On This Day in History, Remembering a Genuine Genius #physics #poetry #poem #RichardFeynman #Feynman #quantum

Fifty-three years ago today, Richard Feynman gave his Nobel lecture on Quantum Electrodynamics. Even if you don’t remember him for his Nobel Prize or for Feynman Diagrams, you may recall how, during a televised hearing, he demonstrated what caused the shuttle Challenger’s disaster with a simple experiment using a glass of ice water.

Feynman was also a fascinating human being and you should read about his life.

But on this blog, I celebrate Feynman for his challenge to poets.

Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars – mere globs of gas atoms. I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them…

Far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? Who are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?

In honor of Feynman, I’m re-posting my poem inspired by his Lecture 1: Atoms in Motion, from the book Six Easy Pieces.

Your cup of tea sits quietly, its surface still and calm.
A tiny wisp of steam is all that’s going on.
Now magnify your vision, expand the scale up.
A cup as big as planet Earth with atoms big as cups.

Tea is a glob of atoms, each jiggling in the heap.
Atoms that are water and jiggling that is heat.
Cup-atoms block tea-atoms, despite how fast they seem.
But if tea-atoms hit the air they pop right out as steam.

Hot tea-atoms jiggle fast – move randomly in air.
If jiggling down, back to the tea, they’re stuck again in there.
Now blow away the steam – atoms don’t return to tea.
Hot atoms still keep popping out; removing heat, you see.

And so atomic theory
Allows your mind to see:
If tea’s too hot for you to sip
Then blow to cool your tea.

Kate Rauner


Behind the scenes at my Volunteer Fire Department Open House #volunteer #community #volunteering

It’s been a long day, but rewarding. My volunteer fire department’s new fire station is officially open with our flag raising and Open House. I was too busy to take pictures once guests began arriving, but here are some peeks behind the scenes.

In rural America, we don’t have anough money to hire people for every vital service, so volunteers are crucial. Across America, volunteer firefighters outnumber paid/career firefighters. And all sorts of volunteers do so much for our communities. What interests you? Where does your heart lead? What needs to be done? So – do it!

Fire department classroom set up for Open House

Our classroom set up to welcome visitors

Refrshments from New Mexico State Forestry

Refreshments courtesy of New Mexico State Forestry

American flag flies in front of Santa Rita VFD Hanover Station

The flag flies over our new station

Great wildland firefighting technology – foam! High-tech soap sprayed from our brush engine clings instead of running off, so more efficient than mere water

3,700 years ago (1,500 BCE) did disastrous asteroid destroy ancient cities in Middle East and sow the fields with salt? #history #asteroid #middleeast

Cities and farms north of the Dead Sea were obliterated by an asteroid, a new study indicates.

Massive airburst caused by a meteor that exploded in the atmosphere instantaneously destroyed civilization in a 25-kilometer-wide circular plain called Middle Ghor, said archaeologist Phillip Silvia. The event also pushed a bubbling brine of Dead Sea salts over once-fertile farmland… People did not return to the region for 600 to 700 years sciencenews.org

Here’s a string of videos from the Chelyabinsk meteor that entered Earth’s atmosphere over Russia on 15 February 2013. This was a little one in comparison.

Fifty thousand people may have died in the ancient disaster. On pottery glazes found at the sites:

Zircon crystals in those glassy coats formed within one second at extremely high temperatures, perhaps as hot as the surface of the sun

The flash, the winds, and the heat must have terriferd people for miles around, and brave souls surviving nearby must have ventured onto the blasted landscape. Did those awed visitors lose friends and allies, or competitors and enemies? What would they have thought? What stories would they tell when they returned home and how would those stories travel along the world’s trade routes?

A lot of questions, and I don’t find enough information to align the dates exactly. But, this was the late Bronze Age when early-monotheistic claims of a universal deity began in the general region. I hope someone who knows what they’re doing investigates the possible link. Could the god of the biblical patriarch Abraham, the god of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, have arrived on a cosmic ball of fire?

Giving Tuesday may almost be over, but volunteering is year-round #giving #volunteers #community

New Mexico USA Food Bank DeliveryIn a rural area like my southwest New Mexico, USA, we don’t have a lot of money to hire people. Volunteers – your neighbors – are a big factor. My spouse and I volunteer at the monthly food bank (on a Wednesday in my area) and also in the local fire department. In America, over two-thirds of firefighters are volunteers, and volunteers also manage non-firefighting tasks like office support and maintaining tools and equipment. Whatever your interests and capabilities, what can you do to help your community? You’ll meet people you might never run into at work and do something useful and appreciated. Volunteer.

Touch Down! Seven More Minutes of Terror End in Success for Mars Lander InSight #NASA #Mars #space

Mars ladnder Insight's view of MarsHurray! NASA scores another landing. Insight is catching some rays on Mars. This is a lander, not a rover, so it’s established in its new, permanent home, ready to study Marsquakes and drill deeper than ever before into the regolith. Congratulations NASA. Can’t wait to see what you learn.

If you’re ready to leave for Mars, you need scifi to take you there today. Join the first twelve settlers and share danger as you struggle to build a colony on the Red Planet. Then read on through generations as settlers battle the planet and sometimes each other as they build lives on Mars. Would you take the one-way journey? Read the series at Amazon and other favorite stores.

Wildfire Meets Neighborhood #Poem #poetry #wildfire #fire #california

I posted this poem a while ago, but California’s terrible fires reminded me of a fire in my town of Silver City, New Mexico:

Firefighter views smoke in distance beyond burned forestThe fire roared, it flew, it crowned
through this neighborhood at the edge of town.
It leaped and danced down streets of homes;
and drove us to our safety zones.

Now flashing lights obscured by smoke
mark engine crews still hard at work.
My hand-crew seeks out embers red;
we dig them out to stop their spread.

With families gone and power off;
the night is dark for houses lost.
It’s oddly peaceful, hushed and calm,
though that, we know, will not last long.

Tonight the crews in green and gold
walk through the tales that should be told.
We do our job, but see the warning
of tears that will come in the morning.

By Kate Rauner

Learn about defensible space.  http://www.firewise.org/

When is a Crazy Telescope 60% Underground? World Class Solar Observatory in Sunspot #NewMexicoTrue #astronomy #science #solar

Sign for Mars in NSO model of Solar Syatem

Once you reach the inner solar system, you’re almost there

Where can you travel through the solar system in half an hour? Sunspot, New Mexico, where the American west’s largest scale model of the solar system (and third largest in the USA) runs along NM 6563 from Cloudcroft (a cute mountain tourist town) through the Lincoln National Forest to Sunspot.

I traveled the Scenic Byway recently from Pluto (yes, Plutophiles, Sunspot keeps Pluto in their model) to the National Solar Observatory. Scientists have studied the sun here since 1952, though newer instruments are replacing some of the site’s telescopes. The machine shop at Sunspot spends most of its time making equipment for telescopes in Hawaii, and data is probably delivered to scientists over the internet so they no longer hole-up in the on-site labs. Too bad for them! They miss the Lincoln Forest.

Sign showing NSO solar system model layout

You’ve reached the Sun

There’s a small museum and gift shop, and you’re allowed to walk around the interior of one of the strangest telescopes you’re likely to see.

Like an iceberg, only a part of the telescope’s bulk is visible above ground. The optical path starts at a heliostat on top of a 136-foot-tall (41 m) tower and continues 193 feet (59 m) more underground to the primary mirror. The lowest excavated point (the bottom of the sump) is 228 feet (69.5 m) below ground. Wikipedia

Model of Saturn in NSO's Sunspot Visitors' Center

More scale models in the Visitor’s Center

Sadly, there are no guided tours so be sure to stop by the Visitors’ Center and bring information with you. Have a great time!

Dunn Solar Telescope, Sunspot, NM

Yes, that’s a telescope