Friday Funnies

Ok, I normally don’t get conned into doing a Friday Funnies routine, but here are some additions I can’t avoid.

Robot Identifies Human Flesh as Bacon

I’ve long been told that humans are just “long pig.” So… don’t stand too close to hungry robots, they might not be able to tell the difference. Pretty soon you’ll be ordering “tasting robots” on amazon…

Speaking of food, this was brought to my attention by Dr. DNA. How did our budding Aquatic Scientist (Rachel) miss this? Oh, the humanity. A peanut butter Jelly fish. The worst part is that they invented the word peanutbutterification to describe the process. Seriously? At least it is not like it is printed in an academic journal. oh, wait, nevermind.

And just to finish things out. It turns out that you can order spiders delivered by mail. My christmas shopping is practically done already.

Just remember, you can feed him bacon…

Opposite Worlds

I watched this new “reality show” the other week with my wife and son. We were interested, at first, but I think we picked up the real game here. This isn’t a reality show about the people on the screen, but about the people watching it.

First off: They are all freaking models. Ok, most “Reality” shows can have at least one non-perfect human.
Second: Team 1 breaks a member of Team 2 with an illegal move. They continue the contest and Team 1 wins. Ok, all reasonable. Then the winner gets to decide who goes to the past and who goes to the future. (nothing else that I can see.) So, they pick the future… It appears to be a unanimous decision. REALLY? Can not one person give a sympathy vote for Team 2?

Team 1 is given Sloth, Wrath, Gluttony, and Greed right off the bat. I assume they’ll work in Lust and Pride in future episodes. 
Team 2 has envy, which they work to tamp down. I’m sure they’ll expose all their virtues in future episodes.

So, it doesn’t “Feel” like a reality show to me. It feels like a rough-scripted and carefully edited punch in your humanity. You are expected to TWEET things with a #oppositeworlds tag and … join their experiment. I hope they find some kindness in humanity. That would be a welcome change.

Politics not Science (updated)

Look, I’ve had a busy week involving a mico amount of real science and a heck of a lot of paperwork. It can be a drain, but we have to get approval before the Science Police show up on your doorstep. (I desparately need an orange business suit. Because Ultraman.)

So, I ended up in an argument on Facebook. (Long periods of filling out paperwork, sitting in meetings, and arguing with people leads me to becoming a Science Troll on Facebook.) It appeared that Michele Bachmann made some statement that we shouldn’t take scientist’s word for it and she included Creationism, Global Warming, Stephen Hawking, and probably some other culprits. 

My first argument here should be this: Well intentioned, well researched, science is frequently wrong. As an example (wikipedia)

“In 1898, Kelvin predicted that only 400 years of oxygen supply remained on the planet, due to the rate of burning combustibles.[62][63] In his calculation, Kelvin assumed that photosynthesis was the only source of free oxygen; he did not know all of the components of the oxygen cycle. He could not even have known all of the sources of photosynthesis: for example the cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus—which accounts for more than half of marine photosynthesis—was not discovered until 1986.”

Now, to my point. I am not going to support everyword out of the mouth of anyone. But, I’ll refrain from the obvious statement that a 57 year old woman from a conservative christian background might have ideas that are “out-of-date” to the modern hip guy. I grew up with creationism and evolution – taught as an argument – and thought it made sense. Maybe I’m out-of-date, but whatever. 

50 years later and I’m not really sure where Paleontology is taking us. Anywhere? We’re collecting more weird fossils. I think our direct work with DNA is more promising than a stack of bones. My son would probably have some words on this, he is excited by genetic engineering. (I just hope we get bigger chicken legs out of it, I have low expectations.) How much money goes into Paleontology? Is it primarily supported by universities and private grants? Then, I expect I have no beef with it. I think they ignore the interesting part (how different the Earth must have been to support these creatures), but whatever.

Lets talk, instead, about Anthropogenic Global Warming. How much government money is invested in Climate Control, alternative energy, AGW research, and the like? I’ve heard estimates that run into the billions. If you included the rebates we’re giving the wind farm industry, you could run a second NASA. We Throw Away more than 300 million every year, on failed businesses that should never have had a cent of government money.

This is your money. Seriously. We treat tax money as if it is free, but wasted & stolen money comes out of your pocket. Where does Hansen’s million dollar check come from? Well, Columbia University, so it isn’t our money, right? Nope. Columbia gets a big check from the government for Global Warming Research, which they give to endow a chair, which goes into Hansen’s awards. But he is just one of the players. Most of the scientists who back a politician are getting cash or awards. The government will organize big gifts to their university, employer, to Non-Gov organizations (who are staffed by party hacks) who will give it as a gift to the right person, whatever. Graft, Bribery, theft from the taxpayer. Fraud.

When you see a scientist backing a politician – moving science in a highly public manner – he/she is likely bought and paid for. When you see MILLIONS of dollars go into a scientists pocket, you know it is fraud. But, we still pretend that the science is good.

Frankly, I’d rather believe in God Created Global Warming (GCGW). He takes a lower percentage of my salary.

Redd’s Apple Ale – Beer Review

Because I have never given a “Public service message” on alcohol. Here it is.

I have a favorite leather jacket. I couldn’t afford it in the store. It is a beautiful lambskin leather bomber that retailed at about $400 bucks most of 20 years ago. The one I wear was bought by a distant uncle (complicated) who was friends with my dad. I inherited it when he died. My dad thought I’d like it, and I did, but he reminded me that the original owner died from alcohol addiction. I think about that sometimes when I’m staring at a beautiful coat that should still belong to someone else.

Alcohol and alcoholism kill you. Don’t drink to excess ( a drunken state), don’t drink and drive, don’t drink to cure depression, and don’t drink on a daily basis. If you can’t follow those rules, check yourself into a rehab.  

This Ends Hawk’s PSA.

Now, there are many days when I like a good cider, so I have tried: Woodchuck, Angry Orchard, Strongbow, Hornsby’s, and now Redds. I’m a big fan of Woodchuck and Angry Orchard. Strongbow and Hornsbys are good, but dry. Usually I’m a fan of dry, but Hornsby didn’t impress me and Strongbow did. Nothing terrible either way, but no excitement.

Angry Orchard does what I like, it takes risks. Each of its offerings are different, good or bad. You’ll like em or hate em, but they are all interesting.

Redds is blah. If you have tried some of the others and found them “Just too strong” but you’re looking for a cider. Well, Redds. It isn’t as bad as a mass-produced American beer (aka Budweiser), but it isn’t really worth the effort of picking out a box. Frankly, there are some mildly boring Woodchucks, so get one of them. (Not the granny smith – not boring.)

It went down the sink.

Friday night we had Pizza, so I decided to try Cold Snap by Sam Adams. Let me tell you all the good things I found out about Cold Snap.

It pours down the sink just fine.

Two sips. I couldn’t drink it with pizza. Let me say that I appreciate SA taking risks for interesting beer. Somehow, with an unfiltered and seasoned wheat beer, they accomplished the “eau de Budweiser.” Skunk on first sip, cold. Sorry, not a fan of Cold Snap. Send it back. 

Look, it isn’t spring yet so we can quit pretending to need a refreshing summer-weight beer for the next few weeks. I think I’ll be needing a red fireplace ale for a while yet. I did manage to quench my pizza with a Left Hand milk stout which is definitely worth drinking. I also had a wee heavy Sunday night. Lovely beer.

I’ve also been trying out dieselpunk again. I like the stout, but I hope the porter is sweeter. I think I have one left in the fridge for Wednesday night.

So, you all have a good Winter Storm. I advise picking up a case of anything Irish (Smithwicks or Guinness Black are current favorites), anything Porter or Stout (especially a Cream Stout), and any ole’ Wee Heavy is likely to be good.

The Signal – Rosetta Wakes

The Signal

Embedded image permalink

full report on ABC news

The science is this: Rosetta is going to land on a comet – and smack it one to see how much it weighs. We have a lot we don’t know about comets, so this is a very important mission.

To get to the mission location took about 2.5 years, a lot of that time swinging the orbit around. The satellite didn’t need to be awake for this, so they put her to sleep. Now they sent her the “wakey wakey” signal, and she called back. “Honey, just 5 more minutes, k?” (its only a spike at a 325 MHz (guessing) , but you can get a lot of information out of that if you know satellites.)

Ok, so in a couple weeks, we’ll have a mission. You can follow her on twitter #Rosetta or ESA Rosetta Mission

Fallout Shelters – Update from Dragon Con 2013

I had a presentation at Dragon Con 2013 on Survivability – my profession. I’m working on publishing the slides, but my website wants me to use Chrome… grr… Still, saw a cute article today and I think it has some good information.

How to Shelter from Fallout after a Nuclear Attack on your City.

It points out how hard it is to talk to “normal” people about nuclear weapons. For example, Nuclear Weapon. How many  have been used in war? Zero.  Ok, two Atomic Bombs have been dropped, but no Thermonuclear Weapons. Yeah, like you give a rat’s ass about the difference between them. As far as the public can see, if it has a bit of radiation, it is nuclear.

Not hardly. Obviously, if you call anything that has a radioactive component “nuclear” you end up banning bananas. (truth) German Green Party wanted to scare people about radiation, so it banned the hunting of wild boar – which eat mushrooms that soak up radiation. They level the pigs were radioactive is less than the average banana. MOST information you see about nuclear anything, nuclear may as well be a “scare” word.

On a side note, Nuke-you -ler engineer is the proper term for an engineer who works with nuclear weapons (nukes). Nuclear engineer is the guy who works at a power plant. The press can laugh about bad pronunciation all it wants, but we tend to differentiate a bit. (There is a heck of a lot of difference between the two careers.)

So, the important take away from the Link above is that terrorists – and most world governments – don’t have access to Thermonuclear Weapons. Sure, a 12 kT copy of the Fat Man or Little Boy could wipe out most of a city, but you can get to shelter and ride out the troubles. If you find out that your city is about to be the target of a 10 MT nuke, well, you should be 30 miles away when it goes off (or in a professional bunker).

Fear is the killer. Have a plan, follow the plan. And if you want a copy of the .ppt presentation, I’d be happy to send it out. (Maybe I’ll get Chrome this weekend, bah, I’d rather play Chromehounds instead.)

Interesting Reading

Sorry I haven’t posted, I’ve been a bit ill. Ok, sick. I don’t announce it for much, so it can be hard to tell, but the sinus infection has me hurting.

Spraying silver up my nose seems to work.
Sinus medication seems to help the symptoms for 2 of the 4 hours it is active.
Hot showers help… but apparently there are rules about that at work.
My vacation hours are dead (something called Christmas ruined them) but I’ll sit here at work. At least I’m not contagious.
As Garfield says “As long as I’m going to be miserable, I should share it with everyone.”

So, anyway. Here is some fun.

oh, his equations is f*ed up, but the math method is correct-ish. Figure it out and you’ll get the right answer (his answer) anyway. (but not if you follow his equation.)

We’ve been talking about solar flares, Coronal Mass ejection (CME), and Geomagnetic storms all week. I had high hopes of a real storm, but no luck. The wave of hot gas washed over us, drove Kp up to near storm levels…then died away. *sad face*

I think it is fun to think about how tiny the Earth, our sun, etc. are in the face of … say… a supernova.
SO, to start out, lets compare the Earth to the Sun.

We regularly look at CME, when the Sun belches out a bunch of protons. How many? Well, if you gathered them up, they would mass more t
han the Earth. Yeah. Just a normal burp.

The Earth really doesn’t signify compared to the sun. But hey, if it makes you feel better. The kind of sun that makes supernovas is so much bigger than our sun, than OUR sun doesn’t signify. Their radius is out past Jupiter, with some even further.

So, really, we’re just an itty-bitty planet around a smallish sun in a medium-sized galaxy.

Not to beat the point into the (relatively insignificant) ground. There are billions of galaxies out there. Some so big they literally defy math to describe them, others … well.. are little dots of ten-thousand stars like the ones about to crash into us.

Yeah, we’re what… 80,000 light years across and the nearest neighbor is Millions of light years away. We’re looking at objects 12 billion light years away… I can’t conceive of these numbers. They are unbelievable in any real sense.

So if I say I’m feeling a bit puny today. I hope I’ve shared that feeling.

Strange New Worlds …

This, my fine fellows, is an alien world. (if the picture doesn’t show up *click* on more and you can see it.)

credit to the Gemini Mission

The sun of this world, Beta Pictoris, is blocked out to keep the light from overwhelming everything else. So here we can see light reflected from a distant planet. Yep, that is a planet.

Now, that planet is huge, bigger than Jupiter, and some post-processing believes it has teased out a ring around the planet. It may have a satellite, maybe one as large as Earth. Can’t really see it well from here. None the less, this picture is real light from a real, alien, planet.

Sure, you could see the surface of Mars with a good telescope or the rings of Saturn or the colors of Jupiter. Venus is pretty much a white dot under any reasonable amplification. I’ve stared at the Moon, itself an alien world, for more hours than I could count. (It was my job one year, I’ll explain later.) But, this world is more alien still, the light of our sun does not shine here. Our sun is just one more star in a sky of countless objects – but somehow our eyes have teased the few reflected photons which have made the long journey – nearly 65 years of journey from sun to planet to us. A literally unimaginable distance, yet we have a picture.

Can we compare this to anything on this Earth?

Jupiter is 140,000 km across this planet is several times larger … so 560,000 km at a distance of 6 x10^14 km. I’ll divide by 6E6 and get 1 unit at 1e9 units.

I’d say that was like looking at a dime on the moon, but actually that job would be 25 times easier.

I’d guess the whole point of this post is pretty much a “gosh wow.” But here we are, looking into space, wondering if anyone is looking back. There is no one at Beta Pictoris. That is a new world at a new star, destined for a short, hot, life. But, we will soon be able to sight in for Earth-like worlds. Can They? Is there a race, 100 light years from here, sighting in on those rare photons from Earth – calculating the oxygen and nitrogen in our atmosphere, surface temperature, CO2 – and wondering if there is life?

Absent a Star Trek Warp drive, we’ll never visit them, or have any meaningful communication, but here we are – like two consenting adults looking across a crowded dance floor, thinking: “What will we say first?”

Solar Storm Alert – Exciting Times

An X-class flare is the big dog. Of course, x 1 – 10, the flux can go a long way from where it is, but this is the first x-class in a long time.

I’m stealing pictures from, support them!

The 10 MeV proton flux got up to 1E3 protons/cm2-s-sr. This is a solid storm flux. It appears to be dropping already after only a few hours, so the region of danger is already passing for many things, but – looking at the stair step – the main body of the storm could still be coming with yet more 10 MeV flux. That could lead to “real” storming levels.

There will be a geomagnetic storm, however, the Kp levels today are so low that Thursday’s storm will be mild. Probably only reaching the highest latitudes. (Alaska, Canada, maybe Washington – Illinois, but I’d doubt Ohio)

The really interesting thing is how correlated this is to the magnetic inversion event. I’d say that the south-pole flip of the sun led to this set of Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) and X-ray flares. How? Heck if I know. I’m not sure I know why the sun’s poles flip every 12 years. I don’t know much more than the solar “jet stream” has been stalled out in the middle latitudes for months and now the streams should move back to the poles.

From the Green Sun Plot ( the real color can’t be seen by humans, it is 94 angstroms – extreme ultraviolet – which is caused by hot flare gasses with a temperature around 0.5 keV or 6 million degrees Celsius) The excitement is still on the equator, but the “general messy areas” are spreading back toward the poles. A month or so ago, the whole sun was a plain green ball. Now it has a lot of action. This indicates that there is a lot of high-altitude magnetic field line action, which is heating the surface of the sun.

Is this common for the decent from solar max to solar min? Yes. Big events occur during this process every time, but we might now be able to get a better grip on the why. (not me of course, real solar physicists with better models of the solar layers than an old textbook.) Exciting times, folks, exciting times.