Monday, November 30, 2009

Iraq, books, Matthew Trevithick--healing


I have been informed that this enterprise has been curtailed and that Matthew Trevithick has become involved in activities at another Mideastern university, thus the request for materials mentioned below are no longer solicited.


"Hingham resident collecting books for library at new university in Iraq"

by Tony Catinella

November 30th, 2009

The Patriot Ledger

Matthew Trevithick spent his college years at Boston University learning about the Middle East and its people.

Now, the Hingham native is working in Iraq to educate some of those people.

“It’s good to be on the ground in the Middle East, because you have to experience it,” the 24-year-old said. “You can’t just be in America and talk about it.”

Trevithick, who graduated in 2008 with a degree in international relations, is the librarian at a new university, American University of Iraq. He is collecting books and working to establish a library for the school, which is Sulaimani, in Iraq’s Kurdish region.

He arrived at American University three months ago after working at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C., and the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University.

Trevithick started at the American University of Iraq as an assistant to the provost, primarily writing handbooks and manuals. But like many other employees at this upstart university, he stepped in to fill a position when asked. The liberal arts school had no librarian, and Trevithick accepted the assignment in addition to his other duties.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck enterprise; you don’t just teach a class and go home,” he said. “You ... are constantly working and doing different jobs.”

The American University of Iraq opened in 2007 to offer a Western-style liberal arts education. Classes are taught in English and students study philosophy, computer science, business management, and European and American history. About 400 students are enrolled.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is chairman of the university’s board of regents, which includes Nechirvan Barzani. The two men are the top Kurdish leaders in Iraq, heading opposing political parties.

Trevithick’s goal is to make the library as large and dependable as the ones at universities in America.

“At the end of the day, the library needs books, and that’s been one of the bigger challenges – getting the raw books here,” Trevithick said. “The outpouring support is always really high, but it’s also hard to get people to spend the money required to send a few books to Iraq.”

Trevithick started contacting electronic databases such as Lexis Nexis, JSTOR and ProQuest to secure their programs. Now he is conducting a donation drive, asking libraries in the United States to donate books. He is using his bedroom at his parent’s Hingham home as a storage area for donated books that will be sent overseas.

“A box will show up every other day. Sometimes it will have one book, sometimes it will have 10 books,” said his mother, Amelia Newcomb, who is deputy international editor for the Christian Science Monitor.

Newcomb said the donations include books on Christianity, economics and political theory, copies of the U.S. Constitution, and books by Tom Brokaw and Studs Terkel.

“I think people like the idea that they can contribute to learning and see it as a positive way for Americans to support Iraq,” Newcomb said.

About 250 books have been donated from all across the United States, but Trevithick still needs to find a donor to pay to ship the books to Iraq.

He will be returning to Hingham in early December for the holidays. On Dec. 17, he will speak at the Hingham Public Library about Iraq, and he hopes to additional donations.


I have been informed that this enterprise has been curtailed and that Matthew Trevithick has become involved in activities at another Mideastern university, thus the request for materials mentioned above are no longer solicited.


The Royal online papers

"The Royal Society puts historic papers online"

November 30th, 2009


One of the world's oldest scientific institutions is marking the start of its 350th year by putting 60 of its most memorable research papers online.

The Royal Society, founded in London in 1660, is making public manuscripts by figures like Sir Isaac Newton.

Benjamin Franklin's account of his risky kite-flying experiment is also available on the Trailblazing website.

Society president Lord Rees said the papers documented some of the most "thrilling moments" in science history.

The Royal Society grew out of the so-called "Invisible College" of thinkers who began meeting in the mid-1640s to discuss science and philosophy.

Its official foundation date is 28 November 1660 and thereafter it met weekly to debate and witness experiments.

Mozart study

The papers published on the Trailblazing website were first printed in the society's journal, Philosophical Transactions.

They were chosen from 60,000 printed since the journal's foundation in 1665 - a date which makes it the oldest continuously published scientific periodical in the world.

Among the highlights are a gruesome account of a 17th Century blood transfusion and the article in which Sir Isaac showed that white light is a mixture of other colours.

Also included is Mr Franklin's account of his ill-advised attempt in 1752 to show that lightning was a form of electricity by flying a kite in a storm, and a 1970 paper on black holes co-written by Professor Stephen Hawking.

There is also an entertaining paper about a study of the nine-year-old Mozart in London in 1770 to determine whether he really was a child prodigy.

Suggestions he was in fact a midget adult were dismissed by writer Daines Barrington on the grounds that young Wolfgang was more enthusiastic about playing with his cat than practising his harpsichord.

'Thrilling moments'

Lord Rees said: "The scientific papers on Trailblazing represent a ceaseless quest by scientists over the centuries, many of them Fellows of the Royal Society, to test and build on our knowledge of humankind and the universe.

"Individually, they represent those thrilling moments when science allows us to understand better and to see further."

The Royal Society is holding a series of events during its 350th year to mark the anniversary.

They include a nine-day science and arts festival next summer and a series of public lectures and debates at its London headquarters.

The Royal Society of London

St. Andrew’s Day and Scottish Inventors

"Nov. 30: A St. Andrew’s Day Salute to Scottish Inventors"


Lewis Wallace

November 30th, 2009


Nov. 30: It’s St. Andrew’s Day, the national day of Scotland. So we offer a toast to the great inventors who have applied Scottish ingenuity to their work over the years, helping craft the modern world in the process.

Some, like Alexander Graham Bell and James Watt, are well-known.

Others, like Arthur James Arnot — a Scot who moved to Australia, where he patented the electric drill — are less so.

In the wake of the Scottish Enlightenment, an 18th-century period during which the country achieved great intellectual and scientific accomplishments, emigrants such as Arnot spread what writer Arthur Herman calls the “Scottish mentality” well beyond the United Kingdom.

“When we gaze out on a contemporary world shaped by technology, capitalism and modern democracy, and struggle to find our own place in it, we are in effect viewing the world through the same lens as the Scots did,” writes Herman in his 2001 book, How the Scots Invented the Modern World.

Here are some of the great Scottish inventors who helped change the world:

  • John Aitken: Inventor of the koniscope, or dust counter, an instrument designed to measure the content of particles in the atmosphere.
  • Alexander Bain: Inventor of the electric clock.
  • Patrick Bell: This Church of Scotland minister invented the reaping machine, but refused to patent his horse-powered agricultural device, because he wanted mankind to benefit freely.
  • James Blyth: An electrical engineer, his pioneering windmill became the world’s first structure to generate electricity from wind.
  • Dugald Clerk: Designer of the first two-stroke engine.
  • Robert Davidson: Builder of the first electric locomotive.
  • James Dewar: Inventor of the Dewar flask (the first vacuum flask, progenitor of the Thermos bottle).
  • William Kennedy Dickson: Creator of the Kinetoscope, an early movie-projection device. (Dickson developed the machine based on an idea by his employer, Thomas Edison.)
  • Patrick Ferguson: Inventor of the Ferguson rifle.
  • Sir William Fergusson: Inventor of several surgical tools, including bone forceps, lion forceps and the vaginal speculum.
  • William Ged: Inventor of stereotype printing.
  • Barbara Gilmour Creator of Dunlop cheese, made from the unskimmed milk of Ayrshire cows.
  • James Goodfellow: Invented the automatic teller machine and patented personal-identification-number tech.
  • Fleeming Jenkin: Inventor of telpherage, the system for moving an aerial tram using one fixed cable and another that pulls the car.
  • Charles Macintosh: Inventor of waterproof fabrics (the Mackintosh raincoat is named after him).
  • John Loudon McAdam: Inventor of the road-building process called “macadamization,” which introduced tar into the materials list, paving the way for today’s modern roads.
  • John Napier: Creator of logartihms and an abacus known as “Napier’s bones.”
  • James Nasmyth: Inventor of the steam hammer.
  • William Nicol: Inventor of the Nicol prism, the first-ever device for obtaining plane-polarized light.
  • James Porteous: Inventor of the Fresno scraper, a revolutionary agricultural implement that greatly influenced modern earth movers.
  • Thomas Stevenson: Creator of the Stevenson screen, an enclosure for protecting meteorological gear. He also designed dozens of lighthouses.
  • Robert Stirling: Inventor of the Stirling engine.
  • William Symington: Builder of the “first practical steamboat.”
  • Robert Watson-Watt: Patented radar.
  • Robert Wauchope: Inventor of the time ball, a shore-based device that lets mariners synchronize and check the accuracy of their marine chronometers while at sea.

How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It


Arthur Herman

ISBN-10: 0609606352
ISBN-13: 978-0609606353

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Who [or what] are the true explorers?

I'm not too sure that this is a real question. What difference does it make? And, doesn't it all hinge on definition? And down the road will the question be asked again when artificial intelligence is common place?

"Should NASA's Mars Rover be compared to Columbus?"


Dan Vergano

November 29th, 2009


Christopher Columbus, Lewis & Clark and NASA's Mars rovers — which ones are true explorers?

All or none, suggest two astronomers in the current Space Policy journal, arguing that how we define "exploration" may set the success or failure of NASA's future.

Right now, that future looks very much at risk with the blue-ribbon "Augustine Commission" panel report last month calling for either adding about $3 billion a year to the agency's coffers or calling off the whole astronaut thing.

"For too long we have looked at the history of exploration selectively, seeking to find the antecedents which justify our own vision of exploration: as science, as human adventure, as geopolitical statement," write Daniel Lester of the University of Texas, Austin, and Michael Robinson of Hillyer College in West Hartford, Conn. "This is a definitional fight which cannot be won."

So, the astronomers call for redefining exploration to include endeavors such as the Hubble space telescope as much as future Mars astronauts picking up pebbles in the Red Planet. That may sound like space scientists whining for more money (where they already get about $6 billion of NASA's $18 billion budget), but defining exploration too narrowly as just humans in space risks further trapping the space agency, they warn, in the budget bind that resulted when the Apollo moon missions ended in the 1970's and funding dropped. The last few flights of the space shuttle are already booked, and its rocket replacement is looking further and further away with the federal deficit deepening.

NASA leans heavily on the word "exploration" in its strategic plans, the pair write, particularly after the 2003 Columbia tragedy, which killed seven astronauts, who were cited as explorers in the accident investigations report. Further, the Bush Administration's 2004 "Vision for Space Exploration" plans, which called for astronauts returning to the moon by 2020, made similar appeals to the idea of exploration.

"The historical record offers a rich set of examples of what we call exploration," Lester and Robinson note. "Christopher Columbus sailing to the New World, Roald Amundsen driving his dogs towards the South Pole, and Neil Armstrong stepping into the soft dust of the Moon."

But is Columbus's discovery — an accident — really exploration, they ask? Or Amundsen's trip to the South Pole, a geometric point well understood for millennia? Or even Armstrong taking an 8-day trip to a rock already visited by probes for years before his arrival?

A 1990 blue-ribbon panel on NASA's future (also led by the same Norm Augustine, then head of the defense industry's Martin Marietta corporation) made the case for astronaut flights, noting "the involvement of humans is the essence of exploration." But, "Exploration without science is merely tourism," Harvard astronomer Robert Kirshner argued in 2005, speaking as head of the American Astronomical Society. On the other hand, Planetary Society chief Louis Friedman says, "Exploration" = "Adventure" + "Discovery," and doesn't have to involve science. "To him, astronomy with telescopes is perhaps not a form of exploration at all.," write the Space Policy report authors.

"Is it all about rocks?" ask Lester and Robinson. NASA in its exploration plans, from the moon to Mars to (possibly) asteroids, follows the tradition of explorers planting flags on new territory. Werner von Braun, the German war-rocketeer-turned-NASA-engineer, envisioned just such an exploration path, most famously displayed in Collier's magazine articles from 1952 to 1954, after a childhood immersed in thrilling news report of polar explorers. "Renaissance voyagers during the 'Age of Discovery' viewed other lands — Asia, Africa, and the Spice Islands — as the goal of their voyages. Oceans, on the other hand, were treated as highways rather than habitats, a medium to traverse rather than to be investigated," they write. Polar explorers looked for snow piles to plant flags on, and deep sea explorers sought the ocean's sandy floors. "This penchant for visiting rocks in the name of 'exploration' leaves many kinds of space science at a disadvantage," the astronomers write.

NASA's $79 million Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite scientists this month reported water frozen in lunar craters, a finding that has revived hopes for human moon outposts. But Lester and Robinson note, "From scientific and budgetary points of view, one could make a case that NASA should abandon the human lunar outpost idea altogether and invest its money in telerobotic exploration of the Moon, a project that would cost a fraction of a manned outpost. The same can be said for the exploration of Mars."

That's nice, they say, but then add, "However impressive have been the gains of robotic exploration, it is unlikely that Congress or NASA will abandon human space flight on purely practical grounds to focus solely on scientific goals. If human space flight has offered poor returns for science, it has paid off handsomely in symbolic and geopolitical terms." Landing a man on the moon stands as a signal U.S. achievement, one referenced as recently as President Obama's acceptance speech last year.

So what to do? First we should accept that exploration means different things to different people, they argue, and then move on to a "hybrid" space exploration program that incorporates astronauts, robots and nations together in efforts that make economic sense to a public in the midst of a deep recession.

"That exploration has deep roots in human history is clear. Yet meanings of exploration continue to change. The models of Apollo, the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station — all conceived in an era before advanced telerobotics — now have limited value in predicting the future course of space exploration," the pair argue. "We now face a vision of exploration that is different from that of our ancestors."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Deceased--Waldo Hunt

Waldo Hunt
November 28th, 1920 to November 6th, 2009

Okay, not a man of philosophy or science but one who promoted those curious pop-up books. There really is an art to making them and a knowledge of geometry. Just enter "pop-up" books in any image search engine and 100s of examples will be displayed.

"Waldo Hunt, King of the Pop-Up Book, Dies at 88"


Margalit Fox

November 26th, 2009

The New York Times

On the flat, foursquare pages of a printed book, Waldo H. Hunt could part the Red Sea. He could make hearts beat, lungs fill and bones rattle. He could make dinosaurs rear up, ships set sail and bats quiver in belfries.

An advertising man turned novelty-book packager, Mr. Hunt was almost single-handedly responsible for the postwar revival of the pop-up book in the United States. For decades the country’s leading producer of the books, he is widely credited with having taken a long dormant, long marginalized and long unprofitable publishing genre and making it a thriving, ubiquitous industry.

Mr. Hunt, who lived in Springville, Calif., died on Nov. 6 at 88. His death, in Porterville, Calif., was of congestive heart failure, his family said.

Mr. Hunt’s company, Intervisual Books, produced many of the best-known pop-up books of the modern era, among them “The Human Body,” by Jonathan Miller and David Pelham (Viking Press, 1983), featuring movable internal organs; “The Honeybee and the Robber” (Philomel, 1981), a moving picture book by Eric Carle; and the pop-up version of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (Scholastic, 2002).

One of Mr. Hunt’s books, Jan Pienkowski’s “Haunted House” (Heinemann, 1979), received the Kate Greenaway Medal, a prestigious British prize for children’s book illustration. It was a highly unusual honor for a pop-up book.

Besides working for commercial publishers, Mr. Hunt produced everything from pop-up books to greeting cards, table decorations and store displays for clients like National Geographic, Hallmark Cards and the Walt Disney Company.

Mr. Hunt was also an avid collector of movable books — a term encompassing pop-ups books and those otherwise set in motion — amassing more than a thousand antique and contemporary titles. In 2002 his collection formed the basis of an exhibition, “Pop Up! 500 Years of Movable Books,” at the Los Angeles Central Library.

That year Movable Stationery, the newsletter of the Movable Book Society, an organization of scholars and enthusiasts, called Mr. Hunt “the paterfamilias of pop-up.”

Waldo Henley Hunt, familiarly known as Wally, was born on Nov. 28, 1920, in Chicago and reared in California. He briefly attended Stanford University before serving in the Army during World War II. After the war he started his own advertising agency, eventually called W. H. Hunt & Associates, in Los Angeles.

In the mid-1950s Mr. Hunt sold his agency to Compton Advertising, a large New York concern, staying on as its Los Angeles manager. Growing disenchanted with the industry, he formed a new company, Graphics International, with a colleague in the early ’60s. But Mr. Hunt did not find his company’s true direction until after he came across the work of Vojtech Kubasta, a master Czech paper engineer of the mid-20th-century whose pop-up castles and cathedrals seemed to leap off the page.

Through Graphics International Mr. Hunt began producing pop-up advertising inserts for magazines, including the Wrigley Zoo, a memorable series of chewing-gum ads featuring a three-dimensional menagerie. But before he could crack the trade-book market, he had to overcome two longstanding hurdles: institutional bias and prohibitive cost.

“For the longest time, children’s books in general were considered the stepchild of publishing,” Robert Sabuda, a noted pop-up-book artist, said in a telephone interview on Monday. “Pop-up books were considered the stepchild of children’s books.”

Movable books have been around at least since the late Middle Ages. Originally aimed at adult readers, they employed cutting-edge technology — glue, paper, scissors — to illustrate three-dimensional concepts like anatomy, astronomy and landscaping. By the Victorian era, magnificent pop-up fairy-tale books were widely produced for children.

Until the early 20th century, the world’s finest movable books were made by German printers for English publishing houses. With the coming of World War I, the collaboration stopped, Ann R. Montanaro, the director of the Movable Book Society and the author of “Pop-Up and Movable Books: A Bibliography” (Scarecrow Press, 1993), explained by telephone on Monday. By the time Mr. Hunt entered the field, she said, pop-ups were published in this country only rarely, and most were of poor quality.

As a result, Mr. Hunt had to counter the pervasive belief that pop-up books were no more than shoddy toys. He also had to counter the high cost of making them: each book needed to be assembled painstakingly by hand, the method still used today.

“It’s very time-consuming and very involved,” David A. Carter, a well-known pop-up book artist, said on Monday. “The engineering changes from spread to spread and book to book. So it’s not something that can be designed on an assembly line.”

Mr. Hunt took the assembly work abroad, first to Japan and later to Latin America, where costs were lower. After Graphics International secured the contract to produce “Bennett Cerf’s Pop-Up Riddles” (Random House, 1965), his entrĂ©e into the book world was assured.

Graphics International was later sold to Hallmark; in the mid-1970s Mr. Hunt founded what became Intervisual Books. The company, which employed a world-class team of artists, designers and paper engineers, was sold several years ago to Dalmatian Press, a children’s book publisher.

Mr. Hunt’s first two marriages ended in divorce. He is survived by his third wife, the former Patricia Elliott; their daughters, Kimberly Hunt and Jamie Hunt; a daughter, Marsha Hunt, from his second marriage; a brother, Randy; and three grandchildren.

Today bookstores are awash in pop-up books, produced by a bevy of packagers around the country. “None of this would exist without Wally,” Mr. Sabuda said. “None of us would be able to be here doing this now if Wally hadn’t truly blazed the way for us to come up after.”

Pop-Up and Moveable Books

Joan Irvine: How to Make a Pop-up

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"The Starry Messenger"--off Broadway flop

The Starry Messenger appears to be a flop despite the star being an astronomy instructor.

"A soggy 'Starry Messenger' sinks off-Broadway"


Michael Kuchwara

November 23rd, 2009

The New York Times

There's enough material for several plays in "The Starry Messenger," Kenneth Lonergan's sluggish, soggy, mid-life-crisis tale starring Matthew Broderick as an ineffectual astronomy instructor, husband, father and lover.

The drama, which The New Group opened Monday at off-Broadway's Acorn Theatre, is awash in meandering talk, conversations that push toward the three-hour mark without much resolution - or relief. And Lonergan has directed his own play, set in 1995, at such a dawdling pace that its actors might be accused of loitering.

What's needed is more than a few snips to make the playwright's portrait of a milquetoast fellow stumbling through life more compelling. And the curiously detached Broderick doesn't help matters with his remote, slo-mo performance, seeming not to connect with any of the other, much more animated actors on stage.

Broderick plays Mark, an instructor at New York's original Hayden Planetarium (a building torn down in the late 1990s). The man is stymied at work, snared in a humdrum marriage and quarreling with his teenage son. His only pleasure seems to be astronomy, a joy he tries to communicate during the classes he teaches on the subject.

These classroom situations offer at least a few moments of fun, much of it supplied by Kieran Culkin and Stephanie Cannon as two of the instructor's more exasperating students. Culkin is especially effective as a slacker who, at one point, brings in a critique of Mark's performance as a teacher. And Cannon perfectly captures that most annoying of pupils, the type who ask the most clueless of questions.

Mark's home life seems equally dreary: bickering with his wife, played by the crisply assured J. Smith-Cameron, and trying to soften a prickly relationship with his son - Culkin again, in a role than is heard from offstage but not seen.

Things change when Mark meets Angela, a sad, sweet nurse who brings her young son to the planetarium. Their romance doesn't take long to bud but both Broderick and Catalina Sandino Moreno don't generate much heat. It seems a most unlikely liaison.

The actress is much more effective in her hospital scenes where she is dealing with an elderly patient (Merwin Goldsmith) and his combative daughter (Missy Yager). Goldsmith brings refreshing directness to the role of a wise counselor offering common sense advice. He's one of the few people on stage who has a realistic view of life. But his fights with his daughter have little to do with the main plot, as does the appearance of Mark's colleague, portrayed by the likable but underused Grant Shaud.

Lonergan has written several fine plays, most notably "This Is Our Youth,""Lobby Hero" and "The Waverly Gallery." And there are flashes of his accomplished writing here, particularly near the end of the long evening when Mark attempts to explain his love of astronomy to his students during their final class. The sweet-tempered speech is filled with a sense of wonder and theatricality missing from all the earthbound chatter that has gone before.

Here is one that did work...

"Doctor Atomic"

Galileo's "The Starry Messinger"

A 400 year old document is still interesting to read.

Steven Kreis wrote...

About ten months ago a report reached my ears that a certain Fleming had constructed a spyglass by means of which visible objects, though very distant from the eye of the observer, were distinctly see as if nearby. Of this truly remarkable effect several experiences were related, to which some persons gave credence while others denied them. A few days later the report was confirmed to me in a letter from a noble Frenchman at Paris, Jacques Badovere, which caused me to apply myself wholeheartedly to inquire into the means by which I might arrive at the invention of a similar instrument. This I did shortly afterwards, my basis being the theory of refraction. First I prepared a tube of lead, at the ends of which I fitted two glass lenses, both plane on one side while on the other side was one spherically convex and the other concave. Then placing my eye near the concave lens I perceived objects satisfactorily large and near, for they appeared three times closer and nine times larger than when see with the naked eye alone. Next I constructed another one, more accurate, which represented objects as enlarged more than sixty times. Finally, sparing neither labor nor expense, I succeeded in constructing for myself so excellent an instrument that objects seen by means of it appeared nearly one thousand times larger and over thirty times closer than when regarded with our natural vision.

It would be superfluous to enumerate the number and importance of the advantages of such an instrument at sea as well as on land. But forsaking terrestrial observations, I turned to celestial ones, and first I saw the moon from as near at hand as if it were scarcely two terrestrial radii away. After that I observed often with wondering delight both the planets and the fixed stars, and since I saw these latter to be very crowded, I began to seek (and eventually found) a method by which I might measure their distances apart . . . .

Now let us review the observations made during the past two months, once more inviting the attention of all who are eager for true philosophy to the first steps of such important contemplations. Let us speak first of that surface of the moon which faces us, For greater clarity I distinguish two parts of this surface, a lighter and a darker; the lighter part seems to surround and to pervade the whole hemisphere, while the darker part discolors the moon's surface like a kind of cloud, and makes it appear covered with spots. Now those spots which are fairly dark and rather large are plain to everyone and have been seen throughout the ages; these I shall call the "large" or "ancient" spots, distinguishing them from others that are smaller in size but so numerous as to occur all over the lunar surface, and especially the lighter part. The latter spots had never been seen by anyone before me. From observations of these spots repeated many times I have been led to the opinion and conviction that the surface of the moon is not smooth, uniform, and precisely spherical as a great number of philosophers believe it (and the other heavenly bodies) to be, but is uneven, rough, and full of cavities and prominences, being not unlike the face of the earth, relieved by chains of mountains and deep valleys . . . .

On the seventh day of January in this present year 1610, at the first hour of night, when I was viewing the heavenly bodies with a telescope, Jupiter presented itself to me; and because I had prepared a very excellent instrument for myself, I perceived (as I had not before, on account of the weakness of my previous instrument) that beside the planet there were three starlets, small indeed, but very bright. Though I believed them to be among the host of fixed stars, they aroused my curiosity somewhat by appearing to lie in an exact straight line parallel to the ecliptic, and by their being more splendid than others of their size. . . . There were two stars on the eastern side and one to the west. The most easterly star and the western one appeared larger than the other. I paid no attention to the distances between them and Jupiter, for at the outset I thought them to be fixed stars, as I have said. But returning to the same investigation on January eight -- led by what, I do not know -- I found a very different arrangement. The three starlets were now all to the west of Jupiter, closer together, and at equal intervals from one another . . . .

On the tenth of January . . . there were but two of them, both easterly, the third (as I supposed) being hidden behind Jupiter . . . . There was no way in which such alterations could be attributed to Jupiter's motion, yet being certain that these were still the same stars I had observed . . . my perplexity was now transformed into amazement. I was sure that the apparent changes belonged not to Jupiter but to the observed stars, and I resolved to pursue this investigation with greater care and attention . . . .

I had now decided beyond all question that there existed in the heavens three stars wandering about Jupiter as do Venus and Mercury about the sun, and this became plainer than daylight from observations on similar occasions which followed. Nor were there just three such stars; four wanderers complete their revolution about Jupiter . . . .

Here we have a fine and elegant argument for quieting the doubts of those who, while accepting with tranquil mind the revolutions of the planets about the sun in the Copernican system, are mightily disturbed to have the moon alone revolve about the earth and accompany it in annual rotation about the sun. Some have believed that this structure of the universe should be rejected as impossible. But now we have not just one planet rotating about another while both run through a greater orbit around the sun; our eyes show us four stars which wander about Jupiter as does the moon around the earth, while all together trace out a grand revolution about the sun in the space of twelve years.

Galileo's The Starry Messinger

Galileo's telescope in Philadelphia

Philadelphia and Galileo's telescope

Howard Carter's voice--Valley of the Kings

Howard Carter
May 9th, 1874 to March 2nd, 1939

It is always interesting to hear the actual voice of an individual from the past...Howard Carter who discovered King Tutankhamun's tomb.

The Valley of the Kings

Howard Carter

Classic Egyptology

Thanks to Andrea Byrnes.

LHC...the world didn't end--yet

"First atoms reported smashed in Large Hadron Collider"

November 23td, 2009

In a statement, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) said two beams circulating simultaneously led to collisions at all four detection points during the afternoon and evening.

"It's a great achievement to have come this far in so short a time," said CERN director general Rolf Heuer. "But we need to keep a sense of perspective. There's still much to do before we can start the LHC physics programme."

CERN had declared earlier Monday the relaunch of the 3.9 billion euro (five billion dollar) collider "an enormous success," after it was out of action for 14 months due to a serious electrical fault.

Scientists are looking to the collider -- inside a 27-kilometre (16.8-mile) tunnel straddling the Franco-Swiss border -- to mimic the conditions that followed the Big Bang and help explain the origins of the universe.

"Today the LHC circulated two beams simultaneously for the first time, allowing the operators to test the synchronization of the beams and giving the experiments their first chance to look for proton-proton collisions," CERN said in its statement.

"With just one bunch of particles circulating in each direction, the beams can be made to cross in up to two places in the ring," it explained.

The first collision was picked up at 2:44 pm (1344 GMT) by the Atlas detector, beneath the Swiss town of Meyrin, one of several laid out along the route of the world's most powerful physics experiment.

Smash-ups then followed at the three other detectors, known as CMS, Alice and LHCb.

"It was standing-room-only in the Alice control room and cheers erupted with the first collisions," said Alice spokesperson Jurgen Schukraft. "This is simply tremendous."

"The tracks we're seeing are beautiful," added LHCb spokesperson Andrei Golutvin, quoted in the CERN statement. "We're all ready for serious data taking in a few days time."

Earlier in the day, scientists injected the first sub-atomic particles back into the collider, then got particle beams circulating within the accelerator.

The LHC has an operating life of up to 15 years, and the collisions that it produces should generate masses of data that could unlock mysteries about the creation of the universe and the fundamental nature of matter.

Scientists want to get the collider running at 1.2 teraelectronvolts or 1.2 trillion electronvolts by year's end -- with one teraelectronvolt equal to the energy of a flying mosquito, said a CERN spokeswoman.

That would match the maximum output of what now is the largest functioning collider in the world, at the Fermilab near Chicago in the United States.

By next year, however, the LHC should be ramped up to 3.5 teraelectronvolts, reaching "close to five" teraelectronvolts in the second half of next year. Maximum power is 7.0 teraelectronvolts.

"Already with 3.5 TeV, we can open new windows into physics. That can already happen next year," said Heuer earlier Monday, refraining however from predicting how soon fresh data could be generated.

The LHC took nearly 20 years to construct and aims to resolve physics enigmas such as an explanation for "dark matter" and "dark energy" that account for 96 percent of the cosmos and whether other dimensions exist parallel to our own.

The Holy Grail will be finding a theorised component called the Higgs Boson, which would explain how particles acquire mass. The frustratingly elusive Higgs has been dubbed the "God particle".

Enter "LHC" or "Large Hadron Collider" in the search engine for more material.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lenticular clouds could even fool Art Bell

Spooky weather phenomena...Lenticular clouds.

This site has the explanation and a lot of photographic samples...the truth is out there.

Chicago and the Manhattan Project

Shortly before Enrico Fermi conducted the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, Franck reluctantly joined the Manhattan Project. Appointed head of the chemical laboratory that worked with "actinades," including the new man-made plutonium, Franck left the project before the war ended.

Lawrence S. Bartell's paper, "Work on the Manhattan Project, Subsequent Events, and Little Known Facts Related to its Use", focuses on the Chicago section of the Manhattan Project...


A personal account of work on the Manhattan Project in Chicago by one of the few remaining survivors of the war-time project is given, illustrating, among other things, how absurd things can happen at a time of great stress and concern.. As is well known, Los Alamos was the site specializing in the physics of the bomb while Chicago emphasized metallurgical and chemical research. Nevertheless, physics played a significant role in Chicago, as well. That is where Fermi constructed the world’s first uranium pile under the stands of Stagg field, a site at which this author got seriously irradiated. Some curious events occurring after the bomb was dropped are also related. In addition, at this time of public protest by sincere people who question the ethics of America’s dropping of the bomb on innocent civilians, certain facts, obviously unknown to the protesters, are presented which place the bombing in a rather different light.

"Work on the Manhattan Project, Subsequent Events, and Little Known Facts Related to its Use"

Historical event in 1942 at the University of Chicago

Enter "Manhattan Project" in the search engine for more material.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Deceased--Konstantin Feoktistov

Konstantin Feoktistov
February 7th, 1926 to November 21st, 2009

"Konstantin Feoktistov, a Soviet Spacecraft Engineer, Dies at 83"


Cliford J. Levy

November 23, 2009

The New York Times

Konstantin P. Feoktistov, a Soviet engineer who was one of the first civilian astronauts and a prominent spacecraft designer, died on Saturday in Moscow, the Russian space agency said. He was 83.

Mr. Feoktistov, for whom a crater was named on the Moon, was also the only Soviet astronaut who was not a member of the Communist Party, the agency said.

In October 1964, he flew on the first space flight that had more than one astronaut and carried civilians. He was crowded with two others, a doctor and a military commander, into a small spacecraft called the Voskhod (Sunrise). Aloft for a day, the spacecraft orbited the Earth numerous times while crew members conducted experiments on fruit flies and plants. They also took blood and made measurements to determine how humans reacted to being in space.

The mission was considered a major Soviet triumph, and Soviet television showed both live and recorded footage of the three astronauts.

“Can you hear me?” an announcer on the ground asked Mr. Feoktistov. When he did not seem to react, the announcer added, “I want to see you smile.” Mr. Feoktistov then grinned widely.

The astronauts exchanged greetings with the Soviet leader, Nikita S. Khrushchev.

The fact that the Voskhod carried civilians was called an achievement that heralded a new era of space travel. The Russian space agency said the expedition made Mr. Feoktistov “the first spacecraft designer to have tested his brainchild under real conditions.”

Mr. Feoktistov never joined the Communist Party, much to the irritation of the authorities. At one point, his chances of taking part in the Voskhod mission were said to have been threatened because he snubbed the party, but he was allowed on in the end.

Mr. Feoktistov was born on Feb. 7, 1926, in Voronezh in southwestern Russia, near Ukraine. He fought and was wounded in World War II.

Before becoming an astronaut, he was one of the earliest designers of Soviet spacecraft. In a report in the late 1950s, “A Long-Range Program to Master Outer Space,” he described how the Soviet Union should explore Earth’s orbit, then the Moon, Venus and Mars. He also sketched plans for the first craft for human flight and a proposed landing technique.

After his flight in 1964, Mr. Feoktistov continued to work on the space program as a designer of space vehicles and a senior administrator. He also was a professor in Moscow. No information was immediately available on survivors.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

LHC back online

Light the fuse and stand back. Are they CERNtain it will work this time.

"Cern Large Hadron Collider restarts after 14 months"


Paul Rincon

BBC News

The Large Hadron Collider experiment has re-started after a 14-month hiatus while the machine was being repaired.

Engineers have made two stable proton beams circulate in opposite directions around the machine, which is in a tunnel beneath the French-Swiss border.

The team may try to increase the £6bn ($10bn) collider's energy to record-breaking levels this weekend.

The LHC is being used to smash together beams of protons in a bid to shed light on the nature of the Universe.

It is the world's largest machine and is housed in a 27km-long circular tunnel.

During the experiment, scientists will search for signs of the Higgs boson, a sub-atomic particle that is crucial to our current understanding of physics. Although it is predicted to exist, scientists have never found it.

Dozens of giant superconducting magnets that accelerate the particles at the speed of light have had to be replaced after faults developed just days after the collider was inaugurated last year.

Operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern), the LHC will create similar conditions to those which were present moments after the Big Bang.

The BBC's Pallab Ghosh in Geneva says the restart of the collider was the moment the scientists had been waiting for.

It means they can once again go in search of the new discoveries they believe will roll back the frontiers of understanding our universe, says our correspondent.

"It's great to see beams circulating in the LHC again," said Cern's director-general Rolf Heuer.

"We've still got some way to go before physics can begin, but with this milestone we're well on the way."

Engineers sent their first beam all the way round the LHC's circumference 100m underground after 1930 GMT on Friday.

Record attempt

The beams themselves are made up of "packets" - each about a metre long - containing billions of protons. But they would disperse if left to their own devices.

Electrical forces had to be used to "capture" the protons. This keeps them tightly huddled in packets, for a stable, circulating beam.

Engineers had not been expected to try for a circulating beam before 0600 GMT on Saturday.

James Gillies, Cern's director of communications, told BBC News: "It happened faster than anyone could have dreamed of."

"Everything went very smoothly."

Dr Gillies said that if everything continued to go well, Cern might try to reach a record-breaking beam energy of 1.2 trillion electron volts this weekend.

Only the Tevatron particle accelerator in Chicago, US, has approached this energy, operating at just under one trillion electron volts.

But other team members want to keep the beam circulating at low energy and try for the machine's first proton beam collisions.

"The LHC is a far better understood machine than it was a year ago," said Steve Myers, Cern's director for accelerators.

"We've learned from our experience, and engineered the technology that allows us to move on. That's how progress is made."

There are some 1,200 superconducting magnets which form the LHC's main "ring".

These magnets bend proton beams in opposite directions around the tunnel at close to the speed of light.

At allotted points around the tunnel, the proton beams cross paths, smashing into one another with enormous energy. Large "detector" machines located at the crossing points will scour the wreckage of these collisions for discoveries that should extend our knowledge of physics.

Engineers first circulated a beam all the way around the LHC on 10 September 2008.

But just nine days later, an electrical fault in one of the connections between superconducting magnets caused a tonne of liquid helium to leak into the tunnel.

Liquid helium is used to cool the LHC to its operating temperature of 1.9 kelvin (-271C; -456F).

The machine has been shut down ever since the accident, to allow repairs to take place.

Professor Norman McCubbin, from the UK's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Didcot, added: "I'm sure every particle physicist has been feeling just a little bit impatient as the 're-start' of the LHC has drawn nearer. It's great to see beams circulating again."

The damage caused to the collider meant 53 superconducting magnets had to be replaced and about 200 electrical connections repaired.

Engineers have also been installing a new early warning system which could prevent incidents of the kind which shut down the experiment.

Cern has spent some 40m Swiss Francs (£24m) on repairs to the collider.

""Big Bang" experiment advancing fast"


Jonathan Lynn

November 21st, 2009


After a year's delay, scientists at the world's biggest accelerator have restarted an experiment to recreate "Big Bang" conditions that had sparked suggestions the earth would be sucked in by millions of black holes.

Scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) have established circulating particle beams in both directions in the underground Large Hadron Collider, a step that is already beyond where the experiment stalled during a first attempt in September 2008, CERN spokesman James Gillies said.

The high-profile experiment, through which tiny particles are smashed in a bid to learn more about the birth of the universe, failed just nine days after it was launched due to a technical problem that took longer than expected to fix.

"We are further advanced now than where we were after five days of experiment last year," said CERN's Director for Accelerators Steve Myers, saying the extra year had allowed researchers to upgrade instrumentations and computer software.

Myers added that researchers had increased the sensitivity of the protections at the 10 billion Swiss franc ($9.82 billion) collider under the French-Swiss border.

"If anything happens, we would not have the same amount of damage we had last year," he said.

CERN, a 55-year-old organization that counts 10,000 scientists and technicians worldwide working on its research projects, has vigorously rebuffed any suggestion the ground-breaking experiment would cause the world to end.

CERN's Director General Rolf Heuer said getting the experiment re-started had been an "herculean effort."

"We've still got some way to go before physics can begin, but with this milestone we're well on the way," he said.

If things continue to progress at this speed, scientists may be able to accelerate particles at the highest energy level ever tested before Christmas, although high-energy collisions that may shed light on the secrets of the universe would only happen in the new year, Myers said.

The experiment will be fully under way when the particle beams will be smashed at high energy levels. This will most likely happen in January.

The next important step in the experiment will be low-energy collisions, expected in about a week from now, CERN said.

"Quick restart of Big Bang machine stuns scientists"

November 21st, 2009

USA Today

Scientists moved Saturday to prepare the world's largest atom smasher for exploring the depths of matter after successfully restarting the $10 billion machine following more than a year of repairs.

The nuclear physicists working on the Large Hadron Collider were surprised that they could so quickly get beams of protons whizzing near the speed of light during the restart late Friday, said James Gillies, spokesman for the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

The machine was heavily damaged by a simple electrical fault in September last year.

Some scientists had gone home early Friday and had to be called back as the project jumped ahead, Gillies said.

At a meeting early Saturday "they basically had to tear up the first few pages of their PowerPoint presentation which had outlined the procedures that they were planning to follow," he said. "That was all wrapped up by midnight. They are going through the paces really very fast."

The European Organization for Nuclear Research has taken the restart of the collider step by step to avoid further setbacks as it moves toward new scientific experiments — probably starting in January — regarding the makeup of matter and the universe.

CERN, as it is known, had hoped by 7 a.m. (0600 GMT) Saturday to get the beams to travel the 27-kilometer (17-mile) circular tunnel under the Swiss-French border, but things went so well Friday evening that they had achieved the operation seven hours earlier.

Praise from scientists around the world was quick. "First beam through the Atlas!" whooped an Internet message from Adam Yurkewicz, an American scientist working on the massive Atlas detector on the machine.

"I congratulate the scientists and engineers that have worked to get the LHC back up and running," said Dennis Kovar of the U.S. Department of Energy, which participates in the project.

"The LHC is a machine unprecedented in size, in complexity, and in the scope of the international collaboration that has built it over the last 15 years," said Kovar.

The next step, possibly later Saturday, was to decide whether to collide beams in the detectors to get necessary measuring data or to try using the machine to accelerate the protons to higher energy than any machine has ever reached, said Gillies.

In the meantime CERN is using about 2,000 superconducting magnets — some of them 15 meters (50 feet) long — to improve control of the beams of billions of protons so they will remain tightly bunched and stay clear of sensitive equipment.

Gillies said the scientists are being very conservative.

"They're leaving a lot of time so that the guys who are operating the machine are under no pressure whatsoever to tick off the boxes and move forward," he said.

Officials said Friday evening's progress was an important step on the road toward scientific discoveries at the LHC, which are expected in 2010.

"We've still got some way to go before physics can begin, but with this milestone we're well on the way," CERN Director General Rolf Heuer said.

With great fanfare, CERN circulated its first beams Sept. 10, 2008. But the machine was sidetracked nine days later when a badly soldered electrical splice overheated and set off a chain of damage to the magnets and other parts of the collider.

Steve Myers, CERN's director for accelerators, said the improvements since then have made the LHC a far better understood machine than it was a year ago.

The LHC is expected soon to be running with more energy the world's current most powerful accelerator, the Tevatron at Fermilab near Chicago. It is supposed to keep ramping up to seven times the energy of Fermilab in coming years.

This will allow the collisions between protons to give insights into dark matter and what gives mass to other particles, and to show what matter was in the microseconds of rapid cooling after the Big Bang that many scientists theorize marked the creation of the universe billions of years ago.

When the machine is fully operational, the magnets will control the beams of protons and send them in opposite directions through two parallel tubes the size of fire hoses. In rooms as large as cathedrals 300 feet (100 meters) below the ground the magnets will force them into huge detectors to record what happens.

The LHC operates at nearly absolute zero temperature, colder than outer space, which allows the superconducting magnets to guide the protons most efficiently.

Physicists have used smaller, room-temperature colliders for decades to study the atom. They once thought protons and neutrons were the smallest components of the atom's nucleus, but the colliders showed that they are made of quarks and gluons and that there are other forces and particles. And scientists still have other questions about antimatter, dark matter and supersymmetry they want to answer with CERN's new collider.

The Superconducting Super Collider being built in Texas would have been bigger than the LHC, but in 1993 the U.S. Congress canceled it after costs soared and questions were raised about its scientific value

Gillies said the LHC should be ramped up to 3.5 trillion electron volts some time next year, which will be 3 1/2 times as powerful as Fermilab. The two laboratories are friendly rivals, working on equipment and sharing scientists.

But each would be delighted to make the discovery of the elusive Higgs boson, the particle or field that theoretically gives mass to other particles. That is widely expected to deserve the Nobel Prize for physics.

More than 8,000 physicists from other labs around the world also have work planned for the LHC. The organization is run by its 20 European member nations, with support from other countries, including observers Japan, India, Russia and the U.S. that have made big contributions.