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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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Fifty years ago this month Jocelyn Bell was going through the chart recorder output from a new radio telescope she and a few others had built at Cambridge . She had worked herself up to about a hundred feet of it a day looking for anything interesting in the squiggly... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at omenti
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You'd see the differences during dinner. Our neighbors the Eriksens had a mixed marriage. Her ancestry was Swedish, his Danish. He liked sour cream on his jello, she went for whipped cream. Not that jello was a Scandinavian food - they had been regionally Americanized like the rest of us.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2017 at omenti
Six months ago one of my closest friends died unexpectedly. Norm happened to be brilliant, but you could probably say the same of most people with an Erdös number of one. What set Norm apart was his warmth, a bit of craziness and his natural storytelling ability. He was a... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2017 at omenti
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There is this dairy farmer with a problem. He's tried everything he can think of, but milk production from his herd just won't budge. The dairy new online push hormones, but no .. it was time for something unconventional. He hired three consultants - a mechanical engineer, a psychologist and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2017 at omenti
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On the bus ride home Friday night I found myself thinking about my renewed optimism that we have a chance to do something about global warming. I was on my way back from the New York City Open on Pier 26 in lower Manhattan. The crowd and the people I... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2017 at omenti
thanks I edited the post recommending a read of your comment
Toggle Commented Jun 12, 2017 on a deep dive into tumeric at tingilinde
If you had unlimited funds for a philanthropic big bet in education - a real game-changer - money is not object - what would it be? About a week ago a friend posed the question. I asked about the scope .. American education and a few examples were given. The... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2017 at omenti
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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 May 22, 2017 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