Author Archives: Andrea

USA 224

NPR: Amateurs Identify U.S. Spy Satellite Behind President Trump’s Tweet.

“Amateur satellite trackers say they believe an image tweeted by President Trump on Friday came from one of America’s most advanced spy satellites.

The image almost certainly came from a satellite known as USA 224, according to Marco Langbroek, a satellite-tracker based in the Netherlands. The satellite was launched by the National Reconnaissance Office in 2011. Almost everything about it remains highly classified, but Langbroek says that based on its size and orbit, most observers believe USA 224 is one of America’s multibillion-dollar KH-11 reconnaissance satellites.
Melissa Hanham, a satellite imagery expert and deputy director of the Open Nuclear Network in Vienna, Austria […] says she is amazed a satellite can provide such clear imagery. Spy satellites must peer down through Earth’s atmosphere, which is a bit like trying to look at objects in the bottom of a swimming pool. They also must snap their pictures while whizzing across the sky. Both effects can blur the fine details in images.

“I’m now scratching my head and curious about how they account for the effects of the atmosphere and motion of the objects,” she says.

And she says she thinks she’s not alone. Others will be trying to use the image to learn more about how USA 224 works. “I imagine adversaries are going to take a look at this image and reverse-engineer it to figure out how the sensor itself works and what kind of post-production techniques they’re using,” she says.

Hanham questions whether Trump’s tweet zinging the Iranians was worth the information this image provides to other nations, but she adds: “It’s his decision as the president.””

Uranium from a footnote in the history books

NPR Science: Have You Seen Any Nazi Uranium? These Researchers Want To Know.

“Timothy Koeth’s office is crammed with radioactive relics — old watches with glowing radium dials, pieces of melted glass from beneath the test of the world’s first nuclear weapon.

But there is one artifact that stands apart from the rest: a dense, charcoal-black cube, 2 inches on a side. The cube is made of pure uranium metal. It was forged more than 70 years ago by the Nazis, and it tells the little-known story of Germany’s nuclear efforts during World War II.”

See also:

Physics Today: Tracking the journey of a uranium cube. (01 May, 2019)

“In the summer of 2013, a cube of uranium two inches on a side and weighing about five pounds found its way to us at the University of Maryland. If the sudden appearance of the unusual metal cube wasn’t intriguing enough, it came with a note that read, “Taken from the reactor that Hitler tried to build. Gift of Ninninger.””

Ye olde weblogge

Ask MetaFilter: Any old-school bloggers still posting? User y6y6y6 is “looking for folks blogging pre-2002 that are still going”. Update: You can find all the weblogs in this list.

Obviously, I’m still blogging, but so are many other people. Re-found some old favorites in the comments of this thread, especially some whose feeds stopped updating in my very old version of Netnewswire (3.2.15, in case you were wondering.)

Speaking of which, Netnewswire 5.0 is now available! It’s open source and free, and it requires MacOS 10.14.4 or newer. (Which means I will have to update my operating system.) An iOS version is also on the way.

Schwedens Sonneninsel

WDR Reisen: Gotland – Die Urlaubsinsel der Schweden. (YouTube, 1,5h)

“Einst ritt sie mit ihrem Pferd “Kleiner Onkel” durch das Stadttor von Visby: Pippi Langstrumpf alias Inger Nilsson. Für Wunderschön kam sie wieder nach Gotland, wo sie für die berühmten Filme vor rund 50 Jahren vor der Kamera stand. Die Lieblingsferieninsel der Schweden ist die sonnenreichste Region des Landes und bietet traumhafte Strände. Andrea Grießmann lernt “Wikinger-Schach”, besucht eine Schafzüchterin, schwimmt in der Blauen Lagune, einem ehemaligen Kalksteinbruch, und wandelt auf den Spuren des großen Filmemachers Ingmar Bergman auf Gotlands Nachbarinsel Fårö.”

Nähere Informationen kann man in der Beschreibung der Sendung nachlesen.

Im Film wird ein Saffranspannkaka serviert – muss ich auch mal backen.

Dr. h. c. AstroAlex

KIT: Ein Blick ins All: Alexander Gerst begeistert am KIT. (YouTube, 1:53h)

“Wie sieht ein Gewitter über den Wolken aus, wie verändert sich der Körper in der Schwerelosigkeit und was kann Forschung an Bord der ISS zur Behandlung irdischer Krankheiten beitragen? Antworten auf Fragen wie diese fand ESA-Astronaut Alexander Gerst bei den beiden Missionen, die ihn 2014 und 2018 auf die Internationale Raumstation ISS führten. Seine wissenschaftlichen Wurzeln liegen auch in Karlsruhe: 2003 erhielt er sein Diplom in Geophysik an der Universität Karlsruhe, dem heutigen Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT). Die KIT-Fakultäten für Physik und für Bauingenieur-, Geo- und Umweltwissenschaften verliehen ihm nun die Ehrendoktorwürde. Die feierliche Übergabe der Urkunde und ein Vortrag im vollbesetzten Audimax führten den deutschen ESA-Astronauten am 12. Juli 2019 wieder an seine frühere Universität.”