On This Day
1946 – The United States Army Signal Corps successfully conducts Project Diana, bouncing radio waves off the Moon and receiving the reflected signals.
Project Diana, named for the Roman moon goddess Diana, was an experimental project of the US Army Signal Corps in 1946 to bounce radar signals off the Moon and receive the reflected signals. This was the first experiment in radar astronomy and the first active attempt to probe another celestial body. It was the inspiration for later EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) communication techniques.
At a laboratory at Camp Evans (part of Fort Monmouth), in Wall Township, New Jersey, a large transmitter, receiver and antenna array were constructed for this purpose. The transmitter, a highly modified SCR-271 radar set from World War II, provided 3 kilowatts (later upgraded to 50 kilowatts) at 111.5 MHz in 1⁄4-second pulses, applied to the antenna, a “bedspring” reflective array antenna composed of an 8×8 array of half wave dipoles and reflectors that provided 24 dB of gain. Return signals were received about 2.5 seconds later, the time required for the radio waves to make the 768,000-kilometre (477,000 mi) round-trip journey from the Earth to the Moon and back. The receiver had to compensate for the Doppler shift in frequency of the reflected signal due to the Moon’s orbital motion relative to the Earth’s surface, which was different each day, so this motion had to be carefully calculated for each trial. The antenna could be rotated in azimuth only, so the attempt could be made only as the moon passed through the 15 degree wide beam at moonrise and moonset, as the antenna’s elevation angle was horizontal. About 40 minutes of observation was available on each pass as the Moon transited the various lobes of the antenna pattern.
The first successful echo detection came on 10 January 1946 at 11:58am local time by John H. DeWitt and his chief scientist E. King Stodola.
Project Diana marked the birth of radar astronomy later used to map Venus and other nearby planets, and was a necessary precursor to the US space program. It was the first demonstration that terrestrial radio signals could penetrate the ionosphere, opening the possibility of radio communications beyond the earth for space probes and human explorers. It also established the practice of naming space projects after Roman gods, e.g., Mercury and Apollo.
The military implications of Project Diana were also profound. It provided the first clear test of the continuous wave FM Doppler radar developed during World War II by Edwin Howard Armstrong, which, by greatly increasing the signal range over the pulse radar then in use, enabled detection and tracking of potential inbound threats from intercontinental supersonic aircraft during the Cold War. It also demonstrated the feasibility of using the Moon as a passive reflector to transmit radio signals from one point on the Earth to the other, around the curve of the Earth. This Earth-Moon-Earth (EME) or “moonbounce” path has been used in a few communication systems. One of the first was the secret US military espionage PAMOR (Passive Moon Relay) program in 1950, which sought to eavesdrop on Soviet Russian military radio communication by picking up stray signals reflected from the Moon. The return signals were extremely faint, and the US began secret construction of the largest parabolic antenna in the world at Sugar Grove, West Virginia, until the project was abandoned in 1962 as too expensive. A more successful spinoff was the US Navy Communication Moon Relay or Operation Moonbounce communication system, which used the EME path for US military communication. In January, 1960 the system was inaugurated with a lunar relay link between Hawaii and Washington DC. Moonbounce communication was abandoned by the military with the advent of communications satellites in the early 1960s. Since then it has been used by amateur radio operators.
Today, the Project Diana site is part of the Camp Evans Historic District, InfoAge Science History Learning Center and Museum, and is maintained by the Ocean-Monmouth Amateur Radio Club. The antenna array was removed earlier and is now presumably lost.
Born On This Day
1898 – Katharine Burr Blodgett, American physicist and engineer (d. 1979)
Katharine Burr Blodgett (January 10, 1898 – October 12, 1979) was an American physicist and chemist known for her work on surface chemistry, in particular her invention of “invisible” or nonreflective glass while working at General Electric. She was the first woman to be awarded a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Cambridge, in 1926.
Birth and childhood
Blodgett was born on January 10, 1898 in Schenectady, New York. She was the second child of Katharine Buchanan (Burr) and George Bedington Blodgett. Her father was a patent attorney at General Electric where he headed that department. He was shot and killed in his home by a burglar just before she was born. GE offered a $5,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the killer, but the suspected killer hanged himself in his jail cell in Salem, New York. Her mother was financially secure after her husband’s death, and she moved to New York City with Katharine and her son George Jr. shortly after Katharine’s birth.
In 1901, Katherine’s mother moved the family to France so that the children would be bilingual. They lived there for several years, returned to New York for a year, during which time Katherine attended school in Saranac Lake, then spent time traveling through Germany. In 1912, Blodgett returned to New York City with her family and attended New York City’s Rayson School.
Blodgett’s early childhood was split between New York and Europe, and she wasn’t enrolled in school until she was eight years old. After attending Rayson School in New York City, she entered Bryn Mawr College on a scholarship, where she was inspired by two professors in particular: mathematician Charlotte Angas Scott and physicist James Barnes.
In 1917, Irving Langmuir, a former colleague of her father and future Nobel Prize laureate, took Katherine on a tour of General Electric (GE)’s research laboratories. He offered her a research position at GE if she first completed higher education, so she enrolled in a master’s degree program at the University of Chicago after receiving her bachelor’s degree.
At the University of Chicago she studied gas adsorption with Harvey B. Lemon, researching the chemical structure of gas masks. She graduated in 1918 and took a research scientist position working with Langmuir. After six years at the company, Blodgett decided to pursue a doctoral degree with hopes of advancing further within GE. Langmuir arranged for her to study physics at Cambridge’s Cavendish University, persuading somewhat reluctant Cavendish administrators to offer one of their few positions to a woman. She was enrolled at Newnham College, matriculating in 1924. She studied with Sir Ernest Rutherford and in 1926 became the first woman to receive a PhD in physics from Cambridge University.
Paul Steven Ripley (January 1, 1950 – January 3, 2019) was an American recording artist, record producer, songwriter, studio engineer, guitarist, and inventor. He entered the music industry in 1977. He was also the leader/producer of country rock band The Tractors.
Eric Haydock (born Eric John Haddock; 3 February 1943 – 5 January 2019) was a British musician, best known as the original bass guitarist of The Hollies from December 1962 until July 1966. He was one of the first British musicians to play a Fender Bass VI, a six-string bass. Although considered a great bass guitarist, he was replaced in 1966 by Bernie Calvert, after disputes related to the conduct of the band’s managers.
On 15 March 2010, Haydock along with Calvert and the other fellow Hollies members Allan Clarke, Graham Nash, Tony Hicks, Bobby Elliott, and Terry Sylvester were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Haydock died on 5 January 2019, at the age of 75.
By Mack Hogan: My Brother Isn’t Just a Dead Man
Understanding that a man so beloved was struggling deeply is hard.
Understanding that a man so beloved would want to leave it all behind borders on impossible.
But when you’re struggling with mental health, it doesn’t let up because you have a couple of laughs with friends. It’s not something that a night out can fix. And the truth is, for all the help he gave others he never got help for himself.
That’s why, three years on, we still don’t fully understand what happened. Kev had never expressed suicidal thoughts. He hadn’t been diagnosed with any illness, hadn’t spent any time in the hospital. Sure, he had sleep problems sometimes, but he didn’t really complain. He said he was doing good. His friends thought he was, too. He hadn’t had a bad week, as far as we can tell. By all accounts, he seemed like a normal college kid who liked to make people laugh. And then he was gone.
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Robert Lee “Bullet Bob” Hayes (December 20, 1942 – September 18, 2002) was an Olympic sprinter turned American football wide receiver in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys. An American track and field athlete, he was a two-sport stand-out in college in both track and football at Florida A&M University. He has one of the top 100 meter times by NFL players. Hayes was enshrined in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2001 and was selected for induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in January 2009. He was officially inducted in Canton, Ohio on August 8, 2009. Hayes is the second Olympic gold medalist to be inducted to the Hall of Fame, after Jim Thorpe. He currently holds the record for the fastest 4 × 100 m anchor leg of all time, as well as the world record for the 70-yard dash (with a time of 6.9 seconds). He also is tied for the world’s second fastest time in the 60-yard dash. He was once considered the world’s fastest human by virtue of his multiple world records in the 60-yard, 100-yard, 220-yard, and Olympic 100-meter dashes. Hayes is the only athlete to win both an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring.
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1: Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
2: Do not think it worthwhile to produce belief by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
3: Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed.
4: When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
5: Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
6: Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
7: Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
8: Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
9: Be scrupulously truthful, even when truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.
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