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DreamGypsy's Journal
DreamGypsy's Journal
August 6, 2013

August 6. A story in song for contemplation. Able, Baker, Charlie, & Dog

From the album of the same title by Joe Crookston. In the liner notes Joe writes:

My grandpa, Joe Gnap, worked full time in northeast Ohio at a glue factory until he was 96 years old. Eight months before he passed away, he told me this story. As a member of the Navy Construction Battalion, he was based on Tinian Island in the South Pacific during WWII. He, along with 4000 other Navy Seebees, built four runways. One of the runways was used by Enola Gay and by Box Car to fly over Japan.

There's another video of the song available here, where Joe introduces the song by talking about the circumstances in which his grandfather told the story. I think the fact that Joe Gnap waited so long to share his story reveals the inner conflict he must have felt about his involvement. Joe Crookston has captured that conflict well in his song.

Although I was not born until well after Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the end of World War II, the song helps me explore my conflicted feelings as well.

June 15, 2013

In my heaven, god plays a twelve string Rickenbacker

I took flight from the nest with the Byrds. Obviously a group that created a unique sound in a unique time, with great individual musicians - Gene Clark, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, Micheal Clarke and Jim (Roger) McGuinn.

McGuinn's fantastic guitar work epitomizes the American sound of that era.

Enjoy this flight of the a Byrd:

June 13, 2013

International Linear Collider publishes its Technical Design Report

Earlier today n2doc posted the thread Japan mulls building next supercollider. I went poking around doing a little more research and found the above titled article. Thought it was worth a separate post.

From the Linear Collider Collaboration:

A five-volume report containing the blueprint for a future particle physics project, the International Linear Collider, was published on 12 June 2013. The Technical Design Report (TDR) marks the completion of many years of globally coordinated R&D and completes the mandate of the Global Design Effort. It contains all the elements needed to propose the ILC to collaborating governments, including a technical design and implementation plan, that are realistic and have been optimized for performance, cost and risk.

Highlights of the achievements include the successful construction and commissioning of superconducting radiofrequency test facilities for accelerators all over the world, great strides in the improvement of accelerating cavities production processes, and plans for mass production, as 16,000 superconducting cavities will be needed to drive the ILC’s particle beams. The details of the two state-of-the-art detectors that will record the collisions between electrons and positrons are also part of the report, as well as an extensive outline of the geological and civil engineering studies conducted for siting the ILC.

Six separate pdfs are available for the Technical Design Report, three under 10Mb each and a total of 229Mb for the other three.

The Outreach document provides a good overview of the project, with lots of glossies like the one below. The content of the outreach document is duplicated on the General Public website. The Physics document (volume 2) provides more detailed, but still accessible, technical information.

Another great international collaborative project to carry us deeper into the mechanisms of our universe.
June 13, 2013

Gillibrand loses bid to strip military sex assault cases from chain of command

Source: NBC

The Senate’s staunchest advocate for transferring military rape cases to independent prosecutors to contain a rape epidemic in the ranks said Wednesday she was distressed by the rejection of her proposal, saying, "The victims’ voices aren’t being heard."

“To reverse this crisis, I do not believe it will be enough if we do not seize the opportunity and embrace the kind of systemic reform that will truly increase accountability," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee to consider amendments to the proposed fiscal 2014 military budget.

However, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., on Wednesday replaced Gillibrand’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 with his own plan: If unit commanders decide not to prosecute service members for alleged sex assaults, those cases would be required to undergo "an independent review by the next higher level of the chain of command." Further, Levin's amendment would make it a crime for service members to retaliate against victims who claim they were sexually assaulted.

Navy veteran Trina McDonald, who said she survived three rapes while serving in Alaska in 1989, called Levin's move "proposterous." In an interview Wednesday with NBC News, she predicted the military's sex-assault crisis will deepen because Gillibrand's plan was spiked and replaced by Levin's amendment.

Read more: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/12/18920746-gillibrand-loses-bid-to-strip-military-sex-assault-cases-from-chain-of-command#comments

Hmmm. "an independent review by the next higher level of the chain of command."

And the *uck stops there. Right.

June 6, 2013

Running on a track is boring. Run like a proton at Fermilabís new playground!!

Or you can run like an antiproton if you prefer.

From a press release by Fermilab, the National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois:

It’s one thing for kids to try to envision particles zipping around underground when learning about the science at Fermilab. It’s another thing entirely for them to pretend to be particles charging along an accelerator path, revealing new physics as they fly by.

This week the Fermilab Education Office celebrated the completion of its new Run Like A Proton accelerator path for middle- and high-school-age visitors to the laboratory.

Located at the Lederman Science Center, the path is an aboveground, scaled-down version of the routes a particle can take through Fermilab’s accelerator complex. While running along the path, kids can act like they are the particles of the lab’s physics program zipping through underground tunnels.

“Kids have different modes of learning,” said Spencer Pasero of Fermilab’s Education Office. “They can learn about the work of the lab with our indoor exhibits, but now they can also learn about it through our new outdoor playground.”

It’s a playground with a physics lesson. Kids playing the parts of protons and antiprotons “collide” by high-fiving each other as they run along the accelerator path. Signs along the path guide them in the right direction, whether they want to follow the path a proton would take as it circles the Main Injector or assume the flight of a neutrino headed toward Minnesota


“Students run like a proton around the accelerator path, and afterward when they go on a tour of Fermilab, the docents ask them, ‘Remember when you were running like a proton?’” said Marge Bardeen, head of the Education Office. “And they remember! What a great way to learn.”

Fermilab’s new Run Like A Proton accelerator path
at the Lederman Science Center is now open.
Photo: Reidar Hahn

Learning about science really is fun, for everyone!

A good comment to this announcement was posted on Quantum Diaries:

Chris says:

One difference. The protons don’t cry when they collide with an anti-proton.

June 3, 2013

Our Place in the Galactic Neighborhood Just Got an Upgrade

(I posted this earlier as a reply (#20) to a thread in GD, but it seems worth of a standalone Science post as well.)

Reported today by Alberto Sanna of the Max Planck Institute at the AAS meeting in Indianapolis, story in Universe Today: Our Place in the Galactic Neighborhood Just Got an Upgrade

Some cultures used to say the Earth was the center of the Universe. But in a series of “great demotions,” as astronomer Carl Sagan put it in his book Pale Blue Dot, we found out that we are quite far from the center of anything. The Sun holds the prominent center position in the center of the Solar System, but our star is just average-sized, located in a pedestrian starry suburb — a smaller galactic arm, far from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.

But perhaps our suburb isn’t as quiet or lowly as we thought. A new model examining the Milky Way’s structure says our “Local Arm” of stars is more prominent than we believed.

“We’ve found there is not a lot of difference between our Local Arm and the other prominent arms of the Milky Way, which is in contrast what astronomers thought before,” said researcher Alberto Sanna, of the Max-Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, speaking today at the American Astronomical Society’s annual meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana.


As part of the BeSSeL Survey (Bar and Spiral Structure Legacy Survey) using the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), astronomers are able to make more precise measurements of cosmic distances. The VLBA uses a network of 10 telescopes that work together to figure out how far away stars and other objects are.


“I would say yes, that’s a nice conclusion to say we are more important,” Sanna told Universe Today. “But more importantly, we are now mapping the Milky Way and discovering how the Milky Might appear to an outside observer. We now know the Local Arm arm is something that an observer from afar would definitely notice!”

Hmmm. Good and bad. Probably means the rent will be increasing substantially.

If you would like more details, you can get a preprint of the findings in the Astrophysical Journal here: On the Nature of the Local Spiral Arm of the Milky Way (42 pages, pdf)

May 31, 2013

Surprise, Asteroid 1998 QE2 has a moon!

From Universe Today:

Late yesterday, NASA turned the 230-foot (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California toward Asteroid 1998 QE2 as it was heading toward its closest approach to Earth, and they got a big surprise: the asteroid is a binary system. 1998 QE2 itself is 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) in diameter, and the newly found orbiting moon is about 600 meters in diameter.

The radar images were taken were taken on May 29, 2013, when the asteroid was about 3.75 million miles (6 million kilometers) from Earth.

“Radar really helps to pin down the orbit of an asteroid as well as the size of it,” said Paul Chodas of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program office, speaking during a JPL webcast about this asteroid on May 30. “We now know our size estimates were pretty good, but finding it was a binary was surprising.”

NASA said that about 16 percent of asteroids are binary or even triple systems.

Radar images from May 29, 2012 of Asteroid 1998 QE2,
showing its binary companion. Credit: NASA.

Wow! I wonder if it's made of green cheese, just like Earth's moon???

The following is a sequence of radar images recorded by NASA's Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, Calif., showing the rotation of asteroid 1998 QE2 plus its moon, visible as a bright spot. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / GSSR

May 28, 2013

In less than 6 months since Newtown, more Americans have been killed with guns in our streets...

...homes, shops, schools, and nurseries, etc, then U.S. Military personnel were killed in the Iraq War (Operation Iraqi 'Freedom') in the more than 7 years between March 19, 2003 and August 31, 2010.

The current count on the Slate site How Many People Have Been Killed by Guns Since Newtown? now reads: Matched Deaths: 4,410 or more since Newtown

The U.S. Department of Defense lists OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF) U.S. CASUALTY STATUS * FATALITIES AS OF: May 28, 2013, 10 a.m. EDT at 4,409,
where * OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM includes casualties that occurred between March 19, 2003, and August
31, 2010, in the Arabian Sea, Bahrain, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Persian Gulf,
Qatar, Red Sea, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates.

Of course, U.S. military deaths represent a fraction of the carnage and upheaval of the Iraq war. Also, the current 66 deaths in Operation New Dawn are not included.

What a coincidence, the two numbers differing by 1 with that being the single death so far reported for today,
May, 28, 2013. A fairly typical report from Fort Worth, Texas:

A 72-year-old man was fatally shot as Fort Worth police investigated an alarm call early Tuesday morning in a neighborhood near the Woodhaven County Club.

According to Fort Worth police, authorities responded to the alarm call just before 1 a.m. in the 400 block of North Havenwood Lane. Upon arriving to the scene, officers become involved in a confrontation with a man armed with a gun. Feeling threatened, at least one officer fired at the man, who was later identified by a neighbor as Jerry Waller, police said. Waller died at the scene.

Becky Haskin, a former city council member, lives nearby and said she and her husband heard five rapid shots. Haskin said she believes Waller heard the alarm and went to the house armed to investigate.

Haskin said there was no sign of a burglary at the home and that the alarm may have triggered accidentally.

Just did a refresh on the Slate page, still at 4410.

May 28, 2013

The Race is On: Manufacturer sets sights on market for armed drones...

The photo above is of a Denel Dynamics' Seeker, which is a tactical reconnaissance UAV that's been around for a long time, and has been used for diverse purposes such as to monitor the South African general election in 1994 and to track rhinoceros poachers in Kruger National Park in 2012. In 2010 the manufacturer unveiled a new light air to ground missile, the Denel Dynamics Impi that is being developed to arm the Seeker 400, the current production version.

Well, looks like the development is going well, as reported by NBC News:

On a sprawling complex just outside Pretoria, South Africa, a government-owned arms manufacturer is preparing to test an armed drone that it hopes to begin selling soon to governments around the world.

The company, Denel Dynamics, says the armed version of the Seeker 400, which will carry two laser-guided missiles, will enable so-called opportunistic targeting at a range of up to about 155 miles.


And according to Peter Singer, director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at the Brookings Institute, at least 26 countries have surveillance drones of a size or type that have been or could be armed, and roughly 20 countries are trying to either develop or acquire weaponized drones.


The company aims to be among the first suppliers of armed drones to market, if tests of the armed versions of the Seeker 400 -- expected to begin in “a month or two” and last up to six months, according to Ntsihlele -- are successful. South Africa would have to purchase the armed drones first before the company would begin marketing them elsewhere, but if that happens Denel sees opportunities for growth elsewhere, particularly in “Africa and the Middle East,” he said.

Ntsihlele declined to say how much the armed Seeker 400 will cost, but said it will be far cheaper than the Predator and Reaper, the armed drones used for anti-terrorism operations by the U.S. military in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, which cost approximately $20 million and $56.5 million apiece, respectively. And unlike those UAVs, it would not require satellite technology, being controlled instead through “line of sight” communications. That limits its range but makes it potentially available to nations without sophisticated space-based guidance systems.

"opportunistic targeting"....what a lovely euphemism!

Maybe a new interpretation for the lyrics to that song (my favorite version is by the Dead, on the Reckoning album):

Now the race is on and here comes pride up the back stretch,
Heartaches a goin' to the inside,
My Tears are holding back,
Tryin' not to fall.
My Heart's out of the running,
True Love scratched for another's sake,
The race is on and it looks like Heartaches,
And the winner loses all.

May 7, 2013

Pentagon's annual report on sexual assault shows alarming rise...

From NBC News (though I maintain NBC's use of "alarming" is totally wrong, see below) (emphasis mine):

On Tuesday, the Pentagon will release the annual report on sexual assaults in the military, which shows some startling numbers.

While the report will show that the number of reported assaults in fiscal year 2012 rose only 6 percent to 3,374 — up from 3,192 a year before — the number of people who made an anonymous claim that they were sexually assaulted but never reported the attack skyrocketed from 19,000 in FY11 to 26,000 in FY12.

Members of Congress will be briefed on the report early tomorrow afternoon, and then Major General Gary Patton, the Director of the DoD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO), will brief the media.

Embarrassingly, the report is being made public just a day after it was revealed that the Air Force's sexual-abuse prevention chief has himself been charged with sexual assault.

I think the increase from 19K to 26K 'anonymous claims' of sexual assault is GREAT news. It doesn't mean that 7,000 more assaults occurred, it means that the stigma associated with assault has changed, so that 7,000 more victims were willing to take that first step of reporting, anonymously, that they have suffered abuse in the military. Perhaps, if support for abuse victims continues to increase, then the number of military personnel who report, or anonymously report, their assault(s) will reach an accurate number, representing the real problem. Perhaps, for the first time in 237 years ...(the number of years since 1776)...the true extent of the problem will surface.

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