Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun

Space Patrol

The Japanese: Nuked too.... Oh, wait, we're going to have to take the hit for this one.


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Mar 30, 2017 7:30 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Greatest Show Off Earth


My up-close and personal relationship with Saturn is brand new. Sure, I'd seen the pictures and the "artist's conceptions" all my life. I'd read the stories, both science and fiction, and I believed. I believed in Saturn. I had faith.

I had faith that Saturn existed and that it had the rings that made it the single most miraculous object in the solar system, save Earth -- which may also be, except for our belief and faith in numbers, the single most miraculous place in the universe.

But my belief in Saturn and its rings was just that, "belief." After all, I had never actually seen Saturn -- only pictures and paintings. Saturn to me was only hearsay. That all changed a month ago thanks a friend with a passion for astronomy and actual possession of a serious telescope, coupled with a moonless night at the edge of the pacific here in Laguna Beach.

With the events of the last year, I've often taken to mouthing a phrase picked up from someone else to give people a snapshot of my current take on our world in 2004. It goes, "I try to become more cynical every month but lately I just can't keep up." It's so arch, so deftly faux-ironic yet yielding a bouquet redolent with a whiff of the flaneur and just a smidgen of edge. It's a fine whine of recent vintage that's just about as toxic to the truth about my inner life as a fresh, chilled pitcher of Jonestown Kool-Aid.

We often take up catch-phrases like the one above and use them as an Etch-A-Sketch display of our souls; our means to signify ourselves to others without really having to engage them. If we do it too much, who we are fades out of sight to others and we are like the sailor on the far horizon flapping out semaphore code about our inner self. Then we become distressed when others only see the code and not the man in full. But it is of our own doing and sometimes we get so far inside the code that we can't step out of it, step closer into the light, stand and unfold ourselves. Sometimes, it takes something the size of a planet to knock us out of orbit and back down to the surface of the planet we inhabit.

I needed a planet, and for my sins, I got one.

My friend and I had had one of those solid guy meals composed of a good wine and a choice of pizza. Then we went outside on the terrace where a shrouded shape stretched up against the backdrop of ocean and night. His house is on the edge of the town overlooking the beach and the sea so it affords, except for the part of the sky taken up by the house, a fair chance of seeing what's up there.

Light pollution is a problem I suppose since we are surrounded by a busy highway and a town whose other houses and street lights stretch up the hills around and behind, but the seeing is better than it would be in, say, my last home in Brooklyn Heights. Besides, it didn't have a serious telescope pointed up at heaven. Telescopes are popular in New York, but they are seldom pointed up.

The evening haze had peeled off the sky and there was no moon. I looked out at the sea as he took the covering off the telescope and went through the rituals required to prepare the instrument. If this had been a decade or so ago, there would have been a long period of lining the telescope up, but this is the computer/GPS age and it was merely a matter of him entering some figures into a keypad and pressing "Enter." The instrument hummed and swung across the sky through a small arc and stopped.

He bent over the eyepiece and moved the focus knob, then he stepped aside and let me take a look.

I pressed my eye against the mounting and saw.... well, I saw a pale, yellow smudge in the center a dark circle. Then I moved my thumb and forefinger just a bit and in an instant the smudge became a sharp, golden shape. And then, because it had rings, what the shape was became known to my mind -- the planet Saturn. Real time. Real sky. Real life.

Saturn seen at last not as a picture taken by someone else and printed in a magazine or a book; an image passed on and fobbed off as the real deal. Not a drawing or a painting, a sketch or a story, but Saturn itself. And not Saturn with a ring around it, but Saturn with multiple rings that you could see with your own eye; Saturn streaked with colored bands of gas that wrapped across the surface of the planet. Saturn seen with the naked eyes. My eyes.

Saturn. Right there in the exact center of the sky.

There's a time when you start to approach the near side of fifty when you begin to suspect, if you've lived a reasonably active life, that you don't have as many "Firsts" in front of you as you have behind. When you pass fifty and close on sixty, you're sure of it. That's probably what compels a lot of people to travel compulsively about the world -- the thought that if you can move around a lot, you can somehow pile more "Firsts" into your experience and somehow extend your "Life List of Things To Do Before...."

This can work, but more often than not you are simply seeing things that are new versions of other things, but not Firsts. Firsts are rare because once you've had them, everything like them that comes along later are simply seconds; sometimes better than the Firsts, but seconds all the same, and you make you peace with that.

First love, first car, first child.... these are the pearls of great price on the string of your life and that's why you remember them and cherish them. And you use them up, one at a time. Although they came in a cascade at the start, they become more rare as the road winds on. When you get one, especially when you don't expect it, it makes you take a break by the side of the road to make sure you remember and value the gift.

The moments after Saturn first swam into focus were like that. Absent repeating some varieties of dubious experience, I'd thought I was immune to actually feeling something intellectual that can only be described as a physical thrill, but I was wrong.

As I gazed on Saturn I felt everything I had ever read, or seen or thought about the planet come racing back out of places in my mind long discarded or left behind with a jolt. The books read in childhood, the films seen, the cornball space operas like "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet" or "Space Patrol" that were the most essential part of my childhood's television hours, all the fact and the fantasy, the lectures and the lessons in which Saturn figured came tumbling up out of my memory at a rate of speed I hadn't thought possible. And my body felt as if something had reached effortlessly out across two billion miles and run an electrical charge right down the center of my spine.

I imagine this is what people mean when they talk about a conversion experience.. a sharp, clear moment when faith becomes real, becomes concrete. If your god has become science, there's nothing like a big hit of real science to make you rethink what you think you know about God.

It's easy to say, "Well, of course Saturn was really there. Everyone told you it was and showed you the pictures for decades. Did you think they were kidding you? Did you think it was all some sort of nifty mural painted on a black backdrop and that sooner or later it was all going to be turned around to see that, well, we were just kidding?"

Of course not, but it does remind me that the essence of science, the foundation of all our knowledge that is as sure and certain as we can make it, rests on the simple act of going where we need to go and seeing for ourselves. In "The Waking," poet Theodore Roethke sums up the inner sense of this going with,

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow....
I learn by going where I have to go.

If we can't see for ourselves, we then set to work figuring out how to make instruments and theories and technologies that allow us to, ultimately, just see for ourselves.

In the end, this need, this ceaseless drive, is what makes us who we are -- the smart monkey that figures out how to see for itself, the upright ape made in the image of the inconceivable that follows a solitary path that leads us... where?

I like to think that if we can only look out far enough and look in deep enough, we'll finally see for ourselves the proof of the miracle, and understand that miracle enough to know that its worth hanging around to see more of it unfold, day after day and night after night.

After all, what are we looking for down all the years if not the place when we cease to believe and come to know? Many people like to believe that we'll know after we die, but many others would rather have the information just a bit sooner.

The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be---
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.

They cannot look out far.
They cannot look in deep.
But when was that ever a bar
To any watch they keep?

-- Robert Frost


Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 4, 2016 7:50 AM |  Comments (9)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Rooms with Views: Portrait of the International Space Station

Wow! Just wow: After undocking, the space shuttle Discovery crew got a memorable view of the developing International Space Station (ISS). Pictured orbiting high above Earth last month, numerous solar panels, trusses, and science modules of the ISS were visible. -- Astronomy Picture of the Day, October 5 (This is much better if you click to enlarge and the link has a very high-def version. Recommended.)

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 5, 2009 11:51 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Next Month, Mars

Well, helloooo sailor! Sign me up and pack the picnic basket. Solar super-sail could reach Mars in a month - Technology

[Click to expand]

A LICK of paint could help a spacecraft powered by a solar sail get from Earth to Mars in just one month, seven times faster than the craft that took the rovers Spirit and Opportunity to the Red Planet.

Gregory Benford of the University of California, Irvine, and his brother James, who runs aerospace research firm Microwave Sciences in Lafayette, California, envisage beaming microwave energy up from Earth to boil off volatile molecules from a specially formulated paint applied to the sail. The recoil of the molecules as they streamed off the sail would give it a significant kick that would help the craft on its way. "It's a different way of thinking about propulsion," Gregory Benford says. "We leave the engine on the ground."

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 31, 2005 10:23 AM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Shifty Red Shifts

A couple of days ago, I pointed to SciScoop || Exploring Tomorrow as one of the best sites for keeping up with the cutting edge of the sciences. That site's co-founder, Ricky James, has just come through again with one of the finest roundups of a controversy in astronomy that I can recall. In "Quasar Queer, Quasar Near?" James lays out the latest in research into quasars, long among the most mysterious objects in the universe. Here's an excerpt, but the entire article is worth your time.

For over twenty years, a band of underdogs has been trying to say the question astronomers should be asking isn't the first one, but instead the second.  Chip Arp published the so-called Arp Catalog of peculiar nearby galaxies that seemed to have quasars improbably in their centers instead of at the edge of the visible universe.  His student Jack Sulentic in my adopted home of Alabama has been pushing for years his explanation of a spectacular example of galaxy NGC4319 that appears to be spitting out a quasar at the end of a tail of luminous gas.  Further examples of the night sky objects Chip Arp highlighted in his day have continued to be churned out by the husband and wife team of Geoffrey and Margaret Burbidge.  Their latest press release, worth checking out for the pictures of their new discovery, is reproduced below as the second part follow-on to this SciScoop story.

Just maybe the question to be asked about quasars is What incredible, previously undiscovered new property about light and spacetime are the contradictory characteristics of (some? all?) quasars trying to tell the dumb humans?  Ummm, the telltale visible sign of a starship warp field, perhaps?

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 14, 2005 11:59 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Contact: The Moon, Then Mars, Now Titan

First images from Titan

This raw image was returned by the ESA Huygens DISR camera after the probe descended through the atmosphere of Titan. It shows the surface of Titan with ice blocks strewn around. The size and distance of the blocks will be determined when the image is properly processed.

[Note: The Cassini-Huygens site has high-resolution images of this historic moment in the history of the world, but the servers are, predictably, pinned. Keep trying.]

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 14, 2005 3:00 PM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Racing Rovers on the Moon? Yes!

The golf ball on the moon. See link for details

My old friend, Tom Parker, is what you might call an "idea hamster." Good ones keep popping out all the time and, every so often, one escapes the wheel and goes all the way to the big world.

Case in point this recent letter from Parker to Professor Steve Squyres, head of the Mars Rover team.

Dear Dr. Squyres,

Given the astonishing success of the Mars Rovers and the craving for daily updates this has caused in some of us poor cubicle-bound slobs, how about lobbing a handful of rovers at the moon?

Oh come on. Please?

As the remarkable Rovers struggle onward, beyond all expectations, I'm starting to fret over the lag-time between Mars missions, and, staring at the beautiful nearby moon last night, it occurred to me that, hey, doing the same thing on the moon would be like racing slot cars for you guys.

Throw us a bone Doc. Let's go check up on Tranquility Base. We can start a pool, using PayPal, and your fine team can hone their RC-vehicle skills playing Capture the Flag with, say, two sets of three machines chasing Alan Shepard Jr's Lunar Golfball in Plato Crater.

Many thanks to you and your incredible team for the trip of a lifetime!

Tom Parker

You know, if they can't do it, maybe some kind of pay-per-view or live lunar cable channel. This could be a job for the private sector.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 10, 2005 1:41 PM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Stardust "Older Than the Sun" Inbound This Sunday

FILE UNDER "Age of Miracles and Wonders." Samples from deep space are coming in "faster than any man-made object has ever come in before."

For seven years now, the little ship has wandered the inner solar system, working flawlessly despite the extremes of outer space. Its makers have called it Stardust....

What can get overlooked amid the drama of the return is the reason Stardust was sent into space in the first place.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 10, 2005 11:23 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Do You Come Here Often?

Heat Shield Impact Site
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity gained this view of its own heat shield during the rover's 325th martian day (Dec. 22, 2004). The main structure from the successfully used shield is to the far left. Additional fragments of the heat shield lie in the upper center of the image. The heat shield's impact mark is visible just above and to the right of the foreground shadow of Opportunity's camera mast. This view is a mosaic of three images taken with the rover's navigation camera.

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 31, 2004 3:21 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Weather Maps of Titan

Evidence of changing weather patterns in the skies over Titan's southern region are revealed in these false color images obtained by the Cassini spacecraft's visual infrared mapping spectrometer over two recent flybys of this largest of Saturn's satellites. In the first image (left), obtained on the Oct, 26, 2004 Titan flyby, from a distance of some 200,000 kilometers (124,300 miles), Titan's skies are cloud-free, except for a patch of clouds observed over the south pole near the bottom of the image. In contrast, the image on the right shows a recent view of this same area of Titan obtained seven weeks later on the second close Titan flyby on Dec. 13, 2004, from a distance of 225,000 kilometers (139,800 miles). This image clearly shows that several extensive patches of clouds have formed over temperate latitudes. The appearance of these clouds reveals the existence of weather. -- NASA Cassini Image: Spying Titan's Weather

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 19, 2004 9:35 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
All the Moons of Saturn

[Click to Enlarge]

From Ole Eichhorn's more detailed examination of Titan @ Critical Section which points at NASA's interactive Saturn Spotlight - Journey to a Ringed World: Why Go to Saturn

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 11, 2004 3:23 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Clouds of Titan

Cassini continues to amaze as this item called Hovering Over Titan shows.

"A mosaic of nine processed images recently acquired during Cassini's first very close flyby of Saturn's moon Titan on October 26, 2004 constitutes the most detailed full-disk view yet made of the mysterious moon...." -- Ciclops

The image above echoes in the mind. We know it is impossibly cold down there. We know the atmosphere is a lethal smog of nitrogen, methane, and ethane. We know that the seas shimmering in the faint light of the distant sun are liquid methane.

All these things we know and yet, from this image sent back to us by our instruments, there is somehow the shock of recognition. Unlike any other planet or moon we've seen in our brief glimpse of the solar system, this image and this image alone sends an echo. It resembles, despite what we know about it, nothing so much as the Earth itself, and that resemblance alone causes the soul to rise. For if a moon of Saturn can resemble our own planet, it signals that somewhere, perhaps very far away or perhaps not all that far, there is another planet where the resemblance is more than an echo, but a mirror image.

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 24, 2004 3:04 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Real Death Star

A solid bit of astronomical insight from one of our favorite pages, Laputan Logic

This is Eta Carinae, the seventh star of the southern Carina constellation and the most massive and luminous star known in our galaxy. It's 100 times as massive as our sun and 5 million times brighter. Its diameter is about the size of Jupiter's orbit and it is extremely unstable. Currently it is in the process of rapidly exhausting its fuel supply and is on the brink of self-destruction. It could collapse into itself and form a black hole at any moment.

Eta Carinae is also interesting because it's probably the only star in the night sky that could conceivably kill you.

You'll want to know why.

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 13, 2004 1:41 PM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Heating Up on Mars, Too

Seems that global warming isn't confined to the Earth these days, but that greenhouse emissions evidently extend across the void to Mars. This from an interesting observation at The Speculist: Getting Warmer .

Things are heating up on Mars...literally. The planet is experiencing its own version of global warming. The dry-ice polar caps are diminishing. Paul Hsieh speculates that this must be on account of our failure to sign Kyoto. Wow, when somebody close to me told me that I could vote for Bush if I wanted to, but I would have to accept the fact that everything that happens from now on is my fault...well, I just didn't grasp the cosmic implications.

On the other hand, I can't help but wonder — if two planets so close to each other are both experiencing a rise in surface temperature, isn't it just possible that it might have to do with that nearby star they both orbit? I'm just asking is all. I mean, what if...

Fret not, Dear Speculist, for I am sure that soon you will hear from those that note this "warming" only really began when we started landing probes on the surface with parts made by.... Halliburton!

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 11, 2004 9:23 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Pushing the Mach 10 Envelope


With 'Scramjet,' NASA Shoots for Mach 10

They call it a "scramjet," an engine so blindingly fast that it could carry an airplane from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., in about 20 minutes -- or even quicker. So fast it could put satellites in space. So fast it could drop a cruise missile on an enemy target, almost like shooting a rifle.

Next week, NASA plans to break the aircraft speed record for the second time in 7 1/2 months by flying its rocket-assisted X-43A scramjet craft 110,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean at speeds close to Mach 10 -- about 7,200 mph, or 10 times the speed of sound....

About 50 miles off the California coast, the B-52 will drop the craft at an altitude of 40,000 feet. The booster rocket will ignite and bring the X-43A's speed close to Mach 10 at an altitude of 110,000 feet. At that point, controllers will fire two small pistons to jettison the rocket. Then they will open the cowl covering the X-43A's air intake and light the engine.

The Scramjet process explained @ How the Scramjet Works

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 10, 2004 8:24 AM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"No Surrender," "Beautiful Day," and then.....




Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 30, 2004 1:26 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Destination: Space -- But Then What?

DERAK AT THE NEWLY MINTED SPACESHIP SUMMER raises some interesting issues surrounding commercial space flight @ Spaceship Summer: Can we get there from here?

I find myself musing on the question, "what follows suborbital tourism?". I don't think there is any doubt that high flights will have a customer base, between the various existing aircraft and amusement rides, the interest of the public in such extreme experiences is well demonstrated. (And if you expect to make money there had better be public interest.) The hard part is following that act, and providing something more than just a transitory experience. (I.E. actual CATS.)
It all comes down to, "When there's no there there how many times will you go there?"

-- Via Transterrestrial Musings

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 24, 2004 12:42 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Blown by the Wind of a Star

Oh blindness to the future! kindly giv'n,
That each may fill the circle mark'd by heav'n:
Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,
Atoms or systems into ruin hurl'd,
And now a bubble burst, and now a world.

-- Pope, Essay on Man

The Bubble

Blown by the wind from a star, this tantalizing, ghostly apparition is cataloged as NGC 7635, but known simply as The Bubble Nebula. Astronomer Ken Crawford's striking view combines a long exposure through a hydrogen alpha filter with color images to reveal the intricate details of this cosmic bubble and its environment. Although it looks delicate, the 10 light-year diameter bubble offers evidence of violent processes at work. Seen here above and left of the Bubble's center is a bright hot star embedded in telltale blue hues characteristic of dust reflected starlight. A fierce stellar wind and intense radiation from the star, which likely has a mass 10 to 20 times that of the Sun, has blasted out the structure of glowing gas against denser material in a surrounding molecular cloud. The intriguing Bubble Nebula lies a mere 11,000 light-years away toward the boastful constellation Cassiopeia.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 18, 2004 10:01 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Saturn Images from Cassini Continue to Dazzle and Stun

The A Ring. Click to enlarge.

YOUR SPIRITUAL ASSIGNMENT FOR THIS SUNDAY is to view and meditate on these Best Ever UV Images Of Saturn's Rings Hint At Their Origin, Evolution

Above: Reduced for web. Larger resolutions are here and here at 300 dpi.

They will, as we used to say in the Stoned Age, blow your little mind.

Tip: from Ricky James' required reading: SciScoop - Exploring Tomorrow

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 11, 2004 10:41 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Cassini Briefing

JPL'S KEVIN GRAZIER APPEARED on PBS's Newshour last night to be interviewed by Ray Suarez on the meaning and achievement of Cassini. Here's a excerpt from a fascinating exchange.

RAY SUAREZ: Well, what were the major areas of investigation, the things that we really needed to know about Saturn, that Cassini is designed to find out?
KG:The moon Titan - let's start with Titan. Titan is the only moon in the solar system with an appreciable atmosphere. When I say appreciable, I mean that if you were standing on the surface of Titan, the pressure on you would be the equivalent of one and a half times our atmosphere or the equivalent of being 15 feet below the ocean if you were a scuba diver.

Now, that atmosphere has thick, dense orange clouds that we have yet to be able to see through - at least not well. We're fairly certain that with the Cassini spacecraft we will see through those clouds to the surface below and now see the largest unmapped solid surface in the solar system. That moon, Titan, has an atmosphere that we think is like Earth's atmosphere was three point eight - four billion years ago. That atmosphere gave rise to life on Earth, so in some senses we think by understanding Titan we are looking at the early Earth in a deep freeze and studies of Titan can actually have, we believe, implications for the formation of life on Earth.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 2, 2004 4:59 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Sounds of Silent Creation


Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 25, 2004 10:11 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Heavenly Bodies but Which Ones?

Click to enlarge

AN EMAIL THIS MORNING asked: "Can you guess what this is?"

The broad "guess" isn't hard if you've been aware that last week we could see, if we lived in the right place, something that no one alive has seen in the heavens: The Transit of Venus.

But if you lived in exactly the right place during the Transit of Venus, you saw something more, something that, when you think about it, is truly a miracle.

But what is it that you are seeing in this picture? Take a guess. Answer tomorrow if the comments don't catch it before then.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 22, 2004 7:50 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
One Small Step for A Kid, One Giant Gingerbread Space Probe for Mankind


THERE ARE TIMES WHEN YOU REALLY have to question if NASA is spending its budget wisely.

Gingerbread Cassini

"Learn about spacecraft parts and then eat them. Education never tasted so good."

1. Fill the ice cream cone 2/3 full of cake mix. Bake according to the cake mix instructions, just as for a cupcake.

2. Place a layer of frosting on top of the “cake.”

3. Fold the licorice in half and poke the ends into the cake. The licorice should make an inverted V sticking out of the cake. This represents the support structure on the interior of Cassini’s high-gain antenna dish.

4. Using frosting as glue, place two disk candies around the inside of the top of the ice cream cone. These represent the Sun sensors that tell the spacecraft where the Sun is.

5. Cut a hole in the ice cream cone right under the cake “antenna.” Insert the chocolate wafer into the cone. Using frosting as glue, place a marshmallow on the end of the chocolate wafer. This represents the magnetometer boom.

6. Holding the cone with the chocolate wafer pointing to the right, take the candy mint and attach it to the side of the cone that is facing you. Use frosting as glue. This represents the Huygens probe.

-- SSE: Kids: Paper Models

Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 20, 2004 11:06 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
"To Where We Belong"


In an age when bravery itself is suspect and achievement considered a kind of oppression; when every new technology is hedged around with anticipatory restrictions it is wonderful to know that some men at least would like nothing better than to rise on a column of fire toward the beckoning stars. For every successful flight of this nature slips not only the "surly bonds of earth" but also breaks hidebound modes of thinking. It departs not just from a place but from a time. It takes us not from where we ought to be, but to where we belong.
-- The Belmont Club on SpaceShipOne's Historic Space Launch Attempt Scheduled for June 21
Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 17, 2004 10:38 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Saturn: Now and Then


Saturn as seen by Cassini

"As Cassini coasts into the final month of its nearly seven-year trek, the serene majesty of its destination looms ahead. The spacecraft's cameras are functioning beautifully and continue to return stunning views from Cassini's position, 1.2 billion kilometers (750 million miles) from Earth and now 15.7 million kilometers (9.8 million miles) from Saturn."

Saturn as seen by Galileo

"Galileo Galilei. Il Saggiatore nel quale con bilancia esquisita, e giusta siponderano le cose contenuto nella libra astronimica, e filosoficadi Lotario Sarsi Sigensano, scritto in forma di lettera, all%u2019 illustrissimo, e reuerendissimo Monsig. D. Virginio Cesarini Accademico Linceo, maestro di camera di n.s. dal signor Galileo Galilei . . . Bologna : Per gli H. H. del Dozza, 1655."

Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 15, 2004 11:45 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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By Mail: Gerard Van der Leun | 6616-D Clark Road #176 | Paradise, CA 95969

Your Shower Is Lame, Your Dishwasher Doesn’t Work, and Your Clothes are Dirty

It’s not just about the showerhead.
The water pressure in our homes and apartments has been gradually getting worse for two decades, thanks to EPA mandates on state and local governments. This has meant that even with a good showerhead, the shower is not as good as it might be. It also means that less water is running through our pipes, causing lines to clog and homes to stink just slightly like the sewer. This problem is much more difficult to fix, especially because plumbers are forbidden by law from hacking your water pressure. | Foundation for Economic Education [HT: Never Yet Melted]

In 2016 the Western political system had a stroke.

The American political system is operating in the curious condition of being an impaired state.
It's not really thinking -- about China, Russia, Syria, Kurdistan. It's not really thinking about anything except half remembered slogans from 1968. Like a person afflicted by a stroke, it can't take a consistent view of external reality because it's regressing into atavisms by a loss of brain function. Impaired

Fake News. At the same time of the political putsch, the mainstream media outlets,

in particular the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, and the major networks, via broadcasts and social media, began an orchestrated campaign of defamation and delegitimization.
The crazier and more diverse the media mythologies, the better. Melania Trump was a former call girl and illegal alien. Ivanka Trump was peddling her business wares from the West Wing. Jared Kushner was a profiteering collusionist. Steve Bannon was a racist, Sebastian Gorka an unrepentant Nazi. Baron Trump was a spoiled, autistic child. The late elder Trump had run a racist campaign for mayor. And on and on. Resistance & Regime Change: Any Means Necessary – Lies, Leaks, Violence | National Review

Crime simply does not pay as well as politics or banking.

That may be the way to look at something like the Clinton Foundation and, coming soon, the Obama Foundation.
These are not explicitly criminal organizations, but they certainly play outside the spirit of the laws. Obama is out of office and prohibited from running again, but he still controls the Democratic party. The Clintons would be in charge, if not for the fact that the voters took their under boss out in the Tuesday Night Massacre, otherwise known as the presidential election. Even so, the Clinton Family is still a player. Late Phase Capitalism | The Z Blog

Bodymore, Murderville”

Most whites have become habituated to the reality of life in this part of the world.
Everyone, white and black, knows the reality on the street. The blacks with anything on the ball do exactly like the whites and that’s put distance between themselves and the black ghetto. That does not stop the Progressive maniacs from ranting about racism, but they do it from high up in the towers of their whites-only neighborhoods. As a result, no one hears them and so they can be ignored. The Killing Season | The Z Blog

New Blog Arriving Soon

Some have asked, "Gee whiz, Unca Gerard, where is that thar new blog you keeps a promisin'?"

I am hoping for sometime tonight. Hoping. We've been having some issues getting this winged dinosaur landed.

Drink Tea


Drink tea, together with your friends; pay attention to the tea, and to your friends, and pay attention to your friends paying attention to the tea. Therein lies the meaning of life. The Essence of Peopling

We would love to cut a deal with the noble indigenous peoples across the Earth—

you can have your Navajo panties and aboriginal dot paintings and every last freaking burrito on the planet so long as you give us back our computers and cell phones and cars and indoor plumbing and electricity and air conditioners. Deal?

If people go their separate ways such a divorce would be an astonishing defeat for the Left.

As late as 2016 it was possible to imagine an America led to a "progressive" future by Hillary Clinton;
an EU guiding all of Europe to a similar destiny and the G20 taking the whole world to the same destination. Indeed everyone told they were fated to follow an Arc of History. Yet after Brexit, Trump and G-Zero it is no longer possible to visualize this outcome. A blue-red division would confirm the failure to create a "progressive" world. No conceivable rollback will ever put Humpty Dumpty together again. Opportunity

Trump, Julius Caesar, and killing tyrants

The Roman lower classes, with whom Caesar was popular, became enraged that a small group of aristocrats had sacrificed Caesar. -- neoneocon

Execute Trump? Nah, You First.

Draining the swamp means not only ejecting Trump from the presidency,
but also bringing himself and everyone assisting in his agenda up on charges of treason. They must be convicted (there is little room to doubt their guilt). And then — upon receiving guilty verdicts — they must all be executed under the law. Impeachment Is No Longer Enough; Donald Trump Must Face Justice | HuffPost [Retreived from GoogleCache after it was expunged from the Huffington Post]

A bee in her bonnet


Thousands of bees took over a car in the UK and beekeepers are struggling to make them leave -
At first it wasn't clear why the bees chose the blue Nissan car and he and a colleague were trying to determine whether this was just a temporary stop or a new nesting site. But as the bees moved to the inside of the bonnet, filling every nook and cranny, things got more serious. "They're building a lot of wax in there now, and of course once they start doing that, they're reluctant to leave it, because it's the start of building a house. They put a lot of effort into producing the wax," Coulson told Hull Daily Mail. "I've got a feeling this might be their chosen permanent home."

[Bumped] "They send one of ours to the hospital, we send two of theirs to the morgue."

Baseball Shooter a Big Wake-Up Call for the Left | Roger L. SimonRobespierre is alive and well in 2017 USA.

This pathetic character in Alexandria is, now was, the left's ungoverned id. By any means necessary -- that's for sure. They will undoubtedly try to shove him under the rug as quickly as possible, just one more aberrant individual to be forgotten, just one obscure Bernie volunteer gone bad. Sanders did his best to separate himself within minutes of the revelation. Yes, it's undoubtedly true that this was just one rotten apple, but it's also true that only five years ago Bernie was recommending Venezuela -- now ground zero for starvation, kidnapping and murder -- as a path for us to emulate.

Greatest antitheft device when the thieves are millenials:

Man leads Jeffco deputies on low-speed chase in stolen flatbed truck after unable to get out of 1st gear The driver - later identified as 29-year-old Randy Dewayne Vert - refused to stop and continued driving south on Center Point Parkway, Christian said. Vert was apparently unfamiliar with the complexities of a modern manual transmission.

The natural impulse of a political system in institutional crisis is to dig in.

Too many institutions in the West remain decades after their birth, frozen in the moment of their creation.
NASA, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the university system and the United Nations rule us from the past. Public life has become a museum of memes from which nothing can escape without a mummy hand dragging the fugitive back into the darkened interior. It is perhaps no coincidence the two most popular leaders of the Western left, Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, might credibly impersonate Boris Karloff. They are here to lead us back to 1968. Stuck

The Japanese. Nuked Too Much... or Trying to Get Their Mouths Around Fujiyama Volcano Plate


We put Japan's most phallic-looking roast beef meal into our mouth at VolcanoKitchen | SoraNews24
Since we’d already become somewhat desensitized to the initially unsettling sensation of peeling strips of meat off the top of the shaft, we mercilessly crushed the egg, sending viscous, gooey liquid running down to the base of the meat rod.

The power of the press is a figment of the imagination -- humbug --

Oscar Diggs behind the curtain projecting the image of Oz the Great and Powerful!
The Internet did not kill the power of the newspapers. It was suicide. And not just because most of them had Marxist editorials, editors, and reporters. Newspapers lost their sense of community -- and their credibility -- when the heirs to hometown publishers didn't want the paper, sold it to a chain for $1,000 per subscriber to a chain -- Gannett, Knight-Ridder, Thomson -- and moved on. Don Surber: Craigslist killed newspapers

When terrorists enter your children’s school and begin to execute them...

will the gun ban (you favored) in school that prevented abiding staff and teachers from saving your child, come to mind as a good idea?
If the answer to any or all of these and many more reasonable questions, is 'yes,' then you may be a delusional liberal, and likely a coward, and almost as big a threat to our nation as the terrorists who are at war with us." - Morgan K. Freeberg

"Happy birthday, Mr. President...."


First truth which has been grounded into dust, must spring forth from the earth again.

At the present time . . .he who practices loving-kindness is esteemed and sought after, while he who champions the truth in word and in deed is persecuted and shunned. 
For men desire to base their affairs on everything except the one incorruptible truth which has been set down before us by God , and therefore these affairs have no permanent value . . . only when love and truth meet together, only when men come to understand that the highest act of loving-kindness is to bring men to know and practice the truth, only then will the marriage of love and truth produce that condition on earth in which everyone and everything will occupy the place which has been assigned to it by the will of God. Truth and Peace - Men Of The West

What happened to Nuclear Winter?


As the media glare faded, its robust scenario appeared less persuasive;
John Maddox, editor of Nature, repeatedly criticized its claims; within a year, Stephen Schneider, one of the leading figures in the climate model, began to speak of "nuclear autumn." It just didn't have the same ring. A final media embarrassment came in 1991, when Carl Sagan predicted on Nightline that Kuwaiti oil fires would produce a nuclear winter effect, causing a "year without a summer," and endangering crops around the world. Sagan stressed this outcome was so likely that "it should affect the war plans." None of it happened. Raconteur Report: Aliens Cause Global Warming by Michael Crichton

If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus.

I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks.
Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. - - Woodpile Report

Joe Biden’s niece dodges jail after $100K credit card scam

She walks on a major felony? Of course she did. And who believes she'll keep her end of the deal? In her defense, we're assured she's "a very complicated girl who has a lot of feelings and a lot of issues." Oh ... okay. That explains everything. Hugs from all the little people. Woodpile Report

Why is English so weirdly different from other languages?

There is exactly one language on Earth whose present tense requires a special ending only in the third‑person singular.
I’m writing in it. I talk, you talk, he/she talk-s – why just that? The present‑tense verbs of a normal language have either no endings or a bunch of different ones (Spanish: hablo, hablas, habla). And try naming another language where you have to slip do into sentences to negate or question something. Do you find that difficult? | Aeon Essays

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