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Some news out of the nations capital. This with word that House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Michigan Representative Fred Upton and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Oregon Representative Greg Walden, W7EQI, plan to update the Communications Act.
Making the announcement on Google Hangout the committee leaders and former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell outlined the need to adapt the law to todays marketplace. Upton termed the project a multi-year effort that will be focused on updating the communication laws to fit the Internet age.
Meantime Walden noted that the Communications Act is now painfully out of date. He said that when the Act was last revised nearly 18 years ago, the 56 kilobits-per-second via dial-up modem was state of the art.
The actual revision will involve a series of white papers asking questions about what to do to improve the laws governing the communications marketplace. These will also seek to learn the best way to a robust conversation using digital media platforms.
To make it easier for the public to participate in this re-write, you can follow the event on Twitter using the hashtag #CommActUpdate. (RW)
As part of its natural processes, the sun goes through cycles of activity that last about 11 years. In the middle of each cycle, solar activity reaches a maximum, which is the point where our sun is now. But this maximum, unlike the last one, has been pretty minimal its the quietest maximum seen in about 100 years.
The sun regularly produces solar flares bursts of light that come from electromagnetic radiation and coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which send billions of tons of solar material careening through the solar system at more than a million miles per hour. From a distance, the best way to gauge solar activity is by watching sunspots, which can be seen from Earth with a telescope. (The biggest sunspots would be visible to the naked eye if the sun werent damaging to the eye.) The number of sunspots this cycle peaked at just under 100 during one month, according to C. Alex Young, the associate director for science in the heliophysics division at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The last solar cycle peaked at 170 sunspots.
Scientists identify the current cycle, which began in 2008, as cycle 24. The last time the sun was this quiet was cycle 14, which lasted from about 1900 to 1911. The first documented cycle began in about 1755; the sun is roughly 4.5 billion years old. Even though weve been studying up to 24 cycles, in the big scheme of things we havent really been looking at the sun for that long, Young told weather.com. So we dont really know what is normal. Its really hard to say that a small cycle or a big cycle is normal because we havent been looking at them for very long. The current quiet maximum, then, is giving scientists a chance to study something that they dont see very often, adding to our knowledge of the sun. And as far as we can tell, its mostly better for Earth, and for humans, when the sun stays quiet.
Solar flares temporarily heat up Earths atmosphere, which can cause disturbances in communications systems. CMEs can cause geomagnetic storms, which can disrupt the power grid, among other side effects. And the sun also produces particle storms, harmless to humans safe under Earths atmosphere and magnetic field, but potentially damaging to spacecraft and astronauts. Scientists have not made any link between solar activity and weather on Earth, according to Young. People have done a lot of studies of that sort of thing, and so far we dont have any indication that it has effects on weather, Young said. Were not even sure it has any kind of effect on things like long-term climate. Scientists still aren't sure why the sun operates on an 11-year cycle, but they have observed similar cycles in other stars, Young said. The lengths of the cycles seem to be dependent on the star's age, size and other traits. (Wunderground)
NAMES IN THE NEWS: K4AC ELECTED NEW ARRL SOUTHEASTERN DIRECTOR
The ARRL Southeastern Division will have a new director come January 1st. This after ballots counted on November 18th showed that challenger Doug Rehman, K4AC, of Mt Dora, Florida, narrowly defeated incumbent Director Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, of Huntsville, Alabama. This, by a vote of 961 to 949. Rehman was among challengers who ran against Sarratt in 2010. W4OZK has served as a Director since 2007.
There will be no change in the Southeastern Division Vice Director position. There, incumbent Jim Millsap, WB4NWS, handily outpolled challenger George Hawrysko, K4AWA by a vote of 1429 to 467 votes. Millsap, of Acworth, Georgia, was appointed in 2012 to complete the term of Andrea Hartlage, KG4IUM, who resigned when she moved out of the Southeastern Division. (ARRL Bulletin)
Georgia Cracker Radio Club Newsletters from the past Provided by WA4IQU and ND4XE
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