Monday, May 31, 2004

Something else to worry about...

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Killer Rash Breaks Out

From the article:

Monday, May 24, 2004

Triassic Triops

When I was a kid, it seemed like everyone tried Sea Monkeys at some point.

But this is the 21st century, and it seems like Sea Monkeys are being replaced by Triassic Triops. We bought Leigh some for Mother's day, and they are amazing.

This is the third batch we have raised. You pour the eggs into a liter of water. The next day you have five to ten tiny specks swimming around. In just two weeks or so they grow to the size shown above -- about as big as a U.S. quarter. After four to six weeks they have passed away and you are done with them.

They are now available in Wal-Mart, over by the fish food. They cost $3 or $4. Well worth it if you have small kids, because everything happens in a kid-friendly time frame.

Sunday, May 23, 2004


A friend read the previous post and sent this article on ultracapacitors as another alternative to batteries. From the article:One thing the article does not mention is the discharge rate due to leakage -- how long the capacitor can hold the charge. Certainly a capacitor will not hold a charge for weeks like a battery can, but can probably hold a charge for several hours. This makes ultracapacitors a reasonable solution for storing things like power from regenerative braking.

Note also that a typical AA alkaline battery can deliver power equivalent to a 10,000 Farad or so capacitor. There is no way a AA battery can dump its full power in a millisecond like a capacitor can, but a AA battery still represents a fairly large amount of stored electrical energy. It might take 20 of these D cell ultracapacitors to store the energy available in a single AA battery.

Compared to gasoline, things are even worse. The article boasts about an energy density of 21 joules per cc for ultracapacitors. Gasoline has an enery density of about 35,000 joules per cc, or more than 1,600 times denser. Think about how big a 20 gallon gas tank is. Multiply it in size by 1,600. That is how many ultracapacitors it would take to store the energy equivalent of a tank of gas. Since a car engine is only able to capture about 25% of the energy in the gasoline (the rest is lost as waste heat), you would only need to to store 30% of the energy of a tank of gas in ultracapaitors to have an equivalent storage capacity, but that is still a LOT of ultracapacitors.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Why batteries don't work

This article talks about all the reasons that batteries stink -- everything else in the computer realm gets better/faster/cheaper at a remarkable rate, but batteries are really holding us back because they improve so slowly:

Batteries Not Included

Notice how, in Star Trek or Star Wars, you never once hear anyone say, "I've got to get new batteries for this communicator" or "Damn, I need to recharge this blaster." That's what we are looking for. What we are all looking for is something like a nuclear battery -- a little fleck of Uranium in a small case that powers a laptop for several years without ever having to think about it.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Fascinating thoughts about game economies

This article amazed and fascinated me:It discusses dozens of different economic insights gleaned from analyzing the "economies" of large multi-player games like Everquest. From the very first paragraph I was hooked.

Star Wars Episode III

Can Star Wars Episode III be saved?

This is a funny/interesting article on Star Wars episode III, in which the author ponders what could be done to save it from itself.

My question: Why does there have to be just one movie? Given that this is a known property guaranteed to generate mega-dollars at the box office no matter how good or bad the movie is, why not let different directors create three or four different versions of the movie? There would be the George Lucas version, and also the Peter Jackson version, etc. Then people could see all of them and endlessly debate which is best. It would be an interesting experiment at least.

Something else to worry about...

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Top 10 Dirtiest Foods Will Make You Sick

Ever wonder which products can make you sickest in terms of food poisoning, etc.? According to this article, here they are:See the article for details on each one.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Science claims

PopSci has an article this month on the Science claims made by manufacturers. 106 claims are noted in a typical day, meaning that a normal person hears a science claim about once every 10 minutes -- mostly from advertisements.

Most of the claims are wrong in one way or another. Two of the more amusing are these:I hear the ad for Cortislim once or twice every day right now. Given the number of ads they are running, Cortislim must be making millions of dollars selling useless tree bark. Why do we allow companies to do that?

Thursday, May 06, 2004

The biggest supercomputer?

This article talks about the world's biggest supercomputers, and specifically is about the 3,300-processor cluster at Weta Digital:The big three, according to the article, are:Why doesn't Google make it onto this list? Estimates of its computing power go as high as 100,000 processors. For example, the NYTimes reports that Google: "consists of more than 54,000 servers designed by google engineers from basic components. It contains about 100,000 processors and 261,000 disks." Anyone know?

The 261,000 disks is also impressive. If you assume they average 50 gigabytes in size, it means that Google has over 13 petabytes of disk space (13,000 terabytes).

Something else to worry about...

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Nation's thirst for gas reaching the limit

From the article:The goal of the article is to point out that because of world-wide demand for oil, shrinking refinery capacity in the U.S., increasing environmental regulations, etc., the supply of gasoline in the U.S. (or around the World) cannot meet demand, so one of two things is going to happen: 1) higher prices, or 2) rationing.

His advice: "An early warning could allow people of moderate means to buy efficient vehicles instead of gas guzzlers in time to make a difference in their mobility and personal finances. Whether they have to pay $3 per gallon or carry their ration books to the filling station, they'll thank whoever gave them timely advice."

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Looking on the bright side...

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Grow-your-own to replace false teeth

From the article:

Hard to believe but true...

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The real-life Barbie dolls

From the article:This article from the NY Times takes the plastic surgery discussion a little further: A Lovelier You, With Off-the-Shelf Parts. It notes that in many social circles, plastic surgery is a way of life: "In March, for example, when Lionel Richie's 37-year-old wife filed for divorce in Los Angeles, her list of financial demands included $20,000 a year for plastic surgery." The article also note that plastic surgery seems to be making everyone look approximately alike...

Hard to believe but true...

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You have to see the suit made of duct tape pictured in this article to believe it:

Something else to worry about...

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Nasty Malware Fouls PCs With Porn

The article discusses a program called CoolWebSearch, which takes over your browser. Among other things, according to the article, CWS:It only affects Windows machines using IE, and the advice is the usual -- keep up with Windows updates, keep your virus checker updated, etc.

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