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Archive for the 'Pollution' Category

The election is (nearly) over!

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Thank goodness the election is hopefully over tomorrow. I’m weary of going to get the mail and feeling like my mailbox is shouting at me mostly about things like rape (I live in Indiana). I don’t actually believe people ever vote based on ideas or ever change their minds. I believe as this article points out Republicans and Democrats have inherent differences in their brains.

I tend to avoid writing about politics directly but as some of you know, I do believe changing the composition of the atmosphere by filling it with greenhouse gasses is a dangerous experiment. There is certainty no doubt  the oceans are becoming more acidic, sea levels are rising, and the weather is doing some crazy things. We didn’t experience the kind of destruction Sandy did on the northeast but after about 86 days with only a trace of rain the summer, you just have to wonder how could anyone take the risk of making the drought or the megastorm worse.

In Indiana, hurricanes are not a problem. Actually the reverse is true because since Katrina the remnants of hurricanes are about the only time we get rain in the summer. We get tornadoes and by the time one is near you, you don’t evacuate, you cower in the basement. I often wonder about people who choose to ride out hurricanes. I always figured there are a few people like the character Burt Gummer in the movie Tremors, or maybe they live in houses like these. According to this article it’s actually pretty much what you think. They have no money and no where to go.

I guess I always wanted to live on the beach but I doubt rising sea levels will really personally affect me.  Even if they rise a lot faster than people are predicting. You wonder if the hole in the ozone had happened today if the world would have united as they did then to solve the problem. Or if we would have had a million lobbyists suggesting it was some sort of science conspiracy and more studies needed to be done before action was taken. It’s shame by the time anyone really does anything about it, it will be too late due to run away effects like this.

OK I’m off on a negative rant. Here are some cool snowflake pictures.

And finally, something to make you say awww

HDTV

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

I’m sure if we had waited, the price of a new HD set would have continued to fall but I was tired of squinting at my old Sony monitor. We don’t really have much HD material to watch, just the local stations. This weekend we finally broke down and purchased a 40″ Toshiba HDTV. I had read a number of bad reviews from people who bought a set online only to find the picture quality was disappointing. I wanted to see the set in the store. With an instant manufacturer’s rebate of $100 we ended up spending $750 on it at the local Costco. That is just about what we paid for our first 32″ television many years ago.  I would have gone with a 32″ but they didn’t have many to choose from. It seems huge. I usually write on my smaller computer which had a 19″ LCD display set at 800 x 600. At that resolution, it’s pretty readable but the web has gone wide screen and I found myself scrolling around more and more to see what is out there. My larger machine where I do most of my art had the same size monitor. I usually ran it at 1024 x 768 but it was a CRT and over the years it seemed to get fuzzier. Maybe it’s my eyes. A lot of the tools I use required scrolling through a bunch of icons. Now I’m running at 1360 x 768. The text is large and clear and I can see all my icons without scrolling and my menus are out of the way in my workspace.

One feature some of the new sets have is the 120 Hz refresh rate. I was afraid at 60 Hz this set would flicker when using it as a monitor but it looks good. It is barely noticeably darker in the corners. I had to put the cursor in the corner and point it out for my wife to see it. It does draw a lot more power than the small screen. Last night the power went out and I hooked it up to my battery/inverter. It was drawing 100 watts. Luckily the power wasn’t out for long. I guess I was surprised to realize how many digital channels were out there since I didn’t have a tuner capable of picking them up before. Since a lot of the web uses white backgrounds it can be a little too bright at night.

Speaking of the web, how long before you speak to it and it speaks back? That is one of the things IBM predicts will happen in the next five years. We recently learned an old friend is losing the use of her arms and hands. I was googling voice recognition software and I wondered if it really has improved much.

I played with this tool which allows you to choose colors and then it finds pictures on Flickr that use those colors. I’m not sure how useful it is but it was kind of interesting for a few minutes.

This was cool. I have seen this done before but on a much smaller scale. It’s a video of a fountain with strobe lights where the water appears to be suspended in air or moving backwards.

This is one of those pictures that looks just awesome on my new monitor. It’s a shot of Crater Lake in Oregon with the clouds moving in.

Of course everything looks better on here including this cute cat picture.

This is a collection of wild cat pictures.

Time magazine choose the eight new natural wonders. Too bad the images aren’t larger.

Here are 100 underwater hi-res images.

Also, these images could be larger but they are spectacular solar and lunar eclipse pictures.

I thought this concept of chalk shadows was pretty creative.

I’ve read about this strange creature recently, but this is one of the better sets of pictures of a Raz. That thing is so odd looking!

Now for some odd mice, the computer kind that is.

When Neil Young was young; Sugar Mountain — Live At Canterbury House 1968 is being released today but you can listen to the entire album at NPR.

Christmas and holiday cards for geeks are really geeky. Let me explain that first one for you. In hexadecimal a single digit can have 16 values. That means zero through nine then they start using letters so F is fifteen. In two digit hex the largest number is FF or 255 in decimal. Since colors are described in the amount of the primary colors red, green, and blue FFFFFF is white. The # sign is normally used to indicate the number is in hexadecimal. Hence may all your Christmas be #FFFFFF.

I have linked to some of these liquid magnetic sculpture videos before. This one has some cool towers.

I first ran across the storm cloud image in this collection and then realized there were lots of other nice images there as well. Here is the top level of Neil Paskin’s galleries.

My wife doesn’t care much for blond jokes but I thought this keyboard for blonds was pretty creative.

Turritopsis nutricula is an immortal jellyfish.

Here is another large panoramic image; this one is of Melbourne at night.

I have to say I agree with this guy. The amount of money being thrown at banking bailouts is so huge, solving the climate problems or ending poverty is small change in comparison. To try to stay positive here are a couple interesting articles. This one is about how financing can make solar cost effective. This one is about a new generator that can make use of slow currents for generating electricity.

The song If I only had a brain was stuck in my head after seeing this.

And finally, I didn’t even know red pandas existed. They sure are cute!

Meteor

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

This spectacular footage from a police car dash camera is a meteor over Edmonton, Canada.

Something about all those legs makes centipedes really creepy. I had no idea they grow as big as 13 inches. At the end of this video, one catches a bat out of the air.

I liked this picture of a puppy sleeping under a gun in Iraq.

This is a pretty strange fish story about a giant cat fish who tried to swallow a basketball.

I have heard about most of these people with extraordinary abilities. Most of the ones I hadn’t heard about seem plausible except for Magnetic Man.

Here is an extraordinary ability. Watch this guy stack 20 bricks on his head and then carry them off that way.

We actually did pretty well on this turkey trivia quiz. We don’t really know much about turkeys but we had a lot of lucky guesses.

I didn’t make it all the way through this list of programmer jokes. Some of them are really bad and some you have to be a programmer to get, but there were a few good ones mixed in.

This story deals with a subject of a sexual nature. I just found it so funny. I thought I’d throw the title out there and let you decided whether to click or not. Morally Repressed Mattel Pulls “Vibrating” Harry Potter Broomstick

I thought this image editing trick was a pretty original idea.

Speaking of image manipulation, I’ve seen a number of these images before. Some could be real.

On a more artistic note, here are some sci-fi fantasy landscapes. My Russian is non-existent but I believe the artist may be Inga Nielsen.

Here is another collection of painted and rendered artwork from 18 different artists. If you are at work, there is some artistic nudity in that one.

In the following video George Smoot talks about the structure of the universe. When ever I see stuff like that I’m always awestruck by the sheer size. Every person on earth could own lots of galaxies each containing 100 billion stars but we won’t even get to explore them.

It’s strange how an extremely simple video can be so intriguing when it’s ultra slow motion.

This is another example of using an ink-jet type technology in medical science. In this case they are constructing custom made bones within hours!

On a more depressing note, it turns out the oceans are turning to acid much faster than anyone thought they would.

This article on making motor oil from cows manages to combine environmentalism with a sort of “ick” factor.

Sometime back, I published a picture of my cat Amy being silly in a punch bowl. Here are two cats getting into the same jar.

And finally, speaking of cats in strange places, this collection includes both cute ones and ones that seem like they would be dangerous places for the cats to be.

Trick Or Treat

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

We used to have over 120 kids come to our door on Halloween. That was years ago. Now I think there are a lot less young kids in town and most of go to the new subdivision. I suppose it’s a lot safer to walk around there. I remember we used to cover a fair amount of ground in the town I grew up in, but we never treated Halloween like this. That’s a business plan!

I saw a picture of a large bottle of soda held up by a tiny piece of tape inspired by gecko feet lately but I didn’t bookmark it and couldn’t find it. People keep mentioning being able to play Spiderman with it but I can just imagine all the practical jokes it might be used for. Here are ten innovations inspired by nature including that one.

This is just funny. It’s so small I’m surprised anyone noticed.

I normally carry a lighter when I’m camping. After watching Bear Grylls use flint and steel on Man vs Wild though it looks remarkably effective. It’s difficult enough to get far enough into the wilderness in Indiana to not be within walking distance of a restaurant. I suppose if I was in a survival situation somewhere where I didn’t know a lot of the plants I would take this guys advice. Around here there are numerous edibles in the wild. There are few I would choose to eat though. Spring beauty and sumac lemonade are quite tasty, as are the morel mushrooms that grow around here.

I’ve heard golden orb weaver spiders are big but I didn’t realize they ate birds. Also speaking of spiders, I’m glad humans  don’t eat their mates.

One of these days carbon dioxide may be considered too valuable to throw away.

Strangely enough, if you use scotch tape in a vacuum it emits X-rays.

For some reason I don’t think this picture of a lion and a zebra is as ‘touching’ as it seems.

Don’t panic but in 1.1 million years we are all going to die, unless we move.

Check out the world’s most relaxing room.

And finally, what is cuter than zoo babies?

Paint Ball Ink Jet Printer

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Years ago it occurred to me you could make an ink jet printer out of a paint ball gun. Sure, the pixels would be big but if you had a large enough canvas, say the side of a barn, it would work. Well it was just one of those ideas I never got around to pursuing because well, it’s not very practical. What would you do with it? Thank goodness the guys at Mythbusters don’t need a practical reason to do something. They built a printer that not only makes a picture using paint balls, but fires all the balls off at the same time. Check out the video. The really cool stuff starts about half way through.

Speaking of the impractical, even if I’d thought of this one, I never would suspect enough people would buy it to make a successful product. It’s an aquarium toilet. I think you might hesitate to flush if you saw this.

This is one of those things you read and just wonder about the government. They point out in the article, most beef in the U.S. is too young to test for Mad Cow disease but what is the harm in testing?

Refrigeration is a very old and not-too-efficient technology. This article is about a plastic that could cool things using an electric field. They mention computer electronics and refrigeration but can you imagine if you could make clothing or a tent out the stuff?

The sun has been acting kind of strange lately. Last month it was spotless. According to this article, it was the first time in either 50 or 100 years. When it has happened in the past, it was followed by a period of global cooling. I’ve mentioned before in this blog whether you believe in global warming or not, pumping large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere has all kinds of repercussions including acidifying the oceans. If we are about to enter a cold phase, maybe it will give us some time to get our act together. On the other hand, it really doesn’t look like we are cooling off. For the first time in human history it is now possible to sail all the way around the Arctic. Also look at this data for the temperature of the last decade.

Speaking of the sun, check out these pictures of a nice sun dog, and a break in the clouds.

And finally, I have a couple of funny animal pictures for you. I got a chuckle out of this one, but this one is even better.

Beam It Down, Scotty

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

How to harvest solar power? Beam it down from space. This idea has been kicked around for a long time. Seeing as though the sun shines 24/7 up there, it eliminates the need for storing the power at night, but at a big cost. I could see the military being interested in such a system because they could deploy it anywhere.

Speaking of the military, Thomas Barnett talks about how we need to change it. He uses some adult language in this TED talk so be warned. Basically he says we need a huge number of system administrators, initially as part of the military but eventually an international organization made up mostly of civilians. These people would take over after the military has done its job. Expecting the 19 year old kids to do both rolls in Iraq was unrealistic.

Check out this solar powered speed boat, for only 1.1 million dollars.

Magnetic fields are invisible, but in these pictures and video scientist use computer graphics to visualize them.

Buy one house and get one free? Unfortunately the first one starts at 1.6 million dollars.

Here is a strange story about stones that grow themselves.

I’ve seen water purifiers that remove a lot of things but this one has pores so small it removes all viruses.

This is kind of fun. Move your mouse and click around on the screen and the software produces kaleidoscope type animations. You can also click the little widgets and see what happens.

Here are some pictures of ecologically friendly house designs. I’ve linked to the one tree house before. I think the really striking thing is the lack of straight lines. It would be so different to live in something that has an organic shape to it.

I liked this photo of a horse shaking off dust.

Here is an interactive map of carbon emissions across the United States. My state is one of the worst.

And finally, check out these cute little pigs.

More 3D

Monday, May 26th, 2008

For those of you who can see 3D images using the cross-view technique here is a site that has some nice ones. I thought the light painting one was interesting. I’ve always wanted to shoot a 3D lightning picture, but it would be challenging (not to mention dangerous). If you want to learn to cross view, there is also a tutorial link there or you can read mine.

I’ve been writing about exoskeletons lately, here’s an exoskeleton motorcycle.

Years back Pons and Fleischmann announced they had achieved fusion at room temperature. The trouble was they hadn’t. There are few technologies which could have such an enormous impact on the world. Now a Japanese researcher has made the same claim. We’ll see.

The Forkinswift is an electric car built from used forklift parts (electric motor, etc.), used golf cart batteries (and a golf cart PWM motor controller) and a pair of near-dead “host” cars.

Turns out one of the things killing coral around the world is sunscreen. I watched Man vs Wild on Friday and ironically he used goo from a coral as sunscreen.

120 square feet of living space for $1500? I don’t really consider a bathroom and kitchen optional, but I suppose you could join a bunch of them together.

Speaking of bathrooms, check out the view from this one.

Here are tips for Green lawn care. As i get older I’m thinking the just get rid of the grass option is maybe the best. I keep wondering why I grow the stuff. I can’t eat it and it’s a pain to take care of.

I was reading about all the new lakes created from landslides as a result of the Chinese earthquake. Here is a series of satellite images showing one forming.

Here are some funny pictures made from food. I like the watermelon one the best.

Optimus Prime from the Transformers movie sculpted out of junk sounded kind of lame but after I clicked on it, I was impressed.

And finally, you know I always finish with a cute animal shot.

Seeing from London to New York

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Anyone for nano football? There would only be one good seat for watching robots smaller than a grain of salt face off in competition, in front of the microscope.

Speaking of robots, I found some video of the hopping robot I mentioned the other day.

This is really strange. An artist created a “Telectroscope” between London and New York. People can look through it and see people on the other side. I can think of a number of ways it could be done, but a tunnel isn’t one of them.

Here are six ‘uniquely’ human traits now found in animals. I thought the morality one was interesting.

I have said before I’m surprised there aren’t any beneficial viruses because it would make sense for a virus to protect the host therefore protecting itself. Now Asian researchers have created a self assembling artificial virus they intend to use for good causes.

I wrote about one of these before, but here is a list of color changing products.

My guess is aliens wouldn’t use radio to communicate for a lot of reasons. Here is an article suggesting they might use neutrinos.

This article points out the acid currents upwelling on the Pacific coast are from excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from fifty years ago. It’s only going to get worse.

Here are 13 of the best places to see the Northern Lights.

Check out these elaborate pieces of art created using eggs.

The surrealistic artwork of Jim Warren.

And finally, I got a chuckle out of this image of modest cats sunbathing.

Going Way Too Fast

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Jet-Powered Bicycle Makes 50 MPH Feel Waaaaay Too Fast

When I was 15 I rode my bicycle from Ohio to Maine. It was with an organized group. We had a truck carrying our personal gear and cooking our meals. We rode about 100 miles a day. I remember feeling like I just couldn’t eat enough. Outside of Battleborough Vermont, we spent most of a morning working our way up a mountain. When we reached the top, we went down in pairs. I think terminal velocity on a bicycle is somewhere in the upper 50 mph range. By going down in pairs though, you can get in the slipstream of your partner. By leap-frogging each other you can get near 60 mph. It was about 9 miles as I recall and I remember passing cars. I also remember getting the feeling I was on a fragile machine that probably wasn’t designed to go that fast. It was quite a thrill!

Here is an interview with a blind skateboarder.

I almost didn’t check out this link because I thought I had already seen it, but this is a different climbing robot. Amazingly enough, this one clings to the wall using electrostatic force.

Here is a grasshopper sized hopping robot.

This is a story about a guy who built his own electric car which costs him $7 dollars for every 300 miles he drives.

I’m always finding those really useful bits of information for my readers. Here are 9 ways to open a beer bottle without an opener.

Here is the best picture of a dandelion I have ever seen.

These pictures of Mars are so stunning; some of them look computer generated.

I never realized one of the reasons there is no cure for the common cold was because there was no animal model to test drugs on. It turns out a smallpox drug might do the trick.

I’m not sure if this is the same process I wrote about before or it’s a new cheap way to capture carbon emissions from smokestacks. Solar energy technology is advancing rapidly but in the meantime, China is building a new coal fired plant every week.

Next time you tell a bad joke at the office, finish it with this instant rimshot.

Here is a list of 30 web-based image editing applications.

And finally, check out this cute video of a whistling puppy.

The Chinese Earthquake

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Here are some wedding photos taken during that Chinese earthquake. I thought the one of the church with the large cracks in it was especially striking. Here is a 360 degree view of earthquake damage. Click and drag your mouse to look around. They are probably not related to the earthquake but here is a video of strange rainbow clouds taken 30 minutes before the quake.

Borneo is home to a lot of things that fly or glide. I had heard of most of these, I think, but not the flying frogs.

I wrote about anti-bacterial soap the other day. This article points out the chemicals they use cause problems in the environment, and they stick around forever.

“The irony is that these compounds have no measurable benefit over the use of regular soap and water for hand washing; the contact time simply is too short.” Unfortunately this cannot be said for the bottom-dwelling organisms in the sampling locations on the East Coast. “Here,” Halden concludes, “the affected organisms are experiencing multi-generational, life-time exposures to our chemical follies.”

Speaking of bacteria, did you know you could make a computer out of them?

Your last flu shot? Walter Fiers attempts to create a universal vaccine against the flu.

Here is a video of a table which gets larger or smaller in a completely novel way.

In this TED Talks video Microsoft shows off SeaDragon which is software that allows you to view immense amount of visual information. Then they talk about Photosynth which can knit together a bunch of shots taken at different angles and spatially arrange them into a 3D object.

And finally, check out this funny photo of a smiling cat.