Last night, Jaymie Matthews, an astrophysicist that some of the band met in Porto (Portugal), invited us for dinner and to have a look at the University of British Columbia's observatory. He organized dinner at a seafood restaurant overlooking the inlet and we were joined by a couple of his male assistants and about 6 young women, who didn't seem to have anything to do with astronomy or astrophysics. There must have been about 20 of us.
Jaymie and the department of physics and astronomy launched a satellite about a year ago called MOST. It was launched from a former Russian intercontinental ballistic missile based at a northern Russian launch site that they denied existed until fairly recently. Maybe it's a coincidence that MOST is the name of one of the big Russian banks, but I dunno. Note that the launch tower is bannered with ads and logos. NASA has yet to capitalize on the commercial potential of space vehicles as advertising platforms. In this respect, the Russians are way in the forefront.
The satellite observed a specific star for about a month to see if it was really oscillating, after scattered observers had reported that it was. But from space, and viewed consistently, the star appeared to flatline, a fact that didn't please some astronomers. The satellite looks like a large silver briefcase — no big solar panels like the Hubble. It doesn’t need them because it runs on low power.
Later, at the observatory on the UBC campus, Jaymie opened some bottles of wine while assistants aimed the lens at a ring nebula, the Hercules star cluster, and a set of twin stars (one red, one blue) that revolve around one another. These objects were completely invisible to the naked eye. The guys would point up at a blank space between some stars and say, "that's where it is." More young ladies show up and some of us wonder if maybe we got into the wrong business.
It’s show day and Tracy, Leigh, Ames, Mauro, and I bike around Stanley Park. Mostly it's spectacular. Paul announced that if Bush wins, he's ready to move here. This is all right in Vancouver.
This (right) is the Siwash rock where in 1966 a young man of 17 failed to notice it was low tide as he dove off the rock to his death. Odd how this could have happened, as it's low tide now and the water is only a few feet deep around the rock and any idiot could tell that.
We see seals frolicking in the waves. A man advocating the benefits of meditation is having a nap with his head inside a milk crate. Maybe there is a link between meditation and percussion?