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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
There is a considerable amount of confusion involved in the reporting of today's FCC network neutrality decision. Rather than getting into it and my bias, I suspect it might be more useful to spend a bit of time talking about what the Internet is and isn’t.1 A few weeks ago... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at omenti
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During a Christmas holiday in the late 70s I lugged our group's Texas Instruments Silent 700 back to Montana to for a bit of programming. The computers for our experiment were at Brookhaven National Laboratories and Stony Brook on Long Island. Huge multimillion dollar machines that ran programs in batch... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at omenti
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Get behind the wheel of a car from 1950 and you probably can figure out how to drive it. Cars are now vastly more refined, the highway system is greatly improved and cities and suburbs have been shaped by the automobile. But the basic car, at least to the driver,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2015 at omenti
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A billion? You're telling me a billion twenty five to forty years from now? A billion! you're pulling my leg, right? Rich smiled. I did the same and added 25, maybe 50 years. If I had to bet closer to 25 Two hours with the patent attorney. He didn't buy... Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2015 at omenti
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With their wonderful noses, how does the world appear to a dog? Does a bat's echolocation augment their vision or does it create a separate model of their world? Does your perception of reality differ from mine? Brookhaven National Labs was a large enough reserve that it had its own... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2015 at omenti
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You may have seen this simple electric train A very simple class of electric motor that operates using one of the four fundamental forces of Nature - electromagnetism. Electricity was an area of active investigation in the early 19th century when one of the experimenters, a Dane named Hans Øersted,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2015 at omenti
My first bike arrived on my seventh birthday. It was red, a bit too large and familiar. My Dad put on new tires and a rack on a bike a neighbor had grown out of making it nearly new in my eyes. As if that mattered - it was now... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2015 at omenti
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This new fangled radio technology was beginning to get exciting. Spark gap transmitters had been used to wirelessly send signals to a receiver. In 1888 Hertz was able to show the transmitters were producing electromagnetic waves predicted by Maxwell a quarter of a century earlier - waves that travel through... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2015 at omenti
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5:25 am - excellent! I brush the last of the snow from my coat and switch on the lights before taking my seat. A few minutes of silence and then a door opens and closes reverberating for about three seconds. The clicking of shoes echoes through Warner Hall as she... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2015 at omenti
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I'm really enjoying Om's new pi.co project. His latest piece is an interview with Frank Clegg - a guy who found his life's passion designing and making high quality leather goods. You really must go over to the site and read it. As I get older I find myself more... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2015 at omenti
Not long ago I was in a very dark area on a clear moonless night. Andromeda was well above the horizon. I hadn't seen it clearly in awhile and just thinking about it fires your imagination - its light took well over two million years to make it to Earth.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 29, 2014 at omenti
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Time for a little experiment. Take a piece of the best dark chocolate you have and snap off a section. Put it in your mouth but don't chew it - the trick is to experience it properly. At first you just notice its crisply defined shape and a tiny bit... Continue reading
Posted Dec 25, 2014 at omenti
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There are days you remember. October 17th, 1989 and I was on the phone with a mathematician friend who had just walked out of a meeting with an image processing company in Silicon Valley. We had done a bit of work together and our lab was shopping it around the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2014 at omenti
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happy holidays OK - here is the 20th year of the card I first put up around now in 1994 ... the last host went out of business and my free hosting doesn't support auto streaming, so you'll have to click on the player to listen.. The drawing came together... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2014 at omenti
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42 It was Jean's birthday last week. When I know someone's age I sometimes send a few examples of where the number comes up. There was the beautiful Orion nebula M42, a musical based on a street in New York, the atomic number of molybdenum, the critical angle that describes... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2014 at omenti
I try to average about 150 watts for an 80 minute period on the rowing machine. I'm about 20% efficient, so I need to move about 600 watts out of my body. Humans are well designed for dumping heat and within a few minutes I'm sweating - really sweating. The... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2014 at omenti
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The Arizona desert is a fine place for getting reacquainted with some old friends in the night sky. The air was dry and almost chilly and moonless sky was as transparent as the dark Montana skies I knew as a kid. The mountains on the horizon cut their blackness into... Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2014 at omenti
A follow-on discussion with Jheri after the last post centered on words and concepts that are well-known within a culture, but are so much a part of the culture that they are difficult or impossible to define on the outside. The Danish concept of hyyge came up. Sometimes called coziness... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2014 at omenti
Many words and phrases commonly used by scientists have very different meanings to non-scientists. Energy, power, mass, inertia, momentum, confidence, model, space, measurement, error, signal, color, space, time, vacuum, evolution, theory, particle/wave duality .. the list goes on and on. A certain amount of code switching is necessary for effective... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2014 at omenti
Frank's single-wide was cozy with both the propane furnace and the wood burning stove blazing against the -20°F night. Warm cinnamon buns, hot chocolate and blankets made up for the trailer's thin insulation as we talked almost until dawn about the Internet and Montana's native people. Frank ran The Big... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2014 at omenti
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After all these years my mother still holds the record for the most tragically wrong holiday gift. The sad thing is most of it was thought-out and given in the spirit of goodwill and love. Unfortunately a misunderstanding of psychology set the stage for some holiday bad cheer. The year... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2014 at omenti
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I was at my favorite Gelateria and asked one of the owners if she remembered someone. She looked at the photo on my phone and a big smile came to her face. Oh! The thin one with the golden hair and the gold spoon. She always orders a pint and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2014 at omenti
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The other day I was using one of my slide rules while waiting for a train. I was absorbed in calculations until someone interrupted me wanting to know what I was doing. People tend to be mystified when they see an unfamiliar technology. Slide rules are simple in concept. When... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2014 at omenti
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It had been about two years since I had seen a friend’s daughter. She was about thirteen and much taller than the last time I had seen her. He made complaints about having to buy new clothes and her appetite, but such is growth in kids. Consulting a children’s growth... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2014 at omenti
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I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. Wayne Gretzky sold himself short. He had the experience to figure out where the puck was going, but sport at the highest level is much deeper. He managed to skate where the puck would be,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2014 at omenti