Archive for 2006

A note on content

Posted on December 31st, 2006 in The Never Ending Story/Other FLB Events | No Comments »

Writing a blog seems fundamentally easy. Find links, and post them, with a summary about what the link contains, and why a reader might want to click on it and read what it has to say. In reality, it’s not as easy as it sounds. What do we include? Will people be interested? Is it original (creating one-of-a-kind content can be hard to do)? Will people understand it?

That last one can sometimes be the most challenging. I know we’ve got readers out there will different levels of knowledge and interest about all things technological. Some people will be interested and understand everything, some won’t understand some of the posts. (I’ll admit that I’ve looked up some stuff before writing a blog entry about a link, either because I didn’t know it, or it helped me understand how to describe what I already knew.)

Because of this, I’m going to try and provide some basic summary information about some of the more complicated posts on the site, for people who want to be able to learn and read more about the subject or topic in the blog. (Look at the next post down, about the particle accelerator, with the basic translaton, and link to a site that makes understanding and learning more easer.)
Everyone should be happier the more they understand. I know I hate getting talked at with random tech I know nothing about. At least if I understand it, it’s a little better.

World’s largest superconducting magnet switches on

Posted on December 31st, 2006 in Historic Technology, Labs/Experiments, Science!, Tech News | No Comments »

“Geneva, 20 November 2006. The largest superconducting magnet ever built has successfully been powered up to its nominal operating conditions at the first attempt. Called the Barrel Toroid because of its shape, this magnet provides a powerful magnetic field for ATLAS, one of the major particle detectors being prepared to take data at CERN1‘s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the new particle accelerator scheduled to turn on in November 2007.”

The english translation : they’ve gotten a really, really, really big magnet turned on, at a really really low temperature, because superconductors work better the cooler they are (in this case, -398.2 degrees F)

. . .

“he ATLAS Barrel Toroid was first cooled down over a six-week period in July-August to reach –269°C . It was then powered up step-by-step to higher and higher currents, reaching 21 thousand amps for the first time during the night of 9 November. This is 500 amps above the current needed to produce the nominal magnetic field. Afterwards, the current was switched off and the stored magnetic energy of 1.1 GigaJoules, the equivalent of about 10 000 cars travelling at 70km/h, has now been safely dissipated, raising the cold mass of the magnet to –218°C.”

More plain english : Superconducting magnets use a lot of energy (read the bold.) These superconducting magnets are a part of a device called a particle accelerator that is used to take two very, very small particles (atoms and smaller) , get them going very very fast, and then crash into each other. collide with each other. The resulting destruction can yield other very, very very very small particles, along with the release of some energy. The results of these collision, and the produced particles, are used to learn more about the nature of science on the atomic scale. CERN, mentioned in the quotes, will be the worlds largest particle accelerator.
Instead of me rambling on, trying to explain science i’m not an expert about, here’s a link to “How Stuff Works – Particle Accelerators” that explains what they do in simple terms. (It’s really a lot like crash testing a car – what holds it together, what comes apart in the crash, etc., but instead of cars, it atoms and resulting sub-atomic particles created.)

How Stuff Works :

And, for the article in its entirety

50 things we know now that we didn’t know a year ago

Posted on December 29th, 2006 in Historic Technology, Science!, Tech News | 1 Comment »

Well, each years has special events that make it, well, special. Each year, we also learn new things. These are some of the scientific/technological things we’ve learned in the past year.

1. U.S. life expectancy in 2005 inched up to a record high of 77.9 years.

3. Blue light fends off drowsiness in the middle of the night, which could be useful to people who work at night.

7. At 68.1 percent, the United States ranks eighth among countries that have access to and use the Internet. The largest percentage of online use was in Malta, where 78.1 percent access the Web.

15. Americans spent almost $32 billion on toys during 2005. About a third of that was spent on video games.

24. At least once a week, 28 percent of high school students fall asleep in school, 22 percent fall sleep while doing homework and 14 percent get to school late or miss school because they overslept.

39. The common pigeon can memorize 1,200 pictures.

50. Researchers from the University of Manchester managed to induce teeth growth in normal chickens – activating genes that have lain dormant for 80 million years.

Yes, they’re random. Yes, it’s worth reading (although not all are worth reading in depth, all are worth a glance.) Read the rest of the list here

Some New – Year’s – themed Posts

Posted on December 29th, 2006 in Dumb Things That Happen, Lacking a Category, Time Wasters | 2 Comments »

Yes, we’re back after the holidays!

We’re still running strong, and, in the holiday spirit, here are a few new-years related blog posts:

How much has the New York City Council banned in 2006?

17 things, such as trans-fats, aluminum baseball bats, candy flavored cigarettes, gas station operators adjusting prices more than once a day, and the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus, just to name a few.  Read the entire list


With each new year, hundreds of laws enacted before December 29th suddenly become valid laws on the books.  Coming under enforcement this year :

Maryland will order Social Security numbers removed from paychecks

In California, driving with people in the trunk will be illegal.

Illinois agencies will have to provide people to answer phones, not just automated messages.  (Ed. Note – is this good or bad?  If I know what I want, sometimes I’d rather the machine, that knows what it’s doing, and won’t give me lip when when it can’t find the option I want, even right in front of it’s face. :mrgreen:)

Read about more laws here 

What are the top 10 search queries?

Posted on December 29th, 2006 in Google, Random Word of the Day, Tech News | No Comments »

So what are the REAL top 10 search engine queries?
We may never know.  Some companies don’t want us to know.  Others do things such as eliminate competitors results from the top ten list.

Here’s one link about the top 10 lists

And here’s a second link specifically about Google’s top 10 list, which ranks the top 10 fastest growing search queries.


Posted on December 29th, 2006 in Games, Time Wasters | No Comments »

Timewaster of the day is Flatland. A small little game where you move around shooting buggers and collecting the colored blocks that shoot out. When you get hurt, you loose blocks. Its actually kind of like mario and coins…
Play it: Flatland


Posted on December 27th, 2006 in Computer software/hardware, How To's | 1 Comment »

Filling out a nasty form that wants your phone number? If you dont trust it enough to give your phone number to, you can use craigsnumber.
Give it the time you want the disposable number for, a cellphone number, and voila! you have it for the time you asked for. Its quite useful, though i haven’t had to use it yet. Probably will come in handy later on.



Posted on December 27th, 2006 in Computer software/hardware, Downloads, Site of the Day, Tech News | No Comments »

A nifty little program which can close in one click all the programs you want closed. Or…just nuke everything running.
Whats really useful for this is, you can close all your programs you want closed, keep the ones you want open, take a snapshot, and with one click later revert back to this config using this program!
Very very useful. I have it set to 3 different configs which i found the most useful. Normal working processes, gaming processes, and shut down processes. This 1)improves performance, and 2) takes down my shut down time extremely low. SmartClose

Another Physics Toy

Posted on December 23rd, 2006 in Games, Lacking a Category | 1 Comment »

Brian’s list reminded me of a fun little game called Truck Dismount– a program that simulates in 3d the effects of a truck with a passenger hitting a wall. There are various options to change the crash, including speed, position of passenger, camera angle, etc. There are 2 other games in this series, both of which are not as fun (in my opinion): stair dismount, and dismount levels which is customizable but still in its beta phase.

Physics Toys (Yes…it inclues LineRider

Posted on December 22nd, 2006 in Science!, Time Wasters | 1 Comment »

After the release of the official Line Rider 2.0, theres an interesting little collection of other physics toys. By little, I meant 3. 😛

MIT Sketching…looks really interesting. Can you just imagine some crazy physics teacher using this? The world would end. Everyone would see these bloomin freebody diagrams everywhere! Curse those rogues at mit for making this… I’m still looking for some way to get my hands on it though……hehe

Working Model 2D is slightly less wonderful, but…can you imagine the possibilities! whole physics periods wasted to the goal of furthering uh…science?