Profile cover photo
Profile photo
Greg Metcalfe
Nature-loving Oregonian security bot.
Nature-loving Oregonian security bot.
Communities and Collections
View all

Post has attachment
If I were to read one piece on the recent binary neutron start merger, it would be this one. A couple of caveats, though.

1) The authors are also authors on the papers. That's not a show-stopper for me, considering the pop-sci media circus this turned into.

2) At the top of the piece, what appear to be links to the papers are DOI numbers, not valid URLs I've just left a comment about that. It hasn't appeared yet, but perhaps it will be fixed. At least one looks to be behind a a paywall, but is not.

There's a link to the R-process article on Wikipedia (, which is a bit strange. But the color-coded Periodic Table there is appearing widely -- it's also in the ESO press conference slide deck. OTOH, as someone who originally learned that elements heavier than iron were created in supernovae (very outdated), it just makes me more appreciative of how far things have come in a single lifetime.

And how far we have yet to go: the piece mentions that we do not know what the product of this merger will be. It could be either be one of the most massive neutron stars ever observed, or the lightest black hole ever observed. Nor do we know by it was order of magnitude dimmer than other short gamma-ray bursters.

This Twit made it into the broader media, which is the only way I would ever have seen it, and I understood it. I am Doing Life Wrong.

Donald Trump: "I have the best words, Rocket Man."
Kim Jong-un: "Hold my covfefe, #dotard."
— Donald J. Trump (@BiglyPrez) September 22, 2017

OTOH, so is Helium.

Post has attachment
Here's a 360 degree video shot at mission control at JPL on the NASA YouTube channel. Pan around at one hour into it, at loss of signal. A lot of damp eyes.

Of course, YouTube being YouTube, the trolls and nuts are already there (and people feeding them), as well as the tax-dollar naysayers. Those last still rather surprise me -- the economics of NASA as a net win have been pretty well established for years. Assuming they weren't trolls as well, of course. That might be an unwarranted assumption, but in general the ill-informed outnumber the malicious.

Post has attachment
There will be end of mission coverage on NASA TV tomorrow morning, starting at 0400 PDT. I'm getting up early, even though we are actually very far from the end of what NASA and ESA have accomplished with the wildly successful Cassini-Huygens mission. It was worth spending a slightly-long lunch to put it up. I hope you enjoy it.

Post has attachment
An article on Politico titled "Why America Still Hasn’t Learned the Lessons of Katrina" is actually cause for hope. Thank you, ye who shall remain nameless, for sending me something that was actually political and non-dire. I wasn't sure it was possible.

Post has attachment
A couple of days ago I got a weird 'analysis' of Trump's approval polling at Gallup. From a former co-worker, who made some pretty fundamental mistakes. He also influences purchasing decisions when it's time to add disk, CPU, or networking capacity to security systems, where the same methodology would have bitten him on his compliance-required systems. Which is not a career-enhancing sort of thing to happen.

So this is about not using a mean-of-means when there's a cardinality issue, and you need weighted means, and not being able to easily judge whether arithmetic means are safe to use in rolling averages.

I was explaining it using Python, to a non-Python guy, and had a lot of trouble pasting from a Jupyter notebook into Blogger, trying to colorize code, etc. Blogger just doesn't seem to be at all happy unless you're editing directly in Blogger.

One way around that is to use a platform that renders notebooks directly. But I've seen too many examples of breakage in old notebooks, and the Python science stack is evolving rapidly, with funding from multiple sources. And I use a hybrid of system packages and pip installs. That way I can tell, in most cases, whether a package has to be upgraded because of a security vulnerability or not. Which matters because I'm experimenting with data pipelines which can involve untrusted sources.

So, a bit of a quandary. I hope I didn't miss other than minor formatting issues at
Mean-of-Means Under Unequal Cardinality

Post has attachment

Eclipse timing for Peoria, Oregon, but times alt/az will be close for Corvallis, Albany, Shedd, etc. I was just outside planning how I was going to lay out a white surface to try to photograph any shadow bands that might appear. Thought this might be of interest, so I did a quick cut-n-paste from a text file. Sorry about the formatting likely being trashed. Interested parties will be able to figure it out.

Or see for a possibly clean copy.

Touches down on the Oregon coast between Lincoln City and Newport at 10:15 a.m. PDT.
Following data from:
I added the PDT (-7 )times. This is for Peoria.
Lat.: 44.4[redacted]° N
Long.: 123.2[redacted]° W
Total Solar Eclipse
Duration of Totality: 1m11.4s
Magnitude: 1.003
Obscuration: 100.00%
Event Date Time (UT) PDT Alt Azi
Start of partial eclipse (C1) 2017/08/21 16:04:50. 09:04:50 6 27.6° 100.8°
Start of total eclipse (C2) : 2017/08/21 17:17:10. 10:17:10 3 39.9° 116.3°
Maximum eclipse : 2017/08/21 17:17:45. 10:17:45 9 40.0° 116.5°
End of total eclipse (C3) : 2017/08/21 17:18:21. 10:18:21 7 40.0° 116.6°
End of partial eclipse (C4) : 2017/08/21 18:37:29. 11:37:29 7 51.2° 139.5°

Post has attachment
I picked a bad week to be really busy. Back in February, I posted

I was looking for the last time we had had a 60° F or higher temperature, after an unusually cold and wet winter. While there may be some place on Earth where the weather early in the year offers predictive power for conditions 6 months later, that place is not western Oregon.

Records are going to fall all over the Northwest, not just the Willamette valley. Seattle may set a new all-time high, and Portland may get into the 105-110° range. See for details. Mass works in the UW Department of Atmospheric Sciences, and is more credible than most mass-media 'meteorologists', most of whom aren't actually meteorologists.

The hottest it's been at my place since I've lived here was 106°, on 2009-07-28. That was pretty miserable, and it seems likely to be hotter at some point this week.

Post has attachment
Wait while more posts are being loaded