Greetings from Palmia Observatory,
Well, this week has been busy trying to follow some of the technical presentations of the 52nd meeting of the AAS Division of Dynamical Astronomy (DDA). We hope to comment about that shortly, but in the meantime we can review the UFO news and review the ups and downs of the Bitcoin universe and the saga of transferring Bitcoin to a digital wallet on your smart phone.
There is much discussion about UFOs and supposed evidence and how we are being visited by alien craft. For me, I am very skeptical and assign a very low credence to the possibility of visitations, but you never know what we might find. This online video by Thunderf00t is a collection of recent video evidences and some discussion of alternate explanations. You can check out a sort of good discussion and expose of some of the videos with possible explanations at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Th4VlqQyVr4
|One YouTube follower offers "Busted" version of UFO stories (Source: Thunderf00t)|
Well, after watching this online video, we recognized that we too could try to observe triangular shaped lights in the sky. Check out this photo taken after sundown and you can see some lights in the distance close to the horizon. What are these lights? Why are they all lined up? Well, it turns out these are just house lights visible as one looks down the street.
|Resident Astronomer sees lights on the horizon, DSLR, 75mm, 1/125 sec (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
But let's apply one of the techniques mention in Thunderf00t's YouTube video. It took just a couple of minutes, but look what happened to the lights; they started to appear triangular in shape. They were also all observed to rotate in synchronism with each other. Pretty neat!
|Now the lights changed to triangles?, DSLR, 75mm, 1/125 sec (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
Ok, ok, let's come clean with what is going on. As Thunderf00t illustrated this effect can be created by using a triangular shaped aperture in front of the camera lens and then just defocusing the image a bit. Here is the homemade aperture that was used to generate the image above. The triangular shaped lights would have been more crisp if a sharper knife had been used to cutout the cardboard aperture.
|Homemade triangular aperture fitted on DSLR lens (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
Does this mean that all of the UFO photos are fake? No, but we do have to take that into consideration. Let's now transition back to our investigation of bitcoin technology and now we can comment on the latest round of trying to buy and use cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin.
Well, cryptocurrency is a speculative market and already we see that our initial $100 investment in this research project has declined in value to just $79.34. Hmm, even though this portfolio balance includes some of the transaction fees, most of the decline is due to market evaluation.
|Coinbase screenshot showing balance of $100 purchase of Bitcoin (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
So these bitcoins are currently held on a bitcoin exchange, Coinbase, where dollars can be traded for and among various cryptocurrencies.. If you want to take a more controlled version of your cryptocurrency you will need your own digital wallet. Digital wallets can be located on your PC or in the cloud or on your smartphone. I elected to take possession of the keys to my portfolio of cryptocurrency on my iPhone. By the way, I had to show my drivers license, for tax ID purposes, before I could transfer money from the exchange to my digital wallet.
In this next screenshot you can see the transfer of $25 worth of bitcoins to the address of my iPhone wallet. The address is supposedly randomly generated each time, but is directed to my iPhone wallet. There is also a network charge for the transaction. Will the transaction costs come down enough that we can buy a cup of coffee with our bitcoins?
|Sending $25 of Bitcoin to digital wallet on iPhone (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
Ok, so now after 20-30 minutes, the transaction has worked its way through the general ledger secured and trusted by the immutable blockchain and shows up now as money in my digital wallet. Hmm, it looks like the fluctuation in the price of the cryptocurrency has gone up since starting the transfer because I now have access to $25.54.
|Digital wallet balance on iPhone after sending $25 (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
Some of you might be worried about having the keys to your cryptocurrency stored in your smartphone. What happens if you lose your phone? Well, when you set up your wallet, the protocol generates a random list of 12 words and if you remember these 12 words you can recover the key to your cryptocurrency account. How secure is this 12 word key? Well, given that a typical person has a vocabulary of about 20,000 words, the number of possible combinations among 12 words is (20,000)^12, which is about 2^12 times 10^48. Wow, if the words were randomly selected, then the odds of someone else guessing the right words in the right sequence are nearly zero.
Because of Elon Musk being in the news for all of his ordinary work, his comments about bitcoin also trigger reactions in many people. This cartoon sort of sets up the situation where speculators are poking at the market, hoping to make some change. Oops, maybe don't poke the market like that!
|Maybe don't poke at the bitcoin market like that! (Source: @CryptoMemeElite)|
Well, in reality, some poking of the bitcoin market is going on as evidenced by the recent slide in market value. But, what were people expecting? The bitcoin market, with all of the hype and eventual promise of delivering cheaper financial services, is still a speculative, volatile market. Yep, going from a high of $51,569 to a low of 30,000, until closing the week at $39,414, the price of Bitcoin is very volatile.
|Coinbase screenshot showing Bitcoin price variation for this week (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
|Example of how to make money at home by commenting on blogs (Source: experienced-people.co.uk)|
|Resident Astronomer and Assistant Ruby just enjoy being outside (Source: Palmia Observatory)|
Until next time, here from our burrow, stay safe, as we recover more of our freedom,