Daily Archives: December 6, 2013

Views from the Solar System (177)


Forty Years Ago, Pioneer 10‘s Closest Approach to Jupiter

nasa – On Dec. 4, 1973, NASA’s Pioneer 10 spacecraft sent back images of Jupiter of ever-increasing size. The most dramatic moment was after closest approach and after the spacecraft was hidden behind Jupiter. Here, images gradually build up into a very distorted crescent-shaped Jupiter. “Sunrise on Jupiter,” a team member said. The giant planet crescent gradually decreased in size as the spacecraft sped away out of the Jovian system.

Launched on Mar. 2, 1972, Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to travel through the asteroid belt, and the first spacecraft to make direct observations and obtain close-up images of Jupiter. Pioneer 10 passed within 81,000 miles of the cloudtops during its closest encounter with Jupiter. This historic event marked humans’ first approach to Jupiter and opened the way for exploration of the outer solar system – for Voyager to tour the outer planets, for Ulysses to break out of the ecliptic, for Galileo to investigate Jupiter and its satellites, and for Cassini to go to Saturn and probe Titan. During its Jupiter encounter, Pioneer 10 imaged the planet and its moons, and took measurements of Jupiter’s magnetosphere, radiation belts, magnetic field, atmosphere, and interior. These measurements of the intense radiation environment near Jupiter were crucial in designing the Voyager and Galileo spacecraft.

Black Friday and the Race to the Bottom

By George Packer – Although a hundred and forty-one million people bought things in stores or online, exceeding the 2012 figure by one per cent, they spent $1.7 billion less than they did last year. Why didn’t the new, extended Black Friday weekend achieve the desired results in consumer dollars?

One obvious solution is to pay them more€”more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, more than the eight dollars an hour that a Walmart employee makes in base pay. Henry Ford paid his assembly-line workers five dollars a day, enough to buy a Ford car. Target could pay its “associates” enough to buy a sixty-inch flat-screen TV at Target. more> http://tinyurl.com/kcbu95t

Is BlackRock too big to fail?

By Sheila Bair – People love to beat up on the big banks (and I do my fair share), but believe it or not, they were not the root of all evil in 2008. Asset managers and insurance companies also created significant problems. As you will recall, taxpayers had to risk trillions in government support to bailout both the American Insurance Group, a.k.a. AIG (AIG), as well as the money market/mutual fund industry. What’s more, it is important to understand that when we bailed out the banks, we also bailed out these nonbank institutions, as some were heavily invested in bank debt or were standing on the other side of bank derivatives trades. Without the bank bailouts, these nonbanks could have taken big losses. more> https://goo.gl/vxfBGM

Updates from SIEMENS

Siemens honors 12 inventors with over 500 individual patents

SIEMENS – The recognized Siemens researchers are associated with a total of approximately 600 invention disclosures and more than 500 individual patents granted. The 12 inventors of the year work in Germany (Berlin, Duisburg, Erlangen, Mülheim, Munich, Nuremberg), the USA, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. Thanks to their patents, products have emerged with which industrial production and medical diagnostics can be improved, or which can contribute to the stabilization of power grids. Siemens has been presenting the award for “Inventor of the Year” annually since 1995 to outstanding in-house researchers and developers whose inventions contribute significantly to the company’s success.

Dr. Stephan Biber – Better MRI images generated more rapidly
The technology of magnetic resonance imaging is steadily improving. Dr. Stephan Biber from Erlangen also has his share in this: His inventions shorten the recording time while helping to improve image quality.

Dr. Ralf Bode – New Material for Underwater Compressor
Because the gas compressor STC-ECO does not need repair-prone seals, a lubricating oil system, or a gear unit, it can also be used for gas production from the seabed. Inventor Dr. Ralf Bode from Duisburg developed the material for the can which separates the copper windings of the motor from the gas mixture.

Dr. Alexander Fleischanderl – Sustainable Steel Production
Methods for making steelmaking greener are the professional focus of Dr. Alexander Fleischanderl. His inventions include a process which reduces harmful emissions from sintering, one of the most important iron carriers in the blast furnace process, by more than 90 percent. The inventor works in Linz, Austria.

Dr. Ren̩ Graf РBetter Performance, Less Energy Consumption
Computers with multiple cores are also on the rise in industry. Unlike for PCs, however, time-critical program subroutines have to be precisely executed here. Dr. René Graf has developed a program that acts like a lock keeper, allocating program subroutines to the cores. In this way, the lower energy consumption of multi-core computers can also be taken advantage of in automation. The inventor works in Nuremberg.

Matthias Kereit – Preventing blackouts
Preventing power failures – that is the purpose of the inventions of Matthias Kereit. He developed programs for protection devices that monitor high-voltage power lines. The programs allow the protective devices to switch off lines in case of dangerous short circuits. The inventor works in Berlin.

Dr. Stefan Lampenscherf – Heat Protection for Turbine Blades
An important factor in improving the efficiency of gas turbines is the coating of turbine blades. They are exposed to extreme conditions such as high temperatures, enormous centrifugal forces due to rotation, and great flow velocities. In order to prevent the metallic base material from which the blades were cast from being damaged at combustion temperatures above the melting point, they are protected with a ceramic layer. Dr. Stefan Lampenscherf has developed a number of measurement methods and models that allow accurate predictions about the durability of thermal barrier coatings. The inventor works at Siemens Corporate Technology in Munich.

Robert Nelson – Grid Frequency Reinforced by Wind Turbines
Keeping the frequency of the power grid stable and avoiding blackouts is one of the major technical challenges when electricity from solar and wind power plants is also fed into the grid. Robert Nelson of Siemens Wind Power in Orlando has developed a program that supports the frequency of small, isolated power grids with additional energy from wind turbines in the event of a crisis.

Dr. Michael Ott – High-tech Repairs of Turbine Blades
With a new method of laser welding, Dr. Michael Ott from Mülheim an der Ruhr has developed a method used for the repair of gas turbine blades. Each of the several hundred blades is approximately equal in value to a small car, so reconditioning and reuse make a great deal of sense economically.

Dr. Elena Reggio – Optimally utilizing Machines
Dr. Elena Reggio has taken up the cause of making production management systems easier to operate. She has developed a program with which production planning is optimized. The user only needs to enter the basic data: The program then controls production so that all machines and systems are optimally utilized. The inventor works in Genoa, Italy.

Anton Reichlin – A New Era in Interlocking Technology
Communication between the signal box and track ensures safety in train operation. Anton Reichlin has developed a new network technology called Sinet and a new energy supply system called Sigrid. Sinet replaces the existing point-to-point connections between signals and the signal box with a ring-shaped communication network. It is more reliable and economical than the cables, which are expensive to install. Sinet is now in trial operation in Switzerland. The inventor works in Wallisellen in Switzerland.

Dr. Alexander Hans Vija – Efficiently Illustrating Metabolism
Reducing the radiation dose in SPECT analyses and the duration of the diagnosis by a quarter – Siemens researcher Dr. Alexander Hans Vija and his team have succeeded in doing this. Thanks to their new software, metabolic processes in humans can now be studied more efficiently.

Chris Zimmerle – Small Strip, Big Opportunities
Chris Zimmerle, scientist at Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics in Elkhart, Indiana, has been able to increase the reliability of urine test strips. His invention, an ID band attached to the strip, helps to recognize test strips damaged by moisture so that false-positive results can be avoided.™¦


Blackstone Made Money on Credit-Default Swaps With This One Weird Trick

By Matt Levine – “The Daily Show” is perhaps a bit harsh. Codere is a small company in a faraway land. This trade, while lovely, was smallish; Blackstone made something like 11 million to 14 million euros on its CDS payout. No widows or orphans were harmed: The only losers here were the people who wrote CDS to Blackstone. Those people were presumably sophisticated, well-informed traders at big banks, and if they are honest with themselves, their reaction to losing on this trade is envy and admiration and possibly tweaking future CDS documentation. more> http://tinyurl.com/lgyabk5