seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy

Science & Technology

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


In the past 2 months, I went from owning 0 mp3 personal audio devices to having 2. I have since become hooked on podcasts. Podcasts are basically radio shows, often produced by people for free distribution. You can actually listen to these without an iPod or other mp3 player - just by downloading it to your computer.

Personally, I love listening to them while heading to work (or while at work) and on the way home. I have never really liked reading on the bus - I prefer people watching and staring out the window. Thus, this works out perfectly for me.

I have been listening to the following podcasts.

TWIT - This week in Tech - The first podcast I subscribed to. Leo Laporte hosts many podcasts, but this is my favorite one. A weekly one hour show (often running long), it features long-time computer columnists John Dvorak who is much funnier to listen to and to read.

The page also features several other podcasts I follow religiously. Inside the Net with Amber MacArthur follows trends on the net and interesting sites. Security Now! with Steve Gibson tends to be technical security subjects (like everything you need to know about NAT routers) presented in an accessible way for people who are afraid of computers. FLOSS Weekly covers open source news each week and offers interesting interviews. The Daily Giz Wiz is a short daily podcast which is hit or miss depending on the gizmo they are discussing. Finally, KFI Tech Guy is Leo's Fox News tech guy show in California. It features responses to radio listeners' questions.

IT-Conversations regularly puts up assorted interviews and speeches related to IT.

NPR offers a weekly Technology podcasts which cover the most interesting stories of the past week. Science Friday is offered as a podcast as well. I haven't listened to it yet, but I hear the Diane Rehm's podcast is quite fun also. It is on my iPod but I haven't listened to it yet.

Currently, all my energy podcasting needs are being met by the Watt - a weekly show. I have justed ordered a headset and may actually appear here and there as a panelist on future episodes.

I just discovered two additional podcasts which I will likely listen to regularly as well. EFF - the online ACLU - is new to podcasting but should be good.

Finally, I have blogged about T.D. Mischke previously but I just found his radio show is available via podcast as well. I subscribed by searching in iTunes - I think the web site is infrequently updated.

You can find many more podcasts by searching in iTunes. Most have free subscriptions. I have not yet waded into the "adult" podcasts but I think there are several that have carried on in the tradition of such great sex columnists as Dan Savage and many who publish in college newspapers.

There is some great stuff out there - you just have to look.


Meet EBCD: the Emergency Boot CD. This is apparently a linux-based app which can be used to restore failed windows systems. The next time an automatic XP breaks my system, I'll have another tool to which to turn. This is apparently an incredibly powerful tool - which can be used to reset passwords to the operating system if you forget them - that can come in quite handy. I learned about it from one of Leo Laporte's great tech podcasts. This tip was from the KFI Tech Guy show.


This was posted earlier in the week on Energista

Obviously, batteries are a major issue in energy issues. Hybrids are limited by their batteries and weight issues and recharging. This could all change with new batteries. I think this is a continuation of the story I brought up months ago about the new nanotube batteries.

A story on Sciencentral explores nanotube enhanced capacitors.

But capacitors contain energy as an electric field of charged particles created by two metal electrodes. Capacitors charge faster and last longer than normal batteries. The problem is that storage capacity is proportional to the surface area of the battery's electrodes, so even today's most powerful capacitors hold 25 times less energy than similarly sized standard chemical batteries.

The researchers solved this by covering the electrodes with millions of tiny filaments called nanotubes. Each nanotube is 30,000 times thinner than a human hair. Similar to how a thick, fuzzy bath towel soaks up more water than a thin, flat bed sheet, the nanotube filaments on increase the surface area of the electrodes and allow the capacitor to store more energy. Schindall says this combines the strength of today's batteries with the longevity and speed of capacitors.

iPod Failure

I was having a problem with my iPod where there was a problem and I kept getting this "corrupt Temp file" message and I could not upload new songs. It said to run chkdsk but the windows chkdsk would never complete.

I found a solution here and wanted to log it so I would be able to find it if it happens again.

All you need to do is run ChkDsk from the command prompt with the iPod drive name and the /f switch. For example, my iPod appears in Windows explorer as drive K:

To fix go to Start, Run and type the following without the square brackets [chkdsk K: /f].

Friedman - "Quick Fix"

Thanks to sunshine, I tracked down Tom Friedman's column called "A Quick Fix for the Gas Addicts" and responded on Energista.

Heavy Oil

The Washington Post has a good story looking at the problems associated with mining heavy oil - one of the solutions to the supposed problems of peak oil is increasingly investing in this dirty, more energy intensive process to develop oil-based fuels.

As the article details, it comes at a heavy cost - all the more so because several years of high oil prices have justified massive investments up there. These massive investments are a sign that those in the industry do not expect oil prices to come down. If they expected oil prices to drop in the next 5-20 years, investing in unconventional sources would not be profitable as it takes nearly a decade from building infrastructure to actually selling the oil.

The digging -- into an area the size of Maryland and Virginia combined -- has proliferated at gold-rush speed, spurred by high oil prices, new technology and an unquenched U.S. thirst for the fuel. The expansion has presented ecological problems that experts thought they would have decades to resolve.

Tip of the hat to Energista for the post.

Prius History

If you are interseted in the history of the Prius and the business decisions that created it, check out my most recent post from Energista.

Brazil n Ethanol

I posted an item on Energista! about ethanol and Brazil.

It goes through some of the misconceptions about Brazil's ethanol program and makes some valid insights about lessons the U.S. must learn before wholly embracing ethanol.

Feynman on Education

Another insightful interview. Richard Feynman on his father and scientific education.


I recently created a new blog entitled Energista. This is a group project of people mostly from the Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy concentration at the Humphrey Institute. The focus is on energy issues. I hope people will be regularly posting interesting stuff.

V posted a link to an article about using hydrogen fuel cells in cars. While it doesn't deal too much with the many drawbacks to using hydrogen fuel cells in cars - something I still intend to tackle soon - it does analyze problems with introducing such vehicles.

One factor slowing the impact of any new vehicle technology -- whether advanced internal combustion engine, hybrid, or fuel cell -- is the average lifespan of a car, which is about 15 years, according to Heywood. Even as people buy cars with new technologies, old ones stay on the roads, continuing to burn fuel and emit carbon dioxide.

Also, as the example of hybrids shows, the market share of vehicles with radical new technologies increases only slowly, and it can take years before the new technology starts to appear in more than one vehicle in a manufacturer's fleet. Hybrids were first introduced, in the United States, in 1999, and still only account for about one percent of vehicle sales. The MIT researchers estimate that, even after a competitive hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle is available, it will take roughly 25 years for these vehicles to make up 35 percent of new car and light-truck sales. And it will be an additional 20 years or so before these cars replace 35 percent of traditional vehicles on the road.

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