solarbird: (Default)
This is very definitely one of those "please let this hold up" science stories. Popular Mechanics jumps the gun a bit in that - according to the authors - this is "probably" not economically viable yet, but there's also a big question about what the authors consider economic viability.

From the paper online here:

We report an electrocatalyst which operates at room temperature and in water for the electroreduction of dissolved CO2 with high selectivity for ethanol. The overpotential (which might be lowered with the proper electrolyte, and by separating the hydrogen production to another catalyst) probably precludes economic viability for this catalyst, but the high selectivity for a 12-electron reaction suggests that nanostructured surfaces with multiple reactive sites in close proximity can yield novel reaction mechanisms.


Bold added.
solarbird: (shego-rule?-you?)
Okay so apparently if you're reading a little before bed and you put on this 10-hour loop of the Jurassic Park theme because a character reminded you of that movie then it suddenly becomes 4am.

this is kind of a psa that both this happens and that there is a 10-hour loop of the jurassic park theme on youtube and it works JUST FINE
solarbird: (pingsearch)

I can’t figure out whether this crazy quintuple-star system is from Nightfall, the Colonies of Battlestar Galactica, or the Verse from Firefly.

WHAT SAY YOU?

[ GO HERE TO VOTE ]

Which scenario does this real life star system best fit?

  • [ ] Isaac Asimov's Nightfall
  • [ ] Battlestar Galactica's Colonies
  • [ ] Firefly's "the Verse"
  • [ ] Another system (vote in comments)
  • [ ] ADDED: The world of The Dark Crystal

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solarbird: (Default)
The propellentless electric drive may actually work, says latest NASA test. That's super cool. Seriously, I am crazy excited about that. I'm still holding off on going WOOHOO MOON EXPRESS because this is very much in that category of "extraordinary claims" and "extraordinary evidence," but wow, it would be amazing. Seriously, with existing conventional submarine reactor power sources, we're talking four hours TO THE MOON.

NO REALLY, FOUR HOURS TO THE MOON. And Alpha Centauri in less than a century. We're talking about comprehensible time here, where shit starts getting real.

We're still a long way from that. Don't get hopes up too high; this could still all be noise or who knows what. And it probably is. But it might not be, so: exciting.

I am not so excited that space.com listed all the men in the UK and US who had worked on various reproduction tests of the drive, but anonymised the work of Processor Juan Yang and her research team's critical work confirmation reproduction efforts in China.

Fortunately, not all stories were so scrubby with that eraser, which is how I know her name. Still - goddamn, space.com, mentioning everyone but her?

But then, given that journals will occasionally slip and just tell women scientists outright that if they want to get their work published they should add some men to the author list (and, incidentally, that men are "better" paper writers because "[m]ale doctoral students can probably run a mile race a bit faster than female doctoral students," and yes, that is a quote), I guess I have to ask, what the fuck do I expect?

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solarbird: (Default)
I love the search results when I do math in DuckDuckGo. Here's the top hit for my latest calculation:

http://arxiv.org/abs/1208.6474

Decay of the pseudoscalar glueball into scalar and pseudoscalar mesons

Walaa I. Eshraim, Stanislaus Janowski, Francesco Giacosa, Dirk H. Rischke
(Submitted on 31 Aug 2012 (v1), last revised 29 Apr 2013 (this version, v2))
We study a chiral Lagrangian which describes the two- and three-body decays of a pseudoscalar glueball into scalar and pseudoscalar mesons. The various branching ratios are a parameter-free prediction of our approach. We compute the decay channels for a pseudoscalar glueball with a mass of 2.6 GeV, as predicted by Lattice QCD in the quenched approximation, which is in the reach of the PANDA experiment at the upcoming FAIR facility. For completeness, we also repeat the calculation for a glueball mass of 2.37 GeV which corresponds to the mass of the resonance X(2370) measured in the BESIII experiment.
solarbird: From moongazeponies on deviantart (pony-pinkie-hax)

Check this out: listening to dead satellites. Or at least semi-dead satellites. These are satellites with dead batteries but with transmitters which turn on whenever the solar panels are in the right direction anyway. Some of the noises they make are weird and interesting.

I particularly like Transit 5B-5, launched 1964, for military navigation purposes. But recordings of many different satellites can be found at the link. Echos of the cold war – fitting, don’t you think, for the days surrounding the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall?

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solarbird: (Default)
Four Acre Spider Web Engulfs Building. There aren't enough photos but the ones which are there are totally cool.
solarbird: (gaz)
So I was poking around for new LED decorative bulbs - specifically, clear bulbs, because the selection there has been a problem for a while, and no frosted bulb looks good in a ceiling fan. Just for example. And I stumbled across something on Amazon, or more specifically, two somethings, both made by the same company originally: LED filament bulbs, in various tiny wattages.

I noticed that the 4w bulb was being claimed as a "40w replacement," and honestly, while I've seen improvements in output per watt, that's less than half the power draw of any legitimate LED or CFL replacement I've seen at the claimed output lumens. So I imagined that really, it's putting out more like 200 lumens or so, and the output is whiter, which makes people think its brighter. The one customer photo made me think the same, but that'd be okay anyway, so I ordered a couple in different bases, to test.

Which, of course, I have done.


Test setup


When I got the bulbs out of their boxes, I immediately felt the lightness - they felt like incandescent bulbs, not LED or CFL. The weight isn't there. And they don't look like LEDs. I mean, seriously, look at this thing.


What the hell.


The electronics are down in the base, such as it is. They're visible from the top. There's no vacuum inside; the globe is to protect the electrics and such.

I'm going to cut straight to the chase: IT'S NOT A LIE. I kept remeasuring output and power consumption levels to revalidate it. They're 2700K as claimed. The 4w bulb actually draws between 3.6 and 3.7 watts; the 2w bulb draws 2.1-2.2. But compare for yourself.

Here's a side-by-side of the outputs. Bulbs in same location, camera set to manual and the same settings (ISO400, f3.5, 1/30th second exposure) in both cases.


Side-by-side


This photo is mostly the incandescent, but with horizontal rectangles of the LED Filament bulb overlaid. A couple of them are obvious, where the LED's output is more obviously brighter; a couple of the others are harder to find.


Stripe Overlays. 3.8w source image, 40.1w source image


The 3.8 watt LED Filmament bulb, in the fixture, and also, a photo of the consumption reading (in watts) on the metre.





And the 40 watt incandescent (actual draw 40.1w) used for comparison purposes, with its load level as well.







As you can see, the spread is wider on the 3.8 watt LED bulb, but I think that's mostly a function of the fixture and relative location of filaments. If I had a way to do true equivalent spread, the 3.8w output photos would be even brighter in comparison to the 40.1w decorative clear bulb.

I kept thinking something had to be fraudulent here, but... I can't find it. I kept checking back on the power metre to see if it had jumped up somehow, just because this is literally twice the best efficiency per watt that I've ever seen.

The bulbs are rated in the 15,000-hour range. One source says 15,000 hours; another says 25,000 hours. I'm going with the lower to be more cautious.

I checked for strobing, too. I have one way to test for that only. According to it, the LED strobes less than the incandescent.

And as far as most places are concerned, this doesn't even seem to exist. I can't buy it anywhere reasonable, I have to order it from obscure sellers online. And they aren't brand new; Amazon reviews go back a while. They're $8 each, cheaper(!) than the frosted and less-efficient LEDs I've been buying, even on a per-lumen sort of basis.

So yeah, genuinely, it's like finding a little alien artefact my mail. Seriously, what the hell?

These aren't dimmable. That's explicit on the packaging. Make them dimmable and the excuses for incandescents are pretty much gone. So we're not there yet - but we're close.

eta: By request: closeup of the filaments, powered, but low exposure for detail. This is actually a different bulb of the same type - this one is 2w (a different but same model drew 2.2w in testing), with output similar to a 25w incandescent.

solarbird: (banzai institute)
Specifically, some Finns built a better firewood-splitting axe. It offsets the blade and adds a hook, so that downward force is translated to horizontal force after impact, which tears the wood more efficiently and tosses the new section of the split off to the side.

http://vipukirves.fi/english/

(Via Ben Deschamps on Facebook.)
solarbird: (Default)
Okay so there's a lot if sampling here, so I'm a liiiiittle wobbly. But it's still science, I wrote it down.

Okay, so two good drinks came out of this. We think. This is unverified result, must try again after less sampling.

Siberian Honey:
2x vodka, 2x barenjager, 1x grapefruit juice (dirty). cold, shaken. pour strained; very sweet. Too sweet for me but the favourite of the shatterdome floor crew.

Kuril Islands Chrysanthemum:
Prepare tippy assam (black) tea, allow to cool, do not adulterate. Then:
2x vodka, 1x barenjager, 2x fresh-squeed grapefruit juice (dirty), shake hard, pour unstrained, add 1x _tea_, stir in. Unexpectedly delicate; Flowery without excess sweetness; tastes of chrysanthemum.

I'll also note this unexpected result: take the Siberian Honey, then after pouring, squeeze in a dollop of fresh squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest and stir. Result tastes inexplicably of black liquorice. If you like that, this may be good for you.

We tried a variety of other proportions, involving lemon and club soda, mostly. None of the rest were of note.
solarbird: (Lecturing)

Found this piece of lost chemistry notes from 2007, while cleaning out a closet. My notes are… occasionally random.


Water is Strange

Yes. Yes, it is.

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solarbird: (banzai institute)

Playing with a waveform rectifier. It’s external hardware, so to bounce stuff through it, I have to route out through analogue and back in, old-school. That’s fine, but kind of slow.

The odd part is, to me, the difference is substantial – at least, when the drums are thrown at it, not so much with the zouk and vox – but Anna doesn’t hear much of a difference. I wonder which is more typical?

Trying to throw an entire drum mix through it and using that in place of the separates Does Not Work, though. If I want to use this even as an incremental change tool, I should use it live (as recommended by maker, actually) or bounce per-instrument. That’s also suggested as reasonable in the manual.

Either way, it’s not showing up that hugely in the mix, even to me, and a lot of what this is doing is reminding me how much better the headphone amp in my workstation is than the headphone amp in my Macbook. By which I mean damn.

But at least I get to say “I have a waveform rectifier.” That’s cool.

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solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)

Heading off today, north! To festival! To Harrison Hot Springs! Back on Monday. I’ll probably be tweeting a lot tho’. Remember: send any geekmusic news you have for the podcast by Monday if at all possible! If you don’t have any, forward that link around to people who might.

Here, have an awesome link – I actually already knew some of this but not this particular early outright-digital state. Ironically, I think this process got more analogue before it got less – there were comparably-small machines in the 60s and 70s which did more or less this, only with a single copy of the photo print. But they sent over ordinary phone lines, and I think those machines were varying tone in a more analogue fashion. But I could be wrong; maybe they were digitising down to these same five-bit images. Anyway, enjoy:


How Photos Were Cabled Across the Atlantic Ocean in 1926

Finally, welcome Radish Review readers; I think you’ll find this post on harassment in person vs. online trenchant. It’s called “Power and Supervillainy.” And my regular readers may also enjoy Scalzi’s Q&A on his anti-harassment-policy policy, including complaints made by some calling his policy anti-free-speech, an idea about which I can only giggle sadly, not manically. And if I’m not giggling manically, you are doing it wrong and I have a heat ray. Shape up – or else.

TO THE NORTH!

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solarbird: From moongazeponies on deviantart (pony-pinkie-hax)

Vancouver has everything, including The Laser Cutter Cafe, which is what it says on the tin: tea and lasers. I think I’m in love and I’ve never even been there. Seriously, the supervillain trade alone will be…

<sunglasses>

monstrous. Muah ha ha HA HA HA ha ha ha ha!

Here, this looks like magic, but it’s actually just copper being diamagnetic. Or magic. One of those. Anyway, check out what happens with a big copper pipe and a big, strong, neodymium magnet, it really just looks wrong:

Finally, two articles relevant to your interests. BECAUSE I SAID SO. First: How hackers make mincemeat out of your passwords. Passwords are just a problem; if you only have one and you use it lots of places… that’s not a good answer, no matter how solid it is. The game now is damage control, really.

Second: patent troll targets podcasting. No, it’s not new, but it’s ongoing, and honestly, it’s time to tear it all down and start over, because this is bullshit.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (banzai institute)

If you remember dialup modems, you remember the series of tones you’d hear after the phone connected and the modems on each end of the line started synchronising so they could send data back and forth.

Here is a really quite pretty visual breakdown of what’s happening. Signal analysis can be surprisingly attractive, don’t you think?


Click to magnify

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solarbird: From moongazeponies on deviantart (pony-pinkie-hax)

You know how all those white plastic electronics – computers, game systems, lamps, just whatever – start to turn yellow after a few years? And no amount of cleaning will fix it, not even bleach, which tends to just hurt the plastic a bit?

A few years ago, some antique computer collectors – particularly of old Amiga, Commodore, and Atari white plastic computers – did a lot of experimenting around and came up with a solution. It’s known generically as Retr0brite, but you can make it yourself. Essentially it’s a kind of oxidation – a bromine solution is added to the plastic as a fire-retardant, and over time a hydrogen atom gets replaced by an oxygen, which rotates the molecule just a bit to expose the bromine, which looks like this:


UV light makes it worse more quickly

All this means that eventually the 1990s-era trackball that used to live in the sunroom looks like this:


Yep. That’s yellowed.

This is an old Microsoft Intellipoint trackball from the 1990s. I have four of them, one still new in box. It is, for my hands, the single best pointing device ever made. Needing to take it apart to scrub it out inside got this whole thing started.

As you can see, it’s got quite yellow over time, thanks to that UV-triggered bromine exposure. Retr0brite triggers the release of the aforementioned hydrogen, and re-replaces it with oxygen, reconfiguring the molecule just that little bit. You’re actually restoring the plastic with this process, rather than damaging it further.

Mixing up Retr0brite is actually quite simple. The only difficult part is getting the right mixture of artificial mucus, to use as a physical stabiliser. You need one, to keep the Retr0brite on the plastic, rather than running off into the tray.


Minion Paul had to leave the room

It’s just corn starch, relax. XD

I was able to get a reasonably-pure 12% hydrogen peroxide solution locally, but if I had the option, I’d go up to 15% or even 20% – just because by the time you get the artificial mucus into the mix, you’ve diluted the peroxide/TAED mixture further, and unless you have more UV than we have around here, that’ll slow down the reaction quite a bit. More is not always better – in California, this might’ve been too strong a mix.

But! After a day mostly in sunlight – result!


Not all the way back, but close

A stronger mix or a second day of sun probably would’ve finished the job. That’s against 92-brightness white paper, which actually means slightly blue; Against the brown workstation table, it’s almost shockingly white. But you can still see a difference between inside and outside of case, and I think they should be the same.

So: yay! It works! If you do this, USE EYE GUARDS, SERIOUSLY: once you add the TAED, it can get a bit fizzy, and you do not need this shit in your eyes. I can’t stress that enough. But otherwise, it’s pretty safe.

Here’s another before/after shot – sorry the second one is fuzzy, I didn’t realise until I’d put the trackball back together:

Oh, otherwise, the plastic feels unaffected. If anything, it feels a little smoother, but I think that’s just placebo effect. And if you can’t deal with the mucus, another solution is to throw out the gel entirely and make enough primary solution to submerge the plastic. The only problem there is that the plastic will float, so you’ll need to weigh it down.

So yeah, a fairly easy and effective DIY restoration project. Break out your Commodore 128s, kids, it’s time to make some old-school look brand new. :D

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solarbird: (molly-tired)

Hey kids, I was up until 3am last night working on the Faerie Blood/Bone Walker soundtrack, and this drum track sounds pretty damn cool, but Iiiiiiii’m pretty sleepy. The plan was to sleep in today and then head down to Conflikt, but you know how once in a while you just get one of those

PANG! AWAKE!

mornings? And you’re still tired, but sleep has taken a holiday? Yeah.


Pretty much me

So, enjoy this article about deleting skyscrapers from the top down, and yes, there is video, and yes, it’s kind of freaky but awesome. And here’s an article talking how the ground actually moves during an earthquake. There’s an animation and it’s SCIENCE! Not bullshit.

Anybody gonna be at Conflikt? Any of you there already?

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (banzai institute)

Having just watched the space jump – the skydive from near-orbit, the edge of space – I have to say one thing on an old topic.

People talk a lot about things from science fiction coming true, most particularly Star Trek. Star Trek kind of holds the record on that, arguably, and you can quibble about whether that’s prediction or cause (since it inspired so many scientists and engineers) but no matter how you count it, all that’s fair and good.

But this? This space jump from near orbit?

This one isn’t for Star Trek. It’s for that show’s predecessor, Lost in Space.

Nobody remembers this, but for one year – the black-and-white year, which generally isn’t in reruns – Lost in Space was hard SF. Not always very successfully – arguably, not often very successfully – but very much intentionally. They were trying.

And in the very first story arc, in Lost in Space, protagonist Dr. John Robinson made this jump.

Wherever you might be, Irwin Allen: at long last, that’s one for you.

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solarbird: boring bit (boring bit)
I did some stats tonight on my last few band blog posts, the ones that make up most of my typing output these days, and get echoed here? A couple of really interesting things popped out.

1. IPv4 addresses are no longer useful for identifying uniques or non-uniques. Almost completely orthogonal at this point, as ISPs squeeze more and more routing through fewer virtualised IPs. I have vast swathes of obvious and clear uniques coming from single IPs.

2. NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY, clicks out of Facebook. In my last two weeks, I have one Facebook-sourced load of a non-preview picture. One. Twitter's not much better, but I didn't expect it to be a traffic source. I need to completely rethink how I (try to) use Facebook.

3. I still have a lot of RSS users! Yay!

4. HI TUMBLR! I DIDN'T KNOW YOU CARED BUT I LOVE YOUUUUUUUU! <3

5. Dreamwidth matters! Yay!

6. Livejournal matters a lot. Still. HI GUYS! I'm surprised too! A regular subset of people are popping in at journal top level, but most is friendslists and hey, did you know friendsfriends still gets used? Surprise!

Counting only non-bot pageviews which view the post closely enough that non-headline images are loaded, a popular post will have well over 400 unique viewers - Montréal et Racines pulled in 437. A less popular post - something technical, like the DIY series - will pull in less, around 250. The average is a bit over 300.

What percentage of people are actually reading, I can't say.

I really have no idea what Facebook is for at this point. I need to write that "how Facebook ruins everything" post. Maybe next week.

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