Science & Technology

... and We're Back!

As some of you may have noticed, the site has been down off and on for the last week or so. We have been busy dealing with software updates and a move to a new server. During all of this, we also updated the site from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7.

The site is back, tho still limping a little. There were some of the old features that have to be either discarded or rebuilt to work with the new backbone. We will be back, fully functional, in the very near future, and look forward to a revival. If anybody is interested in helping out, please drop a note using the contact form.

 

Testing a Widget: Amazon.com's Music widget and the HFY "A Life's Worth of Memories" Playlist

A while back, I'd written a piece called "
Stir of Echoes: Haunted Hearts and Healing Memories" where I listed a set of music tracks that reminded me of Mumsie, of her life and of my care-giving experience, and of her life with my wife.

Lenovo Introduces Three New Tablets

Lenovo has introduced three new computer tablets that continue to expand their habit of creating stylish, useful personal technology devices.

The three new tablets are:

  1. The IdeaPad Tablet K1
  2. The IdeaPad Tablet P1, and  
  3. The ThinkPad Tablet

What caught my eye about the latest release is the ThinkPad Tablet, which sports a Tablet Keyboard Folio Case and has digital pen support.

It's technology I'd love to get my hands on for a full - and ideally long-term - test drive.

What kind of new technology has sprung up in the marketplace lately that's caught your eye? Comments are open...

 

Open Thread: Welcome to my Universe

Okay, I gotta admit it was kinda fun (and a little empowering) to list all those scientific terms in the tags box.  The idea of parallel universes fascinates me ... and could explain alot.

A July 19th article by Alexander Vilenkin and Max Tegmarkin in Scientific American makes the scientific case for the existence of parallel universes, multiverse if you will.

New problems emerge in Japan's nuclear power emergency

Freedom Sampling of ocean water 30 km off Japan's coast found radioactive "iodine concentrations at or above Japanese regulatory limits," as well as amounts of cesium-137 below regulatory limits. Some of the contamination may be due to recycled sea water used to cool down the reactors and spent fuel ponds. Still, the volume of water thus contaminated suggests that the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant complex has already released massive quantities of radionuclides over the past two weeks. More massive releases are a disturbing possibility, experts say.

Friday Morning Open Thread: Monster Machine, Samsung SSD Edition

This is bloody awesome. I want one.

(Well, ok -- I want five.) Hat-tip to Devon in Acton for the heads-up.

So, what's your idea of a "monster machine"? And do you have it, or is it a pipe dream?

On an oddly related note1, this sucks. (Technically, as has been pointed out, it blows. Whatever.

Icelandic volcano 'set to erupt'

Scientists in Iceland are warning that another volcano looks set to erupt and threatening to spew-out a pall of dust that would dwarf last year's event.

[...click for full article...]

...the only thing that would suck more is to be Bobby Jindal and to have his comment about "something called volcano monitoring" thrown back in his face...again.

 

See our prior piece for a related story on last year's Icelandic eruption.

Whatever else you may do today, keep in mind: this is an Open Thread.

 

1 Oddly related because it was a thread about the volcano that led to my digging out the video about the monster machine created with 24 SSD drives. Go figure. :)

 

In Defense of Climate Change Science

As if real science really needs to be defended? Anyways...

GreyHawk posted, over the weekend, some of the most current (and relevant) information we have to weigh the issue of climate change.

But I thought this little bit of communist/socialist tree hugging hippy environmental activism was notable both for its source and reasoning. The Navy is preparing for climate change as a matter of national security:

Early evening astronomy for the late night moon bats

I am only warning you about this now because I don't want you to be scared as I practice some tricks from my "Merlin's Winter Solstice Magic for Dummies" tonight. Anyways...

Tonight (tomorrow morning?), from about one thirty am est until about five thirty am est, the moon will be completely swallowed by the shadows of the earth. The last time a total lunar eclipse coincided with the winter solstice was in 1638, but I was not around to cause that one.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

If you are too busy blogging, participating in NASA's live chat or just surfing the net and don't want to put down your iPad, iPod or iPhone to follow this eclipse, there is an app for that. However, if you would prefer to hunt some planets, instead of staying up in the middle of the night to see me magically paint the moon a reddish-orange with my eclipse, there is some less lunar loony news and information on planet hunting for the "citizen scientist" and "amateur scientist" below the fold.

Climate Disruption and the Arctic Conveyor

I've seen more battalions of climate deniers lately than I care to even acknowledge. They engage in a game of dangerous anti-intellectualism and prefer to dwell in a place of self-enforced ignorance, where they receive as well as cultivate ongoing support for their fallacies.

This piece isn't to waste time on them, or their highly funded interest in climate denial that special interests funnel a steady flow of money into.

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance. ~Saul Bellow

Let them be ignorant, and reduced to the blather of background noise. This piece is simply a short inquiry for those who dwell in reality, surrounded by facts and thoughtful pursuits.

Here's the observation (in the form of an excerpt) and the question -- from here:

__________

According to NASA (circa May 2004), there's a potential sometime over the next few decades for melting sea ice to trigger colder weather in Europe and North America.  This isn't the first time we've heard about the effect -- our own Darksyde (Science Friday: Mystery of the Icebox Killer, Fri Sep 09, 2005 at 07:45:05 AM EST) wrote about the possibility a year later, and we've seen a few references to many unexpected changes -- increases -- in the rate of Arctic ice melt not only in 2005 but also in 2007, 2008, 2009 (and here) and 2010 (and here.

So, what's the likelihood now of any effect on the ocean conveyor?

Granted, the past impacts happened when a massive flood of cold fresh water rushed into it -- this time, it's not such an all-at-once scenario.  But -- will the increase impact the conveyor?  Destabilize or shift it?  Alter it's speed, course or charming sense of humor?

__________

...thoughts?

Google, I forgive you

We've been waiting for it ... making phone calls from your gmail.  Google announced its release today:

If you have a Google Voice phone number, calls made from Gmail will display this number as the outbound caller ID. And if you decide to, you can receive calls made to this number right inside Gmail (see instructions).

A New Perspective On The Fermi Paradox

 

Ever heard of the Fermi Paradox? Essentially, it's this:

If there are intelligent civilisations elsewhere in the Universe with technologies that far surpass our own, why do we see no sign of them?

The article The Fermi Paradox, Phase Changes and Intergalactic Colonisation, posted June 26 online at the Technology Review, two gentlement from the National Technical University of Ukraine have come up with a new take that's yielding some interesting insights:

Their approach is to imagine that civilisations form at a certain rate, grow to fill a certain volume of space and then collapse and die. They even go as far as to suggest that civilisations have a characteristic life time, which limits how big they can become.

In certain circumstances, however, when civilisations are close enough together in time and space, they can come into contact and when this happens the cross-fertilisation of ideas and cultures allows them both to flourish in a way that increases their combined lifespan.

What's this mean? Well,

The result gives a new insight into the Fermi Paradox. Bezsudnov and Snarskii say that for certain values of these parameters, the universe undergoes a phase change from one in which civilisations tend not to meet and spread into one in which the entire universe tends to become civilised as different groups meet and spread.

Fascinating.

Of course, this doesn't resolve the question definitively, but certainly provides some interesting additional sparks that could catch and burn brightly in a fertile imagination.

What do ~you~ think -- is there any intelligent life in the universe? (Outside of Earth, that is -- effectively avoiding whether or not you'd qualify humanity itself as "intelligent.")

 

Open Thread - Legalized Jailbreak For iPhone

A couple of surprises from the U.S. Copyright Office:

It’s no longer illegal under the DMCA to jailbreak your iPhone or bypass a DVD’s CSS in order to obtain fair use footage for educational purposes or criticism. These are the new rules that were handed down moments ago by the U.S. Copyright Office. This is really big. Like, really big.

The office looks at copyright law every three years in order to make revisions or exemptions. The six “classes” now exempt from prosecution under the DMCA

H/T Karoli and some appropriate Thin Lizzy:

An AC/DC Jail Break below the fold...

Science and Technology