Built on Facts

Archives for April, 2009

Rainpower

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, it was day. And it wasn’t all that dark either, but it was very stormy. Yes, in College Station today it was pretty miserably wet and so was everyone on campus. Even if you had an umbrella. Not actually very glorious. Well, I thought, I wonder if…

Ice Cream and Air Compressors

Let’s say you’ve got one of these, and you’re dusting off your computer: (img source) As you spray, you’ll notice the can getting cold. You’ve probably noticed this in similar contexts: propane tanks getting cold, helium tanks getting cold, compressed air tanks running pneumatic tools getting cold, etc. It seems that when air escapes from…

Rockets-R-Us

I almost titled this entry “Rocket Porn” but I wasn’t sure if the management would appreciate it. Still, to the space enthusiast this is definitely pretty enthralling. These photos are straight from my old college roommate, now an engineer at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. He works in a building that overlooks the test stand for…

Robots!

I can’t think of a way to relate this to physics, but it’s just too cool not to share. In New York City there is an artist named Kacie Kinzer. She created small cardboard robots that can do precisely one thing – roll forward continuously. Well, that and look cute. Attached to these robots is…

Sunday Function

Today is Easter Sunday, the most sacred and second most widely observed holy day in the Christian calendar, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. Friday was Good Friday, the remembrance of the crucifixion. Thus after spending three days buried, Jesus rose from the dead. Wait, three days? Let’s see… Friday night to Saturday is a couple…

Social Security is Toast

Mike the Mad Biologist links to a piece arguing that Social Security is fine thank you very much. Rumor to the contrary is pure political propaganda, and the fact that many young people think they’ll never see a dime is a result of simple fearmongering. I am sorry to say that they’re not right. They’re…

Backyard Lightspeed

Earlier this week I wrote up a brief outline of an experiment to measure the speed of sound using only your singing talent. I’d like to be able to do the same thing with the speed of light. But it’s a lot harder because light is so friggin fast. As with sound, the speed of…

Iridium!

I have a project for you, since I know practical physics is pretty popular around here. This one involves orbital dynamics, optics, and astronomy. The required experimental apparatus is just your eyes, a clock, and an internet connection. There are these satellites orbiting overhead by the name of the Iridium constellation, working diligently to provide…

Singing in the Rain

So not only did I miss the Saturday and Sunday posts, but also the Monday and Tuesday ones as well. Gah! It’s honestly quite a bit more difficult to keep to the one-per-day regimen this semester than I though. Nonetheless I’ll try to stick to that schedule to the greatest extent possible. KBO. Today I’d…

Books!

I’m going to be out of pocket most of this weekend, though with any luck I’ll still have the standard Saturday miscellany and Sunday Function posted. Today I’ll be on the road, and leave you with a slightly useless bit of trivia: The average density of books in my apartment is 1.83 per square meter.…