You couldn't be here if stars hadn't exploded.

To the dumb question, “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply, “Why not?”

19 April, 2014

Grand mal seizure

Flew some kids on April 5th, these will be my 301st through 304th Young Eagles officially.  I am hoping they are not my last.

On April 10th I experienced a grand mal seizure strong enough to fracture my left shoulder and stress the crap out of my back.

Thanks to everyone. Standing up to the face of what life throws us is what makes us human. I'm proud of being part of this bunch.
A good friend and coworker suffered a seizure today at work. It was both a horrifying and amazing event. The seizure itself was horrific to witness, understandable, but traumatizing to some. The response of our team of coworkers was astounding. People clearing the room, people dialing 911, people running to various doors to await the emergency response, people holding the elevator, people holding doors.... There is NO WAY the medical responders were going to have any doubt where to go. Yes it stressed people out, but they did well. A true team  I'm proud of them all.

I visited him in the ER tonight, and he is doing well. The MRI showed no sign of a stroke or tumor. He's loaded on morphine at the moment and seems, well, drugged. lol Lucky him. After this I may need some.
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  • Vicky George Love this report, and love how people act in crisis like this. I don't know why but it always makes me really emtional to see how KIND people are when circumstances liberate them to be so.
  • Chuck Thurston We were in the middle of a nationwide VTC at the time, so we thought about rolling Tom under the table to keep the meeting going, but the swearing he was doing would have disrupted the meeting anyway.

  • Mary Jane Pace Owen Thank goodness for all the wonderful people who helped my dear cousin.
  • Catherine Chappuis McMahon Thank you all for the fantastic response you provided when my nephew needed you. We are so very grateful!!! I know he would have done the same for you as well.
  • Melanie Moreno Stuart What a beautiful message Chuck! I second that, it was difficult yet amazing to see how everyone worked together to help Tom. And yes Tom has quite the potty mouth! 
  • Austin Wright Tom, I feared the worse during that VTC and am glad that it wasn't a stroke or worse. Sorry that you had such a rough time, seizure and broken shoulder. Hope you can get some good rest and get your health back quickly - but for your sake I hope you don't return to work too soon! Thanks for all your hard work on our program.

24 January, 2014

Now I've seen it both ways

I've seen the sun both ways now.  Still above the horizon at midnight and now below the horizon at noon.  In 1979 my friends and I went to northern Norway in July and in Bodo stayed up to midnight to watch the sun not set from the top of a hill.  Today I am sitting in a Boeing 747 over the middle of Greenland at 34,000 feet, the local time is a little after noon and the sun is below the horizon. Awesome when I realized what I was seeing. Airline crews on polar flights see this all the time, but I wonder how many passengers do, realizing what they are seeing.  My row mates appreciated it when I pointed it out. Explainable given they are young Europeans with an effective educational system.

Also saw Greenland glaciers and land mass along with ice floes and cracks in the ice since the weather was clear. Another new sight to me.  

02 January, 2014

Very Basic Astronomy

This is harder than I thought… trying to find a very basic astronomy video or web site.  Easier to just write it out.  And trying to not be condescending.

With the exception of eight things, every light in the sky you can see with just your eyes is a star.  Including the sun.
1. Planet Mercury (hard to see unless you know where and when to look)
2. Planet Venus
3. Our Moon
4. Planet Mars
5. Planet Jupiter
6. Planet Saturn
7. An occasional comet or meteor
8. Airplanes/Satellites/Space Station/Shuttles (man made stuff in the sky)

The sun is a star.  It is our star.  It is really really close to us, compared to any other star you can see which is the only reason it looks different.
Other stars all seem to have planets in orbit around them, but we, with our eyes cannot see any of them.

The order of things is: Earth is a planet in orbit around the Sun.  The Sun is a star in orbit around the center of the galaxy.  Our galaxy is one of billions in the universe.

Our sun is an average star, born from dust and gasses that coalesced about 4 billion years ago into our solar system, destined to burn out and explode in another 4 billion years.  All of the elements in our solar system heavier than Helium were created in the fires and deaths of previous stars in the previous 10 billion years. The carbon in your right hand was probably not created in the same star that created the carbon in your left hand.

The stars we see with our eyes in the sky are all in our galaxy, a fat disk of billions of stars, 100,000 light years across, with a massive black hole in the center.   We are about 2/3s of the way from the center to the edge so there are stars from our galaxy all around us.  Looking towards the center of our galaxy is what the Milky Way is, looking towards where most of our galaxy’s stars are from our point of view.  If a model of our galaxy was made 100 yards across, our entire solar system, including Pluto's orbit, would be smaller than a grain of sand at that scale.   The light from most of the stars at the center of our galaxy is blocked by clouds of dust and gasses, otherwise the Milky Way would be nearly as bright as the sun.  Infrared and x-ray telescopes can see through that dust and show us the structure at the center.
100,000 light years distance = 6 × 1017 miles = 600,000,000,000,000,000 miles.

There are billions of galaxies in the universe, each with billions of stars.  They are faint and impossible to see without a telescope with one exception, the Andromeda galaxy which can been seen from a dark location on a moonless night.  If you hold a dime at arm’s length against the darkest, emptiest, part of the sky, in that direction the Hubble space telescope saw thousands of galaxies.  Each of these are millions of light years from each other now.  The Universe is expanding, all of the galaxies are moving away from each other.  Someday, a future civilization in our galaxy will not be able to see the light from any other galaxies or of the background radiation from the Big Bang. They will not be able to derive the true history and structure of the universe.

We are far more insignificant than you have ever imagined.

01 January, 2014

Twitter thing again.