Tuesday, February 3, 2009


This isn't an actual product, obviously, but a neat, simple idea. As part of a "Greener Gadgets" competition, this is an idea to implement "inlets" next to power outlets that would harvest energy from small-scale (think household) sources and feed that power back to the grid. The proposal includes ideas for getting power out of obvious kinetic sources such as door mats and trampolines (and doors and who knows what else), heat sources such as ovens and refrigerator coils, and installing generators in gym equipment.

And this leads to this Greener Gadgets contest, which is part of a Greener Gadgets conference that I've never heard of until now. It's happening here in NYC at the end of the month, so I might check it out. "Going green" is all the rage these days, and I never paid it much mind. The more I think about it, though, and the more attention I see paid to green thinking, the more it makes sense. It's forcing us to think about the efficiency and longevity of our artifacts, and will in the end create smarter products. And now I want to go off about spimes, but I'll save that for another post.

One more quick thing! Think about the gym equipment thing. If gyms would implement this, and come up with a very simple way to track who is on what machine, they could give back to their clients proportional to what those clients help the gym give back to the grid. It would be a small incentive, but a very real one.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The New Scientist: Origin of life found from 50-year-old samples

In 1953 Stanley Miller used an apparatus like this one to simulate the chemical conditions on Earth before life evolved.

Miller's experiments produced amino acids, complex oily hydrocarbons, and other organic molecules - the building blocks of life. A graduate student at the time, Miller went down in history for
being the first to show that these essential molecules could have been generated on a lifeless Earth.

Stanley Miller passed away in 2007, leaving the contents of his office and lab to a former student.

Here, vials containing samples from the 50-year-old experiments were found and later reassessed using modern techniques.

It turns out that Miller's experiments were even more successful than anyone had imagined. Vials from his volcanic experiments contained a rich mixture of amino acids, including some that have never been found in simulated early Earth experiments before. The New Scientist has the details.

Link to the article: Volcanic lightning may have sparked life on Earth at The New Scientist

Also see:
The Miller Urey Experiment

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Universe on E8

"Whoa, duuuude, I'm a surfer! I surf! Watch me surfing! And I'll talk about some physics too! Whoa!!!"

In a really intriguing TED talk, Garrett Lisi talks about his theory of everything, describing all particles and interactions of said particles as manifestations of mathematics' 'most beautiful structure.' Can't say I'm completely sold on the idea, but it sure is pretty. And it fits in quite nicely with my habit of seeing patterns within patterns within patterns, always thinking there's probably some structure to it. The biggest difference, of course, is that I'm just dreaming and this guy's actually creating maths and theories with it.

And you might not be seeing a video, instead seeing two buttons asking which version of flash you're using. Apparently TED's player is ancient, and a piece of garbage. Just click on 8 and you should be able to see it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Brian Cox > Old People

The debate here is whether or not the LHC was worth the cost, and Brian Cox dominates.

Via Bad Astronomy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Big Bang Day

Tomorrow's the big day! The LHC gets switched on for the first time! The TED Blog has a little writeup on it, which most importantly links to the CERN live webcast of the whole ordeal. So make sure to check that out tomorrow morning!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

All about ATLAS

What with the LHC preparing to open up and kill us all with its supermassive micro black holes of doom and destruction, finding the ATLAS channel on YouTube is a blessing. Aside from letting me enjoy some Holst, they've got plenty of extremely informative videos about how the ATLAS detector will work, and I highly recommend watching. Here, I'll make it easy to get started:

And as an added bonus, I couldn't help but notice some PROOF that ATLAS is evil and will destroy the planet. Here's a screenshot taken from their Episode 2 video. It's a slice of the detector:

Look familiar? I believe it does, and I believe it's so unmistakable that this can be considered official proof that dark forces are at work here, consciously plotting thee destruction of this entire planet.