Cluster Map

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Ari, June 22, 2010

THIS IS THE HAPPY HALF of my weekly blog, designed for people who like Polyanna would prefer not to be subjected to the seamy side of our life, at least not by me.  Nonetheless, the other side exists and I have a need to write it, as best expressed by the Noble Prize winning physicist, James Franck, who tried to maintain a moral world after he had participated in the Manhattan Project.  I quote him:

 In February 1946 Franck wrote to Max Born, in English, about
his reluctance to become involved in political matters.

    I would be quite content . . . if only my conscience would
    not force me to take a stand on a few political issues. I
    hate to be involved in anything political; I hate
    publicity, but I just cannot retire into the ivory tower of
    free research and forget about the world. And, of course,
    at our age we are probably more pessimistic than the young
    people. Even I am not consistent in my pessimistic point of
    view, because I have an elementary joy in each new
    grandchild, and feel that whenever I have the opportunity I
    am a kind of professional grandfather.

Last week we announced Ari's forthcoming birthday, but we can do it again
and wish him all the best.  For those of us who recall his difficult entry into the world, it is as true source of delight to see this wonderful (objective grandpa, right?) 11 year old.

Valery was an old friend and I am sorry about her death.  She had a long and good life despite living in the USSR.  She was always nice and friendly to me despite the fact that to her bosses all Israelis were lepers.  I pass on an obituary from Margy Kivelson:
From: Margaret G. Kivelson

With great sadness, we report that our colleague, Valery
Troitskaya, passed away in Melbourne, Australia, on January 22,
2010, at age 92. Valeria died at Kew Gardens Retirement Village
in Melbourne, Australia where she resided with her husband
Keith Cole. She was a well known Russian scientist, respected
and loved all over the world. She understood early that much
could be learned about space plasmas by characterizing their
natural oscillations and devoted her scientific career to
exploiting that perception.

Born in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) on November 15, 1917, in the
Soviet era, Valery obtained a Masters in Geophysics from
Leningrad State University in 1940 and a Ph.D. from the
Institute of Physics of the Earth in Moscow in 1953,
specializing in the study of geomagnetic micropulsations
(magnetic pulsations in current parlance) - naturally occurring
Ultra Low Frequency (ULF) sinusoidal variations of the
geomagnetic field with periods of about one second to ten
minutes as recorded on ground-based magnetic instrumentation.
She remained at the Institute of the Physics of the Earth until
1989, serving as Chairman of the Electromagnetics Department
for the last 27 years.

Valerie was active in many international scientific
organizations including IAGA (International Association for
Geomagnetism and Aeronomy), IUGG (International Union for
Geodesy and Geophysics) and COSPAR (Committee on Space
Research). Author of more than 300 scientific articles, Valery
received many awards at home and abroad.

Valery's first husband was Alexander Waisenberg, a noted
nuclear physicist. They had twin children, Katia and Peter. Her
husband died in 1985. Some years later (1989), she married the
well-known scientist, Keith Cole, and moved to Melbourne,
Australia where she became an Honorary Professor at La Trobe

Valery's many admirers will remember her for her scientific
acumen coupled with deep concerns for the welfare of her
friends and colleagues. Messages of condolence may be directed
to Keith Cole (Kew Gardens Aged Care Facility, 22-24 Gellibrand
Street, Kew, Victoria 3101, Australia or by email care of his
son and to Valery's daughter, Katia
Nazarova (

[This announcement with the photo is available online at .]

This past week was marked by much beautiful music.  On Thursday night we went to the Enav Center to hear a group called the Israel Chamber Project.   Go to their Web site for videos.
This is a group of young musicians who gave us a modern Israeli piece, some Debussy, a Martinu sonata and the Archduke himself.  We followed it up with the canonical ice cream cones at the wonderful gelato place across the street on Ibn Gavirol.

Saturday night it was the Israel Philharmonic's turn to make us happy.  Emmanuel Ax came to play and we heard:
Series: Gala
Conductor: David Robertson
Soloists: Emanuel Ax, pianist
Prokofiev: Symphony no. 1 ("Classical")
Chopin: Piano Concerto no. 2
Ligetti: Concert Romanesque
Szymanowski: Symphony no. 4 for piano and orchestra

It was amusing that they changed the order of the pieces with Prokofiev at the beginning, Chopin at the end and the modern pieces in the middle to keep our "open minded" Tel Aviv audience in the hall. 
A beautiful experience.

I  had a nice skype with Hadass and Shira.  They all started their Maya fix on Sunday.  We will get her later in the week.


It appears that our neighboring planet might have been a nice place in the past.  We have two indications of past water, one from analysis of surface features
and the other from chemistry at Spirit. 
which is somewhat more convincing.  The probe itself
is still stuck in sand, but the data are there to be mined for treasure.


Some new experiments are giving us insight into how life might have come about on Earth and how it might come about elsewhere.  I find this mind-boggling.
I expect that some of our more literal-minded religious friends might not like this.  I know that Origin of Life research at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, where God is the President, is disguised by other names such as crystal formation etc.  That was not a rant!

Who needs soccer when you can play dominoes?  Will we soon have world tournaments in tiddly winks?

As you all know I earn my pension from Saturn/Cassini research.  I would like to share with you something that my imaging team colleagues came up with a few years ago.  They asked the public to vote for the most stunning image of Saturn.  I append the results of the contest.
which I am sure you will enjoy.  This image was the winner,

a solar eclipse seen from Saturn with the Earth in the rings.  And to wind things up, here is Gene Weingarten in
Below the Beltway
to keep you happy.  I even put it him on the nasty blog for the jaundiced souls who read only the mean stuff.

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