This is steve's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following steve's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
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
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 yesterday 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
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
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
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
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
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
Last week news came from the Borexino collaboration that an accurate solar neutrino flux measurement had been made. A fantastically difficult observation that not only confirms the basic model of how solar fusion works, but also gives a window into the near real-time production of energy in the Sun. Although... Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2014 at omenti
At the 1986 SIGGRAPH conference a short computer animation from a small company called Pixar wowed the audience. Technically it was a breakthrough, but more stunning was the audience's reaction. The technical crowd was not asking questions about the new animation techniques it highlighted, but wanted to know if the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2014 at omenti
On Friday afternoons a few of us would meet mostly to talk about ideas. A playground to frame and test ideas involving a small number of people who knew each other well. At one point there was discussion on changes in the government's support of corn based ethanol production. Sorting... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2014 at omenti
Thomas Jefferson had the reputation of an extreme bibliophile, but was forced to make choices 'only' reading about 7,000 books. Ben Franklin had a similar information challenge and both men were unable to fully respond to their mail. They lived at a time when it seemed like a powerful and... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2014 at omenti
As I paged through the old book, a paper slid out and fell to the floor... The book was a bound collection of magazine articles on the development of television and may have been from a personal library as there were several volumes from the late 1920s to the beginning... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2014 at omenti
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
... 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
You might say I was strongly attracted to magnets ... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2014 at omenti
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
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