2018 Psi Phi Society–Fall Session

Autumn has arrived, although down here it still feels like late Summer, and time for the meeting of the Psi Phi (ΦΨ) Society Fall Session.

Once again we met at a local steakhouse for a meal some drinks and a round of discussion subject chosen by the pick of the draw from a stainless steel bed pan.  The steak house has a great conference room that we take over for most of the evening.

Me?  I had a great steak and the fixin’s and the perfect Spanish “Tinto Fino”……..dishes cleared and pens and notebooks out and at the ready……I pulled out my tablet for our friend, the owner of the steak house, has great WiFi…..

Last nights discussion was about the “discovery” of calculus…..was it Newton or Leibniz……(40 minutes for a familiarization of the subject)…..of course coffee or after dinner drink while preparing.

Calculus– used for counting and calculations, as on an abacus is the mathematical study of continuous change, in the same way that geometry is the study of shape and algebra is the study of generalizations of arithmetic operations.

The Math Teacher and the History professor went at it for about an hour and then being someone who loves throwing that wrench into the proverbial machinery I brought up that the Babylonians used calculus to track Jupiter ………(to illustrate my point)

The earliest known examples of mathematical and geometric astronomy have been identified in a series of ancient Babylonian cuneiform tablets.

An analysis of the tablets, reported in the journal Science, reveals ancient Babylonians were able to calculate the position of Jupiter using geometric techniques previously believed to have been first used some 1,400 years later in 14th century Europe.

“These texts are the earliest evidence we have from antiquity of mathematical astronomy,” said the study’s author Dr Mathieu Ossendrijver, a historian on Babylonian astronomy with the Humboldt University in Berlin.


Of course I got a typical retort…..Newton and Leibniz developed “modern calculus”…..all trying to lessen the contribution of the ancients.

Then why is it not called that in the debate and why do so many not acknowledge the science of the Babylonians/Assyrians?  (sound of crickets)….please do  not get me started on Hippocrates, the father of medicine…..(total BS…he plagiarized most everything he is credited with)

Our debate went into the early hours….all in all….good food, good company and excellent brandy.

Our waitress, Rhonda, made out like a bandit……but we all believe that good service deserves a great tip……plus she got her “steps” in for the day (I am assuming that she does that since she had a Fit Bit)

Our meeting we decided to set up what would be called the (ζ ξ) Zeta Xi Circle which will set future agendas and other duties to be named…..(plus another reason for a few of us to get together outside the Society meeting)……

Another successful meeting of the Psi Phi Society…..now on to the Winter Session…..Date TBA.

Space….The Good News And The Bad

Hope your Sunday is as relaxing as mine…..

We have a Space Force on the drawing boards as another military branch….first Obama and now Trump are considering the possibility……so we need to keep an eye on what is happening with our space programs……

First the Good News…….the Parker Solar Probe…..

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is now closer to the sun than any spacecraft has ever gotten. Parker on Monday surpassed the record of 26.6 million miles set by Helios 2 back in 1976, the AP reports—and it will keep getting closer to the sun until it flies through the corona, or outer atmosphere, for the first time next week, passing within 15 million miles of the solar surface. Parker will make 24 close approaches to the sun over the next seven years, ultimately coming within just 3.8 million miles. “We’ve now come closer to our star than any other spacecraft in history,” Andy Driesman, the project manager for the probe, said in a statement, per Gizmodo. “It’s a proud moment for the team.”

Motherboard notes that the probe is protected by a Thermal Protection System (TPS) heat shield, which has been tested to endure temps up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also designed to keep the probe’s instruments safe from radiation and to help the probe make an easier transition when it heads back to the relative chilliness of deep space. Launched in August, Parker was on track to set another record late Monday night, about to surpass Helios 2’s speed record of 153,454 miles per hour, relative to the sun. (Is your name flying close to the sun with Parker?)

And now the bad…..the Kepler Telescope has given scientist so much to think about has possibly died…..

NASA’s elite planet-hunting spacecraft has been declared dead, just a few months shy of its 10th anniversary. Officials announced the Kepler Space Telescope’s demise Tuesday, the AP reports. Already well past its expected lifetime, the 9 1/2-year-old Kepler had been running low on fuel for months. Its ability to point at distant stars and identify possible alien worlds worsened dramatically at the beginning of October, but flight controllers still managed to retrieve its latest observations. The telescope has now gone silent, its fuel tank empty. Kepler discovered 2,681 planets outside our solar system and even more potential candidates. It showed us rocky worlds the size of Earth that, like Earth, might harbor life. It also unveiled incredible super Earths: planets bigger than Earth but smaller than Neptune.

Kepler opened the gate for mankind’s exploration of the cosmos,” said retired NASA scientist William Borucki, who led the original Kepler science team. Adds NASA’s astrophysics director Paul Hertz, “It has revolutionized our understanding of our place in the cosmos. Now we know because of the Kepler Space Telescope and its science mission that planets are more common than stars in our galaxy.” Kepler focused on stars thousands of light-years away; a successor to Kepler launched in April, NASA’s Tess spacecraft, has its sights on stars closer to home and has already identified some possible planets. Now 94 million miles from Earth, Kepler should remain in a safe, stable orbit around the sun. Flight controllers will disable the spacecraft’s transmitters, before bidding a final “good night.”

It had a magnificent run……just look at the site for more info….

The centuries-old quest for other worlds like our Earth has been rejuvenated by the intense excitement and popular interest surrounding the discovery of hundreds of planets orbiting other stars. There is now clear evidence for substantial numbers of three types of exoplanets; gas giants, hot-super-Earths in short period orbits, and ice giants. The challenge now is to find terrestrial planets (i.e., those one half to twice the size of the Earth), especially those in the habitable zone of their stars where liquid water might exist on the surface of the planet.

The Kepler Mission is specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone and determine the fraction of the hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy that might have such planets.


Sundays are for relaxation….try it you will like it…..chuq