Monthly Archives: August 2005

New Lithium-Ion Battery Holds Promise

Chris, we were talking about this yesterday at lunch: A new lithium-ion battery may soon see applications in hybrid cars. The current crop of hybrids use older nickel-metal hydride batteries. While lithium-ion batteries have become ubiquitous in cellphones and laptop computers because of their far greater power capacity, they become dangerously volatile when used in larger scale applications, like powering hybrid vehicles – volatile as in explosive.

But the Saphion, a new lithium-ion battery design from Valence Technologies, offers the power of lithium-ion with the safety of nickel-metal hydride. While the Saphion is not as powerful as traditional lithium-ion batteries, it provides far greater power than equivalent nickel-metal hydride batteries. The only stumbling block for major adoption in large scale use is its price.

The first customer for the Saphion is Segway, who recently introduced three new lines of Human Transporters this spring. The new battery effectively doubles the Segway’s operating range, making this gizmo suddenly seem a more useful alternative to an automobile.

Gravity-Defying Geckos

The secret ability of the gecko is revealed via high powered microscopy: Gravity-Defying Geckos Teach Scientists a Lesson. Seems the gecko is endowed with hundreds of thousands of tiny hairs that can push into and lock onto tiny imperfections and cracks, even in the smoothest of places. Scientists are hopeful this super-velcro can be used as a new adhesive, perhaps by astronauts on space walks.

It’s official: Carl & B.J. in ’06

Boy, I tell you; go on vacation for a few days and all hell breaks loose.

Looks like the other shoe dropped and Carl Gutierrez threw his hat into the governor’s race on Guam last week. The former governor is teaming up with retired judge and freshman senator B.J. Cruz. I can’t say this really surprises me, it’s been all the buzz for weeks. But I am still aghast that people are actually excited about his reentry into the political scene.

Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center

I’ve been taking my morning constitutional at the Powder Valley Conservation Center, over in Sunset Hills. It’s right across the Meramec from where I’m staying here in Fenton. Powder Valley has three nice trails through forested hills, and it is readily available from this hotel.

Yes, I’m back in St. Louis. I spent three days up in Chicago, in a whirlwind of activity and now I’m finishing off the vacation here in the old home town.

Wedding Post-Mortem

Well the wedding went off without a hitch on Friday night. The bride was beautiful, the groom looked elegant and all of us groomsmen looked liked March of the Penguins walking in single file around the church. I’d share some pictures, but I was too busy to snap any photos at the wedding or the reception afterwards. The wedding planner made us turn off the cell phones before Mass and I just forgot to turn my camera phone back on afterwards. C’est la vie, I’m sure I’ll see plenty of photos in the coming weeks.

The wedding took place at the Old Cathedral downtown, next to the Gateway Arch. Six bridesmaids and groomsmen, plus the maid of honor, best man and the bride and groom. It looked like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which of course we were.

The reception was lots of fun; the food was delicious and the band was great. I had to drive my parents home around 11:30, so I didn’t get to stay until the end. I hear it went until after 1:00 in the morning.

I am sure I will hear more post wedding analysis later today, when we all gather around at the Sheahan’s house for to watch Jim & Kathy open gifts. I’m mostly interested in returning the tuxedo today and getting out of muggy St. Louis for a few days. Let me just say I think it is pretty cool that Jim & Kathy got together again. You see, they went to grade school together, the Sheahans and the Strohmeyers were both big families in Annunciation parish. They were in the same grade in Annunciation together and the fact that they fell in love after so many years apart is amazing. Congratulations and best of luck!

Three Hurt As Northwest Plane Evacuated On Guam

Boy, I leave the island for a week and all hell breaks loose.

Northwest Flight 74 collapsed on Guam's runway
Three Hurt As Northwest Plane Evacuated

Looks like the flight from Tokyo came to a jolting conclusion after the front landing gear collapsed on Northwest Airlines flight 74 during landing.

LSG Sky Chefs employee Joel Sablan was on the runway waiting for a Japan Airlines flight to land when he witnessed something he’s never seen before. The Northwest Boeing 747 came to a screeching halt. “As it was landing down, I was driving here what happened when it was landing down it looked like the tire came off and the chassis was scraping the ground and I saw little flames and that was it,” he recalled.

Sablan says it looked like the front tires of the aircraft fell off, causing the aircraft’s nose gear to slam into the runway. “Yeah, I was freaking out,” he said, adding, “It was rubbing; already hitting the ground, scraping and I saw some sparks.”

There were no fatalities in the mishap, but three people were taken to the Naval Hospital with injuries. The airport was closed for awhile, and even though it is open this evening, the stricken plane remains on the runway.

Some Random Science Links

Rainy Day In Missouri

Well I got into St. Louis yesterday afternoon. A long, uneventful flight and I am back in my home town for a week or so. My brother Jim is getting married on Friday, so the entire clan is converging for this big event.

It was foggy and gloomy yesterday and last night, and it started raining about an hour ago. An honest to goodness thunderstorm, something I haven’t experienced in quite a while.

Praying Mantis Eats Hummingbird

It’s a wonderful day outside, but I mostly lurking indoors. I’m on these scary antibiotics that insist I stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Bummer, because I’d really like to go hiking today. Guess I’ll just fart around the house, play videogames and read The Remains of the Day.

I’m working on a longer post of interest while my laundry dries on the line, but until that is ready to post, read this brief story (with pictures) of a praying mantis catching and eating a hummingbird. Really cool, in a grisly Nature kind of way.