Northern Lights Tour, Iceland and Norway

Remember the factors: darkness, a week-long stay, good clear weather, picking your location and planning your itinerary. With all these taken into account, hopefully you will look up and be dazzled by the beautiful dancing lights. And if they don’t show themselves, you will still have had a great adventure in Iceland!

From the Northern Lights website

Leaving Monday for Iceland and Oslo, Norway to see Aurora Borealis.

Auroras are produced when the magnetosphere is sufficiently disturbed by the solar wind that the trajectories of charged particles in both solar wind and magnetospheric plasma, mainly in the form of electrons and protons, precipitate them into the upper atmosphere (thermosphere/exosphere) due to Earth’s magnetic field, where their energy is lost.

The resulting ionization and excitation of atmospheric constituents emits light of varying color and complexity. The form of the aurora, occurring within bands around both polar regions, is also dependent on the amount of acceleration imparted to the precipitating particles. Precipitating protons generally produce optical emissions as incident hydrogen atoms after gaining electrons from the atmosphere. Proton auroras are usually observed at lower latitudes.[2]

Wikipedia

So, besides learning to spell Reyjavik, I’ve learned that there are two Auroras, the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and Arora Australis (Southern Lights).

Auroras are created by atoms colliding and releasing photons as they interact with the magnetosphere surrounding the Earth. A wonderful blend of both astrophysics and elemental physics:

The northern lights are caused by collisions between fast-moving particles (electrons) from space and the oxygen and nitrogen gas in our atmosphere. These electrons originate in the magnetosphere, the region of space controlled by Earth’s magnetic field. As they rain into the atmosphere, the electrons impart energy to oxygen and nitrogen molecules, making them excited. When the molecules return to their normal state, they release photons, small bursts of energy in the form of light.

Northern Lights as seen from the ISS – NASA.gov

Some other facts in case you are appearing on Jeopardy!:

  • Seneca wrote about auroras in the first book of his Naturales Quaestiones,
  • Benjamin Franklin hypothesized the explanation for the phenomenon in his paper, Aurora Borealis, Suppositions and Conjectures towards forming an Hypothesis for its Explanation
  • During the Battle of Fredericksburg, an aurora was seen from the battlefield.

Forecast says rain and snow, so we will see.

For convenience, I plan to use Reykjavik Sailors:

 

 

 

I figure the added possibility of mobility will increase the odds. There are plenty of opportunities to see them in Norway, so I’ll give it a shot there.

 

TKS 250 Feedback

Chris and I had a great time doing the show yesterday. Thanks for all the great feedback. It was like we never stopped. We will be back soon with another show!

The Tom Kirkham Show Reboot

So…
Remember how they rebooted Star Trek? This is like that. A lot has changed for me and the world – and I bet for you – in the few years since I was on the air at KWHN. (I still don’t know why they gave me public airwaves with no time delay.)

For one thing, we can do video. On the web, but you can also listen in. Live. On your smartphone. On your tablet. Whatever you use to get on the internet works. Easily.

And, we can do it interactively, such as chat, video, and even screen sharing.

The topics of the show will be a little more than just computer tips, though. We are going to get more into technology and life. Since Al Gore helped create the Internet, practically the all human knowledge gathered over millennia can be found online. This changes things immensely; not just for each of us, but for society and humanity as a whole.

You can be better.

Better, stronger, faster. Free up more time leveraging this new Information Age. We will be talking about technology, biohacking, accelerated learning – basically anything that allows for TimeSpace compression (what?), and I ain’t talkin’ Einstein stuff. Maybe a little.

This will be the first with a new platform, and I am a little rusty, so let’s learn all over again.

Join me Saturday, November 18, 2017, at 10 am by registering here.

Chris Sawtelle of River Valley IT Consulting – who was my cohort for many of the original shows will be joining us.

Crypto Speculation and Seneca

Seneca, Dying. At the Lourve; photo taken by me.

Approaching the physical age of 56, I am constantly reminded of Seneca’s thoughts on mortality.

You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.

I’ve been trading in financial investments in some form or the other for the past 40+ years. Mostly stocks, some mutual funds and ETFs, and for the last 2-3 years, crpto currencies. My current crypto holdings are in Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Steem (Steem) and nem (XEM).

To be sure, investing is not for the faint of heart, and all investments require fortitude to stick with a plan, or abondon it when the plan is failing. Over the years, I’ve shaken off so many market corrections that I can’t even count them, simply because I know these happen, and stocks will eventually rise again to new hights. As Tony Robbins puts it in the title of his latest book, Unshakeable. (Here is the take-away from the book: Buy and keep buying the lowest load index ETF – I own SPY -, regardless of price, and don’t panic.)

Cryptocurrencies, especially BTC and ETH will rise , fall, then rise more again as well. No doubt. They are here to stay, and nothing can stop them. (And, before you ask, yes, I am bullish on STEEM and XEM or I would not hold them, or more importantly write on this platform).

But now, my investment horizon is starting to fuck with me in a way that I can’t quite get my head around. For 40+ years,, I’ve have been almost always fearless and unshakeable, but the confidence I have in Steem and other cryptos are coming into a conflict with my investment horizon, or what I commonly refer to as “having too much life at the end of the money, or too much money at the end of the life”.

This Seneca quote is particulary troublesome:

How stupid to forget our mortality, and put off sensible plans to our fiftieth and sixtieth years, aiming to begin life from a point at which few have arrived!

Cryptocurrencies, especially BTC, are crossing the chasm from the early adopters to the early majority. Just a week or so ago a colleague asked me which crypto he should buy. I don’t think he had ever seriously bought crypto before. This was the very morning that BTC hit an all-time high over $2700. I took some profits off the table right then.

Regardless, my bucket list is there, my mortality is there, and the knowledge that cryptos are the current and best wealth investment today are troubling me.

I am very interested in hearing others thoughts.

If you post a reply, please let me know at least your age (or any other thing that affects your investment horizon).

CERN and the Invention of the World Wide Web

CERN and the Invention of the World Wide Web

Recently I visited Europe, and the high point of the trip was my tour of CERN (wikipedia link).

After trying unsuccessfully to register for a tour, I decided to just go for it, and when I arrived at the visitor center, the group just leaving had extra space so I joined up.

High-energy particle physics probably bore most people, but for me, it was nerd heaven.CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid

The CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) facility is where the detector and control room are. I was able to go underground. Here is a selfie of me with the 2,000 ton detector:

CMS Detector

Birthplace of the World Wide Web

What many people don’t know is that the World Wide Web was invented at CERN by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Not the Internet (the WWW is just a part of the Internet). Here is a photo of the first World Wide Web server (sorry about the low-quality, but it is housed in a weird globe), which is another remarkable footnote of computing history – Steve Jobs’ NeXT computer:

First WWW server at CERN

 

Al Gore and the Internet

Since we are on the subject, Al Gore did not proclaim to “invent” the Internet. What he did do is help create and nurture the Internet. That is in fact, true. When asked what distinguished him from his challenger in the 2000 Democratic Presidential nomination, he stated this:

During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country’s economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.

As Vice President, Gore was in charge of promoting and developing the “Information Superhighway” and launched a number of initiatives that without a doubt placed him on the list of people that helped create what we know today as the Internet. Don’t believe me?

Vint Cerf (“Father of the Internet”) and his colleague Bob Kahn, who actually did create the Internet (along with others; it was a world-wide group effort) wrote this in response to the critique and ridicule of  Gore’s statement, which they felt was unjustifed.

Some Excerpts:

Al Gore was the first political leader to recognize the importance of the Internet and to promote and support its development.

…But as the two people who designed the basic architecture and the core protocols that make the Internet work, we would like to acknowledge VP Gore’s contributions as a Congressman, Senator and as Vice President. No other elected official, to our knowledge, has made a greater contribution over a longer period of time. [Emphasis mine]

The fact of the matter is that Gore was talking about and promoting the Internet long before most people were listening. We feel it is timely to offer our perspective.

As far back as the 1970s Congressman Gore promoted the idea of high speed telecommunications as an engine for both economic growth and the improvement of our educational system. He was the first elected official to grasp the potential of computer communications to have a broader impact than just improving the conduct of science and scholarship.

As Vice President Gore promoted building the Internet both up and out, as well as releasing the Internet from the control of the government agencies that spawned it. …Gore provided much-needed political support for the speedy privatization of the Internet when the time arrived for it to become a commercially-driven operation.

No one in public life has been more intellectually engaged in helping to create the climate for a thriving Internet than the Vice President. Gore has been a clear champion of this effort, both in the councils of government and with the public at large.

The Vice President deserves credit for his early recognition of the value of high speed computing and communication and for his long-term and consistent articulation of the potential value of the Internet to American citizens and industry and, indeed, to the rest of the world.

When the fathers of the Internet verify his help, it is real. So please give credit where credit is due.

SpaceX to Launch Today from Vandenberg, 11:54:34am CST

In it’s first attempt to launch since the catastrophic launchpad explosion at Canaveral on September 1, 2016, SpaceX is set to launch today from Vandenberg AFB.

The Falcon 9 rocket is lifting and placing 10 (each the size of a Mini Cooper) Iridium satellites into low-Earth orbit. This is the first of 7 launches to eventually place at least 70 Iridium satellites into orbit, updating the original satellites from 20 years ago. From SpaceX’s press kit, “The process of replacing the satellites one-by-one in a constellation of this size and scale has never been completed before.”

SpaceX has another objective as well: returning the first stage to Earth intact by landing it on “Just Read the Instructions”, a droneship in the Pacific Ocean.

 

The launch can be watched on the official SpaceX site,