Scientific Research, Books, Articles, Columns, Lectures and Photographs
Most exciting new science here is measuring the altitude of dust layers overhead using an ultra-sensitive near-infrared photometer to measure the twilight glow before sunrise or after sunset. The method reliably detects the stratospheric aerosol layer and dust layers in the troposphere so long as the zenith sky is cloud free. The method also detected the altitude of the ozone layer over the Mauna Loa Observatory in June 2014-15. See details for the basic twilight aerosol profile system in my column in MAKE Magazine. More of my science is at www.sunandsky.net. See video clips--including music made from my UV-B and cosmic ray data--at www.youtube.com/fmims. Science updates and links to my weekly science column are posted on Facebook (fmims or Forrest M. Mims III) and Twitter (@fmims). I've started a science blog here. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. News
25 YEARS OF ATMOSPHERIC MEASUREMENTS (1990-2016). Completed 25 years of measuring the ozone layer, total column water vapor, aerosol optical depth (haze) and UV-B on 4 Feb 2016. 25-year data plots of key data have been added to the Science Data page.
EL NINO NEWS. My 25-year total water vapor chart shows a large increase during the 1997-98 El Nino but none during the ongoing El Nino (2015-16). So I have assumed the El Nino forecasts of a wet, cool summer were wrong. So far that's been a correct assumption.
Mauna Loa Observatory book (see below) has received an award.Maria A. Latyszewskyj, Chair of the ASLI Choice Committee, writes: “On behalf of the Atmospheric Science Librarians International (ASLI), I would like to congratulate you for your book, Hawai'i's Mauna Loa Observatory : fifty years of monitoring the atmosphere which has been chosen as ASLI's Choice 2012 - History award for its engaging perspective on the scientists, discoveries, and ground-breaking atmospheric measurements done at Mauna Loa Observatory. It will be receiving a plaque in Austin, TX during the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Meeting on Wed. Jan. 9, 2012….ASLI's Choice is an award for the best book of 2012 in the fields of meteorology / climatology / atmospheric sciences. For more information on the award please see http://aslionline.org/wp/asli-choice/ and p. 714 of May 2012 issue of BAMS (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society)….” "Hawaii's Mauna Loa Observatory: Fifty Years of Monitoring the Atmosphere" has been published by the University of Hawaii Press. NOAA provided major assistance for this four-year, 463-page book project, which includes 110 color plates and 56 photographs. The catalog copy is at http://www.uhpress.hawaii.edu/p-8614-9780824834319.aspx. Chapter One is here (free). This 265,000-word book was written under contract with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and was extensively revised and expanded following three rounds of reviews by a 25-member panel of scientists and former Mauna Loa Observatory staff and by two expert reviewers selected by the University of Hawaii Press. Dr. Robert Simpson, the founder of the original Mauna Loa Observatory, wrote the foreword.
My paper with by Dr. Lin Chambers (NASA LaRC) and Dr. David R. Brooks (IESRE) was published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (October 2011) following revisions in response to three expert reviewers. The paper describes a new method of measuring total column water vapor using an infrared thermometer pointed at cloud-free zenith sky. The paper describes 25 months of data here (Texas) and 10 days at Hawaii's Mauna Loa Observatory in June 2010. Abstract (with link to full PDF) is here.
In June 2015 I spent 13 days calibrating atmospheric instruments at Hawaii's Mauna Loa Observatory. Sky conditions were good to excellent. This was my 24th year to calibrate at MLO.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has written "Idea Man" (Penguin/Portfolio, 2011), the first half of which is the most significant account to date of the founding of Microsoft and its early days at MITS in Albuquerque. See my review in MAKE magazine here.
Scrolll down to see "The Sum of All Twilights," an animated gif of a total lunar eclipse.
Check out LED Sun Photometry in Optics and Photonics News (vol. 20, pp. 32-38, 2009). This tells the story of LED sun photometers.
The Association of Former Students of Texas A&M University published in True Maroon, its electronic magazine,"Curiosity in Motion," "Raising Science-Savvy Kids" and a video interview. Most of this is about the science my family has done. The cover photo shows a full sky view made by photographing an aluminized glass sphere.
Many updates and revisions have been addded to this site with more to come. People still ask about the Scientific American affair, which jump-started my science career. Some skeptics and atheists are unhappy about this matter. Go here or click the Scientific American tab above for details. People also ask about my article on the controversial death wish lecture given by Prof. Eric Pianka. See my response under the Controversy header on the Biography page. Because of my advocacy of intelligent design, a skeptic objected to my selection by Discover Magazine as one of the "50 Best Brains in Science." Discover Magazine published his letter to the editor and defended my selection in an editorial note.
Photos Check out some of the fisheye sky photos at my observation site in South Texas from a series begun in 2000 (scroll down this page). See more photos on my Facebook page, including the Texas Academy of Science facebook page. YouTube Clips Check out my YouTube videos, including data converted to music. One year of solar UV-B data converted to piano is here (complete with fisheye sky photo for each of 172 days). Cosmic ray intensity during a flight from Texas to Switzerland is converted to music box notes here.
Also see a coral snake up close and a rat snake striking my camera (and hand!) after causing the hawk that captured it to crash 50 feet away from where I was standing. Also see more about Hawaii's Mauna Loa Observatory. My YouTube page is here.
The ALTAIR 8800 Introduced the Personal Computer Era See the Biography page for a photo of my Albuquerque workbench where circuits were built that led to the founding of MITS, Inc., the company that introduced the Altair 8800 microcomputer in 1975. The Altair was conceived, designed and developed by Ed Roberts with help from William Yates. I wrote the operator's manual. (More photos of the workbench are at www.sunandsky.net until they can be moved here.) Paul Allen and Bill Gates moved to Albuquerque to develop software for the MITS Altair. There they formed Microsoft. Allen and Gates are the principal funders of STARTUP: Albuquerque and the Personal Computer Revolution, a permanent exhibit at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science that opened 18 November 2006. Minnie and I attended the STARTUP opening events and spent quality time with Ed Roberts, the former president of MITS. See photo of MITS founders Ed Roberts, Bob Zaller and me and Microsoft cofounder Paul Allenhere. Ed passed away in April 2010, and the STARTUP Gallery was dedicated in his memory in January 2011. Science at Geronimo Creek Observatory See my hypothesis concerning the association of UV-B and avian influenza (bird flu) in Southeast Asia published in Environmental Health Perspectives. The Seguin USDA UV-B site I manage for Colorado State University completed 10 years of measurements in March 2014. My sun and sky observation site here at the field I call Geronimo Creek Observatory will have 25 years of data on 04 February 2015.
Daughter Sarah Mims won a 2005 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award for her discovery of living fungal spores and bacteria arriving in Texas from Yucatan. Sarah is featured in a NASA web site, various magazines and the book Makers. She was featured in a NASA exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. The Smithsonian exhibit is summarized here. My Radio Shack Sun & Sky Monitoring Station has now been used to monitor optical depth (haze), column water vapor and photosynthetic radiation at solar noon for 13+ years. It has also been calibrated (Langley method) each year at the Mauna Loa Observatory. (A backup unit was also calibrated at MLO in June 2010.) The results show that this simple instrument is highly stable. A scientific paper will be written about the design of the instrument and its results. Other Sites To learn more about how it is possible to do science with no academic training (my university degree is in government), see this essay in Science.
Please visit Sun and Sky, my science web site. My weekly newspaper science column has appeared in the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise since 1999.
'Country Scientist' starting column today in Express-News
FROM STAFF REPORTS
October 30, 2006
Forrest Mims III, an amateur scientist and author who has pointed out errors in NASA data and published scholarly papers in prestigious journals, begins writing a column today for the San Antonio Express-News. "The Country Scientist" will appear on the newspaper's Science page in the Business section every Monday and will explore how science intersects with everyday life.
"I approach science with the curiosity of a child," Mims said. "I live a constant science fair project." Mims, 62, has no academic training in science but still has carved a career as a science author, lecturer and syndicated columnist. He has written instructional books on electronics and published papers and photographs in some 70 magazines and journals, including Nature, Science and Popular Mechanics. He is a writer and editor for the Society for Amateur Scientists.
In 1990, he used a $300 homemade instrument to detect a flaw in the way a NASA satellite was measuring deterioration of the ozone layer. The discovery "caused a big flap," he said, but ended up earning him an invitation to speak at the agency.
He said the incident proved to be his big break, winning him recognition as a serious scientist in professional circles. He later was given a Rolex Award for Enterprise for the instrument he built.
Mims is a Texas native who lived in many places during service with the Air Force. He returned to the San Antonio area in 1975 and has lived outside Seguin ince 1985, regularly measuring the ozone layer, haze and ultraviolet rays from a field he calls Geronimo Creek Observatory.
He is married to Minnie Chavez Mims, and they have three adult children. Copyright 2006San Antonio Express-News.
Scientific Research Geronimo Creek Observatory, ozone measurements, ultraviolet monitoring, smoke studies, haze measurements and biological studies.
Science Data Representative time series of some measurements made at Geronimo Creek Observatory since 1990, including the ozone layer, solar UV-B, aerosol optical thickness and total column water vapor.
UV-B Network Forrest M. Mims III is the site operator of the USDA UV-B monitoring site at Texas Lutheran University, Seguin, Texas (March 2004 to present).
Instruments TOPS and Microtops (total ozone), Sun photometers (haze), near-IR hygrometers (column water vapor), sunlight radiometers (UV-B and photosynthetic radiation), ultra-high gain twilight photometers. Also, eyeglass-mounted, near-infrared travel aid for the blind.
Publications Scientific and technical publications, books and magazine articles. More than 800 publications have been added to the list here and at www.sunandsky.net. More will be added when time permits.
Family Forrest & Minnie; Eric & Jane; Micheal, Vicki, Isabella, Lilly & Henry; and Sarah. Book Store Getting Started in Electronics ( more than 1.4 million sold) and the four collected volumes of the Mini-Notebook series are available from selected RadioShack stores and online at ForrestMims.com and Amazon.com. (search on Forrest Mims) or book stores. Please do not download pirated copies of my books. You may acquire a virus, trojan or worse from some pirate sites, and you will deprive my research of financial support.
Lab Kit Store My lab kits are no longer available from RadioShack, which is emerging from bankruptcy under new ownership. You might be able to find these kits online. Search for "Electronics Learning Lab" and "Sensors Lab." The "Sun and Sky Monitoring Station" (28-281) is also out of production. This kit is a four-channel Sun photometer and radiometer with a 3.5-digit readout, bubble level and compass. It includes a four-unit study course in highly illustrated 64-page manual. It sold for $29.99 new, and you might be able to find it online. This entire web site is copyright 2004-16. Unless otherwise credited, all photos are by Forrest M. Mims III. Click here to read permission policy.
Questions about this site: fmims[@]aol[dot]com/ Last updated: 12 March 2016.
"And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." (Genesis 1:3). Sun and sky over Hawaii's Mauna Loa Observatory
Measuring smoke at Alta Floresta, Brazil. Photograph by Brad White.
RadioShack Sun & Sky Monitoring Station
THE SUM OF ALL TWILIGHTS. The total lunar eclipse of 27 October 2004 shows the coppery color of the eclipsed Moon caused by the passage of sunlight through the atmosphere around the entire Earth. Thus, the face of the eclipsed moon is illuminated by all the sunrises and sunsets occurring at the moment each exposure was made. See www.sunandsky.net for my twilight photos. (Pentax Optio 33WR with 2 sec exposures at 2 min intervals. Copyright 2004 by Forrest M. Mims III.)
Daily fisheye images of sky for Jan-Oct 2008 (from a series begun in 2000).
Asian dust layers over Hawaii's Mauna Loa Observatory on 21 May 2007. Copyright by Forrest M. Mims III.
The Mauna Loa Observatory lidar probes the stratosphere on 5 December 2006. Copyright by Forrest M. Mims III.
Salt crystals from the Pacific Ocean collected by Jim Scanlon and photographed by Forrest M. Mims III.
Cumulus clouds race south as a cool front slides under midlevel clouds moving north. Copyright by Forrest M. Mims III.
Close Call, a very close lightning bolt. Copyright by Forrest M. Mims III
The extraordinarily rare Texas star (Chorioactis geaster) is found only on the Japanese island Kyushu and in seven Texas counties--and at Geronimo Creek Observatory. Copyright by Forrest M. Mims III.
SAN ANTONIO CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY
The San Antonio chapter of the American Chemical Society asked me to give the keynote talk at their student awards banquet on 21 May 2009. The event was held at the Farm to Market restaurant near downtown San Antonio. They recorded around two-thirds of the talk using a handheld video camera, and posted it in three segments on YouTube, which are linked below.