Monday, October 31, 2005

Two new satellites of Pluto/Charon!

Once again, Minor Planet Mailing List has the scoop. Two ~100km bodies orbiting in the same plane as Charon and at 23rd magnitude found via the Hubble Space Telescope. Good thing we haven't dumped it in the ocean yet.

IAU official announcement

This image from Alan Stern (SwRI), Hal Weaver (JHU APL), Max Mutchler (STScI), Andrew Steffl (SwRI), Bill Merline (SwRI), Marc Buie (Lowell Observatory), John Spencer (SwRI), Eliot Young (SwRI), and Leslie Young (SwRI).

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Faulty logic

Is lithium safe for the environment?

Yes. Much of the concern with the environment centers on heavy metals.
Lithium is the lightest metal known.

Content-light, I know, I'm working on something.

Monday, October 24, 2005


I see that it appears my blog has been wiped from the face of blogspot. Will it come back?

Monday, October 17, 2005

LA Times on 2003 UB313

"Ortiz's boss, astronomer Jose Carlos del Toro Iniesta, concedes that those rights will most likely be awarded to Brown.

"I think there is no longer a debate," he said in an e-mail message to The Times. "Dr. Ortiz acknowledges that Brown's team spotted the object in their archives prior to him."",1,3949603,full.story

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Linne statue in the near infrared

I took this photo over the summer. The Linne statue is on the Midway on the University of Chicago campus and to the eye is covered in a light greenish patina but goes quite dark in the near infrared.

P.S. One thing I forgot to mention is that I changed the hue so that the vegetation is green and the sky is blue. Another one like that is here. Also I corrected the incorrect link to the big Linne image.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

ABC Primetime: Radioactive Road Trip

What a piece of alarmist drivel. ABC Primetime "exposed" the security of university teaching and research reactors.

"Oh my god! Tours of reactors without background checks!"

"40kg of highly-enriched weapons-grade uranium in the reactor--without security!"
It might be 40kg, but it's sitting in rods with so highly radioactive nuclides it would kill them in a second. No one could handle it at all, and could never actually process it to get the uranium out.

"Big backpacks on campus--they could be full of books--I mean bombs!"

"Building plans on-line! of buildings on campus!" Wouldn't want students to find where their classes were or anything.

"Two nuclear bombs worth of uranium--to make topazes more blue." Yes, again, completely untouchable uranium.

Yes, journalism students looking like, I don't know, students, got tours of university facilities. God forbid!

Universities are places far removed from the insanity that is the paranoia filled United States of today. They allow for actual learning free from irrational thought.

MIT got boned because ABC drove a moving truck near the containment vessel and then followed the clip with a shot of the Oklahama City Bombing. It's a frickin' containment vessel made of inches thick steel and feet of concrete. It can't be broken.

Did ABC show ANY ANY nuclear engineers on camera? Just the NRC head, who knew how to deal with media--apologize and promise to tighten things up. Ask an engineer about a reactor and learn about the safety features. You can't get bomb material from a reactor without industrial processes. Ask the US Government on the square miles of buildings they used to extract plutonium at Hanford.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Sunday, October 09, 2005

NYTimes Article: How the City Sank excerpt

How the City Sank

"The pump operator's story reflects a spirit of civic responsibility that rallied in humble quarters like these when Hurricane Katrina roared through the Gulf Coast, soon to be followed by Hurricane Rita. At the same time, it illustrates the degree to which the once-solid foundations of that system have become an illusion. For decades now, we have been witnessing the slow, ruthless dismantling of the nation's urban infrastructure. The crumbling levees in New Orleans are only the most conspicuous evidence of this decline: it's evident everywhere, from Amtrak's aging track system to New York's decaying public school buildings.

Rather than confront the causes of that deterioration, we are encouraged to overlook it, lost in a cloud of tourist distractions like casinos, convention centers, spruced-up historic quarters and festival marketplaces.

The inadequacy of that vision has now become glaringly obvious. And the problem cannot simply be repaired with reinforcement bars or dabs of cement. Instead, our decision makers will have to face up to what our cities have become, and why.

The great American cities of the early 20th century were built on the vision of its engineers, not just architects. That spirit can be found in the aqueduct that William Mulholland built in the 1910's, transforming the parched Los Angeles desert into a sprawling urban oasis. And it paved the way for the soaring skylines of Chicago and Manhattan architects."

Sunday, October 02, 2005

2003 UB313 has a satellite

Oh boy! Brown using Keck and the adaptive optics there managed to detect an object moving in the same direction as 2003 UB313 and about a half an arcsecond away. When further observations are made and a period found for the satellite, the mass of the parent body will be known! MPML for a forwarded announcement or all the press stories.

The Keck 10m scope can easily beat the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope when it is using the adaptive optics system, but it only beats Hubble over a very small patch of the sky at a time. It's great for looking at singular near point-source objects.

How does knowing a moon's orbit give you the mass of the parent? Here is what you know: You know the angular distance between the moon and the parent, which gives you the actual distance away from the planet, since you also know the distance to the planet from the Earth. Using Newton's formula of F=G*M1*M2/R^2, and that the apparent centripetal force for the moon is F=M2v^2/R, the two forces are equal, so you get that the velocity is equal to the square root of (G*M1/R).
The period is equal to 2pi*R/v.

So, the period is equal to 2pi*R/(square root of (G * M1/R).
Or you can say the Mass of the planet is equal to 4pi * R^3/G * T2. I think. Okay, I went back and checked some sites, and my derivation looks correct. This site has a good look at it.