Archive for March, 2011

3-D Pong

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This is not human-piloted …

The vehicles/ball are tracked by an overhead motion capture system and controlled by a pair of computers.

Before TMI meant TMI

TMI: Fear, Fukushima and Facts

A critique of the xkcd radiation dose chart I linked to, with some more details and caveats, some of which I recognize as true from by background (but wasn’t going to post on my own because it’s too far away from my areas of competence). Randall’s shortcoming is the mixing of chronic and acute exposure doses (long-term and short-term), which are not equivalent, i.e. a dose spread out over a period of time (e.g. months) does not have the same biological effect of the same dose that happens in a period of minutes or hours or days. Giving the body a chance to repair itself matters.

via fine structure

All Hail the Slo-Mo Camera

Hail storm in Sacramento at 240 fps

Tough Love

American workers got what they deserved

To make matters worse, you’re again being played for a chump. The same puppets who did nothing while your standard of living decreased are now using the oldest gimmick in the book — jealousy — to continue their assault on American workers. Rather than protect Americans’ jobs, they deflect your attention through jealousy.

“Cut the pay of government workers,” they cry. “Increase their health premiums. Decrease their pensions. Break their unions. After all, you’ve suffered so they should suffer too.” And in your misery, you buy their argument while more jobs head oversees. Pretty stupid, eh?

Radioactive Data Part II

My analysis of beta counts in California was from some simple EPA data. Here is a more detailed analysis of samples from Seattle: Fission Products in Seattle Reveal Clues about Japan Nuclear Disaster

By measuring the energy of the gamma rays from the filters, these guys have identified exactly which fission products have made their way across the Pacific. And this in turn allows them to make a number of interesting inferences about what has gone wrong at Fukushima.

[T]here are a huge number of possible breakdown products from nuclear fission in a reactor and yet the Seattle team found evidence of only three fission product elements–iodine, cesium and tellurium. “This points to a specifific process of release into the atmosphere,” they say.

Cesium Iodide is highly soluble in water. So these guys speculate that what they’re seeing is the result of contaminated steam being released into the atmosphere. “Chernobyl debris, conversely, showed a much broader spectrum of elements, reflecting the direct dispersal of active fuel elements,” they say.

However, this comes from an analysis of just the first five days after the fission products were detected (data collected on Mar 17-18), so it does not reflect more recent events.

When is a Fact not a Fact?

Having a hard time reconciling the title, Countering Radiation Fears With Just the Facts, with this quote:

He believes that even low doses increase the risk of cancer, and that there is no “safe” level or threshold below which the risk does not rise — even if that risk cannot be measured statistically.

If you can’t measure it and objectively establish it as true, how can it be a fact?

Meet AVOD, APOD's Brother

Astronomy Picture of the Day for Mar 28 is a time-lapse video entitled The Aurora, taken in Norway. The not-yet-dark sequence at 1:30, with the aurora lighting up the clouds, is way cool.

Bonus timelapse — Stunning winter sky timelapse video: Sub Zero

Both have an effect of the camera slowly translating and their linked pages mention some sort of special dolly used for the effects.

Over on the Other Side of the Line

Understating the risks is just as irresponsible as overstating it.

The Mind of Dr. Pion: Don’t believe what the press is telling you!

There is no explicit by-line on this article, but the video contains an interview with BBC reporter Chris Hogg in Tokyo that repeats that a half life of 8 days means “that after 8 days the risk will have dissipated”.

The reporter is WRONG. Twice, because that is also not what the officials said. His ignorance of basic physics, in this case a topic I always teach in a college general education class, led him to misinterpret what was actually said by a government spokesman and hence mislead the public.

It's a Bird, it's a Plane …

No, it’s a robot bird. Not funded by DARPA, as far as I can tell.

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Zappa Was Wrong

Starts With a Bang: How Hydrogen Teaches Us the Temperature of Dark Matter!

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