is a great illustration of teamwork and amazing talent. Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tibetan
monks came to the Smithsonian Asian art museum to create this sand mandala. They sketched the outlines using
straight edges and a compass, then the team laid down colored sand sometimes grain by grain. The intricacy and
sophistication of the pattern reminds me of a
fractal. Too bad at the end of the project they brushed it all away and dumped the sand into the Potomac
you are a football fan, you probably already know about the 49x22 meter displays comprised of 10.5 million
LEDs, drawing 635 kW per display. There are two of those plus two 15.5x9 meter displays drawing 80 kW each.
That amounts to 1.352 MW, or about the equivalent demand of 2,200 U.S. homes. I'm not complaining. I think
it's pretty cool (or, hot), but I guarantee there are a lot of eco-nazis in the stands who are willing to
overlook the eco-terrorism being perpetrated in order to have a close-up look at the game action.
you think this is a Rorschach ink blot test, you would be wrong. If you think this is the first ever CCD image
of the surface of the moon, you would be correct. The 100x100-pixel array (0.01 Mpx), used in 1974 to capture
the image, was real breakthrough technology. A kid's toy digital camera takes better pictures than this
through a cheap plastic lens - in color. Relatively simple, dependable, and inexpensive CCDs have replaced
photomultiplier tubes in astronomical imaging applications. Amateurs can buy incredibly high quality
CCDs for their backyard telescopes for about $1k.
nothing sacred? Are no laws absolute and immutable? Apparently. Remember learning
(Maxwell's equation stating the sum of the magnetic flux across a closed
surface = 0; i.e., no magnetic monopoles)? If I had turned in an EM exam paper with a result asserting
≠ 0, it would surely have been marked wrong. The image above shows a material called spin ice
(crystalline Dysprosium titanate Dy2Ti2O7), where at close to absolute zero it acts as a 'frustrated magnet'
and permits magnetic monopoles. Now I am wondering whether 20-some years later I can have any of my tests
there were the Mandelbrot equations and their associated 2-D images, otherwise know as fractals. Now we have
Mandelbulb, a 3-D version that basically takes a Mandelbrot and rotates it about the z-axis. Oddly
enough, it was not until around 2007 that serious efforts to perfect the equations were completed. Generated
structures range in appearance from biological to ghoulish to just plain weird. Beauty is in the eye of the
tubes were sort of the pre-solid-state version of 7-segment LEDs. At 2.75" x 1.5" x 1.2", it is not much
larger than a multifunction sports watch. CMOS TTL circuits drive the display - no μprocessor. The only
"modern" feature is the use of surface mount components on the PCB. Two 1.5 V coin cells power the nixie tubes
via a voltage multiplier circuit, and will last about 6 months if the display is turned on a few time per day.
you remember when most PCs came with 640k of RAM - total? 1 MB required a special expansion board. Here is a
section of the 32 kB 'rope memory' that guided Apollo 11 to the moon and back. It was woven by hand by the
dedicated workers (mostly women) at Raytheon. Guidance, systems monitoring, user interface, and attitude
control software shared it with
for temporary data storage. It is innately rad[iation] hardened.
you have already seen this. In case you have not, here is the picture making the rounds this year titled,
appropriately, "The Best Christmas Decoration Ever." Some have questioned the authenticity of the
image, but its veracity has been confirmed by Snopes (although Snopes has
been wrong). Regardless, what a riot it must have been for the homeowner as he watched passersby freak
out over it.
of the catastrophic Russian hydroelectric power plant failure last August made just a brief appearance. On
August 17, 2009, the Sayano-Shushenskaya dam on the Yenisei River suffered a breech that flooded the turbine
room, causing at least 1 transformer explosion
video) and extensive damage to all 10 turbines, destroying at least 3 of them. 74 workers are known to have
died in the accident. 40 tons of transformer oil were spilled into the river. These pictures show the
incredible magnitude of damage, and the seemingly insurmountable work that will be needed to clean up and
restore the plant to operation.
14 km west of Denmark in the North Sea, Horns Rev Offshore Wind Farm is one of the world's largest water-based
wind farms. 80 wind turbines produce up to 160 MW, creating enough power for 150,000 households using 4,000
kWh per year. This photo demonstrates how downwind turbines can lose efficiency due to turbulence caused by
upwind turbines - as much as 20-30%. I am a big alternative energy fan, but still not entirely convinced that
in the long run they are anywhere near as efficient $-wise as nuclear, hydro, or coal power.
group of engineers are volunteering their time and expertise to restore an IBM 1401 computer for the Computer
History Museum. Says one, "It's a mechanical machine: The tape machine has an air sensor, a little rubber
diaphragm with contacts on it, and you can see it work. With these modern computers, it's just magic—they've
got things a few nanometers long, and you'll never see them." Sporting a magnetic core memory, the 4-ton
system has about one-millionth the computing power of a $600 desktop PC.
seems that just about anything can be trademarked these days. This very interesting chart demonstrates the
importance of color selection when choosing a corporate logo. Many of the most well-known tech companies are
placed on the spectrum line according to logo color. The article points out that T-Mobile (Deutsche Telekom)
has trademarked the color magenta. UPS owns the word and color "brown" and Orange owns orange in their
respective realms. Given that the color spectrum is continuous, trademark law must somehow specify how far
apart colors must lie in order to not encroach ownership.