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Last signal detected from Pioneer 10 (2003)

posted Saturday, 23 January 2016

Pioneer 10 was launched 2 March 1972 from Cape Canaveral on a three stage Atlas Centaur rocket. It visited Jupiter for a few days in December 1973 and was flung out of the solar system by the massive planet. After more than 30 years the venerable spacecraft sent its last signal to Earth on 22 January 2003. At last contact Pioneer 10 was 82 astronomical units away from the sun (more than twice the average distance from the sun to Pluto). The last detectable radio signal (which was too weak to be decipherable) took 11 hours and 20 minutes to reach the earth. Pioneer 10 is currently 118 astronomical units from the sun and is traveling at 12 km/s.

Position of Pioneer 10 in 2010

physics.info/news/?p=4445

Gigawatt Day

posted Thursday, 21 January 2016

Using the US style of writing dates, today is 1/21. That means it’s Gigawatt Day! Roll your cursor over the images below to hear what I’m talking about.

One point twenty one gigawatts!

One point twenty one gigawatts! One point twenty one gigawatts!
This sucker's electrical. What the hell is a gigawatt?

Back to the Future cowriter Bob Gale explains the "mystery of the jigowatts" on the director’s commentary audio track of the DVD.

I should talk about jigowatts for a second. The proper pronunciation is of course gigawatts. And when Bob and I were doing research, we talked to somebody who mispronounced it jigowatts. And we were actually completely unfamiliar with the term. And we thought that that was how it was supposed to be said. It does come from the Greek root gigos for gigantic. So I suppose it’s not beyond the realm of possibility, but never having heard of it we actually spelled it in the script j-i-g-o-w-a-t-t. So a jigowatt is actually supposed to be a gigawatt, a million [sic] watts. So the mystery of the jigowatts is now solved.

I think the actual Greek root word is gigas (γίγας) not gigos as Gale says in the commentary. As for the official pronunciation, both the hard "ɡ" and the soft "ʤ" may be used to start the word. I think the two variants in IPA would be written as "ɡɪɡəᴡɑːts" and "ʤɪɡəᴡɑːts".

Bob Gale also mixed up the size of the prefix. A gigawatt is a billion watts not a million watts.

physics.info/news/?p=4444

Stirling engine patented (1817)

posted Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Robert Stirling received a Scottish patent for the engine that now bears his name on this day in 1817. The patent was filed 27 September 1816.

physics.info/news/?p=2883

New Horizons launched (2006)

posted Tuesday, 19 January 2016

End of Time (2038)

posted Monday, 18 January 2016

The end of Unix Time will occur on 19 January 2038 at 03:14:07 UTC. One second after that, all computer clocks still using 32 bit Unix Time will reset to 13 December 1901 at 20:45:52 UTC.

Events in Unix Time are represented with a 32 bit number. There are 4,294,967,296 seconds in an epoch of Unix Time, since…

232 = 4,294,967,296

The epoch is offset by half that amount, so the zero of Unix Time occurs on 1 January 1970 at 00:00:00 UTC. Events before this are mapped to negative decimal numbers. Events after are mapped to positive numbers.

binary decimal date time (UTC)
0 −2,147,483,648 13 December 1901 20:45:52
231 +0 01 January 1970 00:00:00
232 − 1 +2,147,483,647 19 January 2038 03:14:07

physics.info/news/?p=5436

Robert F. Scott arrives at the South Pole (1912)

posted Monday, 18 January 2016

English explorer Robert F. Scott and his expedition arrive at the South Pole on 18 January 1912, only to discover that Roald Amundsen had gotten there first. Everyone in the expedition died on the return journey. See my post on Amundsen’s arrival for more info.

physics.info/news/?p=4443

Benjamin Franklin Born (1706)

posted Sunday, 17 January 2016

17 January 1706: Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, Massachusetts.

physics.info/news/?p=892

Columbus leaves Hispaniola (1493)

posted Saturday, 16 January 2016

16 January 1493: Columbus leaves Hispaniola on his first voyage. They will not see land again until they arrive at the Azores on 15 February — 30 days later.

physics.info/news/?p=4434

Haiti earthquake (2010)

posted Tuesday, 12 January 2016

USGS location on globe

Magnitude 7.0
25 km west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti
2010 January 12 21:53:10 UTC
Read the US Geological Survey summary.

physics.info/news/?p=4442

Nothing the God of biomechanics wouldn’t let you into heaven for

posted Friday, 8 January 2016

Replicants don’t have birthdays. They have incept dates. Revel in their times.

N6MAC41717 Batty (Roy)
Replicant (M) Des: BATTY (Roy)
NEXUS 6 N6MAA10816
Incept Date: 8 JAN., 2016
Func: Combat, Colonization Defense Prog.
Phys: LEV. A Ment: LEV. A
Batty
I’ve done… questionable things.
Tyrell
Also extraordinary things; revel in your time.
Batty
Nothing the God of biomechanics wouldn’t let you into heaven for.

Celebrate all the Blade Runner Birthdays.

physics.info/news/?p=4437