Stale Thoughts and Broken Links

Old posts from my weblog.

(Click here for posts on geophysics and the energy industry.)


Scripting News: The Corner of Bangher and Leever.


Random science links ->

CNN: New object deemed largest minor planet.

"An icy body beyond Pluto has unseated the asteroid Ceres as the largest minor planet in the solar system, breaking a record that stood for two centuries...."

This is a follow-up to the CP violation story from last month.

Scientific American: In Search of Antimatter.

"The amount of asymmetry measured in the B system is not enough -- by many orders of magnitude -- to explain the cosmological problem in the universe.... [Stewart Smith, a spokesman for BaBa, said] `Clearly, we were hoping to find some huge discrepancy right off the bat, but nature’s more subtle than that.'"

Nature: Prion and on.

"Several antibodies cleared prion clumps out of cultured mouse brain cells. They seem to interrupt the conversion of normal prions by malignant ones, researchers say."


Pictures of my kids from back in the spring. I'll post some summer pictures next month.

Scripting News: Living rooms.

"Reader's Digest suggested that we rename our parlors, which were used to display the dead before burial, to give it a new purpose -- for the living."


There's a million pages like this on the web, and they're always good for wasting half an hour --

Dry Wit From the Information Super-Highway.


My brother sent me this. It's related to the global warming story --

Dancing Bush.


Houston Chronicle: A vanishing breed. George Mitchell closes a chapter in uncanny life.

"While walking along the banks of a little lake, where ducks paddle and a heron hunts for lunch, Mitchell says, first and foremost, it is The Woodlands that he wants to be remembered for."


Space stuff ->

CNN: Newly identified solar system resembles our own.

"... the two planets around the star 47 Ursae Majoris both travel in nearly circular orbits at a distance that, in our solar system, would place them beyond Mars but within the orbit of Jupiter."

CNN: Hubble, bubble, galactic toil and trouble.

"Intense explosions heralding the birth and death of stars most likely generated winds that blew the boiling bubble of energy and matter "skyward" for thousands of light years from the heart of the galaxy, said Hubble astronomers."

"Tay" playing with Kenneth in the backyard.


New York Times: Hollywood Moves to Rent Movies Online.

WSJ (subscription): Five Hollywood Studios Enter Venture To Offer Feature Films Over Internet.

"Kevin Tsujihara, executive vice president of new media for Warner Bros., said download times for consumers with typical broadband connections should run between 20 minutes and 40 minutes. About 100 titles will be available at launch, with most of them likely being recent releases."

> Goodbye Blockbuster (and your #$@&! late charges), hello Broadband!

> Radioshack sells a radio frequency broadcaster that you can use to "connect" the audiovisual port on your computer to the video input port on your TV. I'm sure I'll be able to play the movie files using Quicktime on one of my Macs.

New York Times: Reported to Be Vanishing, Cajuns Give a Sharp 'Non'.

"`Your average American kid grows up in Cleveland, marries a girl from Texas and settles in Kansas,' Mr. Vidallier said. `Your average Cajun boy grows up in Crowley, marries a girl from Ville Platte and settles somewhere close to her mama. In Eunice. We tend not to stray so far.'"


Nature: Moon making made easy. Mars-sized mass implicated by new model for Moon's violent birth.

"The most sophisticated reconstruction of the Moon's formation so far suggests that our satellite resulted from an almighty collision between a body roughly the size of Mars and an almost fully formed Earth about 4.5 billion years ago."


Robert X. Cringely: The Death of TCP/IP. Why the Age of Internet Innocence is Over.

"... XP is the first home version of Windows to allow complete access to TCP/IP sockets, which can be exploited by viruses to do all sorts of damage. Windows XP uses essentially the same TCP/IP software as Windows 2000, except that XP lacks 2000's higher-level security features. In order to be backward compatible with applications written for Windows 95, 98, and ME, Windows XP allows any application full access to raw sockets."


I just stumbled across this guy's web site. He's a mathematical physicist at UC Riverside. Some "deep thoughts" -

John Baez: This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics. (It's actually from 1996.)

"... the human brain appears to be lateralized in a fairly consistent manner; for example, most people have the speech functions concentrated in the left hemisphere of their cerebrum - even most, though not all, left-handers. One might find this unsurprising: it just means that the asymmetry is encoded in the genes. But think about it: how are the genes supposed to tell the embryo to develop in an asymmetric way? How do they explain the difference between right and left?"

Science News: Light's Debut: Good Morning, Starshine!.

"The era before light, dubbed the cosmic Dark Ages, began some 300,000 years after the Big Bang. That's when the universe had dissipated enough of the Big Bang's heat that electrons and protons could bind together to form hydrogen atoms. With electrons no longer free to scatter the radiation left over from the Big Bang, that light finally streamed freely into space. As this relic radiation faded, the cosmos plunged into darkness."

Scientific American: Towards Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease. Certain brain structures may atrophy long before any symptoms of dementia surface, offering the chance to find and possibly treat the disease early on.

> Why the Alzheimer's links? It's a phobia of mine.


CNN: Perseid meteor shower. Fire in the sky -- again.

"Lasting for more than a week, the celestial show is forecast to peak on August 12, when astronomers say meteors should streak through the dark every two minutes or so."


Houston Chronicle: The Woodlands dives in to Waterway development.


Random Guy: [out of nowhere] Are you married?
Jill: No, but I have a partner and we just got engaged.
RG: You shouldn't say "partner." It sounds gay.
Jill: I am gay.

> O.K., so how about "John Wayne meets Random Guy":

John Wayne: Howdy, partner.
RG: ...


Kenneth, my nearly two-year-old, has given his older brother Christopher the nickname "Tay."

This weekend, I was sitting on the couch with Kenneth when he got playful and covered himself with a blanket. But before he could engage me in a game of "peak-a-boo," he rolled off the couch and hit his head. As he cried, I uncovered him and gave him a kiss on his head, but it wasn't enough; he wanted comfort from his mother. Cindy came into the den and gave him a hug. This still wasn't enough, so he left the two of us to walk across the den crying, "Tay! Tay!"

My five-year-old was watching TV, oblivious to this domestic tragedy. Cindy got his attention: "Christopher! Kenneth hurt himself, and he wants you to give him a hug."

Christopher stood up, looking confused. Kenneth threw his arms around his big brother's waist and buried his face in his chest. With a bewildered smile, Christopher awkwardly patted Kenneth on the back.

Cindy turned to me, weepy eyed, and said, "I'm going to cry. I wish we were taping this with the video camera."

I thought it was kind of weird. But in a sweet way.


WSJ (subscription): Texas Considers Freight Tunnel As Truck Traffic Continues Rise.

"Is a 400-mile underground freight pipeline the best way to relieve truck congestion in Texas? ... So far, the Texas Transportation Institute, part of the Texas A&M University system, has concluded it's technically feasible to build a below-ground route for unmanned rail vehicles. And the institute's ongoing five-year study has found the cost of moving a truckload along a Dallas-to-Laredo underground route would be $40, one-third as much as a tractor-trailer along the same route above ground."


Before anyone agrees to work for Microsoft, someone should tell them about the pep rallies.


Science Fest --

Nature: Fire fought with fire. Adding more prions may slow prion disease down.

> This article has a nice introduction to how prion diseases work (e.g., Mad Cow). A better understanding of prion disease mechanisms is contributing to a better understanding of other neurological disorders, like Alzheimer's.

Discovery: Ice Fishing for Neutrinos.

"At depths greater than about three quarters of a mile, the pressure inside the glaciers squeezes out air bubbles, creating an extremely transparent medium in which a photon of light travels an average of 700 feet before being absorbed. Down there, the ice is bathed in a continuous blue glow from millions of sparking muons."

Science News: A Rocky Bicentennial. Asteroids come of age.

"Over the past few years, astronomers have found mounting evidence that many asteroids indeed are rubble piles. The pieces of that rubble can range in size from sandlike grains to kilometer-wide boulders. Asteroids `may actually be very weak structures'..."

This is just a cool picture --

Hubble Photographs Warped Galaxy.

Science News: Don't look now, but is that dog laughing?.

"`To an untrained human ear, it sounds much like a pant, `hhuh, hhuh,'" says Patricia Simonet of Sierra Nevada College in Lake Tahoe." ...

"Another analyst of rat chirps, Jaak Panksepp of Bowling Green (Ohio) University, has recorded the animals' ultrasonic squeaks while he tickled them. `Of course, you have to know the rat,' he cautions.... Yet another student of play, Marc Bekoff of the University of Colorado in Boulder, says he thinks he knows the panting sound Simonet describes. `When I get down on all fours and go up to dogs and go `hhuhahhuhahhuh,' they get very solicitous,' he says."

> Science is a serious business, dammit!


The Onion: Bush Finds Error In Fermilab Calculations.

Ugh, I've been suffering from a head cold this week, no doubt thanks to one of my two little germbags. My head has that swimming feeling even when I'm not on medication. Which is a weak justification and introduction for this next link --

Viceland (not a family site!): Pictures of People on Drugs.

Walter Kessinger

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