David Nightingale

Commentary & Opinion
12:56 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

David Nightingale: College Degrees

How important is a college degree? It's an age-old question, and it's related to  unequal pay, useful work in a society, and many other factors.

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Commentary & Opinion
1:20 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

David Nightingale: Asteroid DA14

Projected track of Asteroid DA14
Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech

The asteroid “DA14”, which will hurtle past us sometime after lunch today, was discovered by Spanish observers last year.

Our highest satellites, used for GPS, are just over 22,000 miles up, and DA14 will pass underneath that level – coming about 17,000 miles from us. Fortunately, NASA assures us we are safe.

Now Earth and Moon have been hit many times, over the eons, by asteroids.The explosive 1908 Tunguska asteroid, a similar size to the one passing us on Friday  (which for a while many suspected might have been a mini-black hole) damaged 800 square miles of Siberia.

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Commentary & Opinion
10:06 am
Fri November 30, 2012

David Nightingale - Oliver Heaviside (1850-1925)

   Oliver Heaviside received not much more than a middle school education, leaving school at 16 -- yet became one of the most famous mathematical physicists of his time [ref.1.].

   In a short biography by Appleyard [ref.2, p.218-9] there are a few drawings of horses by the 11 yr old Oliver, perhaps because his own father was an artist. as well as a wood engraver. The family lived in an impoverished part of Camden Town, London. Nevertheless, his mother's sister was the wife of Charles Wheatstone, famous for the Wheatstone Bridge circuit used in telegraphy.

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Commentary & Opinion
2:44 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

David Nightingale - Felix Baumgartner's Jump

Anyone who's jumped off a haystack or played on a trampoline, knows the pleasurable feeling of weightlessness, wherein there are, for a fleeting moment, no more sagging body parts.

Felix Baumgartner, a 43-year old Austrian military parachutist, intentionally jumped from a capsule 24 miles up, on Oct 14, thus certainly knowing weightlessness for a decent amount of time. And what a fascinating lot of physics the man who fell from space experienced!

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Commentary & Opinion
3:34 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

David Nightingale: Dominique Francois Jean Arago (1786 - 1853)

   And who was the 25th President of France?

   Well, I guess this is information for TV's “Jeopardy”, but it was the physicist Dominique Francois Jean Arago, born 50 years after the birth of another statesman/scientist – Ben Franklin.[Ref.1].

   Some may remember from high school a demonstration called “Arago's disk”, wherein a copper or aluminum disc is spun underneath an ordinary compass, and the compass needle begins to swing round also. This is just one of the many experiments Arago did.

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Commentary & Opinion
4:06 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Listener Comment Line - Week of September 17, 2012

You had a lot to say on the WAMC listener comment line this week on everything from Joe Donohue's interview with Jesse Ventura, Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney's '47 %' remarks, and several of our WAMC commentators. Segments of these comments ran Friday Sept. 21 on Midday Magazine and Northeast Report.

Commentary & Opinion
12:40 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

David Nightingale: 2 Hospitals

 In the 19th century, Joseph Henry, first director of the Smithsonian, refused any salary increases, saying that public servants were there to serve, rather than to enrich themselves.

 Now, there are two hospitals in Kingston NY – the Benedictine Hospital, a Catholic hospital (founded on its present site in 1906), and the non-sectarian Kingston hospital (founded in 1894), institutions in which, over the years, my family and I have had sundry  procedures, such as appendix, hernias, and so on.

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Commentary & Opinion
12:28 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

David Nightingale - Lucretius (~99 - ~55 BCE)

Lucretius, Roman poet, was born around  99 BCE.

 Sometimes people are remembered for one thing – and with Lucretius it was his  long poem “De Rerum Natura” -- “on natural things”.

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Commentary & Opinion
12:17 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

David Nightingale - SSTs

Settling into my seat on an Airbus, I wished that the 8-hour return from Europe could be more like 3 1/2 hours, as I'd heard the SSTs used to take.

 Those SSTs -- Tupolevs and Concordes -- first flew in the late 60's. The Tupolev was first, in 1968, and then the Concordes in 1969. The latter went for 31 years without a crash – with the huge exception of the French Concorde that hit a piece of metal on the runway while taking off from Paris and crashed in flames, killing all on board.

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Commentary & Opinion
3:26 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

David Nightingale: Clean Elections

 

 In an earlier essay I mentioned that there was no reason why pure scientists such as myself shouldn't have a say in politics -- particularly since law-making is sometimes regarded, wrongly I believe, as being just in the province of those trained in law.

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