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steve
I have a particle physics background and live happily with my wife Sukie and our five ferrets.
Interests: ferrets, physics, astronomy, atmospheric optics, os x, numerous technologies, large and dangerous electrical devices, simple hacks, social computing, history, history of science and technology, music, digital music, photography, image manipulation, and story telling
Recent Activity
One of my most significant and hard-won learnings over the past ten years has been that conventional education is useless - even counterproductive - in combating pseudoscience in a polarized society. I've touched on it hear and a few of you have heard far too much from me. So rather... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2016 at omenti
A somewhat past prime lemon was sitting around making me wonder.. Let's say you're a Florida citrus baron and your car's battery is run down. You remembered the lemon battery you helped your kid make for a sixth grade science project and wonder how many lemons would it take to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2016 at omenti
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You don't see many Montana plates in New Jersey, let alone one from Petroleum County.1 Of course it was a pickup - a F-150 that had clearly seen serious duty. I waited about ten minutes for the driver and his wife to come out. We chatted for awhile - long... Continue reading
Posted May 29, 2016 at omenti
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Watching a stream of the first two episodes of Genius by Stephen Hawking I was reminded of the words of one of my teenage mentors. Awe and wonder are usually listed as synonyms, but there is an old distinction. Awe leaves you so impressed that you don't know what to... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2016 at omenti
Two weeks ago the results of following contestants from the 2009 season of The Biggest Loser was published. It caught the news and was widely reported as the failure of dieting. The New York Times did a slightly better job - but there is more to think about. Trying to... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2016 at omenti
The other day I found myself in a school administration office arguing against a proposed expansion of an already large STEM program. STEM, if not taken to extremes, is fine. Unfortunately it has become too important in our local school displacing other important courses. It is also poorly aimed -... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2016 at omenti
Currently there is a technology press dog pile on the supposed failure of the Apple watch that similar to their proclamations of the iPod and iPhone on their first birthdays. I'm not terribly interested in these proclamations - it is far too early. But as technology becomes more personal and... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2016 at omenti
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Twenty years ago an anthropologist in my department was studying the relationship between teenagers and technologies - specifically how they adapted to new technologies quickly sometimes developing novel uses not seen by the inventors. She observed that although adults assumed the kids had some natural deep knowledge, in fact the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2016 at omenti
Canada is undergoing a fantastic profound change. For more than a decade the government has chosen to underfund science, undermine Universities and science education and focus on a path of applied paths that are somehow guaranteed payoff. This changed with the last election. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shows a genuine... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2016 at omenti
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We experience the world as a smooth and constant stream of perception. At least that is how we interpret it. Reality is wildly different. We only are able to perceive heavily filtered bits of the world around us through, depending how you count, about a dozen senses. The resulting signals... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2016 at omenti
About twenty years ago Mattel rolled out Teen Talk Barbie - a talking Barbie that had 270 phrases. One of them turned out to be controversial and the doll disappeared from the shelves to be replaced by one with 269: The remake was warranted, but sadly many Americans agreed with... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2016 at omenti
The local cherry trees are currently covered with pink and white popcorn. Nature is beginning to unfurl her solar collectors . I found myself wondering how many watts of power an average oak around here produces. A detailed calculation would be very difficult, but fortunately a reasonable approximation is easy... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2016 at omenti
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Even though I'm not very good at it I find art a very important part of the playful part of math and science. I've bemoaned the narrow-minded focus on STEM in schools enough, so here's a delightful example. Before film it was discovered we have a persistence of vision -... Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2016 at omenti
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For the past three months there has been real excitement in the physics community. Oh the direct detection of gravity waves was a huge, but it was sort of expected. Gravitational radiation have been seen indirectly for some time and upgrades to the LIGO detector was going to be sensitive... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2016 at omenti
A few weeks ago Google Fiber announced they had a partnership with Huntsville, Alabama. These announcements were once exciting, but over time shifted to mildly interesting and then to - well - just ho hum. Google's motives appear to have shifted over the years and there is this nagging issue... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2016 at omenti
Judging a regional science fair year ago I noticed two types of kids. Most were on a pre-professional/get into a good college track. Many were interning in real labs. Great experience, but very few had any depth. Then there were the kids who were working on projects of their own.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2016 at omenti
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During the thirties Earnest Lawrence and a few others invented big science. Really big, government funded science. Science on a scale larger than organizations like Bell Labs or Universities could muster. Most of this was in the form of applied science and research engineering that bore fruit in WWII. It... Continue reading
Posted Feb 29, 2016 at omenti
Such an exciting day! I started writing, but one could go on for hours trying to provide some background. If you're interested in this sort of thing there are going to be many descriptions of gravitational waves and General Relativity. In a nutshell gravity is really the warping of spacetime... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2016 at omenti
Yesterday Om made a comment noting a sneaker with equations inscribed in it. It makes you wonder what would be appropriate. Perhaps simple Newtonian physics like F = ma, v = at, d = at2/2. You might also try to build a model of running. I scribbled the equations of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2016 at omenti
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What a beautiful blizzard. Last week it was great fun to watch and even more fun to walk in, but in the back of your mind you know that there is warm and safe shelter. A few years ago Sandy shattered the illusion of guaranteed safety. We were without power... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2016 at omenti
At the beginning of each year I treat myself to a week or so of study in something new to me. The intention is to learn enough that I might not embarrass myself asking questions afterwards ... This year I looked at the interplay between food systems, restaurants and transportation... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2016 at omenti
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A few years ago I was walking through the parking lot of JPL in Pasadena when a license plate caught my eye. It took me a few seconds to figure it out, but it had to be a vanity plate and one I wouldn't mind having. I pointed and exclaimed... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2016 at omenti
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I’ve had a number of fine surprises this year, but Piper Harron’s PhD thesis in number theory is at or near the top. Why takes a bit of explaining. Math is core to almost everything we do, but sadly it has become abstracted for too many people. Part of the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2015 at omenti
Here, you pull the panel and I'll get the torch ready... With that he reached into his coat pocket and handed me a screwdriver. I had only met my director once before during the job interview, but here we were in one of the elevators at Bell Labs in Murray... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2015 at omenti
A video parody of a book by an Englishwoman and a play roughly about an American religion by two Americans known for their animated television reflections on society and popular culture. Most of these forms are mature, but it took time from the first large scale introduction of a new... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2015 at omenti