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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
minipost Yesterday I had my first jab of a Covid-19 vaccine - specifically the Pfizer mRNA vaccine. Despite political, production, and distribution issues several vaccines appeared and more are coming. Going from decoding the SARS-CoV-2 genome to first injections took only about a half year and a year later a... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at omenti
That watch you're wearing - what does it do? Sarah always wears the same watch. A large round face that must be 60mm across and a simple band. I was curious. It tells time and it's easy to read at a glance. She replied That's about what I expected -... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2021 at omenti
Recently a friend sent a piece on an energy harvesting device that coverts some of your body's waste heat into electricity. The description was sparse, but it mentioned the average person produces about one hundred watts of waste heat and went on to say that is enough to power a... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2021 at omenti
a minipost First a short video You can make this yourself. You'll need a chilly day and a cold surface. I had success as a teenager in Montana with outdoor temperatures ranging from -25°C up to about -10°C. Colder worked but the effect wasn't as dramatic and warmer just didn't... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2021 at omenti
You need to read Om’s blog post Why iPhone is today’s Kodak Brownie Camera It reminded me of my home-brew digital camera about 35 years ago (the Meltdown the ferret photo is in this post - probably the first digital image of a ferret). Digital photography - at least how... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2021 at omenti
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Sixty six million years ago - the end of the Cretaceous period - an asteroid or comet struck the Earth near what is now Chicxulub, Mexico creating a crater 150 kilometers in diameter. Huge tsunamis that rose hundreds of feet as they approached coastlines. Worse, firestorms swept the planet and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2021 at omenti
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Basketball is my first love, but the athleticism of beach volleyball is amazing. _____ Watching the men and women spike, block, and dive around a court that is almost impossible for two people to adequately cover makes one appreciate the elite level of athleticism necessary to be competitive on an... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2021 at omenti
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Some areas are built on foundations of fundamental principals that can be built upon. For example many of the world's religions have a form of the golden rule in their bedrock. Physics has a few of these cornerstones that are so deep they're considered beautiful and have become guides. I've... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2021 at omenti
minipost A friend complained about his new rice cooker. It's a very expensive model with programmable features and claimed to use "ai" for "perfectly cooked rice" every time. After a dozen or so attempts he called their help line and spent a half hour using their smartphone app that talked... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2021 at omenti
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Kip sent this lovely piece It's pretty funny, but then you remember some misconceptions you had became you didn't ask the right questions. When I was a kid we had to sing the Christmas carol Angels We Have heard on High. Apart from the line Gloria in excelsis Deo, it... Continue reading
Posted Dec 26, 2020 at omenti
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Today is Beethoven's 250th birthday. When I was fifteen my big Christmas present was a Norelco cassette tape player. Pre-recorded tapes were too expensive for me back then so I used its not so great microphone to record music from the family record player. My Dad had developed a taste... Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2020 at omenti
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By the end of the sixties mainframe computers were churning out reams of printout, film and television made reference to them complete with blinking lights, and a combination of great social and political upheaval and technological advancement gave a sense that no one could keep up. The time was right... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2020 at omenti
minipost The American Physical Society had a webinar on aerosol covid transmission. Jose Jimenez of the University of Colorado at Boulder is an aerosol physics expert. It’s not terribly technical, but the first 45 minutes is probably mostly for public health and medical types. Much is making the case for... Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2020 at omenti
A few weeks ago Om posted a piece on Apple's new laptop based on their M1 chip. It's one of those huge transitions that gives Apple a much higher starting point for desktop and laptop machines - machines that are still very important to many of us. They've been working... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2020 at omenti
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 Nov 27, 2020 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 Nov 25, 2020 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