Author Archive | Paul

Dwarf Planets, Midget Moons

Makemake w. moonNature World News reported this week the discovery of an “alien” moon orbiting the dwarf planet Makemake. The moon, 100 miles in diameter,is also 1300 times dimmer than the planet it circles. An “alien” moon is one that is not detected immediately on the discovery of the primary planet. Considering that Makemake is in the Kuiper Belt, fifty times further from the Earth than the Earth is from the Sun, and is sheathed in methane ice, making it extremely bright, perhaps it is understandable that it took four years after the planet was discovered to be found.

The moon has yet to be named something more characteristic than “MK2”, probably because the tradition in which it is to be named has to be researched. Makemake, discovered in 2006, is named for the god of fertility of Easter Island. It is one of four dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt. Haumea, discovered the year before Makemake, is named for the Hawaiian goddess of childbirth and has two moons. Eris, the third dwarf planet, is named for a Greek deity, a companion of Ares who specialized in chaos and excessive blood-letting in battle. Discovered in 2005, it has one moon.

The fourth dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt is Pluto. Discovered in 1930 and once believed to be the ninth planet in the Solar System, it has its own orbital path around the Sun However, its path exits the Kuiper Belt and crosses the orbit of Neptune. Also, its size is more in keeping with the other dwarfs, being in fact smaller than Earth’s Moon both in dimension and mass. So, when the classification of “dwarf planet” was established in 2006, Pluto was assigned that designation. Pluto has five moons.

The Fifth dwarf planet in our System is Ceres. It was actually discovered first, in 1801, in the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter, and was considered the largest asteroid until the new classification was developed. It has no moons.

The presence of moons circling these planets allows for calculations regarding the planets’ mass and density, said Mark Hammergren, an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. “Knowing the size of the orbit, and its rotation period, we can calculate the mass and density of both the planet and the moon,” he said. “This in turn will give us information about the internal composition, how much of its volume is ice. And that will contribute to our knowledge of how our solar system was formed.”

“The darkness of the moon’s surface indicates far less ice than coats the planet,” said Dean Regas, of the Cincinnati Observatory. “A spectral analysis of the light reflected from the moon will also give us data” as to the composition of the moon, and how it was formed. We know so little of the history of our Solar System that whatever we can gain here materially increases our knowledge of the whole System and the far-off Kuiper Belt, Regas said.

Other resident objects in the Kuiper Belt are mostly icy comets that follow extremely narrow oval orbits to whip around the Sun inside the orbit of Mercury.


Posted June 11, 2016

Why does anyone cross any road?

Why does anyone cross any road?

I happened to be in Center City Philadelphia today, They had a Gay Pride parade going down Market Street. On a gorgeous sun-filled,light summer day, the rainbow flags and sequined halter-tops fluttered above half-assed, joy-filled floats crowded with singing young people. All this with yesterday’s horror in Orlando forming a dark, roiling background just over the horizon.

Like the old joke goes, I’d lived in Philadelphia seven years one weekend. But that ended in 1978. I followed the broadcast of Nixon resigning to the open door of an apartment in Lambertville and rented it, and moved out of City of Brotherly Love the next weekend
This parade happened to remind me of two others. The last parade I’d seen in that part of Philly had been in 1974, celebrating the Flyers’ first Stanley Cup. It had attracted a considerably different crowd than today’s, but just as festive. The last parade I’d seen there at all was a Mummer’s Parade one New Year’s Day, probably in 76. And as it occurred to me there were ringing thematic similarities between that parade and this one – namely, mascara and beer – what should appear sashaying down the, avenue but a small string band, playing, as it were, a gay tune,

Grass Roots Push for John Cena “Bothers” Trump

johnCenaJohn Cena, one-time World Heavyweight Champion of the WWE, is fast gaining write-in popularity in the Ohio Republican Primary, CNN reports. While rival Faux News reports Donald Trump’s doble-digit lead in the Ohio polls is slipping moderately, CNN reports it is down from 21 points to “more like” 16.

“That pussy Trump better kiss his ass for the last time,” said current WWE Woprld Champion Triple H, from Cena’s campaign headquarters in Columbus. “He’s goin DOWWWWN!”

Mike Judge, who predicted Cena’s eventual rise to power in his prophetic 2006 feature film “Idiocracy”, said, “I knew it would end like this. I told you so. Though I must admit that never in my wildest hallucinations did I ever envision Donald Trump’s role in it.”

Trump himself is taking the day off. Far from storming the stumps of The Buckeye State, he has taken his pregnant daughter Ivanka and her two ambulatory children for a weekend in Las Vegas.

“Sometimes, you just gotta get away and do something for the kids,” he said sipping a Pina beside the floating craps table in the Olympic-sized pool at the “Shah’s Cabana” resort, just off the Strip.

About Cena’s write-in candidacy, Trump said, “Bothers me? Sure, it bothers me. Like a boil on my ass, it bothers me. It wouldn’t bother me so much if my personal astrologer hadn’t confirmed that I ‘would have to watch out for an ex-WWE World Champion Wrestler who would come out of nowhere and pound the shit out of’ me. She never said, she won’t say whether she means politically, pound the shit or physically pound thhe shit outta me. People keep calling the suite, saying ‘A wrestler is coming.’ Yeah, it bothers me! I hope my private army is in place before he lands here and proceeds to pound.”


Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Bebe?

CD6D260E-0A8D-773A-44A33597039FD09B_6If we – “we”. the race Human – discover that superluminal [faster-than-light] travel is impossible and we never reach the stars, I believe I will be disappointed. Similarly, if we accomplish interstellar travel, but never discover another sentient race or find only artifacts, I expect I will be disappointed.

Apparently, fundamentally I believe a central function of life is to show off. Normal, I believe, for a showbiz kind of guy ike mmyself.

It could be, of course, that superluminal flight is possible, but we as a species cannot understand it due to a dimensional limitation of our brain, or something. Maybe there ae things travelling between stars naturally at E12 [E = 1 einstein, the speed of light] all the time. Maybe it can’t be done, as Albert E said flatfootedy all those years ago, and the only means of travel between stars is <E, inching along in what we complascently refer to as ‘normal’ space on what Roddenberry dubbed ‘impulse’ power and it will take millions of years for humans to reach from planet to planet.

IF that’s the eventual case, undramatic as it would be huanity would pass the timeduring migration by evolving. Each planet successfully settled would then be populated bya different – something: speie? Failyu? A different creature woul emerge from the vessel sentby forth by the human impulse to expand.

Of course, perceived by ourseves from within, is the natural course of Life to occupy all of space.

It may be, at that. In all universes either parallel or sequential it could be that the materiel of the current universe will attempt to fill each fallow segment of itself with the material of that universe.

Which would fit my current thesis to wit: /this is the Universe of Life and despite all appearances of lifeless desert planets of highly abrasive dust, poisionous atospheres and radiation-filled voids everything in this universe is simply Life iife, in every permutation it can assume.

Most of those naturally spell immediate death to any permutation other than themselves.

Life, it appears, is often like that.


County Commissioner Murder – Part 1

The call came in at 2:20 am, Tuesday, March 20. An address in Mount Lebanon William Bright had to look up, 22 Lilac Lane. A private road, it turned out, very near the center of the town. Bright thought he knew Mt Lebanon pretty well, for someone who’d never lived there or even eaten dinner there, but this was new.

At that hour it took less than twenty minutes to get there from County Police headquarters in the East End. Lilac Lane was tucked behind the Washington Avenue business strip, down a hollow, ending in a park-like valley. 22 was a large house off the end of the lane. a flagstone first floor with frame upper floors enclosed in a grove of cedar trees. A paved parking area spread between the end of the lane and the house,

A door with a small roof outside it and a light glowing beside it was directly in front of him. The door was closed. Through its window, Bright could see CSI technicians and a photographer at their work. They were very close to the door. Bright tried the knob anyway. It was locked. Nobody looked up.

As the front of the house seemed to be on his left, Bright walked to his right, the servant’s end of the building.

A door stood open, showing a mudroom and beyond it a kitchen. Bright went in. The kitchen was large and modern, filled with chrome appliances, a six-burner stove, pots hanging on hooks. The lights were off. Beyond it was a paneled diningroom lit by a chandelier over the table, which was on. The next room, the living room, was dark. A hallway to the left was lit. It probably led to the door Bright had first tried.

It did. Bright stood at the end of the hall, watching the technicians and the medical examiners, all of whom he knew. The body of a man sprawled face up before them, at the head of a flight of stairs heading down. He was fully dressed, and he had three bullet holes x in the middle of his chest. The holes were within ten centimeters of each other.

“Gentlemen,” he greeted them, “And ladies. What can you tell me?”

“Deceased is the well-known Councilman and realtor Andrew Randone,” said Assistant ME Bernard Page. “Fifty-four years old, shot three times in the chest, center mass, tight grouping, .38 caliber. At least two of them are still in there. The lone apparent exit wound may be an abrasion suffered as he fell. I mean, why would two stay there and one come through? But it happens. We’ll probably know before we leave.”

“What was he doing here at 2am?”

“This is his house. He lives here. The alleged assailant is his wife. Don’t they tell you guys anything?”

“We’re detectives. Were we not to detect something as latent as that, so the legend goes, it would blur our self-image and our keen sensibioiities woud be dulled and useless. Now/then. Where’s the alleged assailant?”

Melanie Pagliosi Randone was downstairs in the back in her office, Dr Page said. She had been with the body when they arrived. She had GSR on her hands and arms, both of them. She was still wearing what she had on. A female Mt Lebanon cop was with her. Bright turned and went down the stairs toward the basement and Ms Pagliosi’s office.

The basement was finished, with paneled walls and carpeting and incandescent lighting. The hall was narrow and rather long, about forty meters. Framed pictures hung on the walls and small table lamps sat on little tables all along it and made it feel like a classy European hotel hallway. It had a very gentle upward slant.

At the far end of the passage, Bright found himself in a very modern office lobby. A square space about twenty meters on a side. It seemed he was in a different building. He hadn’t noticed it when he’d entered.

As it happened, he was. Removed from the house, it was a two-story building about thirty meters on a side in the middle of a lawn. He realized he could have taken this as the place next door, and in the dark simply disregarded it.

Centered against the wall on his right was a receptionist’s desk. Near the top of the wall, foot-high letters spelled out “Media Planning”, the name of Ms Pagliosi’s firm. Light came from a room behind that wall, through a door facing along the wall. Bright had to cross the receptionist’s desk to get to the room.

As he entered the room, Detective Howard Brennan rose from a couch and turned toward him.

“Ah, good,” said Bright. “No reason for you to sleep.” They shook hands.

“How long have you been here?” said Bright.

“Maybe five minutes. We’ve just been introducing ourselves.” Brennan turned to the lady behind her desk, who stood.

“Melanie Pagliosi Randone, Detective William Bright.” They shook hands.

She seemed composed, unhappy, not particularly upset, just sad. Bright said, “I’m sorry … we’re all in this.” He couldn’t bring himself to say the formulaic “for your loss”. This seemed so much more real. She nodded and smiled sadly. He turned to Brennan.

“You Mirandize her?”

“No, listen, whe haven’t gotten to that at all yet.”

“Well, we will any second.” He turned back to Melanie. “Ms Randone, you understand, we have to do this…”

“Yes, of course, go ahead.”

Bright recited the warning. Brennan stood there. He seemed to be staring at her feet.

“Sorry to have interrupted. What were you and Detective Brennan talking about when I came in?”

She indicated the open takeout Chinese carton on her desk.

“We were comparing recipes for cold noodles,” she said. “As he told you, we’d just met.”

“OK, well, let’s begin. Mr Randone was out. Am I right in guessing it was either real estate business or politics?”

“Yes, some committee business, I don’t remember what.”

“Then he came home. Did you notice the time when he arrived?”

“I glanced at the clock when I heard the door. 1:37. It’s a wifey thing, I guess.”

“Where were you when you heard the door? Here in your office? How can you hear the door from here?”

“The burglar alarm can be set to ring when someone uses an open door to enter or leave the house.”

“Did you go to the door?”

“Actually, I did not. The door’s what, fifty meters away? By the time the alarm stops whoever came in could be on the third floor. The only people who’d still be at the door would be delivery people or Jehovah’s Witnesses, people I didn’t invite, who wouldn’t feel comfortable prowling around in my house. I knew Andy’d be coming in about then. I just kept doing my work.”

“But you did go to the door ar some point.”

“When Andy comes in, he goes to one of three places. Either he goes to the powder room just inside the door, he goes to the kitchen, or he goes to his study. Or he comes to see me. Four; he goes to one of four places.”

Bright made acknowledging noises.

“Each room makes specific sounds, none of which I heard. So I went out to the door because maybe I’d supposed wrong. Maybe it wasn’t Andy. I went and called upstairs, ‘Andy? Is that you?'”

“Did he answer you?”

“No. There wasn’t any answer.”

“Did you call several times?”

“O yeah, a bunch.”

“And, no answers?” She shook her head. “Did you go upstairs and look for him?”

“No. I wasn’t afraid, but I didn’t understand. I thought I’d just wait and find out if anyone came to see me.”

“You went back in your office.”

“I was finishing up some correspondence. When I was done, I went back to the door. This time, I took my gun with me.”

“You had it in here? Is it in here now?”

She revolved in her chair, opened a drawer behind her and brought out a Sig Sauer nine-shot .38 automatic.

“Why’d you bring it this time, or rather why not the other time?” said Brennan.

“Frankly, I forgot. I was halfway down the hall, the first time, and I thought, ‘Where’s my pistol?’, but it seemed, if I went back for it, I’d lose my chance: it wouldn’t work out.”

“Tell us about shooting your husband,” said Brennan. Bright did not look at either of them.

“First of all, I did not think I was shooting Andy. I’d gotten wound up in the lurid speculation that there was an intruder in the house.”

“Did you notice any sign that there was anyone upstairs? Hear any movement, see any shadows?”

“I heard some shuffling steps, yes.”

“Did you call out? Call your husband’s name, or ask if anyone was there, or anything at all?”

“Well, I was about to, but his movements were so abrupt they seemed threatening. And the trigger on the gun was so much more sensitive then I remembered it. I had barely grazed it when I’d fired twice, then three times.”

“I’d meant to comment on that. Your shooting, regrettable though it was, was also exceptionally fine. Have you practised a lot? What range do you belong to?”

Melanie was taken slightly aback. “The Noblestown Road Gun Club,” she responded. “And yes, I practised a lot. But that was years ago.”