Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A gathering of real giants. I wonder what the mean of their IQ's would be?

At the Fifth Solvay International Conference, held in Brussels in October 1927, 29 physicists gathered for a group photograph. Back row: Auguste Piccard, Émile Henriot, Paul Ehrenfest, Édouard Herzen, Théophile de Donder, Erwin Schrödinger, Jules-Émile Verschaffelt, Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg, Ralph Howard Fowler, Léon Brillouin. Middle: Peter Debye, Martin Knudsen, William Lawrence Bragg, Hendrik Anthony Kramers, Paul Dirac, Arthur Compton, Louis de Broglie, Max Born, Niels Bohr. Front: Irving Langmuir, Max Planck, Marie Sklodowska Curie, Hendrik Lorentz, Albert Einstein, Paul Langevin, Charles-Eugène Guye, Charles Thomson Rees Wilson, Owen Willans Richardson.
Seventeen of the 29 were or became Nobel Prize winners. Marie Curie, the only woman, is also the only person who has won the prize in two scientific disciplines.
The only character I don't see is Schrodinger's famous cat!


A question of character

Via American Thinker.

A Tale of Two Presidential Vacations
By Brian C Joondeph

“Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking” is an aphorism from author H. Jackson Brown, Jr.  Much of the life of an American president is public, yet much is not.  The true character of the president may be revealed during moments away from the television cameras and news reporters.

President George W. Bush and his wife Laura “[n]ever left Washington, D.C., until the day after Christmas,” writes former White House reporter Joseph Curl.  The reason was simple.  A low-level White House staffer explained, “So all of us can be with our families on Christmas.”  The “us” meant hundreds of staffers, police, Secret Service agents, and reporters who move with the president.

President Obama and his family, in contrast, begin their Christmas vacation well before Christmas.  His large entourage follows, most of them leaving their families behind to celebrate Christmas without them.  Sure, Waikiki Beach is nice, but who wouldn’t rather be home with their families, at least for Christmas Day?

A pair of Army captains scheduled to be married on the Marine Corps base golf course had to move their wedding at the last minute.  The ceremony was planned for the 16th hole, a spot known for its beautiful views.  But the golfer-in-chief had to play through, forcing them to move their wedding, scheduled for the next day.  At least the president called the couple to congratulate them and apologize, but weren’t there other options?  How about a golf lesson and some time on the range?  Another golf course?  A good book on the beach?  Hanging out with his family?

These are the small things that demonstrate character.  Or lack thereof.  Thinking of others versus thinking of oneself.  Minor gestures offered away from the glare of the cameras and microphones.  How especially relevant at Christmas, when God came to the world as a humble servant, not as an all-powerful majestic being.  Our all-powerful leaders should heed this example.

Checkers, anyone?

Mathematician Marion Tinsley lost only seven games of checkers in a career that spanned 45 years. Between 1950 and 1995, he took first place in every tournament in which he played. “Dr. Tinsley has taken the game beyond what anybody else ever conceived,” International Checkers Hall of Fame founder Charles Walker told Sports Illustrated in 1992. “No one presumed to think they could beat him.”
His last and best opponent was a machine, Chinook, designed by University of Alberta computer scientist Jonathan Schaeffer. When the American Checkers Federation refused to let a machine play for the championship in 1990, the sporting Tinsley resigned his crown and immediately accepted the match.
He won 4-2, with 33 draws. In one game, after the program had played its 10th move, Tinsley said, “You’re going to regret that.” Chinook resigned 26 moves later, and in the ensuing analysis Schaeffer found that Tinsley had looked 64 moves ahead to find the only winning strategy.

Full story here.

Arctic sea ice almost identical to where it was 30 years ago

The next big environmental scam?  Sea acidification.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Air Force will try anything at least once

CW, the early years

Artistry in steel and walnut

I especially like the effect of the casehardening under the engraving.

Some beautiful sailing

Here you go, folks, the ultimate HDTV

Go Capitalism!

Naturally, something this extreme makes the comment section a must read.

Put some Boom in the Room!

Apparently Gowdy has already turned down the initial offers to draft him, but let's not let that stop us.  We need - desperately - an ass kicker who will call out the press and the president on their crimes and misconduct.  Trey in charge could make the next few years very exciting for political junkies.

Delightful if pretty useless information ( unless you're on walkabout in Australia).

In traditional Dyirbal, an aboriginal language of Australia, each noun must be preceded by a variant of one of four words that classify all objects in the universe:
  • bayi: men, kangaroos, possums, bats, most snakes, most fishes, some birds, most insects, the moon, storms, rainbows, boomerangs, some spears, etc.
  • balan: women, bandicoots, dogs, platypus, echidna, some snakes, some fishes, most birds, fireflies, scorpions, crickets, the hairy mary grub, anything connected with water or fire, sun and stars, shields, some spears, some trees, etc.
  • balam: all edible fruit and the plants that bear them, tubers, ferns, honey, cigarettes, wine, cake
  • bala: parts of the body, meat, bees, wind, yamsticks, some spears, most trees, grass, mud, stones, noises and language, etc.

Indoor boomerang you can make yourself out of thin cardboard

Mathematician Yutaka Nishiyama of the Osaka University of Economics has designed a nifty paper boomerang that you can use indoors. A free PDF template (with instructions in 70 languages!) is here.
Hold it vertically, like a paper airplane, and throw it straight ahead at eye level, snapping your wrist as you release it. The greater the spin, the better the performance. It should travel 3-4 meters in a circle and return in 1-2 seconds. Catch it between your palms.


When puzzling screw-shaped structures (below) were unearthed in Nebraska in the 1890s they were known as “devil’s corkscrews” and attributed to freshwater sponges or some sort of coiling plant. They were finally recognized as the burrows of prehistoric beavers only when a fossilized specimen, Palaeocastor, was found inside one.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ok, you've grabbed the tail - now what?

The Cyr Wheel

This guy decided to document his first 30 days learning to use the wheel.

 Cyr wheels are typically made of aluminum tubing. Usually a 1.5” diameter tubing with 1/8” sidewall 6061 aluminum is used. Generally they are made in 3 or 5 individual pieces, and connect with inserts. The inserts can be made out of solid aluminum or steel (either tubing or solid). They are then painted, and covered with a plastic PVC covering to add friction, and protect the metal. Smaller wheels spin faster, work better for smaller spaces, and make "no hand" tricks easier than larger wheels. Larger wheels are more graceful and there is more room for suspensions.

Via Tai Wiki Widbee


Woman and pipe

Not your average desk job

Mondays, they're like that

Some kid probably thought this looked like candy.  Surprise!

Comet Lovejoy is now dimly visible to the naked eye.

Update Dec. 28: The comet has reached magnitude 5.0! It's in Lepus, easily visible now from northern latitudes in late evening when Orion stands high. Tonight (Sunday) it passes by the globular cluster M79, which is smaller and much fainter at magnitude 8.4. From Sky & Telescope's hometown at latitude 42° north, the comet is a big puffball in 10×50 binoculars even through suburban light pollution. It appears moderately concentrated toward the center, with a hint of being asymmetric but no visible tail. 

Below are some useful star charts should anyone want to step outside and take a peek.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Freckles, they are good.

A girl with her gator.

What a catch!

The neighbor's cat doesn't stand a chance


A park ranger standing guard as Mount Nyamulagira erupts in eastern Congo on Friday, Nov. 11, 2011.

Bad ass.


Something tells me that's not warm water.

Cabin Porn

I'll bet there is egg nog in there.

Santa on the day after Christmas

Hot chick in a hot plane

Should've put it in the garage.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Man and pipe

Or Gandalf's younger brother

Skydiver Felix Baumgartner breaking the sound barrier

That's a respectable pile of chips

No wonder New Orleans floods

The Mississippi River drainage

Bronze. Roman copy of Greek original of the 4th century BC from the school of Lysippos. Inv. No. 5626. Naples, National Archaeological Museum.

That's 4th century BC.  Genius then as good or better than now

Kinda creepy.

Via Never Yet Melted, with a hat tip to American Digest.

Pretty Horse, daughter of White Bull. Sioux. Montana. ca. 1861-1881. Photo by Stanley J. Morrow.

Man and pipe.


The power of a Mk. 48 ADCAP torpedo fired from Australian Collins-class submarine HMAS Farncomb, impacting the ’60s era Type 12 destroyer escort Torrens

HMS Montrose showing the flag in South Georgia

Gotta keep the Argentines at bay

A British badass

Trooper Sam Fox, of “A” Squadron, 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars, sits in his tank north of the Imjin River, while awaiting orders to advance.

"His hands are very soft," she said.

Sometimes, it's just hard to believe what you read.
Apparently, the administration uses inexperienced, youthful volunteers to drive vans in the presidential motorcade.
  "SAN FRANCISCO — Shortly after President Obama landed here one fall day for fund-raisers, his motorcade pulled out of the airport and raced at 80 miles per hour down an empty freeway to his hotel in the city.
At the front of the procession were bulletproof black sport utility vehicles and limousines driven by Secret Service agents who had spent hundreds of hours learning how to maneuver at high speeds.
Bringing up the rear were police cars with their lights flashing and a Secret Service ambulance that follows the president wherever he travels.
And in between were several vans filled with White House staff members and journalists, being piloted by volunteers like Natalie Tyson, a 24-year-old Bay Area graduate student wearing fluorescent orange sunglasses.
“Wow,” she exclaimed as she hit the gas and the van lurched within a few feet of the one in front of it. Then she slammed on the brake. Then she hit the gas again.
“Sorry about that,” she said.
She returned her hands to the textbook 2-and-10 positions on the steering wheel."
A disaster waiting to happen, if you ask me, and another bit of evidence of the amateur nature of this White House.
  "Privately, Secret Service officials said they did not use agents or uniformed personnel to drive the vans because it was not the agency’s responsibility to protect the White House staff members or journalists. White House officials said they were forced to use volunteers because staff members needed to be with the president at all times, and reporters demand that they travel with the president wherever he goes."
Right, the administration is "forced" to use volunteers.  So they want us to believe that the leader of the world's most powerful nation, one that can project overwhelming military power anywhere on the earth,  and that has been to the moon, can't do better than hire college kids to drive in the presidential motorcade?  A cheap excuse for being cheap, I guess.
   "For the former Secret Service agent, Mr. Emmett, it is still a troubling practice.“If the motorcade ever comes under fire, it’s going to be a problem,” he said. “There are so many non-law-enforcement vehicles that it’s going to be a goat rope. Everyone will be responding, police officers and the Secret Service, and it will be all these people running around in a panic like the last scene of the ‘Blues Brothers’ movie, when there’s the big police chase that ends in a wreck of 50 police cars.”
Indeed.   It's hard to believe how totally incompetent this misadministration is.  While they can go to the trouble to clear major highways for the president, they can't find a professional driver for multiple vans in the presidential motorcade, putting the entire entourage at risk should someone seriously dangerous like Al Qaeda come knocking.   Just completely off the hook.