Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

MythBusters (s10, ep1)

02 May

It is the 10th anniversary season of Mythbusters, and they opened it the right way, with a revisit to the very first myth and very first Mythbusters episode- the jato rocket car. This is not the first time they have revisted this myth, but it will likely be the last time.

We had two spectacular rocket blasts and two spectacularly twisted hunks of metal at the end. After proving the myth could not have happened the way it was stated, they tried to replicate the results. The actual results were two destroyed Impalas and five very giddy Mythbusters. Happy Anniversary!

NASA Has Been Cool My Entire Life

25 Apr

A lot of attention gets paid to what NASA is doing now, both in the news and here on this blog. And rightly so. The Mars Rover missions are amazing and deserve the attention. But what we forget sometimes is exactly how long NASA has been doing amazing things, and the timelines for those missions.

The Voyager missions were launched in 1977. That is over 35 years ago, and they are still going strong. In fact, Voyager 1 is now the farthest man-made object from the Earth, over 18 billion kilometers away and still moving, and we can ride along.

Texting While Driving

11 Apr

We all have bad driving habits. We talk on the phone, pay more attention to the kids in the back seat than the road in front of us, sometimes, we pay more attention to the radio than to traffic. I’m not a perfect driver, or a perfect anything, for that matter. I don’t expect I ever will be. But we need to try and cut down on some of the more dangerous distractions.

Yet another young life was lost to texting while driving. The text wasn’t a big deal, just a mundane conversation that cost a young man his life.

Women in STEM Careers

19 Mar

Two studies on women in STEM careers have recently come out.

The first study argues that the reason more women don’t go into STEM careers is not about ability, but choice. Women who have high math scores also tend to have really high verbal scores and have a lot of choice about what they do, career wise.

This is followed by another study that says while the gender gap has closed, academia still hires a lot more men as scientists and pays them significantly more.

Which kind of answers the question of why women with choices might not choose science.

Why #MythBusters Should be Required Viewing

27 Feb

Back in 2007, Mythbusters did a show (ep 85) about bullets in an oven. Once the oven got hot enough, those bullets exploded- not with lethal force, so the myth was busted -with the shell casings causing the most damage.

Why do I bring this up now? Because just last week, a woman in Tampa Bay, Florida, was injured when she was shot by an oven. A magazine in the oven exploded, spraying her with casing fragments.

She was preheating the oven at a friend’s house, a friend who neglected to tell her he stored his ammo in the oven.

Star Trek Tech

29 Jan

I have written about how excited I am for the new Star Trek movie. But even more than the movies, I am excited about the technology ideas Star Trek introduced that we are now moving toward. In this case, the tractor beam. (Not actually certain if that idea was original to Star Trek or not.)

Researchers have built a working tractor beam, though at the moment, it only works at the particle level, but scientists are already seeing possible medical uses. Don’t you think it would be cool if the same technology were responsible for tractor beams and medical tricorders?

Cloning Neanderthals?

28 Jan

Geneticist George Church is not seeking a surrogate mother for a cloned Neanderthal baby, despite what you may have read. In fact, he wishes that the public were better able to look at what the media presents about science and determining fact or fiction. At the same time, he’s happy if these tabloid reports get people talking about and more engaged in science- something that will benefit their scientific literacy and the national and international conversations about what science can do for us.

But no, he does not plan on cloning a Neanderthal. The ethical questions are just too tricky.

I Want to Be A Bubble Girl

17 Jan

My head is still in space, though no longer on Mars. Instead, I’m dreaming of vacationing in space, staying in a private bubble, my own little room with a view, and oh, what a view it will be.

Lest you think I am only dreaming, the owner of the Budget Suites of America hotel chain also owns a company that is designing a low cost, expandable space dwelling, the BEAM- basically a portable space station. The plan is to be able to have these in space and let rich people vacation up there (and also to lease them for research).

Martian Curiosity

16 Jan

Curious about Mars? The rover Curiosity is still going strong on the Martian surface and should begin drilling down into the planet’s crust sometime in the next few weeks. While NASA is still in contact with the rover Opportunity, neither it, nor the rover Spirit, were able to do more than peel away rock layers. Curiosity will be able to drill several inches down to collect samples.

Curiosity is running a bit behind schedule, but not for technical reasons. Scientists were so interested in what it was “seeing” that they had it linger at the previous location longer than expected.

A New Laptop for Me

10 Jan

I am totally fascinated by the new “convertible” laptops that can flip or spin their screen to be a tablet. The idea of having a tablet that can run PC programs, and only one device (instead of 2) seems cool. C and I have even been out looking at them.

Truth is, though, that I want a laptop that can be my desktop replacement. I want to get rid of my tower and monitor and desk (and replace it with a bookshelf) and do my computing from the bed. I don’t know that a convertible will do that for me.

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