Friday, January 20, 2017

Mystery of Lilly E. Gray from Salt Lake City - "Victim of the Beast 666"

The legend, a synopsis: In the Salt Lake City Cemetery, there is a gravestone for a woman named Lilly E. Gray with an inscription that reads, "VICTIM OF THE BEAST 666." Many people have attempted to research this stone and Lilly, but strangely always hit a brick wall, as there is no information aside from her obituary, which states only that she died in a local hospital from natural causes.

Within the sublime Salt Lake City Cemetery, there is indeed a gravestone which has aroused interest and curiosity over the years, and has recently, with the advent of the internet, become the object of intrigue and fascination, amateur and oftentimes apathetic sleuthery. The stone is modest- a small, flat marker; the inscription is anything but: "VICTIM OF THE BEAST 666"

Cemetery legends abound. These stories, more often than not, especially when pertaining to specific gravestones and their inhabitants, tend to take on the attributes of the urban legend, mirroring societal fears, horror, and capitalizing on mystery; they usually have an associated thread of religious intrigue, including 'devil worship'. The legends also tend to arise from the most benign origins.

Part of the fascination with the Lilly E. Gray mystery could be due to its "legend in reverse" quality. The impetus is its blatant-ness, its in-your-face refence to satan, then an unravelling reveals "nothing". The strange lack of any story associated with Lily Gray's gravestone is its biggest mystery and also the not very festive centerpiece its own developing, unique legend. The stone's astonishing, provocative inscription begs for interpretation and meaning; where are all the suppositions? They are few, certainly. There are a couple websites that allude to the use of stone's image within a report by investigators of satanic ritual abuse hysteria. There are a few jokes in a thread about Lilly's husband perhaps being the 'beast.'

Salt Lake City is home of the massive LDS-operated Family History Library, and the world's geneaological research mecca--since the stone's erection in 1958 no one has dug deeply enough to uncover even a minimal account of Lily Gray's life and the origins of the inscription? When confronted with apparent true lunacy, evil, religious ferver, abuse, or implausible as it may be, ultimate victimhood at the hands of satan (as the stone literally implies) do we collectively turn our heads?

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

He was born into the family of a carpenter and had no money to study. It later became one of the great inventors of the world.

Portrait of James Watt (1736–1819) by Carl Frederik von Breda photo: wikipedia

On 19 January 1736 was born the englishman James Watt, inventor of the steam engine (d. August 25, 1819).

James Watt was born in the Scottish town of Greenock, Scotland, UK, in the family of a carpenter. In school he was interested in mathematical physics, other objects not having too brilliant results. He wanted to study at university but the family could not allow it. After much hesitation, it decided to learn precision mechanics items that in view of the precarious state of his health, it would not be exhausted.

He began studying at Glasgow, optics and mechanics in 1754. After just one year of teaching has gone to a manufacturer of mathematical tools, Morgan in London where he learned a lot and was highlighted by the precision and skill. which satisfied all her tasks incumbent.

In 1757, he obtained a place at the University of Glasgow as a mechanic. He found here a well stocked cabinet of physical conditions for further study and conduct experiments. The idea of steam engine began to preoccupy Watt after the first two years at university, at first without results.

When he was entrusted to repair the Newcomen's steam car model in 1765, it not only repaired, but it has also strived to improve his.He noticed that the steam from the boiler machine arrived only a few strokes of the piston, after the car had to wait until the boiler as steam again. It has focused on this issue for several weeks and found its solution: the steam not be formed directly in the cylinder, but separately, in another vessel bound for steam cylinder. Watt invented the condenser, heating cylinder valves at both ends, double-acting steam engine.

Engraving of a 1784 steam engine designed by Boulton and Watt. photo: wikipedia

Due to financial problems, Watt is associated with Dr. Roebuck in 1769. It has been given a patent for the "new way of reducing steam consumption in cars, but the device built after the patent has not worked. The fault was not only imperfect seals the connections between different parts of the machine, but also the quality of material used.Watt was separated from his partner, who gave up his part of the bargain to Boulton manufacturer.

Watt found support for his experiences and inventions, soon becoming his partner in the new car factory  "Boulton and Watt". Watt worked tirelessly to perfect the invention, which had caused so many disappointments.

In 1775 he managed to build the most important part - steam cylinder  that really work so the factory managed to produce the first steam car and, after a year, two. The machines were a success and the factory is ready for production.

Scientific apparatus designed by Boulton and Watt in preparation of the Pneumatic Institution in Bristol photo: wikipedia

For his merits, towards the end of life he received many honors. The most important are the fact that he was elected to the French Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of London, doctor honoris causa of the University of Glasgow and others.

For his merits, towards the end of life he received many honors. The most important are the fact that he was elected to the French Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of London, doctor honoris causa of the University of Glasgow and others.

Watt was married twice. First wife had five children, and the second two, who died at an early age. Shortly before his death on August 19 1819 and it has been awarded the title of nobility. Watt refused and remained faithful to its modest origins and creative work he loved above all.

The greatest accomplishment is considered to be the patent in 1784 of the steam locomotive.

Watt is the one who introduced measurement unit called horsepower, to compare different powers steam machines of the time and which was then equivalent to lifting 550 pounds in one second, or the equivalent of 745.7 watt unit the power measurement in the International system.

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Sources: Biography, Wikipedia

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The future is now: Engineers have released plans for a 5-km-high skyscraper that absorb smog

Credit: Arconic

2017 only just arrived, but one manufacturing company is already looking 45 years into the future.

Arconic, a materials science company, has envisioned a 3-mile-high (4.8-km) skyscraper built from materials that are either in-development or have already been brought to market, including smog-eating surfaces and retractable balconies.

The tower was concocted as part of the company’s larger campaign known as The Jetsons, an homage to the 1962 cartoon set in 2062. Arconic’s engineers worked alongside futurists to imagine the technologies that will be most useful several decades from now.

Sherri McCleary, one of Arconic’s chief materials scientists, says one of the most exciting and immediate projects is EcoClean, a special coating that helps buildings self-clean and purify the surrounding air.

It was first released in 2011 and offers a number of benefits over traditional pane glass windows, McCleary says.

"The functional coating provides aesthetics, it provides maintenance benefits, and it also provides a benefit to the surrounding environment by reducing the content of pollutants around it," she tells Business Insider.

EcoClean works with help from light and water vapour, which mix with the chemicals in the coating to produce atoms known as free radicals.

These free radicals pull in pollutants from the air and break them down to get sloughed off the side of the building along with dirt and grime - almost like dead skin.

The end result is a cleaner building surrounded by cleaner air.

Arconic’s Bloomframe design for windows of the future. Image: Arconic

Another innovation is in the windows themselves. The new design is called Bloomframe. Essentially, it’s a motorised window that converts into an all-glass balcony in under a minute.

Arconic has been showcasing the technology at trade shows around the world and will hit the market in the "near future", a company spokesperson says.

Rather than spend twice the money on materials to build separate windows and ledges, Arconic wants to invest in flexible components that can make buildings more than just static giants.

Skyscrapers built from 3D-printed materials could stretch more than 3 miles in the sky, Arconic says.

Some of Arconic’s other futuristic designs include flying cars, ultra-lightweight car bodies, and aerodynamic aeroplane wings.

In the meantime, it continues working to push the limits of what modern-day skyscrapers can look like and do. Thanks to 3D printing, McCleary says many structures that aren’t currently feasible could withstand high winds and unique climates.

"We’re looking at optimising the materials that can be 3D-printed to give more and more options to designers and architects," she says.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Scientists offer a new path to creating the extreme conditions found in stars, using ultra-short laser pulses irradiating nanowires

Representation of the creation of ultra-high energy density matter by an intense laser pulse irradiation of an array of aligned nanowires. Credit: R. Hollinger and A. Beardall
The energy density contained in the center of a star is higher than we can imagine -- many billions of atmospheres, compared with the 1 atmosphere of pressure we live with here on Earth's surface.

These extreme conditions can only be recreated in the laboratory through fusion experiments with the world's largest lasers, which are the size of stadiums. Now, scientists have conducted an experiment at Colorado State University that offers a new path to creating such extreme conditions, with much smaller, compact lasers that use ultra-short laser pulses irradiating arrays of aligned nanowires.

The experiments, led by University Distinguished Professor Jorge Rocca in the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics, accurately measured how deeply these extreme energies penetrate the nanostructures. These measurements were made by monitoring the characteristic X-rays emitted from the nanowire array, in which the material composition changes with depth.

Numerical models validated by the experiments predict that increasing irradiation intensities to the highest levels made possible by today's ultrafast lasers could generate pressures to surpass those in the center of our sun.

The results, published Jan. 11 in the journal Science Advances, open a path to obtaining unprecedented pressures in the laboratory with compact lasers. The work could open new inquiry into high energy density physics; how highly charged atoms behave in dense plasmas; and how light propagates at ultrahigh pressures, temperatures, and densities.

Creating matter in the ultra-high energy density regime could inform the study of laser-driven fusion -- using lasers to drive controlled nuclear fusion reactions -- and to further understanding of atomic processes in astrophysical and extreme laboratory environments.

The ability to create ultra-high energy density matter using smaller facilities is thus of great interest for making these extreme plasma regimes more accessible for fundamental studies and applications. One such application is the efficient conversion of optical laser light into bright flashes of X-rays.

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Top 10 scientists who were killed by their experiments

Photo: curiosity

Not always an experiment is successful sometimes the consequences can be fatal, as shown in these 10 cases.

These events are redefining the proverb "no good thing goes unpunished." For these scientists, desire for knowledge has led to their death.

Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier (1785), French scholar of the eighteenth century has died following an accident with an experimental air balloon when it was deflated at 457 meters. It is known as the first victim of an  "aviation" accident.

The first untethered balloon flight, by Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes on 21 November 1783. Photo: wikipedia

Max Valier (1930) died in a laboratory explosion of jet engine fueled with liquid oxygen.

Valier in a rocket car, circa April 1930. Photo: wikipedia

Sieur Freminet (1772) created one of the first diving equipment. He died from a test underwater equipment after a malfunction.

Photo: Wikiwand
Tim Samaras (2013) was meteorologist looking for tornadoes to study them and to develop a method by which they can be predicted. He died when a tornado swallowed up his car.

Storm chaser Tim Samaras Photo: wikipedia
Harry Daghlian Jr. (1945), during the construction of the first atomic bomb dropped the brick core of a nuclear reactor. His hands began to "burn" instant, then fell into a coma and died 25 days later.

A picture of Harry K. Daghlian, Jr. Photo: wikipedia

Elizabeth Fleischman (1905) introduced radiographs in military hospitals to identify bullets. She used her own body in experiments that led to the illness of cancer.

Elizabeth Fleischman, American X-ray pioneer (1899) Photo: wikipedia

Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1786) independently discovered oxygen, chlorine and manganese. Ingesting toxic substances regularly until he died from mercury poisoning.

Carl Wilhelm Scheele from Familj-Journalen1874 Photo: wikipedia

Louis Slotin (1946) died after accidental irradiation of uranium and plutonium during atomic weapons research.

Louis Slotin's Los Alamos badge mugshot, taken sometime while he was working on the Manhattan Project Photo: wikipedia

Marie Curie (1934) died of leukemia after exposure for more than 30 years to radioactive materials.

Marie Curie - the most important women in science

Alexander Bogdanov (1928) believed that blood transfusions are the key to eternal youth. He died after receiving blood from a patient with malaria and tuberculosis.

Belarussian writer Alexander A Bogdanov Photo: wikipedia

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The mythical story and history of Zeus and the Giants

Zeus and his brothers, who, having gained a complete victory over their enemies, began to consider how the world, which they had conquered, should be divided between them. At last it was settled by lot that Zeus should reign supreme in Heaven, whilst Hades governed the Lower World, and Poseidon had full command over the Sea, but the supremacy of Zeus was recognized in all three kingdoms, in heaven, on earth (in which of course the sea was included), and under the earth. Zeus held his court on the top of Mount Olympus, whose summit was beyond the clouds; the dominions of Aides were the gloomy unknown regions below the earth; and Poseidon reigned over the sea. It will be seen that the realm of each of these gods was enveloped in mystery. Olympus was shrouded in mists, Hades was wrapt in gloomy darkness, and the sea was, and indeed still is, a source of wonder and deep interest. Hence we see that what to other nations were merely strange phenomena, served this poetical and imaginative people as a foundation upon which to build the wonderful stories of their mythology.

The division of the world being now satisfactorily arranged, it would seem that all things ought to have gone on smoothly, but such was not the case. Trouble arose in an unlooked-for quarter. The Giants, or Gigantes those hideous monsters (some with legs formed of serpents) who had sprung from the earth and the blood of Uranus, declared war against the triumphant deities of Olympus, and a struggle ensued, which, in consequence of Gaia having made these children of hers invincible as long as they kept their feet on the ground, was wearisome and protracted.

A bust of Zeus photo: Wikipedia

Their mother's precaution, however, was rendered unavailing by pieces of rock being hurled upon them, which threw them down, and their feet being no longer placed firmly on their mother-earth, they were overcome, and this tedious war (which was called the Gigantomachia) at last came to an end. Among the most daring of these earth-born giants were Enceladus, Rhoetus, and the valiant Mimas, who, with youthful fire and energy, hurled against heaven great masses of rock and burning oak-trees, and defied the lightnings of Zeus.

The serpent-footed giant Typhoeus, Chalcidian black-figure hydria C6th B.C., Staatliche Antikensammlungen photo: Theoi

One of the most powerful monsters who opposed Zeus in this war was called Typhon or Typhoeus. He was the youngest son of Tartarus and Gaia, and had a hundred heads, with eyes which struck terror to the beholders, and awe-inspiring voices frightful to hear. This dreadful monster resolved to conquer both gods and men, but his plans were at length defeated by Zeus, who, after a violent encounter, succeeded in destroying him with a thunderbolt, but not before he had so terrified the gods that they had fled for refuge to Egypt, where they metamorphosed themselves into different animals and thus escaped.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Vampire bats have begun to feed on human blood for the first time. '' We are surprised ''

Brazilian vampire bat photo: sciencealert
As intimidating as they might sound, vampire bats aren’t usually in the business of bothering humans for their blood. In fact, the hairy-legged vampire bat species was thought to feed almost exclusively on birds.

But researchers have discovered that hairy-legged vampire bats in north-east Brazil have managed to kick things up a notch - they’ve been caught feeding on humans by night, and that’s something no one even thought was possible.

As intimidating as they might sound, vampire bats aren’t usually in the business of bothering humans for their blood. In fact, the hairy-legged vampire bat species was thought to feed almost exclusively on birds.

But researchers have discovered that hairy-legged vampire bats in north-east Brazil have managed to kick things up a notch - they’ve been caught feeding on humans by night, and that’s something no one even thought was possible.

What should theoretically keep humans safe from these bird-targeting bats is the fact that feeding on blood is an extremely difficult adaptation for a mammal to achieve.


Extreme morphological, physiological, and behavioural adaptations are required for a species to evolve as blood-feeders, and suddenly switching from avian to mammal blood? That didn’t even seem possible.

As Bernard and his team report:

"Mammal and bird blood differ in their composition, mainly in terms of nutrient composition. Bird blood, for example, has higher amount of water and fat, whereas mammal blood is rich in dry matter, mainly proteins. 

Studies on the feeding physiology of the common vampire bat D. rotundus showed that this species has physiological characteristics that allow higher efficiency in protein processing. 

On the other hand, species with a preference for bird blood, such as D. youngi and D. ecaudata, have higher ability to process and use large amounts of fat found in the blood of their prey."

And it’s not just the theoretical challenges that appear to be involved in switching between a diet of avian blood and a diet of mammal blood.

As Sandrine Ceurstemont reports for New Scientist, previous experiments have shown that when only pig and goat blood was made available to bats that were used to bird blood, many of them opted to fast rather than diversify their diet - and sometimes even starved to death.

A vampire bat skeleton, showing the distinctive incisors and canines photo: wikipedia

But when Bernard and his team investigated the diets of a colony of hairy-legged vampire bats in the Caatinga dry forests of northeastern Brazil, they found something strange.

Genetic analysis of 15 faecal samples contained bird DNA as expected, but 3 of those samples contained a mixture of human and bird DNA - evidence that these particular individuals had been feeding on both.

Interestingly, the team notes that these bats’ most common grey - the white-browed guan, the yellow-legged tinamou, and the picazuro pigeon - have been disappearing in the area due to deforestation and hunting. 

Domesticated birds such as chickens presented an even more tempting option in the face of large wild birds declining, and because many of the locals keep their chickens in close contact, the desperate bats developed a taste for both.

"House conditions in Catimbau are usually poor, and domestic animals are usually in close contact with humans, what may explain the occurrence of both chicken and human blood in our samples," the team reports.

There are a lot of open questions here - the biggest one being exactly how this colony of bats is able to process the protein-heavy blood of humans, when they’ve evolved to digest the fat-rich blood of birds instead.

The other question is if this could pose a serious risk to their new human hosts. 

As Daniel Becker from the University of Georgia, who wasn’t involved in the study, told New Scientist, the species has been found to carry the hantavirus in the past - and this can be fatal to humans who are infected by it.

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2017 in Review: NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) Pioneering Progress

Solar Electric Propulsion work is underway, sponsored by NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate and managed by NASA's Glenn Research Center. A prototype 13-kilowatt Hall thruster, shown here, is tested to demonstrate the technology readiness needed for industry to continue the development of high-power solar electric propulsion into a flight-qualified system. Credits: NASA
NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) is dedicated to pushing the technological envelope, taking on challenges not only to further space agency missions near Earth, but also to sustain future deep space exploration activities.

“In 2016, we completed several major program milestones,” explains Steve Jurczyk, NASA associate administrator for STMD.

During the year, STMD focused upon and made significant progress in advancing technologies and capabilities in the following areas:

Space Power and Propulsion;

  • High-Bandwidth Communications, Deep Space Navigation, Avionics;
  • Advanced Life Support and Resource Utilization;
  • Entry, Descent and Landing Systems;
  • Autonomy and Space Robotic Systems;
  • Lightweight Structures and Manufacturing;
  • Space Observatory Systems

Enabling engine 

Jurczyk points to areas of notable progress in fiscal year 2016, particularly work on high-power Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) – an enabler for cost-effective deep space exploration.

Asteroid Redirect Mission makes use of solar electric propulsion. The vehicle’s solar arrays collect power from the sun and convert it to energy to ionize and accelerate xenon propellant, resulting in the bright blue plume at the rear of the vehicle. Credits: NASA

SEP makes use of large solar cell arrays that convert collected sunlight energy to electrical power. That energy is fed into extremely fuel-efficient thrusters that provide gentle but nonstop thrust throughout the mission. SEP thrusters are designed to use far less propellant than comparable, conventional chemical propulsion systems.

“We completed the development and testing of a prototype SEP engine at NASA’s Glenn Research Center. Also, we have contracted with Aerojet Rocketdyne to develop the SEP flight system for the Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission,” Jurczyk notes.

Furthermore, SEP solar array technology is being transitioned into commercial application, Jurczyk adds, by both Space Systems Loral and Orbital ATK.

Green propellant 

Another 2016 spotlight on progress, Jurczyk observes, is the integration and testing of the Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM). Now ready for launch in 2017, GPIM will test the distinctive quality of a high-performance, non-toxic, “green” fuel in orbit.

STMD worked with Aerojet Rocketdyne in Redmond, Washington and GPIM prime contractor Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colorado, to develop the spacecraft capable of using the unique propellant. It will fly on the U.S. Air Force’s Space Test Program (STP-2) mission.

Given the term “green” propellant, Jurczyk points out that the Air Force-developed fuel is a hydroxyl ammonium nitrate-based fuel/oxidizer mix, also known as AF-M315E. GPIM will flight demonstrate this fuel designed to replace use of highly toxic hydrazine and complex bi-propellant systems now in common use today.

“GPIM’s green propellant is less toxic than hydrazine. It will reduce spacecraft processing costs and it has 40 percent higher performance by volume than hydrazine,” Jurczyk says.

Aerojet Rocketdyne, builder of GPIM’s set of thrusters, is now marketing the novel thrusters as a product. The aerospace firm is also working with NASA’s Glenn Research Center to further enhance the thrusters, looking to reduce cost and add to their reliability, Jurczyk adds. “So we’re collaborating with the aerospace company to further advance this technology and I’m pleased with the progress.”

Push the technology 

Jurczyk reports that STMD-supported work on the Deep Space Atomic Clock, DSAC for short, is ongoing.

DSAC is a small, low-mass atomic clock based on mercury-ion trap technology that will be demonstrated in space, providing unprecedented stability needed for next-generation deep space navigation and radio science. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory oversees project development of DSAC, which offers the promise of 50 times more accuracy than today’s best navigation clocks.

STMD’s Flight Opportunities program includes use of Masten Space Systems’ XA-0.1B “Xombie” vertical-launch, vertical-landing reusable rocket as a risk-reduction activity, testing science experiments and hardware before long duration spaceflight. Vehicle is shown soaring above Mojave Air and Space Port in California. Credits: NASA Photo/Tom Tschida

The task of designing DSAC has not been trouble-free, but it represents a tenant of STMD “to push the technology,” Jurczyk responds. Taking on the challenges of space-rating terrestrial based atomic clock technology is not easy. However, the path forward has been outlined with launch of DSAC now eyed for next year.

The DSAC demonstration unit and payload is to be hosted on a spacecraft provided by Surrey Satellite Technologies U.S. of Englewood, Colorado, lofted spaceward as part of the U.S. Air Force Space Test Program 2 mission aboard a Space X Falcon 9 Heavy booster.

Tipping point partnerships 

In 2016, STMD entered into their first set of public-private partnerships, a solicitation that proved very beneficial – to both industry and NASA. Called “Utilizing Public-Private Partnerships to Advance Tipping Point Technologies,” Jurczyk is pleased with this facilitated collaborative effort with industry. These partnerships require companies to contribute at least 25 percent of the funding; NASA contributes up to $20 million for ground-based efforts.

With the recent increase of the U.S. private sector interest in space applications, NASA is seeking commercial space technologies that are at a “tipping point” in their development.

“We do many one-on-one discussions with companies about their interests. For NASA, we want to help advance technologies that boost commercial products and services,” he points out. The Tipping Point partnerships have led to contracts, for example, in space robotic manufacturing and small spacecraft technologies.

Similarly, Jurczyk adds that in 2016, STMD saw collaborative opportunity for industry to tap into NASA expertise, allowing companies to use space agency talent and facilities. This collaboration is made possible through non-reimbursable, no-exchange-of-funds Space Act Agreements. Those types of agreements, he emphasizes, have enabled private-sector advancements in technologies such as small launch vehicle rocket engines and advanced structures for small boosters.

Flight opportunities

“It has been a good and productive year for STMD’s Flight Opportunities program,” Jurczyk advises.

That program provides affordable access to relevant space-like environments for NASA payloads. This activity makes use of a variety of flight platforms, such as Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle, Masten Space Systems’ XA-0.1B “Xombie” vertical-launch, vertical-landing reusable rocket, as well as the UP Aerospace SpaceLoft sounding rocket.

STMD’s lineup of smallsat launches in 2017 includes the CubeSat Proximity Operations Demonstration (CPOD) project that will demonstrate rendezvous, proximity operations and docking using two CubeSats. Credits: NASA/Ames/Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, Inc.

“We can ‘ring out’ experiments and technologies in short duration exposure to relevant flight conditions before they go onto longer duration flight on space missions,” Jurczyk explains. “It’s a risk reduction activity,” he continues, for example, in life science research or shaking out various robotic technologies.

Big year ahead 

Looking into 2017, STMD’s Jurczyk highlights the launch of the Green Propellant Infusion Mission and the Deep Space Atomic Clock. “Those are two major flight demonstrations and are very important.”

Among a host of STMD-supported activities, next year will see flight of small satellites to showcase, for instance, optical laser communications. Then there’s the Integrated Solar Array and Reflectarray Antenna (ISARA) for advanced communications and the CubeSat Proximity Operations Demonstration (CPOD). The function of CPOD is to trial-run autonomous rendezvous and docking, Jurczyk says.

“There’s going to be a lot going on,” Jurczyk concludes. “It’ll be a big year for small satellites and space technology.”

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse 2017: When, Where and How to See It (Safely)

Map showing the path of totality for the Aug. 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. Credit: Fred Espenak/NASA GSFC
On Aug. 21, 2017, American skywatchers will be treated to a rare and spectacular celestial show — the first total solar eclipse visible from the continental United States in nearly four decades.

Next year's "Great American Total Solar Eclipse" will darken skies all the way from Oregon to South Carolina, along a stretch of land about 70 miles (113 kilometers) wide. People who descend upon this "path of totality" for the big event are in for an unforgettable experience, said eclipse expert Jay Pasachoff, an astronomer at Williams College in Massachusetts.

"It's a tremendous opportunity," Pasachoff told "It's a chance to see the universe change around you.

A total solar eclipse last darkened soil on the U.S. mainland on Feb. 26, 1979. But August 2017 will mark the first time in 99 years that such an event is "readily available to people from coast to coast," Pasachoff said.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017 Photo:

A rare event

The fact that total solar eclipses occur at all is a quirk of cosmic geometry. The moon orbits an average of 239,000 miles (384,600 kilometers) from Earth — just the right distance to seem the same size in the sky as the much-larger sun

But most solar eclipses are of the partial variety, in which the moon appears to take a bite out of the sun's disk. Indeed, two to five solar eclipses occur every year on average; total eclipses happen just once every 18 months or so. (Eclipses are relatively rare because the moon's orbit is inclined about 5 degrees relative to that of Earth. If the two bodies orbited in exactly the same plane, a solar eclipse would occur every month, during the moon's "new" phase.)

How Solar Eclipses Work: When the moon covers up the sun, skywatchers delight in the opportunity to see a rare spectacle. See how solar eclipses occur in this infographic. Credit: Karl Tate, Contributor

Furthermore, the narrow path of totality is often inaccessible to skywatchers — most of Earth is covered by water, after all — so a total solar eclipse that occurs over populated areas is quite special. Indeed, the August 2017 event will be the first one whose totality path lies completely within the United States since 1776, experts have said.

That path goes from the Oregon coast through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. While just 12 million people or so live within the narrow band, perhaps 220 million reside within a day's drive of it, according to skywatching columnist Joe Rao. [Incredible Solar Eclipse View Shot During Alaska Airlines Flight (Video)]

Pasachoff advises folks to make that drive when the time comes.

"Though the rest of the continental U.S. will have at least a 55 percent partial eclipse, it won’t ever get dark there, and eye-protection filters would have to be used at all times even to know that the eclipse is happening. The dramatic effects occur only for those in the path of totality," Pasachoff said in a statement.

"If you are in that path of totality, you are seeing the main event, but if you are off to the side — even where the sun is 99 percent covered by the moon — it is like going up to the ticket booth of a baseball or football stadium but not going inside," he added.

Pasachoff himself plans to be there. He has observed 63 solar eclipses to date, and not just for fun: The events provide a rare opportunity to study the sun's wispy outer atmosphere, which is called the corona. (The sun's overwhelming brightness usually drowns out the faint corona.)

Temperatures in the corona top 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit (1 million degrees Celsius), making the region much hotter than the solar surface, which is just 11,000 degrees F (6,000 degrees C) or so. How the corona gets so hot has puzzled scientists for decades, and Pasachoff and his colleagues aim to gather some useful data during the Great American Eclipse.

"How energy is injected into the corona is one of the things we'll be investigating," Pasachoff told

Be safe!

If you do plan to observe the August 2017 eclipse, remember: NEVER look directly at the sun without proper eye protection, except when the solar disk is completely occluded (during the brief period of totality); serious and permanent eye damage can result.

"Proper eye protection" includes specially made solar filters, eclipse glasses or No. 14 welder's glass. You can also observe the eclipse indirectly, by making a pinhole camera or watching shadows cast by trees. (The gaps between leaves act as natural pinholes.)

You should never look directly at the sun, but there are ways to safely observe an eclipse. See how to safely observe a solar eclipse with this infographic. Credit: Karl Tate, Contributor

To learn more about how to safely observe the sun, check out this infographic.

Safely See the Sun – Build a Shoebox Pinhole Camera

Finally, if you miss out on the August 2017 event, don't despair — you'll get another chance seven years later. In 2024, a total solar eclipse will darken the skies above Mexico and Texas, up through the Midwest and northeastern U.S

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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Space. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

2017 Full Moon Calendar

Moon Calendar 2017 photo: efendicafe
The moon shows its full face to Earth once a month. Well, sort of.

In fact, the same side of the moon always faces the planet, but part of it is in shadow. And, in reality most of the time the "full moon" is never perfectly full. Only when the moon, Earth and the sun are perfectly aligned is the moon 100 percent full, and that alignment produces a lunar eclipse. And sometimes — once in a blue moon — the moon is full twice in a month (or four times in a season, depending on which definition you prefer). 

The next full moon of the year will be in February and rise on Feb. 10, a Friday night. It will peak at 7:33 p.m. EST (0033 Saturday morning GMT). The February full moon is known as the Snow Moon, among its other names. 

he first full moon of January occured on Thursday, Jan. 12. It peaked at 6:34 a.m. EST (11:34 Universal Time). The Algonquins of New England called it the Wolf Moon, according to the Farmer's Almanac. Other cultures have different names, including Holiday Moon (Chinese), Cold Moon (Cherokee), Quiet Moon (Celtic) and Rainbow Fish Moon (New Guinea). 

Full moons in 2017

Many cultures have given distinct names to each recurring full moon. The names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred. The Farmer's Almanac lists several names that are commonly used in the United States. The almanac explains that there were some variations in the moon names, but in general, the same ones were used among the Algonquin tribes from New England on west to Lake Superior. European settlers followed their own customs and created some of their own names.

This is when full moons will occur in 2017, according to NASA:

Date Name U.S. East UTC
Jan. 12 Wolf Moon 6:34 a.m. 11:34
Feb. 10 Snow Moon 7:33 p.m. 00:33 (2/11)
Mar. 12 Worm Moon 10:54 a.m. 15:54
Apr. 11 Pink Moon 2:08 a.m. 07:08
May 10 Flower Moon 5:43 p.m. 22:43
June 9 Strawberry Moon 9:10 a.m. 14:10
July 9 Buck Moon 12:07 a.m. 05:07
Aug. 7 Sturgeon Moon 2:11 p.m. 19:11
Sept. 6 Harvest Moon 3:03 a.m. 08:03
Oct. 5 Hunter's Moon 2:40 p.m. 19:40
Nov. 4 Beaver Moon 12:23 a.m. 05:23
Dec. 3 Cold Moon 10:47 a.m. 15:47

Additional full moon names

Other Native American people had different names. In the book "This Day in North American Indian History" (Da Capo Press, 2002), author Phil Konstantin lists more than 50 native peoples and their names for full moons. He also lists them on his website,

Amateur astronomer Keith Cooley has a brief list of the moon names of other cultures, including Chinese and Celtic, on his website. For example:

Chinese moon names

Month Name                  Month         Name
January Holiday Moon        July  Hungry Ghost Moon
February Budding Moon        August  Harvest Moon
March Sleepy Moon    September  Chrysanthemum Moon
April Peony Moon    October  Kindly Moon
May Dragon Moon           November White Moon
June Lotus Moon             December Bitter Moon

Full moon names often correspond to seasonal markers, so a Harvest Moon occurs at the end of the growing season, in September, and the Cold Moon occurs in frosty December. At least, that's how it works in the Northern Hemisphere.

In the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are switched, the Harvest Moon occurs in March and the Cold Moon is in June. According to, these are common names for full moons south of the equator.

January: Hay Moon, Buck Moon, Thunder Moon, Mead Moon
February (mid-summer): Grain Moon, Sturgeon Moon, Red Moon, Wyrt Moon, Corn Moon, Dog Moon, Barley Moon
March: Harvest Moon, Corn Moon
April: Harvest Moon, Hunter’s Moon, Blood Moon
May: Hunter’s Moon, Beaver Moon, Frost Moon
June: Oak Moon, Cold Moon, Long Night’s Moon
July: Wolf Moon, Old Moon, Ice Moon
August: Snow Moon, Storm Moon, Hunger Moon, Wolf Moon
September: Worm Moon, Lenten Moon, Crow Moon, Sugar Moon, Chaste Moon, Sap Moon
October: Egg Moon, Fish Moon, Seed Moon, Pink Moon, Waking Moon November: Corn Moon, Milk Moon, Flower Moon, Hare Moon December: Strawberry Moon, Honey Moon, Rose Moon

Zodiac Moon Calendar 2017 photo: Astrocal

Just a phase

Here's how a full moon works:

The moon is a sphere that travels once around Earth every 27.3 days. It also takes about 27 days for the moon to rotate on its axis. So, the moon always shows us the same face; there is no single "dark side" of the moon. As the moon revolves around Earth, it is illuminated from varying angles by the sun — what we see when we look at the moon is reflected sunlight. On average, the moon rises about 50 minutes later each day, which means sometimes it rises during daylight and other times during nighttime hours.

Here’s how the moon's phases go:

At new moon, the moon is between Earth and the sun, so that the side of the moon facing toward us receives no direct sunlight, and is lit only by dim sunlight reflected from Earth.

A few days later, as the moon moves around Earth, the side we can see gradually becomes more illuminated by direct sunlight. This thin sliver is called the waxing crescent.

A week after new moon, the moon is 90 degrees away from the sun in the sky and is half-illuminated from our point of view, what we call first quarter because it is about a quarter of the way around Earth.

A few days later, the area of illumination continues to increase. More than half of the moon's face appears to be getting sunlight. This phase is called a waxing gibbous moon.

When the moon has moved 180 degrees from its new moon position, the sun, Earth and the moon form a line. The moon’s disk is as close as it can be to being fully illuminated by the sun, so this is called full moon.

Next, the moon moves until more than half of its face appears to be getting sunlight, but the amount is decreasing. This is the waning gibbous phase.

Days later, the moon has moved another quarter of the way around Earth, to the third quarter position. The sun's light is now shining on the other half of the visible face of the moon.

Next, the moon moves into the waning crescent phase as less than half of its face appears to be getting sunlight, and the amount is decreasing.

Finally, the moon moves back to its new moon starting position. Because the moon’s orbit is not exactly in the same plane as Earth’s orbit around the sun, they rarely are perfectly aligned. Usually the moon passes above or below the sun from our vantage point, but occasionally it passes right in front of the sun, and we get an eclipse of the sun.

Each full moon is calculated to occur at an exact moment, which may or may not be near the time the moon rises where you are. So when a full moon rises, it’s typically doing so some hours before or after the actual time when it’s technically full, but a casual skywatcher won’t notice the difference. In fact, the moon will often look roughly the same on two consecutive nights surrounding the full moon.

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    I'm working on a theory for some time in trying to combine science with religion, looking for an answer to the question 
"What is the purpose of life in Creation?  Is it possible for life to be an unintended consequence of our Universe?

Finally due to space,science and exploration throughout the Universe we got everyone to agree with the fact that we are not the only planet with life.  My blog is full of interesting articles about Creation of the Universe with all his laws,  NASA's Missions,  History,   Science,  Physics, Health, Nature, Ancient origins and Culture.