(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘National Aeronautics and Space Administration

A Symbolic Achievement…

source: PaperBlog

Like the ampersand, the “@” symbol is not strictly a mark of punctuation; rather, it is a logogram or grammalogue, a shorthand for the word “at.”  Even so, it is as much a staple of modern communication as the semicolon or exclamation mark, punctuating email addresses and announcing Twitter usernames. Unlike the ampersand, though, whose journey to the top took two millennia of steady perseverance, the at symbol’s current fame is quite accidental. It can, in fact, be traced to the single stroke of a key made almost exactly four decades ago*

The whole story is @ Shady Characters (“The Secret Life of Punctuation”).

* Before it became the domain address marker– and the overall symbol– for email, “@” was used to denote the unit price (or weight) of an item:  10 books @ $1.00 would total $10.00…  the symbol is believed to have originated with medieval scribes who used the symbol to eliminate the two extra pen strokes that would have been necessary to write “at.”

As we check our spam filters, we might recall that it was on this date in 1958, in reaction to the Soviet’s Sputnik success the prior year, that Congress passed the legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)… the Space Race was on.  (ARPA [now DARPA]– the sponsor of the work that spawned the internet and birthed the “@” in the form in which we all now use it– was born the same year out of the same concern over Soviet scientific progress.)

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Desk Jobs…

Bihar, India. Sushma Prasad (b. 1962) is an assistant clerk at the Cabinet Secretary of the State of Bihar (population 83 million) in The Old Secretariat in the state capital, Patna. She was hired “on compassionate grounds” because of the death of her husband, who until 1997 worked in the same department. Monthly salary: 5,000 rupees ($110, euro 100).

Bureaucratics is a project consisting of a book (ISBN 978-1-59005-232-7) and exhibition containing 50 photographs, the product of an anarchist’s heart, a historian’s mind and an artist’s eye. It is a comparative photographic study of the culture, rituals and symbols of state civil administrations and its servants in eight countries on five continents, selected on the basis of political, historical and cultural considerations: Bolivia, China, France, India, Liberia, Russia, the United States, and Yemen. In each country, I visited up to hundreds of offices of members of the executive in different services and at different levels. The visits were unannounced and the accompanying writer, Will Tinnemans, by interviewing kept the employees from tidying up or clearing the office. That way, the photos show what a local citizen would be confronted with when entering.

- Dutch documentary photographer Jan Banning

China. Qu Shao Feng (b. 1964) is chief general of Jining Public Security Bureau Division of Aliens and Exit-Entry Administration in Jining City, Shandong province. Monthly salary: 3,100 renminbi ($384, 286 euro).

USA, Texas. Jessie Wolf (b. 1952), a former professional football player for the Miami Dolphins, is now sheriff of Tyler County (some 20,000 inhabitants), Texas, based in Woodville, the county seat. Monthly salary: $ 3,417 (2,542 euro).

Yemen. Alham Abdulwaze Nuzeli (b. 1982) works at the regional office of the Ministry of Tithing and Alms in the city of Al-Mahwit, Al-Mahwit governorate. Monthly salary: 12,000 rial ($67, euro 46). Behind her a portrait of president Saleh of Yemen.

Continue the tour through dozens more photos at Jan Banning’s “Bureaucractics.”

[TotH to Flavorwire]

 

As we feel the need of a coffee break, we might recall that it was on this date in 1959 that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) introduced America’s first astronauts to the press: Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper Jr., John H. Glenn Jr., Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Walter Schirra Jr., Alan Shepard Jr., and Donald Slayton. The seven men, all military test pilots, were selected from a group of 32 candidates to take part in Project Mercury, America’s first manned space program.

After they were announced, the “Mercury Seven” became overnight celebrities. But the Mercury Project suffered some early setbacks; and on April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbited Earth in the world’s first manned space flight. Less than one month later, on May 5, astronaut Alan Shepard was successfully launched into space on a suborbital flight. Then on February 20, 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth.  NASA continued to trail the Soviets in the space race until the late 1960s, when NASA’s Apollo program put the first men on the moon and safely returned them to Earth.

The gentlemen with The Right Stuff (source: NASA)

 

It’s later than you think…

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The earthquake that killed more than 700 people in Chile on Feb. 27 probably shifted the Earth’s axis and shortened the day, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist said.

Earthquakes can involve shifting hundreds of kilometers of rock by several meters, changing the distribution of mass on the planet. This affects the Earth’s rotation, said Richard Gross, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who uses a computer model to calculate the effects.

“The length of the day should have gotten shorter by 1.26 microseconds (millionths of a second),” Gross, said today in an e-mailed reply to questions. “The axis about which the Earth’s mass is balanced should have moved by 2.7 milliarcseconds (about 8 centimeters or 3 inches).”

“It’s what we call the ice-skater effect,” David Kerridge, head of Earth hazards and systems at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, said today in a telephone interview. “As the ice skater puts when she’s going around in a circle, and she pulls her arms in, she gets faster and faster. It’s the same idea with the Earth going around if you change the distribution of mass, the rotation rate changes.”

Read the whole story in this Bloomberg filing reprinted on BusinessWeek.com.

As we re-synchronize our watches, we might recall that it was on this date in 1977 that the rings around Uranus were discovered.  In fact, in 1789 William Herschel had discussed possible rings around the seventh planet.  But it was only 23 years ago that, using the Kuiper Airbourne Observatory, the rings– 13 bands of extremely dark particles, varying in size from micrometers to a fraction of a meter– were definitively observed.

Hubble Space Telescope photo of Uranus, its rings, and its moons

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