Archive for February, 2010

Timely Reminder

I migrated to the newer Microsoft Office Suite last fall, and it not only did not go particularly well (many things that should have been imported from the old version did not migrate), it’s still haunting me.

I discovered that a monthly task reminder had not “fired” — too late to help me, of course. Here’s what I found when I checked the task

88mph

It imported task with a new reminder date of late December — that part’s fine; it would run again each month — but somehow it decided that pushing it off by more than a hundred years was a good idea.

I hate the evil empire.

Say Cheese

Caleb Charland photos

Science-y effects and interesting takes on science demonstrations.

Taking it to the Next Level

If the Möbius bagel wasn’t enough, here’s an animation of how to cut a toroid into four linked pieces: Tetrabagelectomy

Update: Now there’s the octobagel

Sun Dog Beat Down

Atlas V launch earlier this month. The rocket goes supersonic as it passes through the cloud layer that was prettily refracting light from the sun (a sun dog), with the shock wave visible in the clouds and disrupting the effect. The fun starts at about 1:50, and is replayed a few times after that.

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Making Quite an Impression

Lock picking with advanced foil impressioning

All you need to do now is put some turning pressure on the key and make small ‘up and down’ movements. The pins that are not in the correct position will bind and become stuck in the lock. These pins will push the tape in a little when the key is pushed upwards, and in the next round of ‘turning and rocking the key up and down’ these binding pins will keep pushing in the tape deeper and deeper until shear line is reached. The interesting thing is that once a pin reaches the ’shear line’ (opening position), it is no longer stuck and will not push in the tape deeper. The key will fit itself …

Feel the Burn, Baby

Pictured: Incredible gravity-defying ant that can carry 100 times its body weight

The photo shows an Asian weaver ant hanging upside down on a glass-like surface and holding a 500mg weight in its jaws. It was captured by Dr Thomas Endlein of Zoology department at the University of Cambridge who was investigating the sticky feet of ants and other insects.

No mention of results of any steroids testing on the ant.

Hair Care at the Olympics

Not that I need any help in that area.

I’ve been watching the curling televised in the afternoons this past week, and I have to apologize to the US teams — as soon as I tuned in, you tanked. Choked. Collapsed. Obviously, I’m bad luck and it’s all my fault. But I still enjoy watching; I was first exposed to the sport when I lived in Canada (though I knew people who curled when I was growing up; there was/is a curling rink right in the middle of Niskayuna)

Ran across this set of animations. The Physics of Curling

And obviously, you need to analyze the sweeping, too.

The claim is that the sweeping warms, but does not melt, the ice. However, there’s always some liquid on the surface, and temperature measurements don’t tell you everything, because pressure matters, too. But take all of that video with a grain of salt, because

Jenkyn’s full results are being kept secret until June 2010, revealed only to Canada’s Olympic athletes, coaches and officials.

“We’re sworn to secrecy,” he said.

It could all be a smokescreen to sabotage other teams. Maybe I’m off the hook.

Update: The men won last night. It’s not me.

Pharaoh's Snake — Very Dangerous. You Go First.

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Mercury(II) thiocyanate decomposition is initiated by heating.

See the Music

Record grooves under an electron microscope

It has CD pips, too, for those of you too young to remember what a “record” is.

But if you put a needle in the groove and moved them relative to each other, the needle would wiggle back and forth. Use a transducer to convert it to an electrical signal, amplify it and send it to a speaker (which would essentially do the reverse). The groove is a composite of all the waveforms of the song, added together.

Mr. Smith Doesn't Go to Utah

13-year-old helps save daylight saving in Utah

I know this is supposed to be an uplifting story of how clever a teenager is, in a sort of afterschool special kinda way, but I’m more cynical than that. I see it as a bunch of blowhard politicians happily debating something they do not understand, have made no effort to understand, but are willing to make a decision about anyway, despite the fact that by not understanding the issue you have no hope of recognizing the ramifications of your decision. All this despite the fact that a teenager can understand and explain the concept, so it really wouldn’t have been all that difficult to have a staffer spend a few minutes Googling the information and summarizing it for you.

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