The best news headline I've seen in quite a while: Probe spots Pac-Man on Saturnian Death Star
Mimas is one of the moons of Saturn. Because of the large crater on it, it has been said to look like the Deathstar from the Star Wars movies.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
The best news headline I've seen in quite a while: Probe spots Pac-Man on Saturnian Death Star
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The first 7 TeV collisions are now taking place in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), breaking yet another record. They had achieved the 7 TeV energies earlier, but only now are they allowing the particle beams to cross and collide.
7 TeV is only half what the LHC was designed for. However, the LHC is basically its own prototype. It has been decided that the copper fail-safes between the superconducting magnets need to be redesigned before the LHC can reach the full 14 TeV power. The LHC will need to be shut down to perform these upgrades. For now they will run at half power until late 2011, at which time they will shut it down and upgrade it. It won't be scheduled to resume operation until 2013... So much for it being the 2012 doomsday device.
The LHC is 27km in circumference, and those hadrons (protons) in the beams are going around the ring 11,245.5 times a second. That's 99.999997828 percent the speed of light. There are 2 beams traveling in opposite directions.
Yet for all the power and speed of the LHC, nature bombards our atmosphere with far more energetic cosmic rays. Take the Oh-My-God particle for example. It slammed into the atmosphere over Utah with an energy of 3x10^20 electronvolts (equivalent to 300,000,000 TeV). That's why I'm not worried about black holes or anything else from the LHC eating Earth; if it were possible, nature would have already done it.
Special Relativity1Some strange Special Relativity takes place between the beams. Despite moving at near light speeds in opposite directions, they're still not moving faster than the speed of light relative to each other.
The entire 27km circumference of the collider is only a little over a meter in length relative to a beam; this is known as length contraction. Yet from one beam's perspective, the other beam has to travel 202,500km to get around that same circumference once. (Funfact: a 703.5 TeV cosmic ray "sees" the entire Earth as 17 meters thick.)
There's also a strange time dilation that would cause a beam to "see" a clock at rest as running 7,500 times slower. Yet if an observer at rest were to see a clock traveling with the beam, it too, would appear to be running 7,500 times too slow. So from both perspectives, it would appear as though the other clock is the slow one. This effect is increased to 112,000,000 (that's millions) times if the two beams were to look at each other's clocks. (Funfact: a 703.5 TeV cosmic ray would have "seen" only 6,000 years2 pass in the 4.5 billion years the Earth has been here.)
Seriously... Science is stranger than fiction. Yet Special Relativity is tame compared to Quantum Mechanics. When the beams collide, the resulting debris particles are where the Quantum Mechanics aspect of the LHC begin... Then you've got stuff that exists in opposite states simultaneously (quantum states), can jump across an impenetrable barrier (quantum tunneling), and fundamental particles yet unknown to physics (the elusive Higgs boson).
1: These calculations were made for the full 14 TeV output of the LHC (7 TeV in each direction). However, because the energy required to accelerate something near the speed of light increases exponentially, the figures are not far off from the current half-power speeds.
2: If the young-earth proponents were riding a cosmic ray, they might have been right!
Monday, March 29, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Smallpox. It's been with humans since before civilization. Killed many hundreds of millions. Human history is punctuated with its effects... It is the only human disease to have ever been eradicated. No one will ever die from Smallpox again.
Or is that really true? While it has been removed from the population, stocks still exist in the Unites States and Russia, under the care of the World Health Organization (WHO). They were going to be destroyed, but the WHO changed their mind against its destruction in 2002. Smallpox still exists...
Personally, I feel the DNA of Smallpox should be mapped, then all remaining stocks destroyed. We owe it to everyone that has ever died of Smallpox in the past and the future generations. Please, make sure it's really gone for good.
The Smallpox success alone should be enough to convince people of the usefulness of vaccinations. Even if vaccinations had any link with autism (and they don't) they'd still be well worth it. But that's another topic for another time...
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Pop quiz! You're a public works maintenance person. A pothole is reported in a busy intersection. What do you do about it?
A. Repair it immediately.
B. Cover it with a steel plate so it's not an immediate hazard.
C. Place a couple cones so people have to drive around it, then ignore it for weeks.
If you answered C, perhaps you work for the city of Ketchikan!
I specifically tried to take the picture when there was no traffic. There was someone that was coming up on the intersection and when they saw me with my camera, they stopped.
See the rest of “The Cones Will Fix It”»
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Try as I might, I couldn't avoid the invisible parasite.
A rather nasty cold was going around my dad's workplace. He caught it, and despite my best efforts, I caught it from him. It took my dad 8 days to get over it, and he's a healthy guy. So I expect it to take about 8 days with me, too.
It starts out as a scratchy sore throat feeling, like you've been yelling all day. A headache will come on shortly after, and in my case a mild fever and my eyes are sore. I rarely get headaches unless I'm dehydrated or have a fever.
Sore eyes sure, that's common with me. I have poor vision with my left eye1, but my right eye is fine. Having different vision in your eyes causes strain and they get sore. Sore eyes and poor depth-perception are things I've just had to learn to deal with.
Anyway, back to the cold. If I follow the path my dad did, it will drop into my chest in a couple of days and stay there for 4 days, then turn into a sinus cold. But you never know, everyone fights illnesses differently. For an example, one of my dad's coworkers would cough all night and couldn't get much sleep. Whereas my dad didn't have too many issues with coughing.
Where I'm at now, it will get worse before it gets even worse. [sarcasm] I'm an optimistic person. [/sarcasm]
1: It's nothing glasses can fix. The optical nerve is underdeveloped. The actual eye is fine. It's a "low bandwidth" problem between my eye and brain.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
So I just learned something shocking. I had enough income in 2009 on my taxes from the ads here that Master Marf has become a business in the eyes of the IRS. For last year's taxes it was just a hobby. Somehow since then I've become a self-employed business owner. I'm such a ninja at getting a job even I didn't know I had one!
I started doing my taxes with the TurboTax program. When I entered the information from my ad income, it said I had a business; it wanted to upgrade to the business edition (for a fee), and started asking questions about my "business". So I got confused and decided to see a tax consultant, I went to Liberty Tax Service here in Ketchikan.
It was explained to me that when you start getting 1099 forms listing "nonemployee compensation" in box 7, you are in fact self-employed. And that I do in fact, have a business as far as the IRS is concerned (even though I don't have a business license).
The downside is business tax forms are much more expensive to have done, either by a tax firm or program like TurboTax. Also I have to pay Social Security and Medicare costs out of my "business" income. However, because it was my first time using Liberty Tax Service, and my taxes were so simple, they were nice enough to give me a voucher that made my tax preparation free this year. Otherwise I'd of had to pay a $224 charge for being a small business. Ouch!
Monday, March 22, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Have any of you have come across little strips of steel on the sidewalk or road? I did as a child. I'd play with them. I'd hold one end on the edge of a table and flick the other end so it makes a funny little reverberating, almost buzz noise.
The strips of steel are not that big, the one I have at my desk now is about 16.5cm long, 4mm wide, and are quite thin at about 1mm1. Usually one end is kinda ragged, and the other end is smoothed on one side. It took me quite a while to finally figure out what exactly they were, and why I was randomly finding them.
They are the individual bristles off a street-sweeper vehicle that have broken off. Hence, why I kept finding them on or near roads. I've known what they are for years now, but they had me quite puzzled as a child.
1: I used metric measurements because it's a pain to measure something that's that thin in inches using a ruler.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The old style photovoltaic solar panels required more energy to manufacture than what it would produce for its entire lifespan. Current technologies usually break even after about 1-4 years.
And you thought solar was a clean alternative...
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
This was on a deck railing, it had froze the night before. Best I can figure air got under the ice, and was trapped when it melted during the day.
The 12th was the only day the entire week that the sun came out. The rest of the week was stormy, with winds clocked at the airport at 72 mph.
See the rest of “Bubbles!”»
Monday, March 15, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
[ ALERT! THIS IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT. ]
At 2:00 AM (in their respective time zones) this morning most of mankind traveled an hour into the future. As a result, artificial clocks need to be set an hour ahead to match biological clocks.
[ THIS HAS BEEN A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT, BROUGHT TO YOU BY: Master Marf. ]
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
This is a scanned page out of my 7th grade steno pad from math class. It is one of the first occurrences of the name Marf. As you can see, the joke of changing Marf to Barf is as old as the name itself.
You're looking at something that's 11 years old... The illustrations and the letter "B" are not my work, but rather that of a classmate. The arrows that go across the page are a whole other story.
That's right, Marf was a grandma as well as a male search and rescue team member.
See the rest of “Grandma Barf”»
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
So I had yesterday's post scheduled like I usually do. I got up in the morning and didn't check it right away; it turns out I had it scheduled for 12:01 PM rather than AM. I only noticed a few minutes before noon anyway, so the post was about 12 hours late.
This is just one example of why we all should be using 24-hour clocks. I hate the 12-hour AM/PM system we use...
That's right, this post is just about blaming my human error on something else, then bitching about it.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I figured out I could use avenue roundabouts as the meatballs and road roundabouts for the eyes of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The city of Thaylambar has been touched.
Thaylambar is another of my cities I've been working on. It has a population of 99,000; yet the majority of the land is used as farmland.
I'm keeping the population poor and dumb. The reason is I'm working on a large industrial wasteland in a neighboring city, and I needed the demand for dirty industrial. As it turns out, only the poor and stupid are willing to work in a heavily polluted wasteland where you have to wear a gas mask to get to work. Who knew?
As a result, I cleaned up the industry in Ishau. I moved all the dirty industry to my wasteland city. Now there is only clean high-tech industry in Ishau. Also, the people in Ishau have proper schools are are fairly well off.
See the rest of “SimCity 4: Thaylambar”»
Monday, March 8, 2010
Sunday, March 7, 2010
So I guess I'm making us (atheists) look bad... I know 100% that there is no God1. Much in the same way I know square circles can't exist: it's a confliction of terms.
For example God can't be all powerful AND benevolent2, because the world we live in is not a perfect one3. You don't need absolute knowledge of the universe to figure that out.
1: "God" as defined by the major religions, anyway.
2: Of course I'd say the God of the Bible is malevolent and even if He did exist He does not deserve our praise.
3: Don't you dare use the "free will" argument. Not all imperfection stems from human will; earthquakes, illness, and aging for example. Mankind's free will is physically limited anyway.
See the rest of “Belief Venn”»
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Let me say right up front, I'm not being paid by Dropbox for this review and I am doing this on my own accord. You can sign up for it with my Dropbox referral link.
Dropbox allows you to sync files across multiple computers and share files with other Dropbox users, or even the public (at your discretion). You can install Dropbox on your own personal computers (Windows, Mac, and even Linux), and any file you put into the "My Dropbox" folder will sync across all your computers, along with being uploaded to the Dropbox servers. There appears to be no limit to how many computers you can sync across.
Dropbox provides an off-site backup of your files. In the event of a fire or harddrive crash, your files are still secure on the Dropbox servers. In addition, you can login to the Dropbox website from any computer (at work, for example) and download any of your files you may need. It also saves previous versions of your files for 30 days (forever, with the paid version), so if you make a change or delete something that you later regret, you can restore an old version. The files are transferred using a secure connection; even the Dropbox employees can't access your personal files. And don't worry, there is a way to truly delete a file if you really want it gone forever...
If you have an iPhone, there's a free Dropbox app that allows you to access and read files in your Dropbox account. You can also take pictures with your phone and upload them to Dropbox with the app. Currently, any file you view with the iPhone is read-only. However you can delete files from within the app, and they are still adding features.
The free account gives you 2 GB (up to 5GB, see below) of online storage. There is also the option to pay for additional space: $9.99 per month/$99.00 per year for 50 GB; or $19.99 per month/$199.00 per year for 100 GB.
There is a built-in Public folder. Anything you put into this folder gets assigned a web address and you can give this link to others (they don't even have to be Dropbox users!) so they can download the file. There's also the option to share any folder with another Dropbox user. This is an excellent way to collaborate on a project. Anything that either of you put in that shared folder is automatically sent to the other person's Dropbox folder. You can share the folder with more than one person if you're working on a group project.
If you sign up using my referral link, you'll get a free extra 256 MB of online storage. Here comes my personal gain part: so will I... For the first 12 to sign up anyway; you can get a maximum extra of 3 GB, making a total of 5 GB possible with a free account. So we both win.
I travel weekly between houses, so Dropbox has been insanely useful to me to keep files in sync between my computers. And I've set up a shared folder between my dad and I. It seems reliable, I haven't had any issues with it.