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.