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n1vux (1492)

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Only started with Perl4 and Perl5 in 1995. I was doing AWK etc for 12 years before that, and resisted switching. I've been doing OO since before C++ hit bigtime, with Objective-C and SmallTalk, so I really like the (no longer new) Perl5 OO style; and the Lispish Map style is also an old friend. What do I hack with Perl? All data that passes my way; systems monitoring scripts at $DayJob, weather data at night, and I cheat on NPR word puzzles. Member: [] [] /. LinkedIn []

N1VUX is my FCC-issued ham radio callsign.

Journal of n1vux (1492)

Tuesday May 31, 2005
02:20 PM

Science News

[ #24961 ]
Andromeda galaxy larger than it was believed?
«Much bigger, three times its currently accepted size, due to some new observations and analysis at the Keck Observatory and presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting being held currently in Minneapolis.
  They now believe a thin sprinkling of stars once thought to be a halo is in fact part of Andromeda's main disk. That makes the spiral galaxy, so close to Earth that it appeared as a fuzzy blob to the ancients, more than 220,000 light-years across -- triple the previous estimate of 70,000 to 80,000 light-years. »

The former rural outskirts are now considered the city border, which raises the mass estimate as well.

- homepage and AAS, via Reuters and Technocrat

Einstein Year 2005: Measuring the shape of distant stars using gravitational microlensing
« An international team of astronomers has used a phenomenon first predicted by Einstein in 1936, called gravitational lensing, to determine the shape of stars. This phenomenon, due to the effect of gravity on light rays, led to the development of gravitational optics techniques, among them gravitational microlensing. It is the first time that this well-known technique has been used to determine the shape of a star. »

- What is surpising to me is how Oblate the local reference stars can be. Measuring oblateness of stars at all is amazing, to do so at greater distances is moreso. 

-   Jodrell Bank Observatory   DETAILS , the MOA collaboration  , Astronomy & Astrophysics of  EDP Sciences via EurekAlert

NASA sees orbiting stars flooding space with gravitational waves
«A scientist using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has found evidence that two white dwarf stars are orbiting each other in a death grip, destined to merge. The data indicate gravitational waves are carrying energy away from the star system at a prodigious rate, making it a prime candidate for future missions designed to directly detect these ripples in space-time. »
«The short orbital period implies that the stars are only about 50,000 miles apart, a fifth of the distance from the Earth to the Moon, and are moving in excess of a million miles per hour. According to Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, such a system should produce gravitational waves - ripples in space-time - that carry energy away from the system at the speed of light.»

- Now we've got a specific testable prediction -- we've got an object that theory says should be washing us with gravity waves, and the frequency those waves should be modulated. Can we detect them? Are our current instruments sensitive enough to do so?
- Chandra X-ray Center  DETAILS , via Jouirnal reference at EurekAlert
Shift of weather patterns necessitates rethinking of reforestation methods
«Forest landowners can greatly increase the survival rate of pine tree seedlings by changing when and how they plant, according to research conducted at the Texas A&M University Research and Extension Center . "There's been too many (reforestation) failures over the last decade or so," said Dr. Eric Taylor, Texas Cooperative Extension forestry specialist. "Some landowners have had to replant two, three or even four years in a row because of poor seedling survival." »

- This could be significant to even small foresters; fall plantings could be much more cost-effective as well as restoring the habitat quicker.

- Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications , via EurekAlert

Mind the (Prime) Gap
«Despite early hiccups, number theorists say they have finally proved a key conjecture about prime numbers: that the smallest possible gap between two large prime numbers continues to shrink, relative to the natural logarithm of the smaller number, as the numbers increase. »

- This is related to the Prime Number Theorem, which counts primes less than N, but sheds more detail on the distribution of those primes. Intuitively, this is saying that the gaps between primes do not grow as fast as the nubmers, and pairs of primes can be found pretty much as close as one desires, which gives new hope for the Twin Prime Conjecture.

- arXiv and homepage, via AAAS Science magazine

Imaging an earthquate
Nature has two similar letters, using dense grids of seismic stations in Japan and Germany to compute detailed images of the seismic events of December 26.

- Nature

Deep Roots of Solar Wind Help Predict Space Weather
«A layer deep in the solar atmosphere can be used to estimate the speed of the solar wind, a stream of electrified gas that constantly blows from the Sun. Estimating the speed of the solar wind will improve space weather forecasts.»

- That would be real space weather forecasting!

- NASA Press Release, via Physlink story

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