Just a Thought

Just a Thought was Originally Posted on October 23, 2009 by

I’ve been known to watch TV, lots of TV. I used to have a big satellite dish (the kind that looked like NASA had a downlink) and I would watch all I could. Having 176 channels didn’t make it any easier and those 176 were all VIDEO channels, not mostly music channels which some services count as channels. Those days are gone and now I only get a handful of stations.

Tonight I was switching channels and I saw a scene that looked familiar. As mentioned in another blog today, I sometimes see scenes that trigger a memory. The show was Super nanny and the background was very familiar. It looked like Georgia with pine trees and mountains in the background. It looked like up near Cleveland Georgia. Guess what? It WAS Cleveland, home to Babyland Hospital (where Cabbage Patch Dolls come from). I used to go to the Cleveland area to go gold prospecting. I learned about gold prospecting on the same satellite system. The Gold Prospectors Association and the Lost Dutchman Mining Association had a “Gold Fever” show up on one of the channels each week. Soon they created their own channel and now it is the Outdoor Channel, available on cable systems and certain satellite system.

I often tell people that gold prospecting is interesting and that there are some things I can tell them that can make finding gold very easy. I’ll pass those suggestions along to you, not that I expect you to go look for gold, but more of an experiment in learning. I usually start by telling people that there are two places to look for gold. They are: where it is and where it isn’t. “Is there gold on this table here?” I ask. They say, “Of course not” and I say, then don’t look for gold where it isn’t, look for it where it will be, or at least CAN be”.

Gold is very heavy and is often found in streams where the water carries it downstream. So, if it is heavy and is carried by water, it will get pulled along until the water slows enough that it will drop. There are parts of a stream where that happens and if you watch a stream it will be obvious. Look at curve in the stream. Think of it like a bicycle wheel. The outer side turns very slowly while the part near the hub turns very quickly. So if you were to look at a curve, you would want to look at the outside of the curve. Then since gold is very heavy, it will drop to the bottom muck and over time, drop down until it cannot go any further. That is usually something like bedrock. So there you have it, I have, in a minute or two, helped you understand how to start reading a stream that might carry gold, and determine where it MIGHT be, if there is any.

You should now be able to answer the question; “I have two American coins in my hand. The total value of them is 35 cents and one coin is not a quarter. What are they?”. Think about the table and the gold. The correct answer is that I have a dime and a quarter in my hand. You may say “But you said one coin was not a quarter…” and you are right. One coin was not a quarter, it was a dime. The OTHER coin was the quarter.

I used to watch other satellite channels and my favorites were the raw news feeds. After a massive earthquake in San Francisco, I watched hours of raw video of cars lining up to cross the bridge when it reopened. Often I could watch news feeds and see how they were edited before they made it to air. This is a far cry from what people now see on the small tv dishes.

I gave a somewhat technical explanation of satellite TV to Sandra on our way back from the Vet the other day. It probably would have made more sense if I had been able to draw diagrams.

For those who don’t know, your TV signals come from satellites in geosynchronous orbit where they appear to hover in a specific spot in the sky. A signal is transmitted to that spot in space, the satellite copies the signal and sends it back down to recipients. Depending upon the satellite, those recipients may be consumers or TV stations or one specific site, depending upon the “footprint” the signal transmits onto the earth. The location of the geo satellites has a name; it is the Clarke Belt, named after Arthur C. Clarke, the famous sci fi writer who described such a system of orbiting satellites in a book. It appears another person originally described the idea in 1928, but it did not receive wide publication at the time. The belt is 22,000 miles above the equator. Since the area in the sky is small, expired satellites must be moved out of this orbit to a parking area and then either ejected into space or allowed to re-enter the atmosphere. To move a satellite into another orbit must be a very careful dance involving moving it into another orbit (allowing it to speed up or slow down) and then drop back into proper orbit.

Although the satellites in geo orbit appear to be exactly in the same spot in the sky, there is actually a bit of slop there. If you were to accurately track each satellite, you might notice that they actually do a figure-8 in the sky. I’ll explain why that is in a bit down below, so read on.

Once that I remember, there was a major problem moving a satellite. They forgot to turn it off first. As it moved in the other orbit, its signal wiped out the channels on other satellites as it passed. This is kinda like driving along the highway listening to classical music when a car passes you playing loud music with that deep bass thumping going on.

You know that although I get a bit technical here, you will not be tested on any of this (well, except for the quarter thing above). I mention things to get you to think about things you might not otherwise think about. Once I was listening to a TV show and heard part of an explanation of Quantum Physics and actually followed some of it.

Sometimes the idea of measurements comes up. In some cases, measuring something affects the outcome. (This is not a discussion of Schrodinger’s cat by the way). Assume a test tube of cool water is somewhere near 35 degrees. You know this because it was frozen and recently melted. Now assume that in it you place a thermometer. The thermometer reads 35 degrees. If you think about it, the water was not at 35 degrees when you first started measuring it, especially if the test tube is small and the thermometer was not near 35 degrees when put in. In an extreme example, assume you place a thermometer probe, which is 200 degrees, into water that is very cool. The thermometer will warm the water and the water will cool the probe, until they come to equilibrium somewhere in between. Thus the act of measuring the temperature affected the answer. If you wish to not effect the outcome by much, have a large item to measure with a small probe, or have them approximately at the same temperature if possible.

They say that a small magnet in your hand can affect the magnetic flux of the planet. HOWEVER, the flux of the earth is very strong compared to the flux of the magnet in your hand. Thus you will not affect things by any measurable amount. With that said, and believing that a magnetic flux so strong that it can twist the needle of a compass, some people believe that the minerals and moisture in your body might be affected by the magnetic force of the earth. They suggest sleeping in different compass positions until you find that you are healthier and sleep better. I’ll leave that experiment up to you.

Often on the C.S.I. episodes, they may not know what caused a death, but they can tell you what didn’t cause it. Sometimes when you eliminate things, the answer comes to you.

Back to the satellites and why they do a figure-8 in the sky. Any idea why? If you don’t know, think about the quarter and the dime. The satellites are not doing a figure-8. The earth is wobbling on its axis below them!

Keep thinking and I bid you Aloha for now!