Figure 1. Measured (dots) and calculated (line) orbital position of S0-2 based on 16 years of observations. The orbit matches Kepler’s law perfectly. From Ghez, et.al., Astrophysical Journal, Aug 21, 2008. Peer toward the Milky Way’s center in visible light, and you see clouds of dust and gas obscuring all the stars. But, switch to […]
“Death Star Gamma-Ray Gun Pointed Straight at Earth” So read the headline on Fox News, March 5, 2008. This was no joke. In fact, it was based on nine years of observations on WR104, a Wolf Rayet star about 8,000 light years away in the constellation Sagittarius. It was first discovered in 1999 by University […]
This was the title of a panel on which I was invited to participate at DesignCon 2010. Of all my DesignCon activities, preparing and presenting at this panel was the most fun I had. Joining me on the panel were Gabe Moretti, owner of GabeOnEDA, Charles Pfeil, engineering director at Mentor, and the author of […]
When we look at a few Hubble photos of distant galaxies we may get the impression the universe is a static place. Other than the occasional supernova brightening, the galaxies we see haven’t changed much over the hundred years of observational history. But, it may well be the dynamics of energetic galactic collisions that created […]
On Thursdays, April 8, 2010, Bill Parkhurst of Cisco Systems, presented a talk on the Smart Grid at the Kansas City section of the IEEE in Overland Park, KS. Fundamentally, Bill said, the Smart Grid is whatever Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy, says it is. He has $4.5B available to fund Smart Grid programs. […]
I don’t usually write pieces in this blog that are not directly related to signal integrity, but I recently saw a TED talk on battery storage technology that I think should get more visibility. Prof Donald Sadoway, from MIT, presented a talk on “The Missing Link to Renewable Energy.” Of course, he says, what’s needed […]
Jim Williams in his lab at Linear Tech, with his beloved Tek scopes and assorted breadboards. I was saddened to learn last year of the passing of Jim Williams. He died on June 10, 2011 of a massive stroke. As a young, impressionable MIT undergraduate physics student, I met Jim, who was working on a […]
I’ve been writing technical books, feature articles and columns for more than 40 years. Based on the old guideline, “An expert is someone who’s made all the mistakes possible,” I am well along my way to being an expert.
Millions around the world counted down the “seven minutes of terror” as we all followed each step of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), named “Curiosity”, execute the final steps of its landing on Mars. The mission control room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, part of Caltech, in Pasadena California, was broadcast live. I joined over […]
I’ve had this Keithley 196 6 1/2 digit multimeter for about 25 years and it works as great today as it did when I first got it. I usually use it on the voltage scale or the Ohms scale. On the 30 v scale, the least digit is 10 uV. When pushed to the limit, […]
The Teledyne LeCroy WaveAce 2034 is a “gateway drug” into digital scopes. It has the front panel interface typical of traditional analog scopes, but with lots more buttons and features which enable us to tap into its powerful digital signal analysis features. As with a traditional scope, the WaveAce has the features you expect from […]
Astronomy is the study of what you see in the sky and the dynamics of objects in space. I think of it as about what you can see when you observe the sky with your eyes or through a telescope. What I love about astronomy is that it is accessible to everyone. You walk outside […]
I’ve had a recurring problem with my Celestron SCT C6 telescope since I received it in Feb, 2008. Every now and then, especially when I am slewing the scope, and more often in cold weather, the scope stops working and the hand controller resets to the power up state. This means I have to re-align […]
This is part 1. The properties of telescopes are often presented in a confusing way. In fact, it is simple if you keep in mind what a telescope is really doing.
This is part 2. To read part 1, click here. The focal length of a mirror system is a direct measure of the translation of the angular size of an object to its spatial size on the image plane.
If you missed out on summer camp as a kid, as I did, it’s not too late. But this time, you don’t have to rough it. For the last few years, I’ve attended various star parties during the summer. These are gatherings of enthusiastic amateur astronomers (not all of whom are Geeks) who get together […]
“Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house… ” is the way the classic poem by Major Henry Livingston Jr. 1748 – 1828, begins. Over the years, 849 variations have been created each with different spins and Matthew Monroe has complied everyone of them.
The earth rotates, sweeping the star field across the sky. If we take a long exposure of the stars, with the camera stationary, the stars will appear as star trails in the image. We can estimate the length of the trail on our image. This is a useful number if we want to accentuate the […]
Looking for an astronomy class a little beyond the basics, but not requiring a PhD and taught by the experts? Here are four recommendations that are “out of this world.”
I’ve never given up my thirst for learning more about what interests me in the world. I went to school in Cambridge, MA, where there are 30 large universities in the area, each with weekly talks and seminars. I used to hop from seminar to seminar, eating the free cookies and cakes and listening to […]