Planet, Gone!

The Plutonian system: Pluto and two moons viewed from a third.
In the last general assembly of the international astronomical union, astronomers voted to demote planet Pluto, to strip it of its planetary status. The reasons for the reduced status are clear. (And it was coming for a long while!) The surprising bit, however, was the definition the particular astronomers concocted, eh, came up with. They were looking for a precise definition, and indeed found one, one which is precisely wrong. According to it, Earth is not a planet either!

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Recently Added Articles: (1) surpassing Eddington (2) Walking on Ice

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Crackpotness Orthogonality

I just recently read Motl's post on a particularly prolific crackpot, who solved all of the known problems in physics, and then some more. That reminded me of an old story, a true one, which teaches us that you can be a crackpot in many orthogonal ways (that is, in mutually independent ways).

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How bad are the Hezbollah Katyusha rockets?

Over the past two weeks, Kaytushas have been falling over Northern Israel causing casualties and damages. Here are some thoughts about the situation and how bad it is.

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Jumbo Deluxe Hail

Here are some pictures and a physicists take of a fantastic hail storm which took place west of Jerusalem in October 2004. The largest stones were up to 5 cm in diameter and several car windshields were shattered!

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The coming of another ice-age?

A few days ago I stumbled upon an interesting article from Time magazine, entitled: "Another Ice Age?". No it is not a recent article. It is politically incorrect to talk about global cooling these days. The article appeared in 1974, after "three decades of cooling" prompted some to believe that an imminent ice-age may be coming. It is interesting to read it in perspective, and perhaps there is a lesson we could learn from it. Here are a few excerpts from it. Read and enjoy.

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3 is dead

Everyone in Israel has heard of the Galsgow scale. Why? Because our former prime minister Ariel Sharon was and still is in a coma. The Glasgow scale, of course, measures the level of consciousness (or lack of). Ariel Sharon, for example, scored 6 out of 15. 8 or less is defined as a coma. 6 doesn't sounds that bad, doesn't it? So why am I writing about it? What's so curious?

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On Google's PageRank

Anyone who runs a website knows that a successful site has to have a high Google PageRank. Unfortunately, though, Google updates their publicly available PRs only every a few months. Moreover, the PR is only given in discrete increments, so it is hard to know whether a site improved if the actual increase is less than a PR point on average. Given that I am curious about the PR of my site, I thought I should do something. And I did, the bottom line of which is a calculator to estimate the PageRank of any site you wish.

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Recently added articles: Stellar parameters, rowing boats, water propelled rockets.

Recently added material in ScienceBits includes:
  • Estimate the basic stellar parameters using the tendency for energy equipartition. In particular, the temperature at the center of the sun, the mass-radius relationship of white dwarfs and their Chandrasekhar limit are all estimated. These were taken from my order-of-magnitude course notes.
  • Row Row Row your boat, but at which maximum speed? This is a classic example of an order of magnitude analysis giving a lot of physical insight (and impressive predictive power).
  • Analysis of the classic homemade water rocket, taken straight out of my first year physics majors classical mechanics notes. There is even a rocket simulator with which the trajectory can be calculated and graphed.

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You are about as likely to die from a meteor as you are from a plane crash!

It may sound strange, but you are probably as likely to die from a meteor as you are from a plane crash. Think it's bizarre? Here is the statistics.

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The murky future of the human gene pool

A conversation I had with a friend made me realize something interesting. Modern medical technology is responsible for the constant degradation of the human gene pool. How? Simple, we allow bad genes to propagate.

Take me for example...

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Have you heard of the silent Earthquake?

Did you know that there are huge earthquakes which aren't felt? Did you know that similar waves appear everyday when two objects with dry friction between them start to move?

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Why do I hate Microsoft?

No, I don't hate Bill Gates. He is doing what everyone would do in a similar situation. Could I hate a man I envy? What I do hate is Microsoft products which aim at the lowest common denominator, the fact that Microsoft is deliberately ruining the software industry, and that most windowers don't realize it and are happy with Microsoft's mediocracy.

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Recently added articles: (1) On Global Warming (2) Snow above freezing

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Lightning Strikes without a storm!

When visiting the president, I learned about a strange event that was recorded by the Columbia space shuttle: A lightning flash without a thunderstorm! What could it be??

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