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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

You Are Here: A Tiny Speck In The Big Scheme of Things

So... let's not ask: "Why am I here?"
Instead, let's ask: "Where am I now?"

We'll ignore the city, state, country, continent variables, and keep it general:

We're all on planet Earth.

(This is the famous photo, taken Christmas Eve 1968, from Apollo 8 as it orbited the Moon.)

Here's another photo, taken from the Cassini probe on July 19, 2013.  That's Saturn in the middle ground, and we're the little dot below the rings. Distance: about a billion miles. (0.0001 light years, or about 90 light minutes.)

The Earth is the third planet in the Solar System.

The Oort Cloud marks the edge of the Solar System, at about 2 light years away.

Our Solar System is located in the Orion-Cygnus Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. 

The Solar System is located in the Milky Way, a barred spiral galaxy with a diameter of about 100,000 light-years containing about 200 billion stars. The Sun resides in one of the Milky Way's outer spiral arms, known as the Orion–Cygnus Arm or Local Spur.
The Orion Arm is a minor spiral arm of the Milky Way some 3,500 light-years (1,100 parsecs) across and approximately 10,000 light-years (3,100 parsecs) in length.
Here are our neighbors:
The nearest star is Alpha Centauri.  Travelling at the speed of light, it would take more than four years to reach it.

The Solar System is currently moving through the Local Interstellar Cloud or Local Fluff...

... which is part of the Local Bubble.

The Local Bubble is a cavity in the interstellar medium (ISM) in the Orion Arm of the Milky Way. It contains, among others, the Local Interstellar CloudG-cloud, and the Solar System. It is at least 300 light years across... 

The Solar System is located in what is known as the Orion-Cygnus arm of the Milky Way galaxy.

The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy that has a diameter usually considered to be roughly 100,000–120,000 light-years in diameter but may be 150,000–180,000 light-years. The Milky Way is estimated to contain 100–400 billion stars, although this number may be as high as one trillion. There are probably at least 100 billion planets in the Milky Way. The Solar System is located within the disk, about 27,000 light-years from the Galactic Center, on the inner edge of one of the spiral-shaped concentrations of gas and dust called the Orion Arm. The stars in the inner ≈10,000 light-years form a bulge and one or more bars that radiate from the bulge. The very center is marked by an intense radio source, named Sagittarius A*, which is likely to be a supermassive black hole.

The Milky Way galaxy is part of the Local Galactic Group.

The Local Group is the galaxy group that includes the Milky Way. The Local Group comprises more than 54 galaxies, most of them dwarf galaxies. Its gravitational center is located somewhere between the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy. The Local Group covers a diameter of 10 Mly (3.1 Mpc) and has a binary (dumbbell) distribution.

The Local Group is part of the Virgo Supercluster, which is a small part of the Laniakea Supercluster.

The Virgo Supercluster (Virgo SC) or the Local Supercluster (LSC or LS) is a mass concentration of galaxies that contains the Virgo Cluster in addition to the Local Group, which in turn contains the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies. At least 100 galaxy groups and clusters are located within its diameter of 33 megaparsecs (110 million light-years). It is one of millions of superclusters in the observable universe.

The blue arrow?  That's us.  (Everyone...remember where we parked the car!)
The Laniakea Supercluster encompasses 100,000 galaxies stretched out over 160 megaparsecs (520 million light-years). It has the approximate binding mass of 1017 solar masses, or a hundred thousand times that of our Galaxy, which is almost the same as that of the massive Horologium Supercluster. 
How many superclusters are there?  Good question.  The number goes up to at least 174. But here's a map:
That's about One Billion light years in diameter.  Which makes it one of the skinny ticks on the map below.

The observable universe consists of the galaxies and other matter that can, in principle, be observed from Earth at the present time because light and other signals from these objects has had time to reach the Earth since the beginning of the cosmological expansion. Assuming the universe is isotropic, the distance to the edge of the observable universe is roughly the same in every direction. That is, the observable universe is a spherical volume (a ball) centered on the observer. Every location in the Universe has its own observable universe, which may or may not overlap with the one centered on Earth.
And then there exists the possibility of parallel universes, including one where you did not misplace your car keys.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Today's Train of Thought: Judy Garland to France, by Way of Austria

While I was waiting for my Hot Pockets to cook, I read the back page of Sports Illustrated, about athletes (and others) who return to Minnesota.
At the end, it mentioned Judy Garland.

So I went to Wikipedia to read up...
...which lead to "Judgement at Nuremberg"

...which lead to Stanley Kramer

...which lead to Oskar Werner

...who went AWOL from the German Army during World War II and hid in the Wienerwald with his wife in 1944.

So then I pulled up the Wikipedia article on that massive forest, which led to Google Maps, which made me curious about Niederösterreich.

So I opened the article on Austrian states, which led me to Voralberg, all the way on the western edge.

They don't speak the Bavarian dialect (which sounds like drunken German), but Allemannic, which is similar to Swiss-German.  (Interesting bit of trivia: after World War One, Voralberg voted to join Switzerland.  But the Swiss and the allies didn't approve.)

This led to the dialect map, which showed "Langues d'oïl", which is sort of a mixture of Flemish and French.  (Walloon is the most well known example.)

This also led to the other French dialect, lenga d'oc, or Occitan, which is prevalent in southern France.

All because I needed something to read for three minutes...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sherlocking Times Square!

A friend was impressed that I was able to notice things wrong with an advertisement supposedly showing a subway car from the 1990s.

I then told her that was nothing.... I could take a random picture of Times Square, and be able to give a general date of when the photo was taken.

I searched "Times Square" on Google Image, scrolled down until all of the pictures loaded, then scrolled halfway up, and picked the first photo that appealed to me.

[You can view the original here.  I don't want to violate the artist's rights.]

That's it up above.   Here's the link to the actual post I found.  (She swiped it from DeviantArt.)  It's a panoramic digital photo, as you can see artifacts below Buzz Lightyear and on the Amazon sign.  There is a watermark near McDonald's, but I can't read it.)

So, let's get cracking, shall we?
First, here's the Google Street map, approximately from the same vantage point.  (Note, it's from May 2009, and the Maxwell, Mama Mia!, Phantom, and Wicked ads are there!)

The easiest thing is to look for movie posters.  Long ago, movies ran forever, and there were numerous theater marquees on Broadway.  Not anymore, but there are billboards, and we can see "Inception" being advertised with a July 16 opening date, right above The Palace theatre.  Wikipedia states it was released in 2010.  So, knowing the life span of movie advertising, we've narrowed the picture down to the year 2010.

Could it be 2009?  Not likely.  Look at the clothing.  That's Summer 2009 at the earliest, and Hollywood doesn't advertise any movie that early, especially one which was hush-hush.  Oh, and look...  underneath the Coke sign...  "2011 Hyundai Sonata".  Most likely Summer 2010, but let's look closer.

Next, we look at the Broadway shows advertised.

Mama Mia!, Addams Family, Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, West Side Story, Jersey Boys...  those shows ran too long, although The Addams Family has a cartoon image, so it could be a pre-advertisement.  But let's use that as a bookmark...  Wikipedia shows it ran from March 8, 2010 (previews) until December 31, 2011.

A better clue is the Marriott Marquis marquee (sorry, couldn't resist!).  "Come Fly Away:  A New Musical" is advertised.  Wikipedia says it ran from March 1, 2010 and ran through  September 5, 2010.  It was replaced by "Donny & Marie - A Broadway Christmas", which would not be advertised until possibly October.  Again, given the clothing seen, I'm thinking September 2010 at the latest.

Note that the Disney Store has not opened yet.  The grand opening was November 9, 2010.

What about Forever 21?  Uncertain.  It's to the right of the Disney Store, not seen on the photo.  It opened June 25, 2010.  But those look like old-fashioned billboards, not the LED displays which are there now.  Also, the "Bertelsmann" signage has since been replaced with the building address, "1540 Broadway".  Google Maps' archive shows it had not been changed in August 2012.

Hmm... A Little Night Music...  November 24, 2009... BUT!
The production temporarily closed on June 20, 2010 when the contracts of Zeta-Jones and Lansbury ended and resumed on July 13, with new stars Bernadette Peters as Desiree Armfeldt and Elaine Stritch as Madame Armfeldt.
It closed on January 9, 2011.

Beneath that ad, we see the "La" from "La Cage aux Folles".  April 6, 2010 until May 1, 2011.

What's the "Huge" ad?  An ABC Family TV show.  It premiered on June 28, 2010, the last episode was August 30, and it was cancelled on October 4, 2010.  So I'm thinking May-July 2010.

Given the watermark and a Google Image search, I found the original photo:
Times Square HDR Panorama by vvmasterdrfan

His meta data?  It looks like he posted it in October 2010.
From his site:
Its truly amazing taking a picture of Time Square because the photo is like a Time Capsule because all the posters change so often.
I've posted this link to his DA page.  I wonder if the original photo has metadata?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Introducing.... Monet Comics #1 Page 1 "Haystacks"

Copyright 2015  Torsten Adair

How did I do this?
I used MS Excel for the panel borders, figuring out the halfway point between columns A and B.

Using the French Wikipedia page for the Haystacks, I copy-and-pasted the graphics onto the sheet, then meticulously scaled and positioned each painting so that it did not overlap the cell borders.  

Then I adjusted the cell height to match the paintings.  

As the paintings are not of the same dimensions or scale, I had to do a little "stretching of the canvas" to make them fit!

"Not comics!" you say?  Pishposh.  Monet painted these eight paintings sequentially, during the Summer and Fall of 1890.

For those interested, these eight paintings are W1266-W1273.  One was not found on the Wikipedia page, so I had to search online.  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

This Motley Fool Didn't Do The Math...

The Motley Fools, specifically David Hanson, states that, compared to the stock market, home appreciation values are horrible, only generating a 19% return since 1958.
Considering the amount of money Buffett is used to dealing with, one would expect Buffett to live in gaudy mansion or even his own private island. Surprisingly, that couldn't be further from the truth. Buffett still lives in the same Omaha, Nebraska home he purchased in 1958 for a measly $31,500. Now, $31,500 today doesn't buy you what it did in 1958, but even adjusted for inflation, that amount in today’s dollars is only around $260,000.
The Douglas County, Nebraska, Treasurer's website appraises the house at $660,200.

660,200 / 31,500 = 20.9587301587302
Multiply by 100, you get 2095.5%, which is comparable to the 2785% return on U.S. stocks MF graphs. (No idea what data they use for the stock returns number. Dow Jones? S&P?)

Now, of course, the Motley Fool is an investing website, and most of their money is made on reporting on the stock market.  So, yes, their reportage will be biased towards investing in the stock market, and less on other forms of investment.

But it appears that the Oracle of Omaha knew what he was doing when he bought that home.  It's in a nice neighborhood, near a major city park and university, with easy access to downtown Omaha.  It was built in 1921, has five bedrooms, and 2.5 baths.

And let's face it...  real estate can be a very lucrative investment!  Smart homeowners pay off their mortgage quickly, buy another house or property, rent that, and use the rent payments to pay off the second mortgage.  Looking to buy?  You might want to try Berkshire Hathaway Home Services.  (See, Warren knows what he's doing...)