[Note: This article came with the WordPress Theme, I enjoyed it, so left it on my website.]
The Universe is all of space and time (spacetime) and its contents, which includes planets, moons, stars, galaxies, the contents of intergalactic space and all matter and energy. While the size of the entire Universe is still unknown, it is possible to measure the observable universe.
The earliest scientific models of the Universe were developed by ancient Greek and Indian philosophers and were geocentric, placing Earth at the centre of the Universe. Over the centuries, more precise astronomical observations led Nicolaus Copernicus to develop the heliocentric model with the Sun at the centre of the Solar System. In developing the law of universal gravitation, Sir Isaac Newton built upon Copernicus’s work as well as observations by Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler’s laws of planetary motion.
Further observational improvements led to the realization that our Solar System is located in the Milky Way galaxy, which is one of many galaxies in the Universe. It is assumed that galaxies are distributed uniformly and the same in all directions, meaning that the Universe has neither an edge nor a center. Discoveries in the early 20th century have suggested that the Universe had a beginning and that it is expanding at an increasing rate. Roughly eighty percent of mass in the Universe appears to exist in an unknown form called dark matter which cannot be directly observed.
“The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us— there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, or falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.”
— Carl Sagan, Astronomer
The Big Bang Theory
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological description of the development of the Universe. Under this theory, space and time emerged together 13.799±0.021 billion years ago with a fixed amount of energy and matter that has become less dense as the Universe has expanded. After the initial expansion, the Universe cooled, allowing the first subatomic particles to form and then simple atoms. Giant clouds later merged through gravity to form galaxies, stars, and everything else seen today. It is possible to see objects that are now further away than 13.799 billion light-years because space itself has expanded. This means that objects which are now 46 billion light years away can still be seen in their distant past, because at that time they were much closer to us.
There are many competing hypotheses about the ultimate fate of the universe and about what, if anything, preceded the Big Bang, while other physicists and philosophers refuse to speculate, doubting that information about prior states will ever be accessible. Some physicists have suggested various multiverse hypotheses, in which the Universe might be one among many universes that likewise exist.
Another trip to Hawaii, our second this year. We love the warm weather and sunsets. In August we went on the Norwegian Cruise Lines week long tour of the Hawaiian Islands.
This was a pleasant way to visit the other islands, take your hotel with you. Great food and service. After a day of touring, come back to the ship, go to sleep at one location and wake up at another port, ready to go explore another island.
Soaring is a challenging sport, but it is also extremely fun and beautiful. It is flying using the natural thermals and winds that occur everyday. You start out just gliding a short distance, and build your skills and confidence to be able to fly hundreds of miles and many hours in a single flight.
I flew hang gliders from 1984 until 2006. Hang Gliding is a pure form of soaring with mother nature, feeling the air changing temperatures on your face, that includes freezing too. You fly slower and closer to the terrain and can land in a much smaller field. Your legs are your landing gear.
I have been flying gliders (sailplanes) since late 2003, ever since a good friend of mine that also flew hang gliders earned his glider pilots license and told me that I really have to try sailplanes. I took flying lessons at Crazy Creek Air Adventures and really got hooked on the performance of a sailplane. I continued at Crazy Creek where I earned my private glider pilot license in November 2003. I flew both hang gliders and sailplanes for about 3 years (2003 to 2006), but I finally realized that I preferred the performance of a sailplane to that of a hang glider. Both forms of flight let me experience the beauty and challenge of using Mother Nature’s powerful wind currents to stay in the air.
In early 2004 I purchased a used ASW-24 single seat glider that I loved to fly.
I flew that until late in 2006 when I sold it in to get the money to pay for my my brand new glider. My ASG-29 was ordered from Germany, and took almost 2 years from date of my order until I flew it for the first time on Feb. 3, 2007. Initially I planned to to fly 2 or 3 weekends per month, starting at Crazy Creek Air Adventures. After a couple of years I started flying at Williams Soaring Center in Williams, CA. When I can, I also tow my glider to other sites and fly there, such as Truckee, CA; Avenal, CA; Minden, NV; Air Sailing, NV; Montague, CA, and many times back to Crazy Creek.
My Schleicher ASG-29 glider was manufactured in Germany, by Alexander Schleicher . The ASG-29 is a single seat high performance glider with a 52:1 glide ratio. The wing span is 59 feet (18 meters). It is a great glider and although it is a sold as a racing glider, it is pretty easy to handle.
What does ‘glide ratio mean’?
A glide ratio of 52 to 1 means that the glider will glide 52 feet forward for every 1 foot it descends. So if this glider is towed 1 mile high, it will be able glide 52 miles forward. Of course, that is the perfect situation, and ‘your mileage may vary’.
Solar Panels – this glider is equipped with optional solar panels to recharge my battery on the ground, and help keep it charged when I fly. The panels are small, so they will not fully recharge the battery while I have all my equipment turned on, but it helps extend the battery life so I can fly for 5 to 7 hours on one battery before I have to switch to my backup battery.
Here is a picture of a contest at Avenal, CA, near Coalinga (central California). We are pushing our gliders onto the field, set in in a Grid pattern which is the order we are launched. In a contest we are only towed 2,000 feet off the ground and have to stay aloft until the start gate is open, then fly the course.
My glider does not have an engine. Sometimes mother nature shuts down and does not provide enough lift to keep me in the air. This means that there are times when I end up landing away from my intended airport.
The last picture is of my landing in a field 9 miles short of the airport. The field on the right was large enough to land in, but the large dirt clods caused some minor cosmetic damage.
Next time I will pick an airport. A smooth airport is better than a rough field. I only had to wait about 3 hours to get picked up, so that was pretty good, considering that several other gliders also landed out on this day.
My wife and I visited New Orleans in June 2014. We stayed at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel right in the heart of the French Quarter, corner of Bourbon Street and Orleans. Very updated hotel with a friendly staff. The rooms were nicely decorated and clean. The bar section next to the lobby opens up on Bourbon Street, so when we were tired of walking around we found it fun to have a drink and watch the people walk by the window.
Oh, the hotel is haunted! We were not lucky enough to experience any spirits that did not come from a bottle, but we were open to a visit. It was so easy to walk to all the popular places. Every morning we walked 2 blocks to the Café Du Monde next to the French Market to get our beignet and coffee for breakfast.
New Orleans is a place for great food, people watching, and terrific jazz.