The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is a collective term for scientific searches for intelligent extraterrestrial life, for example, monitoring electromagnetic radiation for signs of transmissions from civilizations on other planets.
Scientific investigation began shortly after the advent of radio in the early 1900s, and focused international efforts have been going on since the 1980s. In 2015, Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced a well-funded effort called Breakthrough Listen.
If you are an avionics A&P, automotive technician, HAM radio operator or a DIY electronic hobbyist, you will need a DC power supply for your work bench. Here I review the basics as I unbox a MFJ 4035MV power supply.
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.
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 archive.org 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.