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April
2011

Tetris

http://xkcd.com/888/ best.  mouseover.  text.  ever.  “If you’ve never had sex, this is what it feels like. Complete with the brief feeling of satisfaction, followed by ennui, followed by getting bored and trying to make it happen again.”

the misc-ience word cloud (apparently)

So, I have been playing with datavis applications.  As one does. [make clickings to enlarge] Today’s little graphic is courtesy of Wordle, which generates word clouds from RSS feeds or, alternatively, from delicious user names. Given that I stopped using delicious* when there was that little bruhaha this year, the word cloud generated therefrom is not, I feel, entirely accurate. Then again, the word cloud generated from this here blog was, well, interesting.  And it’s [...]

Pushing stuff with light: how Crookes radiometers work

Yesterday, I bought a Crookes radiometer.  And proceeded to play with it. This post has come out of people asking me ‘how does that work?’ A Crookes radiometer is a simple little device, generally now produced as a novelty item.  It allows the quantitative (i.e. wif all numbers in) measurement of the intensity of electromagnetic radiation: heat, light, etc. It’s made of a glass bulb containing a partial vacuum, a low-friction spindle and some lightweight [...]

Why did you choose to study science?

For me, reading Virtual Organisms in high school nailed it (although it may always have been something of a fait accompli). It’s certainly an interesting question, though, both for those of us who are still gainfully employed in science, and for those of us who now use our science superpowers for other purposes. Dr Colin Hanbury, who is with the Graduate School of Education at the University of Western Australia, is trying to figure out [...]

Peacock spiders FTW

Cutest.  Spider.  Ever. Well, possibly.  Not being familiar with all the spiders on this or any other world(s), I realise I cannot definitely make such a statement. However, the peacock spider (Maratus volans) is one seriously, seriously cute little critter. For those with short attention spans, the action really starts getting going at about the 3 minute mark. (Video by Jurgen Otto, who may well be the first person to manage to do so.  Nicely [...]

Introducing a new blog: Just So Science

This could not have been better timed. Rather than making any jokes (I know, I know), we’re simply going to get straight to the point, and introduce Elf Elfridge, our newest blogger. Elf is the proud and, dare I say it, starry-eyed* owner of Just So Science, which will be looking at things which are very far away, and things which are very small.  But not necessarily simultaneously. In fact, Just So Science will cover [...]

Global premier: First Orbit

Now, ordinarily I don’t use my blog to push events*. However, and having said that, sometimes something comes along which looks to be particularly fascinating.  And tomorrow, just such as  thing is to take place. Sadly, the Auckland event is booked out * sniff *, but Wellingtonian’s have the opportunity to watch the global premier of First Orbit, a documentary specially made for the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s epic trip. For those whose memories [...]

The best view yet of earth's gravity

As a general rule of thumb, I find that anything science-related which makes me shout ‘squeee’ may be something about which I should consider posting. And so, today, I thought I’d share just such a thing. The European Space Agency (ESA) has just released our best map yet of the earth’s gravity, in the form of a ‘geoid’*: what the surface of our ocean might look like under the influence solely of gravity, without the [...]