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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
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The American public is remarkably out of step with the findings of the science of global warming. Generally less than half of the public agrees with the statement there is solid evidence for global warming caused by human activity in contrast with the very strong consensus among scientists.1 Curiously public... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2014 at omenti
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... and does it seem like it is getting hotter to you? While doing a bit of cleaning in the kitchen I found a surprise a friend had hidden nearly in plain sight. I was on the step stool storing some things that are rarely used high in the cabinets... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2014 at omenti
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The transportation system is enormously fascinating and complex. There were a few decades of radical developments in the automobile about a century ago coupled with the growth of energy, roadway, legal, safety and other systems. The growth in the adoption of the car caused an enormous expansion of a sprawl... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2014 at omenti
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The other day I was out walking around noon looking at the trees. Some took a lot of damage from the harsh Winter, but almost all have enough leaf area to catch most of the light striking their habit. The average maple around here this time of year is averaging... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2014 at omenti
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Stripped to the basics a vehicle is just a device that moves by converting stored energy into mechanical energy. In the early days of the automobile it wasn't clear what the stored energy would be and how it would be converted. Experimenters worked with steam engines, a wide variety of... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2014 at omenti
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Colleen and I spent a fair amount of time trying to understand how to talk about energy issues. 1,000 miles per gallon on a bicycle gets attention as does telling someone for every four gallons of gasoline they use only one moves the car and the other three are mostly... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2014 at omenti
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Bob and I would sometimes get in a family car and drive to the top of Gore Hill just to see if we could coast back down the hill to the river. It was a bit tricky with his dad's old Chevy working better than our family Falcon. The Chevy... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2014 at omenti
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When I was a teenager consumer grade microwave ovens were beginning to appear. They were very spendy - much more than a conventional oven - so there was a need to convince people there was a deep need. They seemed to settle on the microwave as a cook-almost-everything, but do... Continue reading
Posted May 29, 2014 at omenti
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You might say I was strongly attracted to magnets ... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2014 at omenti
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Imagine a solid that was a better insulator than almost any other solid and that, at the same time had a very low density - getting down to the density of air at sea level. I was paging through some papers in the latest issue of Nuclear Instruments and Methods... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2014 at omenti
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Imagine what it must have been like to look up at a moonless and clear night sky in preindustrial times. Perhaps a few thousand stars would fill the sky and perhaps you would wonder how far away they were. Figuring that out has taken a lot of time - the... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2014 at omenti
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Tonight I waited by our pond hoping to see a bat. Spring is finally here and there are more than enough flying insects to tempt a bat, but nothing. The past few years have been terrible for bat watching - I'm afraid white nose syndrome has taken its toll. Still,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2014 at omenti
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Early August marks the State Fair in Great Falls, Montana. The latest farm implements, horse racing, a lame midway, deep fried everything, homemade lemonade, 4H and, of course, cow chip tossing. As a high school student I remember watching a rather large and enthusiastic teenager, perhaps inspired by the Summer... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2014 at omenti
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I'm finally up to date with the first four episodes of Cosmos - enough that I have a sense of the show's approach. The fact that Seth MacFarlane, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ann Druyan and others were able to pull this together and to have it aired on network television is... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2014 at omenti
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I've seen two episodes of the new version of Cosmos so far. I was going to wait a bit longer before commenting, but something came up. It is remarkable to see a show on current science on an American TV network during prime time. Finding the right level for something... Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2014 at omenti
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Such a remarkable day with the announcement of the detection of primordial gravity waves from the earliest moments of the Universe. The nature of the detection may open up a lot of unexpected experimental physics. The tensor fluctuations write quantum gravity on the sky - Liam McAllister earlier today I'll... Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2014 at omenti
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Friday was pi day. I don't know when people started celebrating the fact that the American notion for March 14th looks something like the first three digits of the irrational number pi, but it has grown into something of an event in schools. Along with being a good excuse for... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2014 at omenti
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Many years ago I lived in Southern California. While the weather was foreign to my Montana experience, what really impressed me was the pollution - thick, stinking photochemical smog and soot. At least once a week you had to clean a brownish film from the windows and wondered what your... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2014 at omenti
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what is a ruby and why is it red? why is the friction so low on a sled? on a plot of P versus T, sketch out the phases of helium three. Janos loved simply stated questions - and took delight if he could make them rhyme. I had thirty... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2014 at omenti
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Our Winter has been impressive. The ice on the local pond is nearly strong enough to support a person. Yesterday an epic storm gave an excuse to enjoy the season. I ended up getting very wet and cold, but for whatever reason you learn to love the Winter if you... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2014 at omenti
I tend to worry about labels and definitions as it is extremely difficult to achieve depth in anything where you aren't clear on the basics. A term that has bothered me for some time is digital native. It is generally invoked to imply the generation that grew up with an... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2014 at omenti
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During the last Winter Olympiad, almost exactly four years ago, a friend was rewarded with a special bicycle. Thinking about this and watching Sage Kotsenburg take the gold in Slopestyle triggered a few thoughts. Colleen is one of those people who goes out and just does it. She was worried... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2014 at omenti
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We finally had a break in the weather and I was able to spend a lot of time in the woods yesterday. The Sun angle was noticeably higher and the snowy landscape was criss-crossed the the tracks of at least a dozen different kinds of animals. The bonus that made... Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2014 at omenti
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The past half year has been a period of loss in my life. These periods happen, of course, but it has been particularly concentrated and has forced a lot of thinking. During one point last December a close friend called to see how I was doing and after listening for... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2014 at omenti
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Indulging in some fine ice cream I found myself thinking about my Grandpa Joe. Good ice cream was an art-form to him and he exposed me to good homemade examples early on. These days I rarely have it and usually make my own, but every now and again a very... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2014 at omenti