Clean Fresh Spring Weather   Leave a comment


A torrential rainfall on Sunday night cleansed Winnipeg of all the dirt left over on the streets from the winter slop.  Summer is here!

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Posted May 24, 2016 by markosun in Weather, Winnipeg

Wild new Skyscraper in New York City   Leave a comment


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56 Leonard Street is an 821 feet (250 m) tall, 57-story skyscraper currently under construction on Leonard Street in, New York City, United States. The Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron describes the building as “houses stacked in the sky.”

The building has 145 condominium residences priced between US$3.5 million and US$50 million. Residences will range in size from 1,418 to 6,400 square feet (131.7 to 594.6 m2) and will include 2 to 5 bedrooms all with private outdoor space.

As of May 2013, 70% of the building had sold. According to building developer Izak Senbahar, the building was 92% sold in seven months. In June 2013, a penthouse at 56 Leonard went into contract for US$47 million, making it the most expensive residential property ever sold below Midtown Manhattan.

The building is expected to be completed in 2016. Due to its cantilevered balconies it has been nicknamed as the Jenga building by the media.

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Posted May 24, 2016 by markosun in Buildings

China Unveils World’s Largest Radio Telescope   Leave a comment


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Nestling in a vast natural crater, China’s giant is about to come alive.

A colossal, steeply curved dish glints in the sunlight, surrounded by jagged mountains that cut into the sky. Construction workers, busy putting the finishing touches to this structure, look tiny against the huge backdrop. This is the largest radio telescope ever built, measuring 500m (1,640ft) across.

“In China, in astronomy, we’re far behind the world,” says Prof Peng Bo, the deputy project manager of the Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope – or Fast for short.

We used to have to go abroad, to use telescopes outside China. I think it’s time for us to build something in China.”

Situated in Guizhou Province, in the south-west of the country, Fast dwarfs all other radio telescopes.

The former record-holder was the Aricebo Observatory, in Puerto Rico, with a diameter of 305m (1,000ft).

The Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank in the north of England measures 76m (249ft) across.

This isn’t simply one-upmanship – bigger really is better when it comes to radio astronomy.

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While some telescopes, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, use light to see the visible Universe, a radio telescope is more like a giant ear “listening” for radio waves emitted by objects in deepest space.

Like light, radio waves are a form of electromagnetic radiation – but they have extremely long wavelengths, ranging from about a millimetre to more than 100km in length.

And because these cosmic signals have travelled for great distances in space they are also incredibly weak.

This is why radio telescopes need to be big – the larger the dish, the more signals it can collect.

China’s new telescope is so large that the team hopes it will pick up radio waves from the far reaches of the cosmos.

The telescope will be searching for ancient signals of hydrogen – one of the building blocks of the early Universe – to try to understand how the cosmos evolved.

It will also be hunting for new stars – in particular a rapidly rotating and extremely dense type of star called a pulsar – and it will even join the hunt for extraterrestrial life.

“The search for extraterrestrial life is a very hot topic for every telescope – and also for the public. I think Fast can make a contribution,” Peng says.

It took 10 years of trawling through satellite images of the Chinese countryside to find a natural depression big enough to fit the telescope inside.

But construction has taken place in record time – just over five years, and it’s nearly complete.

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Posted May 24, 2016 by markosun in Science, Space

High Horses?   Leave a comment


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I went to the racetrack the other day to watch the horses do their thing.  My friend picked up a program and educated me on the drugs this batch of ponies was on. Yes, the program lists the drugs the horses are using.  All the drug names are unknown to the average person. But the trainers must know what the drugs do.

Strange sport, everything, likely including the jockeys, are wasted. Okay that may be a bit extreme, but a person has to be a bit high to climb on top of one of those high-strung beasts and roar around the track at 50 kilometers per hour.

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Posted May 23, 2016 by markosun in Animals, Sports

Just a Regular Childhood   Leave a comment


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Dr. Evil: The details of my life are quite inconsequential.
Therapist (Carrie Fisher): Oh no, please, please, let’s hear about your childhood.
Dr Evil: Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink, he would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Some times he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy, the sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical, summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we’d make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds, pretty standard really. At the age of 12 I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen, a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum, it’s breathtaking, I suggest you try it.
Therapist: You know, we have to stop.

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Posted May 22, 2016 by markosun in Espionage

NASA’s high flying telescope   Leave a comment


The Americans never cease to amaze when it comes to undertaking incredible projects.

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) to construct and maintain an airborne observatory. NASA awarded the contract for the development of the aircraft, operation of the observatory and management of the American part of the project to the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) in 1996. The DSI (Deutsches SOFIA Institut) manages the German parts of the project which are primarily science and telescope related. SOFIA’s telescope saw first light on May 26, 2010. SOFIA is the successor to the Kuiper Airborne Observatory.

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SOFIA is based on a Boeing 747SP wide-body aircraft that has been modified to include a large door in the aft fuselage that can be opened in flight to allow a 2.5 m (8.2 ft) diameter reflecting telescope access to the sky. This telescope is designed for infrared astronomy observations in the stratosphere at altitudes of about 12 kilometres (41,000 ft). SOFIA’s flight capability allows it to rise above almost all of the water vapor in the Earth’s atmosphere, which blocks some infrared wavelengths from reaching the ground. At the aircraft’s cruising altitude, 85% of the full infrared range will be available. The aircraft can also travel to almost any point on the Earth’s surface, allowing observation from the northern and southern hemispheres.

Once ready for use, observing flights were expected to be flown 3 or 4 nights a week. Originally scheduled to be operational for 20 years, in its tentative budget for the fiscal year 2015 NASA announced that unless Germany’s aerospace center would contribute significantly more than previously agreed upon, the observatory would be grounded by 2015. The SOFIA Observatory is based at NASA’s Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center at LA/Palmdale Regional Airport, California, while the SOFIA Science Center is based out of NASA Ames Research Center, in Mountain View, California.

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SOFIA uses a 2.5 m (8.2 ft) reflector telescope, which has an oversized, 2.7 m (8.9 ft) diameter primary mirror, as is common with most large infrared telescopes. The optical system uses a Cassegrain reflector design with a parabolic primary mirror and a remotely configurable hyperbolic secondary. In order to fit the telescope into the fuselage, the primary is shaped to an f-number as low as 1.3, while the resulting optical layout has an f-number of 19.7. A flat, tertiary, dichroic mirror is used to deflect the infrared part of the beam to the Nasmyth focus where it can be analyzed. An optical mirror located behind the tertiary mirror is used for a camera guidance system.

The telescope looks out of a large door in the port side of the fuselage near the airplane’s tail, and initially carried nine instruments for infrared astronomy at wavelengths from 1–655 micrometres (μm) and high-speed optical astronomy at wavelengths from 0.3–1.1 μm. The main instruments are the FLITECAM, a near infrared camera covering 1–5 μm; FORCAST, covering the mid-infrared range of 5–40 μm, and HAWC, which spans the far infrared in the range 42–210 μm. The other four instruments include an optical photometer and infrared spectrometers with various spectral ranges. SOFIA’s telescope is by far the largest ever to be placed in an aircraft. For each mission one interchangeable science instrument will be attached to the telescope. Two groups of general purpose instruments are available. In addition an investigator can also design and build a special purpose instrument. On April 17, 2012, two upgrades to HAWC were selected by NASA to increase the field of view with new detector arrays and to add the capability of measuring the polarization of dust emission from celestial sources.

The open cavity housing the telescope will be exposed to high-speed turbulent winds. In addition, the vibrations and motions of the aircraft introduce observing difficulties. The telescope was designed to be very lightweight, with a honeycomb shape milled into the back of the mirror and polymer composite material used for the telescope assembly. The mount includes a system of bearings in pressurized oil to isolate the instrument from vibration. Tracking is achieved through a system of gyroscopes, high speed cameras, and magnetic torque motors to compensate for motion, including vibrations from airflow and the aircraft engines. The telescope cabin must be cooled prior to aircraft takeoff to ensure the telescope matches the external temperature to prevent thermally induced shape changes. Prior to landing the compartment is flooded with nitrogen gas to prevent condensation of moisture on the chilled optics and instruments.

DLR is responsible for the entire telescope assembly and design along with two of the nine scientific instruments used with the telescope, NASA is responsible for the aircraft. The manufacturing of the telescope was subcontracted to European industry. The telescope is German; the primary mirror was cast by Schott AG in Mainz, Germany with lightweight improvements, with grinding and polishing completed by the French company SAGEM-REOSC. The secondary silicon carbide based mirror mechanism was manufactured by Swiss CSEM. A reflective surface was applied to the mirror at a facility in Louisiana but the consortium now maintains a mirror coating facility in Moffett Field, allowing for fast recoating of the primary mirror, a process that is expected to be required 1-2 times per year.

 

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The primary science objectives of SOFIA are to study the composition of planetary atmospheres and surfaces; to investigate the structure, evolution and composition of comets; to determine the physics and chemistry of the interstellar medium; and to explore the formation of stars and other stellar objects. While SOFIA aircraft operations are managed by NASA Dryden, NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, is home to the SOFIA Science Center which will manage mission planning for the program. On 29 June 2015, the dwarf planet Pluto passed between a distant star and the Earth producing a shadow on the Earth near New Zealand that allowed SOFIA to study the atmosphere of Pluto.

F/A-18 mission support aircraft shadows SOFIA during a functional check flight.

 

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Posted May 20, 2016 by markosun in Aircraft, Aviation, Space

Scorching Heat in India   Leave a comment


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India records its hottest day ever

 

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A city in India’s Rajasthan state has broken the country’s temperature records after registering 51C, the highest since records began, the weather office says.

The new record in Phalodi in the desert state comes amid a heatwave across India.

The previous record for the hottest temperature stood at 50.6C in 1956.

The heatwave has hit much of northern India, where temperatures have exceeded 40C for weeks.

The run-up to the Indian monsoon season is always characterised by weeks of strong sunshine and increasing heat but life-threatening temperature levels topping 50C are unusual.

Murari Lal Thanvi, an eyewitness in Phalodi, told the BBC he had struggled to stay outdoors on Friday.

“Even my mobile phone gave up and stopped working when I was trying to take pictures today,” he said.

“I was able to switch my mobile phone on after putting a wet cloth on it for about 20-25 minutes.”

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Temperature recorded on Thursday in Phalodi, Rajasthan

  • 50.6C Previous record for the hottest temperature in India, 1956
  • 45C Temperature at which India declares a heatwave
  • 56.7C Hottest temperature ever recorded (Death Valley, US, 1913)

The weather office has issued warnings of “severe heat wave” conditions across large parts of India’s northern and western states through the weekend.

India declares a heatwave when the maximum temperature hits 45C, or five degrees higher than the average for the area in previous years.

This summer, the heatwave has claimed dozens of lives in the south Indian states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

Permanent relief from the heat is only expected with the arrival of the monsoon, which normally comes in mid-June.

 

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Posted May 20, 2016 by markosun in Weather

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