are We Approaching The "End Of Physics"? Not Even Close

"The end of physics" has been a theme that's been circulating in the parochial memosphere at odd times since the late 19th century.   And not too long after each invocation (e.g. before the dawn of quantum theory and Planck's contributions) it was found wanting and skewered. In no uncertain terms.  Somewhat like Francis Fukuyama's "The End of History" the meme almost always has embodied a typically human arrogance that we've now come to know everything we need to, or that the truly rich and varied events (or findings) have by now been exhausted.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

One of the more recent incarnations of the theme emerged recently in a WSJ Review piece by Frank Wilczek ('Have We Come To The End Of Physics',  July 6-7, p. C2)   He basically summarizes the relevant memes as follows:

"Physicists, bewitched by mathematical beauty, are failing to solve new problems"......"High class physicists no longer care about physical reality - nor should they"...."Science is over."

The last is especially idiotic given there are hundreds of fronts on which science now advances and for which more research is needed, from CRISPR -CAS9 gene splicing, to the genetic basis for cancers and appropriate therapies, to nuclear fusion, to halting viral outbreaks, from Ebola to the next flu pandemic.  Then there is perhaps the most significant relevant physics at this time, that of atmospheric physics as it relates to climate change and greenhouse  gas warming.

But Wilczek ties the latest memes to three recent books:  'Lost in Math' by Sabine Hoseenfelder, 'String Theory and the Scientific Method', by Richard Dawid,  and 'The End of Science' by John Horgan.  As Wilczek correctly notes:

"For theoretical physicists they are kind of a reproach, since they argue that today's physics has gotten itself into a dead end."

But as usual the fallacy of composition is rife, in the cited authors conflating all of physics to what is actually practiced by perhaps 1 percent, if that.   Hence, it makes no sense to judge the research of the 99 percent from the 1 percent, say doing string theory,  multiverse conjectures or quintessence in conjunction with dark energy.  Any perusal of  Physics Today  archives over the past year would  quickly kibosh the notion that "physics is at an end". These include a host of empirically validated discoveries, which seldom make the news like string theory or multiverse speculations.  These have included:

'Dark Matter Detector Observes Rare Nuclear Decay' (July, 2019, p. 14)

Role of piezoelectric crystals for long range transmission of EM waves'.(Op. cit, p. 19)

'Heterogeneous Catalysis', Op. cit. p. 38)

'Isotope Measurements Help Pin Down The Ancient Rise Of Oxygen' (June, 2018, p. 16)

'First direct views of attosecond electron-nuclear coupling' (Op. cit., p. 17)

'QED experiment detects two distinct photons simultaneously resonant with an optical cavity'  (and with one of two electronic transitions of the same atom)  (August, 2018, p. 14)

'Use of Xenon isotopes to track volatile recycling in Earth's mantle' (October, 2018 p. 14)

'Acoustic metasurface creates quiet locations in a room' (August, 2018 p. 18)

Granted, none of these are especially 'sexy'  or exotic but all give the lie to Horgan's claim that physics has somehow become "unmoored"   from empirical evidence.

Indeed, as Wilczek pointedly observes:

"Opinions may differ on the current health of physics, but no reasonable person can dispute that it has been a hugely successful enterprise"

Correctly noting that without the revolutionary  breakthroughs in 20th century physics - namely quantum theory and relativity - we'd never have seen or used nuclear power, lasers, rockets (such as the Saturn V moon rocket), GPS technology, cell phones or the quantum computers now coming onto the scene.  In other words, without physics our civilization would still be at the level of the Victorian horse and buggy phase.  

Seeing the vast spectrum of current physics research in the PT issues cited above, one quickly comes to the conclusion that Horgan's contention that "physicists' time is past" and "they should do something else instead" (ibid.) borders on the imbecilic. And if physicists acceded to Horgan's wishes who would expand our current frontiers say of climate research, or the prediction of  the next asteroid strike or coronal mass ejections - with the potential to reduce our civilization to Dark ages' life quality?  I mean, seriously? 

I suspect much of the problem - such as for Mr. Horgan (and I believe much of the general public) - is that physics' "fancy" mathematics irritates them, galls them - because well, they can't do it!  Most of the public - even those who read Scientific American- probably halted their math courses at Calculus, if they even took that.  And from what I've read in a few education journals, barely 1 in 1000 Americans ever see the inside of a physics lab in connection with a college level General Physics course.   So it is little wonder there is an existing impatience with theoretical physics and its "gibberish" equations and material.   No one - least of all any upstanding American (with an opinion on everything else)  - wishes to be made to feel like a  dummy when confronted perhaps by a tensor equation, e.g

ds2   =  g mn dx m dx n
   = g 11 dx12    + g 22 dx22    + g 33 dx32    + g 44 dx42                           
+   2 g 12 dx1 dx+   2 g 13 dx1 dx3 +   2 g 14 dx1 dx4
+   2 g 24 dx2 dx+   2 g 34 dx3 dx4 +   2 g 41 dx4 dx1
+   2 g 42 dx4 dx2 +   2 g 43 dx4 dx3

Hence, Wilczek's reference to the late 20th century's  articulation of the so-called 'Standard Model' is germane.  As he notes it "reached a very high plateau"  and also offered "well tested equations for the behavior of ordinary matter under ordinary conditions "    Also, acknowledging that "the theoretical framework of the Standard model was in place by the 1970s."  It also "predicted and enabled spectacular discoveries such as the Higgs boson".

As for Horgan and his contentions, I had dealt with them before, pertaining to an article appearing  last year under the banner 'Serious Doubt On Serious Earth' in the WSJ Review section (p. C12, Oct. 20-21).   It dealt with two books, one by the late Stephen Hawking ('Brief Answers to the Big Questions') and by Martin Rees ('On the Future').   What I showed in an October, 2018 post is that Horgan basically didn't know what he was writing about. 

Frank Wilczek, by contrast, mostly does know what he's writing about  Especially in ending:

"The plateau we've reached is a good place to be. In fact, physics is especially exciting these days, because we're learning how to use our understanding of 'ordinary matter' to make machine assistants...that will amplify our thoughts, do useful things."

Well said, but let's also bear in mind there will always be a major role in physics for theoretical research which may not deliver anything with "nuts and bolts"  - or  sensors- say to make lives more comfortable and convenient.   

To get an idea of the sheer expanse of pure research merely  in astrophysics, check out the papers in the link to  this Astrophysical Journal issue below:

Even if you are unable to grasp the content in the specific papers, it is instructive to peruse the span of topics just from this single issue .