20060330

On Debugging

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"Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it." - Brian W. Kernighan

I just liked this quote enough that I had to post it.

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20060320

Species loss worst since the dinosaurs

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CNN.com - Report: Species loss worst since the dinosaurs - Mar 20, 2006: "OSLO, Norway (Reuters) -- Humans are responsible for the worst spate of extinctions since the dinosaurs and must make unprecedented extra efforts to reach a goal of slowing losses by 2010, a U.N. report said on Monday."

I find it hard to believe that we are living in a period of a mass extinction event. I wonder how the science is behind this determination works. This is something to take very seriously. I also wonder about the living web of life. As we cut threads here and there, the web will eventually unravel. How long could this continue and remain unnoticable to the public at large? How long would the world remain sustainable for us?

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Who's Afraid of a Solar Flare?

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NASA - Who's Afraid of a Solar Flare?: "During the storms, something strange happened onboard the International Space Station (ISS): radiation levels dropped."

I found this interesting. During solar storms, the sun sends out corona mass ejections (CME). These produce deadly levels of radiation. However, they also deflect galactic cosmic radiation. Since we can shield against CMEs and not cosmic rays, it may actually be safer to travel during solar storms. Good times to visit the Moon and Mars may be around 2011 and 2022.

As an interesting aside, the solar storms of the coming solar maximum (2010-2012) may be the largest we've seen since 1958. During that maximum, people spotted the northern lights as far south as Mexico!.

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20060316

About Big Numbers

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About Big Numbers:
"Explore the world of big numbers.
Discover how big and how small our world is.
How big is a zillion?
How small is a quadrillion?
Numbers and science.
From the atom to the universe.
Sun and sand and water and air.
And more."


This is a neat little site describing "big numbers." It traces powers of a thousand from ONE (100 = 10000) to a NOVEMVIGINTILLION (1090 or 100030) and finally it skips to a GOOGOL (10100).

Since it focuses on material numbers (like atoms in a cup of water or the volume of the galaxy in cubic inches) it kind of loses steam near the end. It doesn't go into numbers that can only be approached mathmatically like the GOOGLE PLEX (1010100) or even larger numbers that can't be written in scientific notation. I suppose that would be another story.

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20060315

Greetings, Earthlings! -- from Google Mars

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CNN.com - Greetings, Earthlings! -- from Google Mars - Mar 14, 2006

"First there was Google Earth, then Google Moon. On Monday, Google Inc. expanded its galactic reach by launching Google Mars."

I'll have to get me one of those!

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20060314

Kill Bill T-shirt

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Split Reason | T-shirts, hats and other apparel for the Internet Generation.

For no particular reason, I've decided to share this site. You can get this Kill Bill Linux T-shirt. I think it's hilarious.

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SAIL Automatic Mode

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SAIL Automatic Mode

After some (near) random searching, I came across this page. This is a robot I worked on for my Masters project. It's hard to see in the picture, but next to the orange robotic arm is a black turntable with two pen sized cameras on pan-tilt controllers. I was responsible for developing a programming API and a GUI interface for that component. I see that Dr. Weng has bee quite busy the past few years.

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20060313

A Few Things Ill Considered

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A Few Things Ill Considered

I found this site while reading an article from Real Climate. It summarizes the arguments commonly found in disputes between global warming skeptics and climate scientists.

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NASA - Mars Odyssey Imagery

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NASA - Mars Odyssey Imagery: "A 'Grand Canyon of Mars' slices across the Red Planet near its equator. This canyon -- Valles Marineris, or the Mariner Valley -- is 10 times longer and deeper than Arizona's Grand Canyon, and 20 times wider. As the picture shows, you could drop the whole Los Angeles basin into a small part of Valles Marineris and leave plenty of room to spare. In length, the canyon extends far enough that it could reach across the United States from East Coast to West Coast, while its rim stands more than 25,000 feet high, nearly as tall as Earth's Mount Everest."

Several years worth of imagery and altimeter measurements have been combined into a 3D representation of Valles Marineris. This has produced the latest flythrough of the canyon.

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20060301

CNN.com - Casual games -- good, clean, cheap fun online - Feb 28, 2006

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CNN.com - Casual games -- good, clean, cheap fun online - Feb 28, 2006: "Casual games, those five-minute diversions you play for a quick break but somehow end up clicking away on for two hours, have become one of the fastest-growing categories of computer gaming."

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Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin!

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RealClimate >> Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin!: "Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809. The events commemorating Darwin's birthday anniversary last Sunday, together with the recent conclusion of an important court case concerning the teaching of Intelligent Design (ID) in public schools prompts me to some musing concerning the relation of the Evolution/ID dialog to similar issues arising in connection with anthropogenic global warming. The age of the two theories is similar as well: Darwin introduced his theory in 1859, whereas Fourier initiated the study of the effect of atmospheres on climate with his 1821 treatise, stimulating the chain of developments leading to Arrhenius' enunciation in 1896 of the theory that human influences on the atmosphere's CO2 content could change the climate."

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Private Rocket Set for Late March

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SPACE.com -- Flight of the Falcon: Private Rocket Set for Late March: "Another spot on the calendar has been targeted for the maiden takeoff of the privately built Falcon 1 launch vehicle, designed and constructed by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of El Segundo, California.
“Looks like we are on for a March 20-25 launch window,” said Elon Musk, SpaceX chairman and chief executive officer. “We are also going to do another static fire to check out the system about four days before launch,” he told SPACE.com.
Next month’s projected liftoff will take place from an equatorial launch site built by SpaceX at Kwajalein Atoll on the Pacific Ocean."

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