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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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Imagine you wanted to power an iPhone or MacBook with apples. You might drop the fruit from some height onto a generator that would stop the accelerating apple and turn it's kinetic energy into electricity -- sort of like a turbine does in a hydroelectric. While not exactly practical, you... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at omenti
Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me; The carriage held but just ourselves And Immortality. We slowly drove, he knew no haste, And I had put away My labor, and my leisure too, For his civility. We passed the school where children played, Their lessons... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2017 at omenti
Sound is an ornery beast. Even serious people use different definitions. To a physical scientist it's a vibration that moves through a solid, liquid or gas as a mechanical compression .. moving regions of alternation compression and expansion. To a psychologist or neurologist it's the result of processing the brain... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2017 at omenti
So frustrating! I was reading the transcript of an interview of the chief environmental officer of one of America's largest companies. Their efforts appeared to be real rather than the normal corporate environmental green washing so many use. Then she spoke about energy, but used units of power (watts) rather... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2017 at omenti
And at the end he'll blow your minds and it won't be computer science. Thanks. Nothing like being put on the spot. I was giving a visiting lecture in a friend's class the other day when he did this to me. The lecture was going to be fun. Last year... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2017 at omenti
Perhaps something useful.. a quick cheat sheet on the care and feeding of the rechargeable batteries in your devices. For historical reasons rechargeables are known as secondary batteries and one non-rechargeables are primaries. We may complain about constantly having to charge everything, but you'd have to spend a few bucks... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2017 at omenti
One of the reasons I chose Stony Brook as a grad school was its proximity to New York City. I wanted to be close to live music. I'm a terrible musician but that doesn't mean I can't love it. It is deeply embedded in who we are as a people... Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2017 at omenti
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My first week in grad school was disorienting. It was the first time I had been East of the Denver, an introduction to serious heat and humidity, and I didn't know anyone. With all of this the letter in the department mailbox was welcome. An invitation to have dinner with... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2017 at omenti
People have asked if I'm going to demonstrate on Saturday. It began when the incurious new President of the United States called climate scientists "hoaxsters", made daily verifiably false statements and began to dismantle pieces of the government that support science. He, his administration, his party and millions of followers... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2017 at omenti
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Mr Wolff was one of those special teachers you listened to. Upon learning many of us had been assigned Fahrenheit 451 in our utopia and dystopias class, he saw an opening and got us to go to the source for later discussion. We made the pilgrimage to Val's bookstore for... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2017 at omenti
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The lovely little cherry in front of our place says Spring is finally here. It's beginning to leaf and currently is generating a bit north of a watt per square meter. In a few weeks it will throttle up to max cherry tree power. Photosynthesis generates about three times as... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at omenti
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Some of the details, sadly including her name, have faded but others are brilliantly clear. On that day my eighth grade art teacher gave me something profound. It was fascinating at the time, but years later I began to realize how profoundly beautiful it was. Our desks were bare save... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2017 at omenti
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I love the music, but usually ignore the technical part of SXSW, but this year a few people reported progress in the Google's Project Jacquard initiative with Levi's. It's an interesting project in a potentially rich area where most have been failing - weaving computation into clothing. At the beginning... Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2017 at omenti
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I love this image. Dama con l'ermellino is one of four works Leonardo painted of women. I've only seen reproductions as the original hangs in a Polish museum. The paint and canvas of the original have weathered the centuries and, with careful conservation, are supposedly close to what they must... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2017 at omenti
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mauve I found myself walking by the Fashion Institute of Technology on a very warm February day last week. Even for me fashion and design students are easy to spot, but three sported solid mauve outfits which triggered a few neurons. If you've had organic chemistry, you've probably heard about... Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2017 at omenti
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The phone rang on Sunday afternoon... "Hi, Steve? Syd has a question..." (Syd is about ten) "Hi Steve. Why is the sky blue?" She probably has heard a few explanations - most of us have over the years. In fact the common explanation you are shown in high school and... Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2017 at omenti
The world we live in is incredibly information-rich. The reality we think we live in turns out to be a tiny proxy of the real thing. We miss most of the electromagnetic spectrum and have a limited ability to process sound. The very large and very small are difficult to... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2017 at omenti
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, plot out the the phases of helium-three.... A favorite professor loved to craft simply stated preliminary exam questions that happened rhyme. Parts were often difficult... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2017 at omenti
Some years ago I found myself at West Point talking about the sort of things a pacifist and a group of Colonels and Generals might find interesting. It was near the holiday break and staff members had brought in a huge feast. I mentioned to a Colonel that it struck... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2017 at omenti
A few years ago my refrigerator crashed. Some poorly written code put it in an unfortunate condition that forced a failure and the loss of quite a bit of food, and days without refrigeration. . The product was out of warranty by a few months and I had to cough... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2017 at omenti
There is a serious need for an inexpensive centrifuge that doesn't use electricity in the developing world. People have tried salad spinners, but they're way too slow - about 6oo rpm. Other solutions involve car or motorcycle parts and run on battery power, but performance is low and cost is... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2017 at omenti
To start off the New Year a reason to be thankful... When I was in high school I came across one of those factoids that both amazed and bothered me. One of those things that forces you to dive in deeper so you can sleep. It turns out the neutron... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2017 at omenti
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My dear friend Norm Schryer died unexpectedly this morning. This past week hasn't been a kind one. Norm was one of those special beings you sometimes hear about and, if you're really lucky, you get to work and play with them. He was a Bell Laboratories mathematician - he'd probably... Continue reading
Posted Dec 30, 2016 at omenti
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A ninth grader asked me what e was all about. She had seen it looking through her brother's calculus book. I took out my iPhone and opened a calculator (rpn of course;-) and rambled on more or less like this... Imagine you're going to deposit a dollar in an extremely... Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2016 at omenti
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Entering the exam room you're asked if you're carrying anything metal one last time even as you walk through a metal detector. You lie down on the exam table and try to find a comfortable position as the QALO ring wearing technician checks the machine's status and inserts your IV.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2016 at omenti