The Warren Astronomical Society Paper

Volume 30, Number 4, April, 1998

Table of Contents


by Steve Greene

These three proposals, along with the proposal to switch to a common membership due date which was published in the March 1998 WASP, will be voted on at the May Macomb meeting.

Computer Chatter

by Larry Kalinowski

You hear everyone talking about the Millennium Bug. It really isn't a "bug" as programers usually refer to them but a past attempt to save programming space by asking computer users to input the last two digits of a dates year. The number 75 would represent 1975, 81 would be 1981, etc. Now that we're approaching the year 2000, the last two digits (00) would be interpreted as 1900 instead of 2000. You can check your computer's ability to recognize the year 2000 by turning the built in clock, in your computer, to 11:59 PM, December 31, 1999 and just waiting to see what happens after a minute or so. You should do this in DOS mode. If the date goes to January 1, 2000, turn off your computer, then on again and see what the new date and time returns as. If you're not into the new millennium, you've got a problem with your system. If the computer refuses to change to 2000, when you manually change it, that will also show you that the system is not 2000 compatible. It would also be a good idea to bring up some of your programs that require dated inputs and see if they'll accept any new date you might enter in the year 2000. Try a sorting routine, with a date that includes something in the 2000 year, in one of your data base or spread sheet programs, if 2000 shows up first in the list, that'll indicate a millennium bug. In a year and a half, many businesses will have purchased a newer batch of computers and also have tackled their system networks, correcting the "bug". In any case, you should be prepared for the headaches that may occur because of it. If your credit cards bounce on you for that 2000 bug, you can ask for another corrected card from your source. New software will fix any program problems you'll have, but system problems may mean shelling out for an upgrade or a new computer.

Twenty-one billion dollars is what it will cost to put the international space station in low Earth orbit. That's the present state of our bill and it's probably going to get larger. In fact, you can count on it. Once in operation, there will be a constant price to pay for maintaining it and keeping the station filled with supplies. In 1984, president Reagan okayed an eight billion target cost to be completed by 1992. In 1993, it was given a cost-cap of seventeen point four billion dollars. With the delays caused by poor funding by the Russians, it looks like the new launch goal will be sometime in 1999.

Computers costing less than one thousand dollars have spurred Intel to generate a brand new microprocessor dubbed the "CELERON". It's the product of a brand new division, code named Covington. The Celeron will be based on the Pentium II design and specially formulated to take advantage of lower cost production. This is a move in a new direction that usually meant higher cost, higher performance chips, to keep ahead of the chip competition. Look for the Celeron in a push to make "Intel Inside" a little less costly.

The Lunar Prospector spacecraft has verified what some scientists believed all along, that there is water on the Moon. Not in liquid form, but in the form of ice, beneath the Moon's surface. The water was probably deposited there during the early formation of the solar system when comets and meteors were much more abundant than they are today. The constant bombardment of those bodies on the Moon's surface gradually built up a significant amount of ice, enough to possibly supply future lunar explorers with a source of drinking water, Oxygen and Hydrogen fuel.

The military is hunting a computer "hacker" named the "Analyzer". He's well known among computer users and has even given a public interview with an online magazine, on the net. Evidently, he knows his number is coming up because he's boasted about training two other cohorts and is content to settle back and teach other organizations some of his tips and tricks. He wants to "retire" in his notorious profession. One sore spot the government faces is a retaliation by friends of the Analyzer if the military or government decides to "punish" him.

Last month I reported that evidence has shown that the universe is expanding and will continue to expand indefinitely. A part of that evidence was culled from measurements of supernova type stars. Further data also shows that the rate of expansion is increasing. In other words, galaxies near to us are moving away faster today than they did during the early life of the universe. Just why that's happening is of great concern. Early on in Einstein's theories of the universe, he postulated a force that helped the universe to expand. At that time, the universe's expansion wasn't known and Einstein dropped his mysterious force because he couldn't explain why it showed up as a by-product of his famous theory. Now, it seems that we may have to revive his mysterious force to explain why the expansion rate is increasing.

It's been determined that the Greenland meteor that reportedly fell last year was seen to be breaking up before it hit the Earth. There are reports of five or six major pieces illuminating the sky before impact.

1997 XFII, the mysterious, mile wide, asteroid that recently made everyone's eyebrows raise, has been relegated to just another piece of space rock. It made news a little while ago when it was announced that it would make a very close approach (30,000 miles) to our planet in the year 2028. Right now, it's out beyond the orbit of Mars and new information, along with new calculations, show the close approach will really be 600,000 miles, according to Donald K. Yeomans of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Even though the computer group meetings are being discontinued at my place, there will \be additional meetings in the future. Gary Gathen will continue to hold meetings in the months of May through October. Other meetings will be scheduled at other places throughout the year. Keep your eyes on this column for announcements. You can reach me at 810-776-9720 if you have any other questions related to astronomy and computers.

Minutes of Meetings

by Bob Watt

Macomb, February 19, 1998

Cranbrook, March 5, 1998

Return to WASP page
Return to WAS Home page
This page was created by Jeff Bondono, and last changed on March 15, 1998.