Ponder The Known Universe


In 2009 the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) debuted The Known Universe for an exhibit at Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. AMNH and Hayden Planetarium astrophysicists resourced Digital Universe Atlas to produce five and a half minutes capable of unfurling the sternest brow. Our world would be a better place if everyone stopped talking long enough to ponder a space video before bed.

http://www.amnh.org/our-research/hayden-planetarium/digital-universe/

Ready To Harmonize Time?


This re-post springs forward from pondering time. At 2 AM my clock screamed 3 AM and I found myself calculating implications of time zone variances for friends and family. Happy Daylight Savings Day 🙂

notestoponder

Named after Pope Gregory XIII, the Gregorian calendar was introduced in 1582 – six years after the death of Luigi Lillio, Italian doctor, astronomer and philosopher credited with conceptualizing replacement of the Julian calendar. Julian, a hail to Julius Caesar, dominated the known world from 45 BC until the Gregorian revolution in 1582.

On average, Earth takes 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds to complete one orbit around the Sun. Julian and Gregorian years are 365 days divided by 12 months. What to do with leftover hours, minutes and seconds – both embraced the leap year solution, vastly different implementation exposed Julian’s greatest flaw. Julian added an extra day to February every 4 years, a system resulting in a mathematical gain of one day every 128 years. That’s 3 days every 400 years, 28 days by the time Gregorian reform took hold in 1582 – close to…

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Help Find Planet 9


In January 2016 Caltech astronomers publicly theorized existence of a behemoth ninth planet orbiting the Sun.  Observations of orbital anomalies in the Kuiper Belt (a massive ring of cosmic debris extending beyond Neptune – home to once a planet Pluto and estimated 100,000 neighbors measuring over 100 Km ) hypothesized a yet to be discovered gargantuan mass was responsible for peculiar behavior of Kuiper Belt residents. In theory a planetary mass ten times greater than Earth, completes an elongated orbit a thousand times farther from the Sun once every 15-20 thousand years – astronomers dubbed it Planet 9.

This diagram show the orbits of several Kuiper Belt objects that were used to infer the existence of Planet 9. Image via ASU.

Contrary to conspiracy, alien, biblical and doomsday jibber-jabber, no proof of Planet 9 exists – science has a theory based on seven years of  sky maps courtesy the WISE space telescope (see link below). Launched in 2009, WISE was designed to detect low level infrared light, light emissions consistent with planets. WISE buckled down – over 750 million curious infrared light sources later, science needs our help.

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/wise/

If Planet 9 is out there, chances are WISE has digital proof somewhere within those 750 million and counting infrared hits. Missing are enough eyes to systematically scan images for indications an object moves “apart” from surrounding cosmic pixels. Enter Zooniverse Backyard Worlds –

“We need your help searching for new objects at the edges of our solar system. In this project, we’ll ask you to help us distinguish real celestial objects from image artifacts in data from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission. The real objects are brown dwarfs and low-mass stars, the Sun’s nearest neighbors. You may find an object closer than Proxima Centauri (the closest star to the Sun) or even discover the Sun’s hypothesized ninth planet, which models suggest might appear in these images.

What are the Sun’s nearest neighbors? You may have heard of Proxima Centauri, the star nearest the sun. But most of the Sun’s nearest neighbors are not stars, but brown dwarfs, balls of gas too big to be called planets but too small to be called stars. We’ve learned by extrapolating from recent discoveries that there is likely a hidden population of brown dwarfs floating by the solar system. This population contains the coldest known brown dwarfs, known as “Y dwarfs,” which are very similar to planets that just don’t orbit other stars. Together, we will try to find these rogue worlds to better understand how both stars and planets form.”

Backyard Worlds needs fresh eyes and plenty of them. Science doesn’t care who you are, what you do or if Kuiper Belt sounds like a foreign language – science needs help. Participants whose efforts lead to discovery will be given full credit. What are you waiting for? Join the search for Planet 9.

A previously cataloged brown dwarf named WISE 0855-0714 shows up as a moving orange dot (upper left) in this loop of WISE images spanning 5 years. By viewing movies like this, anyone can help discover more brown dwarfs or even a 9th planet. Image via ASU/ NASA/WISE.

http://earthsky.org/space/help-astronomers-look-for-planet-9?mc_cid=146840be1a&mc_eid=a5b828713b

https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/marckuchner/backyard-worlds-planet-9

Ponder Ancient Muslim Tolerance


Posted almost three years ago in reaction to anti Muslim sentiment, exasperation couldn’t begin to fathom where we find ourselves today. Religious intolerance will be the death of us all.

notestoponder

I doubt many could fathom a world of religious tolerance under Islam. Ancient history lends itself to images of holy war, crusades and religious oppression.

Sultan Mehmed II conquered Constantinople in 1453 – a crushing blow in favour of the Ottoman Empire – orchestrated by a 21 year old visionary. According to Sharia law, non-Muslims were guaranteed freedom and protection from persecution. Once Ottoman rule was established, it made little sense to squabble over religious differences.

The Arabic word for “nation” is millet. The Ottoman Empire allowed each “millet” or religious group to elect leaders and practice freely as a “nation” under Ottoman protection. Each “millet” was free to enforce their own rules – Islamic law did not apply to non-Muslim “nations”.Criminal acts within a “millet” were dealt with under religious laws of that nation. The only time Islamic law applied was when crimes involved people of two separate nations or was perpetrated…

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Parking


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My home of 18 years sits on a Vancouver corner near B.C. Children’s Hospital. A tidy middle class neighborhood dotted with parks, worlds away from the 10 minute drive downtown. Traffic circles calm the ebb and flow, night falls with silent invitation to coyote, skunk and racoon. Day breaks with time clock punctuality, proximity to the hospital dictates a 6 am scramble for precious free parking.

Parking trouble started with a distant rumble. Several years ago Car2Go marched into town – https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/car2go/ The city designated one side of the next block as “Car2Go Parking Only”, no big deal – I joined the car sharing club knowing one would be just down the street, half the cost of a taxi anytime my husband had our car. No skin off my nose, parking for our car and my work vehicle were guaranteed by “Resident Only” parking on our side of the street as well as the street running alongside the house. Across the street remained up for grabs, anyone determined to forsake sleep for a run at the 6 am parking dash might save $14.25 in the hospital lot.

Early last year geniuses at city hall obliterated 60 free street parking spots to build a bike lane. To be clear – this is wide residential street with generous sidewalks, an existing crosstown bike-way 9 blocks south, unremarkable daytime, negligible after dark traffic – but this is Vancouver. Mayor Gregor Robertson rides a bicycle to City Hall,  oblivious to realities of life in one of the world’s most expensive cities.

Tolerant at first, I didn’t mind non resident hospital staff parking on restricted sides of the street. Restricted resident only parking on two sides of our corner could park a dozen vehicles, we only needed two – one in front, another around the corner. Imaginary propriety held for a while, I called it respect, parkers considered it testing the water.

Word of consequence free parking violation spread like wildfire. For over a year I countered with polite notes tucked under wiper blades of offending vehicles. ” We don’t mind you parking in a restricted zone but request you not park in front of our house” or “Please park at the alley so we can all get along” meant nothing. I’d played my cards, they knew I was bluffing. Months of home from work realization parking wouldn’t be close to home, relentless personal debates over tolerance vs spineless complacency later, I called bullshit on resident only parking violators.

Plate numbers in hand I dialed parking enforcement. Civic employee took my complaint with apparent sympathy, diligently confirming repeat offender plates with assurance of immediate action. Empowered, I left for work without a tinge of remorse, certain that news of a ticket or trip to the impound lot would spread as quickly as news my corner was a pushover. Next morning the cars were back. I called again. The third day I returned from work to one of the cars parked where I wanted to pull in. Noticing a driver at the wheel I assaulted the horn with vengeance, slammed my car in park and jumping out to a chorus of “what’s the problem you crazy bitch”. “This is my house! Get off my street” was enough to shut him down, he drove off without a murmur.

Only then did I notice a city vehicle down the street. A handful of perplexed onlookers watched me stomp toward his car shouting  “are you parking enforcement?”. “Yes” the man replied. Conflict resolution kicked in allowing Bylaw enforcement man to hear my out with appropriate sprinkles of sympathy. He apologized for lack of civic action, suggesting I call again to request a “patrol” for offending vehicle plates, adding “permit only” parking was dealt with immediately, “resident only” was a little trickier.

Feeling better but not convinced, I walked home to Google Vancouver resident only parking and found this –

Resident Parking Only (RPO) zones

The RPO program was cancelled in January, 2010. Existing RPO zones have been grandfathered into the residential parking system, however, the City no longer creates or extends RPO zones. All new restricted parking is now permit based.

RPO zones:

  • Allow you to park on your block without a permit
  • Are enforced on a complaint basis only

Where RPO regulations are ineffective, residents may request a change to their block regulations and be incorporated into a new residential permit parking plan.

WTF! “Where RPO regulations are ineffective residents may request a change to their block regulations and be incorporated into a new residential parking permit plan”. Heads up to the civic employee who takes my fourth complaint call tomorrow morning, all I can say is they’d better have a damn good grasp on “ineffective” because this resident only parking victim won’t be swallowing excuses.