Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Seed: Udder Impossibility

Seed: Udder Impossibility

My favorite line: "For an unsuspecting cow standing normally, you'll need 4.4 people and for a cow smartly bracing herself, you'll need to muster 5.75 willing tippers."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Proceedings of the IEEE: Silicon Geranium?

Well, at least the PDF is right!
From the Circuits newsletter v5 n9 (Sept 2005)
The September issue of Proceedings of the IEEE (v. 93, no. 9) provides a detailed analysis of the impact of silicon geranium on commercial products since its integration with complementary metal oxide semiconductors (CMOS). The issue focuses on silicon geranium and advanced CMOS semiconductor compatibility, which has led to the development of highly integrated single-chip designs with advanced bipolar performance. Paper topics include device physics, new processes, scaling issues, reliability, and device optimization for specific applications. Other key areas of interest are high-breakdown SiGe heterostructure bipolar transistors, low-cost derivatives, linearity and noise, modeling, design enablement, and circuit examples...

Don't you love spell check?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Communications Networks Fail Disaster Area Residents

Article by Arshad Mohammed and Jonathan Krim (9/1/2005) pD01
Maybe these people don't know that local ham groups practice multiple times a year out in mobile units with generators and mobile rigs and antennas. It's purely voluntary -- they do it because they think it's important and they know they can help.

In fact, if you have an amateur radio license please volunteer. Here's more information from ARRL:
Hurricane Katrina Volunteer Signup Database Now Open (Aug 31, 2005) -- The Hurricane Katrina Disaster Communications Volunteer Registration & Message Traffic Database now is open. Site Administrator Joe Tomasone, AB2M, set up the database, and South Texas ARRL Section Emergency Coordinator Jerry Reimer, KK5CA, is handling volunteer coordination. This site is intended for Amateur Radio volunteers to sign up for communication support duty on behalf of Hurricane Katrina relief and recovery efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi. Full Story
(link courtesy of WB3DAJ via e-mail)


Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Same place, different template

I was forced to change templates -- so you probably have landed in the right spot, it just looks different.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Arxiv has trackbacks!

Wow. Post copied in its entirety from Cosmic Variance. Pointed to by Crooked Timber (I sub to CV, but hadn't read this yet) which was pointed to by DR on Chem-Inf.

arxiv.org Joins the Blogosphere!

Over the last fifteen years, the way that physicists communicate research results has been revolutionized by arxiv.org, the preprint server devised by Paul Ginsparg (formerly xxx.lanl.gov). Any time you write a paper, you send it to the arxiv, where its existence is beamed to the world the next day, and it is stored there in perpetuity. Along with the SPIRES service at SLAC, which keeps track of which papers have cited which other papers, physicists have a free, flexible, and easy-to-use web of literature that is instantly accessible to anyone. Most people these days post to the arxiv before they even send their paper to a journal, and some have stopped submitting to journals altogether. (I wish they all would, it would cut down on that annoying refereeing we all have to do.) And nobody actually reads the journals — they serve exclusively as ways to verify that your work has passed peer review.

So it’s exciting to see the introduction of trackbacks to the abstracts at arxiv.org. As blog readers know, an individual blog post can inform other blog posts that it is talking about them by leaving a “trackback” or “pingback” — basically, a way of saying “Hey, I’m talking about that stuff you said.” This helps people negotiate their way through the tangles of the blogosphere along threads of common interest. Now your blog post can send trackbacks to the abstracts of papers at the arxiv! Here’s a test: I will link to my most recent paper. If it works as advertised, the trackback will appear automatically, due to the magic of WordPress.

Now, if you write a paper and people comment on it on their blogs, that fact will be recorded right there at the abstract on arxiv.org. Drawing us one step closer to the use of blogs as research tools.

Update: In the comments, Jacques points to an explanation of some of the history; he was (probably) the first to suggest the idea, years ago (which is millenia in blogo-time).


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

New nanoparticle environmental health and safety database available

Via The Engineer 8/23/05.

From Rice and supported in part by NSF, this database collects scientific articles researching environmental health and safety aspects of nanoparticles (read press release). From a librarian point of view, it leaves a little to be desired. In fact, it might be quite difficult to find the full text of the article based on the citation given. A guide to the abbreviations use for journals might be helpful (hmm, maybe they're using the pubmed ones?). I'd love to see the DOI and a link to the pubmed record (it does list PMID, though, so you can find the article that way if you recognize the number). For the articles on environmental concerns, there's no PMID... Hmm. Don't see a list of journals referenced or a methodology of how articles are identified.

Anyway, looks like a good first step and will no doubt be useful to those working in the area.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Come on, the Washington Post writer's a wimp!

Come on, the Washington Post writer’s a wimp! (article pointed to on the Make blog)

I’ve totally been enthralled by Make since I heard about it a couple of months ago.  It’s a quarterly magazine from O’Reilly that basically features life hacks.  It’s how to actually make things…

The Washington Post article basically says that you have to be an electronics genius to use a multimeter.  Personally, I think everyone should learn that in high school (if they didn’t already learn it in elementary).  Honestly, though, you don’t have to be a teenage boy to get this magazine.  I think this is really an extension of the movement that brought us junkyard wars and monster garage and I’m all for it.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Kung Fu Science :: An Einstein Year Project

This new IOP site rocks. (pointed out by Clifford on CV). Perhaps not the best science ever for my colleague with whom I have an ongoing argument regarding science for the masses but cool nonetheless.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

WashingtonPost: Russian Space Agency: Solar Launch Failed

For the above linked article, free reg. req.
Author: By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV,The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 22, 2005; 12:20 PM

This vehicle was being launched to demonstrate a controlled flight of a solar sail. Solar sails are a means of spacecraft propulsion relying on pressure from sunlight. They would potentially work well for interstellar flight because they would allow the spacecraft to conserve fuel.

Apparently the booster rocket failed 83 seconds after launch. Readers may remember that this space vehicle was submarine launched (pretty cool if it works).

See the Cosmos 1 Blog for real time updates from Emily Lakdawalla, Project Operations Assistant and Image Processing Coordinator for Cosmos 1. There's no archive listing, so you have to page back to read from the pre-launch activities...

Triangulating position from wi-fi signal strength instead of GPS

Pointed out in an IEEE Newsletter and they saw it on this blog.

They say it's good to 20m in dense urban environments and doesn't have the multipath issues of A-GPS. Since it's going on signal strength, I'm guessing you'd probably want 4 sources for a reliable fix (two signals would give you two equally probable locations, a third would say which of the two, a fourth would make me happier-- especially if the other signals are coming from the same general direction). This does limit you to dense downtown areas -- but that's what it's made for. The blogger who first pointed this out mentions people moving and taking their transmitters with them.
Update: John Krumm from Microsoft Research recently presented a paper on this at MobiSys 2005, the Third International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications and Services, held June 6-8 in Seattle.... apparently signal strength doesn't work as well as "other aspects of signal quality" hmm? The paper will appear in ACM here for subscribers.
Update 6/30: I just noticed that the July 2005 issue of IEEE Signal Processing (link for subscribers to Xplore) has a large special section on positioning in wireless networks.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The next kitchen gadget you have to have...

A rapid prototyping machine? Actually, it appears to be more than that, it's a one-stop fabrication lab with machine tools, electronics manufacturing, and assembly.

On Weekend America this past weekend, the hosts spoke with MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld about the Fab Lab project. The hope is that users will be able to make one off machines to fit their needs.

You know, I really respect Professor Gershenfeld who laments the disconnect between working with your mind and working with your hands... to go to a liberal arts college or learn to weld in a trade school (the assumption that you can't do both). What he's trying to do with this fab lab is to reconnect thinking with doing. Actually making something is a worthwhile pursuit.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Engineer Online - NASA demonstrates Mini AERCam

Article date: 6/15/05

This little robot looks like something out of a Douglas Adams book... but it makes a lot of sense to have a "mini autonomous extravehicular robotic camera" to be able to check out parts of the spacecraft that can't be seen by a camera on a stick. It uses a "rechargeable xenon gas propulsion system" -- aack, that's expensive. Xenon, if I recall correctly, is pulled out of the atmosphere, but you have to suck up a lot of atmosphere to get a little bit of Xenon. So with this, the imaging is the easy part the docking station and propulsion are slightly more tricky.

Here's the NASA page for the little guy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Engineer: Radar spots climate anomalies

Article dated 5/24/05

British Antarctic Survey and the University of Bath have installed a remote sensing radar in Antarctica that aid in the investigation of the Mesosphere. It also tracks the many meteors that burn up in the mesosphere.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Wired News: Super Water Kills Bugs Dead

Article by Skip Kaltenjeuser, 5/16/2005

The upshot is that a US company has developed a super-oxgenated water that is perfectly drinkable, but kills bacteria, viruses, and spores. Cool, right? Shelf-life of over a year.

This reminds me of a short story in which an ice that sank was invented. Short story short-- it took over the world and killed the planet. So, I guess the solution to pollution with the super water is dilution, but it still wouldn't be good for your fish tank.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Wired News: Asteroid Warnings Toned Down

Article by David Cohn, 4/16/05.

I like NEO stories but this is pretty funny. It's a slow news day when newspapers publish panic headlines about NEOs that have a 1 in 45 chance of hitting the earth in the next 25 years. Wikipedia has this article on the Torino Scale.

With all of these scales, whether from DHS or the meteorologist, they're supposed to clarify the actual threat, but the number of words it takes to explain a mango warning probably out weigh the original story.

...The colors haven't changed from the old system, but the explanation of what each color means has. Asteroids in the green section used to be deemed 'events meriting careful monitoring,' but now are considered 'normal.' And a level 6 object was described as capable of causing 'global catastrophe.' Now these, too, only merit the concern of astronomers...Not all the changes paint a rosier picture. Under the old system, a level 10 warning used to be described as 'causing global climatic disaster.' The new description reads 'a certain collision capable of causing global climatic catastrophe that may threaten the future of civilization as we know it.'

Yay! ADS adds RSS Feeds

Pointed out by SD Librarian.

Ok, so ADS (the NASA Astrophysics Data System) is really THE astro database. They've had e-mail alerts, but unfortunately not for affiliations. Now you can subscribe to a search in your feed reader and be kept up to date without filling your in box. Still no affiliations, but great nonetheless.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Notices of the AMS: The Importance of MathML to Mathematics Communication

The link here is to the table of contents. Free registration required to retrieve the full text PDF.

Robert Miner. "The Importance of MathML to Mathematics Communication." Notices of the AMS v52 n5 (May 2005): 532-8.

One of my lines of inquiry has been how to search math -- I mean really search it. What if you don't know what the equation is called? Why can't you do a substructure search like you do in chemistry? Shouldn't math be easier to search than chemistry? Instead, it's worse that image searching.

MathML is supposed to fix some of these things. Miner is very enthusiastic in extolling its virtues. The only problem is that mathematicians don't seem to be jumping on the bandwagon. They seem to really like LaTeX.

One physicist
has created some plugins for WordPress and Movabletype to convert TeX equations to MathML. Cool...

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The New York Times|Technology: Pogue tests the new Oxyride battery

Free reg. req. David Pogue. "Can a New Disposable Battery Change Your Life? Parts of It, Maybe" NYT, 4/7/2005

He's a technology writer, not a scientist, but Pogue gives these new batteries a test. Not bad, but probably not as useful as NiMH. The Cnet article has a little more on the actual technology involved. If I ever find the relevant patents, I'll update this.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

NASA - Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2005

From NASA's neat Science Feed
"On April 8th in North America crescent-shaped sunbeams will dapple the ground during a partial solar eclipse." There's a timetable from NASA's GSFC that tells you when it will happen in your neck of the woods. People in the south will have a much better show but this article points out some neat tricks.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

news @ nature.com - Black holes 'do not exist'

by Philip Ball 31 March 2005; doi:10.1038/news050328-8
"These mysterious objects are dark-energy stars, physicist claims." Isn't that something out of StarWars? So the idea is that stars don't collapse and become black holes; rather they become filled with dark energy. The author says that this explains some of the event horizon wierdness. The original article is: Chapline G. Arxiv, http://xxx.arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0503200 (2005).

Monday, March 28, 2005

NASA is podcasting

They've had feeds and multimedia reports, but now they're in the popular and easy to find format.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Engineer Online - Reducing the scale of drag

I always like posting about coatings for ship hulls. Previous posts looked at more chemical methods to prevent barnicles, etc. I think I even posted about the vorticies created by dolphin skin. The method linked above uses a mechanical method. They created a coating that mimicks the placoid scales of sharks "by creating a plastic and rubber composite coating made from billions of raised diamond-shaped patterns, each measuring 15 microns. Each diamond also contains seven raised ribs."

Friday, March 11, 2005

Closer to Truth > How Does Basic Science Defend America?

I love this show. Luckily Howard University Television (WHUT, Channel 32 in DC) actually carries this. The show is a panel discussion with experts from different fields with different points of view.
While supporting basic science research is indeed essential for protecting national security, can that be our sole primary motivation for pursuing knowledge of the natural world? When asked by Congress whether Fermilab, the expensive atomic accelerator, would contribute to the national defense, its founding director replied that the contribution would be "… not to the defense of the nation, but rather to what made the nation worth defending."

This session is very timely -- for NASA and EPA, too. In government, it seems that they're really pulling away from having scientists on the payroll (not as contractors) who do basic research that may not have an immediate practical use.
Sean Carroll, a Physicist at the University of Chicago, recently posted on why do we do science that isn't immediately practical (look back in his archives and you'll see more discussion of this).

Thursday, March 10, 2005

StructuredBlogging.org > Semantic Web Comes to the Blog

SC (now at PubSub, the guys who are developing this) pointed this out. It's not as good as Reger was/is, but since it's a plug-in to WordPress it might get some play. I think that's been the problem with other tools -- they haven't caught on. You need a critical mass of bloggers adding content to make it really useful. So if you're blogging on WordPress, consider giving it a shot. I still need to find a book plug-in for my blogger blogs... one that links to Open Worldcat, of course.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Science.gov adds (e-mail) alerts!

Pointed out on ResourceShelf.

Pretty cool. I'll get my first alert on Monday so then I'll know how cool. Too bad they're not RSS. I wonder, too, how they compare to e-mail alerts from the database vendors that have versions of the databases covered by this?


Added gigablast site search.
Removed the plug-in for commenting -- overdue, didn't realize I had both.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

EV2 Adds RSS Feeds

Cross-posted to my LIS blog.

I was trying to figure out what search I would do that wouldn't provide any specific info from my place of work so disregard the subject...

Anyway, you can now get weekly search alerts/updates right in your aggregator. You have to be a subscriber ($$, of course). My e-mail alerts get to me on Fridays, so I'm guessing that's when the feed will be updated I'll come back and update this if not.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Physical Review Focus: Watching Atoms Move

See a video from a STM of a phase transition of a lead layer on silicon. Watch the video linked from this page pretty carefully at the about the halfway mark. Pretty cool. In the past, the STM haven't been stable enough so the scientists have just compared before and after images. The full article (subscribers only) is available: I. Brihuega, O. Custance, Rubén Pérez, and J. M. Gómez-Rodríguez. "Intrinsic Character of the (3×3) to (sqrt(3)×sqrt(3)) Phase Transition in Pb/Si(111)" Phys Rev Lett v94 046101 (4 Feb 2005).

PACS: , 68.35.Bs, 68.37.Ef, 71.15.Nc|

Updated: wacky font sizes

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Mathematics Survey

Pointed out in the NSDL Scout Report v4 n3 (Feb 11, 2005). Note: the journal's been linked from our internal portal for a while, this is just more about the project.

This ambitious project seeks to solve a lot of what's wrong with mathematics information right now. Two (1, 2) new books came out in the last year trying to help users and librarians make some sort of in road into finding necessary math. While the books are very good the fragmentation and compartmentalization of the math knowledge is so severe that it's almost a lost battle.

Pitman, from Berkeley, has envisioned an open access set of survey journals and encyclopedias indexed by MSC (subject) and interlinked by author and collaboration graphs. Really quite a broad sweeping plan. Sounds like it could be done on a wiki (with editorial review). He hopes that the end information will be heavily cited (thus findable in WoS) and searchable on Google Scholar, MathSci, and Zentralblatt Math.

The first part of this is the probability and stochastic processes electronic journal: Probability Surveys.

Link this, if you will, to my suggestions (1, 2) of using established classification codes for new projects, etc. Note: Pitman doesn't propose a whole new classification scheme, he suggests the use of MSC. Perhaps mathematicians and statisticians should tag their posts and web pages with MSC codes? Maybe they already do?


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Human Factors: Special Section on Driver Distraction

(full text to subscribers only, nb: long-time institutional print subscribers might not realize that they can now register for online access... we're just getting this set up now)
This is a timely section. Everything from modeling to how age makes a difference in seeing traffic signs while involved in a conversation.

Also, RSS feed available for this and all other Extenza pubs.

updated (fixed a typo)

Preposterous Universe: Hallucinatory neurophysics

U Chi Physicist Sean Carroll describes this recent work in mathematical neurophysics. Essentially, describing in mathematical terms/wave equations the patterns of hallucinations.
But here is the punchline: patterns of hallucinations reflect normal modes of the neurons in the visual cortex. By "normal modes" we mean the characteristic patterns of vibration, just as for a violin string or the head of a drum. The idea is that a drug such as LSD can alter the ground state of the visual cortex, so that it becomes excited even in the absence of stimuli. In particular, certain oscillating patterns can appear spontaneously. Generally these would take the form of different configurations of straight lines in the cortex itself; however, due to the distortion in the map from our visual field to the brain, these appear to us as spirals, tunnels, and so on. Indeed, Cowan and collaborators have shown that these normal modes can successfully account for all of the basic forms of hallucination classified by Kluever decades ago.
Take time to read the comments, too. In the comments there's a comparison to other mathematical models of the brain which do not fit as well as these wave functions.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Nature: Schrodinger's mousetrap (fiction)

Ok, I'm hooked. The link above may only work for subscribers, but it is marked free -- Go to your local library if you don't have access.

There I was, browsing the covers of our scientific journals when I ran across this article. Turns out that it's a new short story broken up in to parts accross multiple issues. Why do our issues come so late? I'm not saying it's particularly well written, but what a neat idea.

The article has quantum entanglement, negative refraction...

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Welcome to the World Year of Physics 2005

What with running around like a chicken with my head cut off I've lapsed a little in posting here. This is already the second month of the World Year of Physics. In case you're a little behind the times, this is the 100th anniversary of the year when Einstein published three very important papers. I think the UN even did a proclamation about it.

Here is a very brief list of things to do/read on WYoP: