Violent Universe with Carl Sagan Part Two (Restored) | SciWorx Lost Lecture Series

This is part 2 of a restored version of The Violent Universe (1969) featuring a very young Carl Sagan, just 9 years after he earned his PhD. This is a comprehensive report of astronomical theories, research, and discoveries. Visits thirty astronomers at their observatories throughout the world as they discuss pulsars, infrared galaxies, red giants, white dwarfs, cosmic rays, and redshift. Includes a motion picture view of a quasar.

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June 1, 1969 KCET USA/CA Richard Burton reads poems celebrating the wonders of the cosmos in “The Violent Universe .” Discoveries that are revolutionizing astronomy and changing men’s notions of the cosmos are examined in this broadcast of “The Violent Universe.” a two-and-a-half hour program presented by Public Broadcast Laboratory.

The broadcast ranges from observatories in Europe to observatories in Australia, and from an observatory orbiting in space to one sunk a mile underground at the bottom of a gold mine in the South Dakota Badlands. Some 30 distinguished astronomers are seen at work in their observatories. Among them are Sir Bernard Lovell at Jodrell Bank, England; Thomas Gold at the giant Arecibo radiotelescope, high in the hills of Puerto Rico; Bernard Mills hunting pulsars at Mount Stromlo in Australia; Jan Cort at Dwingeloo in Holland; Maarten Schmidt at Palomar; Sir Martin Ryle at Cambridge, England; Tom Kinman at Lick, California; Frank Low in his Lear Jet “observatory” flying his telescope above cloud cover; and Donald Kniffen sending up a gamma-ray tracking chamber in a balloon.

The birth and death of stars, the possibilities of hitherto unknown sources of energy out in the stars, and quasars that act in ways nothing known in physics can explain, are examined by Robert Dicke of Princeton, Jesse Greenstein of Palomar and Mount Wilson, Allan Sandage and Bernard Pagel of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, physicist Philip Morrison of M.I.T., and Richard Henry’, rocket researcher at the United States Naval Research Laboratory.

Did the universe begin in a week’s time, with one explosion, as proponents of the “Big Bang” theory argue, or is it continually expanding in a relatively orderly way through all time, as defenders of the “Steady State” theory maintain? The controversy, which has implications for theology as well as for the movement of man out into space, is described in the broadcast.

The broadcast goes to Japan to visit the home of Tsutomu Seki, the amateur astronomer who teaches classical guitar for a livelihood and who in 1965, with Kaoru Keya, discovered the Ikeya- Seki comet. Featured in the broadcast is a studio reconstruction of a section of the universe, with 100 stars hung in their proper perspective in space.

The astronomical proportions involved in the scale replica are so vast that one foot of studio floor equals three light years—or 18,000,000,000,000 (18 trillion) —miles. The script of “The Violent Universe” was written by Nigel Calder. Narrator is Carl Sagan, professor of astronomy at Cornell, with Robert MacNeil, PBL special correspondent in London who is also a reporter for the BBC.

This 5-part series from has been restored for your viewing pleasure by SciWorx. You are welcome!

The Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO) satellites were a series of four American space observatories launched by NASA between 1966 and 1972, managed by NASA Chief of Astronomy Nancy Grace Roman. These observatories, including the first successful space telescope, provided the first high-quality observations of many objects in ultraviolet light. Although two OAO missions were failures, the success of the other two increased awareness within the astronomical community of the benefits of space-based observations, and led to the instigation of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Lick Observatory is an astronomical observatory owned and operated by the University of California. It is on the summit of Mount Hamilton, in the Diablo Range just east of San Jose, California, United States. The observatory is managed by the University of California Observatories, with headquarters on the University of California, Santa Cruz campus, where its scientific staff moved in the mid-1960s. It is named after James Lick.

Witness To Extinction: The Threat To Monarch Butterflies Of Pismo Beach California | SciWorx Biology

As a child of the 1960s, I vividly recall fields of Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) feasting on the milkweed growing on my great-grandparents farm in West Virginia. Every year, they would come back, mate, lay their eggs on the underside of the milkweed leaves, hatch into caterpillars, cocoon themselves and then pop out as amazing butterflies. Once in their butterfly form, they would fly north until they reached their summer destination somewhere in Canada to repeat the process for their winter trip to Mexico – then start the whole process over again.

Never once, as a child, did I ever think that these creatures would become extinct in my lifetime.

Well, that is happening now.

A case in point; Pismo Beach, California.

The butterflies I grew up with in West Virginia, on the East Coast of North America, had a migration route from Canada to Mexico. The United States was just a rest stop. This is true for most of the Monarch butterflies EAST of the Rocky Mountains. For the most part, the Monarchs to the WEST of the Rockies migrate from Canada to coastal Southern California. There they winter over in eucalyptus and cypress trees in the moist sea air along the rocky California coast. 

Well, that is what they did do. At the Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove, the Monarch population has been shattered. On December 14th of 2020, I visited this locally praised park, expecting to see an amazing colony of Monarchs, huddled together for warmth in the gently swaying leaves of the trees. 

As recently as 1990, park officials counted 230,000 Monarch butterflies nestled in the Pismo grove. On my trip I counted 15… not 15 THOUSAND, just just 15. Fifteen. 15.0 Monarch butterflies. That should sent off alarm bells the world over, but it didn’t. Town officials loved using the butterfly grove as a tourist attraction to generate income for their tax base, but they are not taking the necessary steps to save the species.

The delicate grove has a very busy road and train track on one side, a RV campground on another side and a trailer park on the other. The city did plant some Monarch-friendly plants – they are sandwiched in-between the busy road and a pair of leaking Port-A-Johns. Seriously.

The grove has not been expanded, nor has any protections been added. There is no buffer area between the grove and the local overcrowded population. The only money the town seems to have spent for the grove has been for travel brochures and other marketing materials. “Come See The Butterflies” the headlines read. “Before They Are Gone” has been conveniently left out.

To help inform about what the Monarchs are up against, let’s talk about the biological cycle of the Monarchs for a bit.

When the Monarch leaves its winter grove (either Coastal California or Mexico), they fly north to a source of milkweed that their ancestors visited. Once their, they will feed, mate, lay eggs on the milkweed and die. The eggs hatch, the caterpillars gorge on the milkweed, build a cocoon, metamorphose into a Monarch, eat more milkweed and then they navigate their way further north to another ancestral breeding area and repeat the process until they reach their final destination in Canada. The Monarchs that leave Pismo Beach never see the final destination, only their ancestors do. Not one single butterfly makes the complete round trip.

There is an odd caveat to that.

Once the Monarchs reach their final summer destination, they again mate, lay eggs as usual, but these butterflies go through a process of diapause. They are larger, more hearty and able to store more energy. These super Monarchs make the whole trip to their overwinter locations without the egg laying repetition we see on the migration northward.

This migration from south to north to back south has been repeated for probably around 175 MILLION years. And we are watching the species ground to an unfortunate halt.

During that 175 million year period, the Monarchs had a more or less static environment to live, grow and thrive in North America. Even with the occasional glaciation on the continent, they survived. Now they are not. 

There are innumerable obstacles in the way for the survival of Monarchs. These threats are real and no one, no government is wiling to do what it takes to rescue the species.

First off there is the huge factor of climate change. As the planet warms, the delicate synchronous biological cycle the Monarch depends on has been disrupted. When the biological clock tells the Monarch to leave its southern home, it flies north and the milkweed in the north may not be at the same maturity level the plants had before climate change. The milkweed’s cycle of sprout, grow, bloom and seed is now such that these fields the Monarchs depend on no longer matches the Monarchs arrival time. So many times the Monarch arrives in a field its ancestors visited no longer has milkweed at full maturity, the plants could be too juvenile or wilting, putting extinction pressures on the species.

Another factor is habitat loss. Some of the fields of milkweed have been plowed under for the sake of urban development, mining, logging, or industrial farming. As humans move in, the life cycles for all species are disrupted and sometimes they are disrupted to the point that it invites extinction.

Another type of habitat loss is related to climate change. As the weather becomes hotter, soil moisture goes down. This invites abnormal levels of wildfires. As the wildfires sweep the land, it consumes wildlife habitat. In 2020, the west coast of North America was hit very hard. 4.2 million acres of land was burned in California alone.

The last major factor that is fueling the extinction of the Monarch is pollution. Above and beyond the toxins in the air that are continually pumped into the atmosphere are the insane amount of pesticides and herbicides used in modern industrial farming.

One evolutionary trick the Monarch uses for survival against predators is the aforementioned milkweed. For most animals, milkweed is poisonous if not deadly. The milkweed contains a chemical called cardenolide glycoside. Cardenolide glycoside is a chemical that does not effect Monarchs. And since they need milkweed for egg laying and for food, they are full of cardenolide glycoside. Animals have learned to stay away from this colorful species of nymphalidae thus allowing the Monarch to fly great distances with little predator interaction.

Farmers hate milkweed and spend enormous amounts of resources to rid their farms of it. They don’t want their livestock poisoned nor do they want their crops competing with milkweed for water or nutrients. The herbicides kill off the milkweed and the pesticides kill off all the insects, including the helpful species such as Monarchs.

So why do we have all this fuss over a simple butterfly? Is it just because they are pretty? No. The answer is a big, huge no.

Humans are tied at the hip and our existence hangs mercilessly between two tiny species. One is plankton. Half of the world’s oxygen comes from oceanic plankton. Without them humans suffocate. The other are species of pollinators. Without insects that pollenate plants like vegetables, grains and fruit, we die of starvation. Moths and butterflies are prolific pollinators. Behind species of bees, Monarch butterflies are among the SECOND largest insect group of pollinators.

We are all witnesses to extinction. As we watch the extinction of the Monarch butterflies, with shrugging slouched shoulders, we are also witnessing the extinction of ourselves.

It is on us to fix this. It is on all of us.

Storm Bear Williams

Copyright 2021 © By Storm Bear Williams. All rights reserved.

@sciworx on most social media services.

Carnival Of Math February 2020

A Collection Of Math and Science Blog Posts From Around The World

Final Look at 2019: School, Science and Education
by Frederick Koh
A detailed review of 2019 examining science, school and education related events.

Hypot – A story of a ‘simple’ function
by Mike Croucher
Even the most simple looking mathematical functions can be difficult to implement on computers perfectly.  In this post, I look at an extremely common computation where the mathematics can be understood by children and yet efficient and bug-free implementation is complex and the subject of modern research.

Convergence rate of random walks
by John Cook
In some cases, random walks rapidly become more uniformly distributed, quickly going from obviously not uniform to apparently uniform.

Attracted to Attractors
by Ari Rubinsztejn
In this post 3 different chaotic attractions are visualized.

More Modular Knitting
by Pat Ashforth
Geometry in knitting (even for those who ‘can’t do maths’). How many different shapes can be knitted using only 45, 90 and 135 degree angles?

The Multiples of Me
by Sam Hartburn
The Multiples of Me is a poem about prime numbers, and why they needn’t be sad about having no factors.

Two dimensional tessellations at the Curious Minds Club
by Debbie Pledge
I run a recreational maths after school club in England. The post shows I got the children to explore the regular and semi-regular tessellations.

Australian Mathematicians
by LThMath
At the start of January we wanted to do something on our Facebook page to raise awareness about all the problems Australia has been through in the last period. We were shocked at the situation there.  For 2 weeks we researched and wrote more about Australian mathematicians and their work. In addition, each post has a link where you can donate for different charities and organizations. In this post we want to put together all the information we have discovered in those 2 weeks, including the mathematicians and where you can still donate to help.

Welcome to a Carnival of Mathematics!

This month, I will be hosting the Carnival Of Mathematics blog.

The Carnival of Mathematics is a monthly blogging round up hosted by a different blog each month. The Aperiodical will be taking responsibility for organizing a host each month, and links to the monthly posts will be added here. To volunteer to host a forthcoming Carnival (see below for months needing a host), please contact them on their website.

The Carnival of Mathematics accepts any mathematics-related blog posts, YouTube videos or other online content posted during the month: explanations of serious mathematics, puzzles, writing about mathematics education, mathematical anecdotes, refutations of bad mathematics, applications, reviews, etc. Sufficiently mathematized portions of other disciplines are also acceptable.

A FAQ can be found HERE.

I have the honor of hosting the anniversary Carnival! The Carnival of Mathematics will be 13 years old on February 9th.

If you want to get your math related post submitted, fill out this Google Form for consideration.

Brace yourself, there will be a test later.

A Discovery of Bristlecones

Yesterday, we took a trip to visit the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the high Sierra mountains, in California. The forest is home to thousands of Great Basin Bristlecone Pines (Pinus longaeva) the oldest living trees on Earth. The oldest, clocking in at 4,851 years old, is named Methuselah. 

The altitude of the forest is high, about 10,120 feet at the beginning of the trail through the grove. It is illegal for pilots to fly much higher without supplemental oxygen. As soon as I got out of the car, I was winded. I didn’t stop feeling winded until I was there for about an hour.

The trail is 4.8 miles long and it took more than 5 hours to walk it. There were a few primary obstacles. One is the fact that I am 57 and I don’t trail run anymore. The other is we were constantly stopped by awesome vistas and spectacular photographic opportunities. I took 353 photos – that is 73 photos for every mile walked. Seventy-three!

At every turn there was a spectacular tree – completely different from the rest. Each tree has a different personality and different shape. And there are thousands of them. And most are thousands of years old. There is one valley where all the bristlecone pines were older than Plato’s Republic.

All of these are older than Plato’s Republic.

A bristlecone pine is shaped and sculpted by environmental and geologic forces. Fire will strip away its bark and then 500-800 years later it will rebud new growth. Wind and fierce winter furies will bend and twist the the trees into alien shapes. The rocky, inhospitable alkaline soil will twist and gnarl the roots into complex spirals. The tree rings are so fine they are about as thick as a human hair and must be counted via a microscope. If you put your ear up to the tree and knock on the wood, the sound is an eerie mixture of echo and underwater acoustics. The feel of the wood is near rock solid – with no discernible give or flexibility. It might as well be rock.

Each tree is a different and amazing, nature-made Bonsai tree on a very large scale. My 73 photos per mile were not enough to document them all.

Lastly, I did find Methuselah, the oldest documented living tree on Earth – and She was glorious. She is the true Goddess of the Grove. For an old Druid like me, it is a wonder to behold. We took a bunch of photos and selfies, tree-hugged a bit, whispered to Her and accepted Her blessings of peace. I will never share these photos or share Her position. Her legacy must continue after me as she has stood the ages as well as Her siblings surrounding her. Because you know, there is always that one asshole.

The above photo is one that we dubbed ‘Butthuselah” for obvious reasons.

Bag End 2

Econ-friendly Home Design Inspired By J.R.R. Tolkien

I have always been interested in bio-friendly housing, specifically designs that approach zero-environmental impact.

After seeing The Fellowship of the Ring, you have probably fantasized about living in a Hobbit Hole and lazing about in the shade. I know I have. The night I walked out of the theater on opening night, my OCD kicked in and I designed a Hobbit Hole.

That is when I started expressing my inner architect and wondering of easy, bio-friendly ways to build a Hobbit Hole. This is what I have come up with.

The largest expenses in building a home (not counting the flat screen tv and indoor lap pool) typically are the walls, exterior and roofing system. Obviously, the roof and exterior are done away with for Hobbit Holes. However you have some staggering stress and loading issues with underground housing. The weight of the soil and flora growing on it can produce tremendous loads on a structure. It is even worse when it rains.

Once you start doing the math for wooden structures, the cost quickly skyrockets. On top of high costs to support such loading, you have yet to deal with the issue of water seepage, insect vulnerabilities (termites) and wood rot.

That leaves us the two building materials. Steel and concrete. With the circular nature of Hobbit Holes, one could use large steel pipe, but no source exists that makes low cost steel structures that I could find. But concrete… yes… concrete is the ticket.

All around the world, companies manufacture pre-formed concrete pipe… LARGE concrete pipe. Concrete pipe has several advantages for making Hobbit Holes. They come with an assortment of flanges, protrusions and options that allows for the creation of windows, skylights, doors, garages, fireplaces and chimneys.

As one can see, using such materials for the construction of a Hobbit Hole would make for a comfy home. Or at least a conversation piece.

Although the elliptical may have some aesthetic advantages, the use of round concrete pipe may be the best choice. The main reason is that you will need to have room to place plumbing, ventilation, electrical and communication hardware though out the Hole.

The best solution for this is the area under your flooring. The best example of this type of construction is in naval architecture with sailboats. Plan all of your plumbing, ventilation and wiring, then figure out how much space you will need, vertically. Maybe the use of multiple styles, circular for halls and elliptical for rooms, is the best idea. The halls would need the most space for plumbing, etc as all rooms connect to it. That is the design philosophy I have used for Bag End 2.

The proper name for this type of home is “earth-sheltered home.”

There are some other similar designs and building strategies for constructing homes of this type.

Rammed Earth” homes are homes that are built using spare tires filled with packed dirt. The upside is that are recycling old tires, glass bottles and other uncommon materials to build a house and low cost for heating and cooling. The down side is the incredible labor involved with packing thousands of tires with dirt. Also, there is some concern with rammed earth homes in areas frequented by earthquakes.

Earth Ship” is another type of house. These may include rammed earth construction, but the main goal is off-grid living. Typically, these homes are found the the American West and are of an adobe design.

A Guide To Getting An A&P

My work experience prior to Baker’s

My father had a unique way to get me to learn about cars. He wouldn’t let me get my driver’s license until I learned how to work on cars. And what better way to achieve that than buy a Triumph TR7 that didn’t run. I remember the day it was TOWED to the house. There was to be no driving in my future until that car was fully repaired. Six months later, after a teardown of the engine to replace the head gasket, replacement of the transmission, the rear end, and the drive shaft. Keeping the Zenith Stromberg updraft crabs synced was an ongoing nightmare and DO NOT get me started on Lucas electrical system, which must have been conceived during a Welsh Demon Summoning ritual that went awry.

At the time all of that turmoil was going on, I was working for the local FBO, getting all of my civil time in for when I go get my A&P. At the same time I earned a 2 year degree in electronics and that helped greatly when it came to take the writtens, oral and practical.

But…. life happened. Those halcyon days of working on airplanes ended 25 years ago. I had my time in but I had forgotten a lot of what I had learned via on-the-job training.

When 2018 rolled around, I wanted to go back and finally get my A&P. I saw two ads for A&P prep schools in Trade-A-Plane. I always grab a copy of TAP whenever I can and one ad was always there; Baker’s School Of Aeronautics. I cut it out and saved it. I remember seeing this ad for YEARS in TAP. When I started asking around, Baker’s kept getting highly recommended, especially by a very good friend of mine that got his A&P from there. For me, his recommendation and the ARMY of other graduates that swear by Baker’s, my decision was finalized – Baker’s it is!

My Baker’s Prep

Since it was such a long time since I have wrenched on a certified aircraft, I went whole hog on training materials. I used the King Schools video course which was excellent for me because it actually shows what the questions are pertaining to visually. I get a lot out of visual presentation.

I also used the test prep apps from Dauntless Aviation. The flash card feature is excellent. The apps have excellent descriptions for those of use that need that visual of “how it works.”

For the King Schools video, I didn’t bother with the sample tests, I only watched the videos. Same with the apps, I only used the flash card feature. As the instructors at Baker’s will tell you, ONLY consume the correct answers. Recognize the correct answers and ignore the wrong ones.

List Of Things Not To Do Before You Arrive At Baker’s

  • Don’t take sample tests or random tests.
  • Don’t use the time before Baker’s to slack off – you study.
  • Don’t think this will be easy, it won’t be.

List Of Things Not To Do After You Arrive At Baker’s

  • Don’t go to Nashville – you study.
  • Don’t take weekends off – you study.
  • Don’t fart around after classes – you study.

The staff is there to help you succeed. They are a great bunch of people who are actually dedicated to getting you an A&P certification (don’t call it a license ffs). Don’t fear the DME’s they are very helpful and are not there to make you fail. 

Study Groups

Once you are into the oral and practical portion of the course, have your ass in a study group every night. EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. The act of asking each other questions is VITAL to succeeding with your orals. Nothing, no other study method can replace it. If you want to be the loner and study on your own, make sure you have the time off of work and the cash to stay a few extra weeks in Lebanon.


No matter what you spend getting your certs, it will still be waaaay cheaper than a semester of college. That said, there are loads of ways to lower your costs before you get to Lebanon and while you are there.

Some hotels are more expensive than others. I stayed in both the Hampton Inn and the Holiday Inn Express and they both have their pros and cons. I can only speak about the other ones via word-of-mouth from my fellow students.

Hampton Inn


  • Nice accommodations
  • Big lobby to host study groups
  • Good breakfast
  • Free snack pack during the week (bottle of tea, granola bar, coffee cake and a piece of fruit.
  • Literally next door to the school so you might be able to do away with having a car.


  • It is the most expensive choice of the school’s recommended hotels.

Holiday Inn Express


  • Nice accommodations
  • Big lobby to host study groups
  • GREAT breakfast options – it has a CINNABON bar! 
  • It is very affordable


  • You will probably need to rent a car or budget for a lot of Uber rides.

Love Your Walmart

It will cost you a lot if you eat out for every meal. Go to Walmart and buy food that is easy to prepare with just a small refrigerator and microwave. One of my fellow students ate baloney sandwiches for his entire time there.

Aviation Museums

If you are fortunate to live near an aviation museum, do yourself a favor and get a season pass. I went damn near every week for three months to learn all I could about turbine engines. I took hundreds of reference photos and studied them for hours when I would get home. I never worked on one and had a lot to learn to get through the powerplant written test as well as the oral and practical.

My Tips

If you don’t have any knowledge about electricity or electronics, I suggest getting this, an electronic education kit (Amazon Link). It has 130 different experiments that will teach you everything you will need to know about the fundamentals that you will face on the writtens, the orals and the practicals. For only $35, it is a great deal.

If you are a turbine guy and are unfamiliar with the archaic technology called a carburetor, consider this Army educational film on YouTube. Here are some other helpful videos…

Above and beyond all of the above, there was one thing that made me successful and that was flash cards. Not the flash cards from a software app, but actual notecards.

When I got the Oral and Practical book from Baker’s, I took each question, copied it by hand on the front of a notecard and put the answer in my own words on the back. I did this for most of the book for the questions I didn’t know like the back of my hand. When I wasn’t in group, I was going through this stack of cards, read each card and tried to answer. Once I did, I flipped it over to see if I got it or not. I would then place the card in a pile and move on to the card.

I did this over and over and over. Once I knew the card by heart, I would place it in a different pile and then continue on with the pile that I still didn’t know. I repeated this until I was left with no cards in my hands. I then repeated this up until the day I took my orals.


Of my class, only three zipped through everything on the first try. Most failed something; a written, part of the oral or the practical – me included. The powerplant written was a particular struggle due to my unfamiliarity of turbine engines.

Doing the prep work that I have suggested BEFORE you get to Baker’s will help you find success. If you don’t do the prep work and don’t put in the insane hours required to succeed, you can’t blame Baker’s. You have to do your job before they can do their’s.


Baker’s has a damn fine program to get you your certificate – best in the nation. Listen to your instructors. Work your ass off and you will get there.