Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Saturday, August 09, 2008

  saturday grabbag

I used to hope that when broadcast tv went dark, nobody would miss it. No such luck. The urge to sit back and let a preprogrammed world wash over you must be in humanity genetically or perhaps it started with long nights staring into a fire, imagining stories in the shadows.

One of the great mysteries of my household in Nicaragua is that periodically, the shower turns on, all by itself. We are not talking a drip here, we are talking about a full bore shower starting up, running for 3-20 minutes, then stopping. When I get there the valve is tightly shut; there's no sign of an invisible man in the shower, dirty or otherwise. I have no idea how much extra water pressure is required to push past the valve, I imagine it is a lot, yet I'm the only one in my building to report this, and there are no waterspouts on the street!?

If I fix it (adding a secondary valve) - will I blow up somebody else's plumbing? It would really suck if the overpressure wave took out someone's toilet. Not suck, actually, blow....

There are now 5 confirmed asteroids in an Apohele orbit, with 4 more possibles. The delta-v required to reach these is minimal. Atira is 2km in diameter. Nobody knows what it is made of... Perhaps it is the stuff of dreams. It's really hard to spot Apolheles from Earth, I'm surprised we've found as many as 9 so far.

Not technically in a Apohele orbit, but still close by, isCruithne which is a "Periodic inclusion planetoid".

I wish more people cared about fixing the ocean's decline. Here's a great piece about that in Mother Jones.

I'm still waiting for solar cycle 24 to kick in. In catching up on two of the skeptical-to-AGW sites I track - Watt's up with that, and Solar Science I spotted a familiar name - Joan Feynman - a notable scientist. She came up with a reliable way to predict sunspots (but that web page lacks a cite - I'd like to know what it was - still looking) She started her career in solar physics, was one of the first to describe the magnetosphere and what caused auroras, and her take on the global warming investigation is that it is Great Fun.

I wish more people could take matters of great import less seriously. The Feynmans get it right.

Her son tells a wonderful story on the trials and joys of growing up in her household. Imagine having a mom that knows how to create small explosives for her boy - cool!

I'm more of an engineer than a scientist, so the pleasure of finding things out (great video) is often subverted by the pleasure in blowing things up - maybe I will have to add that secondary valve to my shower this week....

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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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