Category Archives: Science

Some Such Scientists Are Among Us?

The scientist was in his laboratory experimenting with flies. He was interested in the reaction time of a fly responding to a sharp noise.

He placed a fly on the table, turned on his automatic test equipment that would start very precise timing the moment he clapped his hands, and was ready. He stood behind the fly, clapped his hands and the fly took off in about 0.1 seconds, one fourth of a human’s reaction time. He then tried different angles of his hands and other combinations for position and noise; still 0.1 seconds. He dutifully recorded his findings.

Next he pulled off a leg, then two legs, etc. and still the fly would take off as quickly.

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Renewable(?) Energy

The following is a post taken entirely from one done by Matt Ridley. Ridley was educated at Eton College and then completed a BA and a PhD at Oxford in zoology. He is author of a number of successful books on science. (will1be)

What does the word “renewable” mean?

Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a thousand-page report on the future of renewable energy, which it defined as solar, hydro, wind, tidal, wave, geothermal and biomass. These energy sources, said the IPCC, generate about 13.8% of our energy and, if encouraged to grow, could eventually displace most fossil fuel use.

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Random Memories No 2 – Saying Goodbye to the Solar System

The two Voyager spacecraft are about to say goodbye to the solar system and enter interstellar space after 33 years in flight. 

In the 1970s I was working at GE’s Space Division in Valley Forge as the energy engineering manager. One of my groups was responsible for the design of a radioisotope power supply that would supply DC power for the Voyager spacecraft. For details see http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/ We had won the contract to provide the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena the power supplies for the two spacecraft that were launched in 1977. A key reason for our selection was that we had supplied radioisotope power supplies before for Apollo Missions 13 and 14 experiments.

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Periodic Table and Oliver Sacks

Here’s more on the periodic table.

I was listening to a podcast on my iPod while walking my dog Genji. I often do that, not only because he is deaf (he never was a good conversationalist even when he had his hearing), but there are so many interesting podcasts available, and free. I subscribe to a few and every few days they are automatically downloaded to my computer from which I copy (“sync”) them to my iPod.

The podcast I enjoy most, along with “Car Talk”, is “Radiolab” that is produced by WNYC and NPR. I was listening to it while walking Genji one day and the hosts were visiting Oliver Sacks in his apartment and he was showing them his bathroom which, to their surprise, had a large periodic table on the wall.  Then, with a “you ain’t seen nothing yet” type response, Sacks said, “Let me show you my bedroom.” And there on his bed was a coverlet, full bed size that was “quilted” as a periodic table!  Continue reading

Periodic Table (tin), Amundsen, Scott and Antarctica

Earlier I posted a story about meeting Glenn Seaborg, who participated in the discovery of about ten elements, and getting his autograph and his entering Sg (for Seaborgium) in the element 106 place in the periodic table I brought to the dinner where he was the honoree and main speaker. Element 106 was named for him a year or so after the dinner making him the first living person to have an element in the periodic table named for him.

My daughter knew of my interest and for the last Christmas she got me a large periodic table that I will get framed and mount over my desk, a book; “The Periodic Table” by Eric Scerri, that I am yet to read, and another; “The Disappearing Spoon” by Sam Kean that I have trouble putting down. There is so much fascinating information and so many stories about the personalities and discoveries of the elements that I had no idea about. If only my chemistry professor in college had presented some of this kind of information I might have learned more. One such sad but interesting story involving tin follows. Continue reading