HAMNET Report 24th December 2023

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all those for whom this time of year is very special, a very happy festive season, no matter your faith. May your time spent with loved ones be memorable, and your relaxation complete.

If you are on holiday, and driving, please take extra special care, because you have no idea what the state of mind of the oncoming driver is. Drive carefully and defensively, and arrive alive, as the saying goes.

GDACS reports on the earthquake of magnitude 5.9 at a depth of 10 km which occurred in Gansu Province in China on 18th December at 15.59 UTC. The epicentre was located approximately 37 km west-northwest of Linxia Chengguanzhen and 100 km south-west of Lanzhou City, the capital and the largest city of Gansu Province.

At least four aftershocks of magnitude between 4.2 and 4.6 have been recorded in the area. USGS PAGER estimates that up to 117,000 people were exposed to very strong shaking and up to 158,000 to strong shaking.

National authorities are in the field with rescue and emergency operations. At least 4,000 firefighters, soldiers, and police officers were dispatched in the rescue efforts.

According to the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, as of 20th December, at least 127 people died, of whom 113 were in the Gansu Province and 14 more across the Qinghai Province. In addition, media also report more than 700 injured people and approximately 5,000 damaged buildings across both the affected provinces.

Meanwhile, there have been tropical cyclones affecting parts of Australia and Philippines, flooding in India and KZN (in the Dundee area), severe weather in eastern states of the USA, and floods and flood warnings reported for Croatia, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland and the UK. So weather extremes continue to affect the globe. It appears that dramatic weather has no regard for holiday seasons amongst mankind.

And, as I write this, the air in Cape Town is heavy with the smell of burnt fynbos, and the sky takes on an orange hue from the extensive fire which is still burning above Simonstown and beyond to Glencairn . The Southeaster has been accentuated by the up-currents of hot air from the fires, resulting in the rapid spread of the fire in the deep south of the Peninsula. As you probably know, fynbos needs regular fires to remove ragged old bush, and allow the germination of new flora, so all is not lost, but the speed of spread of the fire has been very alarming.

GDACS notes that more than 300 firefighters have been involved, of whom 7 have been injured, and at least 96 families have been evacuated from their homes in one area. By Friday, an area of 1430 hectares had already been burnt in the fire.

Now here’s some space age technology for you. Interestingengineering.com says that Rydberg Technologies Inc., a leading company in Rydberg quantum technologies and radio frequency (RF) quantum sensing, has announced the successful demonstration of the world’s first long-range radio communications using an atomic quantum sensor with their small size weight and power (SWaP) atomic receiver. This demonstration, Rydberg Technologies announces, took place at the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) C5ISR Centre Network Modernization Experiment 2023 (NetModX23) event, which serves as a proving ground for next-generation technologies for communications and intelligence.

An atomic quantum sensor is a highly advanced type of sensor that utilizes the principles of quantum mechanics. It specifically uses the properties of atoms in quantum states to measure physical quantities with exceptional precision and accuracy.

Atomic quantum sensors have a wide range of applications, including fundamental physics research, navigation systems such as advanced versions of gyroscopes, geological surveying for measuring gravitational variations, medical imaging, and more. They are particularly useful in environments where traditional electronic sensors might fail or be less effective.

Rydberg Technologies has developed atomic quantum sensors that utilize something called “Rydberg atoms.” These atoms are excited to extremely high energy levels, which makes them incredibly sensitive to electromagnetic fields. Rydberg Technologies explains that this sensitivity is particularly beneficial for communication and electromagnetic field sensing applications.

“The Rydberg atomic receiver device exhibited unparalleled sensitivity across the high-frequency (HF) to super high-frequency (SHF) bands and demonstrated over-the-air atomic RF communication at long range,” Rydberg Technologies said in a press release. “This historic demonstration occurred in an operationally relevant environment, with the atomic receiver setting new industry standards in size, performance, and environmental resilience for Rydberg atom quantum sensors,” they added.

Rydberg atomic receivers are a new type of receiver with several unique features. They are highly sensitive and selective and can cover a wide range of frequencies using a single atomic detector element. These devices can significantly change RF surveillance, safety, communications, and networking capabilities from long-wavelength RF to millimetre-wave and THz bands.

The technology demonstrated signal selectivity, low detection probability, and immunity to interference in contested electromagnetic environments. The successful deployment of this technology in real-world conditions, as noted by Rydberg, indicates a significant step forward in transitioning quantum technologies from laboratory settings to practical applications.

Thank you to interestingengineering.com for those excerpts from their report. I wonder how tiny our handheld radios will become if we start using a Rydberg Atom to sense the electromagnetic radiation from a distant transmitter. Dick Tracy’s wrist-watch radio will well and truly become real!

In a similar area of communications experiment, jpl.nasa.gov says that NASA succeeded in sending ultra-high definition streaming video on 11th December from the satellite Psyche, a record-setting 31 million kilometres away. The milestone is part of a NASA technology demonstration aimed at streaming very high-bandwidth video and other data from deep space – enabling future human missions beyond Earth orbit.

The demo transmitted the 15-second test video via a cutting-edge instrument called a flight laser transceiver. The video signal took 101 seconds to reach Earth, sent at the system’s maximum bit rate of 267 megabits per second (Mbps). Capable of sending and receiving near-infrared signals, the instrument beamed an encoded near-infrared laser to the Hale Telescope at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory in San Diego County, California, where it was downloaded. Each frame from the looping video was then sent “live” to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, where the video was played in real time.

Uploaded before launch, the short ultra-high definition video features an orange tabby cat named Taters, the pet of a JPL employee, chasing a laser pointer, with overlaid graphics. The graphics illustrate several features from the tech demo, such as Psyche’s orbital path, Palomar’s telescope dome, and technical information about the laser and its data bit rate. Tater’s heart rate, colour, and breed are also on display.

Do bear in mind, it is only about 120 years ago, that Marconi and his pals were battling to get an RF signal from England to Newfoundland!

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.