Astronomy: October 2013 Archives

Dark Matter Experiment Has Detected Nothing, Researchers Say Proudly, NY Times

"LUX is the latest in a long series of ever-larger experiments that have occupied and taunted the world's physicists over the last few years. They are all in abandoned mines or other underground places to shield them from cosmic rays, which could cause false alarms. ... Larger instruments are already on the drawing boards of LUX and other collaborations, but physicists say the experiments are already sensitive enough to test some versions of dark matter that have been proposed, including the idea that dark particles interact with ordinary matter by exchanging the recently discovered Higgs boson. Dr. Weiner said he held his breath every time new results from a dark matter experiment were released."

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer - 02 (AMS-02) Fact Sheet

"The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer - 02 (AMS-02) is a state-of-the-art particle physics detector constructed, tested and operated by an international team. The AMS-02 uses the unique environment of space to advance knowledge of the universe and lead to the understanding of the universe's origin by searching for antimatter, dark matter and measuring cosmic rays."

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, WIkipedia

"In 1999, after the successful flight of AMS-01, the total cost of the AMS program was estimated to be $33 million, with AMS-02 planned for flight to the ISS in 2003. After the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, and after a number of technical difficulties with the construction of AMS-02, the cost of the program ballooned to an estimated $1.5 billion."

Keith's note: $1.5 billion for a Dark Energy detector and ... no one seems to talk about it when future dark matter detection instruments are discussed? AMS is not "underground" as the New York Times' reporter claims all dark matter instruments are. AMS has been in the news with results - but mainstream media seems to not see it as being on a par with Earth-based dark matter gizmos. NASA PAO is not doing a very good job, so it would seem. Or maybe the New York Times is being lazy (it has happened before).

US scientists boycott Nasa conference over China ban, Guardian

"Nasa officials rejected applications from Chinese nationals who hoped to attend the meeting at the agency's Ames research centre in California next month citing a law, passed in March, which prohibits anyone from China setting foot in a Nasa building. The law is part of a broad and aggressive move initiated by congressman Frank Wolf, chair of the House appropriations committee, which has jurisdiction over Nasa. It aims to restrict the foreign nationals' access to Nasa facilities, ostensibly to counter espionage."

Keith's note: Some of the scientists who are quoted in this article with complaints about NASA have apparently been living under a rock for the past several years. Newsflash: It is utterly illegal for NASA to allow Chinese participation - in any way. Complaining about NASA's decision is simply ill-informed. Where were all these people when this law was being formulated - or when hearings were held on it? Dumping on NASA or boycotting this meeting is pointless - only Kepler will suffer. If a change in the law is what is needed then these people need to talk to Congress about that - starting with Rep Wolf.

Check H.R. 1473 (112th): Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011, Sec. 1340. (a) to see the sort of prohibitive language has been in place for several years. NASA's hands are tied.

- Second Kepler Science Conference - Nov. 4-8, 2013, NASA Ames
- Previous China postings

Keith's note: As NRAO lays everyone off and starts to go dark, it posted this really nice promotional video for the VLA narrated by Ellie Arroway aka Jodie Foster.

If you go to NRAO you get a shutdown notice: "Effective 7 p.m. EDT, Friday, 4 October 2013, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) temporarily suspended all operations because of the US Federal government shutdown."

US Antarctic research season is in jeopardy, Nature

"The National Science Foundation (NSF) is likely to cancel the US Antarctic programme's upcoming field season if the US government shutdown persists through mid-October -- jeopardizing hundreds of scientists' work in glaciology, ecology and astrophysics. The agency has kept its three Antarctic research stations open during the initial days of the shutdown, which began on 1 October, under rules designed to protect human lives and US government property. But Lockheed Martin, the contractor that runs the NSF's Antarctic operations, has told researchers that it will run out of money by mid-October."

Government Shutdown Mars Arecibo Anniversary, Space News

"Operations of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico are continuing for the moment despite the shutdown, observatory director Robert Kerr said at an Oct. 2 press conference here. He said the National Science Foundation, Arecibo's principal funder, authorized the observatory to spend what remaining funds it has on hand, although because the shutdown occurred at the beginning of the new fiscal year, there are few such funds available."

From B612 Foundation: "Since the government got shut down and NASA canceled the remainder of the asteroid workshop in Houston today and tomorrow, B612 decided to just go ahead and sponsor the meeting ourselves so the participants can still meet. Here is what we sent to the participants this morning:

Dear Asteroid Initiative Ideas Synthesis Workshop Attendees: To keep the asteroid initiative conversation moving forward, B612 is hosting an Asteroid Un Conference today Hilton Hotel @ NASA on 3000 Parkway from 2:30 pm to 6pm. Coffee and healthy snacks will be provided and other items can be purchased on your own dime. You can learn more about the unconference format here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unconference. Essentially discussions in small groups will be created by whatever the participants would like to propose, i.e. one big networking session."


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