Insomnia and Burnout (continued)



The practice is to hold the posture for 12 to 15 seconds starting with the right arm and right leg raised and then transition to the posture but with the left arm and left leg raised. Repeat this pair of postures 10 to 12 times each. Note that the practice can be done in place or with two steps forward and then two steps back so one would have

Golden Rooster stands on the left leg (right leg and right arm elevated)

lower the right leg to ground; lower the right arm so the palm is face down at the waist and elbow is relaxed

raise the left left and the left arm

If stepping is involved (seems to be a matter of personal taste) when the elevated foot is lowered move it six to twelve inches forward as opposed to straight down. The third and fourth postures can include stepping backwards if desired or if space is limited. Note that some effort should be made to keep the raised foot and hand relatively still.

Breathing is an inhalation as the arm and leg are raised and an exhalation as they are lowered.

One focus is on remaining in the posture without wobbling and without turning the head or shifting the eyes.

For those with ataxia, fine motor control issues or balance challenges slowly increasing the time spent with the leg and arm raised is one protocol. A second protocol is to gradually increase the height (= angle) of the upper leg and to pair this with an increase in the angle and extension of the raised arm.

As with many similar practices, there are variations of the posture in the various styles and lineages (a topic for another blog entry). Regardless of the details of the posture, what should be recorded, perhaps using the HERON software, is what exercises were done, when they were done and what the quality of subsequent sleep was. Note that it is almost certainly useful to also record eating, medication intake, behaviors and so on.

Insomnia and Burnout


, , , , ,

I am reliably informed that across the overly wide autism spectrum (now with over 1,000 genes implicated) as well as many other spectra a cause and a symptom of burnout is insomnia. Typically, there is an inability to fall asleep, to stay asleep or to encounter a sleep deep enough to be satisfying. The severity of the insomnia can vary and can be influenced by: excessive noise or light; stress; poor air quality (such as the smoke from wildfires, for example); extremes of temperature; mattress and so on. If someone is already taking three prescription drugs it is not obvious that adding some sort of sleeping tablet is a good or even functional idea. Among the classes of drugs that can worsen insomnia are anti-hypertensives (for high blood pressure); respiratory aids such as albuterol (perhaps given in response to COVID-19 or asthma); anti-histamines; hormones; anti-epileptics (for seizures); caffeine; nicotine and central nervous system stimulants. Among the medical conditions that can influence insomnia are sinus allergies; acid reflux; thyroid disease; chronic pain; Parkinson’s disease and sleep apnea. Quite a complicated situation and one where individual treatments and responses are called for.

I have very mixed impressions of using a smart watch to measure sleep quality, but I currently do not have any better ideas.

In e-discussing the book Practical Tai Chi Training: A 9-Stage Method for Mastery by Jesse Tsao and Jason Weil with Master Tsao on thread of the discussion focused on using a particular Tai Chi posture both for preparing to go to sleep and for trying to overcome an inability to get to sleep. The posture is Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg. Below is an image of Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei extracted from the Lao Jia 1 (Old Frame) set

Here we have one arm extended above the head at about 45 degrees while the leg on the same side has the thigh and the foot parallel to the ground with the lower leg vertical. The leg being stood on has its knee slightly flexed while the other arm has the elbow bent and the palm facing downward and near the waist.
Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei in profile again with his face obscured – this time extracted from Xin Jia (New Frame 1).
In Chen Family style Tai Chi Chuan the posture occurs in two other sets: single sword and single saber – waving a weapon around before trying to sleep should be carefully considered.
Note that when the weapons are involved the role and position of the left arm changes

Predicting another Solar System planet


, , , , , , , , , , ,

Back in 2016 Michael Brown and Konstantin Batygin, both of CalTech, put out a paper

suggesting that a giant planet with a mass of at least ten Earths had a highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. Outer is really outer – Neptune orbits at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles. Simulations of the the hypothetical planet gave an average distance of 56 billion miles – that suggests that an orbit takes 10,000 to 20,000 years. There are two problems: could the planet be seen at that distance AND would it appear to move against the stars. Originally, Trujillo and Sheppard had noted in

that there was another object like Sedna whose perihelion (closest approach to our sun) was very distant: Readers will recall that Neptune orbits at about 30 AUs and Pluto at less than 40 AUs. The perihelions for Sedna and 2012 VP113 were 76 and 80 AUs, respectively.

The underlying challenges in all this are that there are not many known objects and that they are difficult to observe so mass, inclination and other orbital parameters are not necessarily very accurate. One additional downside is that as one moves farther and farther into space the volume to be observed increases and the apparent movement of objects decreases. That directly implies that it is unknown how many objects to expect and that it is unknown what types of objects (small rocky planets, brown dwarfs, ice giants, gas giants, Kuiper Belt Objects, something else) might be involved. The upside is that so far what the measurements needed are and what can be done with the measurements are both established. A consideration of unknown impact is that we are seeing just a glimpse = perhaps 10 or 20 years in duration – of what might be a dynamic system where one or more conjectured large masses are altering the orbits of other bodies.

The most recent pre-publication paper by Brown and Batygin is at > astro-ph > arXiv:2108.09868

One short-term possibility (as an alternative to sending a spacecraft; firing up a new telescope, presumably in orbit; making a huge sky search …) is to treat the data for the objects of interest as fuzzy, so one might use fifty Planet Nine (P9) masses from 4.0 to 9.0 Earths, three hundred semi-major axis lengths from 300 to 600 AUs and so on. To be fair, similar fuzziness should be inflicted on objects of interest. That is an enormous amount of computing. It would require some sort of agreed goodness of fit: if a scenario produces a close fit for Sedna and others but not for 2012 VP113 it is necessary to consider how that might compare to a scenario that produces reasonable but not close fits for all or most of the objects.

Ultimately, the goal is prediction of where more objects of interest might be found and then where the planet, if there is a planet, might be.

I have a different problem: with COVID-19 and individual seizures and earthquake swarms one is entitled to suspect that difficulties in predictability MAY be due to not obtaining the most influential measurements. The poor predictions from stacking sine curves in Fourier analysis and even extending linear extrapolation suggests that a journey to the extremes of factor analysis is indicated. It may also be the case that some sort of more exotic regression equation is called for.

Massive General Kwan (Guan Yu) statue being moved again


, , , , , , ,

It seems like very long ago (four years) that I mentioned the enormous statue of General Kwan in a blog entry. 2017 General Kwan blog entry

At the time I had secretly hoped there would be slightly smaller (like 12″ to 14″ polyresin) copies of the statue for sale.

The latest news is the statue is being dismantled and moved although I do not yet know the destination

Dianjiangtai (green marker on the map; southwest of Wuhan) is not very far away from the present location of Jingzhou (Hubei Province) and has a historical connection with General Kwan (Guan Yu)

Michael Brown and the Ninth Planet



Michael Brown is a professor of planetary astronomy at Cal Tech in Pasadena – he is also the author of “How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming” which describes the campaign to demote Pluto to a dwarf planet.

There are currently almost certainly 10 dwarf planets (through Salacia; estimated diameters over 800 kilometers). It is likely the 17 objects with estimated diameters in the range 600 to 800 will be classified as dwarf planets as well. There are 41 objects with estimated diameters between 500 and 600 kilometers as well as 62 objects with estimated diameters between 400 and 500 kilometers.

Running the clocks backwards



Of considerable interest to some astronomers – both those trying to understand our Solar system and those trying to understand other extrasolar planetary systems – are the following questions

/1/ why are Uranus and Neptune, known as ice giants, unlike Jupiter and Saturn, known as gas giants

/2/ why are Uranus and Neptune dissimilar – were they changed by different events

/3/ what is the nature of the outer solar system

Two papers of interest:

Could Uranus and Neptune form by collisions of planetary embryos?
Chau, A; Reinhardt, C; Izidoro, A; Stadel, J; Helled, R
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 502, Issue 2, pp.1647-1660
In the simulations there are problems: the early Uranus and the early Neptune
rotated too quickly (at close to break-up speed) and have massive discs, so the answer
is probably not.

A Common Evolutionary Pathway for Uranus and Neptune
Chau, A; Reinhardt, C; Stadel, J; Helled, R
EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019, held 15-20 September 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland
For Uranus: an oblique impact can tilt the spin axis and eject enough material to create a disk where the regular satellites are formed.
For Neptune: a head-on collision can mix the interior by penetrating towards the center

There will probably be lots more CPU hours spent on simulations of the early Solar system.

John Couch Adams


, , , , , ,

John Couch Adams (5 June 1819 – 21 January 1892) before searching for Neptune
John Couch Adams after searching for Neptune – just kidding

Adams graduated from Cambridge in 1843 as the senior wrangler, which would be the top student in mathematics.

It has been conjectured that both Adams and LeVerrier had what was once known as Asperger’s Syndrome. At one time the diagnostics were difficulties with social interaction, repetitive behaviors, standing firm / being unusually stubborn and focusing on rules and regulations. All of which, coupled with calculating skills, would be perfect for a planet-hunter. Except, of course, when it came time to communicate his findings. When the WWII activities of Johann Friedrich Karl Asperger, often known as Hans, were illuminated the syndrome was dissolved in favor of being a sub-type within the autism spectrum. At one time it was conjectured that the symptoms were due to deletions or other defects involving chromosome 15. The gene GABRB3 is indeed on chromosome 15 and multiple single nucleotide polymorphisms of that gene has been linked to people diagnosed with the former syndrome. See, for example, Published in 2013 based on work done at Cambridge

There are currently over 40 genes on chromosome 15 associated with autism spectrum disabilities.

It becomes very difficult to form a clear picture of events in the life of Adams after 1844 or so. There are claims that Adams attempted to persuade James Challis (12 December 1803 – 3 December 1882), the director of the Cambridge Observatory, to search for Neptune at some point in Spring of 1846. Challis reluctantly started the search and later claimed to have observed Neptune twice in August but mistook it for a star both times due to using inadequate star maps. Adams also communicated with the Royal Astronomer George Biddell Airy (27 July 1801 – 2 January 1892) at Greenwich. Airy had been in communication in Le Verrier in June. There was a fair amount of blame for not discovering Neptune shared between Challis, Airy and Couch. To complicate matters, astronomer Olin Eggen (July 9, 1919 – October 2, 1998) stole the Airy-Adams correspondence from the Royal Greenwich Observatory and concealed it for decades.

Has a collection of documents and comments. One may summarize as Le Verrier calculated the position of Neptune and Galle and others confirmed it. It is difficult to see a valid position provided by Adams or much urgency by Challis or Airy. It may well be the case that the final chapters have yet to be written, but my judgment is that things look bleak for any claims by Adams.

Urbain LeVerrier


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier (11 March 1811 – 23 September 1877)

A statue at the entrance of the Paris Observatory

Fans of networking and meteorology will appreciate that later in the lifetime of Le Verrier during the Crimean war (October 1853 to February 1856) the fleets of France and Britain and other allies in the Black Sea were devastated by the Great Storm of November 14, 1854. 68 Ships were sunk or damaged:

In addition to the ships and lives directly lost, there were enormous losses of food, fuel and winter clothing. France’s minister of war requested Le Verrier to study the storm, which had been tracked across Europe, but which had NOT prompted a warning to any of the combatant forces besieging Sevastopol or otherwise in the area. Eventually, the various telegraphic services agreed to cooperate, and by 1857 there was a daily bulletin giving the atmospheric conditions at five foreign and fourteen domestic [French] stations. Major upgrades to nursing may have been the only other positive effect of the Crimean war.

It would be fair to describe the pursuit of the hypothetical planet Vulcan, thought to account for the perihelion advance of Mercury, as unsuccessful. Nor was Le Verrier the most popular director of the Paris Observatory.

The very colorful François Arago (26 February 1786 – 2 October 1853), then director of the Paris Observatory where Le Verrier worked, had asked Le Verrier to analyze the irregularities in the orbit of Uranus in 1845. Le Verrier had published his first comments in December 1845. A second publication in June 1846 showed that the irregularities could not result from the known planets – therefore a planet beyond Uranus was suspected. In August 1846 Le Verrier published his predicted position for the hypothetical planet. Recall that Gauss had to deal with an eighth degree equation when determining the orbit of Ceres. Le Verrier carried his calculations to the seventh order which meant 469 distinct terms. On 18 September 1846 Le Verrier wrote to Johann Galle at the Berlin (*) Observatory asking him to look for the planet at the position he predicted.

There had been other predictions of a planet made earlier, so Johann Franz Encke (23 September 1791 – 26 August 1865 – note the birth date), a student of Gauss, and Galle’s supervisor, was unenthused. However, Galle had sent Le Verrier a copy of his thesis earlier, so Galle obliged, and, with some timely assistance from Heinrich Louis d’Arrest (13 August 1822 – 14 June 1875), and within about 1 degree of the prediction, on the night of September 23, 1846, found a “star” of the eighth magnitude that was not recorded in the the star catalogs by Carl Bremiker (23 February 1804 – 26 March 1877) then in use in Berlin. Observations the next night confirmed movement.

  • While Le Verrier held Galle in considerable esteem Le Verrier considered it a national disgrace that France did not have a telescope or observatory that could have confirmed the results. Note that the previously mentioned Lalande published the Histoire Céleste Française in 1801 – it included a star catalog based on observations made from the Paris Observatory – 47,390 mostly northern stars to magnitude 9. The catalog was undergoing a reworking at the time of Le Verrier’s calculations.

Where does one hide a planet?


, , , , , , , , ,

Since Gauss had wisely declined to use the Titius-Bode relationship, he only had Piazzi’s scanty observations and Kepler’s equations.To offset the disadvantages of no computers AND working alone (his effort can really only be appreciated by doing it) AND having to invent the techniques, Gauss had one huge advantage: the measures to determine an orbit were known. A key distinction with later orbit determinations for Pallas and several comets was that after Ceres the method was known to work. I would think it must have taken considerable courage for Gauss, given sparse data and innovative techniques, to publicly predict the orbit of Ceres.   
As readers will recall, Alexis Bouvard had published astronomical tables of the orbit of Uranus in 1821, and, as time went by, it was clear there were discrepancies between observed positions and expected positions. I cannot imagine that Gauss was unaware of the situation.  The discrepancies were consistent with something of appreciable mass exerting a gravitational attraction and tugging Uranus ahead of its calculated position (had there been no Neptune) between about 1800 and 1820 and tugging Uranus behind its calculated position from about 1820 to 1840 or later.

A few inferences were available to the planet-hunters. /1/ The perturbing planet would have to have enough mass to influence Uranus but not so much as to warp its orbit. Neptune has a mass of 17 Earths to Uranus’ 14 earths. /2/ The perturbing planet might have a similar orbital speed – if so, it looked to have an orbit about twice as long as Uranus. 84 years versus 168 years, although Neptune moves more slowly. /3/ the perturbing planet had to be relatively close to Uranus – it couldn’t been on the opposite side of the Sun, for example.

They should have fought the Law


, , , ,

Two astronomers, Johann Daniel Tietz (Latinized as Titius;  2 January 1729 – 16 December 1796) and Johann Elert Bode (19 January 1747 – 23 November 1826) were associated with a mathematical formula that predicted the length in astronomical units of the semi-major elliptical axis of planetary orbits in our Solar system.

where n was 1, 2, 3 (Earth), 4, 5, 6, 7 (Uranus) and the undiscovered planet would be 8

The agreement between calculated and real (as of about 1840) and even current values is remarkable.

One can hardly blame the seekers of the eighth planet for using the Titius-Bode predicted value. This was to have consequences. Pluto was not even a gleam in anyone’s eye. Nor was there much interest in discovering WHY the equation might be true and whether it might apply to other planetary systems. Somewhat ironically, the equation was not really invented by Titius, although with some different values for 0.4, 0.3 and 2, it lives on finding applicability for moons around a planet and in extrasolar planetary systems. It just did not work well for Neptune.