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Monday, September 30, 2013


12  BILLION MILES AND COUNTING—Guest Blog by NASA’s Dr. Tony Phillips--
NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft officially is the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space. The 36-year-old probe is about 12 billion miles (19 billion kilometers) from our sun.

New and unexpected data indicate Voyager 1 has been traveling for about one year through plasma, or ionized gas, present in the space between stars. Voyager is in a transitional region immediately outside the solar bubble, where some effects from our sun are still evident. A report on the analysis of this new data, an effort led by Don Gurnett and the plasma wave science team at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, is published in Thursday's edition of the journal Science.

Voyager I finished its Jupiter duties in April, 1979
"Now that we have new, key data, we believe this is mankind's historic leap into interstellar space," said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. "The Voyager team needed time to analyze those observations and make sense of them. But we can now answer the question we've all been asking -- 'Are we there yet?' Yes, we are."

Voyager 1 first detected the increased pressure of interstellar space on the heliosphere, the bubble of charged particles surrounding the sun that reaches far beyond the outer planets, in 2004. Scientists then ramped up their search for evidence of the spacecraft's interstellar arrival, knowing the data analysis and interpretation could take months or years.

Voyager 1 does not have a working plasma sensor, so scientists needed a different way to measure the spacecraft's plasma environment to make a definitive determination of its location. A coronal mass ejection, or a massive burst of solar wind and magnetic fields, that erupted from the sun in March 2012 provided scientists the data they needed.

When this unexpected gift from the sun eventually arrived at Voyager 1's location 13 months later, in April 2013, the plasma around the spacecraft began to vibrate like a violin string. On April 9, Voyager 1's plasma wave instrument detected the movement. The pitch of the oscillations helped scientists determine the density of the plasma. The particular oscillations meant the spacecraft was bathed in plasma more than 40 times denser than what they had encountered in the outer layer of the heliosphere.

Density of this sort is to be expected in interstellar space.
The plasma wave science team reviewed its data and found an earlier, fainter set of oscillations in October and November 2012. Through extrapolation of measured plasma densities from both events, the team determined Voyager 1 first entered interstellar space in August 2012.

In February 2013, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's 5,000-mile-wide Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) made this image of Voyager 1's radio signal from interstellar space.More

"We literally jumped out of our seats when we saw these oscillations in our data -- they showed us the spacecraft was in an entirely new region, comparable to what was expected in interstellar space, and totally different than in the solar bubble," Gurnett said. "Clearly we had passed through the heliopause, which is the long-hypothesized boundary between the solar plasma and the interstellar plasma."

The new plasma data suggested a timeframe consistent with abrupt, durable changes in the density of energetic particles that were first detected on Aug. 25, 2012. The Voyager team generally accepts this date as the date of interstellar arrival. The charged particle and plasma changes were what would have been expected during a crossing of the heliopause.

"The team’s hard work to build durable spacecraft and carefully manage the Voyager spacecraft's limited resources paid off in another first for NASA and humanity," said Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We expect the fields and particles science instruments on Voyager will continue to send back data through at least 2020. We can't wait to see what the Voyager instruments show us next about deep space."

Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, were launched 16 days apart in 1977. Both spacecraft flew by Jupiter and Saturn. Voyager 2 also flew by Uranus and Neptune. Voyager 2, launched before Voyager 1, is the longest continuously operated spacecraft. It is about 9.5 billion miles (15 billion kilometers) away from our sun.

Voyager mission controllers still talk to or receive data from Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 every day, though the emitted signals are currently very dim, at about 23 watts -- the power of a refrigerator light bulb. By the time the signals get to Earth, they are a fraction of a billion-billionth of a watt. Data from Voyager 1's instruments are transmitted to Earth typically at 160 bits per second, and captured by 34- and 70-meter NASA Deep Space Network stations. Traveling at the speed of light, a signal from Voyager 1 takes about 17 hours to travel to Earth. After the data are transmitted to JPL and processed by the science teams, Voyager data are made publicly available.

“Voyager has boldly gone where no probe has gone before, marking one of the most significant technological achievements in the annals of the history of science, and adding a new chapter in human scientific dreams and endeavors,” said John Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator for science in Washington. “Perhaps some future deep space explorers will catch up with Voyager, our first interstellar envoy, and reflect on how this intrepid spacecraft helped enable their journey.”

Scientists do not know when Voyager 1 will reach the undisturbed part of interstellar space where there is no influence from our sun. They also are not certain when Voyager 2 is expected to cross into interstellar space, but they believe it is not very far behind.

 Production editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

JPL built and operates the twin Voyager spacecraft. The Voyagers Interstellar Mission is a part of NASA's Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. NASA's Deep Space Network, managed by JPL, is an international network of antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions and radio and radar astronomy observations for the exploration of the solar system and the universe. The network also supports selected Earth-orbiting missions.
The cost of the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 missions -- including launch, mission operations and the spacecraft’s nuclear batteries, which were provided by the Department of Energy -- is about $988 million through September.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Los Angeles Times Art Critic Christopher Knight from a Times video

WHODUNIT @ THE WHITE HOUSE?--The following story has all the elements of a international art heist worthy of a “DaVinci Code” whodunit, but the whereabouts of the eight missing subjects of this Los Angeles Times investigative report have been hiding in plain sight for the past half-century.

LA Times Art Critic Christopher Knight tells a tale of Kennedy era White House intrigue involving acclaimed artist Paul Cezanne, Jacqueline Kennedy and a devious John Walker III, chief curator of the National Gallery of Art.

At the heart of the mystery is what happened to eight Cezanne paintings that were bequeathed to the White House and the American people.  How did Jacqueline Kennedy uncover the yegg, who bamboozled President Harry Truman out of eight world class French impressionist paintings?

Knight’s article “Chasing the White House Cezannes” quotes Mrs. Kennedy, who wrote to the perp. “We all know what you did to poor President Truman—making him sign away the eight Cezannes...”

It’s a classic piece of investigative and historical reporting.  To view the article link to:,0,2028196.htmlstory

For a video go to:

The Eight Kidnaped Cezanne Paintings

1.  Still Life with Quince, Apples and Pears,” circa 1885-1887, " . . . [I]t is often difficult to identify the fruits in Cézanne's still lifes. In this picture they have been variously denominated, but it is probably a quince that rests upon two apples and a barely glimpsed green fruit may be a pear--by analogy with the green pear to the left. . . . "Still Life with Quince, Apples, and Pears was one of more than a dozen Cézannes, eight of them now in the White House collection, owned by Charles A. Loeser, an American expatriate who lived in Florence."  ----White House Historical Assn. Scholar’s Notes.

2.  “House on a Hill,” early 20th century.

3.  “The Forest,” 1890-92 is a fine example of Cezanne’s postimpressionist style in his prime.  "It is a very French 'forest' that Cézanne spreads before us, parklike and inviting. The soft play of light and the fresh palette recall, not altogether by chance, the pleasant parks of 18th-century French painters like Watteau . . . . "Cézanne's glade . . . is unpeopled. The trees themselves become the actors and dancers . . . . The rolling ground is counterbalanced by the vertical thrust of the dominant tree ...” --White House Historical Assn. Scholar’s Notes.
4.  “Still Life with Skull,” circa 1900.  This work is said never to have entered the White House.

5.  “Boathouse on a River,” early 20th century work is reportedly now in the first family’s quarters.

6.  “House on the Marne,”1888-1890, "The artist used the motif of this house on the Marne at least three times, most likely in 1888. During that year, while living in Paris, he painted along the Marne between Paris and Rheims on a number of occasions. Of the three compositions this is the most insistently symmetrical, with the house and even the river presented nearly frontally, parallel to the picture plane, framed by the inward-arching trees. The cone-capped turret of the house is carefully linked with the vertical trees behind. These verticals are strongly reflected in the river, creating a central axis that intersects the riverbank to control the picture surface." ----White House Historical Assn. Scholar’s Notes.

7.  “Landscape with Tower,” 1885-1890: oil on canvas, bequest of Charles A. Loeser.

8.  “Mont Sainte-Victoire and Hamlet near Gardanne,” 1886-1890:  ". . . . If one is first drawn to Mont Sainte-Victoire and Hamlet by the harsh splendor of the landscape, one stays with the painting because of the compelling geometry of the buildings that are of, not on, the earth. This bold group, drawn together like a single structure, a sort of a Provençal manor house that seems to have risen from a geological fold, presents a united face against the baking sun. "The greatest heat of the day has passed, and shadows have begun to lengthen on the houses . . . . Their angular roof lines are modulated by . . . swelling arcs . . . then a lone house bridges the rest of the distance to the mountain whose pulsing surface distantly echoes the buildings. "Gardanne is about eight kilometers south of Aix-en-Provence, where Cézanne had his studio. The "hamlet" of the title is in fact Meyreuil, situated on a plateau about four kilometers northeast of Gardanne with Mont Sainte-Victoire about seven kilometers beyond."  --White House Historical Assn. Scholar’s Notes.








Two of the Cezanne's (Left: "The Forest") and ("House on the Marne" were photographed by Robert Knudsen in the White House's Green Room on November 21, 1961, when the room was readied for a luncheon in honor of West German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer.
Image courtesy: White House/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Brigitte Bardot, 21 visits the studio of Pablo Picasso at his studio in Vallauris, France
 HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRIDGET BARDOT--Today, actress, animal activist Brigette Bardot is 79 years old.

In the photo above, left, the then 21 years old, French film starlet Brigette Bardot visited Pablo Picasso in his studio at Vallauris, in Southern France, during a break in the 1956 famed Cannes film festival.  Actually, the meeting was a photo op for Picasso not Bardot. In 1956, director Henri-Georges Clouzot won a special award for his documentary film “Le Mystere Picasso.” 

It wasn’t until the following year after director Roger Vadim’s “And God Created Woman” that Bardot her “Sex Kitten” persona.  Bardot and Vadim were married between 1952-57).  None of her films won awards at the Cannes festival.

In fact, the Cannes Film Festival, has been one of the top award venues for the international film festival, unfortunately every agent representing budding starlets posed them on the beach to amuse the visiting press corps.  As a result, the cheesecake is remembered and the awards not so much.  But, what cheesecake!

Friday, September 27, 2013


San Diego's magnificent central library holds public sneak peek party and street fair this Saturday
NEW CHAPTER--This blog is for you outtatown types because tomorrow is a day of celebration in San Diego that will see total media madness as the local fourth estate covers wall-to-wall a community sneak peak and street festival at the new Central Library, Saturday, September 28, 2013  11 a.m. - 6 p.m., 330 Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92101. Located in Downtown San Diego's East Village (Park Boulevard at 11th Avenue, near Petco Park).

Citizens are invited to an exciting FREE community festival celebrating the new San Diego Central Library, the heart of the city's 35-branch public library system.

Schedule of Events:

11 a.m.
Dedication Ceremony
Join library donors, supporters and dignitaries for a public dedication of the new Central Library to the San Diego community. Featuring the Navy Band, San Diego Children's Choir and additional surprises.

Noon - 6 p.m.
Family-friendly street festival and sneak peek inside the new Central Library.
Sneak Peek
Get an exclusive look inside the first floor of the new Central Library and auditorium, before its official opening on Monday, Sept. 30 from 9:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Exciting performances from Hullabaloo, The Heroes, The Paul Cannon Band, Clint Perry & the Boo Hoo Crew and many more!

Interactive children's activities, arts and crafts, storytelling, author meet-and-greets and more.

Enjoy food and snacks throughout the festival.

Parking and Public Transportation:
Attendees are encouraged to use public transportation. The San Diego Trolley stops near the new Central Library at the 12th & Imperial Transit Center. Additionally, thousands of affordable public parking spaces are available within walking distance of the library. For a complete list of bus and trolley routes and parking options visit:

Sponsors: This event is supported by: The City of San Diego, San Diego Public Library, Friends of the San Diego Public Library, SupportMyLibrary. org and the San Diego Public Library Foundation.

Facts and Figures:
Ground breaking: March 2010
Completion: Summer 2013
Cost: $185 million
Architects: Rob Wellington Quigley and Tucker Sadler Architects.
Size: Nine stories and 498,000 sq. ft.
Construction: Turner Construction/San Diego office.
Other: The final product will have free Wi-Fi access and 500 parking spaces, including 250 across the street and 250 more in a 129,000-sq-ft, underground garage. The 76,000-sq-ft charter high school will occupy the building's sixth and seventh floors.