Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Colorado Springs Succeeds In Barring Neo-Nazis & Racists From Holding Resort Conference

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Some of the neo-Nazi swine who had planned to attend a conference in the Springs early next year. Now it's cancelled, thanks to aroused and energized citizens.

As John 'Hannibal' Smith from the A-Team (TV series)  used to say: "Isn't it great when a plan comes together?"  In the current case, the plan was to bar all the neo-Nazis, proto-Confederates and their VDARE White Supremacist ilk from attending a conference in April next year.  We first learned about these plans in a Colorado Springs Independent notice (Aug. 16-22, 'White Supremacists Headed For Springs Resort', p. 14), wherein VDARE invites racists and Nazis to "Join us for a weekend of candor, fellowship and our top notch speakers to celebrate a weekend of white identity".

But many COS citizens took note and vowed "No way!".  Especially after the brutal violence on display in Charlottesville, aroused citizens came together and pressed - using the threat of boycott - for the Cheyenne Mountain Resort to call it off. Thankfully, based on news in the Colorado Springs Gazette (and Denver Post) two days ago, the Resort has complied..

Now we don't have to deal with the Nazi filth and their Confederate allies mucking up our streets and defiling our town and citizens.   The murder of Heather Heyer in the Charlottesville conflict definitely set things off but that wasn't the only thing.

We'd also since learned how the neo-Nazis and other racist scum networked using the web (WSJ, Aug, 17, p. A1)  to mobilize the disaffected angry young whites (mainly males) including "white nationalists, neo-Nazis and defenders of Southern heritage"  to "maximize their opportunity to get their point of view across".  While dopes like Holman Jenkins, Michelle Malkin and other trolls have sought to minimize the Nazi -fascist threat, the WSJ piece makes it clear these assholes could number in the tens of thousands  For historical reference, when Hitler launched his agenda he commanded barely 100 S.A. thugs As my late friend (and former Hitler Youth - by coercion)  Kurt Braun used to say: "Never, EVER, get complacent about a few Nazis!"  But dolts like the WSJ's Jenkins insist we are "over reacting to Nazis" if thousands protest "against just a few"  - like in Boston last weekend. Clearly, Jenkins doesn't know history if it bit him in the ass.

Well the Nazis will not darken doors or streets, in our fair city anyway, especially also after a number of hate crimes reported in the local papers.  In one such desecration, Temple Beit Torah - a Jewish reform synagogue - was targeted with anti-Semitic graffiti. This included a swastika as well as Nazi salute (though misspelled "Sig heil") on the Temple sign.  In another incident, the N-word was scrawled in ugly letters across a neighbor's motor vehicle.

These incidents, combined with the report of the true facts (COS Indy, Aug 16-22, p. 6) on what transpired in Charlottesville, led the town's activated citizenry to see red. In the last case we learned  how white supremacists and Nazis with helmets - some with homemade shields bearing the insignia of the racist group Vanguard America - waylaid innocent counter protesters.  Then:

"After a swirl of violence and swinging sticks, three of the counter protesters were left with bloody faces - and the racists deliberately targeted women's faces with their sticks"

It was only at that point, including seeing the maggots spray mace on female protesters' faces, that ANTIFA realized it had to act. Hence, they realized the need to defend weaker protesters against the racist rabble, including more becoming more aggressive to stop the Nazi onslaught. (Battles described as "brutal, bloody and chaotic")

To those who yelped in the aftermath "both sides were violent". Well yeah, as in WW II BOTH sides were violent! Allies vs. Nazis, BUT only one side were the good guys!

ANTIFA also (on Saturday) defended African-Americans singing "This Little Light of Mine" in Emancipation Park and also "burned right wing flags".   B y 1:35 p.m. they felt they driven the racists out of town, but then five minutes later James Fields committed his domestic act of terror, killing Heather Heyer.

Witnessing the hard core antics and rhetoric of the white supremacists and Nazis on the new VICE episode, e.g.

sealed it and sealed the fate of whatever "conference" these brigands had planned in April next year. By early this week, Cheyenne Mountain Resort called it off.  Read more here:

See also:


"On May 10th of this year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued a Joint Intelligence Bulletin titled "White Supremacist Extremism Poses Persistent Threat of Lethal Violence." The report aimed "to provide new insight into the targeting preferences of white supremacist extremists and the state of white supremacist extremism violence in the United States." Based on an assessment of white extremist violence between the years 2000 to 2016, the report declared that "lone actors and small cells within the white supremacist extremist (WSE) movement likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year.

What the report did not anticipate were "United the Right" rallies like the one in Charlottesville, Virginia, where many tentacles of the white nationalist movement held a well-organized, violent and coordinated display of strength.

Rallies of white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, militia members, alt-right supporters, and neo-Nazis, similar to the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which resulted in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, and the injuring of nearly two dozen other counter-protesters, will almost assuredly be coming to your town or a town near you."

FT Columnist Likens Trump Supporters To Drunks - He's Spot On

Trump mobbed by some of his 'drunken' supporters at a campaign style rally. If these people aren't idiots, they are certainly acting like drunks.

 To say that Donald Trump is a despicable maggot does a  disservice to all insect maggots. Not even those larvae of some of the filthiest critters (house flies, horse flies, etc.)  on the planet deserve to be compared with the diseased, bipedal maggot fouling the White House and the office of the presidency. 

Not only has this verminous cretin  remained unapologetic regarding Heather Heyer's death but last night even had the temerity and chutzpah  to portray himself as the true victim of the deadly events in Charlottesville. He launched an all-out assault on the media,  branding journalists who “do not like our country” as the true source of division in America.  Even former NSA head James Clapper was aghast, saying he did not know how much longer the country could sustain such vitriolic division.

And yet, like drunks, the Trump supporters loved it. I will get to that in a bit,  citing FT columnist Gary Silverman's recent piece, but first more on the events last night.

Trump, at the rally in Phoenix, reminiscent of his populist election campaign,  attacked coverage of his response to the white supremacist violence and complained bitterly to his audience about how he had been treated.  The interesting aspect, which his inebriated followers likely missed, is that he deliberately lied by omission when recounting his original statement on the Charlottesville violence.

Thus while reading out his original remarks to polite applause,  he failed to repeat the inflammatory words he had used when he blamed “many on both sides”.  But why be surprised at this omission? It is classic Trump, pathological liar that he is, always manipulating his inebriated followers into blindly advocating the destruction of their own country. This is especially after he called for a shutdown of the government - which will cause their own Social Security checks to stop.

Trump also made other statements, deploying authoritarian rhetoric, as when he declared:

It’s time to expose the crooked media deceptions and to challenge the media for their role in fomenting divisions and yes, by the way, they are trying to take away our history and our heritage.”

Evoking images of Joseph Goebbels' attacks on the "Jewish media" in 1930s Nazi Germany, i.e.

Like those pro-Nazi crowds, the Trump  crowd – some scowling, some laughing – turned and jeered at journalists in the media enclosure.  They had imbibed their master's poison cocktail that the media and journalists were the real enemy and would spare no epithet to mock them, (Many of these heard by the media but not reported to adhere to basic standards of decency)

Even as the Swine-in-chief raged on - seeking to entice more outrage and violence with his inflammatory rhetoric -  protesters outside the Phoenix Convention Center had gathered to voice anger at his presence. Police used smoke bombs and teargas on the crowds after plastic bottles were reportedly thrown.

Make no mistake that the Phoenix rally was the latest example of Trump as a Jekyll and Hyde public performer, coming just 24 hours after attempting to "flip the script" using an aimless, useless speech setting out future "strategy" in Afghanistan.  This basically amounted to changing his original position (to pull out) and instead continue throwing money down the drain after 16 years - the total now at $800 billion. Money that could have been used to repair the U.S. crumbling infrastructure. Trump, as seen in his deplorable lack of history knowledge to do with the Civil War, doesn't grasp that NO invading country has ever been able to secure a foothold in Afghanistan.

 Then last night - probably trying to distract from empty Monday night speech,  Drumpf was back in his element, pugnacious and freewheeling, throwing red meat (or bourbon shots?) to an eager crowd of Trump junkies. The arena, which has a capacity of 19,000, was mostly full of people waving signs saying “Drain the swamp”, “Make America proud again” and “Women for Trump”.

He repeatedly broke off from his teleprompter to call out “the failing New York Times” and Washington Post, which he branded “a lobbying tool for Amazon”. Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, bought the Post but the entities have no relationship.

And his asinine, deluded followers drank it up like so many "shots of Tequila".  The analogy is in reference to the  Gary Silverman column: 'Drunk On Trump - Why The U.S. Is Under The Influence' in The Financial Times, e.g.

Silverman compared Trump's rhetorical shots at the Left, the media and "political correctness"  to successive shots of Tequila consumed by his daft followers.  As he wrote, after referring to Trump's use of campaign style rallies to maintain momentum (and also keep his base revved up)::

"The logic reminded me of the period when I was drinking Tequila by the shot. The same probably hold true for the folks who whoop it up when the president lets loose - as he did last Tuesday saying there were some 'very fine' people among the racists who took part in deadly demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia."

Last night, on observing his followers as he delivered one rhetorical ding or lie after another, I was reminded of drunks at a frat party.  One is now left to wonder how rapidly these losers will reach sobriety after he incites a government shutdown over paying for his loopy wall, and their precious government support is no longer coming.

According to a new piece on The New Republic by Jeet Heer:

"Far from being idiots, they are people who would normally be considered functioning and successful. Trump’s supporters are better educated and wealthier than the American average."

Meaning ok, they aren't idiots, or morons or imbeciles,  but they've still taken leave of their senses so have to be in some measure acting like drunks. Like smart frat boys who imbibed too many successive shots of bourbon and beer during a hazing.

The fact these drunks have placed our nation into such jeopardy by enabling a degenerate turd to enter office (via the antiquated electoral college) is bad enough. Their crime of "mischief of faction" is noted. The possibility they could do it again - with more Russian interference if too little is done to stop outside hacking-  is even more troubling. Real citizens have to now do all they can to turn back this toxic tide and not allow Trump to extend his reign of terror  beyond 2020. Simply put, this country can't afford it.

As David Cay Johnston pointed out last night on 'Last Word':

"Holding a campaign rally for 2020 is part of an effort to make sure that if things go badly for him he will have people who will be out there in the streets - acting on his behalf - disrupting our democracy"

One hopes before that happens, leading to real violence, Trumpkins will finally get sober, and grasp:

"The essential thing to keep in mind about Donald Trump is that Donald is about Donald. He's not about our country, not about anything else but himself."

If the debt limit isn't raised by October 1st, Trump's drunken supporters will hopefully finally see their idol for what he really is, a saboteur and traitor. They will see the jig is up and come out of their stupor. But I wouldn't put any bets on it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Post Eclipse - Can The Awe and Wonder Be Translated Into Learning, Scientific Endeavor?

The Solar corona imaged at totality yesterday. Can the awe and wonder generated in millions continue?

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Left: Astro-camp at Harry Bayley Observatory in 1990. Right - students line up to get experience with money exchange rates in "Money camp".

It was gratifying yesterday to behold millions of Americans with eyes skyward, transfixed by the total solar eclipse unfolding above them.  As one TV commentator observed, "here for once we had something to unite the country instead of dividing it". And indeed, we have to be grateful that a celestial 'show' that can captivate and take the nation's eyes off politics at least for a few hours.

Now that the "great American eclipse" has ended, inquiring minds want to know if the interest - especially in astronomy -  can be sustained.  Indeed, is it possible to parlay fascination with transitory (but special)  celestial events - which grab enormous public attention for a day or two - into sustained interest and perhaps even long duration learning?  That appears to be the sixty- four dollar question.

What I am hoping, having been involved in astronomy education as well as research, is that this eclipse (and another cross- USA event for 2024) will at least spur some of the millions staring at the event yesterday to learn more.  Maybe, if awed enough, that will stoke a curiosity  to learn how exactly  total eclipses can be predicted. This could then entail everything from learning about the Saros cycle, to delving into books on spherical astronomy and the nature of "ecliptic limits" and the "Besselian elements for a solar eclipse".  In other words, many will be spurred to move beyond the simple "ooh and aah" stage to investigate the detailed mechanics of precisely what goes into making such a celestial event.  People will then also learn it's not a "miracle" , i.e. that Sun and Moon were "so precisely placed to cause this",  but a matter of hard mathematics and geometry.

The latter would even disclose to the probing mind that just because Sun and Moon are in alignment doesn't mean the eclipse will be total. Thus, because the Moon's orbit is elliptical that means its distance to Earth can change - between its apogee (farthest point in elliptical orbit) to perigee (nearest point).  Because the Moon is significantly smaller in diameter at apogee it will not be able to totally block out the Sun in the event of an eclipse, so the eclipse is now "annular", e.g.

It might sound profound to say, but discoveries like this can often spur a lifelong interest in astronomy and even a career. In this case, I still recall a student who attended our "Astro camp" at the Harry Bayley Observatory going on to pursue astronomy at Stanford. The student had never realized that all solar eclipses need not be total, and decided to pursue the specialized science of astrometry to learn more.

Personally, I'd much rather see more Astro-camps, emphasizing astronomical observations and studies of assorted celestial phenomena, than "money camps" - such as one recently held in Denver for kids 7 -11 years of age.  According to a WSJ report from June, 85 kids assembled for a "Junior Money Matters Camp". According to the account:

"These campers come for a week inside classrooms, spending seven hours a day studying things like the U.S. current account deficit, and supply and demand dynamics"


"Teaching economics and finance to this age group demands, patience, creativity and the occasional bribe. Camp counselors also had to punctuate lessons with clapping exercises -  to recapture errant campers' attention."

Seriously? I will wager any amount that those kids would be much more enthralled (and attentive) surveying the craters on the Moon through a powerful telescope, or assorted galaxies, nebulae and the planets.  Indeed, it is precisely in the ages from 7- 11 that curiosity in natural wonders and phenomena peaks. So why squander that on money matters? Those can always be learned later.

When one 10 year old was asked why she was there, she replied:

"So when I grow up I don't have to learn it. I can just do it."

Totally missing the mark,  given economic parameters and policies constantly change -  whether via tax laws or via new banking regs and the fiduciary rule. In other words, like most anything - one must be committed to continue learning. So why not learn about how lunar craters are formed at that young and impressionable age, instead of filthy lucre?  Well, perhaps because our culture and society is now overly obsessed with the latter, often at the expense of natural wonder.

Another aspect of the problem was noted yesterday in a WSJ piece ('Even in Sunlight, Nature Is Spectaculur') by  Danny  Heitman.   He wrote:

"As the media coverage of Monday's eclipse makes clear, popular culture conditions us to think of nature as a series of cinematic blockbusters: the Northern lights, the 100 year comet, the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the Sun vanish in the middle of day".


"But seeing nature as a kind of amusement arcade, worthy of note only when it dazzles, blinds us to the basic wonder of the land, sea and sky on any given day."

He's totally correct in this assessment.  The end result is that nature becomes merely another "product" to be consumed, then chucked for the time being - until another dazzling manifestation. There is no appeal to genuine understanding or constancy regarding that particular aspect of nature - whether the aurora, total lunar and solar eclipses or planetary conjunctions.  How to move beyond that? This requires commitment to learn and process in more than a dilettantish way. It demands, in other words, vastly more than being a mere consumer of cheap, transitory thrills.

Schools are the logical place to start to instill learning more about the eclipse as well as related phenomena, say the solar corona and CMEs. A perfect example is "Citizen CATE"  which integrated 68 teams in an amateur science experiment to learn more about the eclipse, as well as the solar corona etc.  As Director Matt Penn pointed out this morning on CBS, with 68 teams observing the eclipse, it could be followed across the U.S. and data could be taken "sequentially".  Penn is based  at the National Solar Observatory and will use the data, having provided the volunteers (mainly students) with equipment and instructions.

As Penn put it:

"If the network works perfectly we will get thirty times the data of previous studies. Even with fifty percent participation we'll get ten times the amount of data."

It is very likely that having participated in such a project the teachers of the citizen CATE students will not let their curiosity lapse but rather super charge it for further scientific investigations, projects. It is hoped that other science educators do the same, perhaps even instilling enough energy and pluck so the students themselves conduct their own astronomy or astrophysics seminars, such as ones held in Barbados, e.g.

It is certainly a goal to be pursued and applauded. As for the adult population mesmerized and awed by yesterday's eclipse, one hopes that at least a trip to the library (or online Googling) is in the works to now learn more about what they saw.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Pertinent Facts To Know Concerning Today's Total Solar Eclipse

After reading an AP account of the eclipse in the Friday Denver Post, to the effect this "is the first total solar eclipse in 99 years" I knew it was time for another post to clarify. It turns out assorted year periods have been tossed around: "38 years", "99 years" etc. without providing a context.

First, let's note that - on average-  there are in fact two total lunar eclipses and two total solar eclipses every year. It's just that they mostly don't occur in or near populated areas. Second, the "first in 99 years" refers to the first coast to coast passage of the umbral shadow in that time. E.g. Our current track looks like this, from the Pacific coast of Oregon to the Atlantic coast of S. Carolina:
No automatic alt text available.

The "first solar eclipse in 38 years" refers to the first total solar eclipse to occur in the U.S. in 38 years.  Let's return to this general depiction of the solar eclipse (graphic below), and as can be seen, there is a central dark shadow cone (the umbra) and a lighter shadow cone (the penumbra).  Most Americans today will be in the cone of the penumbra and will have to travel to be within the umbra to see totality. That is,  the total blocking out of the Sun by the Moon as seen in the top image.
Image result for solar eclipse diagram

Many would-be viewers as well as media, also fail to grasp that the durations of viewing times, both for the partial eclipse and total, are variable.  For example, at Casper Wyoming, barely 350 mi. north of us, the partial phase of eclipse begins at 10:20 a.m. and totality begins at 11:43 a.m. Thus, there is an interval of 1 h 23 m from first contact to totality. The totality itself will last for a duration of  2m 26s.  But at Hopkinsville, KY, the partial eclipse begins at 11:56 a.m. local time and totality at 1:25 p.m..  It can be seen here the complete eclipse duration is longer in Hopkinsville, nearly 3 hrs. from first to last contact. The totality phase alone will be 2 m 40s (Carbondale, IL comes in a close second at 2 m 37 s).

What gives? Well, the speed of the umbral shadow moving across the country from Pacific to Atlantic coast, varies.   (The total time to cover the distance of 2,600 mi. is 1 h 33m.) Bear in mind- as the eclipse diagram above indicates -  the moon's shadow is being projected not onto a flat surface, but onto a sphere (Earth). Near the middle of the totality path, the shadow is moving at its slowest along the surface of the planet. But at the very beginning of the totality path, and at the very end, the shadow is striking Earth at a very oblique angle at these points. Indeed, given the fact the lunar shadow cone is tangent to the curved surface of the Earth one can say it is moving at "infinite speed".   In between, not so much. For instance, at Madras OR, the shadow speed will be about 2, 200 mph.  At Hopkinsville, KY it will be about 1, 450 mph. Thus, because of the significantly slower shadow speed, observers in Hopkinsville will enjoy a longer total phase for the eclipse, 14 seconds longer than at Madras. (Though people in Madras can brag about being among the first to see it.)

What about those special eclipse-viewing glasses? Basically, you will need them for all but the totality phase (assuming you can be in the totality band).  At that point (total eclipse) you can remove them because they become useless.  Besides, you'd miss one of the most spectacular sights, the solar corona.  Obviously, if you live outside the totality band area you will need to wear your glasses for whatever duration you're viewing.

During the first hour of the eclipse phase (i.e. from "first contact") few people would recognize anything unusual happening. No surprise given that not much of the Sun is being covered. But pay attention to the last 15 minutes or so before totality (again assuming you're lucky enough to be in the totality band and have clear weather) and note the sharpening shadows, changes in the light and sometimes cooling winds.  This is also the phase where the 'Globe Observer' group wants to get temperature measurements - going through the total phase. (See the end of my last post).

Without any doubt the most awesome period begins in the final minute before totality, when the Sun transitions from being 99 percent obscured to total coverage.  By some estimates, the sky gets about 10,000 times darker. It's absolutely eerie, as even assorted animals fall sway to the sudden change in light intensity: bees return to their hives, spiders take in their webs, birds cease their bird song etc.

Just before totality those lucky to be in the total band will behold the interplay of sunlight and mountains in profile on the lunar surface.  These produce a phenomenon called "Bailey's beads.'  Note how the last bead gleams brilliantly just as the Sun's corona becomes visible.

I hope everyone will be able to enjoy this event to the max, and maybe learn a bit about astronomy from it, even enticing further exploration. For myself, I will have to be content with watching it from televised accounts on the TV. Alas, wifey is still recuperating in the hospital after hip replacement surgery on Friday. Also she seems to be suffering from a rare complication that will make her recovery longer: injury to the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve.  It makes any kind of move on the right leg almost unbearable. So we will likely watch totality from her hospital room.

For the rest of you, get out there and enjoy this (almost) once in a lifetime experience!

Friday, August 18, 2017

What Aspects Of The Coming Total Solar Eclipse Are Most Critical For Astrophysics?

Image showing totality in a previous  solar eclipse. The Sun is totally blocked out by the Moon - in the line of sight- and the solar corona is seen expanding from the solar limb

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Graphic showing the path for Aug. 21 total eclipse - and the partial zones to either side, with the percentages of the Sun to be covered.

As we approach August 21 and the first total eclipse to appear in in the U.S. in38 years, many are trying to stay ahead of the fervid hype. Here are the only two things you need to know: 1) In most of the U.S. the eclipse will be seen as partial only and you need special glasses in order to observe the transition to maximum coverup, and 2) If you want to observe the total eclipse (see top image) you will have to travel to some place within the band of totality (see graphic).  For example, in our location (Colorado Springs) the Sun will be roughly 85 percent covered.

Here's the skinny on stats for this eclipse: Approximately 12 million Americans will be directly in the totality band shown in the graphic. Another 88 million will be within 200 miles of some place inside the totality band. Naturally then, those living in communities right in the band (e.g. Jackson Hole, WY, St. Joseph, MO) are expecting eclipse watchers to pour in and pump up their economies - buying t-shirts, special glasses and other paraphernalia.

While the basic image of totality will be the appeal for casual observers,  and even partial eclipse will occur for (and excite)  many others, this doesn't hold quite the same spell for solar physicists or astrophysicists. They look to good observations made during totality, namely to be able to record and analyze the solar corona.   This is the outermost region of the solar atmosphere, at millions of kelvins temperature and extending sometimes millions of kilometers into space.

The corona up to now has presented a mystery, especially in terms of its "inverse" increasing temperature profile considered in the context the general temperature profile is steadily decreasing from the Sun's interior to outside.   For example, the Sun's "surface" or photosphere has an effective temperature of 5,777 K .   The corona's temperature by contrast is at least 2 million degrees K.

How did we find this out?  The key breakthrough probably arrived in 1939 when astronomer Walter Grotrian found that a previously discovered spectral line (attributed to "coronium") was actually 13 times ionized iron. Since it takes enormous energy to ionize even one iron atom (meaning stripping one of its outer electrons away) this meant the iron had to be subject to enormously high temperatures.  Indeed, such ions can only exist in plasmas with temperatures between 1 million and 5 million K.

The first clue as the cause of the extraordinary hearing came with high altitude rocket flights in the 1970s, bearing x-ray telescopes. These showed  features down to a resolution of 1 arcsec or 730 km.  Careful observations showed a positive correlation between the x-ray brightness of active regions (i.e. containing complex sunspots) and plasma-filled magnetic loops, e.g.

The above image was taken by the much more recent Atmospheric Imaging Assembly, built for the Solar Dynamics Observatory . But you easily get the idea noting the brightness (representative image taken at  211Å) and the magnetic loop structures.

Another milestone occurred when Eugene Parker predicted the hot corona must expand into space as a solar "wind". It could not remain stationary or in place with no expansion. The proof of this is left at the end for those interested.

The next question, of course, is where the energy comes from not only to heat the corona but accelerate the solar wind which is an extension of it.  We believe now that MHD or "magnetohydrodynamic" waves of some type provide an answer.   Field lines such as shown in the previous image are rooted at both ends in the Sun's convection zone where they are jostled by the churning of convective cells.  If sufficiently rapid these field line motions could generate magnetic waves capable of carrying energy upward into the loop.   It seems that Alfven waves e.g.

are the most effective in reaching coronal heights. (Alas, Alfven waves do not compress the ambient plasma so we still need to identify some other mechanism that can effectively transfer the wave energy to the plasma. A clue may lie with Landau damping, say associated with a beam (or 2-stream)  instability in the plasma. We have a dual Maxwellian profile,

In the region where the slope is positive (f(v)  / v > 0) there is a greater number of faster than slower particles so a greater amount of energy is transferred from particles to associated (e.g. Alfven) waves.  Since f eb contains more fast than slow particles a wave is excited.

But in Landau damping, with the slope negative (f(v)  / v < 0) the number of particles slower than the waves phase velocity exceeds the number of those that are faster. Thus, more particles gain energy from the wave than lose energy to it.

Whatever new data the eclipse generates, and there will be lots of it, we can be confident that the mysteries of the solar corona won't be solved even after it's all analyzed and multiple papers published. But I will keep readers abreast of any new findings say that appear in the next 8-12 months.

Those interested in actual scientific participation are invited to go to the Globe Observer site, where you can collect the app and then be prepared to make temperature measurements.

See also:

Proof that the corona can't be stationary:

A static corona  superficially appears  to be quite reasonable but that’s why we need to test this is so. The first one to do this was Sydney Chapman. He began by first assuming the condition for hydrostatic equilibrium applied:

dp/ dr = -
r {GMs/ r2}

where G is the usual Newtonian gravitational constant, and
r defines the plasma density for the corona, while Ms is the mass of the Sun, and r the distance from the solar center:

r = n(mp)

with n the number density for protons

The coronal pressure (P) is given by:

P = 2 n T

Provided both protons and electrons are assumed to have the same temperature.

The thermal conductivity of the corona is dominated by electron thermal conductivity and takes the form:

k = ko T 5/2

for typical coronal conditions the value of
k is about 20 times the value of copper at room temperature.

The coronal heat flux density is:

q = -
k Ñ T

A static corona means heat inputs cancel heat outputs so that the divergence:

Ñ× q = 0

Assuming a spherical symmetry for the corona one can write:

1/r2 [d/dr (r2
ko T 5/2  dT/dr)] = 0

    Obviously the preceding assumptions mean there must be some distance where the coronal temperature becomes zero.

From the above equation one should be able to show:

d(T 7/2) = 7/2 (F To 5/2)/ 4
p ko d(1/r) = C d(1/r)

where C is a constant.

The integral is:

To 7/2 - T 7/2 = C[ 1/Ro - 1/r]

Now, set the temperature at infinity (T) to zero and obtain:

C = Ro To 7/2 

which fixes the total flux at:

F = 2/7   [4
p Ro ko To ]

After another step, one finds:

T(r) = To (Ro / r) 2/7

    This gives the temperature T at a distance from the Sun= r. This is based on using a defined value (say To = 2 x 106 K) at a defined distance, say Ro = 7 x 108 m.

    For example, at the Earth’s distance (r = 1.5 x 1011 m) one would find: T = 4.3 x 105 K

    This seems fine, until one examines the pressure.

    Analogous to the temperature formalism, we have, the pressure p(r) at some distance r defined by:

p(r) =

p(Ro) exp [7/5 GMs mp/ 2 T(Ro) Ro {( Ro / r)5/7 – 1}]

    Now, if one allows r to approach infinity, e.g. r
®¥ an interesting thing occurs in the equation, as we can see. That is, the denominator of the first term in the end brackets becomes so large (Ro / ¥) that the first term vanishes.

Then we are left with the expression for the pressure:

¥) = p(Ro) [exp – 7k/5 * 1/ T(Ro) Ro]

where ‘k’ denotes a constant composed of all the constant quantities in the previous eqn. (G, M, mp etc)

    Substituting the given values into the above, one finds p(Ro) multiplied by a factor

exp[0] = 1

    The reason is that the exponential of a very small and negative valued magnitude
® 0


¥)  »  p(Ro)

But this can’t be since the pressure of the coronal base would then be the same as the value at infinity!

    This led astrophysicists to conclude an unphysical result, and that the static coronal model couldn’t be accurate.

    If the static model were accurate, the pressure at infinity should be zero, p(
¥)   = 0, not a small finite pressure that’s effectively equal to the coronal base pressure. This finding led to the further investigations that disclosed a solar “wind” had to flow outwards from the corona.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

John McCain's Anti- Skinny Repeal Vote Has The Right Squealing

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In most of the Right media the caterwauling and whining can still be heard concerning Sen. John McCain's dramatic late night vote against the Senate's "skinny repeal". Most people at the time failed to recognize the skinny repeal was actually a Trojan horse to turn the bill over to the GOP House where Medicaid could be eliminated by 2020,   see e.g.

Republicans admit it: 'Skinny repeal' is a Trojan horse to turn Trumpcare over to the House

This although the lingo in the bill voted on by the Senate affirmed Medicaid would not be touched.

The main charge against McCain's vote has been one of "betrayal" but linked to "voting against the bill to spite Trump".  The reason given that this was payback for Drumcpf's campaign slur that John McCain was not a genuine war hero.  Most recently Trump railed against McCain during his tirade to defend to Ku Kluxers and Nazis who terrified Charlottesville last weekend. See e.g. the excellent Vice documentary:

In response to a reporter's question Trump huffed; "Oh yeah, John McCain,  who killed the plan for Americans to get better health care."

In fact, John McCain saved their bacon by torpedoing the Trojan horse so it could never find its way to the House and see Medicaid eviscerated for over 75 million who depend on it.  This includes many lower middle class Americans suffering from pre--existing conditions, as well as oldsters who've exhausted their saving for nursing home care and need Medicaid monies to continue. (Unless the Repukes want relatives to shoot them and put them in backyard graves.)

Anyway, the latest bellyache has been in a WSJ editorial ('John McCain's Defense Cut', Aug. 11, p. 12) which equated McCain's vote to a "defense cut". As the editorial put it:

"his vote to kill health reform means that entitlements like Medicaid will continue to squeeze the Pentagon like an ever tightening vise long after he has retired......spending on Medicare and other entitlement programs - is up from 25 percent in the 1960s - and 42 percent in the mid- 1980s. That leaves much less for the military - which has dropped to about 15 percent of the federal fisc from more than 25 percent in the 1980s."

Several points in rebuttal:

- Medicare is NOT an "entitlement". Citizens had to pay in via their payroll (FICA) taxes to get it and also it does not cover everything (dental, eye glasses, only 80 % of costs of  procedures etc.)  In the past two weeks alone I've had to shell out more than $1700 for a new crown and filling. This is why seniors are advised to have at least $250,000 on hand in savings to cover what Medicare doesn't.

- Of course spending on Medicare is up from the 1960s, the population of the country has DOUBLED since then! WTF does the WSJ want anyway, spending to remain constant while the population (including elderly) grows?

- The military spending at 15 % of the federal budget in the 1980s was largely due to Reagan' overspending on defense - including the idiotic Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) which literally altered the nation's fiscal destiny to emerge as a debtor - after $2.1 trillion was spent.

Since 9/11 the anomalous defense spending has continued  the assault on domestic needs spending. Specifically, the Bushies ramped up defense spending to 2.4% of GDP as opposed to 1.2%, Former Defense analyst Chuck Spinney predicted it would incept a “war on Social Security and Medicare”. He predicted the total costs of military spending, including in Iraq, and Afghanistan and a de facto perpetual ‘war on terror’ (as well as a burgeoning national security state) would become so great that the major social programs would be slashed to pay for the deficits engendered. How large is the military money pit?  What sort of monster must it ‘feed’?

The United States currently maintains 702 military 'installations' in 63 foreign countries (it has 4,471 bases altogether), according to the Defense Department's annual budget statement. These figures don't include bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. We also spend more on military weaponry than the next 13  nations combined. No wonder seniors’ and disabled vets are now on the chopping block .  (See the proposed Trump budget for details).

The graphic provided by the WSJ (top) actually - in the light of the preceding - shows a rational slowing of defense spending when energy inflation and cost overruns (such as with the F35) are factored in.  The growth of Medicaid merely represents how it has increased as a result of being incorporated into Obamacare to serve the needs of more citizens who need it. Many of these people - such as disabled who live at home - would have to be warehoused in large, impersonal institutions if Medicaid cuts were allowed.

The WSJ ends with this piss and moan:

"When Senator McCain cast his vote on the Senate floor he was greeted by hugs and huzzahs from Democrats, and no wonder. They understood that the Senator had preserved their entitlement state priorities at the expense of military buildup:."

In fact, whether he intended it or not, John McCain preserved medical support for millions of citizens who need it, while not enabling further growth in the already out of control military industrial complex which only encourages adventurism  The WSJ would do well to consider the words of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower:

"The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school for more than 30 cities, …two finely equipped hospitals, or 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter with a half million barrels of wheat. We pay for a new destroyer with new homes that could have housed 8,000 people…Under a cloud of threatening war it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”-  President Dwight D. Eisenhower in an April, 1953 address

"Physics Girl" - Her Videos Bring Easy To Learn Physics To Everyone

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Physics Girl in Action - teaching physics with plenty of graphics and hip humor to anyone who wants to learnHer videos will be especially appealing to girls thinking about a physics career.

As I wrote in my Aug. 11 post, James Damore's  Google memo did a great disservice to women by casting their work aptitudes and skills in terms of psychological limitations derived from biology. I also noted that my  own experience has been that if a female physics student is given the opportunity to be systematic and excel in a serious challenge she will do it.  That includes individual physics projects (for science fairs) as well as team projects and advanced homework problems (say for extra course credit).

Physics itself is often perceived as a difficult subject, and many women dodge going into the field because of misperceptions - either because they believe it "too difficult" or essentially a male preserve. Both of these factored into the specialization decision of my brilliant niece Shayle, i.e. to go into clinical psychology instead of pursuing an advanced physics degree.  (This despite the fact she attained an 'A' in Physics at Advanced Level in the course of earning a Barbados Scholarship.)

It is true that many talented young women turn away from physics or engineering pursuits for similar reasons, but this need not be the case. One of the outstanding exceptions - apart from the many professional women already involved in physics and astrophysics - is "Physics Girl".   This is none other than Dianna Cowern who has made it her job to present a wide variety of short (5- 6 minute) physics tutorials with plenty of graphics and lots of hip humor.   Cowern, an MIT physics graduate, now works at the University of California San Diego's Center for Astrophysics and Space Science.

In many ways Dianna Cowern is doing for physics what former actress Danica McKellar did for girls and math, such as in her books: Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss,  and  Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape.

For those who want to 'dip their toes' into physics topics without being put off by math or jargon, her youtube presentations are solid gold. Indeed, they are also ideal introductions to many aspects of the subject for girls and one of Ms. Cowern's aims is to make science accessible to girls.  But truly, these short, fun learning experiences are terrific for anyone who wants to learn some physics.

Below, I've appended links  for a number of her youtube videos, with the topic headers:

1) Craziest eclipses in the solar system:

2) Why Is The Universe Flat?:

3) Seven Science Experiments With Surface Tension:

4) Woman In Science Feature- "Vomit Comet"

5) Stacked Ball Drop:

6) Calculating Pi With Darts:

7) Are Perpetual Motion Machines Possible?

8) A crystal that splits light particles:

9) How to shrink a quarter with electricity:

10) How to make a cloud in your mouth: