Tech Net News 03-14-2020: Happy Pi Day!

Yes, there will be a quiz. Credit:

It’s Pi day! I hope you’ve calculated the circumference of at least one circle today. If you’re arriving late to the party, NASA has a page of Pi trivia and math challenges you can use to get started with, including one about how many digits of Pi you really need. Hint: it’s not just 3.14!

It’s less fun to talk about this next bit, but: There are a lot of concerns about travel and public gatherings lately, thanks to the community spread of SARS-CoV-2. Please check this page and the club’s Facebook page for information about our activities, including any schedule changes.

The North Texas Mentorfest is still on the calendar, at least for now; it’s scheduled for April 18th, 2020.  If you’d like to help out at the DARC table, please contact us or get in touch with Randy Patterson, KE5JIT. For more information, including how to volunteer as a mentor, please check the ARRL NTX Newsletter.

The contest calendar for the next few days is very busy with lots of lesser-known events you can try out; the Tesla Memorial HF Contest is only one of many. There are also QSO parties going on in Oklahoma, Idaho, Wisconsin, and for many clubs.

UPDATE: are you looking for new friends? Have extra time on your hands? If you’re a member of the ARRL NTX section group, there’s now an on-line database of nets in our area. Have fun!

UPDATE: Don reminded us that radio astronomers have recently discovered the biggest bang since the big one, and that multi-frequency observations have been critical in understanding what happened.

In news from the world of ham radio:

The ARRL has suspended public visits to W1AW, and the 2020 International DX Convention, in Visalia, CA, has been canceled as well.

A group of sea-borne amateurs is re-activating the famous VP2VB/MM “Yasme” callsign, and they’ve been on the air today, according to DX spotting networks.

In news from the world of science:

A tiny bird skull found trapped in 100-million-year-old amber may set a new record for the all-time smallest bird species. The skull was only 0.6 inches long!

An anomaly found at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland several years ago has persisted in new data, according to the latest reports. No one is sure what this slightly unusual form of particle decay means—but at least it’s something new in a field that has gotten rather predictable in recent years.

Geologists and astronomers have long believed that days used to be shorter than they are now, and paleontologists have just provided an interesting confirmation: using fossil clams that grew so fast that they produced a growth ring in their shells every day, they’ve found direct evidence that, 70 million years ago, days were only 23.5 hours long, and years contained 372 days…just as the math predicted.

Of course, while ornithology is my second-favorite science, radio comes first. So it’s especially nice when new discoveries are made using radio, and even better when they use familiar VHF frequencies. Astronomers from the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy have announced the first-ever discovery of an Earth-sized exoplanet not by using a regular telescope…but by listening to the radio waves produced by the interaction between the planet’s magnetic field and its sun.