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Comment Re:Stop promoting your own articles StartsWithABan (Score 1) 105

The adaptive optics system is quite something, if it's anything like the one at the LBT on Mt. Graham. They have been able to make diffraction-limited images with that one. When they turned it on for the first time, the results were so good that they thought it must have been an error. The downside is that it took about ten years to make the first adaptive secondary mirror and get it installed, as it's about 1m diameter and 1.6mm thick, with 600 magnets glued to its backside. A couple of them broke in transit before they figured out how to pack them properly. (I work in the same building as the GMT and the LBT folks.)

Comment Re:Physics puts enormous limits on using 30-300GHz (Score 4, Interesting) 33

I work in millimeter- and submillimeter-wave radio astronomy, where we receive signals in the 60 to 800 GHz range. There is a lot of water absorption of the signal, leaving only certain frequency bands usable. The semiconductors used at these frequencies are rather exotic - we use superconducting materials in our receivers for lower noise, and we cool them to 4 Kelvin. Making a power amplifier to produce even one Watt of signal at 75 GHz is a million-dollar project. In short, it's not likely to be mainstream for at least ten years.

Comment I was playing in a band (Score 1) 320

I was in a band called Warrren Frank's Current Name. We played in the Cellar, the U of Arizona Student Union hot spot, for the Eat To The Beat concert series that day. I heard the news on the radio of my 1959 Cadillac as I was driving the equipment over to the place at nine AM.
Naturally, our audience was all upstairs, watching events unfold in the big public TV set. It was all right, as the band was doomed anyways.

Comment Re:Putting it in orbit would solve all these probl (Score 1) 22

The cost of putting a ton of anything in space is higher than the cost of putting 1000 tons of that thing anywhere on Earth. The LBT cost a hundred million to build, while the Hubble was a couple billion. The LBT's mirrors have 24 times more surface area than Hubble. So how do you propose to put a 30 meter telescope in space?

Comment Re:I know where!! (Score 1) 143

Yes, I'm aware of all that. I'm also aware of the fact that nuclear waste is cumulative, and the more nuclear power we use, the more this will be a problem. I don't recall saying that coal was any better. Personally, I am in favor of not using so much energy. Not that I seem to be able to do it, when it's so cheap to buy.

Comment Re:I'm curious (Score 1) 97

Thanks for the information. I work on both of those telescopes in Arizona. The HHT has receivers covering 200 to 690 GHz. We just installed an ALMA prototype antenna on Kitt Peak, and have a grant to build a four-band receiver system for it that will cover 60 to 270 GHz. These are also used for VLBI interferometry, but that's another story.

Comment Re:I'm curious (Score 4, Informative) 97

I work on telescopes of the sort that were used to make these observations. In fact, I built the spectrometer that the cited author Stephanie Milam used to get her degrees in astronomy at Arizona. The spectrometer (these days) is a big FFT machine capable of resolving perhaps 1 GHz of bandwidth into 16,384 or so channels. The frequency received by the telescope is typically many GHz. The huge IRAM telescope works at lower frequencies than our smaller scopes in Arizona, which operate above 100 GHz. The spectral lines are first replicated in a vacuum chamber in a lab, to make sure that the spectral signature is thoroughly documented.

Comment Re:Ahmed's story doesn't hold up under scrutiny. (Score 1) 193

When I was a freshman in high school, I built an LED digital clock based on an app note in the back of the RCA COS/MOS data book, 1973 edition. It took a lot of wire wrapping, but I made it work. I mounted it in a nice wood-grained box from Radio Shack. It ran on batteries. I brought it to school one day, and got my electronics teacher to give me extra credit for it, and enjoyed showing it to kids on my 8 mile long school bus rides.

So I did about eighty times as much work as Ahmed did, and I STILL didn't invent anything.

Give the kid a break. At least he was doing something remotely original.

Comment Re:My view of this (Score 1) 662

As a fellow who built a wire-wrapped digital clock from a couple dozen CMOS chips when I was 15, I am keenly aware of the distinction. Yet it really has nothing to do with this story. I brought my clock to school also, but I didn't get in trouble for it. It had no alarm; it was in a metal box; I was white; it was 1976. Many differences. I think all of them are factors.

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