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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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Fall and Winter is a good time to look for the Andromeda galaxy in the Northern Hemisphere. Find a dark area on a moonless night and you should be able to easily find it. At about two and a half million light years away it's the most distant object you... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2017 at omenti
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Look at the little group of numbers on the right. They were handwritten and aren't exactly neat and tidy. Take the first four on the third line. Our brain says 1 , 7, 4 , 2. We might bring it together as 1742 and some of you might think of... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2017 at omenti
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Plants have a problem when it comes to reproduction. In most cases they need genetic material from another partner, but they can’t just walk around and find one. About one hundred and thirty million years ago Nature came a neat solution to the problem - flowers. Flowers attract insects in... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2017 at omenti
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Late in May of the year I was in forth grade we were given a map of the United States and Canada with outlines of the states and provinces. Our task was was to correctly label it with capital names and rough locations along with the names of states and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2017 at omenti
The 19th of October is a big day for me. It marks the beginning of the only time I've been really depressed. A depression triggered by something that should have been a celebration. That afternoon I had just defended my Ph.D. thesis. The audience, while nothing like Harald Bohr's, was... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2017 at omenti
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One hundred and thirty million years ago dinosaurs were a little more than halfway through their stay on Earth. Underneath their feet the first plants that relied on animals to spread their seeds - the first flowers - bloomed. Flowers had an enormous impact on life on Earth - greater... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2017 at omenti
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A good deal of fantasy depends on magical properties of crystals. It's easy to see where that comes from. They're often physically beautiful and can do wonderful things to light but there's no magic. On the other hand some allow us to do what was considered fantastic. . Quartz for... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2017 at omenti
I just heard that Monty Hall died at the age of 96. He was a game show host famous for a simple probability problem that gets people riled up. His show, Let's Make a Deal, had three doors. Behind one door was something very desirable - like a new sports... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2017 at omenti
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That's a really stupid idea Steve. It was somewhere around 1992 and wasn't the first or last time I heard something it. In fact it's part of the process of doing science - I just was applying it somewhere else. The PR people and business units of AT&T were for... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2017 at omenti
For a few years I've been been asked to talk to speak to a science class at a local high school. I've always chosen the topic. Usually I ask a few kids in the class a few questions and go from there, In the past few years it's been global... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2017 at omenti
Walking in the woods a few months ago I had one of those moments of synthesis. A dozen or so threads I'd been thinking about for a long time suddenly wove together into a single something that made sense. It is something of a form of story telling and I... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2017 at omenti
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Astronomy was where America began to emerge from European domination of science. The wealthy patrons who funded telescopes and universities made certain the discoveries were heavily publicized. Even out in Kansas Clyde Tombaugh found his interest. He did well inscience and math student and dreamt of leaving the farm for... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2017 at omenti
just kidding .. well .. sort of.. About a month ago I noticed my left shin and foot had swollen enormously. There are a few nasty possibilities and a close friend died from one in December, so it was off to the emergency care unit. It turned out to be... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2017 at omenti
When I was a kid my Dad would bring comic books home. My favorite involved the Donald Duck series character Gyro Gearloose. Gryo was a brilliant semi-failed inventor for hire with offbeat ideas that I loved. I wanted to be Gyro when I grew up - I even pestered my... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2017 at omenti
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Ah total solar eclipses. My first was somewhat East of Lewistown, Montana after driving in the dark on an icy Highway 87. The Sun had just set on all of the horizons around me when the sonic boom arrived . I looked up and saw a delta wing, afterburner blazing... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2017 at omenti
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I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky Ah the Perseids - My favorite meteor shower. The peak falls somewhere on the 11th or 12th of August. That usually means you can be out all night without a jacket. If you're in a very dark area on a moonless night... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2017 at omenti
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Many of you spend a lot of time traveling around the world. While the act of travel can be frustrating, new places, people and experiences dramatically richen our lives. But this usually only makes use of our normal everyday senses. We're missing so much. Human vision is only a tiny... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2017 at omenti
Two days ago I found myself on the bus out of Manhattan. The trip was a treat - I had managed a few hours with a dear friend. As the bus crawled through commute hour traffic I wondered about the odds of deep friendships like these. The path to this... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2017 at omenti
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Years ago one of the neighbor kids, probably about 11 at the time, asked me what fire is. Sometimes frustrated parents point their question-rich kids at me. The answer came immediately: fire is what happens when atoms get so excited, that they just start farting out light He cocked his... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2017 at omenti
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It was really stupid - not quite Darwin Award stupid - but close. Now that my parents are gone I can write about it. As a teen I became fascinated with the sensitivity of the human eye. It turns there are a lot of tricks you can use - I've... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2017 at omenti
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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 Jul 17, 2017 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