Friday, April 28, 2017

A strange star with various names

The star that is dubbed KIC 8462852 in the catalog of stars surveyed by the Kepler space telescope shows a highly variable dip pattern in its light curve [1-4]. The brightness-versus-time plots of a typical star either is a flat curve (straight line) or a straight line with periodic, regular dips in brightness.

Wondering about this unusual fluctuations in brightness, Tabetha Boyajian, a postdoctoral scholar at Yale University, asked: “Where's the Flux?” She called KIC 8462852 the WTF star [1,2].

The unusual light fluctuations of this star, discovered by citizen scientists and studied by “Tabby Boyajian,” continues to intrigue scientists and triggers speculations about an advanced cosmic civilization. KIC 8462852 now is known as Boyajian's star  or Tabby's star [2]:

The star that stumped Boyajian—now officially known Boyajian's star and colloquially called Tabby's star—has captivated astronomers and the general public alike. Like all great enigmas, it has generated a seemingly infinite number of possible solutions—none of which wholly explain the curious observations. Whatever is responsible may lie outside the realm of known astronomical phenomena.

Is the discovery of this sporadically dimming star—more than 1,000 light-years away—an indication of the existence of an alien civilization capturing up to 20% of star light and generating energy by a Dyson sphere mega structure?  The F-type star has become an object of  SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) research [4].

Keywords: astrophysics, astronomy, photometric measurements, dimming star, light curve, star enigma, star synonyms.

References and more to explore

[1] Author collective: Planet Hunters X. KIC 8462852 - Where's the Flux? Accepted for publication in MNRAS:
[2] Kimberley Cartier and Jason T. Wright: Strange News From Another Star. Scientific American May 2017316 (5), pp. 36-41.
[3] KIC 8462852: Where's the Flux? [].
[4]  Author collective: A Search for Brief Optical Flashes Associated With The SETI Target KIC 8462852. The Astrophysical Journal Letters February 2016, 818 (2) [].

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The moniker Iraqgate

The United States supported Iraq and dictator Saddam Hussein (officially the fifth President of Iraq) during the war against post-revolutionary Iran. The dubious support that involved the US government, US companies, middle-men, Italian and American banks and various other “players” eventually got the label Iraqgate. This moniker refers back to another political scandal that occurred over a decade earlier during the Nixon presidency. Both Watergate and Iraqgate encompass a complicated web of schemes, tricks, cover-ups and questionable activities—incompatible with a mandate of legal and transparent policy.   

Journalist Sally Denton investigated the history and development of the US-based Bechtel enterprise and its intersection with US foreign interests. In The Profiteers Denton summarizes Iraqgate—the scandal that sensitive Iraqi projects, including the Bechtel-led construction of a plant capable of manufacturing chemical weapons, were financed by US taxpayers—as follows:

Iraqgate left behind a trail of murky US government-backed financing through Italian and American banks, dummy corporations, criminal allegations, and an international cast of conspirators. Before it was over, a full-scale congressional investigation would expose the presidential administrations of both Reagan and his successor, George H. W. Bush, for their double-dealing policy of collaborating with foreign arms merchants in arming the loathsome Saddam while condemning such efforts publicly. The probe would find that BNL [Rome-based Banca Nationale del Lavoro] had funneled billions of dollars, some in US credits, to build Saddam's formidable arsenal. Called “the mother of all all foreign policy blunders” by Texas congressman Henry Gozales, in Iraqgate, US taxpayer turned a “run-of-the-mill dictator” into a Frankenstein monster. The BNL shell game was a case study of how the “executive branch, working with private business” ran an off-the-books foreign policy, according to one study that described it as a “deal with the devil.”

Keywords: investigative journalism, conspiracy, sale of dual-use technology, influence peddling, illegal activity.

Sally Denton: The Profiteers. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York, 2016; pages 198-199.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

What is Content Syndication?

Content syndication is the transfer of content from one site of publication to another. Typically, the term “content syndication” refers to the process in which blog, website or video content is pushed from one site to another, with the goal of getting exposure to new audiences [1-3].

Examples: I recently transferred some of my posts to Niume, a rapidly growing collaborative platform helping bloggers to share and promote content by interest theme [4]. The “transfer” may simply require to copy text. Often, however, you want to make minor changes and adjustments; especially if your original post contains hyperlinks and pictures. For example, I metamorphosed my Blogspot post “Lassen Peak Trail: from the Lassen Park Road to Lassen Peak Summit” into the Niume post “When is the best time to hike the Lassen Peak Trail?” and the post “The land of burnt-out fires” into “Getting started with Lava Beds caves.” The latter got an immediate and relevant Niume community response from Australia (suggesting a visit of Queensland's Undara lava tubes), while the Blogspot precursor never received any such comment.

Benefits of content syndication

Besides the possibility of generating more likes, comments, other feedback and also more revenue for your efforts creating content, syndication multiplies your content and thus archives your content within different services or organizations. Consider content syndication as a back-up of your content. But don't completely rely on it. Make sure, you have a personal cache for your content. Build your own content syndicate!

References and more to learn

[1] Search Engine Watch: What is content syndication and how do I get started?[].
[2] Scribble: The Do's and Don'ts of Content Syndication [].
[3] Hubspot: How to Syndicate Content Without Getting Dinged in Search [].
[4] Realwire: Introducing Niume: The Social World Of Shared Interests [].

Sunday, January 29, 2017

What kind of articles can you find in Crelle's Journal?

Crelle's Journal, or Crelle for short, has published notable papers in mathematics. The journal was founded in 1826 in Berlin by the German road and railway engineer August Leopold Crelle (1780-1855, or 1856?), who was eager to promote mathematics in Germany [1]. Crelle became the Journal für reine und angewandte Mathematik (Journal for Pure and Applied Mathematics). It is still published today and “insiders” keep referring to the journal using the informal titles Crelle or Crelle's Journal.

Crelle advanced to a leading mathematical publication in Germany and worldwide. Articles are in German, English or French. The success derives not only from the journal's visionary founder and editor, but from the early, pioneering contributors including the Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel (1802-1829) and the Swiss geometer Jacob Steiner (1796-1863).

The Scottish-born mathematician and science fiction writer Eric Temple Bell (1883-1960) summarizes the Abel-Crelle-Crelle relationship as follows: “If Crelle helped to make Abel's reputation, Abel more than paid for the help by making Crelle's.”

In a letter that Abel sent from Berlin home to his tutor and friend Holmboe in Christiana (now Oslo), he mentions the “fantastic help and support Crelle provided” [2]. Abel got access to Crelle's scientific and social circles in Berlin. Today, Abel is best known for his work proving that no general algebraic solution exists for the roots of a quintic equation. He published his original mathematical research in Crelle, initiating his own and the journal's fame. In the detailed account on Abel and his Times, Arild Stubhaug (born 1948) writes [3]:

Abel wrote six brilliant papers that were published in the first issues [of Crelle's Journal] that came out in 1826, the first appearing in February of that year. It was also widely acknowledged that due to Abel's contributions, the journal rapidly achieved renown. Most of Abel's work were published in Crelle's Journal, and if it had not been for this publication, it would not be easy to see how Abel could have gained inspiration for his further work.

[1] August Leopold Crelle (for example, see,,%20August%20Leopold.pdf and the following reference).
[2] Eric Temple Bell: Men of Mathematics. Simon and Schuster, New York, 1937; p. 315.
[3] Arild Stubhaug (translated from the Norwegian by Richard H. Daly): Niels Henrik Abel and his Times. Springer-Verlag, Berlin/Heidelberg/New York, 2000; pp. 331.