January 14, 2017
SpaceX Launch And Landing This Morning
If you don't want to watch the whole thing, start it at 22:25 which may seem a bit early, but I think you'll find it entertaining. There's some great photography on this 100% successful mission that launched from Vandenburg. Cameras on the first stage give you a few glimpses of much of the coast of California (mostly clear everywhere, it seems) as it ascends. You also get to watch the perfect descent from the POV of the first stage. The second stage gets screen time too.
Maybe I've just missed it before, but the speedometer constantly displayed in the upper right is new to me. I notice that the speedometer and the altimeter both have red lines. What happens if it red lines? It's not going to throw a rod. Does it mean it's overreached and achieved escape velocity? Milky Way here we come?
December 6, 2016
Weather Channel tells Breitbart to cut the BS
What is it that right wingers don’t like about the facts supporting climate change? They seem to be okay with a round earth orbiting the sun, the proof for which is more abstract than the proof for climate change.
September 27, 2016
The Voyage To Mars Using Something Smaller Than A Saturn V
May 13, 2016
Vandalism At Devil's Hole
Devil's Hole is a non-contiguous part of Death Valley National Park over on the Nevada side. It's completely off limits to tourists as it is a home to the rare pupfish. It made the news (a little bit) in 2010 when it showed dramatic effects of the Mexicali earthquake hundreds of miles away.
On April 30 three men broke through the fence surrounding Devil's Hole by shooting off the locks. They then proceeded to vandalize the area and actually enter Devil's Hole itself.
One of the men waded and swam in Devils Hole, causing potentially significant disruption to their habitat. The shallow underwater shelf is vital to the Devils Hole pupfish’s survival, providing algae and invertebrates for food and a spawning surface. Video footage recorded this man walking on the shallow shelf, potentially stressing and crushing pupfish, which are slow-moving, docile, and as they have no natural predators, curious by nature. April through May is the peak spawning season for this annual fish, and so the intruder likely crushed and destroyed eggs on the shelf. Many peer-reviewed reports, published scientific studies, as well as a Supreme Court case (Cappaert v. United States 1976) have identified the integrity of the shallow shelf ecosystem as critical to the survival of the Devils Hole pupfish. Any impact to the habitat of this critically endangered species is a concern.
A map of Devil's Hole:
UPDATE: The vandals have been identified, but not apprehended yet, I think.
May 4, 2016
UP Aerospace Inc.attached a lot of GoPros to a rocket they launched last November. One camera is on one of the stages jettisoned from the main rocket. This allowed them to catch clear images of the rest of the rocket just sitting there in space like a 1950s science fiction magazine. Here’s the video.
April 23, 2016
Seeing Clearly Underwater
Here's an article about the children in a Thailand tribe who can see clearly while swimming underwater. The researchers ruled out genetics and have determined that the children learn to voluntarily contract their pupils to their smallest size and change the shape of their lenses. A group of Swedish children learned to do it in one month. The ability disappears in adults.
March 7, 2016
Excavating A Wasp Nest
Pretty interesting, no magic about it. You just have to have a protective suit on that you rely on completely.
March 6, 2016
"you won’t be building a quantum computer and putting it on your desktop anytime soon"
Why does that sound like one of those quotes we'll all be knowingly chuckling over 20 years from now? MIT builds a 5-atom quantum computer. And, oh yeah, the University of Innsbruck in Austria helped.
I predict that with a few more atoms the computer will become self-aware and design quantum computers that anyone can build on his or her own desktop.
February 17, 2016
Drives Right Into A Funnel Cloud
The driver said he didn't see it. You can skip the first 1:15, unless you like sitting in stopped traffic. Florida.
February 2, 2016
Southern California Geology
Brand new: "Roadside Geology of Southern California." And only $22.
Since Mountain Press started the Roadside Geology series forty years ago, southern Californians have been waiting for an RG of their own. During those four decades which were punctuated by jarring earthquakes and landslides geologists continued to unravel the complexity of the Golden State, where some of the most dramatic and diverse geology in the world erupts, crashes, and collides. With dazzling color maps, diagrams, and photographs, Roadside Geology of Southern California takes advantage of this newfound knowledge, combining the latest science with accessible stories about the rocks and landscapes visible from winding two-lane byways as well as from the region s vast network of highways.
Join Arthur Sylvester, an award-winning UC Santa Barbara geologist, and Elizabeth O Black Gans, a geologist-illustrator, as they motor through mountains and deserts to explore the iconic features of the SoCal landscape, from boulder piles in Joshua Tree National Park and brilliant white dunes in the Channel Islands to tar seeps along the rugged coast and youthful cinder cones in the Mojave Desert. Whether you want to find precious gemstones, ponder the mysteries of the Salton Sea, or straddle the boundary between the North American and Pacific Plates, be sure to bring this book along as your tour guide.
January 13, 2016
Lithium & Water
I had a vague recollection about lithium reacting with water to create a potentially dangerous situation, like this:
And that's what I thought of when I watched this video about the unfortunate situation of being the owner of a brand new hoverboard. But I guess sometimes nothing happens.
Notice when he opens the box at the beginning, the packing material is cracked on the right end. Is that an indication this was dropped on that end?
Historic SpaceX Launch and Landing
SpaceX staff is exuberant over the successful controlled return and landing of the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket last month. This particular video was released just a few days ago.
Fun with expanding foam
December 9, 2015
Possible Aerial Display Thursday Morning
Tomorrow, Thursday morning, between 5:30 AM and 6:30 AM (Pacific time) the Army will launch a missile in New Mexico. It will travel 215 miles to the White Sands Missile Range. It will leave a contrail that, depending on how the morning sun strikes it, may appear quite unusual. It's possible it may even be visible from the Palm Springs area. The contrail may hang in the atmosphere for about 45 minutes.
November 6, 2015
Two Reasons For Decline Of Canadian Bees
- "One reason is that they are imported from locations with warmer climates."
- "Another reason is they are not used to Canadian cold weather."
Uh, aren't those kinda sorta the same reason? "Another is that when they froze solid they would not fly."
October 6, 2015
Project Apollo Archive
Possibly Visible Rocket Launch Thursday (Oct. 8) Morning
This comes from Launch Alert:
The launch time for Thursday morning's Atlas V launch from Vandenberg AFB is 05:49 PDT. Following liftoff, the Atlas will rise vertically for several seconds and then probably begin a gradual turn towards the south.
The announced launch time is several minutes before the start of morning twilight at Vandenberg. If the rocket makes a gradual climb into orbit, the powered phase of the launch will probably end before the Atlas climbs into sunlight. In this case, the Atlas will resemble a moving orange or white light.
However, if the rocket makes a steep climb into orbit, the Atlas initially will resemble a moving orange or white light. The rocket may then climb high enough during the powered phase of the launch for the exhaust plume to catch the Sun's rays, creating a weak Twilight Effect.
Regardless of the angle of the rocket's climb, the event could be visible to the naked eye for a few hundred miles.
The probability of acceptable weather at launch time is 70%.
Webcasts of the launch should be available from the following web sites:
For information about viewing Vandenberg AFB launches, go to:
For information about photographing Vandenberg launches, go to:
August 2, 2015
What Is This Thing?
Divers found a 4-meter diameter ball of something floating at a depth of 22 meters. It appeared almost invisible.
What is that mass? Answer is in the comments below.
July 16, 2015
Here's A Way To Look At It
Yes, the whole New Horizons mission that just went past Pluto cost $720 million, but that's less than the cost of one NFL stadium. Examples:
- New Minnesota Vikings stadium: $1 billion.
- MetLife Stadium: $1.6 billion.
- Tokoyo's 2020 Olympic arena: $2 billion.
The article also points out that the cost of the space mission works out to 24¢/mile.
May 29, 2015
MIT Robot Autonomously Jumps Over Barriers While Running
They call it a "cheetah," but look at it. It's a goat or a sheep. It's got hooves even! I think those MIT brains need to take a break and visit a zoo.