The World Around You
Mountain Views News Saturday, October 23, 2010
11 THE WORLD AROUND YOU MountainViews-News Saturday, October 23, 2010 NASA’s Hubble Telescope’s Latest Discovery Hubble Telescope Captures First Images of Aftermath from Possible Asteroid Collision NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured the first snapshots of a suspected collision of two asteroids in space. The images show a bizarre X-shaped object trailing a comet- like trail of material. In January 2010, astronomers began using Hubble to track the object for five months. They thought they had witnessed a fresh asteroid collision, but were surprised to learn the collision occurred in early 2009. “We expected the debris field to expand dramatically, like shrapnel flying from a hand grenade,” said astronomer David Jewitt of the University of California in Los Angeles, who is a leader of the Hubble observations. “But what happened was quite the opposite. We found that the object is expanding very, very slowly.” The peculiar object, dubbed P/2010 A2, was found cruising around the asteroid belt, which is a reservoir of millions of rocky bodies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It is estimated that modest-sized asteroids smash into each other about once a year. When the objects collide, they inject dust into interplanetary space. But until now, astronomers have had to rely on models to make predictions about the frequency of these collisions and the amount of dust produced. Catching colliding asteroids is difficult because large impacts are rare while small ones, such as the one that produced P/2010 A2, are exceedingly faint. The two asteroids that make up P/2010 A2 were unknown before the collision because they were too faint to be noticed. The collision itself was unobservable because of the asteroids’ position in relation to the Sun. “These observations are important because we need to know where the dust in the solar system comes from, and how much of it comes from colliding asteroids as opposed to ‘outgassing’ comets,” Jewitt said. “We also can apply this knowledge to the dusty debris disks around other stars, because these are thought to be produced by collisions between unseen bodies in the disks. Knowing how the dust was produced will yield clues about those invisible bodies.” The Hubble images, taken from January to May 2010 with the telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3, reveal a point-like object about 400 feet wide, with a long, flowing dust tail behind a never-before-seen X pattern. Particle sizes in the tail are estimated to vary from about 1/25th of an inch to an inch in diameter. The 400-foot-wide object in the Hubble image is the remnant of a slightly larger precursor body. Astronomers think a smaller rock, perhaps 10- to 15 feet wide, slammed into the larger one. The pair probably collided at high speed, about 11,000 mph, which smashed and vaporized the small asteroid and stripped material from the larger one. Jewitt estimates that the violent encounter happened in February or March 2009 and was as powerful as the detonation of a small atomic bomb. Sunlight radiation then swept the debris behind the remnant asteroid, forming a comet-like tail. The tail contains enough dust to make a ball 65 feet wide, most of it blown out of the bigger body by the impact-caused explosion. The science journal Nature published the findings in its Oct. 14 issue. You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@MtnViewsNews.com. Ask jai…… Although the trend of Tech Industry executives seeking to make the switch from private sector success to elected public office can hardly be considered a new development in the world of politics, this years’ election cycle saw more than its usual share of superstar tech-CEOs attempting to use their considerable wealth and influence to make just that switch. In our fair state of California, we’ve been “treated” to the very public and very expensive campaigns of Steve Poisner, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina. I say “treated” in reference to being exposed to these campaigns because the very idea of watching these personal dramas play out on the public airwaves has struck many as the height of insult. To watch multi-millionaires (and sometimes billionaires) pour hundreds of millions of dollars of their personal wealth into their political campaigns often leaves one wondering what these candidates really have in common with the typical Main Street voter. To be totally honest, many a so-called “just- like-you” politician often lives an existence far beyond the grasp of the average American but the hi-tech variety of politician, especially in the FaceBook age, are truly a breed unto themselves. While the skills that have led them to conquer the tech world and push the limits of technology and business far beyond anything ever thought possible are rarely found though highly sought after in the business world, the usual skillsets, temperaments and empathy usually found in responsive, effective public officials is, in many cases, lacking. The drive to perform in business in a manner that increases shareholder value to the exclusion of all other factors could be, and often has been, proven to be disastrous towards something as nebulous as the public good. In fact, many functions and goals of Local, State and Federal governance are not undertaken with the goal of profit in mind, but in order to provide goods and services needed by the public. One could easily see how success in one sphere might not directly translate into success in the other. "Empathy" is the word that got President Obama into trouble when he said it was a necessary quality for a Supreme Court justice. He was right, though, and empathy is a very desirable trait in a public leader. Over the years we’ve been exposed to many charismatic and personable hi-tech business leaders and while their achievements have been noteworthy and they have been personally likeable, “empathetic towards the situation of the average worker” is not a phrase that is often used to describe them, and rightly so. They haven’t gotten to the positions in life that they currently occupy because they “feel our pain.” They’ve gotten there because of their ability to run a business and to make a profit. Those are - in and of themselves - awesome things to know how to do, but the positions that these people are running for are not businesses and these offices require different measures of success than simply increasing shareholder value. So please, hi-tech leaders, stay in Silicon Valley. We need you there. If you feel a burning desire "to give something back," emulate Bill Gates, whose charitable work is altogether admirable and appropriate for a man of his wealth and talent. But please, stay off the ballot. Ask jai is a weekly column that will strive to honestly answer your job search questions relating to job searching techniques, networking skills, resume writing and interviewing. The employment situation is getting better, however, it is still a challenge finding were the jobs are located and how to get pass the “gate-keepers”. As an Executive Recruiter I was privy to working directly with Corporate Recruiters and understanding their process in selecting which candidates to interview and hire. I will candidly answer your questions, possibly bluntly answering you questions, but I will be totally honest. My objective is to help you achieve your employment goal. Silicon Valley & Public Office Q: I have been out of work for almost 5 years taking care of my family and raising two children. I want to return to the workforce. I have a finance degree and over 10 years work experience as a financial analyst. My husband is employed by a large corporation and they always have jobs listed on their website that I am interested in pursuing. I have asked my husband to talk to the Personnel Department about me and give them my resume. Which he has done. It has been over six months with no result. My husband has a good work history and has been with the corporation for 15 years. We are getting frustrated. What should we do to get me into their system to be considered for employment? Marika Dear Marika, First, find out what husband’s employer’s policy is regarding hiring spouses and family members. Next, there is no “we” when “you” are looking for employment. You are placing a lot of stress on your husband to assist you in finding employment, especially with his employer. You need to take on full responsibility for finding employment, and that should be with any employer that is looking for someone like you with your skills and experience. Start by letting your family, friends and former co- workers know that you are seeking employment. I am assuming that you are seeking employment in finance and as an analyst. A cover letter will be your key document when applying for any position. Your cover letter should explain why you are transitioning from family life back into the workforce. Be sure to include a referral name, the position you are seeking, why you are returning the workforce, why you feel you qualify for the position and some out standing accomplishment statements. Do not focus your cover letter on your family or family activities. You want to communicate to the employer that you will be completely focused on their needs and that your skills and experience will add value to their organization. I would also suggest that you write a chronological resume, include an objective heading and what you have been doing for the past 5 years. Any volunteer work, school activities and some hobbies all count as work experience and are appropriate to include on your resume into order to bring it up to date. However, if you are set on finding employment at your husband’s company you should find out if they have an employee referral program. Then ask your mutual friends who are employed there if they would refer you for positions at his company. I strongly suggest that you try to bypass the Personnel Department and go directly to the person who is making the decision to hire. Ask your husband to find out the name of that person and, instead of him contacting and giving them your resume, you do it. Call or e-mail them directly, start with who referred you and if you feel it would be appropriate mention your husband’s name. Continue looking for employment with other companies until you are employed. 19th century German Statesman (German Statesman?) Otto Von Bismarck is quoted as having said, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” I think Herr Bismarck’s cautionary warning holds true not only regarding laws being made, but also politics in general. Otto died in 1898 so he had no idea of how TV, radio, cable, internet, cell phones and billboards would permeate every facet of our waking hours with the butchery. Grasping for perspective in these waning days prior to November 2nd, I once again turn to my great American hero, Will Rogers. It’s illuminating, and fun to examine his musings on the body politic and see if his 80+ year old comments still hold relevance. You be the judge. Among his quotes: “Every man looks good until he is elected.” “If every radio went off the air from now till election day, it would be a godsend to a suffering public, and no loss to political knowledge.” “Democrats, if the Republicans get a slush fund, don’t waste all your time criticizing and investigating theirs; get out and get a bigger one yourself…” “There is nothing that will send a candidate to bed as drunk and dejected on election night as for him to be endorsed by a President. Voters just don’t like a President butting in.” “The ‘Outs’ are attacking and the ‘Ins’ are defending. All the ‘Outs’ have to do is promise what they would do if they got in. But the ‘Ins’ have to promise what they would do, and then explain why they haven’t already done it.” “I believe that a man should be allowed to spend as much as he can to be elected… If you put a man in that was elected on nothing but campaign speeches, you are going to have nothing but a wind-bag to represent you.” (Should be of comfort to Meg Whitman.) “It (elections) don’t mean anything. We been staggering along under every conceivable horse thief that could get into office, and yet, here we are, still going strong.” “The campaign lasted only a few months, but it will take two generations to sweep up the dirt.” “I want to bring elections back to where they occupy almost as much importance as the World Series.” “History has proven that there is really nothing in the world as alike as two candidates. They look different till they get in, but then they all act the same.” And an honorable mention to Groucho Marx when he said, “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” Of course the bottom line is to stay involved. The disinterest in local government by the citizens of Bell, California opened the barn to their elected “horse thiefs” getting away with all those abuses. Thankfully, here in Sierra Madre, we have a more involved electorate. RICH Johnson OKTOBERFEST! KATIE Tse ..........This and That Will Rogers Sets the Record Straight As we descend deeper into the slog of fall and winter, we appreciate the holidays and rituals that unite, and distract, us from the cheerless cold and dwindling daylight. And one of the first of these celebrations is Oktoberfest! Spanning over a month, this is a beloved inclusive festival along with St. Patrick’s in the sense that, whatever your ethnic background may be, if you’re there you’re Irish or German and welcome! I haven’t been to many Oktoberfests, but I’ve been to enough to conclude that there’s a great range of German authenticity that any event can have, so a wide variety of gatherings can call themselves “Oktoberfests.” One Oktoberfest I went to was not much more than the city’s usual street market with a sausage stand, beer garden (serving Budweiser), and American 50’s classics being piped through the sound system. Alpine Village in Torrance puts on a somewhat authentic, if not entertaining, Oktoberfest. As you enter the large makeshift tent that annually transforms one corner of the village’s parking lot into a Bavarian beer hall, the din of the 110 freeway is overcome by the hearty oompah- pah’s of the band. It’s about a ten-person group, flown in from Germany for the season. The leader is always the same jovial, mustached man who seems to have not aged over the years. Perhaps the beer has preserved him. The food consists of bratwurst, some darker sausage, hot potato salad, and sauerkraut. You don’t have to ponder too much at the beverage booth; the beer is Spaten, dark or light, and the wine is red or white. I think they might have a pot of coffee back there, too. You sit at long communal benches and as time passes your bench mates become more and more familiar, until you find yourselves swaying along with the music and toasting to the bandleader’s shout of “Zicke Zacka Zicke Zacka Hoi! Hoi! Hoi!” No one except the band knows what this means, but that’s okay. Some of the older folks, decked out in Alpine hats and lederhosen, begin to dance. It seems they’ve just been waiting for an excuse. The ratio is typically three women to one man, who must persevere through with all of them, unless two women decide to dance with each other. If the band is feeling particularly energetic they will march with their instruments through the benches, and might even climb up on an area that doesn’t have food. The older women have been saving their singles and now giggle mischievously as they stuff a few bills into the lads’ calf-high socks. God bless them, I hope I have that much boldness when I’m their age. Ticke Tacke Ticke Tacke Hoi Hoi Hoi!