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Ian Punnett's Blog Post 4/17/10

Ian Punnett's Blog Post 4/17/10

You may not believe this but tonight I was at a party at Garrison Keillor's house. Garrison Keillor himself wasn't there but the gathering was well attended nonetheless.

Garrison Keillor was out of town on business but that didn't stop the party. One quick brick to the kitchen window and we were in!

You'd think a bigshot like him would have a better security system.

No, of course, I'm kidding but it was cool to be invited to a party in support of Minnesota Opera at Garrison Keillor's house because of some work I do for them on the radio. It was, as you would imagine, an opulent home with wonderful view of the Mississippi.

I'm not jealous and I wish Mr. Keillor well but isn't funny that the guy from not-for-profit radio is the one with the giant mansion?

Maybe I should look for work in the M82 galaxy. According to New Scientist.com, there's a new radio signal in town:

There is something strange in the cosmic neighbourhood. An unknown object in the nearby galaxy M82 has started sending out radio waves, and the emission does not look like anything seen anywhere in the universe before.

"We don't know what it is," says co-discoverer Tom Muxlow of Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics near Macclesfield, UK.

The thing appeared in May last year, while Muxlow and his colleagues were monitoring an unrelated stellar explosion in M82 using the MERLIN network of radio telescopes in the UK. A bright spot of radio emission emerged over only a few days, quite rapidly in astronomical terms. Since then it has done very little except baffle astrophysicists.

It certainly does not fit the pattern of radio emissions from supernovae: they usually get brighter over a few weeks and then fade away over months, with the spectrum of the radiation changing all the while. The new source has hardly changed in brightness over the course of a year, and its spectrum is steady.

Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly what is being transmitted but so far they have been able to translate only this:

"Gooooooood morning, M82 galaxy, it's fifteen minutes after the top of the hour and this is Grnog and The Bean in the morning."

Weird.

So was the video of the "Midwestern Fireball" story:
http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/04/15/midwest.fireball/

I've been talking with a meteorologist friend of mine this week (one of the few times that a meteorologist actually gets to talk about meteors) and he said that it is unlikely that any of this "brick size" meteor will be found in southern Wisconsin in any great quantity but we'll keep an eye on it.

In the meantime, with UFO reports increasing around the world, maybe the message from the M82 galaxy that they are transmitting to Earth is "Keep those cellphone cameras handy!"

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