Tag Archives: science

Stuff in the news 6/19/2013 – Tech

Image courtesy of Luigi Diamanti/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Luigi Diamanti/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • Helping out our friends at Village Memorial in Portland, OR. They’ve entered a contest on the NASA Tech Briefs website and we want you to know about it and vote for them, if you would, please. The concept behind their project is that pathogens stay resident on a human body after it is dead, even up to a couple of days. This, of course , can be a health hazard to survivors of a disaster or first responders. Village Memorial has developed an eco-friendly method of removing these pathogens through the use of “mycelium enzymatic digestion”, or to use layman terms, pathogen-eating fungi. Here’s their video from YouTube:
  • There will be a full blog post coming soon but I want to mention this because it’s such a great use of virtual tech. I am at my new favorite hangout, Hillside Market, this afternoon and had a very nice chat with  the owners, Trish and Pam, who was paying barista today. Also here was Fernando Aleo, owner of the now closed Epazote restaurant that used to be on Agua Fria in Santa Fe.  Turns out that one of Fernando’s projects has been to host virtual dinners between Santa Fe, NM and Chihuahua, MX. He creates the menus and has staff in both locations and they meet by Skype. Is that not cool? Definitely looking forward to his new ventures here in Santa Fe!
  • Haiku Deck is one of those apps that I’ve been meaning to try but I’m so averse to doing anything on an iPad that I have to see extremely well, like spreadsheets. Still, this article is making me reconsider, as the author is pretty honest about the shortcomings it has. May major worry is the notion that you have to upload the presentation to their server and it’s not reliable. I do have a pico projector, so I suppose I could present directly from the iPad but it’s not ideal, since I like to share my slide decks.
  • Good stuff in here: 50 Ways Your Business Can Get The Most Out of Gmail
  • ” In the future, a grandmother’s crowning achievement—the thing she never forgets to remind her grandchildren about—will be that Justin Bieber retweeted her once. The framed screenshot of the RT will become a family heirloom.” — Has The Internet Changed Our Definition Of Success?
  • Feedly rocks! The pending integration with Sprout Social will make it even better. Feedly Cloud Available to All Users Two Weeks Before Google Reader Shuts Down, Press Updates With Support
  • Four ways OS X Mavericks will save your MacBook’s battery.
    • Great. Now fix the battery life on the iPhone….
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Stuff in the news 6/18/2013 – Tech

Image courtesy of Luigi Diamanti/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Luigi Diamanti/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • Cat tracking – what better use of cameras and GPS, really? Secret life of the cat: What do our feline companions get up to?
  • Be one with the storm. “Our vehicles don’t fight the hurricane; we use the hurricane to take us places,” said [Kamran] Mohseni, the W.P. Bushnell Endowed Professor in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the department of electrical and computer engineering.” Disposable Drones Will Collect Data by Surfing Along with Hurricanes
  • The Vasisala Lightning Explorer site depicts 20-minute delayed strikes on a map and refreshes every 20 minutes.
  • Ushahidi co-founder, Julia Rotich, gives a TED talk on developing resilient connectivity in Africa:
  • Given that I was just stranded by United Airlines overnight in Denver and couldn’t find more than about three outlets at the gate, it’s good to know that NYC is planning to Offer Free Phone-Charging Stations in Parks
  • The U.S. Government Wants Your Input on Human Spaceflight
    • “What good is human spaceflight?This is the question being posed by the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) on behalf of The National Academies, and they want your answers….Submissions, which have a four-page limit, should answer three guiding questions:
      1. What are the important benefits provided to the United States and other countries by human spaceflight endeavors?
      2. What are the greatest challenges to sustaining a U.S. government program in human spaceflight?
      3. What are the ramifications and what would the nation and world lose if the United States terminated NASA’s human spaceflight program?”

Stuff in the news 6/18/2013 – Wildfires

Fire Danger Level Meme

  • Repeating from yesterday because it’s important…. From our friends at incidentinfo.org: Luke Sheehy was a California Smokejumper. On June 10, 2013 he made his last jump into a fire on the Modoc National Forest. He was killed when a piece of a tree fell on him. He was 28 years old. Here’s how you can help. Please share out this page when you click through.
  • Following up on yesterday’s wildfire post, in which there was piece on people building in fire zones, the state of Colorado has a task force to address the issue. Colorado wildfire task force tackles building in burn zones
  • In 2012, more than 20 wildfires in Utah were caused by target shooting. With a bad fire season upon us again this year in the West, Utah officials have set out restrictions on activity to mitigate risk. The restrictions include a ban on target shooting of exploding targets. Other restrictions are listed in the same source. According to BLM in Salt Lake City, target shooting in dry rocks or vegetation can also spark fires but that doesn’t seem to be included in the restrictions just set out.
  • Mother Nature Network released a listing of 10 of the Worst Wildfires in U.S. History. While the rankings aren’t actually consistent – some are based on dollar figures, sone on acreage, and some on the most important factor in my opinion, loss of life – it’s interesting reading.
  • More of a fire science piece than a wildfire thing but did you ever wonder how fire works in space? Here’s What Happens When You Light a Fire in Space
  • Generally, I’m skeptical of studies done by pharma companies, large or small. That said, this is a frightening statistic: Three quarters (75 percent) of the surveyed firefighters/EMTs are more concerned about dying of a heart attack than in the line of duty. This is International Fire/EMS Health & Safety Week. Why is it harder to accomplish our personal health goals than a work-related task or project? Here’s a great story on a Delaware teen who’s trying to help. Be sure to also  click-through to the Heart Healthy Firefighter program!

Stuff in the news 6/11/2013 – Tech

Image courtesy of Luigi Diamanti/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Luigi Diamanti/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Stuff in the news – 6/6/2013

Trying something a bit new here. It used to be that blogs were actual web logs – that is, logs of things that interested the blog owner. It think it’s also important to write but sometimes I like to share links (hence, my Twitter account) but I am not so vain as to think that anyone is watching just me and I’d like to make these things easily available at a later time. So, I’m going to try collecting some of the things I find in a digest.

I may or may not annotate with summaries or comments. Think of this as an experiment in culture and communication.

Wildfires

  • Western strike teams to help with NM #wildfires – The Denver Post http://bit.ly/11uwcwS #NMFire
  • #SantaFe Is Squished in a Sandwich of Fire – John Metcalfe-The Atlantic Cities http://bit.ly/16MAogj #NMFire
    • It’s not a lot of fun, believe you me – but I love the visual analogy.
  • Camp operator wants #policy to change (Saskatchewan) – http://bit.ly/14jcLrZ #wildfires #SKFire
    • Interesting that the same discussions take place in Canada, regarding what resources to use in fighting fires and when to deploy them
  • Protect your home from urban brush fires : The Issaquah Press – Issaquah, WA – http://bit.ly/13dnFNe #WAFire
    • Good advice, even if you’re not in Issaquah!

Humanitarian

  • One Million Bones – Full Schedule – http://bit.ly/13dlJnR

    • If you don’t know about One Million Bones, you really ought to. It is an art installation, in the works for some years now. Artists (and citizens) have crafted one million human bones to place on the National Mall to create a symbolic mass grave to bring awareness to the horror of genocide. The installation will start on Saturday the 8th in DC. Short notice but they’re really good about media, so I’m sure there will be things to follow online.
  • 2013 Buckaroo Ball Saturday, June 15th, Buffalo Thunder Resort, Santa Fe, New Mexico – http://bit.ly/13dxJFU
    • “Since 1994, the Buckaroo Ball Foundation has been dedicated to its mission of raising and distributing funds to non-profit organizations that serve at-risk youth in Santa Fe County. Buckaroo Ball Foundation is now a fund within the Santa Fe Community Foundation.  The Ball is mostly run by a group of dedicated volunteers who donate their time and resources to produce what is one of the largest and liveliest fund-raising weekends in the Southwest.”
  • Samantha Power and the Weaponization of Human Rights » CounterPunch http://bit.ly/14jl07l
    • Commentary on Samantha Power’s views on human rights. I actually enjoyed her book, Problem from Hell. This is an interesting take on her policies.
    • More on her appointment to the ambassadorship: Samantha Power Picked To Take Over For Rice At U.N. : NPR – http://n.pr/14jlt9z

Amateur RADIO

  • Andrew Seybold: Communications During Major Disasters – http://bit.ly/13dCyir
  • Sometimes my aggregator shows a picture for a different story from the same source when suggesting an article. Haven’t found the story for the picture but I’m relatively certain this is a mugshot and totally unrelated to the headline. If not, boy am *I* gonna be embarrassed! Just found it amusing.

HAM_Mugshot

science, Tech, and Gadgets

  • Congressmen to visit brain science labs | Brown University News and Events – http://bit.ly/14jIFV6

    • I can see from the title there’s worth in this concept
  • Envisioning my friends and colleagues investing in flashights right now… Turning off OCD-like behaviors in the mouse brain with a flash of light – Science – Boston.com – http://bo.st/14jJcq7
  • Get everything done: Any.Do branches out from to-do lists to calendar, email, and notes | The Verge – http://bit.ly/14jJsp6 HT @svartling
    • It’s a good thing most apps for iOS are minimal fee because I cannot tell you how many apps I have in the cloud that I’ve given up on. Stefan comes up with cool stuff to try, though, so I’ll give it a go.
  • Cross-file under Humanitarian: “A way of thinking may enable battle but prevent war crimes. Researchers show brain operates differently by the way we dehumanize others” http://bit.ly/15P4QCz

Scientists deploy lasers, GPS to measure snow

Equipped with specialized lasers and GPS technology, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research are working with institutions including the University of Colorado Boulder to solve a critical wintertime weather mystery: how to accurately measure the amount of snow on the ground.

Scientists deploy lasers, GPS to measure snow

Scientists deploy lasers, GPS to measure snow

Transportation crews, water managers, and others who make vital safety decisions need precise measurements of how snow depth varies across wide areas. But traditional measuring devices such as snow gauges or yardsticks often are inadequate for capturing snow totals that can vary even within a single field or neighborhood.

Now scientists are finding that prototype devices that use light pulses, satellite signals, and other technologies offer the potential to almost instantly measure large areas of snow. In time, such devices might even provide a global picture of snow depth.

Read more at scienceblog.com

Understanding dyslexia

On Land Destroyed by the Tsunami, Japan is Building a Futuristic Robot Farm

By Clay Dillow

Posted 01.06.2012 at 10:02 am

2 Comments

Devastation Wrought by the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami

U.S. Navy via Wikimedia

You have to hand it to the Japanese; Last March’s Tohoku earthquake and associated tsunami wasn’t the first natural (or unnatural, for that matter) disaster to befall the island nation, but as just as before the country isn’t simply rebuilding. Instead, it’s rethinking and improving upon what was there before. The latest example: Japan’s agriculture ministry is building a fully robotic experimental farm on a swath of farmland inundated by the tsunami.

After salt is removed from the soil of the 600 acre plot, the agriculture ministry’s plan calls for unmanned tractors to work fields lit by LEDs that will keep insects at bay in lieu of pesticides. The robotic tractors will till, plant, and tend to rice, soybeans, wheat, and various fruits and vegetables that will then also be harvested by their robotic overseers.

The robo-farm, planned for a space in Miyagi prefecture roughly 200 miles north of Tokyo, is part of an effort to find smarter ways to reclaim Japan’s farmland–some 60,000 acres of which was fouled by the tsunami–and find more efficient ways to make use of the country’s limited agricultural space.

Getting more out of each square foot of agricultural real estate isn’t just a Japanese imperative, of course. As the global population increases, increasing the per-acre yield of agricultural space is becoming more and more crucial. Leave it to tech-savvy Japan to understand fundamentally that technology is the way forward in farming.

As such, the “Dream Project,” as the robo-farm initiative is known, will be built by partners like Panasonic, Hitachi, Fujitsu, NEC, and Sharp–technology companies most of us would probably wouldn’t associate with agriculture. But perhaps we should start thinking that way. The Japanese certainly are.

[AFP]

Viking Sunstone Guided Ships in Cloudy #Weather

By John Bohannon, ScienceNOW

To avoid getting lost on their voyages across the North Atlantic 1,000 years ago, Vikings relied on the sun to determine their heading. (This was long before magnetic compasses had been invented.) But cloudy days could have sent their ships dangerously off course, especially during the all-day summer sun at those far-north latitudes. The Norse sagas mention a mysterious “sunstone” used for navigation. Now a team of scientists claims that the sunstones could have been calcite crystals and that Vikings could have used them to get highly accurate compass readings even when the sun was hidden.

The trick for locating the position of the hidden sun is to detect polarization, the orientation of light waves along their path. Even on a cloudy day, the sky still forms a pattern of concentric rings of polarized light with the sun at its center. If you have a crystal that depolarizes light, you can determine the location of the rings around the hidden sun.

Calcite is such a crystal. It has a property called birefringence: Light passing through calcite is split along two paths, forming a double image on the far side. The brightness of the two images relative to each other depends on the polarization of the light. By passing light from the sky through calcite and changing the crystal’s orientation until the projections of the split beams are equally bright, it is theoretically possible to detect the concentric rings of polarization and thus the location of the sun.

Theory is one thing, practice is another. To see if calcite is accurate enough for navigation, a team led by Guy Ropars, a physicist at the University of Rennes 1 in France, built a sunstone. They used a chunk of calcite from Iceland spar, a rock familiar to the Vikings, and locked it into a wooden device that beams light from the sky onto the crystal through a hole and projects the double image onto a surface for comparison. They then used it over the course of a completely overcast day. They took the measurements from a point on land where they knew the sun’s exact trajectory.

If the Vikings were clever enough to use calcite as a sunstone, it would have enabled them to navigate on cloudy days, the researchers report today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A. Their sunstone came within 1% of the true location of the sun even after it had dipped below the horizon. Ropars cautions that archaeologists have yet to find a sunstone among Viking shipwrecks or settlements.

The study reveals “an ingenious solution to the problem of open-sea navigation,” says John Phillips, a biologist who studies animal navigation at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, adding that birds may also use polarization to navigate. But even if it is possible, using such a sunstone on a rolling Viking ship at sea would have been a challenge, he says. “Perhaps [they used it] when the Viking sailors encountered islands or ice packs during their travels.”

This story provided by ScienceNOW, the daily online news service of the journal Science.

Image: Physicists think Vikings could have used calcite crystals in a device like this to navigate on cloudy days. (Guy Ropars)

See Also:

How to Make It to Top of Your Field (Even If You’re a Woman in Science)

This is a valuable video for any woman in SciTech to watch. Joy Hirsch really does a fine job of describing a still existing glass-ceiling in the sciences. I think this is going to be a really good series overall at Big Think, so be sure to click through to the original source cited at the bottom and keep up with Meg Erickson’s articles.

How to Make It to Top of Your Field (Even If You’re a Woman in Science)

Here, Hirsch gives her advice for climbing the ranks and becoming an expert in your domain. Watch:

http://bigthink.com/embeds/video_idea/40776?width=512&height=288&auto_play=0