When Brigitte Xie’s parents signed her up for piano classes during the pandemic, they just wanted to keep her busy. Now, she’s become the youngest winner of the prestigious Elite International Music Competition and has been invited to play at Carnegie Hall.
The Moab Monkeys, a Utah-based group of athletes, have no issues with vertigo or adrenaline. They recently set up a spider web net over a canyon near Moab, Utah at a head-spinning height of 400 ft to relax and BASE jump. The hand-woven, pentagonal web is 200ft. away from the nearest cliff.
To chill, shoot photos and enjoy the breathtaking views, they first had to walk the 200ft. distance on a rope. Then they left the net by diving into the void through a hole in the middle of the net, landing with their parachutes minutes later.
Moab Monkeys is a group that specializes in slacklining, highlining, BASE jumping and filmmaking. They have performed their stunts in places like Rio and the Austrian Alps. However it’s no coincidence that their hometown is Moab – a town in Southern Utah famous for its Mars-like landscape with canyons, cliffs and arches.
–Charles Bolden made the light-hearted remarks after being questioned by a ten-year-old on Sky News.
Bolden, who became the administrator of NASA back in 2009, had been answering questions put to him by schoolchildren on the channel’s Hot Seat programme when he was asked about alien life.
“I do believe that we will someday find other forms of life or a form of life, if not in our solar system then in some of the other solar systems – the billions of solar systems in the universe,” he said.
When asked about Area 51 he went on to mention that he had visited the secretive base himself.
“I’ve been to a place called that but it’s a normal research and development place,” he said. “I never saw any aliens or alien spacecraft or anything when I was there. I think because of the secrecy of the aeronautics research that goes on there it’s ripe for people to talk about aliens being there.”
Bolden however was confident that evidence of alien life would be found sooner or later.
“Today we know that there are literally thousands, if not millions of other planets, many of which may be very similar to our own earth,” he said. “So some of us, many of us believe that we’re going to find evidence that there is life elsewhere in the universe.”
No Space Aliens at the secretive base. Don’t be so sure.
If there are no Aliens at the base, then what in the hell are these things?
What the name of heaven and hell is this then?
Green Bank, in Pocahontas County in West Virginia, the United States, is possibly one of the quietest residential places on earth. There is no cell phone reception here, no Wi-Fi, not even radio or television. But Green Bank is not technologically backward. On the contrary, it’s home to the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope on earth – the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT). The GBT is the reason why this town is electromagnetically silent.
The telescope is the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope, surpassing the Effelsberg 100-m Radio Telescope in Germany. The Green Bank site was part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) until September 30, 2016. Since October 1, 2016, the telescope has been operated by the independent Green Bank Observatory. The telescope’s name honors the late Senator Robert C. Byrd who represented West Virginia and who pushed the funding of the telescope through Congress.
Radio telescopes work by detecting electromagnetic waves that come from distant galaxies. These signals are so faint that the slightest emission of radio waves from electronic gadgets can interfere with the readings of the radio telescopes. For this reason, all cell phones, Wi-Fi, radio and other communication devices are outlawed here. There are no cell phone towers for miles around, no music plays on the radio or soap operas on the television. Cable television is the only TV allowed.
The boundaries of the device-free zone extend far beyond Green Bank, covering an area roughly equal to 13,000–square-mile. This region is called the National Radio Quiet Zone, and is located around the sparsely populated countryside that straddles the borders of West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. Almost all types of radio transmissions and certain electronic devices are banned here so that the powerful Green Bank Radio Telescopes can work without disturbance. Green Bank happens to be the closest community to the Green Bank Telescope.
The tech-free life in Green Bank may seem impossible for those who can’t live without their cell phones, but for the 140-odd residents of the town, life is a bliss. Kids aren’t glued to the glowing screens of their mobile devices. They actually talk to each other instead of texting. Older residents roll down their car windows to greet each other and leave their front doors unlocked. If they must speak to someone out of town, there are pay phones.
The current telescope, completed in 2000, was built following the collapse of the previous Green Bank telescope, a 90.44 m paraboloid erected in 1962. The previous telescope collapsed on 15 November 1988 due to the sudden loss of a gusset plate in the box girder assembly, which was a key component for the structural integrity of the telescope.
Living under the shadow of the giant telescope, some of the residents are not even aware of the technological advances elsewhere.
“We didn’t realize the rest of the world was getting connected and staying connected constantly, via phones and computers and all that,” said radio host Caleb Diller, who grew up in Pocahontas County. “So we were kinda back in time a little bit. We hadn’t progressed to that.”
Over the last few years, many people have taken up residence in Green Bank. These people claim to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity, or EHS—a disease not recognized by the scientific community. It’s said that people suffering from EHS get symptoms like dizziness, nausea, rashes, irregular heartbeat, weakness, and chest pains from electromagnetic radiations.
“Life isn’t perfect here,” said Diane Schou, one of the first “electrosensitive” immigrants who came to Green Bank with her husband in 2007. “There’s no grocery store, no restaurants, no hospital nearby. But here, at least, I’m healthy. I can do things. I’m not in bed with a headache all the time.” As of 2013, an estimated 36 people have moved to Green Bank to escape the effects of electromagnetic hypersensitivity.
The previous telescope
The GBT is fully steerable, and 85% of the entire celestial sphere is accessible. The structure weighs 8500 tons and stands 450 feet above ground. The surface area of the GBT is a 100 by 110 meter active surface with 2,209 actuators (a small motor used to adjust the position) for the 2,004 surface panels. The panels are made from aluminium to a surface accuracy of better than 0.003 inches (76 µm) RMS. The actuators adjust the panel positions to correct for distortions due to gravity which change as the telescope moves. Without this so-called “active surface”, observations at frequencies above 4 GHz would not be as efficient.
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A circumhorizontal arc is an optical phenomenon that belongs to the family of ice halos formed by the refraction of sunlight or moonlight in plate-shaped ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere, typically in cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. In its full form, the arc has the appearance of a large, brightly spectrum-coloured band (red being the topmost colour) running parallel to the horizon, located far below the Sun or Moon. The distance between the arc and the Sun or Moon is twice as far as the common 22-degree halo. Often, when the halo-forming cloud is small or patchy, only fragments of the arc are seen. As with all halos, it can be caused by the Sun as well as (but much more rarely) the Moon.
Other currently accepted names for the circumhorizontal arc are circumhorizon arc or lower symmetric 46° plate arc. The misleading term “firebows” is sometimes used to describe this phenomenon, although it is neither a rainbow, nor related in any way to fire. The term, apparently coined in 2006, may originate in the occasional appearance of the arc as “flames” in the sky, when it occurs in fragmentary cirrus clouds.
The halo is formed by sunlight entering horizontally-oriented, flat, hexagonal ice crystals through a vertical side face and leaving through the near horizontal bottom face (plate thickness does not affect the formation of the halo). In principle, Parry oriented column crystals may also produce the arc, although this is rare. The 90° inclination between the ray entrance and exit faces produce the well-separated spectral colours. The arc has a considerable angular extent and thus, rarely is complete. When only fragments of a cirrus cloud are in the appropriate sky and sun position, they may appear to shine with spectral colours.
How often a circumhorizontal arc is seen, depends on the location and the latitude of the observer. In the United States it is a relatively common halo, seen several times each summer in any one place. In contrast, it is a rare phenomenon in northern Europe for several reasons. Apart from the presence of ice-containing clouds in the right position in the sky, the halo requires that the light source (Sun or Moon) be very high in the sky, at an elevation of 58° or greater. This means that the solar variety of the halo is impossible to see at locations north of 55°N or south of 55°S. A lunar circumhorizon arc might be visible at other latitudes, but is much rarer since it requires a nearly full Moon to produce enough light. At other latitudes the solar circumhorizontal arc is visible, for a greater or lesser time, around the summer solstice. Slots of visibility for different latitudes and locations may be looked up here. For example, in London the sun is only high enough for 140 hours between mid-May and late July, whereas Los Angeles has the sun higher than 58 degrees for 670 hours between late March and late September.