Cowlix Wearing my mind on my sleeve

Sunday, March 03, 2002 Permanent link to this day
SSSCA debate

The debate over the SSSCA, which would make it illegal to sell computing devices without copy protection technology built in, is heating up. Senate hearings were held last week with primarily media executives testifying. An effort to block the bill has been started at

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Pioneer 10 answers

NASA's attempt to contact Pioneer 10 was successful.

Pioneer-10 was successfully contacted today. Yesterday, about 3pm PST a 200 Kw uplink transmission from Goldstone California, the 70 meter DSN antenna DSS-14, was sent to Pioneer-10 and 22 hours later in Madrid Spain at the DSN 70 meter antenna DSS-63 the confirmation of contact was received. From a distance of 79.7 AU DSS-63 acquired the signal on time at about -183 dbm. They spent an hour peaking the signal (-178.5 dbm) and then they were able to lock up telemetry at 16 bps at an SNR of -0.5 db. Tracking continued until the elevation was about 20 degrees but enough telemetry was received to verify the state of Pioneer-10. Incidentally, the SETI institute also saw the signal from Arecibo in Puerto Rico. For years they have used Pioneer-10 as a reference for their investigations.

The spacecraft is still healthy. The power is still sufficient to support the loads with the bus voltage at about 26 volts (nominal is 28). The uplink from DSS-14 was received by the spacecraft at -131.7 dbm. The spacecraft is extremely cold, with many of the temperature readings at the bottom of their scales. Two commands were sent yesterday from Goldstone and both were confirmed to have been executed by the spacecraft. One scientific instrument is still on, the Geiger Tube Telescope, and Dr. James Van Allen, the PI, will be happy to hear he has some more data to look at.

-- from the ARC press release

Invariance tests

A lot of the physics based around general relativity relies on physical laws remaining the same as rotation and speed increase (Lorentz transformations), and under the combination of Charge conjunction, Parity inversion, and Time reversal (CPT Invariance). Robert Bluhm, Alan Kostelecky, Charles Lane, and Neil Russell are among the people trying to find instances where these symmetries are violated. Their recent paper in Physical Review Letters describes experiments using clocks located in space, like the one scheduled to be launched to the ISS in 2005, to detect symmetry violations.

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India violence

India's dangerous flames: background behind the religious violence which erupted in India over the last week.

India's government has moved firmly in an effort to quell any violent backlash to the latest spate of killings over a controversial campaign to construct a Hindu temple on the site of a demolished mosque. The issue is a flashpoint for religious violence in India. In three days, more than 200 people have died in the western state of Gujarat. More than 50 Muslims died after their homes were torched in a shanty town near Ahmedabad, the state's largest city. Police have been ordered to shoot troublemakers on sight and troops have been sent in to help keep order.

In 1992, 3000 people were killed in the riots that started when the mosque was demolished.

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Has the US lost its way?: Paul Kennedy ponders what America can do to keep its friends abroad.

'By what right,' an angry environmentalist demanded at a recent conference I attended, 'do Americans place such a heavy footprint upon God's Earth?' Ouch. That was a tough one because, alas, it's largely true.

We comprise slightly less than 5 per cent of the world's population; but we imbibe 27 per cent of the world's annual oil production, create and consume nearly 30 per cent of its Gross World Product and - get this - spend a full 40 per cent of all the world's defence expenditures. By my calculation, the Pentagon's budget is nowadays roughly equal to the defence expenditures of the next nine or 10 highest defence-spending nations - which has never before happened in history. That is indeed a heavy footprint. How do we explain it to others - and to ourselves? And what, if anything, should we be doing about this?

Midnight ride

Mugabe opponents forced to campaign at dead of night: a report from a night time expedition to distribute fliers for the MDC.

Cold fusion again?

Cold fusion 'breakthrough' heralds clean nuclear power: on reports that a team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Michigan have duplicated the work of Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons in creating cold fusion.

Lining up to vote

Prepare for a long vote-in weekend: a letter to the editor encouraging opposition voters to turn out for next weekend's election in Zimbabwe despite cuts in the number of polling places.

Please block in the entire election weekend in your diary as "voting", go to the polling station armed with a picnic (especially drink), blanket, umbrella and stool/folding chair, and be prepared for a vote-in weekend, where you simply stay at the polling station until you vote.

Argentine impatience

Running out of Patience

Every Sunday crowds of men, women, and children pack into Centenario Park in Buenos Aires to vent their spleens against banks, corrupt politicians, and judges, to demand justice for victims of political repression, and to organize pot-and-pan banging demonstrations (cacerolazos) and other audacious forms of political protest. They are distrustful of politicians, trade union leaders, government officials, big business... in short, anything that smells of the traditional power structure in this crisis-ridden country. They are not the black-clad anarchists one might imagine. They are middle-class professionals, merchants, office workers, housewives, students, those caught in the corralito--the severe banking restrictions imposed in December 2001 to stop a run on accounts--and voters who cast blank ballots to protest congressional by-elections in October 2001.

Hubble captured

The shuttle has grabbed hold of the Hubble in preparation of the first spacewalk early Monday morning.

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Copyright © 2001-2002 by Wes Cowley