awesome internet science

The Wind in Real Time

Real time data, weather data, it’s all interesting isn’t it?

Wind Data

On you can explore real time wind data and watch weather patterns form.  It’s pretty neat if I do say so myself.  Check it out if you can, I am.


science video

Train vs. Tornado (Tornado wins)

The captions on this video explain everything, but because I want to fill up space and not seem like I’m wasting time, here’s the meat.  A Freight train traveling through the state of Illinois “accidentally” crossed paths with a F2 tornado.  I get that trains, especially freight trains, are very difficult to stop.  Though the weather is pretty easy to predict, at least a few miles out like this tornado was.  Surely the central command new something about possible weather issues ahead.  Though, then again, Tornadoes are spontaneous.  Perhaps it did just materialize out of nowhere and toss those train cars around like a toys.

Lesson to be learned here – nature is scary, don’t mess with it.


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1,000,000 mile Year long Earth Timelapse

Last year NASA launched it’s Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite with an EPIC camera on board.  It’s stayed on the Lagrange 1 point, 1,000,000 miles from the earth towards the sun.  Lagrange points are interesting aspects of space, I’ll let you learn about it on your own time.  Taking a photo every 2 hours for a year gives a great perspective of the planet.  I never knew that there was so much cloud cover across the planet so often.  It’s also really neat seeing the tilt of the planet while Africa moves across the plane of view.

{Peta Pixel}

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1,000,000 Photo Time-Lapse

Over the course of 3 years, photographer Ken Loutit took 1,000,000 photographs of Singapore.  You can see the different scenes and scenery in the shots as he re-visited places to get shots of construction progress.  If the 1 million photos wasn’t impressive enough, know that the above time-lapse used only about a quarter of those, and that the total space was 10 terabytes.

He used two camera bodies with old Nikon lenses that he modified himself by removing the aperture pins.  Above I said there was 10TB of data he created, well instead of spending thousands of dollars on local RAID arrays, he had just one, and mirrored it to Google Drive for a backup.  I bet Google loved that.  135MB/s internet speeds helped make the data collection and saving easier, I know I’d kill the server performance by uploading all of that here.

{Peta Pixel|DigitalRev}

DIY internet science

Going Green Or Not V: Wind Power?

You thought this series was dead didn’t you?  After all, it’s been over 6 years since I last posted to it, well, fret not my young readers, I have resurrected it for the new world that has come in that time.

Earlier this year, Wired ran a story about The Future of Wind Turbines.  They profiled a Spanish company called Vortex Bladeless.  The idea is nothing revolutionary in terms of science, but it is an unconventional way to harness the wind’s power.

Bladeless Turbines

Instead of blades, these tall narrow towers transform vortex energy into kinetic energy which then is turned into electrical energy.  Vortexes happen all the time, they are often the most dangerous parts of architecture design.  Vortexes were responsible for the drastic effects on the infamous Tacoma Narrows Bridge:

This design has many benefits according to it’s designers.  There are no moving parts, so that means there is very little to maintain.  It also means it is much easier to manufacture.  Since there are no blades to turn, the density of them can be much higher then traditional blade turbines.  Both of these contribute to the estimated 50% less cost.  No blades means there’s no threat to the birds that are constantly flying into them and causing people to complain about the bird’s lives instead of their own.

All of this sounds good doesn’t it.  Too good to be true right? Well it probably is.  And this part comes via the fact that the company is all Crowd-funded.  They have a great looking modern website, but no product.  There’s lots of promise, and lots of claims.  But no working model.  They’ve raised about $1 million through private, and government funding, but there is still no field of them powering a small village.

I like the idea behind it, but I don’t think the execution is there yet.  Wind is one of the better, more efficient of the renewable, but it’s not anywhere near nuclear.  And we should all know by now that Nuclear Power is the only way to go for truly 100% renewable power.  I want to like these Vortex Bladless designs, but I just can’t trust them.  They are going to go the way of 95% of the crowdfunded services and products are now, nowhere.

Anyway, that’s the end of this episode of Going Green.  It wasn’t as long, or drawn out, or negative as the others, but hey, it’s the first episode in years, allow me to get back in the swing of things.

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Diamonds are Forever

Mining is one of the easier ways to ruin the land.  It’s one of the more debated, controversial, yet oftentimes un-avoidable ways to use the earth to its full potential.  Mining for diamonds takes all that, and multiplies it 1000 fold.  Not only are diamonds amazingly overpriced, for the most part, they are completely over blown in uselfulness.  Industrial diamonds for cutting saws and stuff can be manufactured, but diamonds purely for jewelry is one of the more wasteful things humanity can do.  But anyway, that’s enough of me trying to take the moral high ground.  What’s gotten in to me this afternoon?

For his series called For What It’s WorthDillon Marsh put together a series of photographs of open pit diamond mines.  He tallied up the total carats of diamonds extracted from the mine over it’s lifetime, and created a single diamond of that size and digitally inserted it into the photo.

Diamond 1

Can you see the diamond?  It’s there, in the middle of the water.  Here’s a crop of it:

diamond closeup

This is from the Kimberley Mine, and between 1817 and 1914, 14.5 million carats of diamonds were mined out of this open pit hole in South Africa.

He did a similar series with Copper Mines.  At least with copper, there’s something significant to show for the scar made to the earth:

copper mined

This is from the Nababeep South Mine, also in South Africa, over it’s long life (1882 – 2000), 333,770 tons of Copper Ore were removed.

{Peta Pixel}

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The Sky

SKYLAPSE – AN ARIEL HYPER-LAPSE from Rufus Blackwell on Vimeo.

This is a pretty good time-lapse/video of the sky, as viewed out the window of an airplane.  Whenever I go on an airplane, I need a window seat.  It’s not often that you get to see the world from 35,000 feet above.  It’s truly a unique perspective.

{The Cloud Appreciation Society}

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New Spin on Old School Globes

When you think of a Globe, you probably remember a peeling wobbly globe from elementary school that still had The U.S.S.R. defined on it’s map.  That was fine for simple schooling, and learning about the earth and the countries, but it’s not something that you could use for serious.  Not in any sense of the word.

Peter Bellerby has come up with his own company to make better globes:

Churchil Globe


They are totally better globes.  Hand made over the course of weeks, each one is unique.  He makes traditional standing globes, mini desk globes, or the monster Churchill Globe pictured above.  I’m not sure I would drop $40,000+ on a globe, no matter how cool and unique it is, that’s just too rich for my blood.  Even the smaller, mini desk globes are pretty expensive, beautiful, but expensive.

Sure Hammacher Schlemmer has a $13,000 globe, but I’m not sold on it’s quality (even though it is hand made right here in America), something about it doesn’t seem as elegant as the ones Bellerby has for sale.

{UK Hand Made}

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Stumbles I lost count

Another heaping helping of wrongness courtesy of everyone’s favorite add on, Stumble Upon.  We got memes, gifs, Nazis, and more, all for your viewing pleasure, all right after the click.  Play a game of scrabble, hop on a plane to Australia, and remember, you are getting all of this information through the internet, what is yours called?

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Earth Hour…

Brings back the Going Green series, or at least finishes it, (probably).  I’d just like to say, that Earth Hour is a waste of time, and I had every thing on, and plugged in my house.

You see, I spent 4 days without electricity last week, and am in no rush to repeat that experience.  So in order to make up for that time with no power, I had to use extra tonight.  It all works out because in the end, Earth Hour is a joke.  By turning off your lights for one hour one day a year do you think it impacts the amount of electricity a power plant produces?

You’re wrong.

A power plant is not like a battery, if the light is off, power is not being used (or made).  Power plants constantly producing electricity, if they stopped for a minute the grid would be destabilized.  What power plants do do is anticipate loads (in the summer months, air conditioners are used, and so they generate more power).  In recent years the power companies have begun to anticipate the slight drop in demand for power in the one hour period of “Earth Hour” so that power doesn’t get sent out to the grid.

The plant still operates, and still produces power, so the idea of an hour with your lights off, even multiplied the city, state, country over doesn’t add up to much.  Especially when man made CO2 emissions have nothing to do with “global warming” or “climate change.”  But hey, I can’t stop you from participating in it, all I can do is plug everything I own into my power outlets.