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Showing posts from 2010

134340 Pluto, and his little brother Charon

Pluto, formally known as a Planet, has been recategorized by the International Astronomical Union on August 24, 2006 as a dwarf planet. Although no longer considered an upstanding member of the solar system (to borrow a phrase from 2 Skinnee J's), Pluto is now the largest member of the Kuiper belt. So it's not all bad for Pluto. Rather than being the smallest fish in a sea filled with giants like Jupiter, Pluto is now the largest member of a smaller sea.

But what about Charon. Charon is the largest of Pluto's moons, or rather that's what Charon used to be. Since Pluto is no longer a planet, it's inaccurate to call Charon a moon, a nickname for natural satellites such as the Earth's Moon that orbit planets.

At times Charon was even referred to as a double planet with Pluto because of its size compared to Pluto, just over half the size of Pluto. Indeed, Charon and Pluto are so close that neither actually rotates around the other. Instead they are deadloc…

DVDs are the Best Argument for Electric Cars

So the commercials for the new Nissan Leaf got me thinking about how far away we are from large scale conversion to electric cars (or some version of electric-motor-drive car, such as the hydrogen fuel cell cars we keep hearing about).
The arguments in favor are simple. While the internal combustion engine is relatively efficient it cannot be as efficient as large-scale energy generation just because of scale. Although, the power has to come from somewhere, plugging a car into your home outlet would be significantly more efficient (and therefore less polluting) in the long run than running a small-scale power station under your hood. Designing a car around a small (non-explosive) and quieter electric motor also provides infinite possibilities for improvement in safety, aesthetic and spacious design.
Contrarians that suggest the technology can't be advanced to the level of internal combustion engines (in terms of distances per charge, torque etc.) are obviously ignorant of the T…

Donuts & Coffee

I haven't posted here recently because I've been overwhelmed with a head cold and trying to get our new office website up and running. I am getting over the head cold, finally, and the new website is up and running, and now I have to figure out how I get back into my routine.

Having spent most of my waking hours over the last two weeks working on the new website, in order to get it out into the world as quickly as possible, I now have to figure out how to calm down. Filling your time with work for two weeks straight changes the way you look at the world, and makes it difficult to relax. When the website finally went live and was debugged (for the most part) by Saturday afternoon, I had to forcibly stop myself from reaching for the computer every ten minutes to do more work. Although, it's great that, as humans, we're able to adapt to different conditions so quickly, it's also dangerous it you value balance.

What's worse is that I can't figure out if my …

We are all living in a bubble.

The Solar System is protected by a helium and hydrogen bubble from cosmic radiation. Although scientists were previously aware of the existence of the heliosphere (the name for this bubble), they only recently discovered (or hypothesized depending on how you read the article) the bubble-like nature of the heliosphere, protecting our solar system on its journey through the universe.

The heliosphere is one of the many elements that allows our planet to sustain life in s safe and nourishing environment, and our knowledge of how it works is very recent and constantly being updated.

Some might say the existence of the heliosphere is evidence of a divine purpose. It could also be extraordinarily lucky, a statistical anomaly that among all the stars in the universe was bound to happen somewhere. Or it could be a typical characteristic of a solar system, something which just happens to coincide with sustainability of life, like heat and light.

Either way it is damn neat. It is amazing tha…