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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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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 4 days ago at omenti
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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