Monday, November 20, 2017

First Known Interstellar Asteroid

ʻOumuamua (formally designated 1I; previously C/2017 U1 (PANSTARRS) and A/2017 U1) is an apparent interstellar object passing through the Solar System. It was discovered on a highly hyperbolic orbit by Robert Weryk on October 19, 2017 with observations made by the Pan-STARRS telescope when the object was 0.2 AU (30,000,000 km; 19,000,000 mi) from Earth. Initially thought to be a comet, it was reclassified as an asteroid a week later. It is the first of a new class called hyperbolic asteroids.

Based on a 29-day observation arc, ʻOumuamua's orbital eccentricity is 1.20, the highest of any object yet observed in the Solar System. The previous record holder was C/1980 E1 with an outbound-orbit eccentricity of 1.057. The high eccentricity of ʻOumuamua both inbound and outbound indicates that it has never been gravitationally bound to the Solar System and is presumably an interstellar object due to its high incoming velocity. It has an inclination of 123° with respect to the ecliptic, and had a speed of 26.32 km/s (58,900 mph) relative to the sun when in interstellar space, which peaked at 87.71 km/s at perihelion


This is the first known example of an interstellar object, appearing to come from roughly the direction of the star Vega in the constellation Lyra, with a hyperbolic excess velocity of 26 km/s with respect to the Sun. This direction is close to the Solar apex, the most likely direction for approaches from objects outside the Solar System. But it is unknown how long the object has been drifting among the stars in the galactic disc. The Solar System is likely the first star system that ʻOumuamua has closely encountered since being ejected from its birth star system potentially several billion years ago.

On October 26, 2017, two precovery observations from the Catalina Sky Survey were found dated October 14 and October 17. A two-week observation arc has verified the strongly hyperbolic nature of this object. Observations and conclusions on the composition, shape, behavior and origin compiled from the Very Large Telescope in Chile were collected by Weyrk and colleagues and published in Nature on 20 November, as ʻOumuamua was on its escape trajectory from the solar system.

Assuming it is a rock with an albedo of 10%, it would be approximately 160 meters (500 ft) in diameter. Spectra recorded by the 4.2-meter William Herschel Telescope on October 25 showed that the object was featureless, colored red like Kuiper belt objects. Spectra from the Hale Telescope showed a less red color resembling comet nuclei or Trojans. Its spectrum is similar to that of D-type or P-type asteroids.

1I/ʻOumuamua has a rotation period of 8.1 hours, with a lightcurve amplitude of 1.8 mag. This indicates that it is a highly elongated object with an axis ratio of at least 5.3:1, comparable to the most elongated Solar System objects. According to astronomer David Jewitt, the object is physically unremarkable except for its highly elongated shape. Assuming an albedo of 0.1 (typical for D-type asteroids), 1I/ʻOumuamua has dimensions of approximately 180 × 30 × 30 meters. Bannister, et al. have suggested that it could also be a contact binary.

Extrapolating the orbit backwards, the asteroid is calculated to have gone through perihelion on September 9, 2017 and to have passed approximately 0.1616 AU (24,180,000 km; 15,020,000 ) from Earth on October 14, 2017. The object is small and faint, and by the end of October had already faded to apparent magnitude ~23.

It has been speculated that the object may have been ejected from a stellar system in the Carina-Columba association some 45 million years ago. The Carina-Columba stellar association is now very far in the sky from the constellation Lyra, the direction from which the object came. About 1.3 million years ago the object may have passed the nearby star TYC4742-1027-1 within a distance of 0.16 parsecs (0.52 light-years), but its velocity is too high to have originated from this star as it probably just passed through the Oort cloud of that system at a speed of 103 km/s.

One hundred years ago, the object was 7002561000000000000♠561±0.6 AU (84 billion km) from the Sun and traveling at 26 km/s with respect to the Sun. The object continued to speed up until it went through perihelion, where it peaked at 87.7 km/s. By the discovery date it had slowed down to 46 km/s and will continue to slow down until it reaches a speed of 26 km/s relative to the Sun. This interstellar speed is within ~5 km/s of other stars within the Sun's stellar neighborhood, which also indicates an interstellar origin. The object will ultimately head away from the Sun at an angle of 66° from the direction it came from. As it leaves the Solar System, it will be around R.A. 23h51m and declination +24°45', in Pegasus.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (née Godwin; 30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin, and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

                                              Mary Shelley -- portrait by Richard Rothwell

After Wollstonecraft's death less than a month after her daughter Mary was born, Mary was raised by Godwin, who was able to provide his daughter with a rich, if informal, education, encouraging her to adhere to his own liberal political theories. When Mary was four, her father married a neighbour, with whom, as her stepmother, Mary came to have a troubled relationship.

In 1814, Mary began a romance with one of her father's political followers, Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was already married. Together with Mary's stepsister Claire Clairmont, Mary and Shelley left for France and travelled through Europe. Upon their return to England, Mary was pregnant with Percy's child. Over the next two years, she and Percy faced ostracism, constant debt, and the death of their prematurely born daughter. They married in late 1816, after the suicide of Percy Shelley's first wife, Harriet.

In 1816, the couple famously spent a summer with Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Claire Clairmont near Geneva, Switzerland, where Mary conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein. The Shelleys left Britain in 1818 for Italy, where their second and third children died before Mary Shelley gave birth to her last and only surviving child, Percy Florence Shelley. In 1822, her husband drowned when his sailing boat sank during a storm near Viareggio. A year later, Mary Shelley returned to England and from then on devoted herself to the upbringing of her son and a career as a professional author. The last decade of her life was dogged by illness, probably caused by the brain tumour that was to kill her at the age of 53.

Until the 1970s, Mary Shelley was known mainly for her efforts to publish her husband's works and for her novel Frankenstein, which remains widely read and has inspired many theatrical and film adaptations. Recent scholarship has yielded a more comprehensive view of Mary Shelley’s achievements. Scholars have shown increasing interest in her literary output, particularly in her novels, which include the historical novels Valperga (1823) and Perkin Warbeck (1830), the apocalyptic novel The Last Man (1826), and her final two novels, Lodore (1835) and Falkner (1837). Studies of her lesser-known works, such as the travel book Rambles in Germany and Italy (1844) and the biographical articles for Dionysius Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia (1829–46), support the growing view that Mary Shelley remained a political radical throughout her life. Mary Shelley's works often argue that cooperation and sympathy, particularly as practised by women in the family, were the ways to reform civil society. This view was a direct challenge to the individualistic Romantic ethos promoted by Percy Shelley and the Enlightenment political theories articulated by her father, William Godwin.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Robert Mugabe Arrested after Coup

Robert Gabriel Mugabe (born 21 February 1924) is a Zimbabwean revolutionary and politician who has been President of Zimbabwe since 1987. His current status is a matter of dispute following a recent coup d'etat. He previously led Zimbabwe as Prime Minister from 1980 to 1987. He chaired the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) group from 1975 to 1980, and has led its successor political party, the ZANU – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF), since 1980. Ideologically an African nationalist, during the 1970s and 1980s he identified as a Marxist-Leninist although after the 1990s self-identified only as a socialist; his policies have been described as Mugabeism.

Mugabe was born to a poor Shona family in Kutama, Southern Rhodesia. Following an education at Kutama College and the University of Fort Hare, he worked as a school teacher in Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia, and Ghana. Angered that Southern Rhodesia was a British colony governed by a white minority, Mugabe embraced Marxism and joined African nationalist protests calling for an independent black-led state. After making anti-government comments he was convicted of sedition and imprisoned between 1964 and 1974. On release he fled to Mozambique, established his leadership of ZANU, and oversaw ZANU's role in the Rhodesian Bush War, fighting Ian Smith's predominantly white government. He reluctantly took part in the peace negotiations brokered by the United Kingdom that resulted in the Lancaster House Agreement. The agreement dismantled white minority rule and resulted in the 1980 general election, at which Mugabe led ZANU-PF to victory and became Prime Minister of the newly renamed Zimbabwe. Mugabe's administration expanded healthcare and education, and—despite his Marxist rhetoric and professed desire for a socialist society—adhered largely to conservative economic policies.

Mugabe's initial calls for racial reconciliation failed to stem deteriorating race relations and growing white flight. Relations with Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) also declined, with Mugabe crushing ZAPU-linked opposition in Matabeleland during the Gukurahundi between 1982 and 1985; at least 10,000 people, mostly Ndebele civilians, were killed by Mugabe's Fifth Brigade. Pursuing decolonization, Mugabe's government emphasised the redistribution of land controlled by white farmers to landless blacks, initially on a "willing seller-willing buyer" basis. Frustrated at the slow rate of redistribution, from 2000 Mugabe encouraged the violent seizure of white-owned land. Food production was severely impacted, generating famine, international sanctions, and drastic economic decline. Opposition to Mugabe grew, particularly through the Movement for Democratic Change, although he was re-elected in 2002, 2008, and 2013 through campaigns dominated by violence, electoral fraud, and nationalistic appeals to his rural Shona voter base. Internationally, Mugabe sent troops to fight in the Second Congo War and chaired the Non-Aligned Movement (1986–89), the Organisation of African Unity (1997–98), and the African Union (2015–16). On November 15, 2017, he was placed under house arrest as Zimbabwe's military took control in a coup.

Having dominated Zimbabwe's politics for nearly four decades, Mugabe has been a controversial and divisive figure. He has been praised as a revolutionary hero of the African liberation struggle who helped to free Zimbabwe from British colonialism, imperialism, and white minority rule. Conversely, he has been derided as a dictator responsible for economic mismanagement, widespread corruption, anti-white racial discrimination, human rights abuses, suppression of political critics, and crimes against humanity.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Good Luck Charms

Good luck charm is a charm that is believed to bring good luck. An example of this is a blessing that a minister or a priest gives at the end of a ceremony. Later on, people assumed that spoken words were temporary whereas a solid object is more permanent. Objects that have extraordinary significance such as the splinter believed to be from the cross of Jesus Christ were substituted for the original spoken or sung charms.

Almost any object can be used as a charm. Coins and buttons are good examples. Little things that are given to you make very good lucky charms. It is because of the favorable associations they make. Many souvenir shops have a range of tiny items that may be used as good luck charms. Good luck charms are usually worn on the body although there are exceptions


The “lucky rabbit charm” was passed on and incorporated into American culture by African slaves that were brought to the Americas. The lucky bag or the “Mojo” is another borrowed idea from African culture. It is used in voodoo ceremonies to carry several lucky objects or spells and intended to cause a specific effect. The concept is that particular objects placed in the bag and charged will create a supernatural effect for the bearer. Even today, mojo bags are still used. Europe also contributed to the concept of lucky charms. Adherents of St. Patrick (the patron saint of Ireland), adopted the Four leaf clover as a symbol of Irish luck because clovers are abundant in the hills of Ireland.

A four-leaf clover was consistently believed to be a lucky charm. This very old Irish verse describes why:

One leaf is for fame,
And one leaf is for wealth,
And one is for a faithful lover,
And one to bring you glorious health,
Are all in the four-leaved clover

Afterword by the Blog Author

There are many other charms which are used for confidence games.  One televangelist sold “lucky coins” that were guaranteed to bring good luck to those in the television audience smart enough to acquire them.

Charm bracelets are magnets for spending money on small tourist items at gift shops.  Much of this market is centered around pompous sentimentality.

There is a popular sugary American breakfast cereal called Lucky Charms for which the kibbles of cereal are shaped like charm bracelet objects.

Think of charms as baby amulets or miniature talismans.

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An amulet is an object that is typically worn on one's person, and is alleged to have the magical power to protect its holder– either to protect them in general or to protect them from some specific thing. Amulets are different from talismans because are sometimes confused a talisman may have alleged magical powers other than protection. Amulets with pendants– small aesthetic objects that hang from necklaces. Any given pendant may indeed be an amulet, but so may any other object which purports to protect its holder from danger.

Potential amulets include gems, especially engraved gems, statues, coins, drawings, pendants, rings, plant parts, animal parts, and even written words in the form of a magical spell or incantation to repel evil or bad luck. Magic scrolls are found to be used in various cultures, and artifacts of scrolls with magical inscriptions have been found in the middle east, Europe, and the far east.

The word "amulet" comes from the Latin word amulētum. The earliest extant use of that term is in Pliny's Natural History, in which it means "an object that protects a person from trouble".

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Pluto's Chilling Haze

Pluto's Hydrocarbon Haze Keeps
Dwarf Planet Colder than Expected
New analysis of Pluto's atmosphere explains why New Horizons
spacecraft measured temperatures much colder than predicted
By Tim Stephens, UC Santa Cruz

November 15, 2017 -- The gas composition of a planet's atmosphere generally determines how much heat gets trapped in the atmosphere. For the dwarf planet Pluto, however, the predicted temperature based on the composition of its atmosphere was much higher than actual measurements taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft in 2015.

A new study published November 16 in Nature proposes a novel cooling mechanism controlled by haze particles to account for Pluto's frigid atmosphere.

"It's been a mystery since we first got the temperature data from New Horizons," said first author Xi Zhang, assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz. "Pluto is the first planetary body we know of where the atmospheric energy budget is dominated by solid-phase haze particles instead of by gases."

The cooling mechanism involves the absorption of heat by the haze particles, which then emit infrared radiation, cooling the atmosphere by radiating energy into space. The result is an atmospheric temperature of about 70 Kelvin (minus 203 degrees Celsius, or minus 333 degrees Fahrenheit), instead of the predicted 100 Kelvin (minus 173 Celsius, or minus 280 degrees Fahrenheit).

According to Zhang, the excess infrared radiation from haze particles in Pluto's atmosphere should be detectable by the James Webb Space Telescope, allowing confirmation of his team's hypothesis after the telescope's planned launch in 2019.

Extensive layers of atmospheric haze can be seen in images of Pluto taken by New Horizons. The haze results from chemical reactions in the upper atmosphere, where ultraviolet radiation from the sun ionizes nitrogen and methane, which react to form tiny hydrocarbon particles tens of nanometers in diameter. As these tiny particles sink down through the atmosphere, they stick together to form aggregates that grow larger as they descend, eventually settling onto the surface.

"We believe these hydrocarbon particles are related to the reddish and brownish stuff seen in images of Pluto's surface," Zhang said.

The researchers are interested in studying the effects of haze particles on the atmospheric energy balance of other planetary bodies, such as Neptune's moon Triton and Saturn's moon Titan. Their findings may also be relevant to investigations of exoplanets with hazy atmospheres.

Zhang's coauthors are Darrell Strobel, a planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University and co-investigator on the New Horizons mission, and Hiroshi Imanaka, a scientist at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, who studies the chemistry of haze particles in planetary atmospheres. This research was funded by NASA.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Hitler's Etiquette Tutor

Helene Bechstein née Capito (26 May 1876 – 20 April 1951) was a German socialite and businesswoman. She was an etiquette tutor for Adolf Hitler and was the wife of Edwin Bechstein, the owner and later majority shareholder of C. Bechstein, a leading manufacturer of pianos.


Helene Capito was born in Düsseldorf in 1876. Helene married Edwin Bechstein . In 1923, following C. Bechstein becoming a limited company, Helene and Carl started buying the majority of shares with Helene speaking in public on the company's behalf. At numerous events, she is heard making antisemitic comments, which led to a number of high-profile musicians boycotting C. Bechstein pianos. In 1934, the company was restructured so that Helene became the majority shareholder. To help raise capital, she sold company property to Hermann Göring through his capacity as Minister President of Prussia.

Tutoring Hitler

Bechstein first met Adolf Hitler in 1921 through Dietrich Eckart at her Berchtesgaden Villa. She took a liking to him and when he was imprisoned after the failed Beer Hall Putsch, she would regularly visit him in prison and once claimed to the prison that he was her adopted son. Upon Hitler's release, Bechstein introduced him to German high society in Berlin. Along with Elsa Bruckmann and Winifred Wagner, she helped to teach Hitler table manners and helped reform his public image. Both Bechstein and Hitler grew close to each other, with Bechstein giving Hitler gifts including a RM26,000 Mercedes and calling him "Wolfchen", stating she would have liked to have had him as a son. Hitler reciprocated by allegedly giving her an original manuscript to Mein Kampf. The Bechsteins both publicly funded Hitler, giving him the funds to continue publishing Völkischer Beobachter.

When the Nazis came to power in 1934, Hitler awarded her the Golden Party Badge. Bechstein herself did not join the Nazi Party until 1944. Bechstein had hoped that Hitler would marry her daughter.

After the War

After Nazi Germany's surrender in the Second World War, C. Bechstein was commandeered by the Allies in the US Occupation Zone and Bechstein's shares were confiscated by the Americans. The company was not permitted to start making pianos again until 1948. Bechstein herself was sentenced to 60 days hard labour and had 30% of her assets stripped from her for being a Nazi collaborator. She died in 1951.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Power Pop Rock with Examples

Power pop is a pop rock music subgenre that draws its inspiration from 1960s British and American rock music. It typically incorporates a combination of musical devices including strong melodies, clear vocals, economical arrangements and prominent guitar riffs. Instrumental solos are usually kept to a minimum, and blues elements are largely downplayed.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Power Pop continued as a commercially modest genre but by the mid-1990s through the 2000s, power pop was mainly in the underground.

While its cultural impact has waxed and waned over the decades, power pop is among rock's most enduring subgenres.

Characteristics of Pop Rock

The origins of power pop date back to the early-to-mid 1960's with what AllMusic calls: "a cross between the crunching hard rock of the Who and the sweet melodicism of the Beatles and the Beach Boys, with the ringing guitars of the Byrds thrown in for good measure". According to The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, the sub-genre's key influences came from British Invasion bands, particularly the Merseybeat sound first popularised by the Beatles and its "jangly guitars, pleasant melodies, immaculate vocal harmonies, and a general air of teenage innocence".

It was Pete Townshend, of the English rock band the Who, that coined the term "power pop" in a 1967 interview in which he said: "Power pop is what we play—what the Small Faces used to play, and the kind of pop the Beach Boys played in the days of 'Fun, Fun, Fun' which I preferred." The Small Faces are often cited as being among the progenitors of power pop. The Who's role in the creation of power pop has been cited by singer-songwriter Eric Carmen of the Raspberries, who has said:

Pete Townshend coined the phrase to define what the Who did. For some reason, it didn't stick to the Who, but it did stick to these groups that came out in the '70s that played kind of melodic songs with crunchy guitars and some wild drumming. It just kind of stuck to us like glue, and that was okay with us because the Who were among our highest role models. We absolutely loved the Who.

Several other groups of the 1960s were important in the evolution and expansion of the power pop style, such as the Hollies and the Monkees, as well as "softer" acts such as the Beau Brummels, the Cowsills and the Zombies. Other acts such as the Knickerbockers, the Easybeats and the Outsiders contributed iconic singles. Writer John Borack has noted, "It's also quite easy to draw a not-so-crooked line from garage rock to power pop."[

Although the formative influences on the genre were primarily British, the bands that developed and codified power pop in the 1970s were nearly all American. The Raspberries' 1972 hit single "Go All The Way" is an almost perfect embodiment of the elements of power pop and that group's four albums can be considered strongly representative of the genre.

Afterword by the Blog Author

Power Pop got going with the British Invasion of the mid-1960s.  My own ears seem to gravitate toward “I Can See for Miles and Miles” by the Who as well as the stereo version of Paul McCartney’s “Here, There and Everywhere.”  The definitive power pop tunes are probably “No Matter What” by Badfinger and the Raspberries’ “Go All the Way.”

The best of the Beatles out of their own after the 1970 breakup has a lot of Power Pop in the studio work and arrangements.  “It Don’t Come Easy” by Ringo Starr is a fine example of this kind of work, and Ringo does some heavy drumming with help from his friend George Harrison advising on the production.  It therefore seems to me that the defining elements of Power Pop are a large element of percussion, the re-introduction of the piano and often the trumpet as short solo rock instruments, simple lyrics sung perfectly on-key, and a flippant, “life goes on” attitude about unrequited love.  So here is a list of what may be the top examples of Power Pop:

·         I Can See for Miles and Miles – the Who

·         Listen to What the Man Said – Paul McCartney

·         When We Was Fab – George Harrison

·         Isn’t It Time – The Babys

·         Rockin’ at Midnight – The Honeydrippers

·         Go All the Way – Raspberries

·         Day after Day – Badfinger

·         No Matter What – Badfinger

·         It Don’t Come Easy – Ringo Starr

·         Live and Let Die – Paul and Linda McCartney

·         Free as a Bird – The Beatles

·         Here, There, and Everywhere (in stereo) – The Beatles

·         Rock On – David Essex

·         Then Came You – The Spinners with Dionne Warwick

·         Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple

·         Crackerbox Palace – George Harrison

·         Oh Sherrie – Steve Perry

·         Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go – Wham!

·         Feeling Good – George Michael and Wham!

·         Still the One – Orleans

·         Brandy – Looking Glass

·         We Will Rock You -- Queen