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U.S. President Donald Trump To Shut Down A Service That’s Been Present Since WWII

Among other proposed cuts for NIST are its environmental measurement projects measuring the impact of aerosols on pollution and climate change and gas reference materials used by industry.

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The entrance of NIST radio station WWVH in Hawaii. WWVH on the island of Kauai in the mid-Pacific state of Hawaii and WWV and WWVB in the state of Colorado send out signals that allow millions of clocks and watches to be set either manually or automatically.VOA
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President Donald Trump’s administration wants to shut down U.S. government radio stations that announce official time, a service in operation since World War II.

WWV and WWVB in the state of Colorado and WWVH on the island of Kauai in the mid-Pacific state of Hawaii, send out signals that allow millions of clocks and watches to be set either manually or automatically.

WWVB continuously broadcasts digital time codes, using very long electromagnetic waves at a frequency of 60 kilohertz, which are automatically received by timekeeping devices in North America, keeping them accurate to a fraction of a second.

“If you shut down these stations, you turn off all those clocks,” said Don Sullivan, who managed the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) stations between 1994 and 2005.

USA Radio
The long-wave antenna for WWVB, which transmits a 60 kilohertz signal allowing clocks and watches to be automatically set to the correct time within a few hundredths of a second. VOA

GPS not good enough

Some argue the terrestrial time signal have been rendered obsolete by the government’s Global Positioning System, whose satellites also transmit time signals, but users disagree, noting GPS devices must have an unobstructed view of a number of satellites in space to properly function.

“Sixty kilohertz permeates in a way GPS can’t,” Sullivan told VOA, explaining that WWVB’s very low frequency signal can be received inside buildings and it is an important backup to GPS in case adversaries attempt to interfere with the satellite radio-navigation system.

WWV and WWVH broadcast on a number of shortwave frequencies, meaning their signals can be received globally.

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Donald Trump, Wikimedia Commons

The Trump administration proposes, in its Fiscal 2019 budget to Congress, cutting $26.6 million and 136 jobs from NIST’s fundamental measurements, quantum science and measurement dissemination activities.

The budget document acknowledges that in addition to synchronizing clocks and watches, the time signals are also used in appliances, cameras and irrigation controllers.

“It’s crazy,” Sullivan said of the proposed cut. “It’s absolutely insane.”

NIST officials say they cannot comment on budget matters. The White House referred questions about NIST’s funding to the Office of Management and Budget, which has not responded to an inquiry from VOA.

Oldest continuously operating radio station

WWV, the oldest continuously operating radio station in the United States, first went on the air from Washington in 1919, conducting propagation experiments and playing music. In the early years, it also transmitted — via Morse code — news reports prepared by the Agriculture Department.

USA Radio
A cesium “atomic clock” at WWV in Colorado. One second is defined as the period of the transition between two energy levels of the ground state of the Cesium-133 atom, making cesium oscillators the primary standard for time and frequency measurements. VOA

The station subsequently was moved to Maryland and then to Colorado in 1966. WWV has been a frequency standard since 1922 and has disseminated official U.S. time since 1944.

All of the NIST stations rely on extremely precise atomic clocks for the accuracy of their time signals.

WWV, at two minutes past every hour, also transmits a 440 hertz note (A above middle C), something it has done since 1936, allowing musicians to tune their pianos and other instruments.

All three stations retain a huge following worldwide, according to Sullivan.

WWV and WWVH broadcasts can also be heard by telephone and about 2,000 calls are received daily, according to NIST. (To listen to the broadcasts by phone, dial +1-303-499-7111 for WWV and +1-808-335-4363 for WWVH.)

The telephone time-of-day service also is used to synchronize clocks and watches, and for the calibration of stopwatches and timers (although slightly less accurate than radio reception).

Tom Kelly, an amateur radio operator in the state of Oregon, has launched a petition to try to save the stations. His goal is to collect 100,000 online signatures from U.S. residents by September 15 that would compel a response from the White House.

Kelly’s petition calls the stations “an instrumental part in the telecommunications field, ranging from broadcasting to scientific research and education,” noting their transmissions of marine storm warnings, GPS satellite health reports and specific information about solar activity and radio propagation conditions.

Also Read: USA Sees a Significant Rise in STD Cases

Britain, China, Germany, Japan and Russia also have very low frequency time transmissions, but their stations are too distant to automatically set clocks in the United States.

Among other proposed cuts for NIST are its environmental measurement projects measuring the impact of aerosols on pollution and climate change and gas reference materials used by industry to reduce costs of complying with regulations and the Urban Dome research grants for determining how to measure greenhouse gas emissions for cities and across regions. (VOA)

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Are Mass Shootings The New Normal In The U.S?

Parents and teachers now have to have these conversations with kids who are in school.

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Mass shooting
Video: Orange Rallies in US Honors Victims of Gun Violence. Pixabay

Caila Sanford rushed to donate blood as she wiped tears from her eyes. She started reliving a nightmare after hearing about the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Sanford, 22, survived the mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas just a year ago, where a gunman killed 58 people.

“This really hits home for me. I can imagine what these people are going through. I’ve been to this bar many, many times. I love college nights,” Sanders said.

It was college night at the Borderline when a gunman entered and opened fire, killing 12 people and then himself.

The shooter was identified as Ian David Long, 28, a former military machine gunner. He apparently killed himself after Wednesday’s attack.

Mass shooting
Caila Sanford survived the mass shooting during a Las Vegas concert last year. She never expected there would be a mass shooting so close to her home in California. She’s now afraid of going to places with a lot of people. VOA

It was the second U.S. mass shooting to make recent headlines. An attack Oct. 27 at a Pittsburgh synagogue killed 11 people.

Researchers at the Gun Violence Archive said there has been a mass shooting in the United States nearly every day this year. The group defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are wounded or killed by gunfire, not including the shooter.

The frequency of mass shootings leaves some Americans numb.

“It doesn’t get easier to hear, but it gets more normalized. It’s desensitized completely,” Sanford said, adding, “I think twice about going anywhere, honestly. Not just here — the grocery store, the mall.”

Mass shooting
A bouquet left by mourners lies near the site of Wednesday’s mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif. VOA

 

Parents worry that not even schools are safe. In May, a mass shooting at a school in Santa Fe, Texas, left 10 dead.

“We are living in a state of fear within our own country, within our own borders, amongst ourselves,” said Grace Fisher, a mother of three young children.

Mass shooting
Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Garo Kuredjian, left, embraces chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team as they pray near the site of Wednesday’s mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Nov. 9, 2018. Investigators continue to work to figure out why an ex-Marine opened fire Wednesday evening inside a Southern California country music bar, killing multiple people. VOA

Fisher went to the scene of the most recent shooting in Thousand Oaks with a sign that said, “Moms demand action for gun sense in America.”

She said U.S. society must find better ways to prevent such carnage.

Mass shooting
Grace Fisher is a mom who is fearful for her three children. She said something needs to change with regard to gun regulations. She lives in a neighborhood near Thousand Oaks, site of the most recent U.S. mass shooting. VOA

“I think that the problem in this country is multifaceted. It’s going to take a multifaceted approach to solve this problem, but to say that guns are not the problem is a total cop-out,” Fisher said.

Also Read: Video: Orange Rallies in US Honor Victims of Gun Violence

In addition to worrying about a test in school, students also have to think about an exit plan if they experience an active-shooter situation.

“Parents and teachers now have to have these conversations with kids who are in school. ‘What are you going to do if this happens? What is your plan? Where are you going to go?’ And they shouldn’t have to worry about that,” Sanford said. (VOA)