# Talk:Semi-major axis

## The relation between energy and semimajor axis

Since the semimajor axis becomes infinite when the orbital energy equals the escape velocity it can be seen that the relation between the two cannot be linear. - Farred 18:29, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

You are correct. The relation is linear for elliptic orbits; I misspoke. Since we're on the nitpicking topic, you must mean orbital velocity equal to escape velocity . ChristiaanK 16:39, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Well I knew what I was thinking. The semimajor axis becomes infinite when the orbital energy per unit mass equals 1/2 times the square of the escape velocity. And when the orbital energy is 0.99999 times that there is a very long semimajor axis elliptical orbit, but nowhere near infinite energy. I tink I have it all correkt now. - Farred 21:44, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
After I made my response on this talk page, I saw that you changed the article. What you have written is simply wrong. I do not have the elementary physics texts handy to give a reference for this but my memory of the correct formulae can be checked with published orbital data.
The orbital energy per unit mass equals one half the square of the velocity minus (gravity times radius). Conventionally the energy is set to zero when an object is at escape velocity. Now let us plug numbers into the formula and see how it compares to published data. According to the CRC HANDBOOK of CHEMISTRY and PHYSICS, 64th EDITION, (C)1983, pages F-128 through F-143, the gravitational constant of the sun (gravity times the square of the radius) equals 1.3256 E +11 km^3/sec^2 (or 1.3256 E +20 meters cubed per second squared). The semimajor axis of the Earth's orbit = 1.4957 E +11 meters. With the radius set equal to Earth's semimajor axis, that gives us a gravity for the sun equal to 5.925 E -3 meters per second squared at the location of Earth's semimajor axis. The orbital velocity of the Earth at that distance is given as 2.9771 E +4 meters per second. So energy per unit mass equals ((2.9771 E +4 m/s)^2)/2 - ((5.925 E -3 m/s^2) * (1.4957 E +11 m) equals (8.8631 E +8 m^2/s^2)/2 - 8.8620 E +8 m^2/s^2 equals -4.430 E +8 m^2/s^2. That negative energy is what binds the Earth to the sun. Now if the tabulated solar escape velocity from the position of Earth's orbit, 4.210 E +4 m/s, is substituted in the formula for energy, this yields 2.7 E +3 m^2/s^2 which as a difference between two numbers raised to the eighth power of ten equals zero within the significance of the values in the computation.
The semimajor axis is proportional to the two thirds power of the period, which also is born out by the tabulated figures in the cited tables. Earth's orbital period is 3.155815 E +7 seconds. Mars' period is 5.93553 E +7 seconds. Mars' semimajor axis is 2.2784 E +11 meters. So, (5.93553 E +7 / 3.155815 E +7)^2/3 * 1.4957 E +11 meters equals 2.2790 E +11 meters which is within the significance of the tabulated figures equal to the tabulated value for Mars' semimajor axis. So the semimajor axis is proportional to the two thirds power of the period, not proportional to the energy which is evaluated by quite a different formula.
The semimajor axis is not proportional to the energy in eliptical orbits or any other kind of orbit. - Farred 01:34, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
From the new article that you posted about specific energy is the formula epsilon = -mu/2a. The formula you have as energy per unit mass = V^2/2 - mu/r can be correct only if mu = (local gravity * r^2) which is a constant of the central body. Specific energy being equal to mu/2a does not in any way indicate that specific energy is proportional to the semimajor axis. The specific energy mu/2a here refers to the energy lost compared to an object traveling at escape velocity. What you have is a negative energy proportional to the multiplicative inverse of the semimajor axis. This is not at all the same as the semimajor axis being proportional to the energy. - Farred 02:53, 6 February 2013 (UTC)
You're right. I once again screwed up because I didn't properly check my post. A thousand apologies. ChristiaanK 03:42, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

Let us consider what is the best way of improving this article and improving Marspedia.

I think that the problem here is related to a lack of context. Orbits are well defined particular things with definite features such as the semimajor axis. Energy is relative to some conventional standard that can vary with the point of interest. It takes more energy to reach a higher orbit. That increase in energy is described by a negative number of smaller magnitude according to the convention described in [[orbital energy]] and [[Specific energy]]. Sometimes people want to refer to the energy necessary to move from one orbit to another. If a change is made by rocket thrust, the energy required is always a positive number. If the energy of an orbit about Earth is compared to the energy of standing on Earth's surface, this energy increases monotonically with increasing semimajor axis. Even though the article as it now stands can be considered correct, it is liable to misinterpretation. People should not be required to link to other articles to obtain the meaning of the first article if this can reasonably be avoided. This website is not intended solely for those who have already studied celestial mechanics and therefore do not need an article about the semimajor axis. We can keep these things in mind when considering improvements. I intend to make explicit the relation of the semimajor axis to two separate standards of energy. - Farred 17:37, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

That seems reasonable. Perhaps we should be discussing the effect of gaining and losing speed/kinetic energy in plain language near the top of the page, then putting a "Relation to orbital energy" section lower down. Agreed? ChristiaanK 18:00, 7 February 2013 (UTC)
It is good to get back to Marspedia and attend to correspondence. I think we have close enough to the same idea. Starting with zero energy on Earth's (or Mars') surface is the more intuitive concept. It should be mentioned that setting the zero value of energy at the energy of a body traveling at escape velocity is a computational convenience. I am guessing that you will get to improving the article before I do. I hope you have not been waiting on my response. - Farred 02:53, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
I need to give some thought to give an easily understood explanation. Incidentally, I've been having a lot of trouble using Marspedia. Do you know the reason for the server errors, and has it been rectified? ChristiaanK 12:05, 16 February 2013 (UTC)
I am sorry to be so long in responding to you. I do not know why there are server problems. I have noticed some ephemeral spam links in the past and suspected that they might be related to some malware on the server, but I have not been able to pin them down and I do not see them lately. I am impressed by the good work that you do and hope I can help from time to time. - Farred 04:31, 19 February 2013 (UTC)
I noticed the ephemeral spam links again at the bottom of the page when I edited [[Alumina]]. I often navigate using tab and shift of tab to move the selected link before pressing enter instead of clicking on a link with the mouse. This might have something to do with my seeing the spam links and others not seeing them. I do not suppose that such spam links appeared at the bottom of the pages when you edited them. - Farred 04:55, 19 February 2013 (UTC)
I have noticed two versions of the [[Alumina]] page on Marspedia. They both have the address: http://www.marspedia.org/index.php?title=Alumina. On the normal page if I start from the page address window and tab seven positions to high-light the [[mineral]] link then shift of tab seven positions to return to the address window, the eighth shift of tab high-lights the disclamer link. On the corrupted version using the same process the eighth shift of tab high-lights a spam link, in particular http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~habic/site/lang.php?cuz=high-on-miagra&yo=1 and the thirteenth shift of tab high-lights a "where can i get viagra in London" button linked to http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~habic/site/lang.php?cuz=where-can-i-get-viagra-in-london&yo=1. I hope someone can use this information to stop the spammers. They may have something to do with the poor opperation of the server. - Farred 05:55, 19 February 2013 (UTC)
It seems I've been banned by a bot. Who are the active admins? Do you know if these spam links were only with pages I edited? I wouldn't automatically assume that FF is immune to the nasty. Also, I couldn't get the site to send me a verification email (and now it's come back to bite me.) 105.225.185.63 07:25, 19 February 2013 (UTC)
I now see the spam links here. 105.225.185.63 07:27, 19 February 2013 (UTC)
I do not know who is responding to me on this talk page. I think the spam links are added to pages immediately after edits but do not appear when the page is later accessed without editing it. I do not think the spam is limited to edits from any one account. I am an administrator as are Spriditis and Strangelv. Maybe now the spammers have been alerted that someone is looking for them and will hide and not bother us any more. - Farred 22:56, 19 February 2013 (UTC)
I think it's automated. Anyway, is it possible for you to unban me and set WHUMP not to auto-ban me until this is sorted out? It's kinda annoying to change my IP after every edit :) (ChristiaanK) 105.225.185.57 05:47, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

I am sorry for being so slow. I did not get any special instruction when given administrator powers. I have unblocked you now. I should have selected the show bots option on recent changes and then linked to the block log from one of WHUMP's blocks to get access to unblocking you. Instead I linked to the block User:ChristiaanK page and got the message that you were already blocked. I could unblock you from there. I just had not been thinking about unblocking because I have never done that before. I do not know how to adjust the settings for WHUMP, sorry. - Farred 13:43, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

I have seen a version of [[Indirect reduction of steel]] that has the spam links in a border at the bottom of the page. It is a version of the redirect from Pig Iron. The address is the same, [http://www.marspedia.org/index.php?title=Pig_iron], but I can not restore the spam on such pages once I close the page. It seems to be a temporary and undocumented page modification from some malware on the server. I suppose that that is what led WHUMP to block ChristiaanK. The same malware could cause WHUMP to block anyone who makes an edit. The occurrence does not seem to be predictable. - Farred 15:07, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

## Automated Blunder

Eep! Sorry about the false positive. I've just rewvised WHUMP (which is still something of a kludge) to add ChristiaanK to the known user list. It shouldn't ban you again, but I must admit I don't know averyone who posts here on any sort of recurring basis. If I had an up to date list of everyone who posts to any of the space wikis I could add them to the known users list and hopefully reduce the risk of additional farse positives.

What was pasted that set off the false positive? Is the exact text and markup still available?

My ability to keep up with wikis has been rather disappointing for the past several months -- the most I've been able to do is try to keep WHUMP running on each wiki I have it set up to run on (and then it crashes and a bunch of stuff accumulates, then there's the stuff it's not sure enough about that also accumulates and so on).

Thank you for the additional information about the hack attack. I'll at least try to se if I can get that past along at some point. Right now we're scrambling to try to reach a deadline to have a new Moon Society website on a new hosting provider. The wikis are likely to get migrated to the new provider soon after that.

I somehow failed to notice that the version running on the space wikis is dated in September. The one I run on the political wiki that belongs to a certian political party has been updated several times since, although where I left off was a major overhaul that's still not ready. ...And every change tends to make it more aggressive as I try to let less and less garbage get through. The political wiki gets hit by well over 1000 attacks a day right now, and I don't have server access -- it's the situation WHUMP was created to try to put a dent in. That it's easily adapted for the space wikis has ben my attempt to compensate for not being up to the task of getting better security provisions in place here where I do have server access. Although as a higher priority Exodictionary is down (after the recent server change on DreamHost) and needs to get brought back up. Somehow.

My apologies that I've been unable to keep up.

-- Strangelv 17:03, 20 February 2013 (UTC)