Above: The changed technology of libraries and library lectures (all used), including a slide projector (property of my late, great-uncle Gus Columbus) with a two-slide carousel (and a book of slides for which any spelling errors were deemed too expensive to fix), an LCD projector (I had to have one because Stu Forster had one), for which fresh slide updates and audio/video are no problem in a darkened room, and a Sandisk USB stick with built-in wifi to transfer slides to an existing projector system by USB and to set up a local network for attendees to download media after the presentation.
Yes, a series of articles about the importance of amateur astronomers coming together as a community through outreach, just in time for a global pandemic to keep everyone from coming together (for a while, anyway).
The March/April 2020 issue of Free Astronomy Magazine has been available for your downloading pleasure for (a, here, long) three weeks, featuring an opening article by myself and an international perspective (Spain, Catalonia and Italy) by the editor Michele Ferrara and other contributing language editors on the general topics of the state of amateur astronomy and outreach in our respective locations.
We were all given great flexibility in our content, so I went with a very CNY-centric perspective on some of the great observing/outreach events, as well as their hosts, we’ve known in the past decade-or-so (while trying to name-drop all the area astronomy clubs in the process). These include shout-outs to some of the better-known lectures/observers, including David Bishop with ASRAS, Larry Slosberg with CNYO, James Callens with Western NY Astronomers, Bob Piekiel and his near-rock-solid monthly schedule at Baltimore Woods, my favorite classicist and dark sky proponent Prof. John McMahon, and the late, great Barlow Bob.
Writing an article that then undergoes several translations is an interesting exercise in clear thoughts and limited, in my case, Americanisms. Ain’t easy as pie, dig? I suspect all of us contributing articles could have gone into all kinds of additional details about our experiences and other ways we’ve seen the astronomy scene change over these many years in terms of technology and outreach activities, but the need to not melt the brains of our fellow editors forces a kind of brevity (unlike this sentence). Michele continues to have my utmost respect for taking on the task of first-pass translations to hand off to each of us in these cases to produce a great bimonthly multi-language magazine.
The science returns with the May/June issue. In the meantime, please give this issue a good read. If any of the discussion peaks your interest and you’ve something to say about it, consider dropping Michele a line, commenting on the Free Astronomy Magazine Facebook page, or otherwise drop me a line.
Specifically so – if you fall into the category of potential public amateur astronomer described in the final section of my article, I urge you to consider making your presence known to your community – after your 14-day self-isolation, of course (you should easily get a number of presentation slides together with two free weeks).
The theory that underlies the reason for this article is addressed in "Bond Alternation In Infinite Periodic Polyacetylene: Dynamical Treatment Of The Anharmonic Potential," then the history of the material is exhaustively reviewed in "Polyacetylene: Myth and Reality" (open access, so you've no excuse to not read it). The preparation of the starting material, di-iodo-butadiene, C4H4I2, in urea, is published in "Commensurate Urea Inclusion Crystals With The Guest (E,E)-1,4-Diiodo-1,3-Butadiene."
I'm also very happy to be able to officially acknowledge my use of the Syracuse University Academic Virtual Hosting Environment (AVHE) as part of this work, which was involved in everything from periodic DFT calculations and the anharmonic treatment of polyacetylene on the electronic structure side, to cleaning up crystal cells of the polyacetylene-urea complexes for the generation of images in VMD and UberPOV – why just make a picture when you can, at least, make a method-consistent one?
As an aside, this is also my first experience using GIMP for a production-quality graphic – in this case, in the form of a proposed journal cover image (below. We'll see if it gets accepted in the coming month or so).
This GIMP use was instigated by originally formatting my MPB post-repair to Case-sensitive APFS three years ago, for which Photoshop refused to install with a widely-posted but little-addressed "Case-sensitive drives not supported" error (for which the Adobe solution remains "don't do that"). After a small learning curve, I'm pleased to say that GIMP is a hell of a program, well worth the price, and is just as pleasant an experience in Ubuntu 18.04 as it is in OS X 10.15 – a tidy sum saved each year for the 0.2% of features actually needed in either program to do the above.
Abstract: We report a novel, highly effective strategy for controlling the synthesis of polyacetylene as a guest in an organic host crystal by monitoring in situ an elimination–condensation polymerization reaction. Specifically, in this process, the polymer material is forced to have its chains extended and aligned such that translational periodicity applies, producing a bond alternation potential that has a symmetric double minimum. The synthetic approach used is photochemical elimination of iodine from a conjugated diene, (E,E)-1,4-diiodo-1,3-butadiene, which forms a commensurate and fully ordered urea inclusion compound. Photochemical cleavage of the terminal C–I bonds results in elimination of iodine from the single crystal and formation of C–C bonds between adjacent radicals to produce the conjugated 1,8-diiodo-1,3,5,7-octatetraene and subsequent longer polyene species. The combination of in situ crystal mass-loss measurements and vibrational Raman spectroscopy demonstrates clearly the presence of new polyene chains and loss of iodine from the urea substructure. The first few product oligopolyenes exhibit very strong Raman scattering with the most intense vibrational features decreasing in frequency for longer chains approaching an asymptotic limiting frequency that mimics the behavior of conjugated polyenes of known lengths from previous vibrational Raman studies. With extensive irradiation, the mass loss approaches that anticipated from the crystal stoichiometry and, at the same time of irradiation, the Raman intensity largely disappears. These results demonstrate that the reaction reported here proceeds to completion, leading to a quasi-one-dimensional array of isolated polyacetylene chains that are constrained to be in a continuous extended, all-trans conformation within the tunnels formed by the urea crystal lattice.
And Happy Leap Day (a first after nearly 20 years of this domain existing).