Monthly Archives: December 2016

The winners write the history

The famous Civil War battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack was really the battle of the Monitor and the Virginia. When the southern vessel the Merrimack was refitted to be an ironclad it was renamed the Virginia.

(Book – Battle Cry of Freedom – James M. McPherson)

Figuring this out might reveal something new

The spacecrafts Pioneer 10 and 11 are the first spaceships from earth to reach escape velocity from the solar system. While we no longer can communicate with them we have over 20 years of data from them. Scientists have known the exact position and velocities from these ships and we know that as they leave the solar system the gravity from the solar system will cause both spacecraft to slightly decelerate as they leave the solar system. However, both spacecraft, traveling in different directions are slowing down faster than expected. Scientists still do not know why but we know that there is something we do not understand about the gravity of the solar system that is causing this phenomena.

(The Great Courses – The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries)

Poorly made

When the War Department took over the outfitting of soldiers in the Civil War textile manufacturers compressed fibers of recycled woolen goods into a material called ‘shoddy’. The result was material which ripped easily and the poor quality became today’s definition of the word ‘shoddy’.

(Book – Battle Cry of Freedom – James M. McPherson)

The Dome of the Rock

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is holy to the Muslims and the Jews. It is believed to be the spot where Abraham offered to sacrifice his son Isaac. The Muslims believe the same story except that they believe that Abraham was offering his son Ishmael. After the Romans defeated the Jews in the first Jewish revolt the Temple was not rebuilt. This sacred area remained an open area until the Muslims conquered the land and then built the Dome of the Rock on this spot. This means that the Temple Mount had no structure on it for over 600 years. The Dome of the Rock is the earliest Muslim monument still in existence. It still has the original decorations and marble columns since it was built in 696 CE.  The purpose of the Dome of the Rock is to enshrine a sacred focal point in its center and it is not a mosque or a place of worship. The Muslims did build the al-Aqsa which is a mosque just south of the Dome of the Rock and this is where pilgrims go to worship.

(The Great Courses – The Holy Land)

One mans trash is another mans treasure

Astronomers have to fight for every expenditure for things like space telescopes. In 2011 the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office) revealed that they had two space telescopes that they did not need and offered them to NASA. They also happened to be twice a big as the space telescope being planned at the time. NASA still has to build the cameras but they at least have the large mirror already built.

(The Great Courses – The Search for Exoplanets)