### Minerva update: The eagle has landed

On Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 4:39 PM, Jon Swift wrote:
Status update:

Our CDK700 is safely in place now! Rick and Kevin are
hooking up all the cables and our camera in prep for
tonight. The telescope fit nicely on the mounting bolts
(after a few strikes with a mallet) and the clearance is to
spec. Skies are clear, and if all goes well we'll have a
pointing solution soon after dark.
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Telescope 1 was delivered and installed successfully Friday afternoon! That we were able to get on the sky immediately is a testament to the amazing engineering of Planewave, and the wisdom of going with top-of-the-line, yet off-the-shelf telescopes for our project. Telescope 2 will soon be rolling down the assembly line.

For now, testing of Telescope 1, the science camera and the fiber acquisition unit (FAU) have begun in earnest. Kristina Hogstrom (CIT Aerospace Engineering second-year) will be teaching the telescope to operate robotically, while Phil Muirhead and Mike Bottom (CIT Astro third-year) will work on the FAU and telescope guiding.

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Some pics!
 Unpacking Telescope 1
 The Crane getting ready to lift the telescope into place
 Carefully lowering the telescope onto the pier. The pier for Telescope 2 is in the foreground and will hopefully be occupied this Fall.
 Jon Swift sawing off the end of a PVC pipe so the telescope will fit properly
 The open Aqawan, complete with one of two telescopes. The sides of the enclosure will be lowered further during scientific operations.
 The telescope in the home position, along with the control computer and desk.
 Reed Riddle and Becky Jensen-Clem investigate the telescope.
 Mike Bottom is one very happy grad student
 Kristina Hogstrom (Aero-astro engineering grad student) sizes up her quarry. She will teach it to operate robotically before setting it loose in the wild next year.
 Phil Muirhead's SolidWorks design of the Fiber Acquisition Unit (FAU), which couples the light from the telescope to the spectrometer via a fiber-optic cable.

 Proud papa

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It turns out that all went well with installation and setup. The team was on-sky that same night.

 Rick Hedrick of Planewave looks on as the telescope pointing solution is worked out.
 Unofficial first-light target: The Trapesium
 The M51 "Whirlpool Galaxy", from Pasadena with no filters in front of our Apogee U230 CCD camera...from Pasadena. Jon measured 2."7 seeing!
 Pizza break. From left to right: Mike Bottom, Peter Plavchan, Phil Muirhead, Becky Jensen-Clem

### On the Height of J.J. Barea

Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea standing between two very tall people (from: Picassa user photoasisphoto).

Congrats to the Dallas Mavericks, who beat the Miami Heat tonight in game six to win the NBA championship.

Okay, with that out of the way, just how tall is the busy-footed Maverick point guard J.J. Barea? He's listed as 6-foot on NBA.com, but no one, not even the sports casters, believes that he can possibly be that tall. He looks like a super-fast Hobbit out there. But could that just be relative scaling, with him standing next to a bunch of extremely tall people? People on Yahoo! Answers think so---I know because I've been Google searching "J.J. Barea Height" for the past 15 minutes.

So I decided to find a photo and settle the issue once and for all.

I then used the basketball as my metric. Wikipedia states that an NBA basketball is 29.5 inches in circumfe…

### Finding Blissful Clarity by Tuning Out

It's been a minute since I've posted here. My last post was back in April, so it has actually been something like 193,000 minutes, but I like how the kids say "it's been a minute," so I'll stick with that.
As I've said before, I use this space to work out the truths in my life. Writing is a valuable way of taking the non-linear jumble of thoughts in my head and linearizing them by putting them down on the page. In short, writing helps me figure things out. However, logical thinking is not the only way of knowing the world. Another way is to recognize, listen to, and trust one's emotions. Yes, emotions are important for figuring things out.
Back in April, when I last posted here, my emotions were largely characterized by fear, sadness, anger, frustration, confusion and despair. I say largely, because this is what I was feeling on large scales; the world outside of my immediate influence. On smaller scales, where my wife, children and friends reside, I…

### The Force is strong with this one...

Last night we were reviewing multiplication tables with Owen. The family fired off doublets of numbers and Owen confidently multiplied away. In the middle of the review Owen stopped and said, "I noticed something. 2 times 2 is 4. If you subtract 1 it's 3. That's equal to taking 2 and adding 1, and then taking 2 and subtracting 1, and multiplying. So 1 times 3 is 2 times 2 minus 1."

I have to admit, that I didn't quite get it at first. I asked him to repeat with another number and he did with six: "6 times 6 is 36. 36 minus 1 is 35. That's the same as 6-1 times 6+1, which is 35."

Ummmmm....wait. Huh? Lemme see...oh. OH! WOW! Owen figured out

x^2 - 1 = (x - 1) (x +1)

So $6 \times 8 = 7 \times 7 - 1 = (7-1) (7+1) = 48$. That's actually pretty handy!

You can see it in the image above. Look at the elements perpendicular to the diagonal. There's 48 bracketing 49, 35 bracketing 36, etc... After a bit more thought we…