Cooking Up Plutonium-238

Somewhere between 1995 and 2000, I was sent to teach a pSOS+ class to Westinghouse engineers in Savannah, Georgia. At the time, the debate between Assembler-language versus C for application programming was still hot and heavy. Programs written in Assembler took longer to develop and had more bugs to detect, ferret out, and correct, but […]

Dark Matter or New Math?

“Dark Matter” is the raison d’être for what holds galaxies together. For the past couple of years, television and popular science articles have been capitalizing this popular theory. It came about because movements on a galactic scale found Newtons law of universal gravitation (1687) as modified by Albert Einstein’s General Relativity (1915) to be inadequate. According to […]

Orion’s Arm Pit

Why do the Orionids (meteor shower) always come from Orion’s arm pit, and only just before dawn? And what about the Leonids next month and the Geminids in December — how do they all know to come in those same hours, and why do each of those meteor showers seem to come from a different […]

The Limits of Manifestation

We live by averages. Everything we see, touch, hear, and so on is an average of what’s really going on. It’s like trying to measure the width of a needle with a yardstick. Our senses are just too coarse to give us an accurate read of reality. Using the yardstick of our senses, we are […]

Curiosity Begins

Curiosity, the biggest, heaviest and most complex rover, landed successfully on Mars this evening. To the scientists, engineers, managers, directors, vice presidential types, to the security guard at the front gate of JPL in Pasadena, the lady in HR that makes the badges for people at JPL, the custodians that empty the trash, vacuum carpets, […]

Evil and Suffering

A parent, watching their child take its first steps, knows it may fall. As a result, we stand ready to catch them when they do. But the fact remains that the child does, indeed, stumble and fall. The parent limits the hurt, yes, but for the child to walk, they must learn that if done […]

Origin of the Universe

  Everything I can see, touch, hear, find in fossils or discern in the extreme reaches of the most distant super galaxies and quasars all tell me that everything changes according to “cause and effect”. Cause and Effect. Everything. The best theory of the universe right now is called the “Hot Big Bang”. It says […]

To Boldly Go Where …

Previously in “Armchair Physics“, I said that if you were on-board a spacecraft that was under constant acceleration, you could continue to accelerate indefinitely. The “limit” of the speed of light is an observational, or relative to something else, limit. That is, if you stand in your backyard and, looking up at the sky, observe […]

Obligatory Super Moon Picture

Taken with a tripod, manual exposure but, in the dark I didn’t record the settings, on a Fuji “too many controls” digital camera at “darn close” to the full moon moment. The image was cropped this morning and levels tweaked (well, “hammered” would be a better choice of terms) in Paint.Net, my favorite free image […]

Armchair Physics

I love reading about physics, Einstein, mass and energy, and all that stuff. It takes me out of my mundane life, away from the day to day problems and deep into interstellar space. Cool! Einstein was noted for his thought experiments. He would think up a situation and then mentally chew on it for long […]