gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Me - Thoughtful)

With absolutely no attempt at hyperbole at all, it is fair to say that this is one of - if not the - biggest achievement of the human race.

For, as we speak, an object conceived in the human mind, and built by our tools, and launched from our planet, is sailing out of the further depths of our solar system - and will be the first object made by man to sail out into interstellar space.

The Voyager 1, built by Nasa and launched in 1977 has spent the last 35 years steadily increasing its distance from Earth, and is now now 17,970,000,000km - or 11,100,000,000miles - away, travelling at 10km a second.

Indications over the last week implies that Voyager 1 is now leaving the heliosphere - the last vestige of this solar system.

gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Space - Solar flares)
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A HST image of the Eta Carinae and the Homunculus Nebula
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Science!)
You can't buy a lithium-air battery (yet). You've probably never even heard of one. They were only invented 15 years ago, and for now, they're still just laboratory curiosities.

But with the latest lab breakthrough, the lithium-air battery (also known as the lithium-oxygen battery) is nosing up into the energy density region seen in gasoline. If you're thinking battery-powered car, maybe your sights are too low. How does battery-powered airplane sound?
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Bosch)
‘Haboob’ Hubbub: Arizonans Protest Common Meteorological Term As Evidence Of Muslim Infiltration

English is a language that lures other languages down dark alleys, mugs them for loan words, then rifles their pockets for loose syntax.

Haboob is the term for a thick dust storm. A ghibli or sirocco is a sand storm with hurricane force winds. These bigots need to learn to deal.

Anyway, Afghan vets are more likely to refer to a dust storm as a Khamsin, the Pashto term for a violent sand/dust storm
gridlore: Old manual typewriter with a blank sheet of paper inserted. (Writing)
I'm working on a story. Don't mind me.

1. How many eggs would you normally find in the ovaries of a health woman ih er twenties?

2. After death, how long do you have to harvest those eggs before they become unusable? The death in question comes from the failure of the long-sleep system on a slower-than-light colony vessel. So assume a fairly sterile environment with no insects or scavengers getting at the body.

Don't worry, this is not the main focus of the plot, I just need the right numbers to plug in when the time comes.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Me - Thoughtful)
There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about what a tsunami actually is and the danger presented by one. I've seen a lot of scoffing on local news sites about the predicted 2 to 5-foot surges, commenting that those are smaller than the normal waves seen at Ocean Beach and other popular surfing sites. True enough. Despite the name (tsunami means "harbor wave" in Japanese) we are not talking about a normal beach waves. The waves we like to play in and give surfers their reason to live are an artifact of tides, winds, the shape of the ocean floor and currents. The ocean sloshes around, and when it hits the coast the water humps up a little and forms waves. These can vary from the little breakers I loved as a kid to the beautiful and monstrous waves of the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii.

A tsunami is created by a seismic event and is a shock wave traveling through the ocean. A big earthquake, like the one Japan just experienced, can send a compressed wall of water surging out in all directions. Changes in depth, what the ocean floor is like, water temperature, and other factors can cause this surge to weaken in areas, change direction, or even fade away. But when the tsunami reaches the coast, things get bad. Tsunamis move in open water at close to 500mph. They slow as the reach coastal waters, but this just allows more of the surge to pile up. A tsunami encountered by a ship in the open ocean may go unnoticed.

People forget that water is heavy. A cubic foot of sea water masses about 64lbs. When that tsunami reaches shore, it contains tens of thousands of cubic feet of water moving at speeds up to 200mph. Even if the actual height of the surge is only two feet, that surge will hit like a battering ram and there are tons and tons of water behind it. Plus the surge is going to pick up anything loose on the sea floor or in its path and turn those things into missiles. You have to think of a tsunami not as a wave, but as a sudden, destructive rise in sea level coupled with an amazing amount of energy directed inland.

The only smart thing to do if you are near a coast and a tsunami alert is given is run like fuck for higher ground. Gaining twenty feet could save your life. Watch some of the videos from the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami.. none of those people saw anything out of the ordinary until the surge was right on them.

It looks like we got off light here on the North American coast. Some damage to harbors and boats, a few morons who needed to be rescued from their own folly. We're still in the danger period, so I'm keeping my eyes open. Japan wasn't so lucky.

Remember people, ours is a big, dangerous planet and the universe has no mercy. Understand the risks!
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Science!)
The largest cave in the world.

You need to look at the pictures.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Me - Thoughtful)
We're a few days from 2011. I'm communicating with y'all through a global network of computers that even most science-fiction writers failed to predict. I've had several organs removed and am thriving. You me, and the guy down the street are the results of 6,000 years of culture starting with the realization that one could plant seeds and get food on a regular basis. We stride across the globe and are reaching for the stars.

Yet on a tiny island in the Andaman Islands east of India, none of that happened. The people of North Sentinel Island have lived in isolation for an estimated 60,000 years. They are incredibly xenophobic, attacking just about anyone who comes close. Large groups they hide from. Clothing, beyond broad belts and decorations, is unknown. They seem to like the color red. They decorate their shelters with painted pig skulls.

That's all we know about them. Their language, social organization, religion.. everything else is a mystery.

The Andamans used to have several such tribes. Most were assimilated (and destroyed, culturally) by the British, but one, the Jarawa people, fought off all attempts at contact. After 200 years of intermittent contact we understand less an a dozen words of their language, and the authorities in the islands have no clue if the next time the Jarawa come out of their mountain redoubts they'll be coming for handouts or to kill anyone they can find.

Read this fascinating article. Then watch this video. Remember, these are people who have been isolated for ten times longer than humans have had writing. What's amazing is how they make use of found iron and steel. Their tools are wood and bone, but flotsam washes up all the time (additionally, there's at least one shipwreck on the island's reef). You can see in the video that a couple of the people are carrying modern knives. They also hammer small bits of iron to form barbs for arrow and spear tips.

While reading about these amazing relics, I came across a blood-chilling story. The Indian government has place North Sentinel Island off-limits for good reason. Two fishermen decided to poach in the waters. The Sentinelli caught them. The fishermen managed a distress call. When the Indian Army sent a helicopter to rescue the poachers, it was driven off by massed arrow fire from the beach... but not before exposing the shallow graves of the fishermen. The bodies had been savaged.

Why they will kill and mutilate some while allowing others to approach close enough to accept gifts of coconuts (as seen in the video) is just one of the many mysteries.

If you want to see the island for yourself, you can. It takes about a week of flying and boat travel, plus bribing a fisherman to take you out there and bribing the authorities to look the other way. But it's that last part, where you go back into our own past that's the tricky one.


4 Dec 2010 11:48
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Space - Jupiter)
Still miserable. Have a rock.

gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Science!)
Which we did, back at Fort Benning. Don't ask.

gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Death)
So, what am I on? Glad you asked!

Azithromycin 250mg. 2 pills daily for one week.
Prednisone 20mg. Descending dosages over five-day rotations. Currently on 60mg/day.
Combivent inhaler. Two puffs four times a day.
Qvar 80 MCG inhaler. Two puffs twice daily, must rinse out mouth immediately afterwards.

I'm also following a self-prescribed course of C2H5OH.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Space - Solar flares)
...but some things move me in what can only be described in woo-ish terms. Take this photo:

Earth and Moon from Mercury

That's the Earth and Moon as seen from Mercury, courtesy of the MESSENGER probe.

That big light is everything we are. From Aristophanes to Woody Allen. Every war fought for a great cause and every pointless fight fueled by alcohol. You, me, and all out ancestors back to the lemur like creatures we evolved from. Every cultural reference and influence in your life, and lives of the billions of other humans living out their three score and ten on this planet in that one bright dot in the Mercurian sky.

But there's more. See that smaller dot? We alone among all known forms of life have reached forth from our home and walked on another world. 12 humans have walked on the Moon, and now we send probes across the solar system to pry knowledge from dead worlds. And return images like this.

I don't believe in an independent, sapiant deity, but if there is one I can only suppose that it is thrilled with our reach and vision.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Football - 49ers)
The demolition of the Cowboys old stadium... from inside. Full 360 view.

I'm always amazed by the science and artistry of dropping buildings.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Science!)

Airspace Rebooted from ItoWorld on Vimeo.

A visualisation of the northern European airspace returning to use after being closed due to volcanic ash. Due to varying ash density across Europe, the first flights can be seen in some areas on the 18th, and by the 20th everywhere is open.

The flight data is courtesy of and covers a large fraction of Europe. There are a few gaps (most noticeably France) and no coverage over the Atlantic, but the picture is still clear.

The map data is CC-by-SA and contributors.

This CC-by-SA visualisation was produced by with support from

gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Science!)
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Me - Google)

  • Today started out so promising. One delivery, one box, a place in Livermore I could find blindfolded.

  • So why did I end up making overtime?

  • Well, after making my delivery, I called in and told the rather shocked purchasing person that I was ready for pick-ups. She said she needed some time, and would call me back.

  • Twenty minutes later I get told that we know for sure that there is a pick-up at Simpson.

  • Problem. I was in Livermore. Simpson is in Stockton. And the highway that runs between the two was closed. Because of an idiot.

  • Luckily, I am awesome. I knew that the Old Altamont Pass Road existed for just this reason. Got me past the closure and back on the freeway just outside Tracy.

  • Then I find out I need to go to the Vendor in the Corn. By this point traffic was fuxxored all the way back to the 205/I-5 interchange. I had to back road all the way to Brentwood.

  • Here's where I got mad. I make it back to the warehouse around noon. Harry was loaded and just about to pull out for a stop in Danville (which is normally part of my route.)

  • His truck was moving, OK? He was driving towards the exit. And then he stopped.

  • Because suddenly that load was mine. Because "I know the area." Fine. I'm taking lunch first. Harry takes my truck (L1114) to the shop to get a headlight fixed. I park the truck I had been using (KL1001) and move the stuff I was going to need to the loaded truck (L1089). The rest goes in Darby. I take lunch.

  • Lunch ends, Harry gets back. Originally he was going to take three hot shots for San Jose. In the meantime, a Fremont stop had been added to my drive. Fine. I load the pallet.. and see Harry getting in his personal vehicle to go home.

  • WTF, over? As I said, he was pulling out when I got in! This crap has to stop. I've been sent to San Francisco, Gilroy, and places I had no clue about on hot shots. The rule is you get what's up when you get in.

  • Just because a stop is up 680 doesn't mean that I'm the only driver who can drive it. We're all supposed to be able to read maps, after all. Not blaming Harry, just bad decision making.

  • But this stop... several hundred feet of strut. No loading area (it was an extremely upscale shopping center in Blackhawk) and the strut, weighing over 1,000lbs total, had to be lifted up onto a balcony.

  • By the time all that was done. I was well on the way to overtime.

  • Been reading The Poetic Edda. Just getting into it, but so far completely enthralled. Currently in the Hávamál, which is a bit like Proverbs in the Bible, but focused more on practical advice on things like being a good guest and host, how to handle food and drink, and other topics.

  • This book should be required reading for anyone doing world-building for a FRPG.

  • Once we've dug out the apartment, I'm planning on running a GURPS Traveller game.

  • This one will be a little different. It will be a troupe-style game surrounding His Imperial Majesty's Light Cruiser Gordon Greene serving along the Solomani border in Alpha Crucis Sector.

  • Each player will create one Senior character (the captain will be a NPC, but XO, department heads, the Command Master Chief.) 3 or 4 junior officers or mid-level Petty Officers, and several ratings or Marine enlisted men. That way we can have a variety of adventures tailored to different characters.

  • I'd be in charge of overall plot development over the long term, but encourage others to take the chair for a session or three.

  • Dibs on the Gunnery Sergeant for the ship's Imperial Marine platoon.

  • The NFL continues to prove it is the No Fun League. It sent cease-and-desist letter to several small merchants in New Orleans for selling shirts saying "WHO DAT?" Who dat dates back to vaudeville. It certainly pre-dates the NFL's licensing attorneys. Then the league claimed they were only going after merchants who infringed on the Saint's logo. This is the Saint's logo.

  • It's a freaking Fleur-de-Lis! One of the most common symbols in the world!

  • Is the NFL going to sue Quebec next? How about the Sisters of Battle?

  • The league is back-peddling faster than Brett Farve after announcing retirement.

  • In shocking news, I'm actually doing something social. Going to a Super Bowl party.

  • Your moment of absolute wow. Crawling Neutrophil Chasing a Bacterium

  • Pitchers and Catchers Report in 13 days! GO GIANTS!!!
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Space - Jupiter)
From Bad Astronomy

Four hundred years ago tonight, a man from Pisa, Italy took a newly-made telescope with a magnifying power of 33X, pointed it at one of the brighter lights in the sky, and changed mankind forever.

The man, of course, was Galileo, and the light he observed on January 7, 1610 was Jupiter. He spotted "three fixed stars" that were invisible to the eye near the planet, and a fourth a few days later.

Here is how he drew this, 400 years ago:

Galileo's sketch

What will we find tomorrow? How is our universe going to grow next? My sister's kids live in a world where exosolar planets have always been known. To me it's still a thrilling idea that we can actually detect these things. In my lifetime Titan has gone from "cloud-wrapped mystery" to a real place with photos and known liquid lakes.

Look for Jupiter tonight, and wave at the four little moons that changed how we saw the universe.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Space - Jupiter)
My current desktop.

My Desktop

That's Eta Carinae, one of the more interesting places in our vicinity. 100-150 times the mass of the sun, and put out four million times the energy.
gridlore: A pile of a dozen hardback books (Books)
Picked up several books at Anticipation, and have been working my way through them.

The New Space Opera 2: All-new stories of science fiction adventure )

The Unbroken Chain by Guenter Wendt )

Genesis (Ark series) by Paul Chafe )

Next up: The book of French SF that was a freebie at the con.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Space - Fling!)
I've just taken part in a thread spread across several groups. It started as a burst on Moon Hoaxers screaming their usual screams and, as predicted, refusing to accept the LRO photos of Apollo landing sites. But it blossomed from there into a general bad science wank fest.

It culminated in a guy claiming that Andromeda is currently colliding with the Milky Way, and we're all DOOMED. Now, current models do show that we're on a collision course with our neighboring galaxy, but M-31 is still 2.5 million light-years away and the best estimate for a run-in is 2.5-3 billion years from now. Multiple posters tried to explain this to the moron, using good sources and cites, and he kept refusing to believe it.

He kept confusing solar system with galaxy. At several points he claimed that the "elites" would be fleeing Earth to avoid the collision. (Six days to Zyra! Six days to Zyra!) He was also unable to understand that the Voyager and Pioneer probes were coasting after their launches.

A fun break from bashing Moon Hoaxers over the head with Moon Base Clavius


gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)

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