(Ref this earlier post.) Via Astronomical League Executive Secretary Jackie Beucher, this heartening news release, which I reproduce below in full:
September 26, 2005
For Immediate Release
For more information, contact:
Barbara Wilcox Deb Hinrichs
Assistant Vice President of Director of Public Relations
University Communications Aurora University
Aurora University 630-844-5634
Office: 630-844-5496 hinrichs@...
Aurora University Submits Proposal for Yerkes Observatory
Aurora University submitted a proposal on Friday to purchase Yerkes Observatory and the surrounding acreage and buildings located in Williams Bay, Wis., owned by the University of Chicago.
"Our goal is to maximize the long-term educational use of one of America's significant scientific icons and to preserve its physical structure and heritage," said Rebecca L. Sherrick, president of Aurora University. "We are very conscious of the genuine pride that local residents take in Yerkes and the lake community's dedication to responsible development and careful stewardship of the environment," Sherrick said. "The university's plan is to balance the preservation and conservation of the land and the facility, while at the same time meeting the needs of Aurora University and the local community."
The proposal submitted by the university calls for purchasing a 79-acre parcel of land, including the Yerkes Observatory and telescope, as well as supporting structures. The observatory and 40 acres of land is located adjacent to the George Williams Campus of Aurora University in Williams Bay. Aurora University's plan is designed to preserve the historic Yerkes Observatory landscape; provide for continued use of the building as an academic facility and science education outreach center; merge portions of the Yerkes property with adjacent land owned by AU to create a unified educational setting; promote and preserve woodland and natural areas as much as possible; and develop only that land necessary to finance acquisition of the property by AU.
Sherrick said that AU has worked closely with the local community to develop its proposal, while balancing the historical perspectives and creating a network of support within the area to create a plan that will meet the needs of the local community residents and those who have expressed interest in the project.
According to Larry Larkin of the Yerkes 21 Committee, the goals were the preservation of the observatory building, protection of open spaces and conservation of the woodland areas for the benefit of the people. "We believe the best interests of the community and the most likely prospects of success can be achieved by merging our efforts with Aurora University and submitting a combined proposal, which we strongly support," Larkin said. The Yerkes 21 Committee is a not-for-profit organization incorporated by area Geneva Lake citizens early this year.
"The Geneva Lake Conservancy, a land trust and conservation advocacy not-for-profit organization, considers the land conservation planning in Aurora University's proposal to be responsible and realistic, given that some portions of the site must be monetized to meet the stated requirements of the University of Chicago," said Chuck Ebeling, president of the Conservancy. "Aurora University is working hard and coordinating with the Conservancy to maximize overall preservation of this significant natural and historic property. While an ideal solution would be complete conservation of woodlands, park and lakeshore, Aurora University's approach is to maximize preservation in these areas and plan environmentally sensitive development where required."
Goals outlined by the University of Chicago in seeking proposals include the following: (a) preserve the Yerkes Observatory building and immediate surrounding land; (b) contribute to the university's mission of research and teaching; and (c) contribute to the quality of life in the Williams Bay-Lake Geneva area.
AU worked with Vandewalle & Associates of Madison, Wis., to develop the specifics of the plan.
"We share with Aurora University a strategy that takes into account the potential environmental, social and economic impacts of developing the site," said Brian Ellison of Vandewalle & Associates. "As we developed the plan with AU, we were very mindful of the many different viewpoints involved in defining the future of the site, balancing the historical perspectives with those of contemporary stakeholders."
Sherrick said that the university's plan includes assuming responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the facilities and land. The priority is to maximize the educational use of the observatory as an academic facility and develop a programmatic consortium of outstanding mathematics science organizations to deliver science education outreach programs, as well as offer credit courses and programs. The plan also outlines potential collaborative efforts with the Village of Williams Bay and the Geneva Lake community.
Aurora University has developed a detailed plan for the ongoing operation of the observatory that would make it a Williams Bay and Geneva Lake area regional center for science and math education. In the future, plans also call for the facility to become a center for astronomy and science education where students, middle school through post-doctorate level, could pursue the study of astronomy, mathematics and other sciences throughout the year. The focus of the facility would also include local, regional and national programs for the development of mathematics and science educators, in recognition of the nation's education priority to increase preparatory programs for mathematics and science teachers.
Aurora University also plans to develop key collaborative academic partnerships and alliances to deliver science and mathematics programming, blending the university's expertise with that of organizations such as the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum of Chicago and the internationally acclaimed Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, located in Aurora, Ill. Other academic institutions from Illinois and Wisconsin would also be collaborative partners with Aurora University.
"We are extremely pleased that key groups within the community support us in our efforts to move this project forward," Sherrick said. "Our vision for the future of Yerkes capitalizes on two programmatic strengths of Aurora University: collaboration and education. We believe that the local community will benefit from these strengths as we continue to contribute to the quality of life in Williams Bay and the Geneva Lake area," Sherrick added. "Our vision for Yerkes is to create a facility that offers a dynamic and useful future as a world-class learning destination that is consistent with its distinguished past."
Members of the community interested in learning more about the university's proposal are invited to attend a community meeting on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 10 a.m. The meeting will be held in the Carrie Ann Room of the Recreational Wellness Lodge on the George Williams Campus of Aurora University, 350 Constance Blvd., Williams Bay, Wis.
has developed a clever way of calculating the DV requirements for various interplanetary transits [the nomogram mentioned on the game's web page -- JDM]. What he lacks is an easy (non-computer) way of calculating the transit time.
He has an idea that some kind of circular slide rule could be created to do this. His idea is a family of coaxial cardboard discs, one for each planet from Mercury to, say, Saturn. The discs could be set to the current configuration of planets to act as a crude orrery.
Then the user could examine some clever lines and scales printed on the discs to read off whether a transit orbit existed, and its duration.
Alas, it needs to handle more than Hohmann, but only circular orbit to circular orbit. And only with a granularity of to the nearest month (four week period).
So I'm leaving my readers with a sort of historical question: has there ever been an analog computer for calculating time-of-flight for interplanetary trajectories? I'm about to go on vacation, and while I'll undoubtedly do some thinking about this while at the not-especially-secret location, I don't really expect to come back with a fully-developed accessory. So feel free to pass along whatever might already be out there to nyrath at projectrho dot com.
For some background on this, the earlier posts of mine linked to from the Atomic Rocket: Missions page are:
It's one thing to read in Nanosystems that nanotechnological motors will have power densities of 1 MW mm-3, but quite another to realize how close we are to harnessing naturally-occurring nanotech: in Backpack harnesses pedestrian power, the concluding remark (from University of Pennsylvania Professor Larry Rome) is: "Pound for pound, food contains about 100-fold more energy than batteries." Bring it on.
Properly getting lots of attention out on Technorati, Ben Goldacre's Don't dumb me down is a must-read account of the ongoing disaster in science reporting, one that reinforces the fashionably leftist view that "science is made-up, self-aggrandising, hegemony-maintaining, transient fad nonsense":
Science is done by scientists, who write it up. Then a press release is written by a non-scientist, who runs it by their non-scientist boss, who then sends it to journalists without a science education who try to convey difficult new ideas to an audience of either lay people, or more likely - since they'll be the ones interested in reading the stuff - people who know their way around a t-test a lot better than any of these intermediaries. Finally, it's edited by a whole team of people who don't understand it. You can be sure that at least one person in any given "science communication" chain is just juggling words about on a page, without having the first clue what they mean, pretending they've got a proper job, their pens all lined up neatly on the desk.
UPDATE: Andy gently reminds me that it's not just the left that disparages science, by sending the link to the CJR's Undoing Darwin, which effectively describes what happens when political reporting is applied to scientific issues. RTWT.
Click on this image for a larger version:
MIDDLE LATITUDE AURORAL ACTIVITY WARNING
Issued: 01:45 UTC on 11 September 2005
Solar Terrestrial Dispatch
VALID BEGINNING AT: EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY
VALID UNTIL: 23:00 UTC (6 pm EST) ON 14 SEPTEMBER
HIGH RISK PERIOD: 11-13 SEPTEMBER (UTC DAYS)
MODERATE RISK PERIOD: 11-14 SEPTEMBER
PREDICTED ACTIVITY INDICES: 50, 40, 40, 20 (11 - 14 SEPTEMBER)
POTENTIAL MAGNITUDE OF MIDDLE LATITUDE AURORAL ACTIVITY: MODERATE TO HIGH
POTENTIAL DURATION OF THIS ACTIVITY: MAIN BELT = 24-72 HOURS
MINOR BELT = 72-96 HOURS
ESTIMATED OPTIMUM OBSERVING CONDITIONS: NEAR OR AFTER LOCAL MIDNIGHT
EXPECTED LUNAR INTERFERENCE: LOW TO MODERATE
OVERALL OPPORTUNITY FOR OBSERVATIONS FROM MIDDLE LATITUDES: FAIR TO GOOD
AURORAL ACTIVITY *MAY* BE OBSERVED APPROXIMATELY NORTH OF A LINE FROM...
(THIS LINE IS VALID *ONLY* IF FAVORABLE STORM CONDITIONS OCCUR)
OREGON TO SOUTHERN IDAHO AND NORTHERN UTAH TO WYOMING TO NEBRASKA TO NORTHERN MISSOURI TO SOUTHERN ILLINOIS TO KENTUCKY TO VIRGINIA.
ACTIVITY *MAY* ALSO BE OBSERVED APPROXIMATELY NORTH OF A LINE FROM...
(THIS LINE IS VALID *ONLY* IF FAVORABLE STORM CONDITIONS OCCUR)
CENTRAL FRANCE TO NORTHERN SWITZERLAND TO SOUTHERN GERMANY TO THE CZECH REPUBLIC TO POLAND TO CENTRAL RUSSIA.
NEW ZEALAND AND SOUTHEASTERN AUSTRALIA SHOULD ALSO BE ABLE TO SPOT PERIODS OF ACTIVITY.
A series of coronal mass ejections have been directed partially Earthward over the last few days. The Earth is beginning to observe impacts from some of the stronger events. Periods of intensifying auroral activity will be observed during the next several days. The first of the larger impacts occurred near 01:19 UTC on 11 September and is expected to produce periods of minor to major auroral storm conditions, sporadically during the next 12 to 18 hours. Additional strong impacts are expected over the next several days. Some of these disturbances are cannibalizing other CME's, and as a result, the potential geoeffectiveness will likely be complex and difficult to accurately predict. Nevertheless, the potential exists for periods of strong auroral storm conditions developing during the next several days (at least). Near-continuous storm-level activity is possible during the next week, if sunspot complex 10808 continues to impress with energetic flare activity.
This warning will remain valid through 24:00 UTC (6 pm EDT) on 14 September, with a good chance that it will be extended beyond the 14th. It will be updated or allowed to expire at that time. For updated information, visit: http://www.spacew.com/aurora/forum.html. For real-time plots of current activity, visit: http://www.spacew.com/plots.html
PLEASE REPORT VALID OBSERVATIONS OF AURORAL ACTIVITY TO:
** End of Warning **
-- are somehow connected in my latest post on Chicago Boyz. Enjoy!
(Earlier instance here.) Readers/groupies/stalkers interested in monitoring my appearance and movements, see below (click on image for larger version):
Solar observing in front of Covenant Chapel, Sun 4 Sep 2005.
OK, this isn't quite the piece I thought I'd write next (next one up the thread is here, and it points further back [click on "terms"], for those of you just now tuning in). But, hey, it's a blog -- it doesn't have to be organized. ;^)
Rather, I'm prompted by previously known, but unacknowledged, reader Kyle Cashion (mentioned only as one of an alarming number of people a while back), who now points me to Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne's One side can be wrong, which while it descends into hysteria with passages like "slip ... under the radar of the US Constitution's mandate for separation between church and state" and "the end of science education in America," is worth reading for the "Arguments worth having" section at the end.
Science education in America is in bad enough shape already -- hardly an argument for bringing odd and ultimately useless critiques into biology classrooms, but it won't be remediated merely by keeping them out, or by endlessly rewriting unenforceable standards ostensibly policed by state or federal authorities. If the idea is to get kids to actually learn some science, within which goal I include critical thinking skills in general, I suggest that there are two major elements:
Back to the Dawkins/Coyne piece for a moment, which has plenty of good lines too, notably the quote from Haldane about "fossil rabbits in the pre-Cambrian." This got me to thinking about what it would take to shut up the moon-hoaxers. And yes, I know that the real answer is that nothing will suffice, any more than any component of the news of the chimpanzee-human genome comparison is going to stop the antievolutionists, least of all the statement from National Human Genome Research Institute Director Francis Collins, possibly the highest-profile Christian believer in a position of scientific leadership in the United States, that "we now have the instruction book of our closest relative."
I'm thinking of something along the lines of this high-res shot of the "face" on Mars. What we need are photos of the lunar landing sites with sufficient resolution to show the descent stages of the LMs, flags, and if possible footprints.
We can't do this from Earth. As noted in The Camera Eye (II), a post from April of '03, the resolution of the best astronomical imaging system on Earth's surface (specifically, the summit of Mauna Kea) would be 380 meters (1,200 feet) if it were to be used to take a picture of something on the Moon. What we want is more like 10-centimeter resolution.
Hubble can't do it, either. To refer again to an old post -- Who Says Astronomy Isn't Practical? (III), from September of '02 -- I quoted a now-21½-year old Sky & Telescope article on optical interferometers, in the course of suggesting that they be put in geosynchronous orbit and pointed down to be used as spysats (followup post here). Anyway, the S&T piece noted that a 10-km baseline would yield resolution of 1/100,000 of an arc-second, that is one part in about 20 billion of distance. Hubble's baseline is, of course, merely its own aperture of 2.4 meters, less than 1/4,000 of this capability. Figure it at 0.05" = 0.25 microradians, which is about 100 meters at lunar distance.
To get the two-order-of-magnitude improvement over Hubble that we need, then, we can do one of three things:
Persons wishing to help finance such a venture are encouraged to contact me. ;^)
UPDATE: Dumb math errors in the above. We need a three-order-of-magnitude improvement over Hubble, from 100-meter resolution to 0.1-meter resolution; baseline of orbiting interferometer near Earth would therefore need to be 2.5 km; altitude of Hubble-class instrument above lunar surface would have to be 400 km; aperture of smaller telescope at 100 km would have to be 60 cm. So, OK, maybe you should give me a couple of chances to get the ROM estimate (do a find on "three major estimate types") right if you hire me to manage that project. ;^)
The ASKC's Dave Dembinski directs our attention to SUPERNOVA, "with noted astrophysicists Luke Perry, Peter Fonda, and Tia Carrere (the PILLARS of 21st Century astronomy) heading up the cast, this should be good!
"PS - If anyone sees anything, remember to spread the message via the ASKC phone tree; witnessing a supernova from only 93 million miles away HAS to be the ultimate once-in-a-lifetime experience!"
Others, notably Gene Emery, will undoubtedly run with this a good deal farther than I'm willing to; I merely spent a weary half-hour grazing through the results of this search. Few of the "predictions" mention New Orleans at all, and those that do are wildly inaccurate (eg, from last Saturday: "The french quarter [sic] will be wiped out in the flood"; from July: "the shoreline for the Gulf of Mexico was now the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain"; one promises "predictions regarding New Orleans, Missouri [!] and Alabama over the next few months, during their healing process") -- this for the largest natural disaster in American history. Go see for yourself, if you've got the stomach for it.
I wonder where these parasites are now?
On the other hand, I did find On Tap for 2005 (language warning: uninhibited comments), which is considerably more entertaining, even for those of us who don't understand all the local references.
And as a native and resident of Missouri, I can assure you that our healing process is well under way. ;^)
Leo Johns points me to an article on PopularMechanics.com, NEW ORLEANS IS SINKING. Note the publication date.