Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

October 15th, 2008:

Odd Lots

  • Speaking of sunspots (see yesterday's entry) The Boston Globe posted a series of some of the most amazing photographs of the Sun that I've ever seen. I'm not sure there's much more I can say but go look.
  • More sunspot stuff: Wikimedia has a very nice graph of sunspot peaks since we started tracking them more or less scientifically in 1749. I have sometimes wondered if better instruments built in the last 100 years have led to higher sunspot counts, simply because we can see smaller and shorter-lived spots, but supposedly that's been taken into account. My one serious quibble with the associated writeup is that it's the Wolf Minimum and not the Maunder Minimum that corresponds to the beginning of the Little Ice Age. Maunder just made it worse, and Europe's coldest era does indeed correspond to a 70-year near-absence of spots between 1645 and 1715.
  • The Make Blog aggegated an item on a beambot built in…1912. It works essentially the same way as the Popular Electronics Emily robot that I built in 1966, minus the solid state current amplifier. Relays can “amplify” current in a snappy, sparky, ozone-y kind of way, and this device has a definite steampunkish air about it.
  • I am two days older than musician/composer David Arkenstone, and we're both Chicago boys. Didn't know that until ten minutes ago. Will probably forget it sooner or later, but not in time to make room in my head for more useful knowledge.
  • More of what my sister calls “brain sludge”: I built my first kite in September 1962. How do I know this? I remember pulling a sheet of newspaper off the top of the pile in the basement, and seeing the ad announcing the premiere of “The Beverly Hillbillies,” complete with an Al Hirschfield caricature of the Clampett clan in their truck. I had read of his habit of sneaking his daughter Nina's name into every one of his cartoons (I think in the Saturday Evening Post) and took time to find it. I then used the sheet in the kite, which flew well, and was the first of many to be made of newspaper, and other (odd) things. Now, howcome I can remember this so vividly, and still have to think hard about where I left my damned cellphone ten minutes ago?
  • This says something about human nature, and nothing good. Me, I prefer cars that don't go off the road, though I have eaten and enjoyed a number of smoked chubs that looked very angry.
  • The email consensus is that the Turtle Wax Turtle was indeed atop the Wendell Bank Building at Ashland and Ogden. One correspondent asked the obvious: “Why not email the Turtle Wax people who posted the video?” Duhh. Will do. Sorry.