Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Science and Nature nix Office 2007

Rob Weir reports that Science magazine, one of the leading scientific journals, is not accepting files in Microsoft Office 2007 format due to incompatibility with previous versions of Office:
Because of changes Microsoft has made in its recent Word release that are incompatible with our internal workflow, which was built around previous versions of the software, Science cannot at present accept any files in the new .docx format produced through Microsoft Word 2007, either for initial submission or for revision. Users of this release of Word should convert these files to a format compatible with Word 2003 or Word for Macintosh 2004 (or, for initial submission, to a PDF file) before submitting to Science.

(emphasis in original)

It gets even worse: Microsoft apparently did not make the new Equation Editor backwards compatible:
Users of Word 2007 should also be aware that equations created with the default equation editor included in Microsoft Word 2007 will be unacceptable in revision, even if the file is converted to a format compatible with earlier versions of Word; this is because conversion will render equations as graphics and prevent electronic printing of equations.

Nature, another journal similar in range and prestige to Science, has the same problem:
We currently cannot accept files saved in Microsoft Office 2007 formats. Equations and special characters (for example, Greek letters) cannot be edited and are incompatible with Nature's own editing and typesetting programs.

Never get involved in a land war in Asia, never agree to a battle of wits in which iocane powder is a factor, and never write papers for publication in Microsoft Word.

(h/t commenter james at Brad DeLong's blog)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Additions to the pile: Week of 25 June 2007

It's a good thing that I made it all the way through the pile for my airplane reading, because a whole bunch of papers came out in the last two weeks. On the list below, the first three are papers/preprints I collected at the GEM workshop, and the rest were published since 11 June in AGU journals.

Omidi, N., and D. G. Sibeck (2007), Flux transfer events in the cusp, GRL 34, L04106.

Nishimura, Y., A. Shinbori, T. Ono, M. Iizima, and A. Kumamoto (2007), Evolution of ring current and radiation belt particles under the influence of storm-time electric fields, JGR, in press.

Anderson, P. C., W. R. Johnston, J. Goldstein, and T. P. O'Brien (2007), Observations of the ionospheric projection of the plasmapause and comparisons with relativistic electron measurements, GRL, submitted.

Parrot, M., J. A. Sauvaud, J. J. Berthelier, and J. P. Lebreton (2007), First in-situ observations of strong ionospheric perturbations generated by a powerful VLF ground-based transmitter, GRL 34, L11111.

Jackman, C. M., C. T. Russell, D. J. Southwood, C. S. Arridge, N. Achilleos, and M. K. Dougherty (2007), Strong rapid dipolarizations in Saturn's magnetotail: In situ evidence of reconnection, GRL 34, L11203.

Fillingim, M. O., L. M. Peticolas, R. J. Lillis, D. A. Brain, J. S. Halekas, D. L. Mitchell, R. P. Lin, D. Lummerzheim, S. W. Bougher, and D. L. Kirchner (2007), Model calculations of electron precipitation induced ionization patches on the nightside of Mars, GRL 34, L12101.

Leisner, J. S., C. T. Russell, K. K. Khurana, and M. K. Dougherty (2007), Measuring the stress state of the Saturnian magnetosphere, GRL 34, L12103.

Pritchett, P. L., and F. V. Coroniti (2007), Plasma sheet response to the ionosphere's demand for field-aligned current, GRL 34, L12104.

Moore, L., and M. Mendillo (2007), Are plasma depletions in Saturn's ionosphere a signature of time-dependent water input?, GRL 34, L12202.

Nakajima, A., K. Shiokawa, K. Seki, R. J. Strangeway, J. P. McFadden, and C. W. Carlson (2007), Particle and field characteristics of broadband electrons observaed by the FAST satellite during a geomagnetic storm, JGR 112. A06220.

Matsumoto, Y., and K. Seki (2007), The secondary instability initiated by the three-dimensional nonlinear evolution of the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability, JGR 112. A06223.

Siscoe, G. L., and K. D. Siebert (2007), Comment on "Polar cap voltage saturation" by J. W. MacDougall and P. T. Jayachandran, JGR 112, A06227. The subject paper of the comment is JGR 111, A12306 (2006), and the authors' reply is JGR 112, A06228 (2007).

García, K. S., and W. J. Hughes (2007), Finding the Lyon-Fedder-Mobarry magnetopause: A statistical perspective, JGR 112, A06229.

Ganguli, G., L. Rudakov, M. Mithaiwala, and K. Papadopoulos (2007), Generation and evolution of intense cyclotron turbulence by artificial plasma cloud in the magnetosphere, JGR 112, A06231.

Toivanen, P. K., Deformation method for electromagnetic magnetospheric fields: 1. Theory, JGR 112, A06239.

Lee, D.-Y., L. R. Lyons, J. M. Weygand, and C.-P. Wang (2007), Reasons why some solar wind changes do not trigger substorms, JGR 112, A06240.

Ueno, G., T. Higuchi, S. Ohtani, and P. T. Newell (2007), Particle precipitation characteristics in the dayside four-sheet field-aligned current structure, JGR 112, A06242.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday music mix: Meeting old friends

Since I have been at a conference for the last week, the theme of the week suggests itself.

Gustav Holst -- Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity (from The Planets)
The Beatles -- With A Little Help From My Friends
Peter Gabriel -- Don't Give Up
Billy Joel -- She's Right On Time
Enya -- Anywhere Is
Harry Chapin -- Taxi
Limpopo -- Those Were The Days
Simon and Garfunkel -- Old Friends
Queen -- You're My Best Friend
Alan Parsons Project -- Old And Wise

GEM workshop: Friday plenary session

Today's tutorial speakers were Paul O'Brien of Aerospace on "Space radiation climatology: A new paradigm for inner magnetosphere simulation and data analysis" and Antonius Otto of University of Alaska-Fairbanks on "Plasma transport and entropy considerations at the magnetospheric flanks".

O'Brien discussed several examples of climatology and reanalysis as applied to inner magnetospheric physics. Reanalysis can constitute an extended event study and even become a data set in itself. This allows modelers to ignore most of the subtleties inherent in analyzing space plasma data. Data assimilation can help speed up codes and are useful when the underlying physics is not understood. O'Brien illustrated these points with several examples. Wiki:

Meeting fatigue has caught up with me; I didn't get anything out of Otto's tutorial.

This is the last year that Rice University organizes the conference. The conference arranger, Umbe Cantú, is truly an expert at conference organization, and GEM will miss her talents. Virginia Tech takes over next year, and the rumor is it will take four people to replace Umbe.

GEM workshop, Thursday poster session

The Thursday poster session was less than half the size of the Tuesday poster session. Unfortunately, almost all of the posters of interest to me were in the Tuesday session, and for many of the more interesting posters in this session the presenters were not with the posters when I looked at them. Meeting burnout was also a factor; many people will be leaving in the morning.

GEM workshop, Thursday breakout sessions

In the afternoon I attended two breakout sessions on diffuse aurora, continuing the breakout session from the previous afternoon.

Speakers in the first session were Mike Schultz (Lockheed) on theoretical particle tracing in a Dungey magnetosphere, Margaret Chen (Aerospace) on simulations in the Dungey magnetosphere, Richard Thorne (UCLA, on behalf of Richard Horne and Nigel Meredith of BAS) on diffuse aurora scattering rates by chorus emissions and ECH waves, Jacob Bortnik (UCLA) on modeling the global characteristics of chorus propagation, Wen Li (UCLA) on ray tracing with the HOTRAY code, Jay Albert (AFRL) on approximations of quasilinear diffusion coefficients, and R. P. Sharma (IIT) on nonlinear kinetic Alfvén waves and their role in particle precipitation. The reason Schultz and Chen use the Dungey magnetosphere is because it is analytically tractable, and an explicit Hamiltonian can be derived from a suitable electric field model (Brice-Nishida, Volland-Stern, or AMIE). Thorne pointed out the difficulty of scattering particles with 90 degree pitch angles at the equator. Bortnik showed that the lowest frequency chorus waves can propagate to the highest latitudes. Albert showed a method for calculating approximate diffusion coefficients which is significantly more accurate than the Summers method yet still represents a substantial speedup (factor of ~200) from the full calculation, which requires an infinite sum of triple integrals.

After the break, the topic was future plans for this focus group. It was decided that at this stage it is important to gather a list of relevant available data sets, and modeling efforts will proceed later. The most relevant data set for waves is THEMIS (it is necessary for the satellite to be in an equatorial orbit). For particles there are various geosynchronous satellites as well as low altitude satellites (DMSP and FAST) to look at precipitating particles. Ground-based measurements, especially all-sky cameras and meridian scanning photometers, are also of great importance for the study.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

GEM workshop, Thursday plenary session

Today's plenary session speakers were Vassilis Angelopoulos of UC Berkeley (soon to join the UCLA faculty) on "Maximizing substorm science on THEMIS: Probe alignments and ground conjunctions" and Eric Donovan of Calgary on "Diffuse Aurora".

Angelopoulos is PI of the THEMIS mission. He reviewed the status of the THEMIS mission and some of the scientific topics to which THEMIS can contribute. At present THEMIS is in a string-of-pearls configuration with a separation of ~10000 km between the leading and trailing satellites and ~200 km between the middle three. Electric field antennas have been successfully deployed on three of the five spacecraft, and all other instruments are working on all five spacecraft. When the spacecraft are boosted to their final orbits sometime this fall, the orbits will be phased so that there will be a five-spacecraft conjunction every four days and four-spacecraft conjunctions every two days. Apogee will be in the tail from January through March with the conjunctions over the North America sector, where ground magnetometers and all sky cameras are deployed from Alaska to Labrador. Nominal science operations will begin 1 July, and science software will be rolled out to the community 31 July. There is an open data policy (consult with PI or co-Is, and credit NASA grant NAS5-02099). Already THEMIS is obtaining useful science data, including an observation of substorm onset with westward traveling surge, a measurement of a flux transfer event, and an observation of magnetopause reconnection. THEMIS will be able to track radial motion of electrons inward from the tail and measure electric and magnetic fields and waves locally. There are also potential contributions to dayside magnetospheric physics (this summer) and tracking of solar wind interaction with the magnetopause (summer 2008). Nominal mission lasts until about March 2009, with extensions possible given consumables budget and radiation margin. There are at least two web sites of interest: data from and orbit visualization from SSCWeb at There is a removable attenuator (x50) which ensures that the particle instruments do not saturate in the radiation belt.

Donovan's talk was an overview of the breakout sessions on diffuse aurora which started yesterday and continue this afternoon. Although diffuse aurora is operationally defined as structureless precipitation, the precipitation actually reflects significant turbulence in the central plasma sheet. There are separate electron and ion aurora. On the duskside, the proton aurora is equatorward of the ion aurora, while postmidnight the proton aurora can be poleward of the electron diffuse aurora. The poleward boundary of the 630 nm oxygen line is a proxy for the open-closed field line boundary.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

GEM workshop, Wednesday breakout sessions

This afternoon I went to the breakout sessions on the proposed solar wind structure from L1 to Earth focus group and the diffuse auroral precipitation focus group.

Speakers in the solar wind structure focus group were Joe Borovsky (Los Alamos) introducing the topic, Nicholeen Viall (Boston University) on periodic structures in the solar wind and magnetosphere, Dan Weimer (Solana Scientific) on tilted phase surfaces in the interplanetary magnetic field, Benoit Lavraud (Los Alamos) on the response of the magnetosphere to solar wind variations, Bob McPherron (UCLA) on why it is important to know the structure of the solar wind at 1 AU, and Dan Baker (Colorado) on the effect of quiet space weather conditions on the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere satellite's transmitter. This is a proposed focus group, so science definition is in progress. The most interesting talk was McPherron's; he noted that the magnetosphere's response to the solar wind is nonlinear and has histeresis; he also listed the different possible magnetospheric response modes including substorms, steady magnetospheric convection, magnetic storms, pseudobreakups, poleward boundary intensifications, and sawtooth events.

Speakers in the first session of the diffuse auroral precipitation focus group (there will be two more sessions on Thursday) were Harald Frey (UC Berkeley) on ground signatures of localized wave-particle interaction in diffuse aurora, Jay Johnson (PPPL, on behalf of Simon Wing of APL) on a magnetotail assimilation model, Michelle Thomsen (Los Alamos) on observations of plasma sheet electrons at geosynchronous orbit, Sarah Jones (UNH, on behalf of Marc Lessard) on the evolution of diffuse particle precipitation to inverted V precipitation, Emma Spanswick (Calgary) on optical and riometer signatures of diffuse aurora, Tom Sotirelis (APL) on the global character of diffuse electron aurora, and Jacob Bortnik (UCLA) on scattering of electrons by chorus waves. Highlights were Frey, who asked the key question, "What is diffuse aurora, anyway?"; Thomsen's demonstration of strong pitch angle diffusion in the geosynchronous particle data, Lessard's speculation that the latitudinal width of the substorm onset arc is determined by the overlap of precipitating plasma sheet ions and electrons, and Sotirelis's demonstration that characteristic precipitating electron energy is highest near noon--the same region where Bortnik showed the strongest off-equatorial chorus, especially at low frequencies.

GEM Workshop, Wednesday plenary session

This morning we got the agency reports via NSF program head Kile Baker. He reported two personnel changes in the Upper Atmosphere branch: Cassandra Fesen is the new Aeronomy director (replacing Bob Kerr, who is the new director at Arecibo), and Vladimir Papitashvili will return to NSF in August as a staff member heading the Antarctic program, which has been without a director for almost a year. The budget news is better than in the recent past: a 6% budget increase in FY2007 compared with 2006, with an increase of at least 4% expected for 2008. The GEM program success rate increased to 24% (6 of 25 proposals) from last year's 18% (4 of 23 proposals). The Space Weather competition news is not so good, with a success rate of around 10% expected. There are a couple of new initiatives under discussion: an interest in funding small satellites for space weather observations (i.e., nanosats and picosats) possibly starting as early as FY08, and a new initiative for computer-enabled discovery and innovation, with funding relevant to space physics available starting in 2009.

Kile relayed the following reports from other agencies: The AFOSR Young Investigator program has been expanded to include soft money scientists, with proposals due 24 July. Thomas Zurbuchen (Michigan) has proposed a collegiate space weather competition along the lines of the existing tropospheric weather competition; the first run would probably be March or April of 2009. NASA wants to speed up Explorer missions: A draft AO is (or will soon be) released, with a final AO targeted in October and three missions to be launched in 2012-2014. The Living With a Star Targeted Research and Technology deadlines may be postponed depending on when the Focused Science Topics are finalized. Magnetospheric Multiscale will likely be descoped and/or rephased to match available budget.

The tutorial speaker was Nick Omidi of Solana Scientific on "Use of hybrid and MHD models in addressing TADMAC's [the focus group on Transport at Dayside Magnetopause and Cusp] objectives". He showed that waves generated at the bow shock impinge on the magnetopause and can affect the reconnection sites if the IMF is northward. Apparently symmetric bow shocks are not. Foreshock waves can induce significant perturbations in the solar wind. Foreshock cavities (correlated dips in density and magnetic field) occur on various scales from ion gyroradius to 1 earth radius or more. A solitary shock can form when a rotational discontinuity hits the bow shock. Flux transfer events impinge on the cusps (this portion of the tutorial was shown in the breakout session yesterday). An MHD model of 3-D magnetopause reconnection shows that regions of both antiparallel and component reconnection occur.

GEM workshop, Tuesday poster session

I was one of about 65 people giving posters in the Tuesday session. I can't comment too much on the other posters as I was busy giving mine, but the session seemed to go well. The venue was a semi-open exhibition hall next to the hotel.

There were a few logistical glitches. The poster boards were delivered later than expected. The poster session went until 2200 MDT, at which point a timer cut the lights abruptly. But for the most part, it went well.

I am now done with my duties for the week; I get to listen (or not) to the remaining sessions.

GEM workshop, Tuesday breakout sessions

For the first half of the afternoon I attended the breakout session on global M-I coupling chaired by David Murr (Dartmouth). Speakers were Murr giving an overview of the selected events, G. Crowley (Astra Corp.) on AMIE runs, Jo Baker (APL) on SuperDARN data, Aaron Ridley (Michigan) on including seasonal variations of the aurora in models, and Bill Lotko (Dartmouth) on summer-winter variations in ionospheric plasma. The highlight of the session was Lotko's talk, in which he showed that both ionospheric conductivity and density can affect auroral intensity (Newell et al. focused on ionospheric conductivity in their 1996 Nature paper).

After the break I switched to the cusp session, chaired by Karlheinz Trattner (Lockheed) and Dave Sibeck (GSFC). Speakers were Antonius Otto (Alaska) on test particle simulations of cusp diamagnetic cavities, Nick Omidi (Solana Scientific) on hybrid simulations of the interaction of flux transfer events with the cusp, Masha Kuznetsova (GSFC) on MHD simulations of same, and Katariina Nykiri (Florida Tech) on particle acceleration in the high altitude cusp. Omidi's and Kuznetsova's talks were the most interesting, particularly Omidi's claim of a connection between FTEs and poleward moving auroral forms, and Kuznetsova's claims of FTE breakup due to sausage instability. Note to self: Ask Omidi about whether the FTE-cusp interaction might be related to my work with Charlie Farrugia on momentum transfer on old open field lines.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

GEM Workshop, Tuesday plenary session

Today's plenary session speakers were Jimmy Raeder of UNH on "Quo vadis, GGCM" and Harlan Spence of Boston University on the radiation belts and the RBSP mission.

Raeder discussed some details of how global models work in situations involving reconnection. Ideal MHD should have a zero reconnection rate, but real-world implementations will have numerical diffusion which can produce reconnection (as well as form shocks, something else that ideal MHD should not do). Numerical diffusion can also counteract the tendency of numerical dispersion (diffusion and dispersion are due to even and odd error terms, respectively, in the truncation) to drive the code unstable. If the Hall term is included, GGCMs even manage to get close to observed reconnection rates (and if they are off, the models usually get higher rates). The implication is that reconnection rates on the dayside are set by boundary conditions, not the microphysics of the reconnection region. On the nightside, average reconnection rates (over periods of an hour or more) must equal dayside reconnection rates. Substorms are the result of short-term deviations from this balance. It is not clear whether GGCMs produce genuine substorms (there are plasmoids, but some of the other signatures are absent). Tail reconnection in the GGCM models is much more fragmented than the classic substorm models. High ionospheric conductance can suppress convection.

Spence is the lead scientist on the Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission. He reviewed the history of radiation belt paradigms and science and advertised the mission. The goal is to be able to understand, and predict, the variation of relativistic particle populations in response to energy inputs from the Sun. The satellite can make in situ measurements of high energy astrophysical phenomena.

It seems that there are capacity limits on connections from the conference center. I'm posting this from my room.

Monday, June 18, 2007

GEM Workshop, Monday breakout sessions

I attended two breakout sessions devoted to the focus group on Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Coupling Electrodynamics and Transport. Bill Lotko of Dartmouth and Josh Semeter of Boston University led the discussion. I spoke in the morning session, the second-to-last talk before lunch. Other speakers in the morning session were Yi-Jiun Su (UT Arlington) on the electron cyclotron maser instability in the Alfvénic acceleration region, R. P. Sharma (India Institute of Technology) on nonlinear kinetic Alfvén waves, Peter Damiano (St. Andrews) on Alfvén wave induced electron precipitation, Joo Hwang (Colorado) on test particle simulations of the effect of moving double layers on ion outflow, and Alex Glocer (Michigan) on ion outflow modeling in the "gap" region. Speakers in the afternoon session were Matt Zettergren on a kinetic-fluid coupled model for computing ion outflow, Bill Lotko on the importance of 0.1-1 Hz Alfvén waves in ion outflow, Andrew Wright (St. Andrews) on the effects of field-aligned currents on the ionosphere, Josh Semeter on an observational perspective of M-I coupling in the auroral region, Jo Baker (APL) on midlatitude ionospheric convection as observed with the SuperDARN Wallops radar, and Jerry Goldstein on "SAPpy musings" about M-I coupling.

Some highlights of the sessions:

Damiano showed that at least 40% of Alfvén wave energy in a field line resonance is lost every half period due to induced electron beam precipitation (the loss is higher with hotter electrons). He can derive a Knight-like I-V relation for warm electrons in a field line resonance; as Lotko pointed out, this implies that the wave period is much longer than the electron transit time. The initial current perturbation must broaden so that the electric field can replenish the loss cone.

Hwang showed significantly enhanced (by an order of magnitude), but episodic, ion outflow in the presence of moving double layers as compared with the extended static parallel electric field structure examined by Gorney et al. (1985). She pointed out that the outflowing ions need not pass through a moving double layer.

Lotko noted that if ion parallel dynamics are properly included, the ion density depletion in the lower F region can be ~80%, rather than ~1% if the ion dynamics are not included. The extra depletion is due to a nonlinear coupling of Alfvén waves to ion sound waves. The ions are pushed upward.

Wright noted that a downward parallel current can deplete the E region on time scales of ~30 seconds. The parallel current region must broaden to compensate. The reflection coefficient, and therefore the ionospheric Alfvén resonator, are significantly modified. He derived a parameter which determines whether depletion is (nearly) complete and a time scale for the depletion. He raised the question of whether the depletion of E region plasma implies current closure in the F region.

Semeter showed that the apparent motion of auroral arcs may be due to dispersive propagation of Alfvén wave packets.

GEM Workshop, Monday plenary session

Today's plenary session speakers were Joe Huba of NRL on M-I coupling from the ionosphere point of view and Joachim Birn of Los Alamos on transport of plasma and particles from the tail to the inner magnetosphere.

Huba's talk gave a different perspective on global modeling from that of most people in the audience; he is an ionospheric modeler, whereas many magnetospheric modelers treat the ionosphere as an annoying boundary condition. His talk covered a number of points of interest, including coupling his model (SAMI3) to the Rice Convection Model, the penetration of magnetospheric electric fields to low latitudes (when the Region 2 current should shield them out), and Total Electron Content and its effect on GPS signals. A comment by Bob McPherron pointed out an implication of Huba's work that the standard ionospheric correction to the Dst index may be in the wrong direction.

Birn gave an overview of how plasma is transported from the tail to the inner magnetosphere. He gave arguments for why the average transport from the distant tail to the inner magnetosphere should be 0, as observed. Unfortunately, lack of sleep caught up to me and I dozed through about half of the talk.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Safely arrived

I have safely arrived in Utah. No difficulty with the flights; in fact, an unusually smooth ride. My checked bag was the last one off the plane, but no problems.

The area where I am (Midway, UT, near Heber City) has a noticeably moister climate than most areas west of the Missouri River. Trees grow even in the valleys. It's even a noticeable difference between here and Salt Lake City, which is only an hour drive away.

I'm not used to seeing so much truck traffic, even on the interstates. There's a good reason why I-80 is three lanes each direction all the way through Parleys Canyon and up to Park City.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday music mix: Ten for the road

Since I'll be on travel next week, here are some songs about going places.

Cat Stevens -- On The Road To Find Out
Pink Floyd -- Learning To Fly
Alan Parsons Project -- One More River
The Beatles -- She's Leaving Home
Chicago -- Wishing You Were Here
The Guo Brothers -- Soldiers Of The Long March
Talking Heads -- Road To Nowhere
Elton John -- Rocket Man
Arlo Guthrie -- Coming Into Los Angeles
Paul Simon -- Another Galaxy

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Slot screws are evil

A follow-up to yesterday's post.

I don't know why anybody still uses slot screws. There are so many better options out there: options which don't invite the driver to slide out and cause serious damage to people and/or property.

My contractor agrees with me that slot screws are evil. He says that the only time he ever uses a slot driver is to take out old screws so that he can replace them with something better.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

M. C. Escher, design engineer

I tried to hang a new curtain rod at my house Sunday and Monday. Because the run is longer than 48 inches, I need to add a couple of support brackets. The problem is that the brackets cannot be installed before the curtain rod is in place, and (at least with the tools I have) the brackets cannot be installed while the curtain rod is in place.

Why do so many designers try to emulate M. C. Escher in products people are actually supposed to use?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Additions to the pile: Week of 11 June 2007

Lots of papers to keep me busy on the plane ride next weekend:

Mays, M. L., W. Horton, J. Kozyra, T. H. Zurbuchen, C. Huang, and E. Spencer (2007), Effect of interplanetary shocks on the AL and Dst indices, GRL 34, L11104.

Swisdak, M., and J. F. Drake (2007), Orientation of the reconnection X-line, GRL 34, L11106.

Lin, Y., X. Y. Wang, and S.-W. Chang (2007), Connection between bow shock and cusp energetic ions, GRL 34, L11107.

Sauer, K., E. Mjølhus, E. Dubinin, and K. Baumgärtel (2007), Banana-polarized solitons in anisotropic plasmas related to Ulysses observations, GRL 34, L11109.

Shprits, Y. Y., N. P. Meredith, and R. M. Thorne (2007), Parameterization of radiation belt electron loss timescales due to interactions with chorus waves, GRL 34, L11110.

Yoon, P. H., and A. T. Y. Lui (2007), Anomalous resisitivity by fluctuation in the lower-hybrid frequency range, JGR 112, A06207.

Su, Y.-J., R. E. Ergun, S. T. Jones, R. J. Strangeway, C. C. Chaston, S. E. Parker, and J. L. Horwitz (2007), Generation of short-burst radiation through Alfvénic acceleration of auroral electrons, JGR 112, A06209.

Singh, N., G. Khazanov, and A. Mukhter (2007), Electrostatic wave generation and transverse ion acceleration by Alfvénic wave components of broadband extremely low frequency turbulence, JGR 112, A06210.

Kozlovsky, A., A. Aikio, T. Turunen, H. Nilsson, T. Sergienko, V. Safargaleev, and K. Kauristie (2007), Dynamics and electric currents of morningside Sun-aligned auroral arcs, JGR 112, A06306.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Friday music mix: It was 40 years ago today (or sometime this month)

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is one of two Beatles albums I own (the other is Abbey Road). The goal was to explore the limits of what was then possible in a new phenomenon, the concept album. It is widely, and reasonably, considered one of the greatest albums ever recorded. My thoughts (and ratings) about the songs on this album:

  1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (4*): The album starts with a rousing tune introducing the fictional band portrayed in the album. The song establishes the mood of the album, then segues into...

  2. With A Little Help From My Friends (4*): Ringo (as "Billy Shears") takes the lead, with the rest of the band backing him up, as befits the title. A fitting song about friendship.

  3. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (5*): Despite the psychedelic nature of the song and the initials LSD, John Lennon always insisted that his son came up with the title. The song is about alternate realities--highly relevant in the time of G. W. Bush.

  4. Getting Better (3*): Paul sings about self-improvement ("Man I was mean/But I'm changing my scene").

  5. Fixing A Hole (3*): This song doesn't quite work for me.

  6. She's Leaving Home (5*): One of the highlights of the album, a song about escaping the confines of one's parents, who are in denial about the situation. The string arrangement is just right for the song.

  7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite (4*): Apparently taken from a circus poster, and with an arrangement to match. Listen for the tape effects near the end.

  8. Within You Without You (4*): George Harrison's attempt at writing Indian classical music. A reminder that we are all interconnected parts of the world, as much as some would like to forget the fact.

  9. When I'm Sixty-Four (4*): Paul sings about getting old. The 1920's-style jazz arrangement is the perfect match.

  10. Lovely Rita (3*): Love can come in the unlikeliest places--like the meter maid.

  11. Good Morning, Good Morning (3*): I'm not really sure what this song is supposed to be about. At the end fox hunt sound effects lead into...

  12. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) (3*): The second time is just not as good as the opening number. The Beatles were right not to end with this one.

  13. A Day In The Life (5*): A musing on some of the little oddities of life ("Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire"). Life goes on, somehow.

The CD reproduces the repeating phrase that was on the run-out groove at the end of Side 2 of the record. The tape snippets make for an interesting effect.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Maps: Trust, but verify

Later this month I will be in Utah for the GEM workshop. I'll be flying into the Salt Lake City International Airport and driving to the meeting site, which is about an hour east of the airport.

The hotel website has a link to Yahoo! Maps for driving directions. The problem is that the point Yahoo! Maps calls the Salt Lake City Airport is on the opposite side of the airport from where the passenger terminal and rental cars are located. If you follow Yahoo!'s directions and try to "Follow the signs for your terminal" at the end, you probably won't be able to. (I say "probably" because I have never actually left the Salt Lake City airport by land before.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Just another weather U-turn

Yesterday our high was 59 degrees Fahrenheit. I had to run the heat last night.

Today I am thankful to work in a building with air conditioning. There is a severe thunderstorm watch in effect:
The NWS Storm Prediction Center has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for portions of
western Maine
New Hampshire
eastern New York
Rhode Island
coastal waters
Effective this Tuesday afternoon and evening from 1205 PM until 700 PM EDT.

Hail to 1.5 inches in diameter... thunderstorm wind gusts to 70 mph... and dangerous lightning are possible in these areas.

The Severe Thunderstorm Watch area is approximately along and 85 statute miles east and west of a line from 5 miles north of Newport Vermont to 35 miles southwest of Windsor Locks Connecticut. For a complete depiction of the watch see the associated watch outline update (wous64 kwns wou7).

UPDATE: Tornado reported in Lee at 1436 EDT (1836Z).

LATER UPDATE: Also funnel clouds were reported in Barrington and Somersworth. Many reports of hail, the largest being 1.75 inches (about golf ball size) in Dover.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Additions to the pile: Week of 4 June 2007

Several papers of interest this week, including two (!) from Reviews of Geophysics (I subscribe to the dead-tree version) and one poached from a reference list.

Ergun, R. E., L. Andersson, Y.-J. Su, D. L. Newman, M. V. Goldman, W. Lotko, C. C. Chaston, and C. W. Carlson (2005), Localized parallel electric fields associated with inertial Alfvén waves, Phys. Plasmas 12, 072901.

Frey, H. U. (2007), Localized aurora beyond the auroral oval, Rev. Geophys. 45, RG1003.

McComas, D. J., M. Velli, W. S. Lewis, L. W. Acton, M. Balat-Pichelin, V. Bothmer, R. B. Dirling, W. C. Feldman, G. Gloeckler, S. R. Habbal, D. M. Hassler, I. Mann, W. H. Matthaeus, R. L. McNutt, R. A. Mewaldt, N. Murphy, L. Ofman, E. C. Sittler, C. W. Smith, and T. H. Zurbuchen (2007), Understanding coronal heating and solar wind acceleration: Case for in-situ near sun measurements, Rev. Geophys. 45, RG1004.

Ofman, L., and A. F. Viñas (2007), Two-dimensional hybrid model of wave and beam heating of multi-ion solar wind plasma, JGR 112, A06104.

Dorelli, J. C., A. Bhattacharjee, and J. Raeder (2007), Correction to "Separator reconnection at Earth's dayside magnetopause under generic northward interplanetary magnetic field conditions," JGR 112, A06204. (The subject paper of the correction is JGR 112, A02202.)

Palmroth, M., N. Partamies, J. Polvi, T. I. Pulkkinen, D. J. McComas, R. J. Barnes, P. Stauning, C. W. Smith, H. J. Singer, and R. Vainio (2007), Solar wind-magnetosphere coupling efficiency for solar wind pressure impulses, GRL 34, L11101.

Automatic software updates: How and how not to do it

I have several software packages on my Mac which have auto-update features: Microsoft Office, Adobe CS2, and of course MacOSX.

There is a right way and a wrong way to handle auto-updates. The right way is to have some regular schedule (weekly for Apple, monthly for Microsoft). That way I can schedule the update for some time when it won't interrupt what I am doing (e.g., first thing Monday morning, for Apple), even if the update process needs an administrator password, as Apple's does.

The wrong way to do it is to go looking for updates when I start up the program, as Adobe does. The concept should be simple: If I start up a program, it's because I want to use that program, and I want to use it NOW, not 15 minutes later when the updates (which almost always require me to quit the program I'm trying to use) are complete. As Vince Flanders so eloquently put it: I don't care about your $#@!$#@ problems, I want you to solve my $#@!$#@ problems.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Friday music mix: Songs I love to hate

I just read the introduction of a paper that should not be set aside lightly--it should be thrown across the room with great force. Since my inner curmudgeon is out today, here are some songs that I consider among the worst I've ever heard. I don't have a plausible explanation for how they ever got any radio play, but I've heard them all on the radio at one time or another. I'm excluding Christmas songs here--I could do another such post with just Christmas music.

1. Toni Basil, "Hey Mickey": The most annoying 80s song ever, with ridiculous video to match. (Hint to the ladies: If you're old enough to legally buy alcohol in this country, and you want people to take you seriously, do not put on a cheerleader's uniform.) A repetitive song with nothing even vaguely resembling a hook. If you really must hear what this song sounds like, look for Weird Al Yankovic's parody "Hey Ricky," which is actually halfway decent.

2. Norman Greenbaum, "Spirit In The Sky": This guy must be in league with Satan, because few things will turn you off of Jesus faster than this song allegedly in praise of Jesus. Repetitive bad lyrics. Bad theology, too, in the line "I've never been a sinner."

3. Alice Cooper, "Eighteen": You're not 18 anymore, Alice, so stop taking up airtime singing about it already.

4. Elton John/Kiki Dee, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart": There are lots of Elton haters out there, and this song is a strong argument in favor of that position. There are a few good Elton John songs out there, but not the ones that get significant airplay.

5. Guns 'n' Roses, "Knocking On Heaven's Door": A brilliant idea--let's have a Bob Dylan tune covered by just about the only famous singer (Axl Rose) with a worse singing voice than Bob Dylan! There are other ways in which this song is a bad stylistic match.

6. Black Sabbath, "Iron Man": Bad physics and bad chemistry ("He was turned to steel/In a great magnetic field") to go along with the annoyingly repetitive musical phrase (with the lead guitar doubling the singer, no less).

7. Led Zeppelin, "Whole Lotta Love": OK, Led Zeppelin fans, explain this one. The song is much too long, with a long stretch of moaning, and another annoying singing voice--Robert Plant in falsetto range. This is one of my arguments that Led Zeppelin was highly overrated.

8. Rolling Stones, "Under My Thumb": Another overrated classic rock band. Proof that misogynistic lyrics did not start in the rap era.

9. Gang Green, "Voices Carry": The original version by 'Til Tuesday isn't so bad, but screaming the refrain, as is done in this version, completely contradicts the meaning of the song.

10. Huey Lewis and the News, "Hip To Be Square": Huey Lewis rates as the biggest disappointment among the prominent musical stars of my teen years. He had the talent. He could have been somebody. Instead he became a pop sellout with songs like this one.

Stupid newspaper tricks

Foster's Daily Democrat
333 Central Ave.
Dover, NH 03820

Dear Foster's:

Thank you for coming up with your brilliant marketing technique of giving free one week trial home delivery subscriptions to unsuspecting homeowners who may or may not be in town that week. This makes our jobs much easier.

--The burglars of the Seacoast region

This week several houses on my street, including mine, were "lucky" recipients of the aforementioned trial subscription from the local fishwrap, Foster's Daily Democrat [sic].

Now Dover is not Miami, so I can understand why it would take them a minute (as opposed to five seconds) to realize why this is a bad idea. But they do publish police blotter columns, and some fraction of the crimes reported therein are burglaries. What better way to let burglars know who is out of town than to let newspapers pile up at a house whose owner didn't know they would be piling up?

Oh, and another piece of free advice to Foster's: Don't give free advertising to the competition. Their papers are delivered in plastic bags which advertize home subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal. It just so happens that the Wall Street Journal's parent company owns the other daily newspaper in the Seacoast region, the Portsmouth Herald.