11 January 2006

Today in the Science News

GRB study and dark energy:
This entire article is more proof for my theory that astronomers don't know what they're talking about. The article admits that dark energy is completely made up to explain inconsistencies between predicted and measured outcomes, and says that some astronomer thinks that the nature of dark energy has been changing over time because some gamma ray bursts (GRBs) are brighter than expected, according to his measurements.


Have these people even heard of Occam's razor?

People are sleepy when they first wake up:
If it weren't for scientists, we wouldn't know these things. I'm so glad my tax dollars go to fund these studies.

Seriously, the study says cognitive abilities are still significantly impaired even two hours after waking, and that immediately after waking, they're more impaired than they are if you stay up for 26 hours straight. Interesting. So if you have an exam tomorrow morning, you're probably better off pulling an all-nighter than getting just a few hours sleep. This flies in the face of both conventional wisdom and my exam-taking strategy. (Actually, my strategy for 8:00 A.M. finals includes getting up at 5 to go for a run, so that's good.)

Be part of finding star dust!:
Stardust@home is a project through which Internet users can help scrutinize microscopic images of the dust collector on Stardust, which will be dropping its cosmic samples soon, and find grains of star dust. Kickass! And according to Space.com, if you find a grain of dust, you get to name it. So I went to the Stardust@home web site and preregistered. The site warns us, however, that you're not guaranteed to be allowed to participate. You'll have to pass a test to qualify.

New inventions:
Apparently, this column is a new weekly feature at NS. One of the inventions:

Two German inventors from Bayreuth, Brian Schlede and Stefan Krug, have...come up with a battery-powered stand for paper that uses static electricity to hold the paper in place.

The upright stand is a like a picture frame, with an aluminium metal sheet sandwiched between two thin plastic films. A transformer feeds a few hundred volts at safe low current into the aluminium, to give it a static charge. The plastic film prevents shock but when a sheet of paper is laid over the sandwich it sticks.

But what really gets me about this is that the columnist goes on to say:
The patent filing is a useful reminder that sometimes the best ideas are sometimes the simple ones.
Hey, he's right! Here's a simple idea: PageUp $5.95

Navy field-tests line-of-sight communication device:
This is really interesting. Essentially, the device uses IR to transmit video and audio, so if you have binoculars fitted with the appropriate add-ons, you can talk securely over a distance of up to two miles. The obvious limitation is that it requires line-of-sight, but it's still pretty cool.

U.S. & Australia agreeing on climate change:
I love reading these articles from European outlets like the Beeb, because of the thinly disguised sneer running through every line.

Anyway, the point of the article is that we are dealing with pollution by exporting technology via the private sector.

Space lasers!:

There were some other interesting articles out there, but nothing else I really wanted to comment on. But you can vote for the greatest modern minds at LiveScience. I'm not sure how they're defining "modern" given that the list includes Kepler, Newton, and da Vinci, and I'm not sure how they're defining "mind" given that the list includes Noam Chomsky. Chomsky's average score is currently 2.5 out of 5 (in comparison, Stephen Hawking is at 3.5), so get over there and give him a 1.

Have a great day!


Blogger geoff said...

You're a blinding flash and a deafening report!

Just saw your comment over at Ace's and noticed your URL. As a long-time fan of E.E."Doc" Smith and particularly the Skylark series, I had to come by and check it out.

I did an astronomy undergraduate thesis, and I have to agree - astronomers don't know what they're talking about.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Peel said...

Well, you're a seven-sector callout!

Anyway, thanks for stopping by. Come on back sometime. There'll be more content starting next week. The rest of this week is reserved for lots and lots of errands.

8:51 PM  

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