Monthly Archives: April 2013

Views from the Solar System (123)


The Rose
NASA – The spinning vortex of Saturn’s north polar storm resembles a deep red rose of giant proportions surrounded by green foliage in this false-color image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Measurements have sized the eye at a staggering 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) across with cloud speeds as fast as 330 miles per hour (150 meters per second).

This image is among the first sunlit views of Saturn’s north pole captured by Cassini’s imaging cameras. When the spacecraft arrived in the Saturnian system in 2004, it was northern winter and the north pole was in darkness. Saturn’s north pole was last imaged under sunlight by NASA’s Voyager 2 in 1981; however, the observation geometry did not allow for detailed views of the poles. Consequently, it is not known how long this newly discovered north-polar hurricane has been active.

The images were taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Nov. 27, 2012, using a combination of spectral filters sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light. The images filtered at 890 nanometers are projected as blue. The images filtered at 728 nanometers are projected as green, and images filtered at 752 nanometers are projected as red. In this scheme, red indicates low clouds and green indicates high ones.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 261,000 miles (419,000 kilometers) from Saturn and at a sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 94 degrees. Image scale is 1 mile (2 kilometers) per pixel. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit: and The Cassini imaging team homepage is at

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

Why companies using the cloud are so happy

By David Linthicum – As reported by my friend and Forbes writer Joe McKendrick, “A new survey finds that roughly one out of four organizations are heavily into cloud computing, and they are providing lessons from which everyone else can benefit.” The lessons come from having two or three years of real experience, enough time to see the real benefits and issues.

Keep in mind the study is sponsored by RightScale, a cloud vendor, and it was done in a way to discover the positive, not the negative. It’s as if Dunkin’ Donuts sponsored a study on breakfast foods. You wouldn’t expect to find results related to obesity or diabetes. more>

Top 10 Programming Skills That Will Get You Hired

Network World – As a developer you know that working in the same code day-in-and-day-out can get a little stale, to say the least. Adding new programming skills to your IT toolbox is essential in the struggle to stay relevant in the fast-paced tech world, but knowing which technology to choose isn’t always obvious. Your time is limited and with the multitude of languages and environments picking the wrong area to focus your efforts can prove costly.

  • SQL
  • Java
  • HTML
  • JavaScript
  • C++
  • C#
  • XML
  • C
  • Perl
  • Python
  • PHP, Obj. C, AJAX, ASP.NET, Ruby


Virgin Galactic spaceship makes first powered flight

By Raquel Maria Dillon – A special twin-fuselage jet carrying SpaceShipTwo took off at about 7:00 a.m. PDT, spent 45 minutes climbing to an altitude of 48,000 feet and released the spaceship. Pilot Mark Stucky and co-pilot Mike Alsbury then triggered SpaceShipTwo’s rocket engine.

The engine burned for 16 seconds, propelling the spaceship to an altitude of 55,000 feet and a velocity of Mach 1.2, surpassing the speed of sound. SpaceShipTwo then glided to a safe landing at Mojave Air and Space Port in the desert north of Los Angeles, said George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic’s CEO.

“Having spaceship and rocket perform together in the air is a long way toward getting into space,” said Sir Richard Branson, who watched from the ground. “A few more test flights with slightly bigger burns every time, and then we’ll all be back here to watch it go into space.” more>


Verizon Deal With Vodafone Could Be Worth More Than $130B, Would Create Largest U.S. Carrier

By Agustino Fontevecchia – a deal could come at a price of between $130 and $137 billion, and would create the largest U.S. phone operator, leaving AT&T T +0.13% behind.  To go ahead with the transaction, not only will Verizon’s chief executive Lowell McAdam have to convince his British counterparts at Vodafone to sell for less than they want to, but he will also have to raise a lot of cash, issuing possibly $120 billion in debt and stock.

Management on both side have begun the valuation fight. more>


Updates from Senator Chuck Grassley


Galactic Views (82)


Hubble Sees a Horsehead of a Different Color
NASA – Astronomers have used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to photograph the iconic Horsehead Nebula in a new, infrared light to mark the 23rd anniversary of the famous observatory’s launch aboard the space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990.

Looking like an apparition rising from whitecaps of interstellar foam, the iconic Horsehead Nebula has graced astronomy books ever since its discovery more than a century ago. The nebula is a favorite target for amateur and professional astronomers. It is shadowy in optical light. It appears transparent and ethereal when seen at infrared wavelengths. The rich tapestry of the Horsehead Nebula pops out against the backdrop of Milky Way stars and distant galaxies that easily are visible in infrared light.

Hubble has been producing ground-breaking science for two decades. During that time, it has benefited from a slew of upgrades from space shuttle missions, including the 2009 addition of a new imaging workhorse, the high-resolution Wide Field Camera 3 that took the new portrait of the Horsehead. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team

Even After the Lies of Boston, Twitter Probably Won’t Build an Edit Button

By Rebecca Greenfield – The two most damning falsehoods of the Boston frenzy–the unapologetic New York Post cover and the misbegotten outing of a 22-year-old missing Brown student–left many real-time enablers regretful, including many powerful Twitter users.

Just think of all the places a tweet will go: Your feed, your followers’ feeds, then–if it’s retweeted–to their followers feeds. And then there are all the apps and clients that serve all these functions on top of that. Going through each feed and inbox to change that data attached to each message would be a “dicey prospect,” says Evan Prodromou, founder of Status.Net, an opensourced social service. more>


German role in steering euro crisis could lead to disaster, warns expert

By Ian Traynor – Jürgen Habermas, the Frankfurt professor whose political thinking has helped shape Germany over the past 50 years, called for the EU to be turned into a supranational democracy and the eurozone to become a fully fledged political union, while lambasting the “technocratic” handling of the crisis by Brussels and European leaders.

“The German government holds the key to the fate of the European Union in its hands. The main question is whether Germany is not only in a position to take the initiative, but also whether it could have an interest in doing so,” he said. more>

The Right Touch for Control

R&D – When not properly controlled or monitored, a scientific instrument is of little practical use. High-accuracy electrical signal test equipment such as oscilloscopes, voltage testers, and data acquisition sets require a high degree of control of multiple parameters simultaneously.

Today, there are new technologies: large touchscreens; organic light-emitting diode displays; Bluetooth-enabled laboratory equipment; and compact, low-power radio transmitters. Driven by demand in the consumer electronics marketplace, these technologies are finding their way into laboratory equipment and examples abound. more>