October 19, 2010
It’s been a while since I got on my soapbox of how the 2012 Mayan calendar doomsday myth is, well… a myth. Let me begin by saying that there is no reason to believe that anything exceptional will happen when the Mayan long count calendar ends. Anyone that tells you otherwise is either totally full of shit, or is very gullible to fluff and hype (generated by the former). The descendants of the Mayans themselves have even said that the doomsday myth is bullshit. So, this thing is already completely blown out of the water by real science and reason, but just in case you needed another reason not to believe the doomsday hype, now the actual date of the end of the long count calendar is in question. The methods used to convert the Mayan calendar into our own Gregorian years has been shown to be unreliable, and this could throw off the date conversion by as much as 50 to 100 years. So in reality, the Mayan calendar might have already ended (and thus simply started over again)! I’ll keep an eye out for any updates and clarifications to this story, but let’s face it- the Mayan calendar doomsday hype is nothing more than fear-mongering and utter ignorance. (Via LiveScience)
I know I link to this blog all the time, but the Boston Globe’s Big Picture blog continually showcases some of the most amazing imagery you’ll find anywhere, and what’s best about it is the content. This particular series involves the National Ignition Facility in California. This massive experiment could literally solve all the world’s energy problems. What they’re attempting to do here is essentially create a miniature star right here on earth. Just recently they completed a successful test in which they fired 192 lasers simultaneously into one tiny frozen target capsule containing deuterium and tritium (isotopes of hydrogen). The ultimate goal is to create a nuclear fusion reaction- the same process taking place in the center of our Sun. As you can easily deduce, this would release enormous amounts of energy that is completely clean- the only by-product is helium, which is the element formed when hydrogen atoms fuse. The only hurdle is that it already requires a massive amount of energy to power the lasers that start the reaction in the first place, so the reactor must produce significantly more energy than it consumes in order to truly be a viable solution to the energy crisis. Another issue could be safety. With a reaction as powerful as nuclear fusion, things can get dangerous very quickly. Thankfully though, if an explosion were to occur, it wouldn’t involve the radioactive fallout danger associated with current nuclear reactors which use a different process- nuclear fission. (AKA the reaction used in the atomic bomb.) Click here to learn more about the NIF.
September 8, 2009
Whew. That was quite an eye-gasm wasn’t it? That was taken on the current space shuttle mission (STS-128) to the International Space Station. The mission is about to come to an end, with a scheduled landing on Thursday. (Via Universe Today)
I also found on UT the final explanation of the Google UFO logo that caused quite a stir yesterday all over the interwebz. The Google tech-nerds were simply showing some love for the Japanese video game Zero Wing, the one with the famous quote “All your base are belong to us” at the beginning. Google also tweeted a mysterious set of numbers. It turns out if you insert the corresponding letters of the alphabet, you get “All your O are belong to us.” No, Google doesn’t know something we don’t. No, it wasn’t a hint that we’ll soon be visited by aliens, or that the government will finally come clean on a huge conspiracy theory. Sorry, Fox Mulder.
Until this morning I’d never heard of EEStor, but this new technology could revolutionize…. everything. But apparently it’s been met with quite a bit of skepticism. Basically it’s a new way of storing electricity, much more efficient than a lithium ion battery, and it would make storage of power generated by wind turbines and solar cell arrays much easier. The problem with power from the wind and sun is that it isn’t constant, therefore you need a way to store that power so that it can be used at all times, even when it’s dark or there’s no wind. That storage has been a big hurdle for the progress of these types of energy. Basically what they’ve done is invent a capacitor capable of storing much more energy than any capacitor before. It was once thought that basic problems with the very laws of physics prevented the development of capacitors with this much storage potential. But apparently this company has managed to convince the Zenn motor company, along with several investors with deep pockets, that they have found a way around those problems. If they’re really on to something it could make 100% green, sustainable power much closer to reality. If you’re a total electronics nerd and want to read the nitty-gritty on this, check out this article. (Via EcoGeek)