Screaming Into The Abyss

Amazing Video from Apollo 11
By Ben Zvan
On April 28, 2010 at 09:56

On July 16, 1969, the first spacecraft to take humans to the moon launched from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot 'Buzz' Aldrin made history but camera E-8, pointing at the launch pad, made historical video of the event. This film was transferred from the original, 500fps, 16mm film by Spacecraft Films and artfully narrated by Mark Gray.

Apollo 11 Saturn V Launch (HD) Camera E-8 from Mark Gray on Vimeo.


And, as an extra bonus, here's a quick video showing the 'reboot' of European airspace after the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull.

Airspace Rebooted from ItoWorld on Vimeo.


And don't forget to check out the photos of the volcano itself by Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson.

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Blog Action Day 2009: Global Warming
By Ben Zvan
On October 15, 2009 at 10:51

CompactToday is blog action day from what I'm told and the topic is global warming. I wanted to address the issue of return on investment (ROI) from green practices.

People say you can't make money from green technology like lower gas mileage and renewable energy. What they're really saying is that you can't make a quick buck from any of those things. They're not counting in any ROI outside of 2-5 years and they're not counting the potential cost of global warming. That's all a bunch of hooey because we're all going to be here much longer than 5 years.

From an anecdotal and personal standpoint, I can definitely say that I am saving money through green living: I invested in new windows, a handful of insulation and a high-efficiency boiler for my home last fall. My savings just in heating costs is around $140 per month. Now, I'm not going to pay off the upgrades to my house for many years but I raised the resale value of my property and I am using the savings to pay my mortgage down faster, which is compounding my savings by reducing my total interest paid.

Four years ago, I chose to take a job that was within walking distance of my home. As a result, I drive around 30,000 miles less each year than I used to. At my average of about 24 MPG, that's a $3,000 per year savings. Just take a moment and imagine being able to give yourself a $3,000 raise. I know the job market is tight right now and that may not be a good option, but it may be again soon.

All my electric power, which I mostly use for computers, is from WindSource. In my area, it's an extra few cents per KWh. I know I'm not making money off that deal, but I also know that less natural gas and coal are being used as a result. This is an even greener move than converting all my light bulbs to CF which, by the way, is a significant and immediate savings.

So, when you look at the cost of doing something green, don't think about the quick returns, think about the long-term savings.

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Friday Science
By Ben Zvan
On October 09, 2009 at 10:03

Launch PhotoHere is some science you should know about.

NASA has taken 3D printing to a whole new level by using electron beams to print titanium parts. --via Gizmodo

Normally an aircraft builder might start with a 6,000-pound block of titanium and machine it down to a 300-pound part, leaving 5,700 pounds of material that needs to be recycled and using several thousand gallons of cutting fluid used in the process.

With EBF3 you can build up the same part using only 350 pounds of titanium and machine away just 50 pounds to get the part into its final configuration. And the EBF3 process uses much less electricity to create the same part.

Canon, Nikon and RED have been coming out with some amazing new cameras lately. Just don't expect them to blow up a mule as a demonstration.

Looking forward to Windows 7? At least one study shows it's not that much faster than Vista on current hardware.

Have you ever wondered what people are doing with film cameras now that digital is the same quality or better for a reasonable price? It turns out one photographer was willing to sacrifice his film camera for this picture (right). Luckily, he only ended up sacrificing his lens.

With the number of new-hire zombies we've had in our data center this week. I'm glad we'll have a white paper we can use to make sure our DR plans include the inevitable.

You know all about Saturn's rings, right? You remember how they disappeared for a while when Saturn was edge-on to us? Well, there's a new ring in town and it's a little bigger than the others.

-- Photo Copyright Ben Cooper

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Science Data Dump
By Ben Zvan
On September 24, 2009 at 12:07

Golden Orb WeaversAn optomistic project silks 1,000,000 spiders to create 44 square feet of spider-silk cloth. 96-strand threads made from silk extracted from golden orb weavers with a modern copy of a turn-of-the-century machine make a strong, elastic material. The project took four years and only yealded 1 square foot of cloth per 23,000 spiders. It's not practical for large-scale production, but it sure is cool.  -- Wired

The search for water on the moon is over. Hydrogen from solar winds may have bonded to the oxygen in lunar dust to form water but whatever the cause, it's there. Next step: figure out how to harvest it. -- io9

Studies on gender differences are easy to misinterperet. A recent study of gender and religious affiliation concludes that women are less skeptical than men. But really, did they ask the question they were trying to answer? -- Almost Diamonds

If you're going to start an avalanche and then get stuck in the snow and then get rescued a few minutes later, you might as well record it for the rest of us to watch. -- Gizmodo

The smell of death is not just a metaphore. Scientists have isolated compounds that act as universal bug repelents. "Hey, something here is dead. And it's us!" -- Science Friday

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Friday Science
By Ben Zvan
On August 21, 2009 at 10:18

Most people don't really understand the concept of the Big Bang. Here it is in two minutes and twenty seconds:

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Darwin, Evolution, and Denial
By Ben Zvan
On February 13, 2009 at 11:00

Yesterday, Gizmodo marked the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth with some posts showing gadget evolution.


Camera Evolution from Gizmodo


With a readership as large as theirs, there had to be at least one person who didn't believe in evolution, right? In fact, one of the first comments on the camera post went a little like this:

...the pictures don't fit. that's natural progression not evolution. you have to have a picuture of fish and a frog and then something in between them that was like a mix. but guess what? you can't! unless you Photoshop it.

Evolution is hogwash. It's for people that can't accept there are some things outside our control or understanding. It's the most absurd theory ever and there is still no conclusive proof for it yet it's been adopted as fact. It can be proved imperically through the scientific process that itself claims is so important. It's ridiculous.[sic]

And thus proceeded a chain of comments on a gadget website debating the existance of evolution and a side-discussion on the subject of religion (which I felt was off-topic.) This is a typical argument for a lack evidence of transitional species indicating that evolution makes no sence. The logical mind says "I'll just show you a transitional species then." So another commenter gives a link to an article from 2006 that exactly meets the requirements of something between a fish and a frog.

I believe people adopt it because the signs of it are displayed throught history and even today, not to mention multiple decades of scientific study.

Also on a side note to your first post, on the guy between fish and frogs, please visit this article and "enlighten" yourself.

"Yay!" I thought, "I don't have to do the work to find that particular example and this argument must surely be over." It seemed like a perfect example of someone bringing a knife to a slap-fight. But the illogical mind, the one that doesn't believe evolution because there is no evidence, nearly knocks me off my chair after hitting my head on my keyboard.

that was a general example. no need to get out of shape.

Oh. My. Flying. Spagetti. Monster.

This shows what science is up against. People don't believe something because there's no proof. People see proof. People ignore proof. Evolution isn't the only example either. Global climate change and vaccination safety are right up there too. When you ask someone point-blank "what could I show you to change your mind?" the response is often "nothing would change my mind." and if you ask a scientist the same question, there's always an answer. A whopping 47% of Americans believe that evolution is false, the highest percentage in the world. How can we convince people to believe in reality rather than ideology?


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The Ig Nobel Prizes: 2008
By Ben Zvan
On December 03, 2008 at 13:10

I never remember when the Ig Nobel prizes are given. Every Thanksgiving Friday, Science Friday plays an audio version of the award ceremonies and every year, that is my reminder that I missed the actual event.

Photography of Science

This year's prizes included a few that I need to look into a little more, I think. The Archaeology Prize, which I can't believe that I hadn't read about on science blogs, was for "The Role of Armadillos in the Movement of Archaeological Materials: An Experimental Approach." I have to wonder how much this has been an issue in archaeological digs in the past in order to suggest that an experimental study would be required.

The Economics Prize went to a paper published in the field of evolution. "Ovulatory Cycle Effects on Tip Earnings by Lap Dancers: Economic Evidence for Human Estrus?" discovers that Lap Dancers get higher tips when they're ovulating. I have to say "duh" to this one, though it's not something that would have actually occurred to me. Maybe some additional research is required.

And, since I work in a moderately large organization, I have a certain fondness for both the title and the content of "You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations." The author of the paper, David Sims, gave a rousing example of the subject of his work which I would love to have an occasion to use.

Anyway, the rest of the prize info is at Improbable Research.

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Cyborgs Inch Closer
By Ben Zvan
On October 23, 2008 at 16:16

An AND gate made for bio-computingScientists in Israel have "developed a way to control the growth pattern of neurons to build reliable circuits that use neurons rather than wires." This brings us closer to several major scientiffic advancements.

One major advancement is direct neural interfaces for prosthetic limbs and other assistive devices. Since the human interface has been one of the most limiting factors in cybernetic hands, for example, this technology could lead the way to creating more natural and life-like replacements for people who have lost limbs or were born without them.

The other major advancement is neural computing in general. By creating a logic gate with neurons, these engineers have started the process of creating biological replacements for the transistors that have been at the core of every electronic gadget made in the last 40 years or so. The only real problem with the path they're taking is that the brain, the closest biological analog to neural computing, doesn't have anything that looks like an AND gate. So, while this is a great step forward, it feels like using a bicycle pump to open a beer bottle. It's functional, but not necessarily optimal.

Anyway, read the article at New Scientist. It's short and informative and therefore perfect for people like me.

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The Theory of Childhood
By Ben Zvan
On September 10, 2008 at 16:57

I try not to just link to other sites; I really do. In fact, I have a couple posts waiting for illustrations that I'm just... not done with. In the mean time, this would be much funnier if it wasn't so accurate a parody.

--via Pharyngula

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Climate Change and World History
By Ben Zvan
On August 29, 2008 at 13:10

Raptor Jesus, He Went Extinct For Your SinsI hear a lot of arguments from the few opponents of global warming like "the climate may be changing but humans didn't cause it" or just "the climate isn't changing." The former tends to use "proof" indicating that the world is just too big for people to have any affect on global climate. Well, it occurred to me this morning to think about this a new way.

Let's ignore arguments about whether humans are affecting the climate and focus on the fact that the climate is indeed getting warmer. Lets also focus on the established fact that the last time the climate was as warm as it's likely to get, there were giant lizards roaming the earth. I don't want that. Therefore, even if humans are not causing climate change, it would be beneficial to those who don't wan't to be eaten by raptors if humans attempted to stop climate change.

-Image from Dinosaur Fan Fiction

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New Pictures 8: Sarah Jones
Minneapolis Institue of Arts
04/18/2013—02/02/2014 - Free

31 Years: Gifts from Martin Weinstein
Minneapolis Institue of Arts
11/02/2013—08/31/2014 - Free

New Pictures 9: Rinko Kawauchi
Minneapolis Institue of Arts
02/20/2014—08/10/2014 - Free

Finland: Designed Environments
Minneapolis Institue of Arts
05/10/2014—08/17/2014 - Free


Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
at State Theatre
06/21/2014 \ Doors 8:00pm


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