Category Archives: Sciency Stuff

Tweeting Kegerator

Life is getting better all the time. Drink beer from your kegerator and it will let the world know. Spark Fun makes it possible (I’ll have to checkout their toys!). Link via Kelly of the Oregon Brew Crew.

Is this poison oak?

I am terrible at identifying plants, yet at the same time I’m really susceptible to poison oak. For some reason, it is very difficult to find a decent image of the toxic weed. Guidebooks all have the same line drawing as can be found at trailheads. Pics on the internet are obscure and frequently hidden behind broken links.

So I found a plant I think might be poison oak. Can somebody please confirm?

Is this poison oak?
Is this poison oak?

thanks! I didn’t want to get any closer for fear of getting the aerial wrath of this f%*ker.


This is a strange situation. The logistics alone are mind-boggling.

saltwater burning

This is pretty fascinating if it works, if it’s real, if it is applicable.

Applying radio waves (I don’t yet know the specifics around them) to saltwater allows it to burn, as the hydrogen is somehow offered up to the fire gods.

The Moon via Google

thx anners for sending me this sweet link from google–it’s the moon!. The first manned lunar landing (remember that game) was 36 years ago today – Apollo 11. Make sure to zoom all the way in, the surface detail is remarkable!

water on mars

A cool update on the Mars rovers’s status, they are finding pretty solid evidence of liquids. Water that is. And as we all know, where there’s water there’s beer.

ancient brewery

Hidden in the Andes, researchers excavated an ancient brewery.

Space ship

This is cool, sent by my grandad, pics of Space Ship One and its posse. The crowd pic at the start is pretty darn great too.

Autonomous Vehicles

okay, this is way cool. I hear that it’s featured in Scientific American, but I haven’t cracked mine yet. Twenty-some teams or more have assembled vehicles to race from SoCal to Vegas. Big whoop…right…there’s no driver, and no remote control. These things are given routes and waypoints, and it’s up to them to navigate. Way cool. The projects involve some tech and robotics firms, universities, and other groups of smarties. My fave so far is Red Team, I like their site. I wanted to like the Alaskans, but they didn’t offer anything in the way of photos, philosophy, or really anything more than a logo. Also, if anyone knows how to receive the satellite signal of the race, please, do tell.

Mars or Bust

This stuff is so cool. We’ve put A couple of really nifty toy cars on another planet. While we’re still in the stone age of interstellar travel, this is pretty huge, even though we did it before some 6 years ago. Each time, we overcome new obstacles, learn new information, and feel new victories. When was the last time that we, as a country, had something that we could collectively be excited about? We lost the international American Idol…and other than some people getting off on recent tragedies and travesties, I think it’s been since the space shuttle. There’s something about conquering space that captures the imagination and inspires people. Let’s keep these programs rolling, and despite the fact that athletes on steroids are more of a nation-wide issue than pride and achievement, we need to get the space program onto the national agenda.


thanks grandad!

freeze-dried blood

Check out this post over at zeros and ones. Pretty freaky implications about cross-species blood transfusions. Someday, you may receive a blood supplement that was derived from an anteater.

space aliens

There just aren’t enough hours in a day. I actually have experimental evidence (that applies to myself) to support this. At one point I realized that my awake hours always push up against the latest possible time that I could go to bed and still get a functional amount of sleep for the next day (5-8, depending on my deficit, which generally means 1-3 AM). I hypothesized that, without needing more sleep, I could stay up a couple extra hours happily. So I tried it out…a 26-27 hour day, involving more awake hours, but the same sleep hours. It was fantastic. No sleep deficit, more hours to get things done, and a proper tiredness when it came time to crash. Sadly, my schedule rotated through the days of others, and I was in college at the time, so classes conflicted with my experiment and it was forced to be cast aside, but not before I was convinced of the validity of my efforts. Even now, my efforts to start my day earlier are thwarted by my inability to shorten my awake hours. So, what can be drawn from my experiment? I believe that this experiment supports the theory that humans did not evolve directly from monkeys, but that we are instead a hybrid race of humanoid space aliens (with opposable thumbs) and monkeys, the space aliens of course coming from a planet with a longer day than ours, 28-30 hours I am guessing.

Science Fair

Portland is finding itself on the map for science fairs. Youth Exploring Science is hosting Intel’s big-ole international jr. geekfest. This is way cool news for Portland. props N.

letter scramble

via Slashdot via DJ Alden Aslett (and probably 100000 others), letters in words can be scrambled and still read. Just keep the first and last intact. friggin amazing, check out a link. I’m going to have to give some thought as to what this means.

Mars Attacks

well, maybe not, but it is a great pinball machine, and Mars will be as close as you’ll ever know tonight. Here’s the JPL’s site on viewing Mars. Cheers, and happy gazing.

conservative characteristics

via TBOGG, an article which describes research into the underlying psychological characteristics of conservatives. Funny, the points apply pretty directly to our current prez. They also explain a lot about the national (local is generally owned nationally too) media, if you care to note that so much of its reporting is designed to instill fear and oversimplify complex problems.

ova mega

what if…? has an interesting link about ovulation.

SETI and the Distributed Pickup

SETI@Home has announced a milestone in their distributed computing experiment: they are going to use the data that they’ve gathered together. They are going to look at the spots in the sky that people have helped to identify as likely alien hotbeds.

Very cool, and something of a breakthrough. Distributed computing is a piece of the future that has barely been scratched. Spamming is not the only way to make money with your computer’s idle time. Offering spare CPU cycles and hard drive space can be billable as well, similar to offering up a pickup truck for its services. Of course it can be volunteered for projects like SETI@Home as well, and a nifty thing about computers is that they’re pretty good schedulers, despite what payroll might say.

Way to go SETI, and good luck! I want to believe.

Planck Scale

A fascinating article recounts strategies to examine space and time at what is believed to be its most fundamental level, the Planck scale. It is at this level that we believe the universe is granular, ‘we’ being those who interpret quantum physics in that manner. Not all physicists believe that the Planck scale means precisely that, but nearly all do believe that these measures in space and time do have a special and eerie significance.

The article lightly details serveral methods of observing space and time at the Planck scale, which is pretty nifty. These methods center around using interferometers of various scale and construction. An interferometer is a device that makes interference clear between two sets of waves. Basically, you take two separate streams, put them on the same track and look at their interference pattern.

What are the implications of these experiments, should they yield results? That is a heavy question, and I doubt that a roomful of scientists would have many in agreement. However, the unification of quantum theory with general relativiy will be high on the list…whether the results give some hards clues one way or another or tell us to get back to the whiteboard. Perhaps we may get some direction towards nanotechnology, or smaller, faster computers, or nastier bombs.

For now, I just consider it something cool to think about.