A Royale with Cheese

Fed up with imperial

I gained a niece and a nephew in the last few weeks. They were about the normal size for babies, which is about 8 pounds plus a few shillings. I know this is roughly what babies often weigh. But I do not know why we weigh babies in currency.

What really grates is that I can’t get some imperial measures out of my head. Like the baby thing. What does an average baby weigh in kilogrammes? (About three and a half, but I had to look it up, even though one of my kids was born in Germany.)

The US gets a lot of flack for not having gone metric, but it seems that places that have gone metric still haven’t fully gone metric.

The pub is a mile (about 19,296 yards, or three times as many feet) down the road and they are served beer in pints (about 78 and three eighths fluid ounces). It’s just not fair.

Not sure of the reference here. A mile is 1760 yards on this side of the pond.

Getting Freaky With a New Lubricant

Shouldn’t it be a lubrican rather than a lubrican’t?

MIT’s Freaky Non-Stick Coating Keeps Ketchup Flowing

When it comes to those last globs of ketchup inevitably stuck to every bottle of Heinz, most people either violently shake the container in hopes of eking out another drop or two, or perform the “secret” trick: smacking the “57” logo on the bottle’s neck. But not MIT PhD candidate Dave Smith. He and a team of mechanical engineers and nano-technologists at the Varanasi Research Group have been held up in an MIT lab for the last two months addressing this common dining problem.

There are two ways to go with the idea of waste, I think. With the coating there will be less condiment thrown away when it is “empty”, but for a traditional bottle, not having the same effective viscosity means pouring a lot faster, which may mean more waste as you accidentally drown your food. With squirt bottles, I think you’re OK. But less consumer waste means you purchase less, so a bold prediction of mine is that the product cost will rise to compensate.

This Does Not Constitute a Recommendation to Buy

Electricity generated from water: BlackLight Power announces validation of its scientific breakthrough in energy production

The “validation” here is that they got some money for further development, and this is reported on a business site. Getting backers does not preclude them being, as Bob Park has put it, “investors with deep pockets and shallow brains”. The purported mechanism is the formation of Hydrinos, which is a state in Hydrogen below the ground state. Which is, needless to say, at odds with basic quantum mechanics.

BlackLight’s continuously operating, power-producing system converts ubiquitous H2O (water) vapor directly into electricity, oxygen, and a new, more stable form of Hydrogen called Hydrino, which releases 200 times more energy than directly burning hydrogen

If it’s “more stable” than regular Hydrogen, one has to wonder why we don’t see it everywhere. Oh, wait, we apparently do:

The identity of the dark matter of the universe as Hydrinos is supported by BlackLight’s spectroscopic and analytical results as well as astrophysical observations.

Except, of course, that spectroscopy means photons, and dark matter doesn’t interact electromagnetically, because if it did, we’d see it. If you can get to this Hydrino state electromagnetically, why doesn’t it happen spontaneously? We should be up to our armpits in Hydrinos.

You Don't Look a Day Over …

Happy Birthday, Electron

This month marks the 120th anniversary of a profound and influential creation, the electron theory of Dutch physicist Hendrik Antoon Lorentz. His electron was not merely a hypothesized elementary particle; it was the linchpin of an ambitious theory of nature. Today physicists are accustomed to the notion that a complete description of nature can rise out of simple, beautiful equations, yet prior to Lorentz that was a mystic vision.

Turning Japanese

I can look at you from inside as well

Taking Apart the Fuji X100

If you go on a fishing trip called ‘Hit em’ Hard’ and the captain tells you that you should take your bag off and put it in the ‘dry container’, what he really means by ‘dry container’ is a place that will fill up with seawater after he accidently clogs the drainage pipe, soaking you and your friends cameras, bags, wallets and cellphones for over an hour in salty seawater.

Better yet, just never go on a fishing charter with a name like ‘Hit em’ Hard.’

Needless to say, the next step of taking the camera apart was obvious.

What Burnout?

Graduate School Burnout Quantified

For most graduate students in physics, a research focused career ranks more attractive than teaching, government work, or science outreach and writing. Most PhD physicists, however, will never attain a tenure-track position at a university. Upon entering graduate school, many students realize that the odds are against them, but they push forward regardless.

[Sigh] Another story on grad school. This idea that it isn’t until one enters graduate school that one is clued in that most PhD physicists don’t go on to become research professors is a curious one; I think that physics undergraduates are more capable at math than that.

I suspect that the reason a research career becomes less attractive as one goes through school is that one learns some of the details of what research entails. The number of hours, the bureaucracy, the amount of time the professor is doing things other than actual research — the things you only get to see close-up. This is actually mentioned in the study; they also mention that they asked the students to not consider the availability of jobs when assessing the desirability.