seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy

Science & Technology

Thoughts on science, technology, energy, and policy intersecting these spheres.

Google Earth

Google Earth is one heckuva parlor party app. Last night, Kim, Steff, Nicole, Gabe, and I hung out in Kim's apt having a really good time chatting it up and occasionally looking up stuff on Google Earth. Found Gabe's house in Kenosha and his current apt in Minneapolis (possibly in Uptown, we never did decide).

If you haven't tried it yet, download it and give it a shot. It is basically a 3d model of cities and terrains using satellite photos. Clarity in some areas is amazing. The zooming in and out is quite cool too. It's more fun if you ignore how scary it is to contemplate what the military satellites can do.

I'm hoping the rendering will become faster over time as the servers are not burdened by millions of people trying it out because it is brand new (like me).

Deep Impact

Come July 4, the eyes of science geeks will be trained on the sky - looking for something beyond the fireworks. July 4 is the date picked for NASA probe "Deep Impact" (who says geeks don't follow pop culture) to collide with a comet, hopefully giving scientists greater insights into the nature of comets.

During its final moments, the impactor will take the closet images of comet's surface ever. The kinetic energy that will be released by the collision is estimated to be the equivalent of nearly 5 tons of TNT. However, this will only change the comet's velocity by about 0.0001 millimeters per second (0.014 inches per hour). The collision will not appreciably modify the orbital path of Tempel 1, which poses no threat to Earth now or in the foreseeable future.

The resulting collision between comet and impactor will likely punch a crater, anywhere from the size of a Sport Utility Vehicle to a football stadium, into the comet's nucleus. Before, during and after impact, the flyby spacecraft wil be observing events from a safe distance, imaging the crater formation and resulting ejecta. The flyby will then turn away to protect itself from possible damage from the ejecta.

Space Glass?

From slashdot, an article suggesting making glass in space could bring about stronger, more transparent glass - because it can be made without a container to give it shape. Interesting.

Neal Stephenson on Star Wars

Writing an oped in the NYT, Neal discusses the recent Star Wars movie. It further opened my eyes to how bad that movie was - but for reasons different than Adam's continuous lamentations about the writing, acting, and directing.

Xcel Energy

I was looking at my electricity bill and examining the pamphlets they throw in the envelope when I came upon the Saver's Switch Program. Xcel offers this program to people who live in a house (we apt dwellers don't get to participate) and allow Xcel to install a switch on the unit which allows Xcel to control the cycles on peak energy days. I assume this is prevent the problems that occur when many units decide to turn themselves at the same time on a hot day.

In return for enrolling in this program, Xcel knocks 15% off your summer energy bills. It seems like a fairly good deal.

Syndicate content