Daily Archives: September 23, 2011

Emulating The Terminal Emulators For Fun (with emacs color-theme)

I have a small laptop that I carry to the coffee shop for writing. It is a bit shaky in the hardware department, very small, and has no functioning wireless. The hard drive is encrypted. These attributes together make it the perfect laptop to carry around between, say, the gym, the coffee shop, the grocery store, Huxley’s daycare, etc. I have a small number of files synced on it via a hard wired network connection at home so there is quasi-real time work to do with it, but only a subset of the larger number of files and folders I regularly use. The lack of an Internet connection means that I am not distracted while writing, the low value of the hardware means it won’t matter if it gets dropped, crushed or even stolen, and having the hard drive encrypted with a killer password and such means that the very valuable data (as if) that is on it can’t fall into the wrong hands.
Continue reading Emulating The Terminal Emulators For Fun (with emacs color-theme)

UARS Update: Lookin’ Good, Australia!

Twitter Feed (most recent on top):

UARS_Reentry UARS Reentry
RT @SPACEFLIGHT101: Indications are that UARS is down following its last perigee. Waiting for official words. #UARS

ztresearch Tom A. Warner
by UARS_Reentry
RT @mycatthesquee: People north of Edmonton AB Canada saying they saw something “like fireworks” and 3 lights falling at10:20 pm MDT #UARS

SchwartzNow Jeff Schwartz
by UARS_Reentry
Source? RT @BASEDDRAG: Getting a UNCONFIRMED report saying that #UARS may have gone down in Northern Quebec.

RT @JPMajor: RT @b0yle: RT @numbercrunchers: RT @newswatchcanada Some reports say #UARS has crashed in Canada — northern Quebec or Labrador – not confirmed

dmerser91 weatherdude(DennisM)
BREAKING: @LadyGaga has found the #UARS debris and is making a new dress out of it. NASA working to confirm.

brx0 -b-
So #UARS might have burned up by now, according to the US Strategic Air Command, the folks who track Santa Claus every year.

It’s possible that #UARS is down by now. (Everybody OK out there?) We’re waiting for confirmation from US Strategic Command.

UARS_Reentry UARS Reentry
#UARS over Hudson Bay, Canada now – fairly high 143 km (but unlit by the Sun) is it still up there?

OnScene OnScene Action Media
Feel like Charlie Brown waiting for the Great Pumpkin #UARS #outside

UARS_Reentry UARS Reentry
#UARS Sat 24 Sep 2011 4:15UT orbit 87.08 mins 124.7 x 129.5km Position 36.6N,135.7W alt=134.6km Unlit [0.06d] ~Reentry-0.2h+

TSKelso T.S. Kelso
@TKennebeck Should be visible at least the distance from Seattle to SF. Just passed that distance from Hawaii, but I didn’t see it. 🙂

HarryTucker Harry Tucker
You know you’re a geek when you’re tracking the UARS satellite live as it returns to earth. #nasa #uars

Over Hawaii, heading for Canada.

UARS_Reentry UARS Reentry
#UARS approaching 128 km altitude above equator west of Kiribati in Pacific Ocean

UARS_Reentry UARS Reentry
#UARS Sat 24 Sep 2011 4:00UT orbit 87.09 mins 125.6 x 130.3km Position 14.0S,170.1W alt=127.1km Lit [0.05d] ~Reentry-0.1h+

UPDATE: Prob. less than 60 minutes to re-entry. Currently, UARS is over Aukland. Well, not any more but it was a second ago.

TSKelso T.S. Kelso
Next perigee @ 0530 UTC would put reentry north of New Zealand and east of New Guineau. Not much chance of seeing it there.

A significantly more precise estimate has been issued by CORDS regarding the re-entry of the UARS satellite.

The estimated time is 5:10 UTC, which is over an hour later than the last estimate. The error on this estimate is 2 hours either way.

This results in the following:


The blue and yellow line is the orbital track before and after estimated re-entry. The ticks along the line are five minute intervals.

There is a hash mark on the lower right part of the graphic with an orange circle around it. That is where the satellite will be at 5:10 UTC. The blue line runs up to that point, the yellow line follows it.

Think of the hash mark at 5:10 as the estimated time, and the blue and yellow lines being the before and after two hour long error estimate. So yes, this thing could come down anywhere along this set of orbital tracks.

I think the eastern most yellow line coming from the messy bit where the orange circle is shows the track if the satellite comes down late. People in southeastern Australia, it would seem, have a good chance of a show. It will be daylight there.

North America, Africa, and Australia as well as countless island nations and such are in the track. Europe, Asia, and Central and South America are off the hook. A reasonable guess would be southern or southeastern Africa, Australia, or maybe Canada for most likely land masses, but most likely somewhere in the ocean.

The winners of NCSE’s bumper sticker contest

NCSE headquarters was flooded with almost 550 entries from almost 150 people, including sixty entries from a single indefatigable sloganeer. After days of statistical analysis and rigorous peer-review, we are pleased to congratulate the winners — David Cone, Tom Griffiths, Michael Keller, Tania Lombrozo, Jerry Newton, Bill Pogson, S. Michael Smith, Drew Weller, and a few who preferred not to be identified — who received such fabulous prizes as a Charles Darwin bobblehead from Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Department of Zoology, a DVD of Greta Schiller’s documentary No Dinosaurs in Heaven, and NCSE’s famous “my ancestors” t-shirt, suitable for all occasions. Thanks to all who participated in the contest.

What do the sticker say? They’re not gonna tell us yet! The final stages of the design process are underway. Stay Tuned.

UPDATE: UARS delays impact slightly, all bets off on location.

Newer update from NASA: Update #11
Fri, 23 Sep 2011 23:30:46 GMT

As of 7 p.m. EDT on Sept. 23, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 90 miles by 95 miles (145 km by 150 km). Re-entry is expected between 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, and 3 a.m., Sept. 24, Eastern Daylight Time (3 a.m. to 7 a.m. GMT). During that time period, the satellite will be passing over Canada, Africa and Australia, as well as vast areas of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. The risk to public safety is very remote.


The Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies now says that the entry time is 4:04AM 23 September UTC (11:04 PM Central, US time). This is a VERY ROUGH estimate.

The location of reentry is the middle of the Pacific Ocean if the estimate is dead on, pretty near the Equator, with a northeasterly trajectory. If the estimate undershoots the time and the satellite comes in a bit later (minutes, up to a hour or so), the main landmass in the way is Canada, somewhere between the NW Coast and Hudson’s Bay, then the rest of Canada over the Maritimes, then traversing the North Atlantic to the southwest then over West Africa. If it comes in early, that orbit tracks between Australia and NZ, and across the Pacific.

Given the worst case scenario of the estimate being off by a couple/few hours, the major land masses that could be affected are: Canada, West Africa, Southwest Africa from Angola to South Africa (Namibia and western Botswana included) West-central Australia and the southern and northern coasts, eastern New Guinea, Europe, the United States and Mexico. One bit of the track takes it right down the Red Sea so a tiny bit of West Asia is under a possible de-orbiting location.

99.999 percent of Asia, Central America and South America may be off the hook. Unless, of course, the estimate is way off.

Oh, and the “reentry” location is where the satellite starts to become visible as one or more flaming meteor-like things. The land impact location would be down-stream from that, of course.

Update #10
Fri, 23 Sep 2011 09:45:08 AM CDT

As of 10:30 a.m. EDT on Sept. 23, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 100 miles by 105 miles (160 km by 170 km). Re-entry is expected late Friday, Sept. 23, or early Saturday, Sept. 24, Eastern Daylight Time. Solar activity is no longer the major factor in the satellite’s rate of descent. The satellite’s orientation or configuration apparently has changed, and that is now slowing its descent. There is a low probability any debris that survives re-entry will land in the United States, but the possibility cannot be discounted because of this changing rate of descent. It is still too early to predict the time and location of re-entry with any certainty, but predictions will become more refined in the next 12 to 18 hours.

Bachmann at the Debate

With each iteration of campaigning and debating, Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann melts down a little more, and in last nights debate, she hardly figured.

But there was a little bit of action:

Aside from the Perry-Romney duel, there was the unfinished business from the last debate of Rep. Michele Bachmann and the HPV vaccine. Baier asked the Minnesota congresswoman the inevitable question: did she still stand by her comment that a woman who approached her after the last debate had told her a daughter became “mentally retarded” after getting the HPV vaccine?

Further, did she stand by her comment that the vaccine was dangerous even after medical authorities uniformly refuted her claim and called the congresswoman perilous to public health?

Bachmann said don’t shoot the messenger, then quickly pivoted to an attack on Perry’s 2006 executive order that required 12-year old girls in Texas to receive the vaccine.

REP. BACHMANN: Well, first, I didn’t make that claim, nor did I make that statement. Immediately after the debate, a mother came up to me, and she was visibly shaken and heartbroken because of what her daughter had gone through, and so I only related what her story was.

But here’s the real issue. Governor Perry mandated a health care decision on all 12-year-old little girls in the state of Texas…

Perry defended himself by saying he had been lobbied on the issue by a 41-year old woman who had cervical cancer. According to reports, however, he met with the woman after he signed the executive order.

So, apparently, none of them care much about honest or accuracy.

I predict that she’ll withdraw from the race within 14 days, though I really want her to stay in.

Attenborough Speaks Out Against Creationism

Sir David Attenborough:

“Evolution is an extremely powerful idea that lies at the heart of biology. At the same time, it’s a sufficiently simple concept that there’s no good reason why it should be left out of the primary curriculum. If creationism is discussed, it should be made clear to pupils that it is not accepted by the scientific community.”

Details here.

Don’t forget about Sir David’s new project.

UARS Update

Here’s the latest from NASA. Look for an update fairly soon. Or a loud noise, perhaps!

Update #9
Thu, 22 Sep 2011 09:01:35 PM CDT

As of 9:30 p.m. EDT Sept. 22, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 110 mi by 115 mi (175 km by 185 km). Re-entry is possible sometime during the afternoon or early evening of Sept. 23, Eastern Daylight Time. The satellite will not be passing over North America during that time period. It is still too early to predict the time and location of re-entry with any

Killer spared from death hours before execution

Samuel David Crow “killed store manager Joseph Pala during a robbery at the lumber company in Douglas County, west of Atlanta. Crowe, who had previously worked at the store, shot Pala three times with a pistol, beat him with a crowbar and a pot of paint.”

There seems to be no doubt about his guilt or about the severity of his crime. Crowe pled guilty. In May, 2008, he was about to be strapped in and given a lethal injection. But the parole board gave him a break, commuting his sentence to life in prison.

Why did he get off? “….. his lawyers presented a dossier of evidence attesting to his remorse and good behavior in jail … The lawyers also said he was suffering from withdrawal symptoms from a cocaine addiction at the time of the crime.” Poor baby.

I’m thinking his being a white guy helped, what do you think? Maybe not. Who knows. Just sayin’