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First Results From The BICEP2 CMB Telescope Announced re: Gravitational Waves in the Cosmic Microwave Background

Jeffrey Donenfeld News, Science 1 Comment

A little over a year ago, I had the extraordinary opportunity to work with scientists John Kovac, Jon Kaufman, Howard Hui, and others at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica (summary of my experience living and working at the south pole) on the BICEP2 and KECK Array Microwave Telescopes. Learning about how the telescopes worked, as well as the science behind what they were doing directly from the scientists involved was a great opportunity, and I was happy to be able to make my small contribution to the project. Checking out BICEP2 Refueling BICEP2 Working on KECK RESULTS “Researchers from the BICEP2 collaboration today announced the first direct evidence for this cosmic inflation. Their data also represent the first images of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time. These waves have been described as the “first tremors of the Big Bang.” Finally, the data confirm a deep connection between quantum mechanics and general relativity.” Announcement from NASA JPL: Astronomers are announcing today that they have acquired the first direct evidence that gravitational waves rippled through our infant universe during an explosive period of growth called inflation. This is the strongest confirmation yet of cosmic inflation theories, which say the universe expanded by 100 trillion trillion times, in less than the blink of an eye. The findings were made with the help of NASA-developed detector technology on the BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole, in collaboration with the National Science Foundation. “Operating the latest detectors in ground-based and balloon-borne experiments allows us to mature these technologies for space missions and, in the process, make discoveries about the universe,” said Paul Hertz, NASA’s Astrophysics Division director in Washington. This morning, they announced their first set of results from Bicep2 at the Harvard Center for Astrophysics: From Sean Carrol: Monday morning: here are results! First, the best fit to r, the ratio of gravitational waves to density perturbations: BICEP2 2014 Results Release PDF:  BICEP2 II: EXPERIMENT AND THREE-YEAR DATA SET PDF: BICEP2 I: DETECTION OF B-mode POLARIZATION AT DEGREE ANGULAR SCALES Sean Carrol: Gravitational Waves in the Cosmic Microwave Background And a bit of press from around the web: Stamford Advocate: Evidence spotted for universe’s early growth spurt Huffington Post: Good Morning, Inflation! Hello, Multiverse! BBC: Cosmic inflation: ‘Spectacular’ discovery hailed NY Times: Detection of Waves in Space Buttresses Landmark Theory of Big Bang Snowmobiling to the Dark Sector Laboratory Physicist Jon Kaufman stands on top of the Martin A. Pomerantz Observatory. Physicist Jon Kaufman gives me a tour of the BICEP2 Telescope.. Views: Dark Sector Laboratory, South Pole, Antarctica by Google Maps Pics from working on KECK…

Jeffrey DonenfeldFirst Results From The BICEP2 CMB Telescope Announced re: Gravitational Waves in the Cosmic Microwave Background
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Infographic: Major Icebreakers of the World

Jeffrey Donenfeld Infographic, News, Science, Technology Leave a Comment

Great infographic today thanks to the US Coast Guard – a comprehensive review of the world’s major icebreakers. My next task, sail on all of them! From the United States Naval Institute: “The Coast Guard Office of Waterways and Ocean Policy (CG-WWM) began producing the chart of major icebreakers of the world in July 2010. Since then, we have gathered icebreaker information and recommendations from a variety of sources and experts, including icebreaker subject-matter experts, internet posts, news updates, Arctic experts and Coast Guard offices with icebreaker equities. We validate our information within the public forum and update the chart at least semi-annually based on new information and feedback. This chart represents the Coast Guard’s current factual understanding of the major icebreaker fleet. This chart is not intended for icebreaker fleet comparisons and no inference should be drawn regarding a country’s icebreaker “ranking” against another.” U.S. Coast Guard's 2013 Review of Major Icebreakers of the World | USNI News.

Jeffrey DonenfeldInfographic: Major Icebreakers of the World
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Learning to MIG Weld

Jeffrey Donenfeld Science Leave a Comment

Last night I took a class through Denver’s new learning startup Dabble on MIG Welding. The class was taught by structural engineer Nick Geurts of Martino & Luth, Inc.. During the class, hosted in Nick’s backyard garage and workshop, we covered the very basics of welding techniques, and then some of the specifics of entry level MIG Welding on mild steel. After welding a few pieces of steel together, I felt pretty confident in making a basically usable weld – although certainly not perfect or professional. Mig Welding, from Wikipedia: Gas metal arc welding (GMAW), sometimes referred to by its subtypes metal inert gas (MIG) welding or metal active gas (MAG) welding, is a welding process in which an electric arc forms between a consumable wire electrode and the workpiece metal(s), which heats the workpiece metal(s), causing them to melt, and join. Along with the wire electrode, a shielding gas feeds through the welding gun, which shields the process from contaminants in the air. The process can be semi-automatic or automatic. A constant voltage, direct current power source is most commonly used with GMAW, but constant current systems, as well as alternating current, can be used. There are four primary methods of metal transfer in GMAW, called globular, short-circuiting, spray, and pulsed-spray, each of which has distinct properties and corresponding advantages and limitations. Find out more about Nick’s class at Dabble.

Jeffrey DonenfeldLearning to MIG Weld
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The Coldest Place in the World: Dome Argus, East Antarctica

Jeffrey Donenfeld News, Science, Video Leave a Comment

NASA recently revealed that a spot in Antarctica just hit a record -135.3 degrees F below zero – that’s cold! In my time at the south pole, the coldest I experienced was -60F – not even close to the record. Fron NBC News: Ice scientist Ted Scambos at the National Snow and Ice Data Center said the new record is “50 degrees colder than anything that has ever been seen in Alaska or Siberia or certainly North Dakota.” “It’s more like you’d see on Mars on a nice summer day in the poles,” Scambos said, from the American Geophysical Union scientific meeting in San Francisco Monday, where he announced the data. “I’m confident that these pockets are the coldest places on Earth.” Here’s a quick explainer video. Me in the South Pole Ice Tunnels

Jeffrey DonenfeldThe Coldest Place in the World: Dome Argus, East Antarctica
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Scientist Terry Benson Presents On “Innovations in Hot Water Drilling at the South Pole”

Jeffrey Donenfeld Science Leave a Comment

Last Austral Summer, I spent 3.5 months living at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica. Among my many jobs on station, one of the most rewarding was the work I did with the Askaryan Radio Array drill and deployment teams. During my time working with the ARA, I got to spend some good time with Scientist Terry Benson. Here’s his excellent slide deck going over the science he’s working on at the South Pole, including details of the ARA Drill Rig I helped construct and test. Specifically, I helped construct the water tank overflow gutter, wired up the emergency stop switches, troubleshoot the main pump system, maintained the hose bindings, and tended to the drill as it operated. Innovations in Hot Water Drilling at the South Pole

Jeffrey DonenfeldScientist Terry Benson Presents On “Innovations in Hot Water Drilling at the South Pole”