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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
Yesterday Om made a comment noting a sneaker with equations inscribed in it. It makes you wonder what would be appropriate. Perhaps simple Newtonian physics like F = ma, v = at, d = at2/2. You might also try to build a model of running. I scribbled the equations of... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at omenti
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What a beautiful blizzard. Last week it was great fun to watch and even more fun to walk in, but in the back of your mind you know that there is warm and safe shelter. A few years ago Sandy shattered the illusion of guaranteed safety. We were without power... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at omenti
At the beginning of each year I treat myself to a week or so of study in something new to me. The intention is to learn enough that I might not embarrass myself asking questions afterwards ... This year I looked at the interplay between food systems, restaurants and transportation... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2016 at omenti
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A few years ago I was walking through the parking lot of JPL in Pasadena when a license plate caught my eye. It took me a few seconds to figure it out, but it had to be a vanity plate and one I wouldn't mind having. I pointed and exclaimed... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2016 at omenti
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I’ve had a number of fine surprises this year, but Piper Harron’s PhD thesis in number theory is at or near the top. Why takes a bit of explaining. Math is core to almost everything we do, but sadly it has become abstracted for too many people. Part of the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2015 at omenti
Here, you pull the panel and I'll get the torch ready... With that he reached into his coat pocket and handed me a screwdriver. I had only met my director once before during the job interview, but here we were in one of the elevators at Bell Labs in Murray... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2015 at omenti
A video parody of a book by an Englishwoman and a play roughly about an American religion by two Americans known for their animated television reflections on society and popular culture. Most of these forms are mature, but it took time from the first large scale introduction of a new... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2015 at omenti
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I was thinking about my Grandpa Joe. He was a jack-of-all-trades who did everything from sheep herding to self-taught electrical and mechanical engineering projects. The depression of 1921, the great depression, and family illnesses taught him to focus on what was necessary. Everything had its purpose and many items, like... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2015 at omenti
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In 1958 Willy Higinbotham of Brookhaven National Laboratory cooked up a bit of kit and created Tennis for Two - perhaps the first video game to engage kids at a laboratory open house. Peter Takacs of BNL has recreated the game for exhibit. If you are in the area catch... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2015 at omenti
In a few weeks we'll be at the centennial of the publication of Einstein's paper on general relativity. Special relativity came out about a decade earlier nailing down what is relative and what is absolute about time, space and motion. It is beautifully elegant and even simple. The only math... Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2015 at omenti
A few days ago I learned a parent of a close friend will be having a PET scan in the near future. There are several non-invasive methods of looking into a living body each with its own niche. Most were developed by physicists using instrumentation and techniques developed for studying... Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2015 at omenti
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Around the time cellphones began to become available a story began to circulate. Early on a Saturday morning in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania an Amish horse-drawn buggy and a Mercedes were in an accident. Both vehicles were too damaged to move and a passenger was injured. Waiting for help to drive... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2015 at omenti
Several pieces have been written about Intel’s fashion partnership initiative. This from the 2-November New York Times. Generally they seem to imply that these partnerships will find the correct mix of art and technology. I find the results to date wanting .. sort of here’s some tech, how to I... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2015 at omenti
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I was in a fourth floor office on the extreme Eastern end of the installation. The view was great, fantastic colleagues, interesting puzzles and questions ... the problem was something smelled wrong. Nearly two months had passed since I moved to the downgrade and it was time to get serious.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2015 at omenti
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Benton Lake on the Bootlegger Trail was one of my three standard observing sites. Great Falls, with about 60,000 people, had too many lights for amateur astronomy so I had to drive to find a dark sky. Over time I came to learn Benton Lake's microclimate. On clear nights from... Continue reading
Posted Oct 26, 2015 at omenti
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Deluge, Drought, Fire and Earthquake California's Four Seasons - a plaque at Caltech In the early 70s two researchers began to sift through long term weather data-sets hunting for patterns other than seasonal variation. They had access to a late 60s super computer and a powerful processing technique called the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2015 at omenti
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In the last year I learned that I shared an odd quirk with Oliver Sacks. Somehow I tend to think about ages in terms of atomic number - the number of protons in an element. Sometimes I'll tell someone their birthday element. Some of the elements are centrally important and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2015 at omenti
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The structure was small but, despite the amazing view, there was only one small window. A curtain was kept out sunlight. A cluster of electric cables connected the building to the cable car building a thousand feet distant. Twelve is an age when most of us are still at curiosity... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2015 at omenti
ok - something for fun Sport in Finland and Estonia (pdf) snip ... The Wife Carrying World Championship began in 1992 at Sonkajärvi, Finland, and has been held annually since then. Contestants are winning couples from wife-carrying competitions in Australia, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland and the United States.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2015 at omenti
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Yesterday Todd Reichert went 139.45 km/h - 86.65 mph - using nothing but his muscles. Some people claim Usain Bolt holds the title with his 9.58 second 100 meter world record sprint.1 An amazing run with a peak speed of 43.92 km/hr, but humans are terrible sprinters compared to more... Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2015 at omenti
A large portion of the human brain is devoted to processing vision. We turn light collected on two small surfaces into electrical signals that are converted into a rich three dimensional model of the world around us. Simple tasks like catching a ball turn out to be beautiful examples of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2015 at omenti
Horace is currently converting a classic VW bug into a practical electric car for highway use with modern batteries. What a great way to learn about some of the issues associated with electric cars! We're beginning to see the rise of electric vehicles. They have certain advantages like power train... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2015 at omenti
Dianna Cowern's work is great. Such delight and enthusiasm - it speaks highly of MIT:-) Her work, imho, is more important than that of people like Neil deGrasse Tyson as it is so much more accessible and manages to communicate the wonder on a personal level. I've met her and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2015 at omenti
Growing up I managed to develop a deep familiarity with Ford Falcons. My parents had three of them over the years. Cars were simple mechanical objects even a teenager could deal with. In the Winter part of my job was to get the engine running in the morning. If it... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2015 at omenti
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There are three points of view from which a writer can be considered: he may be considered as a storyteller, as a teacher, and as an enchanter. A major writer combines these three — storyteller, teacher, enchanter — but it is the enchanter in him that predominates and makes him... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2015 at omenti