c9: (Default)
"Every $1 invested in fluoridation saves approximately $38 in dental treatment costs, according to the C.D.C. The cost of a single filling averages $140, and that’s only the beginning. Through the years, a filled tooth is likely to require further repairs and maybe even extraction and replacement with a bridge or implant costing thousands of dollars.

None of this, however, has quelled the controversy over the safety of fluoridation, which dates back to the first studies in the 1940s. In addition to being labeled a Communist plot and an unconstitutional form of mass medication, fluoridation has been accused of causing a host of medical horrors: heart disease, cancer, Down syndrome, AIDS, allergies, Alzheimer’s disease, mental retardation, osteoporosis and fractures, among others.

None of these supposed risks has ever been established in scientifically valid studies. The only proven risk, a condition called fluorosis, which results in white and sometimes brownish markings on the teeth from too much fluoride, rarely results from a normal intake of fluoridated water."

Read the full article here: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/23/dental-exam-went-well-thank-fluoride/

(and city Councillors in Toronto and Calgary and elsewhere who like to cut costs by scaremongering about fluoride? I'd like you to shut it, please.)

Update: Learn more about fluoride history and controversy here: http://www.anzhealthpolicy.com/content/4/1/25 
c9: (Star Trek)
In sci-fi, it's common to create a link with the reader's "reality" and the reality of the book, or the "in-book universe", through mentions of how a familiar thing has changed over the time/space involved. The one that comes to mind most often for me is when a character is talking about great scientists in history. They will say something like, "This is amazing! We will join the ranks of Einstein, Hawking, and D'al-Aqqwttl'a!" That last name being, of course, made up to show that there were famous scientists between the reader's time and the book's time.

To be honest, those sentences stick out like such a sore thumb to me, but I get why they're there.

I bring this up because today I encountered one of those sentences in *reality*! The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada -- home of the Blackberry! -- today is announcing the funding of a new position at the institute.

...the first of five endowed chairs Perimeter’s director, Neil Turok, wants to establish. (The others will be named after other historic discoverers, Maxwell, Bohr, Einstein and Dirac.) The stated goal is “to attract five of the most influential theoretical physicists of our time.”
I have no idea who Dirac is. Time to waste the day on Wikipedia!

Read more: Ideas You Can Take From The Bank

Learn about who this Dirac character is here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Dirac
c9: (Banging my Head)
Sadly, it has basically left the news, but the federal government's destruction of the census has not been reversed. Not only that, but after spending months deriding the census as invasive and unnecessary, it is easy to believe that the voluntary longer survey will be ignored by many recipients, and the short census (which is still mandatory) will also be ignored and the legal requirement for it unenforced. Depressing.

A wonderful analogy appeared in the comments of this Maclean's blog posting by Aaron Wherry. Referencing the plight of Statistics Canada's many thousands of employees, the comment by a former StatsCan employee reads:

"It's like working all your life at Volvo being focused on car safety and then learning that the next model will have no seatbelts because people in focus groups find them uncomfortable."
c9: (House on Fire)
Note: This list is no longer being maintained. This is because the list of opponents to the census change is growing rapidly, and the opposition to this change can accurately be described as near-universal among groups who use the data. For more detailed and updated lists, please see http://eaves.ca/save-the-census-coalition/ and http://datalibre.ca/census-watch/

List of opponents to government's census change
List of supporters
Newspaper Editorial Boards:
Saskatoon Star-Phoenix
Calgary Herald
Winnipeg Free Press
Globe and Mail
Toronto Star
Montreal Gazette
Edmonton Journal
Victoria Times-Colonist
Ottawa Citizen
National Post
Halifax Chronicle-Herald

Members of Parliament / Political Parties:
New Democratic Party of Canada
Liberal Party of Canada
Green Party of Canada (although they don't support penalties, making their position incoherent)
Le Bloc Québécois
Conservative MP James Rajotte

Provinces, Municipalities & Related:
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities
City planners in Calgary and Red Deer
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario
Provincial officials in Quebec, BC and PEI
and Ontario

Associations, Boards, Groups, Charities, Think-tanks & Related:
The Statistical Society of Canada
The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
The Canadian Marketing Association
The Canadian Federation of Francophone and Acadian Communities
The Executive Council of the Canadian Economics Association
The director of the Prentice Institute at the University of Lethbridge
The senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
The Canadian Institute of Planners
The Canadian Association for Business Economics
The co-chairman of the Canada Census Committee
The Canadian Association of University Teachers
The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association
The Quebec Community Groups Network
The president of the CD Howe Institute
The Canadian Council on Social Development
The United Way in Toronto
Canadian Jewish Congress
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada

Canadian Medical Association Journal
Director, Toronto Public Health
The French Language Services Commissioner of Ontario
The executive director of the Société franco-manitobaine
Toronto Board of Trade
Ontario Human Rights Commission (plus a letter to the Globe and Mail)

Private Sector Companies:
The former head of Statistics Canada
Don Drummond, TD Bank

Former clerk of the Privy Council Alex Himelfarb
Frank Graves
The chief economist of the Greater Halifax Partnership
JJ McCullough
Kevin Milligan
Tasha Kheiridden
Mike Moffatt
York University Prof. Valerie Preston, director of the CERIS research centre on immigration and settlement issues
Newspaper Editorial Boards:
Toronto Sun

Members of Parliament / Political Parties:
Conservative Party of Canada (implied)
Prime Minister Harper, and his Cabinet (implied)
Maxime Bernier
Dean del Mastro
Twitter fan and Industry Minister @TonyClement_MP

Initially anonymous supporters mentioned by the Minister:
Leo Fleming
Adam Adamou (@grazen)


Provinces, Munipalities & Related:

Associations, Boards, Groups, Charities, Think-tanks & Related:
Fraser Institute

Warren Kinsella
Matt Bufton
PM Jaworski
Walter Block
Terrence Watson
Martin Masse
Hugh MacIntyre
Paul McKeever

Updated 2010-07-21 16:05 EDT

c9: (Banging my Head)
The federal government has announced that the census - run every five years in Canada - is being changed in 2011. The change which they seem to think is minor, is to spend $30 million more to send it out to more people, but to make most of the questions optional. They say the long form on the census is too intrusive, and the government threatening jail time is inappropriate.

In Canada, 80% of the population receives a short census form, with only five questions. 20% of the population receives a long form, with many more, very detailed questions - how many bedrooms in your home, how much money do you make, how far do you commute to work, etc. The census is required - everyone must complete it. If you don't, Statistics Canada will call you, visit you, remind you, pester you, and finally if nothing else works they will actually discuss the fines and potential for jail time. Like jury duty and paying taxes, a census is something required of residents.

The questions are very detailed, but Statistics Canada is very obsessive about privacy, to the point of not releasing census data from 100 years ago! In the past decade, the Privacy Commissioner has received only three complaints about the census in total.

The census is actually very important. Everything you do, every day, involves that data. The roads you travel on, the transit system - even where the bus routes go in your neighbourhood, the schools your kids attend, the community centres you swim at, the number of Members of Parliament supporting your city... the list goes on and on. Almost all large businesses use the census data as well.

The reason it's so important is that the census is a picture of the actual population. It's not estimated, extrapolated, or guessed-at. If the long form becomes voluntary, then the most vulnerable in your community - who are known to self-report less - will be at greater risk and have fewer resources available to them. The upper middle-class and rich will end up over-represented, and this is the group which many of us fall into -- you've got a computer and high speed internet, and a job? you're probably richer than you like to think.

Anyway. This is a big problem. This affects you. If this change stands, it will actually hurt our ability to effectively and efficiently provide government services, care for our less fortunate, and even just understand where everybody lives.

"Clement’s statistical illiteracy is so profound it gives one vertigo. The notion that simply making the sample bigger can’t fix a skewed sample is something undergraduates learn in first-year classes, yet is somehow beyond the mental grasp of a senior minister of a G8 country. And the comedic benefit of watching Clement fail first-year economics is undermined by the cold realization that he fundamentally does not understand the intellectual foundations of the files that he controls. When he is cornered by his intellectual betters, moreover, Clement’s instinct is to reach for the debating-hall comforts of cheap populism."
- http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/07/16/sometimes-a-gaffe-is-more-than-a-gaffe/

Learn more:

See the actual questions from 2006: http://www12.statcan.ca/IRC/english/ccr03_005_e.htm
c9: (Global Warming)
Global warming denial comes in many forms, and detailed resources are available to those willing to hear them:
  1. How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: Responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming
  2. Skeptic Arguments and What the Science Says
  3. Climate change: How do we know? (NASA)
  4. Global Warming Denier Database

But reading is different from hearing a dynamic, interesting talk. Al Gore convinced many, and exposed many more to important ideas and facts that led to more people learning about global warming. Pause here to consider that I used "Al Gore" and "dynamic, interesting talk" in the same paragraph.

Science doesn't have a monopoly on dynamic, interesting speakers. In fact, it kind of has a reputation for the opposite. Which means that a dynamic, interesting speaker like Christopher Monckton can quite easily sway an audience based on passion and conviction, even though he actually doesn't know what he's talking about. Want proof? Settle in, this slide show is 90 minutes but easily skimmed if you want to see just bits. Monckton claims researcher X claimed Y, so *actual* scientist fights back by actually asking researcher X if they meant claim Y. Looks like he has a tendency to mislead, misunderstand, outright lie, or simply make stuff up, in 100% of the cases. Sad.

See the slide show (with audio) here: http://www.stthomas.edu/engineering/jpabraham/
c9: (Global Warming)
(Courtesy of The Walrus -- a magazine I regularly find to be worth my time.)

First, what's Peak Oil?

Oil will not just "run out" because all oil production follows a bell curve. This is true whether we're talking about an individual field, a country, or on the planet as a whole.

Oil is increasingly plentiful on the upslope of the bell curve, increasingly scarce and expensive on the down slope. The peak of the curve coincides with the point at which the endowment of oil has been 50 percent depleted. Once the peak is passed, oil production begins to go down while cost begins to go up.

In practical and considerably oversimplified terms, this means that if 2005 was the year of global Peak Oil, worldwide oil production in the year 2030 will be the same as it was in 1980. However, the world’s population in 2030 will be both much larger (approximately twice) and much more industrialized (oil-dependent) than it was in 1980. Consequently, worldwide demand for oil will outpace worldwide production of oil by a significant margin. As a result, the price will skyrocket, oil dependant economies will crumble, and resource wars will explode.

So why do we need to worry? Well, very few people are willing to honestly discuss how much oil, gas and coal are left.

The energy industry depends on everybody believing their product is going to be around for a long time (otherwise we would switch to other products), so they have an incentive to inflate their reserve estimates. Governments depend on everybody being stable, quiet, and well-behaved taxpayers, so they have an incentive to soften bad news. Additionally, they have to win elections, so they have an incentive to focus on the short-term.

But worst of all is us. We don't like hard problems, we don't like change, and we don't like the idea of not having STUFF. And everything -- EVERYTHING -- around us is made out of or with oil/gas/coal. Plastic. Electrical power. Cars. Roads. Subways. Planes. Food. Phones.

Canada is quite bad too. We like to pretend we're pretty special, but we're not. We're the 36th-most-populated country, but we use oil like we're #9.

The next three excerpts are from the actual article I'm finally getting around to recommending, An Inconvenient Talk:

[In 2008 the International Energy Association released] the latest edition of its annual World Energy Outlook, which predicts a global oil production peak or plateau by 2030. In a video that appears online soon after, the Guardian’s George Monbiot requests a more precise figure from the IEA’s chief economist, Fatih Birol. The official estimate, he confesses, is 2020. Monbiot also inquires as to the motivation for the IEA’s sudden about-face, and Birol explains dryly that previous studies were “mainly an assumption.” That is, the 2008 version was the first in which the IEA actually examined hard data, wellhead by wellhead, from the world’s 800 largest oil fields. Monbiot asks, with understandable incredulity, how it was that such a survey hadn’t been conducted previously. Birol’s response: “In fact, nobody has done that research.”

But what about Canada's tar or oil sands? (More on the name: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tar_sands)

The historical Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI) for conventional oil is 100:1. This refers to the kind of crude that gushes up in the opening credits of The Beverly Hillbillies, the kind that first flowed out of the Ghawar oil field in Saudi Arabia when it was tapped in 1948. Invest a barrel’s worth of energy drilling and refining in a spot like Ghawar, then and forever the largest single crude oil deposit on the planet, and you used to get 100 barrels of energy-dense, easily transported fuel in return. These days, conventional EROEI for such places is closer to 25:1.

The EROEI on more recent “new conventional” deposits, which Dave cites mostly by their discovery and extraction methods (“deepwater oil, horizontal wells, 3-D seismic”) is also around 25:1. In Alberta’s tar sands, the surface-mined bitumen comes to market at an EROEI of 6:1. “In situ” bitumen — sludge buried too far under the boreal forest floor to excavate, which comprises the lion’s share of the most breathless estimates of Canada’s energy superpower–scale oil production — rings in at 3:1. Corn ethanol, that darling of America’s farm states, is somewhere between 1.3:1 and 0.75:1. Shale oil, another unconventional source held by its boosters to be capable of indefinitely extending the age of oil, has never been converted into fuel at a net energy profit, at least as far as Dave has been able to ascertain.

A barrel of oil is pretty cheap these days, all things considered. But what if, sort-of-hypothetically-and-sort-of-not, what if we had no way to generate energy except ourselves?

As he drives, Dave indulges in a little academic exercise. He’s comfortable with numbers, quick with calculations. A barrel of oil, he tells you, contains about six gigajoules of energy. That’s six billion joules. Put your average healthy Albertan on a treadmill and wire it to a generator, and in an hour the guy could produce about 100 watts of energy. That’s 360,000 joules. Pay the guy the provincial minimum wage, give him breaks and weekends and statutory holidays off, and it would take 8.6 years for him to produce one barrel of oil equivalent (boe, the standard unit of measure in hydrocarbon circles). And you’d owe him $138,363 in wages. That, Dave tells you, is what a barrel of oil is worth.

Worth the read. http://www.walrusmagazine.com/articles/2009.06-energy-an-inconvenient-talk/
c9: (Default)
How long will _____ last, and how much are we using in North America? US-centric but applies to Canada too - http://ping.fm/IB3Ls
c9: (Earth)
I'm kinda pleased with how my cover letter turned out, so I thought I would share. Try to find the cutesy thing I did to amuse myself, since I figure this is my last involvement with the Canadian Space Agency. (answer at end)

All my life I've wanted to be involved in the space program. As a child in British Columbia my room was plastered with space shuttles, rockets, planets, and stars. I was forced to leave one wall blank white just so my mother wouldn't feel claustrophobic entering my room.

The Canadian Space Agency sits at the intersection of three things I hold very dear to my heart: space, Canada, and the importance of space sciences to understanding the world around us. The opportunity to become a part of this incredible enterprise is one that I could not pass by, and one which I know in my heart I would stop at nothing to help make it successful.

I know that CSA needs strong scientists to ensure that missions are a success, and I have followed the achievements of our previous astronaut candidates with interest. But I worry that CSA also requires communicators, and this is where I would excel within the team. We are surrounded today by strong conflict around climate science, evolutionary science, peak oil, and many other game-changing events for our civilization, but our decision-makers do not have the scientific backgrounds required to separate fact from fiction. CSA and its partner agencies around the world help with that endeavour, and astronauts form a large part of the public face of that effort.

As a Canadian astronaut, I would work tirelessly to bring both the excitement of discovery and the potential for innovation to the public. I work with students every day in my adult education classes and I love nothing more than to see their faces light up with the thrill of understanding technology and learning to better their careers and their lives. Science has brought us incredible improvements in our way or life and our ability to learn about our planet and our universe, and that thrill is needed more than ever as we confront new and greater challenges to our health and the health of our home.

I see my role as being a challenger to the status quo. While governments and corporations each seek answers by looking inward and by reacting, our scientific exploration must look outward and must by nature travel in unexpected directions. Our astronauts are not just cogs in the mission machine, matching this component to this module. In fact, our astronauts are the human face on the CSA budget, the excitement on the scientific journal article, and the inspiration for thousands of Canadian children to pay attention to science and bring their own accomplishments to our country.

To this end, I bring extensive teaching, team management, and communications experience to your team. I am trained and certified in teaching, communications, and team management (see resume for details). I regularly have to transcend language barriers, bias and prejudice, and learner competency levels to ensure requirements are achieved, deadlines are met, and clients are happy with their classroom experience. My experience with defusing conflict and ensuring clarity of communication can only add to the success of CSA and my team.

Not only can I teach, but even more importantly I can learn. As a technical trainer, I am regularly called upon to learn new technologies even before general release of the product, and then effectively design and deliver training to a highly technical audience with specific timelines and requirements. My client evaluations show success in this endeavour, with satisfaction scores averaging over 95%.

From watching Marc Garneau on Challenger and Roberta Bondar on Discovery making Canadian history, to seeing Steve MacLean on Atlantis and Dave Williams on Endeavour continuing Canada’s and humanity’s achievements, I have dreamed of bringing anything and everything I have to the Canadian Space Agency and the Canadian Astronaut Corps. I look forward to seeing further successes for CSA, and I hope to one day be a part of making them happen.


Cameron MacLeod

If you spot an error, then I'm screwed, because it's due at 9pm eastern and I'm going to be out of the house until after that. God, I hope there's nothing stupid in there. :-)

* I included all the different Space Shuttle names in my text in non-space contexts. The only one I couldn't do without it being awkward was Atlantis, so I included it by name in my final paragraph.
c9: (Earth)
The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is recruiting two new Canadian astronauts. I applied (along with over 5000 others) and I reached the second stage! (this was not too tricky)

Stage two however is a little bit harder. Especially with a crappy GPA and no orbital mechanics experience. *sigh*

At least I can try to regain some ground with my cover letter. But what can I say that beats a super-Physics PhD who's also a pilot? (no stealing, [livejournal.com profile] primary_suspect!)
c9: (House on Fire)
On Saturday I tidied up the basement for our upcoming houseguests, visiting us to enjoy one of the world's largest GLBT Pride events*. One task was "move the winter boots to another spot", and I didn't expect it to be quite so exciting as it was: there was water under them. Not a puddle, or a leak, but some drops of water as if they had just recently been worn in the snow or rain. Except they'd been sitting there for two months. Humidity, we guessed?

On Sunday night I checked and the water droplets were still there, rudely refusing to evaporate. This seemed like more evidence of excess humidity. Since the room stores many books and some artwork, we thought maybe that's not a good situation.

Today, I bought a dehumidifier from Pneu Canadien** and set it up. It has all sorts of lights and indicators and so forth. However, I do not yet find it coherent. It's supposed to have a setting (such as 60%, which is the default), to which it will automatically attempt to adjust the room. When I plugged it in, it said 43% (ostensibly the current humidity -- my ass!). Then I set it to just run nonstop and checked it after an hour. Then it said 58%. Was it humidifying? Rebel scum.

Later I set it to automatically work, and it has displayed numbers like 59%, 48%, and also the unintuitive (and undocumented) "P1". It is creating water, but I chose it for the lights and doodads a bit. If I just wanted dehumidity I could have saved a few bucks!

Vinny's tongue-in-cheek theory was that it was not showing the current humidity, but rather the dehumidity -- how much humidity was not there. But seriously, if I need quadratic equations to make the LCD make sense, I am going back to wiping up water with friggin' paper towels.

* I search in vain each year for some proof that Toronto is largest, but all I can find is proof by elimination of other competitors. This year though, it looks like we've been eclipsed, but that's OK -- it's still friggin' insane. This year's research (some are for the parade, some for the entire event, all for 2004 or later):
Sao Paulo, Brazil	3,500,000
Toronto, Canada		1,200,000
London, UK		600,000
Vancouver, Canada	380,000
Amsterdam, Netherlands	350,000
Sligo, Ireland		100

** My Dad always calls Canadian Tire that.
c9: (Global Warming)
So I'm sick again. Strangely when I'm sick I have a hard time sleeping -- unless I'm like super-sick -- and so I always end up productive with stuff that I've been wanting to do but not getting done. Today is Electricity Consumption Day!

We all have stuff that we leave plugged in all the time. That bothers me because it's eating power which costs money and in most of the world directly translates into coal emissions and CO2. So anyway, I have a little energy meter and I ran around checking what everything is consuming.

Desktop PC (off)10 $8.65
19" LCD (off)2 $1.73
DSL Modem & Wireless Router (on)17 $14.71
Cordless Phone3 $2.60
Roomba (on standby)5 $4.33
Phone + Digital Answering Machine (on)7 $6.06
Clock Radio2 $1.73
Home Theatre (TV, Amp, CD, DVD; all off)9 $7.79
Old Dell laptop I'm using as a media centre PC (standby)6 $5.19
(with desktop on a power bar)

I was pleased to see the rate for the Roomba, because I was getting worried about it being plugged in 24/7 just to clean up cat fur and dust. But that's totally worth it. The real excitement came when I checked out the laptop I am using as a Media PC. I had tested it already, and was disappointed because it was reading 65W when on standby and 69W when running! But I think that the laptop was charging its battery at the time, so that's not a valid reading. Today it's showing just 6W when on standby! The reason this is cool is I've got my Harmony remote properly talking to the Media PC remote transceiver and even going in and out of standby by remote control and all that. Awesome! I was worried that I couldn't have that wonderful behaviour because of the high power usage, but looks like it's OK. Woo!
c9: (Politics)
I agree with Jeff -- this is NOT cool.

Environment Canada has "muzzled" its scientists, ordering them to refer all media queries to Ottawa where communications officers will help them respond with "approved lines."
The reality, insiders say, is the policy is blocking communication and infuriating scientists. Researchers have been told to refer all media queries to Ottawa. The media office then asks reporters to submit their questions in writing. Sources say researchers are then asked to respond in writing to the media office, which then sends the answers to senior management for approval. If a researcher is eventually cleared to do an interview, he or she is instructed to stick to the "approved lines."

Climatologist Andrew Weaver, of the University of Victoria, works closely with several Environment Canada scientists. He says the policy points to the Conservative government's fixation on "micro-management" and message control.

"They've been muzzled," says Weaver of the federal researchers. "The concept of free speech is non-existent at Environment Canada. They are manufacturing the message of science."

"They can't even now comment on why a storm hit the area without going through head office," says Weaver, who's been fielding calls from frustrated media who can no longer get through to federal experts, scientists who once spoke freely about their fields of work, be it atmospheric winds affecting airliners or disease outbreaks at bird colonies.

Tell Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Environment Minister John Baird how you feel about this. Remember, letters to MPs are free, no stamp required! You can also call or email, though I've heard conflicting reports on how "valued" electronic communication is versus real paper.
c9: (Global Warming)
Lots of news right now about the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. You can read the actual SPM, and you can read a great intro to the overall summary.


The process of finalising the SPM (which is well described here and here) is something that can seem a little odd. Government representatives from all participating nations take the draft summary (as written by the lead authors of the individual chapters) and discuss whether the text truly reflects the underlying science in the main report. The key here is to note that what the lead authors originally came up with is not necessarily the clearest or least ambiguous language, and so the governments (for whom the report is being written) are perfectly entitled to insist that the language be modified so that the conclusions are correctly understood by them and the scientists. It is also key to note that the scientists have to be happy that the final language that is agreed conforms with the underlying science in the technical chapters. The advantage of this process is that everyone involved is absolutely clear what is meant by each sentence. Recall after the National Academies report on surface temperature reconstructions there was much discussion about the definition of 'plausible'. That kind of thing shouldn't happen with AR4.

The SPM process also serves a very useful political purpose. Specifically, it allows the governments involved to feel as though they 'own' part of the report. This makes it very difficult to later turn around and dismiss it on the basis that it was all written by someone else. This gives the governments a vested interest in making this report as good as it can be (given the uncertainties). There are in fact plenty of safeguards (not least the scientists present) to ensure that the report is not slanted in any one preferred direction. However, the downside is that it can mistakenly appear as if the whole summary is simply up for negotiation. That would be a false conclusion - the negotiations, such as they are, are in fact heavily constrained by the underlying science.
c9: (Contrails)
On my flight from Montréal -- whose airport has gotten more than a little depressed of late -- to Charlottetown -- whose airport gives a bit of a chuckle to frequent international travelers, I'd wager -- a curious sight could be seen.

Once above the clouds, with the sun shining on us from the right, I could see a circular rainbow (actually three complete cycles of the light spectrum) on the clouds opposite the sun. I hypothesize that the plane was causing a slight diffraction of the sunlight, which was pretily projected on the clouds below and to the left of us.

But why? I don't completely grasp what the plane was doing, and why it didn't simply project a shadow.

I'm also not convinced that it was projected, since of course rainbows are really the moisture in the air, but clouds are moisture too. Damn the many facets and layers of science! Damn them!

I'm sitting in seat 1A on a CRJ-100. Not the funnest plane around. I always put my winter coat in my checked bag too, so I get to walk to and from the plane in my short-sleeve shirt. Woo!
c9: (Drumbone)
I just witnessed science! And I didn't understand it!! It was very startling!!!*

I boiled water for dinner, then turned off the element to wait for Vinny to get home. I saw his bus arrive, so I turned the element on again, and watched it start to bubble ever so slightly from one spot on the bottom. I took off the lid to get ready to put the pasta in, and a small piece of angel-hair pasta fell in early. The water instantly went to a violent boil, from nothing. Zoom!

Like I said: Science! (oooooo!)

* I buy my exclamation points in bulk these days.
c9: (Global Warming)
I received a copy of An Inconvenient Truth on DVD for Christmas from Vinny's Mom, and I'm just getting around to looking at the special features today. There's some really interesting stuff.

The DVD was assembled a full year after the movie was completed, and there's a mini-movie with Al Gore going through the dozens of studies and new pieces evidence that have appeared in late 2005 and early 2006. He references things shown in the movie, and gives more details or provides specific examples of even higher temperatures in the past year.
There are eight sections or so, on things like hurricanes, ocean acidification, soil moisture, the permafrost, and others. It includes extended scenes from his slide show too, which just makes me want to see his full slide show more.

It also makes me want to study climate science. I get very frustrated to see thousands upon thousands of highly-knowledgeable, skilled, experts talking about things they understand, and to then see climate professional change deniers, funded by companies that think they can't adapt, get all the press. What's especially frustrating to me is not knowing all the details about every single topic, so I can't respond effectively to those sorts of debates.

Just need to get Vinny done with school, then it's my turn again.

That's it!

Dec. 20th, 2006 09:54 am
c9: (Default)
I'm throwing out all our big plates, and buying only single-colour M&Ms!


(h/t [livejournal.com profile] sassy_red_head)
c9: (Default)
I got a Kill-A-Watt last week, and carefully measured all the plugged in devices we have to check for excess electriicity usage. I found basically none. Damn our efficient stuff!
tables of numbers are the BEST )

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