Heinlein Centennial web site
send e-mail to A Voyage To Arcturus (note: Spam Arrest is on, so a one-time-only confirmation will be requested)

[ 20060930 ]

Neolithic Boyz

-- is the title of my latest post on Chicago Boyz, which if all has gone well, should have something to offend nearly everyone. Heh.

Jay Manifold [10:42 PM]

[ 20060927 ]

An Overdue Link

Anousheh Ansari's Space Blog is one thing, but as Dennis Wingo points out (via Rand Simberg), the comments are quite another. Perfectly astounding, in the best possible sense.

(Personal note: I knew Azi Kojoori, mentioned in Dennis Wingo's column, while working for Sprint in Dallas in the '90s.)

Jay Manifold [3:48 PM]

[ 20060925 ]

Question for Today

Has History Taught Us Nothing? (Language warning; big thanks to regular correspondent Michael Lee for sending the link.)

Jay Manifold [3:05 PM]

[ 20060923 ]

Thought for Today

Sign spotted at the ASKC annual picnic.

Jay Manifold [11:33 PM]

[ 20060922 ]

Amazing Picture of ISS and Atlantis

This astonishing image of the ISS and Atlantis transiting the solar disk was the APoD for yesterday; if you've got a high-speed connection, try clicking on it to view it full-size (it's about 1.3 MB).

So how big was the instrument it was photographed through?

Guessing that the minimum resolution is 3 meters (or a bit better) at the stated distance of 550 kilometers, it works out to ~0.000005 radian. Now, grazing back to Looking for Beagle and applying the rearranged version of the equation therein, we find that (coincidentally) the aperture is just over 13 cm (as it was in the Beagle problem), or about 5¼". Indeed, it may have been photographed through something like this.

(See Spotting Shuttle Problems from the Ground for my assessment of a role for amateur astronomers in managing risks associated with the Thermal Protection System.)

Jay Manifold [4:49 AM]

[ 20060921 ]

Iranian Amateur Astronomy (A Continuing Series)

The Reflector reports that the Iranian Astronomical Society won the Sky & Telescope Astronomy Day Award for 2006:

The Iranian Astronomical Society planned for six months and involved 47 cities at 78 sites across the country. In fact, the IAS served as a promotional headquarters for the country and sent out support material to other astronomical organizations within Iran.

Astronomy Day was held on Friday, May 5th. Friday is the official start of the weekend in Iran. Many in Iran believe that astronomy is only for scientists and were pleased to learn that they could participate in star parties. While many parts of the world battle light pollution, some of the cities in Iran have a high degree of air pollution and they used Astronomy Day to encourage citizens to think about the effects of this pollution. Not only did the IAS "Bring Astronomy to the People," they had their own theme, which was promoted across the country and in adjoining countries: "Astronomy and Peace."

And in what would be unheard of in the United States, one site (Saddat Shahr) convinced the city council to shut off the electricity for one hour so that the whole town could observe the night sky. (That's an original solution for the light pollution problem!) In addition, public transportation was half price so that citizens could travel to Astronomy Day sites. Bakeries and groceries provided free bread and ice cream to celebrate Astronomy Day. Planning for next year has already begun.

Previous posts on this or related topics:

Jay Manifold [6:37 PM]

[ 20060918 ]

Gehry, Zahner, and Astronomy

Grazing over to Heavy metal, we find that not only has a local KC firm fabricated some of the most striking pieces of architecture of recent years -- including, among other things, the bandshell in Millennium Park -- but the firm's owner is an amateur astronomer:

The Kansas City North house he built is a place of discovery in itself. A continual work in progress, the copper-clad house has a wide-open floor plan with windows that look out at their wood acreage from dozens of angles. It also has a roughed-in observatory, a reflection of Bill’s love of astronomy.

I'd love to see a picture -- imagine an observatory designed by Frank Gehry!

Jay Manifold [4:58 PM]

Organic Bioterror?

Could organic farming serve as a vector for bioterrorism? The E. coli outbreak, in combination with bizarre Federal regulations, suggests that it could. (Ref: my comment over on Belmont Club.) One more reason to be wary of political correctness ...

Jay Manifold [4:58 PM]