PDG BILL GOODWYN provided the Invocation. He began by quoting Shakespeare, then Thoreau, and some of the well-known standards from several regions of the world. It has been 2,555 days since 9/11, on which date almost three thousand innocent people died, and we pray for our leaders and the people said, “AMEN”.
Seated at the Head Table and thus relatively immune from fines, there were some announcements. ED WRIGHT noted that he had just married Leah Bird, which drew nice applause. (YOE cannot believe that President SEAN would have imposed a fine for THIS announcement, certainly). At this point, PP CHRIS GAYNOR tried to slip in quietly, but Eagle Eye SEAN nicked him for five bucks, since he weren’t there in time to lead the Pledge, as scheduled. SHANE WAARBROEK introduced his associate, Grace Lynn, whom you may recall was fined in absentia (that means she wasn’t present and didn’t have a thing to say about it). PP MIKE NEWMAN had a Special Guest, Michael Pizzo, who hails from San Jose. I had a Special Guest, Elise Soley, from Cypress. You may recall that she and her Mother came to see us about a month ago. Elise is at UCLA, and will graduate in January 2010, and we hope she can join WVRC stay tuned.
It was birthday time. First up was TONY MARRONE, who picked the 6th of September, in Pueblo. Colorado. Others who qualified included PP JIM DOWNIE, on the 8th, way back in Minneapolis JIM is having some minor surgery and couldn’t be with us today. ED JACKSON, my substitute Editor of two weeks ago, liked Los Angeles on the 12th. AVA PEPLOW came aboard in Santa Monica on the 15th. KEVIN BADKOUBEHI preferred far-away Tehran, Iran on the 24th. President SEAN allowed as how the 27th was his date, and again, in far-away Killarny, Ireland. Last up was SLOS VIAU, and he chose Fresno on the 30th. But only TONY and SEAN were actually present, so our rendition of Happy Birthday had a restricted audience.
President SEAN recalled that MARK ROGO’S cell phone had sounded during our Board Meeting earlier this week and Lo and Behold, there it went again! Fifty bucks down the tube. But there was some good news DICK and JESSIE ROBINSON have been married SIXTY YEARS AGO on this very day! And of course President SEAN had some historical facts for us to consider; Lehman Bros. Is looking for a buyer, or maybe a lender, but in any case, they need Capital! This being the 7th Anniversary of 9/11, Dr. Charles Hirsch, the chief medical examiner, now says the exact count is that 2,751 people died as a result of the twin tower’s collapse. SEAN then led a moment of silence in honor of the passengers on Flight 93, who gave their lives to prevent another air attack on Washington D.C. On the often-subject of Ireland, SEAN pointed out that there was a question whether Northern Ireland should really be counted as a part of Ireland. The details escape me, but a little controversy is always useful.
PP STEVE SCHERER invited JR DUZBAK to come to the podium. PP STEVE announced that JR had accumulated enough brownie points to escape from the Yearling Table. This was formally put into motion when JR followed PP STEVE’S reading of “Let Rotary Turn The Wheel” and I’m sure you all recognize that this is our official WVRC song, right? And speaking of the Yearling Table, YOE feels that he should get credit for having subjected himself to that particular table today remember, PP SEAN suggested we should all give it a try and it’s certainly not as trying as sitting next to PP ERIC LOBERG, for example!
It was announced that the Club would be providing an appropriate memorial plaque, to be displayed at the Fowler Museum, honoring our just-deceased member, LENORE MULRYAN. Also ALY SHOJI’S new baby will receive an appropriate gift, as the first child born to a Rotarian (in recent memory, anyway) this to be chosen by PEGGY BLOOMFIELD and LEAH VRIESMAN.
SHANE WAARBROEK introduced our Speaker, Mike Long. Mr. Long is the president and co-founder of Premier Wireless, Inc, which began operations in 1993 they design and manufacturer wireless video, audio and data systems for use in the CCTV, Broadcast, Military and Law Enforcement markets. He has a BA in Physics from the University of Chicago, plus graduate work at both UCLA and Stanford. His hobby is surprise amateur astronomy and astrophotography. Mike is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Mt. Wilson Institute, and is a docent there.
He began by telling us that this was a difficult talk to prepare for, since he often has a couple of hours to describe the Mt. Wilson scene and we only allow a half-hour. His talk was nicely illustrated by a number of excellent color photos, and of course he feels that Mt. Wilson is perhaps one of the least appreciated treasures of Southern California.
Its history goes back over one hundred years, to its founding in 1904 under the direction of George Emory Hale. Andrew Carnegie was its first donor. The site, located above Pasadena, is easily recognizable by the many TV antennas clustered nearby. The observatory itself contains both a 60-inch and 100-inch telescope.
What was known about our Universe a hundred years ago? We knew there was a Milky Way galaxy, consisting of the planets, comets and other objects that could be seen by the naked eye. We certainly were at the Center of our Universe, and it was permanent and would thus exist forever. Fast forward sixty years our perception of the universe had radically changed. Instead of just one, there were, literally, hundreds of millions of galaxies, each with hundreds of millions of stars. We were not at the center, but off to one edge. and it all started with a Big Bang. Mt. Wilson was responsible for this vast shift in our understanding, and during the first half of the 20th Century Mt. Wilson was the preeminent observatory in the world. Even today it is the prototype of observatories all over the world.
The first structure built was the Snow Solar Telescope. Our 60-inch telescope is, even today, the example on which all telescopes are built. It is still in operation, mostly for exhibitions you can even rent it! The 150-foot Solar Tower was completed in 1912. Below it is a 60-foot tunnel, dug by hand through solid granite. The 100-inch telescope was created in 1918. Photography in those days was on photographic plates, and involved sitting at the telescope for 10 or 12 hours at a time, continually aiming it as the earth revolved.
Solar Towers are designed to study the sun. This explained the magnetic fields of the sun, plus sunspots which put George Emory Hale on the ‘possibles’ list of Noble candidates, except that they don’t give Astronomers Noble prizes. An Astronomer whom we have probably heard of was Carl Hubbell, and he did most of his work on the 100-inch telescope at Mt. Wilson. His work on the speed of light was revolutionary, establishing the almost-unbelievable size and scope of our entire solar system. We were shown photos of some of the significant players in the world of Astronomy. And note that when Mr. Hale came to Mr. Wilson, CalTech was not even established! Both USC and UCLA operate the two Solar Towers at Mt. Wilson.
Save the Date November 10th, “The Journey to Palomar” a documentary with an excellent history of the whole era apparently this is at Mt. Wilson. And next year is the International Year of Astronomy, with many commerative events scheduled.
Brief Q&A Is there life beyond our Universe? The evidence seems to indicate that it is likely, based on the need for carbon to be present. What came before the Big Bang? Gosh, that’s a bit above my pay grade (as a recent Presidential candidate opined) However, we are still working on the Bang itself before that will have to come much later. Mike Long, we thank you for a most instructive and interesting presentation.