Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pictures of Mars

I ran into this image the other day. It was taken by the new Mars rover, Curiosity(click to enlarge, for an even larger one see wikipedia):

Somehow I stumbled onto some of the images from Opportunity and Spirit though. They are much more impressive:

I imagine that once it has spent a little more time on the planet, Curiosity will put the previous smaller rovers to shame. The other rovers really did do a good job of making Mars seem like a real place rather than some fictitious world though. I am still of the opinion that open space is a much better place for colonization because Mars has just enough gravity to be annoying, but not enough to be useful. Still, I can totally see why people would want to try and make that planet home. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Me getting squashed like a bug

While it is unreliable if he lost his belt and bought or borrowed a new one, you can make a pretty good guess as to how good a jiu jitsu blue belt is by looking at his belt. If it is all faded out, he has been a blue belt for a long time. Since it is typical to be a blue belt for two or more years this likely means he has spent a whole lot of time on the mat.

That was the first thing I noticed when I walked out on the mat with this guy. I was obviously out of my league. Knowing that, I was able to stall for about four minutes with a score of 0, 0. The match was six minutes. Once he got out of my stalling he just stomped on me though. Apparently if I managed to hold out another 21 seconds I at least would have lost off points rather than having him choke me.

After the match, he added me on facebook, then posted a video of me getting pounded on for that last minute and a half. I would much prefer having video footage of the match I won, or at least the full match showing I at least held up for a while before he squashed me like a bug but at least I can prove I actually was there:

Apparently I over did it

When I weighed in for the tournament, I was five pounds under the weight limit. Apparently diet and exercise can dump weight. Failing that, lowering water weight can dump weight.

I won one match, lost two. Not a terribly impressive start, but it beats the entire 7th grade wrestling season where I didn't even score a point in a match.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

First Tournament

I am going to do my first jiu jitsu tournament this afternoon.

This has given me a lot of sympathy for fat people. I was 3.5 lbs over the weight class that I signed up for, worked out for two weeks, and went to bed hungry a whole bunch of nights and my weight seemed to barely budge. I may have done a bit of an overkill though, won't know until I weigh in a few hours from now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Reproducing Science

I trust little that I hear in the life sciences. It is worst in fields like psychology, nutrition, or epidemiology. These fields constantly are producing new studies which disagree completely with their old studies. There are all too few scientists who actually are doing good science, and too many which are just confirming their biases.

So I am glad to hear about a initiative to have independent reproducing of science experiments before publication. Right now there is little incentive for anyone to reproduce anyone else's research. The funding system does not encourage anyone to do the research and the publication system makes it difficult to publish either a successful or failed duplication of the work of another scientist.

A good example of this was a study done recently showing just how poor most scientific papers really are:
In March, a cancer researcher at Amgen pharmaceutical company, based in Thousand Oaks, California, reported that its scientists had repeated experiments in 53 'landmark' papers, but managed to confirm findings from only six of the studies

Cell Phones as Environmental Savior

I am always impressed with just how efficient Cell phones are. This statistic still impressed me though:
All of the energy concentrated in one gallon of gasoline is enough to charge an iPhone once a day for almost 20 years.
This shouldn't surprise me since it only costs $1.25 in electricity to charge an ipad for a year. Still, it makes it clear why cell phones have even caught on so much faster than cars in places like Africa. Also, while I am sure it is not entirely environmentally friendly to make an iphone, I bet that reading on it is the most environmentally friendly thing I do.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

End of Privacy

I have been thinking recently that technology is making it almost impossible to protect privacy. Various types of recording ranging from GPS and license plate recording to hidden cameras make it possible to track someone every minute with very little cost in materials or data storage.

Running into this site really encouraged that thinking.

Hidden camera that looks like a rock.

Hidden camera that looks like a clock.

Wrist watch camera.

Camera hidden in a pair of glasses.

Belt with a camera.

Key chain with a camera.

Camera hidden in a power outlet.

Wall wart camera.

Neck tie with a camera.

Smoke detector with a camera.

Real time GPS tracking service.

As best I can tell it would be possible to record everything that happens in a home and track all vehicles someone owns for no more than a thousand dollars. A decade from now all those cameras are almost certain to be high resolution and cheaper. This is also likely to be nothing compared to what the government has access to.  

I suppose on the positive side, anything those in power do is now being recorded too. This is more because of camera phones than these silly spy gadgets, but it may have a beneficial effect.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Less babies than the French

I have been watching a while to see if the fertility rates in America would crash to European levels. It seems like we are setting ourselves up for that since we are learning to copy their patterns of high youth unemployment and living with parents for much longer.

Maybe I shouldn't be surprised that American birth rates are now lower than French birth rates. The French have a lot more babies than other countries in Europe though so perhaps it is a bad comparison.

Arduino Room Hack

I am not really convinced a single person will ever use this hack. However millions of hotel room doors can now be hacked for $50 and a quick download. An Arduino Mega, a resistor, and some cable are all that is required.

The Arduino can interact with practically any electronics. So I should start keeping an eye open for interesting devices like that one which could potentially be hacked.

Corporate Research Labs

Corporate research labs seem to be becoming a thing of the past. Computer companies have been slowly dropping them over the years, although I believe IBM still has a few. Pharmaceutical companies have been slowly downsizing for decades.

This often seems to be more a failure of management appreciating them than them actually failing to produce meaningful products. I just ran into a great article making the case that while PARC did fail to capitalize on many of the great inventions made there they still made a huge return on investment for Xerox on what few inventions they did manage to put on the market.