Monday, November 22, 2010

Old Photos from the 1959 "Deep Freeze" Antarctic expedition

From Huffington Post, of all places. The slideshow is a set of fifteen images from a recent book. Haven't seen the book yet...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More on IceCube and ARA science

Let me send along the following, layperson explanations of the two experiments.

ARA and IceCube are both looking for neutrinos from high-energy systems in the universe. Neutrinos are small, nearly massless subatomic particles that pass through material with only the rarest interactions. In fact, IceCube is most interested in neutrinos which have already gone through most of the Earth and happen to interact in the ice near the detector going upwards. IceCube looks for the light emission from the neutrino interactions in the ice. ARA looks for a coherent pulse (lasting on order of a billionth of a second, a nanosecond) of radio emission. We use the ice because it is both light transparent and radio transparent. The remoteness of the site, the South Pole, reduces the anthropogenic backgrounds so the real physics signal stands out more clearly. In detail, the two experiments are optimized for different energy ranges: IceCube for lower energies, and signals associated with supernovae, and ARA for higher energies, and signals associated with the most energetic particles in the universe (the so-called GZK cosmic rays).

There is a lot more, at layperson, general scientifically trained audience, and technical levels on the IceCube website. There are a couple of less technical explanations of the ANITA experiment which is a balloon-borne experiment which is the intellectual godmother of ARA: for example,

Some Antarctic links of direct interest

I am going to Antarctica to work on different projects, the Askaryan Radio Array (ARA) in which I have a large role, but it's a small startup project, and IceCube for which I am a small part of a large project.


(Not much there, more as the detector gets built.)


My blog:

Currently it's not South Pole specific, but will be once I head out. My flight out of the US is on December 15th, will be at Pole on December 21st, and will leave the ice around January 14th.

IceCube blogs from Pole:

My info will likely be appearing there as well. Remember that the bandwidth back from the South Pole is limited, so most of the photos will have to wait until I return from the ice.

Some second- (or third-) hand notes from Airshow China 2010

Aviation Week has the best coverage, as usual, see the left sidebar. My personal favorites are the very weird diorama showing a 1970s US carrier, plus F-22s, sailing up river into China. These sorts of exhibits are often very revealing as to the (hopefully irrational) fears of the builders and perhaps their military bosses and funding sources. Also of note is the stealth geo-engineering/cloud-seeding unmanned aircraft. You know, those clouds can be dangerous, better avoid their radar emissions, and the range, does that get the drone over Taiwan? I think it does...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Antarctic web cameras

See the bottom of the linked page. Palmer Station is out on the Antarctic Peninsula, mild weather, lots of animals, and some ocean traffic including cruise ships. McMurdo Station is the logistics hub for Antarctic operations, looks like a cross between a run-down college campus and a run-down mining town. Balloon flight operations are out of "McTown." The South Pole webcam is currently pretty dull...but there will be more activity there soon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Materials for students to learn about Antarctic science

The US Antarctic Program homepages:

The University of Delaware (Bartol Research) site talking about IceTop/IceCube construction:

Dispatches from Polar Scientists (Exploratorium):

Teachers & researchers on the ice:

Some IceCube videos (three of them, available in different formats):

IceCube Project Homepage:

ARA Project Homepage, but there's not much here yet:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rental car reviews: Kia Soul

I have been considering doing this for quite some time, and now that I'm traveling on business again at a decent rate I will finally begin this project.

Car reviews of cars you won't buy but do rent

How was that for a title? Well, in Hawaii last week I rented a Kia Soul, sort of a boxy little wagon/hatchback/micro-SUV-looking thing. I parked it at one point next to a VW Golf four door and the two are the same size, though the front interior of the Kia felt smaller as did the truck/hatch area. I assume the backseat of the Kia is larger than the VW, but at 6' 6" I spend VERY little time in the backseat of any smaller car.

So, how did it drive? Relatively well actually. On Oahu it's hard to get up to much speed (okay, excepting late night runs up or down the Pali, but that's wrong, man, wrong!) but the Kia felt stable and secure at the speeds that were available. There was an odd hesitation, and a bit of a dead zone around 30mph, maybe a bit too much space between gears? I wouldn't buy one, but it was an excellent rental car for the confined parking spots and streets of Hawaii. Oh yeah, except for one annoyance, the rental didn't have a cargo cover, so you couldn't leave items in the back of the car (at least not in tourist areas with the attendant thefts). Should have caught that back at the National Rental Car Emerald Aisle and picked a different one.