June 2021 Archives

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

CONTINUITY: Stellar Proper Motion

Aligning two images, taken sixty-five years apart, on distant galaxy Messier 51, shows the motion of foreground “fixed stars” in the Milky Way galaxy. The observed motion of stars due to their actual orbits around the galaxy's centre of mass, is called “proper motion”, as opposed to other apparent motions caused by the Earth's rotation, orbit around the Sun (parallax), and aberration due to the finite speed of light. Here is a discussion of proper motion from the Your Sky help pages.

We frequently speak of “the fixed stars” as the one constant in a a sky where everything else is forever changing. But even the “fixed stars” move, albeit slowly compared to a human life span. When you look at the sky, it's easy to think of it, as the ancients did, as a great bowl resting on the horizon. What's difficult to fully grasp is the immense depth of the sky. With your unaided eye, you can see objects as close as a couple of light seconds (the Moon) or as far away as a couple million light years (the great galaxy in Andromeda, M31). All the stars you see in the sky are members of our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Each moves in its own orbit around the galaxy: the Sun takes about 225 million years to complete each circuit. Compared to anything in everyday human experience, the stars are zipping right along: the rate of motion relative to the Sun and Earth is given in kilometers per second, with values for some stars over 100.

It is the immense distance of the stars which keeps their motion from being apparent over short intervals of time. Even motion of 50 kilometers per second which, over a year causes a star to move more than one and a half thousand million kilometers—farther than Saturn is from the Sun, isn't going to be particularly apparent when you're looking at it from a couple of hundred light years away. (A light year is almost 10 million million) kilometers. Seen from a distance of two hundred light years away, or two thousand million million kilometers, motion of a billion and a half kilometers changes the observed position of a star only 0.15 arc seconds (and that's assuming all the motion is at orthogonal to the line of sight; to the extent the motion is toward or away from the Earth, the apparent motion will be less). Even moving at 50 kilometers per second at a right angle to our line of sight, more than 12,000 years will pass before the star's position in our sky changes by the diameter of the full Moon. The apparent motion of most stars seen from Earth is a small fraction of that in this example.

Still, even minuscule motion mounts over millennia. The constellations didn't look the same to our distant ancestors in the Stone Age; one wonders what figures they traced in that ancient sky, and what legends they invented to explain it all. The motion that brought the “fixed stars” to where we see them today continues apace. Who can imagine what our descendants will have learned and done five hundred centuries from now? And yet even though that distant future is unknowable and unimaginable to us, we can chart the sky they will see when they gaze upward from this home planet of our species.

Astronomers call this slow-motion shuffling of the stars proper motion, not in the sense that other forms of motion (the daily, seasonal, and precessional changes we see in the sky) are in any way “improper”, but using “proper” to signify that unlike those other apparent motions which simply reflect our vantage point on the moving Earth, proper motion results from the stars' own motion in space. Proper motion is “real motion”; all the other, more dramatic, “motion” of the stars is only “apparent motion”, due to the rotation of the Earth, motion of the Earth in its orbit, and a host of other, more subtle, effects (for example, aberration due to the finite speed of light).

Remember that proper motion is still “apparent” in the sense that we measure it based on how quickly the star moves in our sky. A star with a large proper motion is not necessarily moving unusually swiftly in space; in most cases it simply seems to move quickly because it's nearby and hence the baseline of the observation is short. The star with the greatest known proper motion is a dim star called Barnard's Star: it's only 5.91 light years away and moving unusually rapidly as well, so we see it move 10.3 arc seconds per year. At this rate it takes only 180 years to move the diameter of the full Moon as seen from Earth. Most stars with large proper motion are undistinguished nearby faint red stars. Nature adores the mediocre, and the vast majority of stars are dim red dwarves—the stellar equivalent of 25 watt bulbs.

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CONTINUITY: Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein

Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein (C/2014 UN271) was first imaged in October 2014 by the Dark Energy Survey with a four metre telescope in Chile, but not identified as a comet until 2021-06-22 when a coma was first observed around the object at a distance of 20.18 astronomical units (the mean distance of the Earth from the Sun). Based upon its brightness and estimates of its albedo (reflectivity), this appears to be a huge object—between 100 and 200 kilometres in diameter. By comparison, the nucleus of Comet Hale-Bopp (C/1995 O1) was estimated to be 40 to 80 km in diameter. Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein is comparable in size or larger than estimates of the Chicxulub impactor which caused a mass extinction on Earth around 66 million years ago.

This object will never get closer to the Sun than 10.95 astronomical units: around the distance of Saturn, and consequently will never develop a large tail or be visible from Earth with the unaided eye. But this discovery, which probably wouldn't have been made without the recently-developed and specialised (for an entirely different purpose) instruments of the Dark Energy Survey, highlights that the risk to Earth from comets, which can drop into the inner solar system from afar at any time, may be greater than that posed by the far more more numerous asteroids, whose orbits can be tracked and, if a threat is discovered, diverted long in advance. Suppose this comet were on course to impact the Earth. What could be done to prevent an extinction-level event? With our present technology, nothing.

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CONTEXT: Starlink—Elon Musk Discusses its Status, Plans, and Ambitions

In a keynote interview at the Mobile World Congress 2021 in Barcelona, Musk provides a candid and in-depth view of Starlink, how it fits into a telecommunication infrastructure with fibre optic links and 5G mobile, plans for global roll-out of the service and near-term upgrades to the satellite infrastructure and customer terminals, and financial status of the project. In closing, he present his view for how all of his ventures: Tesla, SpaceX, Starlink, and Neuralink fit together to build the future he envisions.

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: Virgin Orbit “Tubular Bells: Part One” Launch

The live stream of the air launched orbital flight is scheduled to start at 12:30 UTC on 2021-06-30, half an hour before the takeoff of the 747 carrier plane “Cosmic Girl”. The actual launch time of the rocket from the 747 is not specified. Here are details of the mission and the payloads it will launch.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2021

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Intel to Integrate High-Bandwidth Memory in Xeon “Sapphire Rapids” Processor Package

As noted, heat dissipation by the memory will reduce raw processor speed, but access to much faster bulk memory will more than compensate for this in some applications.

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CONTINUITY: Soyuz Electro-Mechanical Space Clock—Part 3: Building a Driver

Here are Part 1 and Part 2.

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TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: International Space Station—New Solar Arrays Imaged from the Ground

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: SpaceX Transporter-2 Launch

Launch is scheduled for 18:56 UTC on 2021-06-29 from Cape Canaveral. This is a dedicated rideshare launch which will carry 88 satellites for numerous customers. Launch will be into a near-polar Sun-synchronous orbit, only the third polar launch from Florida since 1969. The first stage is planned to return to Cape Canaveral, the first recovery on land of 2021. Here are details of the mission and payloads.

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Monday, June 28, 2021

CONTEXT: The Trapped Knight

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TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: The Secret Life of the Lift (Elevator)

Although it's said that hydraulic lifts do not require a safety catch mechanism (at least in Britain at the time this vintage film was made), Fourmilab's three story lift does, in fact, have one. Twice, over the years, it has malfunctioned and immobilised the lift between floors, requiring a service call to reset and re-calibrate.

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CONTEXT: SETI Institute's Seth Shostak: “It Isn't Aliens”

Here is my review of Seth Shostak's book, Confessions of an Alien Hunter.

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CONTINUITY: Exploding the Solid Steel Box

In a previous post, the intrepid team detonated high explosives inside a robust steel box to see what would happen. The results were varied, but the box survived. Well, they wouldn't be Finns if they didn't finish something, so now the question is, how much explosives can the box withstand? A new anvil tossing record is set.

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Sunday, June 27, 2021

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Mysteries of Microwave Plasma

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CONTEXT: Single Photon Double Slit Experiment for Real

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CONTINUITY: Scott Manley—Ten Years of Kerbal Space Program

Scott includes some clips from the first public release of the game; how far it's come!

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Saturday, June 26, 2021

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Two Space Stations Transit the Sun

This was the Astronomy Picture of the Day for 2021-06-26, where additional information about the image is available.

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CONTEXT: Detonating High Explosives in a Solid Steel Box

Think of it as a solid rocket motor with the worst thrust to weight ratio you've ever seen. As a bonus, it's used as an anvil tosser, although mine has better range and accuracy.

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CONTEXT: Robin Hanson—A Scientifically Plausible Explanation of UFOs as Extraterrestrial Spacecraft

I continue to consider my crackpot explanation in “Flying Saucers Explained” as plausible, and falsifiable as the sole explanation should another be satisfactorily confirmed.

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Friday, June 25, 2021

CONTEXT: U.S. Director of National Intelligence UFO/UAP Report

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CONTEXT: Fools and Their Money—“Wenew” Selling “Iconic Moments” in Plastic

Walker's Law is “Absent evidence to the contrary, assume everything is a scam.” Sometimes, however, the thing itself presents its own evidence of its status, as Cicero put it, res ipsa loquitur. Here we have Wenew, founded by somebody calling himself “Beeple”, who is best known for selling a non-fungible token (NFT) for US$ 69.3 million in a Christie's auction.

Wenew co-founder Michael Figge said, “A lot of things in the NFT world feel like a cash grab right now, and we wanted to put storytelling first.” Res ipsa loquitur.

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CONTINUITY: Kerbal Space Program: Ten Year Anniversary, Version 1.12 Released

On June 24th, 2021, version 1.12 of Kerbal Space Program was released. This is a free update for all current customers, and will be downloaded and installed automatically if the game was purchased via Steam. This will be the final major update; at least one incremental update, 1.12.1, will be forthcoming. Here is the announcement and complete change log.

This marks the tenth anniversary of the initial release of Kerbal Space Program. Developers will now move to the Kerbal Space Program 2 project which, it is hoped, will be released some time in the twenty-first century. (See second-system syndrome.)

Here is a video summary of new features in version 1.12 by Matt Lowne.

“The Kerbal Effect” is a video produced by the developers to celebrate the tenth anniversary.

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: International Space Station: Third EVA to Upgrade Solar Arrays

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: Programmable Chemical Synthesis

The full title of this talk is “The First Programmable Turing Complete Chemical Constructor (Chemputer)”. I'm not sure one can really define Turing completeness for a system like this, but it is nonetheless an impressive achievement. There's an interesting discussion of “cloud chemistry”, where you can send synthesis procedures to remote labs and get the result back in the mail—imagine the possibilities.

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Thursday, June 24, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: SpaceX's Rideshare Business

Here is where you can book your satellite launch online.

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TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Lifetime of Objects in Earth Orbit

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CONTEXT: The Square of Every Prime Number > 3 Is a Multiple of 24 plus 1

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CONTINUITY: Restoring the Digibarn Xerox Alto

Having set the project aside three years ago as likely hopeless, a once-forlorn Xerox Alto, which appears to be more a collection of failed parts than a system that actually ran, and was kept in a location where animals used it as a nest, is restored to life with the aid of assiduous labour and an abundant supply of replacement TTL chips.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

CONTEXT: A Cheap, Tacky, Yet Clever Small Fluorescent Light

Look, no starter! I have one of these: I used it as a night light so I didn't have to turn on the overhead lights in the communications room at Fourmilab when going in at night to “turn it off and on again” or some such. I never imagined what is, or isn't, inside. They use the low impedance of the arc struck in the tube to (mostly) turn off the heaters. The main power switch is also a piece of…work.

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TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Silicon Wizard—An Interview with Jim Keller

In his long career, Jim Keller has worked (so far) at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), Apple, AMD, Intel, Broadcom, Sibyte, Tesla, and is currently Chief Technical Officer at Tenstorrent, a start-up designing processors optimised for artificial intelligence applications. He is known his work on the DEC VAX 8800 and Alpha processors, the Apple A4 and A5 mobile processors, and Zen series at AMD, and the Tesla Autopilot. In this interview he discusses his career, the state of computer architecture and semiconductor technology, and forecasts future trends.

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: Iran—Fourth Consecutive Orbital Launch Failure

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CONTINUITY: 1939 World's Fair: General Motors “Futurama” Exhibit

In predicting the world of 1960, there's a lot they got right. I'm not so sure about the “…vast circular airport [is] close to the city, with a giant dirigible hangar. So that it can be turned easily to meet any wind direction, it is resting in a pool of liquid.”

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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

CONTEXT: UFOs—Harvard's Dr Avi Loeb on Identifying the Unidentified

Dr Loeb's book, Extraterrestrial, discusses the evidence supporting the hypothesis that interstellar object 1I/‘Oumuamua may be a discarded light sail from an alien-built spacecraft. Here he argues that UFOs are a phenomenon which can, and should, be investigated by science, not dismissed because one of the many possible explanations (alien spacecraft) is unpalatable to “experts”.

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Completes Eighth Flight

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TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: From 1956—Ray Bradbury on Groucho Marx's “You Bet Your Life”

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Here is more about Euler bricks.

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Monday, June 21, 2021

CONTEXT: Stacking the Core Stage of the Space Launch System for Artemis I

All of this hardware cost U.S. taxpayers something between one and two billion dollars, exclusive of its development cost through 2020, north of US$ 20 billion in 2020 funny money. Around ten minutes after launch, it will all be crumpled wreckage sinking to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean because, hey, “We can always just tax, borrow, and print some more!”.

Where this fits in with Mission Equity is unclear. Perhaps they will paint a rainbow flag on the side of the booster. I'm sure that couldn't cost more than a few tens of millions.

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CONTINUITY: Expansion of the Crab Nebula (M1) Over 69 Years

The Crab Nebula (Messier 1) in Taurus is the remnant of SN 1054, a supernova which exploded on July 4th (!), 1054, and was observed and recorded by Chinese astronomers. Almost a millennium later, its expansion remains visible in photos taken over time. This video compares images of the Crab Nebula taken in 1951 and 2020 which clearly show the expansion. Here is a one-decade time lapse, in colour, assembled from images taken between 2008 and 2017, showing finer details of the expansion.

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CONTEXT: A Mirror That Only Reflects If You Smile

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Sunday, June 20, 2021

CONTINUITY: Ada Augusta Lovelace's Bernoulli Numbers—The First Computer Program

This video uses Fourmilab's edition of the Countess of Lovelace's “Sketch of the Analytical Engine” from our Analytical Engine Web resources. Not discussed is the arm-waving in implied by the statement “Here follows a repetition of Operations thirteen to twenty-three.” in the Bernoulli number computation chart. How Babbage intended looping to work in the Analytical Engine was ill-defined, and the Bernoulli number computation makes glaringly evident the need for an index register or indirect addressing to access columns in the Store. This is discussed in my document “Is the Emulator Authentic?”.

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: International Space Station: Second EVA to Upgrade Solar Arrays

Update: New solar panel successfully deployed. (2021-06-21 00:00 UTC)

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CONTEXT: Near-Zero Thermal Coefficient of Expansion

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Saturday, June 19, 2021

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Adam Frank: Searching for Alien Technosignatures

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CONTEXT: A Year with Spot

Sell, Spot, sell!

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CONTINUITY: What Became of Apollos 2 and 3?

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: Active Ball Joint Mechanism

Here is the full paper, “ABENICS: Active Ball Joint Mechanism With Three-DoF Based on Spherical Gear Meshings” [PDF].

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Friday, June 18, 2021

CONTINUITY: SpaceX Starship Orbital Launch Tower Stacking Continues

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: NASA Announces “Mission Equity”

From the press release, “NASA Launches Mission Equity, Seeks Public Input to Broaden Access”:

Underserved and underrepresented communities include: Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.

Through the RFI process, NASA hopes to initiate vibrant, meaningful, and ongoing dialogues that will help the agency build and improve current agency policies, practices, and programs. The deadline for public comments to this RFI is Monday, July 12, but we encourage submission of comments as soon as possible to enable early analysis and follow-up discussions.

U.S. taxpayers, who are being coerced to pay for this, should contribute their “vibrant [and] meaningful” comments as prescribed in the Federal Register. “[E]nhancing equity, including advancing environmental justice” awaits your input!

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CONTINUITY: The Unsensational Story of Nazi Flying Saucers

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CONTEXT: An Island in a Lake on an Island in a Lake on an Island

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CONTEXT: A Dialogue About UFOs with Eric Weinstein and Michael Shermer

Unscrewing the inscrutable and effing the ineffable in the Age of Stupid.

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Fourmilab's Decide program can compute arbitrary expressions in dice notation.

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Thursday, June 17, 2021

CONTEXT: It's Raining Frogs!

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CONTINUITY: Those Clever E. coli—A Thirty-Three Year Evolution Experiment

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: SpaceX GPS III Space Vehicle 05 Launch

Launch is scheduled for 16:09 UTC on 2021-06-17, with a 15 minute launch window. A backup opportunity is available on 2021-06-18 starting at 16:05 UTC. This will be the first U.S. “national security” launch to use a previously-flown Falcon 9 first stage. The Webcast will start around fifteen minutes before launch time.

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TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Hurricane Lanterns—Why Do They Look That Way?

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Chinese/Russian International Lunar Research Station

This video was presented today at the Global Space Exploration Conference 2021 in St Petersburg, Russia.

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CONTINUITY: Finally—Carbonated Vodka!

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: EVA to Install New Solar Panels on the International Space Station

Working with solar panels is tricky because you can't turn them off. As long as they're in sunlight, they're generating power. Critical operations must be done while in the Earth's shadow and completed before emerging into sunlight.

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CONTEXT: Rendering the Black Hole Images in Interstellar

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TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: IBM System/360 Model 50 Front Panel—A Tour

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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Tenstorrent—Interview with Principals of an Artificial Intelligence Hardware Startup

Here is information about Tenstorrent and their “Grayskull” artificial intelligence training and inference optimised processor.

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CONTEXT: The Hidden Die Trick

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: National Reconnaissance Office Minotaur L-111 Launch

The launch was scheduled for 11:00 UTC on 2021-06-15, but is presently in a hold waiting for thunderstorms to pass over the launch site. See Spaceflight Now for updates on launch status.

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Monday, June 14, 2021

CONTEXT: Detecting Polarised Light with the Unaided Eye: Haidinger's Brush

Here is more about Haidinger's brush. Can you see it?

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TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: How Photographic Film Works, and Why It's Making a Comeback

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CONTINUITY: HP 9825 Repair Part 9—Fixing the Memory Expansion Board

With the Hewlett-Packard 9825 laboratory computer booting in “classic” mode, it's time to move on to the memory expansion board, nicknamed “Skoal”, which is one of the supreme sledgehammers ever created to cope with an address space limit. The custom H-P microprocessor used in the computer had 16 address lines, limiting it to a 64 Kb address space, around half of which was occupied by the system firmware. But the customers demanded more! What to do? The designers were not permitted to change the original firmware, which had to remain identical for compatibility with existing software. That ruled out commonly-used schemes such as bank switching (as I used on the Marinchip 9900). So, the Skoal board ascended to a new summit of hackery by overlaying the original address space with additional RAM, then implementing nine rules to decide whether an instruction in the original ROM intended to access RAM or ROM. Eight of the rules handled the most common cases, but for those they didn't catch, there was a ROM with a bit for every instruction address in the original ROM that indicated whether it was accessing the original RAM. These settings were derived from analysis of the code with a logic analyser and the source listing. This is a level of kludge which deserved a Lifetime Achievement Golden Hammer Award, were I still giving them.

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Sunday, June 13, 2021


Dwitter.net is a site which challenges programmers to create animated images with a pre-defined canvas and 140 characters of JavaScript. Several predefined functions are provided to shorten code, as shown in the page for this example.

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CONTEXT: A Particle Accelerator Circling the Moon

Here is the paper, “A very high energy hadron collider on the Moon”.

There's a tedious communist rant at the end by the taxpayer-supported guest.

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CONTINUITY: Blowing a 5000 Ampere Fuse

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CONTEXT: There Is No Yellow in This Image

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Saturday, June 12, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Fools and Their Money—Blue Origin New Shepard Seat Auctioned for US$28 Million

To put this in perspective, US$ 28 million for an eleven minute carnival ride with about three minutes of weightlessness is about half the current estimated price of a Soyuz orbital tourist flight lasting around a week and including a visit to the International Space Station.

I have cued the video to start at the actual auction. If you'd like to see the fifteen minute preliminary, scroll back to the beginning.

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TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Driving a Giant Soviet Vacuum Fluorescent Display

An earlier video encountered the drive problems which are remedied by the design presented here.

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CONTEXT: Boom Supersonic—Return of the Supersonic Airliner?

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CONTEXT: Exponential Growth and Intuition

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Friday, June 11, 2021

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Planning and Executing a Magnificent Eclipse Photo

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CONTINUITY: Negative Potential Output from a Transistor Connected to Ground and +12 V?

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Thursday, June 10, 2021

CONTINUITY: A Quick Look at Unreal Engine 5 Early Access

Here is more information on Unreal Engine 5 from the developer, including links where you can download your own copy, which is free for non-commercial use. The high profile features, Nanite and Lumen, are currently only supported on high-end gaming consoles and legacy Windows systems.

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: Artificial Intelligence Surpasses Humans in Chip Layout

The resulting designs have a chaotic, almost organic, appearance compared to the regimented rectangular layouts most human designers produce. The paper is “Chip Placement with Deep Reinforcement Learning”.

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: There's a Little Bite Out of the Sun Today

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Wednesday, June 9, 2021

CONTINUITY: From 1914—A Self-Playing Violin

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: NASA'a Juno Orbiter Images a Crater Chain on Jupiter's Moon Ganymede

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TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Two New Venus Missions—What Are the Science Goals?

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CONTEXT: Does the S Combinator Support Universal Computation? A US$20,000 Challenge

Related, scheduled for publication on 2021-06-17:

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Tuesday, June 8, 2021

CONTINUITY: KarTrak—The Birth of Barcode

Here is more about KarTrak.

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TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Wolfram Physics Project: One-Year Video Status Report

I have written earlier here about Stephen Wolfram's breathtakingly ambitious and, if successful, profoundly important project to discover a fundamental theory of physics which underlies what he (and I) suspect to be the effective theories (such as quantum mechanics and general relativity) we have found to describe phenomena which emerge from this much simpler substrate. Here is a four hour deep dive into the goals of the project and progress so far, most of which simply consists of Stephen Wolfram talking into the camera. This is an excellent introduction to the concepts of the project and work to date.

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: “On-Die ECC” in DDR5 Memory Modules—That Phrase Doesn’t Mean What You May Think It Does

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Monday, June 7, 2021

CONTEXT: Controlling a Plant with the Mind

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CONTINUITY: Pushing a One-Ton Trailer with Homemade Solid Rocket Motors

Detailed instructions are given for making professional-type polybutadiene composite propellant grains, and performance is measured and compared among composites (with and without catalyst) and simple sugar-based motors.

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CONTEXT: Proton Sabre—Hydrodynamic Tunnelling in Particle Accelerator Beam Dumps

You'll have to click through TLS warnings to get to the abstract linked above. The full text of the dissertation [PDF] is available.

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Sunday, June 6, 2021

CONTEXT: Jupiter (and Moons, Barely) Photographed in Broad Daylight

Venus is much easier to observe visually and photograph in daylight, yet few people have done so. Here is my guide to “Viewing Venus in Broad Daylight” from 1999.

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TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: In-circuit Testing an Individual 7 Nanometre Transistor on a Taiwan Semiconductor Chip

The nanoprobing technology used in this video was described here on 2021-05-25 in “Probing a Single 7 Nanometre Transistor”.

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I have cued the video to start five minutes before launch. Pause and scroll back if you wish to start earlier.

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Saturday, June 5, 2021

CONTEXT: Ben-Hurley-Davidson

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CONTINUITY: SpaceX Starship and Super Heavy Orbital Test Animation

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CONTEXT: Seth Shostak—Alien Hunter

Here is my review of Dr Shostak's book, Confessions of an Alien Hunter.

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TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Two Papers “Proved” This Surface Couldn’t Exist—Then It Was Constructed

Here is background on the Barth sextic, and a deeper dive by John Baez. A 1997 proof showed that no sextic can have more than the 65 double points of Barth's construction.

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Friday, June 4, 2021

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Evidence for Active Volcanoes on Mars?

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CONTINUITY: Why Do Crowned Pulleys Work? The Second Law of Thermodynamics!

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: NASA: “We're Going Back to Venus”, the DAVINCI+ and VERITAS Missions

From the 1982 Soviet Venera 14 lander, here are images and sounds from the surface of Venus.

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CONTEXT: Mick West: A Sceptical Look at the U.S. Navy UFO Videos

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Thursday, June 3, 2021

CONTINUITY: Bitcoin to the Moon!

A Bitcoin transaction was transmitted via Earth-Moon-Earth bounce by radio amateurs, encoded in Morse code. (The tweet should have said “reflected”, not “refracted”.) Here's my tool for encoding arbitrary binary data as five-letter code groups which are easily transmitted in code or by voice.

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THE HAPPENING WORLD: SpaceX Cargo Dragon CRS-22 Launch to the International Space Station

The launch is scheduled for 17:29 UTC on 2021-06-03. Here is the SpaceX webcast.

Posted at 16:40 Permalink

CONTEXT: Let's Turn a Tupolev Tu-160 Bomber into a Supersonic Business Jet!

Posted at 14:46 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Can You Drink with a Hydrophobic Straw?

Posted at 11:36 Permalink

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

CONTEXT: Clouds of Ammonium Chloride

Another remarkable property of NH₄Cl is that when dissolved in water, it absorbs energy in dissociating, dramatically cooling the solution.

Posted at 14:27 Permalink

TRACKING WITH CLOSEUPS: Tracking Ransomware Payments with the Blockchain and Wolfram Language

Posted at 12:51 Permalink

CONTEXT: Shoebills—They're Dinosaurs…with Automatic Weapons

Here is more about Shoebills (Balaeniceps rex, or “B. rex”). They are very large, with some specimens as tall as 152 cm with a wingspan of 260 cm.

Posted at 12:00 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Origin of the Redstone Missile Program

This U.S. Army film from the 1950s, originally produced for the Big Picture television series, predates the use of the Redstone as a satellite launcher and for suborbital flights in Project Mercury. It is, in part, a recruiting film to persuade engineers to come to Huntsville.

Posted at 10:50 Permalink

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Mars Helicopter Ingenuity—Mission Accomplished, New Adventures Ahead

Posted at 13:48 Permalink

CONTEXT: Rolls Royce Crecy—Pushing Aircraft Piston Engines to the Limit

Here is more on the Crecy engine.

Posted at 12:16 Permalink

CONTINUITY: Vacuum Tube Computer Part 13: Building a NAND Gate to Control the Input Enable Register

Posted at 11:45 Permalink