Arthur C. Clarke, R.I.P.

My God. It’s full of stars!

The man who was the father of a thousand dreams, has died in his beloved, adopted Sri Lanka. Arthur C. Clarke was 90.

The Clarke Belt. Childhood’s End. 2001: A Space Odyssey. Too many stories, novellas and books to recall… There’s not a geek alive who does not have their own list of favorites.

All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landings there.

Sigh. You will come close to immortality through your works.

You’re the star child now. Thank you, Mr. Clark.

Heavy Weather on Jupiter

Let’s get back to some phenomena outside our typical experience, shall we?

Jovian Storms Prepare To Duke It Out [SPACE.COM]
[Silly headline, IMNSHO –ed.]

In one corner will be Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, a behemoth of a tempest that is twice as large as Earth and whose 350 mph winds have been whirling for hundreds of years.

Its contender will be Oval BA, also known as “Red Jr.,” a young six-year storm that is only half Great Red’s size but whose winds are just as fierce.

The two are approaching each other now and are expected to have their closest approach on the Fourth of July, according to Amy Simon-Miller, an astronomer at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland who has been monitoring the storms.

“There won’t be a head-on collision,” Simon-Miller said. “The Great Red Spot is not going to ‘eat’ Oval BA or anything like that.” [Too bad! 🙂 ]

However, the storms’ outer bands are expected to pass close to one another and it’s anybody’s guess what will happen when they do. (more)

Getting More Funding for NASA Space Science

I am a couple of days behind the curve, but I saw this at Susan’s and wanted to pass this along…

Getting more funding for NASA Space Science
Rep John Culbertson put out an urgent call for people to write letters to fellow congressional appropriators about ways to add funds back to the NASA science budget (the Science budget for FY 07 has been gutted).

  • pull funds from areas that the OMB has declared “wasteful,” “obsolete” or “duplicative.”
  • give NASA $1billion from a 6.8billion stash of Homeland Security Funds that haven’t been spent in 3 years (”In other words, make Homeland Security spend $1 billion of their unspent surplus before we give them another $1 billion, and use that $1 billion now where it is needed most for the nation’s security in the future – for scientific research and planetary exploration that NASA is now canceling.”)

Culbertson is really pulling for the Europa mission, which has been declared the single most important mission to the outer planets, and is being pretty much starved out of existence. [2020Hindsight]

All these worlds are yours, except Europa…

Ian and I are gearing up for another week on our own. Actually, I’m gearing up, he is blissfully unaware.

Audrey is getting ready to head out tomorrow for NASA Planetary Science Summer School.

WHAT: A one-week intensive team exercise learning the process of developing a robotic mission concept into reality through concurrent engineering.

The trainees participate in a team activity to develop a mission proposal, working with JPL’s Advanced Projects Design Team (“Team X”) and other concurrent engineering teams. Using JPL’s Project Design Center, trainees assume roles including principal investigator, project manager, and mission and system designers. They are mentored and assisted by corresponding JPL proposal organizers and Team X members. The team carries out the equivalent of an early concept study responsive to a selected NASA Science Mission Directorate Announcement of Opportunity, prepares a proposal authorization review presentation, presents it to a review board, and receives feedback.

WHEN: Session 1: July 25-29, 2005 (18 participants)

WHERE: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA

WHY: To prepare the next generation of engineers and scientists to participate in future missions of solar system exploration.

As I understand it, their concept is putting a lander on Europa. (insert obligatory “Attempt no landings here” comment)

I am really proud of her. The only problem is, I just can not figure out how to make the transition from archaeologist to space scientist. 🙂

[ha ha only half-serious]

blivet 5/20/2000

Thanks to David Anderson who does the ETP site Montana News Daily for pointing out this parody movie poster the Las Vegas Review Journal proposed concerning the Ted Binion trial. David scooped me in my own town. Digital illustration by Ched Whitney.

Following Sandra Murphy and Rick Tabish's convictions in the Ted Binion murder case, The Las Vegas Review-Journal posted this parody.

The original is here. Digital illustration by Ched Whitney.

[Science] It turns out that Jupiter’s moon Io is home to volcanoes, vast mountain ranges, lava lakes, and 50 mile high sulfuric geysers. (!) The Galileo spacecraft provided the photographs and thermal measurements. The NASA press release has more detail, as well as links to Galileo’s May 18th images. The full Science article requires a subscription or fee, but the CNN story is just a click away. Some of the best student dollars I’ve ever spent have been for the journal Science. I would like to get Nature too, but have never gotten around to it.

garret is out doing yard work and gnawing (pronounced with a hard G as in guh-naw) on javascript (why guh-naw you ask? I have no idea, I just like the way it sounds in my mind’s er … ear) …

Al muses about a mentor he had early in his nursing career. A good mentor makes all the difference. I think those of us that have had good ones are left with an aching need to be one to someone else. Ultimately, thats how you pay the favor back.

While out shopping, I saw some bio-feedback machines at The Sharper Image. I think the best bio-feedback technique is A) get cat on lap, B) pet cat until loud rumbling purr ensues, 3) repeat until stress dissipates or arm falls off, whichever comes first as cat will seldom terminate petting session voluntarily. I know I should say "sit zazen", but that could take a while until you get results whereas The Cat-Petting Sutra is for everyone.

Car work and additional shopping for a month in the field and someone’s birthday tomorrow. We have a 1991 Daihatsu Rocky, its about the same size as Suzuki Sidekick. It was rated the 4WD of the year in 1991, so of course they stopped importing them in 1992. Parts are starting to get really hard to find. So the dilemma about vehicles begins its annual uncoiling into our lives. That’s in addition to the house dilemma, jobs dilemma, children dilemma. I want to get some sort of Ubër-Archaemobile, the sort of vehicle that leaves puddles of testosterone under it when parked overnight. But I hate the whole idea of the amount of pollution they spew, the yuppiefied association of 4WD & SUVs, the sheer amount they cost to feed and maintain, and the fact that you lose 30% of the value when you drive them off the car lot. Since someone reads this weblog I ain’t gonna say anything about no birthday gifts. Update: The Rocky passed its smog test with flying colors. Dilemma deferred, for a bit.

Today started out with breakfast with Alexis and Thure. Alexis used to work with Audrey doing GIS at the Yucca Mountain Project and Thure is an artist. He also has the Great Basin Seed Company where you can get Mojave Desert and Great Basin native plant seeds. These plants are almost impossible to find, either in commercial nurseries or as seeds. You won’t be surprised to hear that they have the most incredible back yard. Plus, they’re darn good people. Alexis surprised Audrey with a birthday gift a day early.

blivet 4/5/2000

[Thanks!] David Anderson who does MontanaNewsDaily in this neck of the woods gave blivet a mention back on the 31st of March. Thanks David!

[Internet World] Apple’s QuickTime 4.1.1 is available by using use your QuickTime Updater if it is installed or download the full installer. Its worth noting that it will replace the new Sound Manager extension just installed by OS 9.0.4, so save a copy before you update. Apple also announced that Darwin 1.0, the BSD open source underpinnings of OS X, is available for download. update: I did just that when I got home and noticed that the version installed via Quick Time has a higher version number than the one installed with the 9.0.4 updater. Now I’m really confused.

[Adobe] Adobe recently announced their Create a PDF Online fee based service, which allows you to create PDF files over the Web.

[Space Science.Com] Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and the waxing crescent Moon will near convergence in an area of the sky 9 degrees across. Tomorrow!

[Farewell to Mozilla] Netscape 6 Preview Release 1 is available.

[Mad Science Research Labs] Apple’s wireless Airport base station for 802.11 ethernet can be upgraded to 128-bit RC4 encryption. They’ve got pictures of how to do it, it costs about $300US over the base price of the Airport unit. Just because you don’t think they’re listening doesn’t mean they aren’t. Link from slashdot.

Hmm, isn’t showing blivet as being updated.


Galileo Findings Boost Idea of Other-worldly Ocean

When NASA’s Galileo spacecraft swooped past Jupiter’s moon Europa a week ago, it picked up powerful new evidence that a liquid ocean lies beneath Europa’s icy crust. As the spacecraft flew 218 miles (351 kilometers) above the icy moon on January 3, its magnetometer instrument studied changes in the direction of Europa’s magnetic field. Galileo’s magnetometer observed directional changes consistent with the type that would occur if Europa contained a shell of electrically conducting material, such as a salty, liquid ocean.

The Solar System Simulator is a fascinating web app to create a view of a planet or satellite at various dates and times.

That’s it for today. The update schedule for this site is waaaay off kilter, but hey – it beats not working.

Chop wood, carry water, do weblog.