About Me

My Photo

Tech journalist since the dark ages. Windows Secrets, LangaList newsletter, Windows Magazine (NetGuide, Home PC), Byte, Popular Computing, yadda yadda yadda. Google me, if it matters.

This feed is mostly personal interest; it's NOT my professional writing. There's tech here, yes, but also lots of general science and some politics and weird humor thrown in.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Cape Cod, from space...

... with a very, very long lens.


Story: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=86504&src=eoa-iotd

Monday, August 31, 2015

A joke answered by a joke:

A list of "20 Most Profound Things People Thought Of In The Shower" is making the rounds. (E.G. here.)

One such item is usually stated as something like this:


"The sinking of the Titanic must have seemed like a miracle to the lobsters in the ship's kitchen."


That's amusing enough, but this (from the often excellent, always weird Dinosaur Comics) is even more so:





Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thunderstorm "sprites," from space

The very largest and most active thunderstorms sometimes produce "sprites;" elusive, fleeting, very hard-to-see electrical discharges at the uppermost reaches of the atmosphere.

They're so hard to see, they're weren't truly discovered until 1989.

Earlier reports were discounted because sprites don't look at all like regular lightning: they often look something like pink jellyfish!

There are only a few places where they can be seen from the ground --- places like the east slopes of the Rocky Mountains, looking out over the huge storms that form over the plains. And even then, conditions have to be just right.

But the International Space Station has a different perspective, and can see them in a way never before witnessed:






ISS Sprite Story:  http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=86463&src=eoa-iotd

Sprites: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprite_(lightning)

PBS story: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/edge-of-space.html

More info, images: http://tinyurl.com/nel5dhk

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Get your ass--- er, name --- to Mars

You can have your name added, for free, to a microchip that will be mounted on NASA's InSight Mars lander, scheduled to launch in March of next year, and landing on Mars some six months later after.

 The lander, under construction:


Insight is designed to study Mar;'s interior, mostly by seismic analysis.The mission and lander are described here: http://insight.jpl.nasa.gov/home.cfm

When you sign up to have your name added to the lander, you also get a mock "boarding pass," thus:



Over 360,000 people have already signed up.

It's all for goodwill and PR, of course.

But it's also for posterity: the lander, and its chip with your name, will be there likely for millions of years --- far longer than any similar device on Earth's surface.

To show your support for NASA --- and to  grab your small bit of long-term interplanetary glory --- sign up here (http://mars.nasa.gov/participate/send-your-name/insight/). It's free!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Na na na na na na na na... The Batman Equation

From the Department of  Way Too Much Spare Time On Someone's Hands:

This equation...




... yields this curve:




Full explanation: http://www.pacifict.com/Examples/Batman/