More Junkmail from Bob!

Sunday, March 12, 2000

Important Stuff.

Last week I signed the papers to buy DesignCAD (and the other ViaGrafix software) from Learn2. Mike and I will be back in the software business now, along with a few former ViaGrafix employees keeping us in line. It looks like it's going to be a lot of fun. I've been kind of busy the past few days getting things moved and organized, so this Junkmail could be a bit short. But then, that could be a significant improvement.

Here is Jamie Dotson in the midst of moving stuff to our new location at 104 E. Graham:


Here's our new office. If it looks like it used to be a furniture store, it's because it did:



And here is work in progress on the new Mac DesignCAD:



Three weeks ago in Junkmail 28 I mentioned a coronal mass ejection on the sun, a huge explosion that emits a mess of mass at about a million miles an hour. A week after that, on February 27, there was another big one. It didn't come toward earth, and as a result you could see it. Well, the Soho spacecraft could see it anyway. Here are some pictures:

In these two pictures, the sun is blocked out if the center so you can see the CME. The white circle was added to the image to show the size and position of the sun.



Here's the entire sun, with the CME heading off into the upper left.

Another view:

The last two images were taken in the extreme ultraviolet range of the spectrum. In other words, they are images of light you can't see. Extreme ultraviolet is higher frequency than visible light, fairly close to x-rays I think. It's pretty useful and common in astronomy to take a photo in a non-visible frequency range to detect things you can't see in visible light.

We can see light from red to violet, with red being the lowest frequency visible light and violet being the highest. But just because we can't see electromagnetic energy at a higher or lower frequency than visible light doesn't mean we can't use it.

For example, we can use much lower frequency radar to look into the ground from satellites. We can use higher frequency x-rays to look into our bodies. In modern astronomy a considerable part of the work involves taking data from a telescope and translating it from odd wavelength ranges into the visible light spectrum so we can see what we can't see.

In the last two images above, the extreme ultraviolet camera on the Soho spacecraft showed lots of details you wouldn't be able to see with visible light.

Here's a movie of the explosion. (500K):


Here's an even bigger explosion in a star. The bright spot in the center of this picture is the center of a galaxy NGC4526. In bright spot in the lower left is a supernova, when a big star runs out of oomph, starts to collapse, and then has one last, huge explosion. This one was seen on earth in 1994. Since it was a lot of light years away, it happened a lot of years ago.


What's a Supernova?

Y2K Update!

Yes, there's more trouble looming on the horizon!  On Cinco de Mayo of 2000, the sun, the moon, and the 5 "naked-eye" planets will be aligned. This will cause the world to end shortly afterward, according to some. The naked-eye planets are the ones you can see without magnification -- Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter.

Some doomsday advocates are predicting May 17 of this year for the end of civilization as we know it, when the planets will be in their closest alignment if you ignore the moon.

How close? About 25 degrees with the moon on the 5th, or 19 degrees on the 17th without it. How rare is this occurrence? Well, in 1962, for example, the planets with the moon were aligned to about 16 degrees. In 3000 years (from the year 0 to 3000) there are 40 occurrences of these 5 planets, the sun, and the moon being aligned within 30 degrees.

And, contrary to some people's assertions, the gravitational pull due to the alignment of the planets this May will have no measurable effect on the earth or its tides. The planets will be on the opposite side of the sun and will not even be visible. Even if all the planets were on our side of the sun, the change in the tides would still be so small you couldn't measure it.

A much more plausible doomsday view is that civilization as we know it takes a dive every election year, but rebounds somewhat afterward.

Here's an interesting astronomical web site:

EDS sold a bunch of computers to some Air Force guys for a top-secret "black" operation for NATO. Except it was a scam, and these guys took their computers. Oops! There goes several million dollars! This happened in 1997, but is coming to light now.,1367,34876,00.html

The pictures of today are from Goliath Peak, Colorado. It's near Mount Evans. I took these just before finishing the deal to buy DesignCAD.

There was deep snow through the trees on the way up:


Above the trees most of the snow was blown or melted -- gone somewhere anyway:


Here's a picture on the way up:


This is from the same place on the way down. That snow caught up with me before I got back to the car:


Goliath Peak:


Mount Evans, almost:


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