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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
A minipost on staying healthy For the last twenty years or so it's been increasingly clear that exercise is a powerful drug large benefits and few if any downsides. Recommendations for how much across wide ranges of populations are improving, but historically have been educated guesses and extrapolations based on... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at omenti
a minipost Several people have written asking for educational projects to occupy their kids during the pandemic. I've answered with a number of ideas, but it hit me chindōgu could be the perfect ticket for many. It's the absurd Japanese art of useless inventions aimed at solving everyday problems with... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at omenti
Jheri asked a good question about the tides. First you need to watch Henry Reich's piece on the subject. (His goal is to move quickly so you might have to stop every now and again and rewatch a segment.) Basically differential gravity - the water on the side of the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2020 at omenti
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Over the weekend I caught a segment on wallaby sightings in Britain. It seems they've been zoos and private collections since the 1930s. They're talented escape artists and many were turned out to the countryside during WWII. Over the years there would be sightings for a year or two and... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2020 at omenti
There was a bowl of M&Ms for after the oral exams Our grades were based on homework assignments and three oral exams. Four of us would take our turn at the blackboard. The professor had this natural ability to ask question you hadn't thought about, but should be able to... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2020 at omenti
Two years ago the Environmental Protection Agency reported aviation accounted for about three percent of the nation's CO2 emissions, or about twelve percent of transportation. The international figure is about two point five percent. These may not seem huge, but they've been growing steadily and, post pandemic, should continue their... Continue reading
Posted Oct 25, 2020 at omenti
A few days ago Om and I were talking about some technologies. I mentioned I sort of predicted one with reasonable confidence about twenty years out. It seemed a bit too scifi on the surface, but other people in research agreed it could happen if a lot of money was... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2020 at omenti
minipost and recommendation The books you wore out when you were fourteen or fifteen are probably serious hints about your dreams and direction. One of the two I wore out was a Norton's Star Atlas and Reference Handbook. Beautiful, wonderful star charts to find your way around the night sky.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2020 at omenti
mini post 1874 saw the opening of the most important inventions of the 19th century - The Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. Serious science began to take off in the 1850s in universities. It was mostly applied and work aimed at solving the problems of the day -... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2020 at omenti
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About a week ago Apple announced its latest Watch. While it isn't a major leap, Horace and Om wrote great pieces about something more significant - namely what it does.1 The first few iterations were a bit muddled - now it has become a wearable assistive technology. That's significant. Assistive... Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2020 at omenti
Margaret Atwood David Mitchell Elif Shafak Han Kang Karl Ove Knausgaard Ocean Vuong Each of these authors has taken a walk through Nordmarka Forest in Norway to place a their manuscript in a special room in the Deichman Library. Ninety four more will follow. The authors are specially chosen for... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2020 at omenti
About six months ago I found myself spending a lot of time thinking about finally returning to normal and if there would be a new normal. That line of thinking evolved into the question of what normal is - what activities are considers normal, who can participate in them, who... Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2020 at omenti
Rey-k-javík The big test was would come at the end of May. Sixth grade and we had to identify countries and their capitals on a world map. That meant spelling everything correctly and adding some countries not on the list for extra credit. I wasn't good at spelling then and... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2020 at omenti
minipost Some of you are amazing speakers. I'm not. Thankfully I'm not teaching anything this year - Zoom lecturing was a disaster for me for a number of reasons. Rather than a post mortem, here's something useful. This is from the 'how to speak' course that Patrick Winston gave for... Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2020 at omenti
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Recently a heard a podcast on what it means for a company, or employee, to be a steward. It could be any number of things - relationships, society, the environment. All good, but not many large companies seem to exemplify this beyond PR efforts. But some smaller organizations are good... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2020 at omenti
Pip Coburn and his circle have a practice of sharing "anti pet peeves" - those little things that bring a smile and a bit of happiness. It's a good practice these days. I had one today and sent it to him and Om Malik. Om suggested I post it. Feel... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2020 at omenti
minipost It turns out they use red and blue light for photosynthesis and reflect green light. But why? That wastes an enormous amount of energy - why didn’t plants evolve to look black? There have been any number of conjectures and they tend to be unsatisfying. Here’s something central to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2020 at omenti
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The wheels appear to be coming off the Major League Baseball season. The NBA basketball may have built a tight enough bubble, but at great cost. And I'll bet a fair amount that NFL and college football will be disasters if they take place. Some sports and associated logistics may... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2020 at omenti
The chocolate chip cookie recipe arrived at my office a few weeks after I left Orlando. I baked a batch a few days later - they were exactly like the ones I had in the board room. Incredible. And then there was the room's Coca Cola machine. Not only did... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2020 at omenti
Last week I had my first face to face group meeting since early March. Seven of us set up lawn chairs in a distanced circle on a beautiful lawn. Apart from not being able to hear each other without speaking up and needing something better to draw on, it was... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2020 at omenti
A useful discussion of how the virus gets into the body and how to block it. In this Covid-19 Medical Grand Rounds (July 16, 2020), three world experts discuss a variety of issues surrounding how the coronavirus moves from person to person, how best to block viral spread, and the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2020 at omenti
a minipost Other than the new graduate student, most of us have worked together for a few years. This morning we carried our folding chairs across the large lawn struck by the novelty of seeing each other without glass, silicon and coordinated electrical signals getting in the way. It was... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2020 at omenti
Watching the latest Physicsgirl video made me think of a couple of things, but first take a look. Combining her almost reckless enthusiasm with a serious work ethic, Dianna is my candidate for the best visual physics explainer around. It's one thing to describe something with high production videos or... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2020 at omenti
In the past few days three friends have been through a lot of stress. Times like these make me think about where I've been and the paths I've taken. I recognize too few people have had the freedom and privilege to make choices like I have. At times like these... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2020 at omenti
Over the past few weeks I've been playing around trying to repurpose old hardware. Mostly CD and DVD drives and they're chock full of useful parts - lasers, motors, lenses and so on... That and a bit of Arduino prototyping to come come up with a bag of junk that... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2020 at omenti