Observing with Street Lights

Observing with Street Lights
Dark sky sites not always necessary to see the Milky Way (This image was taken ouside of a B&B in Julian, CA)

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

My amazing Saturn photo? Big Brother will test at home; Upcoming online AAS and APS Meetings in the first quarter of 2021; More cloudy nights means less observing and more physics discussion

 Greetings from Palmia Observatory,

Well here we are hoping for some clear weather to make more of our Saturn-Titan orbit measurements, but the clouds are everywhere wo we can report on some latest findings about COVID-19 at home, rapid testing, some upcoming astronomy and physics meetings and some discussion about infinities in classical electromagnetism.

So, in keeping with my friend, Tom's image of Jupiter-Saturn conjunction, as seen in Wisconsin, here is my amazing image of Saturn on December 28.  The forecast for the 29th is a bit better.

Amazing image of (possibly) Saturn, DSLR, 150mm, 1/2 second (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Amazing image of (possibly) Saturn, DSLR, 150mm, 1/2 second (Source: Palmia Observatory)

In response to a question from Science Nerd and onetime Theatre Impresario, Scott, I looked up the possibility of getting one of the low cost, at home, rapid COVID-19 tests that we discussed in the last post of Dec 27, 2020.  Well, it just happens that the Abbott at home test received emergency use authorization on Dec 20, so I had to look up the details.  The test kit costs $25 and you can do the test at home, but only under the supervision and inspection of a proctor, who will be witnessing and guiding the test on your webcam.  Hmm, it sounds more like Big Brother watching than the low cost version we were hoping for.  There are competing interests between the individual just wanting to evaluate their own health and the public control of the pandemic.  Anyway, here is the screenshot from my iPhone that describes how the test will be conducted after you affirm you are who you say you are and scan your drivers license.  The good news about this smartphone app is that if you test negative, you get sort of a "digital passport" that you are not contagious as of the date of the test.  Thanks for the question, Scott!

Requirements for the at home Abbott BinaxNOW rapid test (Source: NAVICA app screenshot)
Requirements for the at home Abbott BinaxNOW rapid test (Source: NAVICA app screenshot)

So, since the weather is not cooperating for nighttime observing, we will finish off this post with a partial calendar for upcoming AAS and APS meetings in the new year and with some comments about the infinities in classical electromagnetism.

The next meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is happening, online, from January 10 - 15, 2021.  So be sure to check out the details and sign up.  The meeting is for professional astronomers, but even astronomer wannabes can find plenty of interesting presentations.  The details about the nature of the online meeting can be found at: https://aas.org/meetings/aas237.  Remember if you meet the qualifications to be an amateur astronomer, you can get in for a reduced fee.

Don't miss the AAS 237th (online) meeting, Jan 10-15 (Source: https://aas.org/meetings/aas237)
Don't miss the AAS 237th (online) meeting, Jan 10-15 (Source: https://aas.org/meetings/aas237)

There are two upcoming meetings of the American Physical Society that may be of interest to all of the physicist wannabes out there.  The first meeting, "The March Meeting" is conducted online on March 15 - 19, 2021.  This meeting primarily covers condensed matter physics.  You can check out the details and sign up at: https://march.aps.org/

Don't miss the APS March (online) meeting, Mar 15-19 (Source: https://march.aps.org/)
Don't miss the APS March (online) meeting, Mar 15-19 (Source: https://march.aps.org/)

The second main APS Meeting is "The April Meeting" is conducted, online, on April 17 - 20, 2021.  This meeting is primary for those interested in astrophysics, general relativity,  and cosmology.  You can check out the details and sign up at: https://april.aps.org/

Don't miss the APS April (online) meeting, Apr 17-20 (Source: https://april.aps.org/)

Ok, finally back to the discussion about infinities that come up in the study of physics.  Visionary Physicist, Dr. Don, was reviewing the nature of inertia and asked me to look at chapter 28 of Feynman's "Lectures on Physics."  All physicist wannabes will have these volumes at the ready.

Feynman's classic red book series (Source: R. Feynman, "Lectures on Physics)
Feynman's classic red book series (Source: R. Feynman, "Lectures on Physics)

My interest in our discussion was how even in calculations involving classical electromagnetism result in infinity.  This is not good because it means that something has broken down.  Consider this example for calculating the energy of the electric field around a charged particle.  The main point to keep in mind is that the energy goes up as the reciprocal of the radius, which goes to infinity as the radius approaches zero, which is what is assumed for the notion of a point.

Calculating the energy around a point charge (Source: Feynman, "Lectures on Physics")
Calculating the energy around a point charge (Source: Feynman, "Lectures on Physics")

To get around these infinities, one approach is to not include point charges and to consider the electron, for example, as a wave or a field.  In quantum field theory this approach has been very fruitful in getting rid of the infinities and make progress with a better way of understanding nature.

This approach going from classical descriptions to quantum field descriptions of nature is covered very well in this textbook.  This is one of the first textbooks that I found that explained the original problem and then went into how the introduction of fields and other concepts led to a solution of the problem.

Great review of the transition from classical to quantum fields
Great review of the transition from classical to quantum fields

But the solution to the initial problem requires us to study more deeply about the quantum path integral approach under the general topic of "the theory of renormalization."  Hmm, this sounds like it is going to be hard because the snippet of text below says you have to first of all work through all the material in chapters 4 through 15 just to get up to chapter 16 where the renormalization theory is presented.  Ok, ok, the life of the physicist wannabe is just one chapter after another.  Thanks for the insight, Don!

Removing the infinity (Source: Baulieu, Iliopoulos & Seneor "From Classical to Quantum Fields")
Removing the infinity (Source: Baulieu, Iliopoulos & Seneor "From Classical to Quantum Fields")

So, that is it for what probably is the last post of 2020, unless the clouds go away.  This turns out to be the 471st post on the blogging journey.  What a year this has been. Now we end this year with hope of better things to come.  Happy new year everyone!

Until next time, here from our burrow, stay safe, as we recover more of our freedom,

Resident Astronomer George

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Check out this blog at www.palmiaobservatory.com

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Michael Mina argues for public health testing vs. medical testing; Lex Fridman tries self test; Why vaccine prevents disease but not infection? Herd immunity and Brazil experiment

 Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well this week has been clouded out, and I had hoped to report more data points for our tracking of Titan's orbit around Saturn, so we have to resort to other topics and can report on our ongoing armchair study of computer deep learning systems with detour into armchair study of virology.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Welcome, Chris, the Chrisma-Saurus; Weather and worse Wisconsin weather; More Boca Chica Starship news; Two more data points for Saturn-Titan orbit

 Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well here we are in this holiday season and first of all can offer a "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays" to everyone, while we wait for the weather to clear and the clouds go away.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Friday, December 18, 2020

Monday, December 14, 2020

Didn't you also really want to be in Argentina for the December 14 total solar eclipse? Sympathetic look at the sun from OC; Revisiting our Chile eclipse trip of July 2019; Starship 'SN9 leaning?

 Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well here we are still in pandemic lockdown with many people dying or suffering or just out of work, and our "silly little inconvenience" is that we couldn't travel to Argentina for the December 14 total solar eclipse.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

More practice for upcoming Jupiter-Saturn conjunction; Elon tweets about Starship SN8; Some preliminary comments from the AGU Fall 2020 Meeting

 Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, we have been tied up with attending the virtual AGU Fall meeting, but can comment on preparing for the upcoming conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn and also mention more news about the Starship SN8 test hop.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Get ready for the Jupiter-Saturn Conjunction on December 21; Wow, SN8 finally does test hop, completes belly flop maneuver, but explodes after hard landing on launch pad

 Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well here we busy with American Geophysical Union (AGU) 2020 Fall Meeting, but we took some time to practice photographing the upcoming Jupiter-Saturn conjunction and to watch the SpaceX Starship SN8 test hop attempt.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Effects of Social Isolation?; Seeing the Earth's actual shadow during lunar eclipse? Arecibo? Stern-Gerlach experiments and quantum superpositions and density matrices; Schrodinger's Cat: Dead or Alive?

 Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well, did everyone get out and look at the lunar eclipse on November 30?  We first revisit one movie family that did not do well with social isolation, but can offer one "artist's" impression of what the eclipse might show and reserve the rest of the post for a discussion of quantum mechanics, density matrices and decoherence and the like.