Phase of the Moon
Angels from Another Pin

I try to capture all the tender human drama of a 1980s body-swap movie without losing any of the basic appeal of short-skirted chicks shooting robots in space.

--Shaenon Garrity

30 January 2005

I'm sorry, Mario, the A Miracle of Science is in another castle.

No, I have no idea what I mean by that either. permanent link


If there isn't a word in German which means "that information which everyone knows, yet no one remembers why he knows it," then there should be. My friend Gloria has determined why a recent advertisement for aspirin is so irritatingly close to memorable. permanent link


If you have the Flash plug-in installed, you can view very recent images of the Sun as seen from the SOHO satellite. Man, I love living in the future. permanent link

Well, speaking as member of the Stock Exchange I would suck their brains out with a straw, sell the widows and orphans, and go into South American zinc.

--Monty Python

26 January 2005

Oh, yes... Stuff blows up in A Miracle of Science. Apparently the Moon is very delicate. permanent link


Matt Groening (of The Simpsons and Futurama, among other things) illustrated a booklet extolling the Macintosh back in the late 1980s.

The Stressed
Traits: Frenzied, nervous, jumpy, twitchy, bug-eyed.
Warning: This could be you.

The text layout is the very familiar 1980s Apple marketing design, and the art is all done in the instantly recognizable Groening style. The booklet's cover even makes it look like a "Life in Hell" collection. permanent link

Like a giant super-soaker, only instead of water, it shoots death.

--Mark Walker

25 January 2005

As if computers don't create enough errors on their own, you can make a fake error message. permanent link


The National Geophysical Data Center coastline mapper is capable of a truly ridiculous level of detail. permanent link


Scientists in England (as well as the United States and Japan) are working on a printer that can create skin grafts of the patient's own skin. The graft would be the same size and shape as the wound, and would be safe from rejection because the new graft is made from the patient's own skin cells.

It's something like the three-dee printers that are used in rapid prototyping. The Future? You're soaking in it! permanent link

As he spoke, one could feel the power emanating from his double knit leisure suit.

--Bill Barminski

18 January 2005

How to build an MP3 player for about fifty bucks. As designed, it sits in an extremely mod Altoids tin. The designer warns:

This is an advanced project, I highly suggest that you don't take on a project like this to 'learn how to solder' or 'how to program a PIC'. If you can't handle fine-pitch SMT or getting boards made, just buy an MP3 player, they're sold in stores nowadays!

Requires a PIC programmer, a bandsaw, soldering iron, flash memory card, Altoids tin, and several hours spent breathing soldering fumes. permanent link

This was literally the very first science fiction book I ever read, and while I look forward to Will Smith yelling "I got to get me one of these!" while surfing down the side of a floating skyscraper on a robot carcass wielding futuristic laser pistols in each hand in a scene inserted only so that it can be included in the supporting video game, I can't help but feel that something I find precious is being butchered.

--Unnamed writer, about "I, Robot"

13 January 2005

And, hey, A Miracle of Science is still going strong. That's got to count for something. permanent link


Hello! I do not spend enough on gasoline! Please sell me a vehicle which is based on an International truck frame! Thank you! permanent link


The advantage of putting your scientific equipment in an eternal vacuum is that the devices will still be perfectly preserved and usable decades later.

An experiment left on the lunar surface 30 years ago by the Apollo 11 astronauts continues to return valuable data about the Earth-Moon system to scientific centers around the world, including NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Scientists who analyze the data from the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment have measured, among other things, that the Moon is moving away from the Earth and that the shape of the Earth is changing. They have also used the experiment to test the validity of several predictions of Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

The lunar laser ranging reflector is designed to reflect pulses of laser light fired from the Earth. The idea was to determine the round-trip travel time of a laser pulse from the Earth to the Moon and back again, thereby calculating the distance between the two. Unlike the other scientific experiments left on the Moon, this reflector requires no power and is still functioning perfectly after 30 years.

The reflector consists of a checkerboard mosaic of 100 fused silica half cubes (roughly the size of the average computer monitor screen), called corner cubes, mounted in a 46-centimeter (18-inch) square aluminum panel. Each corner cube is 3.8 centimeters (1.5 inches) in diameter. Corner cubes reflect a beam of light directly back toward the point of origin; it is this fact that makes them so useful in Earth surveying.

The article goes on to say, "Researchers say that lunar reflectors will remain in service for years to come, because of the usefulness of continued improvements in range determinations for further advancing our understanding of the Earth-Moon system and the need for monitoring the details of the Earth's rotation." permanent link

Han Solo shot first for your sins.

--Benjamin Loukota

12 January 2005

Are you willing to bet an Internet portal can make enough money that your paychecks won't bounce? Then you could be an editor at an anime website!

We are looking for talented ANIME and MANGA Enthusiasts to help build our community by editing our Anime and Manga Encyclopedia. We are looking for specific individuals that can participate and edit our site content, upload pictures, rank and comment on Anime and Manga series and Episodes. If you can write about and share on the Anime and Manga you have viewed and/or do research on what you have not seen, you are the kind of person we are looking for.

It appears that the organization doing the hiring is Anime Oasis, a site which I have never heard of before now. The site description for Anime Oasis isn't very encouraging:, the home of online, offers the best in local news and information. With 35 million monthly page views, the site features in-depth and breaking news coverage, searchable entertainment listings, newspaper display and classified advertising and more. The site includes specific category channels (i.e. employment, cars, real estate), so that visitors can easily access local online marketplaces and advertisers can effectively target these consumers.

Someone needs to clue in their current editor, since is Alpha Omega Computer Systems, who don't appear to have anything to do with this. In fact, the marketing paragraph above might be entirely bogus - I did some digging (junior detective boy Conan on the case!) and discovered that the HTML of the Anime Online page appears to have been taken directly from the site of the open-source Plone Foundation. This is from the Anime Online site:

This is the development and community site for Plone. Here, you'll find news about Plone and its related products, documentation, links to downloads, and informtion about the non-profit Plone Foundation.

This verbiage is in the same place on the page on the very similar Plone webpage, so it looks like Anime Oasis is using HTML from other sites, and therefore the text which is there now might just be lorem ipsum. It seems this is a startup of sorts with a business model that often leads to defunct companies. And here I was thinking that dotcom startups were dead... permanent link


I want a mortar that fires bowling balls six hundred yards.

I should have brought out my Radar Chrony. I'd guess that ball wasn't moving over 700 fps, possibly as low as 400 fps, but jeez, think of the mass! That ball's what, eight to ten pounds?!? What's the Hatcher's Index of a projectile weighing fifty-thousand grains moving at 400 fps? "Body armor" against this thing is eight feet of dirt over a concrete bunker!

As the author of the article notes, the gun is legal in most states. permanent link


The world loves the strange and bizarre, so the tale of a young Japanese woman who died in the snows of North Dakota searching for a lost treasure mentioned in the movie Fargo had everything going for it: World travel, Hollywood glitz, and the tint of madness that adds spice to any story. However, it turns out that reality is occasionally much more mundane than the News of the Weird. permanent link


Research into tsunamis led me to turbidity currents, which led me to turbidites, which led me to a large page on sedimentary geology. permanent link

It is the year 2005. The treacherous Decepticons have conquered the Autobots' home planet of Cybertron.

--Transformers - The Movie

11 January 2005

From the That's No Moon Dep't: The Cassini spacecraft has found an immense linear ridge exactly on the equator of Saturn's moon Iapetus. Together with the large impact basin visible at the nine o'clock position on the image, this makes Iapetus look rather like the Death Star. permanent link


How to build your own Apollo Guidance Computer, should you need to travel to the Moon without up-to-date technology. (link via Steve Luttrell) permanent link


It's a bit late, but what the heck: The science of Santa. He might even be Einstein! permanent link


Ladies and gentlemen, the Weapons Shop Sketch. "The irony is staggering, sir." permanent link


It would appear that an extrasolar planet has been photographed orbiting a brown dwarf 225 light years away. The odds are only 99.1 percent that this is a real extrasolar planet, so UCLA astronomer Eric Becklin said it was an image most likely to be of an extrasolar planet. "So we really need to be sure," he added.

This is fascinating because extrasolar planets have been discovered in the past via indirect evidence like measurements of the wobble they produce in the star they orbit, but one has never been directly photographed before. permanent link


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