August is the 100th anniversary of Victor Hess’s discovery or confirmation of the existence of cosmic rays. A discovery of cosmic proportions
The flight on 7 August 1912 was the last in a series of balloon flights that Victor Hess, an Austrian physicist, undertook in 1912 with the aid of a grant from what is now the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. The previous year, he had taken two flights to investigate the penetrating radiation that had been found to discharge electroscopes above the Earth’s surface. He had reached an altitude of around 1100 m and found “no essential change” in the amount of radiation compared with observations near the ground. This indicated the existence of some source of radiation in addition to x-rays emitted by radioactive decays in the Earth’s crust.
….Before reporting these results, Hess combined all of the data from his various balloon flights. At altitudes above 2000 m the measured radiation levels began to rise. “By 3000 to 4000 m the increase amounts to 4 ions, and at 4000 to 5200 m fully to 16 to 18 ions, in both detectors.”
He concludes: “The results of the present observations seem to be most readily explained by the assumption that a radiation of very high penetrating power enters our atmosphere from above … Since I found a reduction … neither by night nor at a solar eclipse, one can hardly consider the Sun as the origin.”
Although continuing research discovered more about the particles involved, the exact location of the source remains a mystery that continues to drive adventurous research in astroparticle physics.
Originating in outer space cosmic rays may produce secondary particles that not only penetrate the earth’s atmosphere, but the earth itself. While they are generally or mostly composed of familiar subatomic particles with which we’re all familiar, like electrons, protons and quarks, there are a small percentage composed of antimatter. That fraction is also what continues to drive atomic physics research. The probable discovery of the Higgs-Boson fills in some of the mystery, but antimatter still remains mysterious. A little known fact about cosmic rays is that they were thought to be the cause of the missing sock-dryer phenomenon. Most scientists now suspect tiny fleet footed gnomes with sticky fingers.
Illustration from “20,000 Leagues under the Sea”. The first original edition of Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues under the Sea” did not have illustrations. This is from the Hetzel editions with illustrations by by Alphonse Marie de Neuville. Leagues was first published in 1870. The first standard diving suit, similar to the illustration were in use by 1837. Though there was a late Roman Emperor writer named Vegetius who seems to be the first to describe a diving suit in a printed book as early as 1511.
Yesterday was Andy Warhol’s birthday. Lot’s of fawning and tributes. His legacy has already been cast. His originals sell in the millions. So anything I say would hardly change the insular world of art dealers and buyers. Just as they remain enthusiastic supporters i remain a doubter about his contributions to art, Andy Warhol: Factory Man
But that Warhol hagiography—outlined and underscored in three enthusiastic new books on the aphasic artist—is as simplistic as de Kooning’s Warhol horror. Andy was no great iconoclast. What was good in his work was derivative of precedent pop and its precedent, dada. What seemed innovative was not just bad but insidiously so—his work at the Factory, with Interview, and in his voyeuristic films, which simply replaced the macho-Romantic cult of the New York school with a substitute cult of antinomian downtown entitlement. And to laud Warhol as a prophet of the saturated media culture we inhabit today is to apportion praise according to the perverse logic of our own era, by which we lionize the first person to do anything, even a bad thing.
Warhol was a thief through and through. Appropriating the work of others was not new in art and certainly not always a bad thing. Warhol could not seem to work up the energy to even be a good thief. In that critique the writer mentions Roy Lichtenstein. Who was at least a thief with skills and new insights into pop culture that he brought to his art (his Sleeping Girl sold for over $44 million. Also a little ridiculous). Lichtenstein went through all the bother of actually painting and drawing. His work thus has some personal artistic tension. Warhol could not be bothered with even that much effort. One thing that Warhol created that I do like is Interview Magazine. There is some vapid celebrity fetishism and navel gazing, but some very good photography and some occasional thoughtful writing.
Today in August of 1912 a carrier in Bennington County, Vermont, was the first person to use a car to deliver mail on a rural route.
There is a media watch-dog site Media Matters. It was created as a counter to conservative lies, distortions, exaggerations, half truths, urban myths etc. In response the lame far Right Newsbusters was created. NB repeats the lies, except louder. Believing the magic of shouting and false outrage makes conservative spin truthier. They posted this yesterday, CNN Smears Political Right, Labels Wisconsin Shooter’s Racist Neo-Nazi Band as ‘Far Right’
CNN associated a white supremacist neo-Nazi band with the political right-wing as it labeled the punk rock band of Wisconsin shooter Wade Michael Page as “far right.”
CNN had reported Page’s band named “End Apathy” as “white supremacist,” “neo-Nazi,” and as a “hate group.” Yet it also repeatedly labeled it “far right” on Sunday and Monday.
It is not a smear to note that Page was a member of the Right. The Right, or conservatives, has a well documented history of violence and domestic terrorism. One of Wade’s inspirations was the Turner Dairies, a classic among radical Republicans. If Nb does not want the Right to be associated with what they see as a distinct and separate far Right, than they need to make an effort to rid the conservative movement of the Wade Pages. Outright racism, varieties of ethnocentrism and religion based prejudices are part and parcel of the conservative or far right movement. Just a few days ago was this announcement – New SuperPAC, FightBigotry.com, Smears President Obama For ‘Racism Against White Folks’. That PAC’s founder and treasurer is Stephen Marks, a well-known Republican opposition researcher who publicly confessed in his book Confessions of a Political Hitman that he and other conservative operatives used race as part of their standard electoral tool-kit,“the dark side of politics.” In January of this year in a very rare moment of candor a former RNC chairman apologized for “trying to benefit politically from racial polarization,”. Granted well known Republicans usually use the well known dog whistle approach rather than that of far Right kooks like Page, such as Newt Gingrich and his accusation that President Obama is “the food stamp president”. Romney very recent turn to use welfare as a political gudgeon has always been a favorite dog whistle for Republican voters because income assistance, even though most of it goes to poor white, has a black face in the public’s eye, Romney Claims Waivers He Used To Support Will ‘Gut Welfare Reform’
Mitt Romney’s campaign launched a full-on attack on Tuesday accusing President Obama of gutting welfare reform. In a new ad, policy memo, and press release, Romney claims that the administration’s decision to offer waivers to states that develop innovative ways to meet the law’s work requirements is actually an attempt to “remove work participation rate requirements all together.”
“Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job,” the ad’s narrator says. “They just send you your welfare check.”
The ad is blatantly false — the administration’s plan specifically maintains the work requirement, but allows states to experiment with other methods of transitioning recipients from welfare to work. This is a policy that the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says will make Temporary Assistance for Needy Families a more effective program.
Someone recently said that the next worse president is the next Republicans president. Just as the Bush-Cheney-Rove team set records in horrific governance and lying, Romney is on course to pass them in lies.
In Edward Corey’s The Deadly Blotter, the plot moves along alphabetically, letter by letter, from “Alarming behaviour” to “Corpse” to “Detective enters.”
H/T to this recent write-up on Corey at the NYTBR, A Treasure Trove of Edward Gorey