Saturday, October 31, 2009

Aussie Round Up


For those of you reading this blog on a Laptop via wireless technology, will be interested to know that you would not have been able to do so if it wasn't for astrophysicists looking for the fingerprints of string theory in the aftermath of the big bang......ah sorry that was an episode of "Big Bang Theory". 1974 Stephen Hawking suggested that exploding mini black holes could possibly be detected by radio astronomers, so the team at CSIRO (Australian Commonwealth Science and Industry Research Organization) set about researching this over the ensuing years.

Like all good science if you ask enough questions you can end up in an entirely different place. This week Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd awarded the national science prize to Dr John O'Sullivan.

In 1992 John O'Sullivan's team developed a patent that today is the heart of the wireless protocol that ensures that the signals and channels can be separated so that more than one user can use a wireless link. [Check out the interview from Sky News.]

Sky News Interview

The significance of this event is that the Patent was upheld this week and $200M of "Licence Fees" were collected from some of the biggest technology companies, and will be secured for future use of the CSIRO to fund future research.

O'Sullivan stumbled across the discovery by attempting to remove interference so that multiple frequencies could be monitored at the same time, improving the efficiency of their research.

Well done John, congratulations, to you and all the team at the Australian National Telescope. Looks like we can look forward to further great discoveries from the CSIRO.


The Australian Amateur Astronomers online community "Ice In Space" has just returned from their annual "star party" camping trip. It appears they enjoyed some great weather this year and many great astrophotographs are being processed. This impressive project from one of the founders Mike Salway is quite stunning. Mike is famous/instantly recognizable for blending some terrestrial elements into his photos.

Ice In Space has over 6000 members and has made a strong contribution to Amateur Astronomy, recent contributions from its members include the discovery of Jupiter Impact and the outburst of VX For.

Their first ever publication a stunning coffee table book - 2009 IYA Compendium will be released next week - featuring 80 Stunning photographs and mini bios on the members. I leave you with my modest contribution the Swan Nebula.

Bolide Week
Every since I was a kid I have been fascinated various Meteor showers. Over the years I have often pondered reports of bright bolides in October and these past two years have been no exception. Whilst the Orion meteor shower peaks on October 20/21, there have been some notable recent bolides in early october. The Piscid and Draconid showers occur around this time.

Last year on Oct 7, 2008 TC3, the first ever asteroid detected before it hit the earth, slammed into the Sudan with the flash being detected on carpark security cameras as far away as Egypt. This year on Oct 6 a similar sized object exploded in the upper atmosphere over Indonesia (Australia's nearest neighbor). Nicolas Wethington covered this extensively in Universe Today. It is either an interesting co-incidence or an aspect requiring further research that some of the brightest bolides seem to occur in the early October. Perhaps the most famous the Peekskill meteor seen by an entire football stadium of people.

2008 TC3 October 6th

Indonesia 2009 October 8th

Peekskill 1992 October 9th

Statisticslly over thousands of years there would be one at least one bolide every calendar night. So it remains an interesting aspect worthy of further research whether these Bolides are part of Piscids or Draconids shower or random small solo asteroids.

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