Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

April 21st, 2009:

Odd Lots

  • 138,000 words in, out of about 175,000. Maybe a hair under 3,000 words left on this chapter, and then only two more to go. Whew.
  • I’m collecting pointers to print magazine articles about building your own Geiger counters. I have a few articles from Popular Electronics and one from Popular Mechanics on Google, and may do a survey article on the topic for Jeff’s Junkbox. The trick with most of the tube-era circuits is those 300V dry batteries. Somewhere in the stacks I’ve stickied a neat hack consisting of a 2N554 pumping square waves into a tube-era output transformer to put out at least 300V at a few mils. That would do it…
  • There’s going to be a very nice conjunction of the crescent Moon and crescent Venus just before dawn tomorrow morning. More here. West of Ohio and a line tilting southwest, Venus will actually be occulted by the Moon. Our weather promises to be good here and given that I’ll be up at 6 anyway, what’s another forty minutes?
  • Michael Arrington’s Crunchpad (which I mentioned in my January 19, 2009 entry) seems to have some recent quantum leaps toward reality. I’m watching it as an ebook reader, and while I doubt we’ll lay hands on it for only $200, I’d be happy to pay $400 if the implementation is good. E-Ink is just painful in bad light, like you get in most hotel rooms and the corner bed of your RV.
  • Suddenly I’m seeing more articles on polywell fusion; here’s the latest, courtesy Frank Glover. Most of the deep theory goes over my head, but people I respect seem to think it will work and can be scaled to useful outputs.
  • Cold fusion is hot again too, judging by several major items in the MSM, including 60 Minutes. The Navy’s in on it too. My take: The test of a true scientist vs. a phony scientist is the difference between “We don’t know what’s going on here” and “There is nothing going on here.”
  • I guess this may be Fringe Science Day. The Big Face on Mars is so 1980s…have you seen the Big Pac Man Game on Mars? (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for the pointer.)
  • Finally, from Bruce Baker comes a link to a life-size status of Jesus in Lego. Nicely done, whether you’re a theist or not–but again, if you don’t glue the pieces together, how do you stop the parish’s munchkins from stealing Jesus’ toes?