Monday, September 21, 2009

The Tiny Cabin...

Via my mom:
A  government social worker from Washington, DC recently transferred to the Mountains of Kentucky.  She was on the first tour of her new  territory when she came upon the tiniest cabin she had ever seen in her life. Intrigued, she went up and knocked on the door. "Anybody  home?" she  asked.

"Yep," came a kid's voice through the  door.

"Is your father there?"  asked the social worker.

"Pa? Nope, he left afore Ma came in," said the kid.

"Well, is your mother there?" persisted the social worker..

"Ma? Nope, she left  just afore I got here,"  said the kid.

"But," protested the social worker, "are you never together as a family?"

"Sure, but not here," said the kid through the door. "This is the outhouse!"


And doesn't that level of competence somehow ring true for a government worker?

Hard Work, Not Luck...

Here's a great example of the interesting things that happen when you can successfully meld several different sciences and technologies.  At right is the Bunburra Rockhole, a meteorite recently discovered in Australia.  Finding this meteorite was the product of this fine collaboration.

A while back, some scientists had a clever idea: to set up a network of cameras in a remote area, and wait for them to capture a meteorite's trail of fire in the sky as it plunged through Earth's atmosphere.  Each camera would have a different perspective on this fiery trail, and by combining the information from all the cameras (using some clever software), the scientists could do two things.  First, they could predict with considerable accuracy where the meteorite fell to Earth.  And second, they could determine where it came from – something that is usually impossible to know.

The Bunburra Rockhole is the first product of this quest, and a very successful one at that:
The new meteorite, which is about the size of cricket ball, is the first to be retrieved since researchers from Imperial College London, Ondrejov Observatory in the Czech Republic, and the Western Australian Museum, set up a trial network of cameras in the Nullarbor Desert in Western Australia in 2006.

The researchers aim to use these cameras to find new meteorites, and work out where in the Solar System they came from, by tracking the fireballs that they form in the sky. The new meteorite was found on the first day of searching using the new network, by the first search expedition, within 100m of the predicted site of the fall. This is the first time a meteorite fall has been predicted using only the data from dedicated instruments.

The meteorite appears to have been following an unusual orbit, or path around the Sun, prior to falling to Earth in July 2007, according to the researchers' calculations. The team believes that it started out as part of an asteroid in the innermost main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It then gradually evolved into an orbit around the Sun that was very similar to Earth's. The other meteorites that researchers have data for follow orbits that take them back, deep into the main asteroid belt.
Way cool!  Read all about it here...