Daily Archives: 02/16/2006

A Paean To Bali

Found a nice little story on Bali in the Tyee, a British Columbia magazine. Shadows and Light in Bali talks about the fantastic incongruity of Bali, a place completely driven by 21st century tourism, yet still containing a wonderful warm and innocence. Bali is a really remarkable place, and I hope to get back there sometime later this year.

Lotus blossom

She Blinded Me With Science

Let’s go crazy with a collection of interesting science related links:

  • Space-elevator Tether Climbs A Mile High – a prototype of a space-elevator cable reached a mile high last month according to LiftPort Group, a private company developing the technology. The cable, a sandwich of three carbon fiber sheets between fiberglass tape, was held aloft by three balloons. A battery operated lifter robot was deployed on the cable and reached over 1500 feet before stopping. LiftPort hopes to reach 2 miles by the spring.
  • New Images Capture Virus In Extraordinary Detail – Researchers at MIT and Baylor imaged a bacteriophage virus poised to inject its genetic material using electron microscopy. The image graces the cover of the latest issue of Nature. Well, actually they composited 15,000 seperate images together to produce the stunning picture. It’s just like what astronomers do, stacking multiple exposures on top of each other to produce stunning images. Behold the power of Photoshop.
  • Tabletop Nuclear Fusion Device Developed – Yes, I said tabletop nuclear fusion. Yes, I am serious. Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute developed a tabletop particle accelerator that actually produces nuclear fusion at room temperature. Using two opposing pyroelectric crystals, the device is filled with deuterium gas. When the crystals are heated they create a strong electrical field that propels the deuterium onto one of the crystals. As the gas molecules smash into the crystal, a steady stream of neutrons are emitted, a telltale sign of nuclear fusion. The aim is not power generation but a new portable class of x-ray instruments for medical and security purposes. This is still incredible news, and I hope it is explored further.
  • Movement Of Earth’s North Magnetic Pole Acceleration Rapidly – After 400 years in the Canadian Arctic, the magnetic North Pole is lurching rapidly out into the Arctic Ocean. At it’s present rate, it could be in Siberia within 50 years. The movement of the pole could spell the end of Alaska’s glorious northern lights, as the aurora glows around the magnetic pole. The movement of the pole does not necessarily auger a change in the planet’s magnetic field, but we are overdue for a pole reversal.
  • BBC Joins ClimatePrediction.net To Advance Climate Change Research – The BBC announced this week that it will start offering a special version of the ClimatePrediction.net distributed screensaver. Glad to see they are throwing themselves behind a worthwhile project and I hope they get lots of people to sign up. I’d do it myself, but I’m already torqueing my computers’ processors with Folding@Home, Einstein@Home and SETI@Home.
  • Study: King Tut Slain By Sword In The Knee – Itialian scientists discovered gold leaf embedded in the knee of King Tut’s mummy, and believe it got lodged there because of a sword wound. This led to the hypothesis that the boy pharoah died of a fatal infection. Interesting, but it still sounds a little iffy to me. But hey, everybody loves mummies!
  • Open Solaris LiveCD Available – I’ve been goofing around with numerous Linux LiveCD’s lately, but here’s one called Belenix that is based on OpenSolaris, the recently open sourced crown jewels for Sun Microsystems. Think I’ll pull down the ISO tonight and give it a whirl. I really like Ubuntu on my box at home, but I still like to goof around.