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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
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 2 days ago 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 3 days ago at omenti
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Early this morning I spent a bit over an hour heating the basement. I'm no athlete, but my morning exercise session has about an hour of rowing with the target of an average of 150 watts of power. A real athlete could do much better - 400 watts for a... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2015 at omenti
Over the years I’ve come to think about products and service in terms of ‘does this improve my life?’ and ‘does this make me happier?' Reflecting on these questions has changed how I look at my relationship with services and things. More recently I’ve asked a few others to take... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2015 at omenti
1 January, 1865 At least that's my take, but as usual a story lurks. With physics many stories trace back to Isaac Newton. Newtonian physics was and is an amazing triumph. While we now have a much deeper understanding of how the Universe works, it is usually accurate enough to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2015 at omenti
The amount of information around us is increasing at a staggering rate with no end in sight. An industry has emerged to deal with overload, but we've been up against the boundary for a long time. Civilization has produced too much information to keep up with for centuries. We deal... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2015 at omenti
Passing white light through a prism to break it into a range of colored light, Newton introduced the word spectrum into optics. The colored apparition was packed with information contained in the light - a mixture of frequencies and intensities. Eventually it was learned that studying these revealed important aspects... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2015 at omenti
Since college I've had a practice of tithing my time. Its origins weren't particularly noble - mostly I was feeling guilty about my position as a middle class white male at a good school. My upbringing encouraged paying a tithe. It didn't make much sense to me. A wealthy person... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2015 at omenti
[credits rolling, theme music fades and a conversation between a couple begins] Hello. I'm sorry I'm late. I had some important police business to attend to, you know. - Everything's all right? Yes, absolutely fine. Allow me to let you in the car. Please. - It's beautiful. - It's rather... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2015 at omenti
Just after sunset Venus and Jupiter are dancing together in the Western sky. Venus is the brighter of the two, in fact she's the brighter than anything but the Sun and Moon. Throughout the month of June, at least as seen from Earth, they've been getting closer and closer and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2015 at omenti
Motor vehicle deaths are currently running about 33,000 per year in the US. While there are many ways of looking at the numbers, perhaps the most remarkable is we find the carnage acceptable. It is possible to simply reduce the death rate without new technology, but car performance would become... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2015 at omenti