Tech Net News 03-16-2019

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Illustration by Zhao Chuang/courtesy of PNSO

Do you want to have some fun? Help support living history education, show off our hobby, and avoid roaming tyrannosaurs by coming out to the Frontiers of Flight Museum for the Wings of Freedom event. We don’t work…we just have fun with radios. To sign up to help, click here. We’ll be there from about 9:00 AM to, well, some time in the late afternoon. Admission to the museum and parking will be free, but touring the historic aircraft requires purchasing a ticket. We’ll be monitoring the 146.88 repeater during the event, so just give us a call for more information.

Chuck Thompson, N5IAG, has become a silent key. We’ll provide more information about services when it becomes available.

In news from the world of amateur radio:

The ARRL has conducted several surveys and comparative reviews of other countries’ licensing structures, and the result is a proposal to the FCC to grant more (but still limited) HF privileges to Technician-class licensees. If you’d like to comment on the proposal, more information can be found here.

Another, and very different, proposal from an amateur operator is to create a simple “tyro” license class with privileges only on the 70-centimeter band. The “tyro” license would be aimed at CERT members and other public service volunteers, and have a very simple exam.

And if you’re already looking forward to Field Day, the ARRL Field Day website has been updated with with preliminary information about the 2019 event. No significant rule changes are expected.

In news from the world of science:

A Google employee celebrated Pi Day by calculating pi to 31.4 trillion decimal places. That’s a lot of pi! I wonder how many calories were involved?

A group of scientists, writing for Physics Today, made heavy use of pi to calculate that, on average, Mercury is always the closest planet to any other. Sure, other planets might have an orbit closer to yours at closest approach…but they also get much further away.

I haven’t heard much bird news this week, but T-rex is a bird relative, so this counts: Tyrannosaurus rex was known to science mainly through just a few skeletons, but the number of available specimens of t-rex and its near relatives has greatly increased in recent years. Our planet’s most feared predator was not only an Olympic-caliber race walker, but it had a mullet, an incredible bite force of 7,800 pounds, and offspring that looked like fuzzy turkeys.

Computer networks are important, and networked computers can do more than computers alone; it takes a group of computers to find all those trillions of digits of pi, after all. But what about a group of viruses working together as one to reproduce and spread disease? Do you count that as just one pathogen, or 8? The question has suddenly become relevant thanks to a new study of a plant virus, or 8 of them.

And finally, migration season is underway for both birds and bugs. Look out for monarch butterflies, sandhill cranes, and other interesting creatures. If you haven’t planted any milkweed, the monarchs would definitely appreciate the help.