25 July 2015

Riding Light ~ An Inner Solar System Journey!

Andrew Liptak at io9 spots Alphonse Swinehart's Riding Light which takes us from Sun surface past the inner planets through Jupiter at the speed of light!

13 July 2015

Cascadia Tsunami ~ Understanding Tectonic Risk

Kathryn Schulz writes in The New Yorker of The Really Big One...
"An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when. [...] At approximately nine o’ clock at night on January 26, 1700, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck the Pacific Northwest, causing sudden land subsidence, drowning coastal forests, and, out in the ocean, lifting up a wave half the length of a continent. It took roughly fifteen minutes for the Eastern half of that wave to strike the Northwest coast. It took ten hours for the other half to cross the ocean. [...] We now know that the Pacific Northwest has experienced forty-one subduction-zone earthquakes in the past ten thousand years. If you divide ten thousand by forty-one, you get two hundred and forty-three, which is Cascadia’s recurrence interval: the average amount of time that elapses between earthquakes. That timespan is dangerous both because it is too long -- long enough for us to unwittingly build an entire civilization on top of our continent’s worst fault line -- and because it is not long enough. Counting from the earthquake of 1700, we are now three hundred and fifteen years into a two-hundred-and-forty-three-year cycle."
Here's a simulation of what happened back in 1700... And here's a geologist's discussion... Finally, documentary shock & awe imagery... NYTimes' DotEarthling Andrew Revkin weighs in too, with nice infographic showing past 8.0 and 9.0 events over 10K years... http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/13/a-chilling-update-on-the-ticking-seismic-bomb-off-the-u-s-northwest-coast/?_r=0

11 July 2015

Architectural Robotics ~ Superpowered Furniture!

Our MIT Media Lab colleague Hasier Larrea shares his teams work on Architectural Robotics -- furniture with superpowers! -- at TEDxCambridge...

04 July 2015

Candy Bomber ~ Cold War Won w/ Sweet Tooth!

http://www.neatorama.com/2012/09/28/The-Candy-Bomber-2/Lovely MissC piece on the Candy Bomber, Lt. Gail Halvorsen...
"At the runway's edge, Halvorsen spotted a few dozen boys and girls. [...] Halvorsen promised to drop candy to them on a future flight. [...] Not surprisingly, dropping candy from a military airplane was against regulation, but Halvorsen was resolute. [...] Instead of a court martial, Halvorsen received congratulations. The operation's commander, Gen William Turner, realized the psychological value of Halvorsen's efforts and lent his full support: Operation "Little Vittles" was official! As Halvorsen and a few dozen other pilots made daily candy drops, letters poured in. Elated children thanked Der Schokoladenflieger (The Chocolate Pilot) and Onkel Wackelflügel (Uncle Wiggly Wings) for the gifts. [...] All told, Operation Little Vittles rained down 23 tons of candy from 250,000 parachutes. And though it took nearly a year, the Soviets eventually called off the blockade for one simple reason: It wasn't working."
http://www.neatorama.com/2012/09/28/The-Candy-Bomber-2/

Why July 4th? ~ US Declaration of Independence!

Read the US Declaration of Independence!
http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html
See also Tara Helfman's The Spirit of ‘76 a review of Barry Alan Shain's The Declaration of Independence in Historical Context.

Inside the 'Works ~ Chemistry of Independence;-)

The best US holiday (except possibly Thanksgiving) celebrates political independence from imperialist overlords by blowing things up! Liberty, Prosperity, and Fireworks! Here's what's inside... http://www.worldsciencefestival.com/2014/07/boom-science-behind-fourth-july-fireworks/ Thanks to WorldScienceFestival!

01 July 2015

R.I.P. Nicholas Winton ~ Rescuer of WWII Kids++

Sad to hear Sir Nicholas Winton has passed in his sleep at 106 years. He's one of the few who acted -- both at-scale and by-all-means-necessary -- to save children, mostly Jewish, caught up in Nazi craziness in the early phases of WWII.  And he did so quietly -- and quasi-legally -- but totally morally.  Unsung, he, with the help of his own mother, and colleagues Beatrice Wellington, Doreen Warriner, Trevor Chadwick and others in Prague, managed to organize the rescue of several trainloads totaling 669 children destined for Nazi concentration camps. A last train was stopped by the next escalation in fighting -- most (if not all) those ~200+ children died.  No one knew any of this until pretty recently.  Beyond his WWII efforts, he also cared about the elderly and infirm, setting up homes to support those in need.  And most recently, his story has been shared widely.  All together, Winton was a truly extraordinary and epic hero!

28 June 2015

Fairy Lights ~ Plasma Voxels Projection Display!

Check out Fairy Lights, a technique for projecting plasma voxels!
"We present a method of rendering aerial and volumetric graphics using femtosecond lasers. A high-intensity laser excites a physical matter to emit light at an arbitrary 3D position. Popular applications can then be explored especially since plasma induced by a femtosecond laser is safer than that generated by a nanosecond laser. There are two methods of rendering graphics with a femtosecond laser in air: Producing holograms using spatial light modulation technology, and scanning of a laser beam by a galvano mirror. The holograms and workspace of the system proposed here occupy a volume of up to 1 cm^3; however, this size is scalable depending on the optical devices and their setup. [...] Although we focus on laser-induced plasma in air, the discussion presented here is also applicable to other rendering principles such as fluorescence and microbubble in solid/liquid materials."