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STEVE (Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement) is an atmospheric optical phenomenon that appears as a purple and green light ribbon in the sky, named in late 2016 by aurora watchers from Alberta, Canada. According to analysis of satellite data from the European Space Agency’s Swarm mission, STEVE is caused by a 25 km (16 mi) […]

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You may have struggled for many years to please someone, or to make someone a better person, or to prove to someone you were a good person. But nothing you did worked. You may have exclaimed, “I’ve tried everything! I give up.” My guess is that you really did try everything. Everything you could, or […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Consumer Surveillance

 

Consumer tech companies’ surveillance programs might be more sophisticated than I realized.

While watching The Witcher on Netflix, a mention of “the Law of Surprise” prompted me to look it up, without pausing the show. I had typed only “law” into Google’s search utility before its top recommendation was correct.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. How Falling Cats, Physics, Science Relate to One Another

 

A cat always lands on its feet. Generations of young (and not so young) boys have conducted experiments testing this. These reveal while not universally true, this saying proves generally so. The question is why?

“Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics” by Gregory J. Gbur, answers the question. He blends whimsy, the history of technology, the development of physics and cat curiosities to explain why cats land on their feet.

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My reliable source e-mailed me during a teleconference, which was nice of him because he really should have been paying more attention to his work: he said during the teleconference there had been mentioned femtojoules and eigenvectors and he wasn’t sure why. He also observed that the HR department was having its holiday lunch in […]

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http://enews.earthlink.net/article/top?guid=20191219/de8a5407-1029-42aa-97c7-4ae37c98c4e9 JK Rowling of “Harry Potter” fame defends a woman who lost her job for saying that trans people haven’t changed biologically. One cannot even say that because it is “absolutist.” Can someone explain how it’s okay for Greta the climate change observer to be “absolutist”? Is science now only what p.c. allows it to […]

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In case anyone needs a break from seeing Nancy P. try to appear to be solemn in black, I was recently on The Space Shot podcast twice: https://thespaceshot.fireside.fm/403 More

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Happy Birthday, Terra

 

Twenty years ago Wednesday morning, I sat on a hilltop overlooking the northern part of the firing range at Vandenburg Air Force Base. In a pre-internet era for monitoring the umbilical data from what was going to be the first of three climate-research satellites, my go/no duties were completed around 6 a.m. It was just in time to head out of the “blockhouse” (no they don’t really exist anymore) to watch sunrise wash over the SLC-3 launch pad.

Despite this area technically being southern California, it was breezy and bitterly cold. I silently prayed that we would not get scrubbed for the third time in this six-day campaign window. Two days prior, it was from some idiot flying his ultralight around the pattern at Lompoc airport, which is in a temporary air-restricted zone during launch periods. This forced a stand-down after our 30-minute launch window closed.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. A Young Person We Should Honor (Not Named Thunberg)

 
One of the consequences of our narrative-consumed media culture is the glorification of 16-year-old truants who are manipulated and victimized (some say abused) by activist adults. Somehow, such symbolic individuals, with no real knowledge, training or experience make their way onto the cover of magazines. Meanwhile, a 21-year-old student, Reed College senior and budding scientist who has not only stayed in school but has actually done something that could prove meaningful in the global cause to reduce plastic pollution. After all, that which gets rewarded gets repeated.
 
It’s a real issue. The globe produces about 450 million tons of plastic every year, and about 8 million tons of it winds up in our oceans. These plastics last on average 15 years.
 

Morgan Vague is that Reed College student. She discovered a microbe that eats certain forms of PET, a commonly used plastic. This is amazing, but don’t expect any Nobel prizes or a person of the year award, since Morgan doesn’t appear to be getting any attention or support from so-called environmental groups. They seem more interested in the 16-year-old truant who screams at us.

 
Kudos to Morgan and her discovery. May the world take note.
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Looking through old e-mails came across this, and decided to listen to it with my new hearing aids. Very different. More

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I just passed my Technician licensing exam today, and I was looking into purchasing gear. There are plenty of clubs in my area, I just want a starter radio. I’d like to pick up an handheld radio for VHF & UHF. There’s a well reviewed $60 tri-band radio on Amazon I am considering, but I […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. 62 Years Ago: Vanguard TV-3 Blows Up (Flopnik)

 

In 1955, there was a competition between the three armed services for the right to launch the first American satellite during the International Geophysical Year (actually 18 months 7/57-12/58). The Naval Research Lab won. As some of you know, my father co-wrote the proposal. He worked on the Minitrack system and designed the small test satellites.

On October 2, 1957, a memo went out that there would be no more paid overtime. Two days later, Sputnik 1 was launched and the memo was ignored. Sputnik’s signal was at 20 and 40 MHz whereas the IGY specified 108 MHz. That night, Dad called his assistant Marty Votaw and told him that the Soviets had launched a satellite. Marty responded, “Good, now we know it can be done.” Dad responded that they needed to track it. Marty asked if he could finish dinner first. Dad said yes, but come down immediately after that. They worked for three days without going home and modified Minitrack successfully to track Sputnik.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Boots, Hammers, and Classic Math

 
From the invaluable comic Flintlocke’s Guide to Azeroth

Being a man subject to his vices, I’ve started up again on World of Warcraft. Not the new stuff, the “Classic” servers. “Is that what’s taking up your time?” I hear you all saying, “I had wondered why it was slightly less nerdy and pedantic around here.” Well, worry no more! For the joy and edification of the Ricochet audience, here I reproduce the work I did with the damage formulas. Because a simple post about Warcraft wouldn’t be nearly nerdy enough.

It all stemmed from a simple question; which is better, strength or agility? Strength adds damage, but agility adds some damage as well, and some critical hit chance too. So how do you compare them? You can’t categorically say that one is always better than the other. Well, you can, and people often do. But you can’t and still be right. In a broader sense, how do you decide between two items? Here, let’s go shoe shopping. Which pair of boots do you think goes better with my yellow damage?

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The UNP has many space books for sale at 50% off through the end of November. I highly recommend the Outward Odyssey: A People’s History of Spaceflight series. The shipping cost of $6 is high but is less onerous if spread over multiple books. https://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/fall-sale/ Here’s Jim Lovell holding my tome. More

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. What Does the IPCC Report Actually Say?

 

The science in the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) report is contained in the report published by Working Group 1 of the IPCC, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I suspect that few people have actually read this ~1500 page tome. Most people read the Summary for Policy Makers, which is written by bureaucrats and does not, in my opinion, faithfully reflect the contents of the actual report. There is too much emphasis on worst-case scenarios, which the report does not say are the most likely ones, in the Summary.

As best I can make out, what the report itself says is this: Global warming isn’t likely to be a big deal. It is unlikely to cause significant harm over the next 100 years or so. In a followup special IPCC report even in the worst-case scenario the prediction is a fall in economic productivity of 10% of what it would otherwise be by 2100. That’s not even noticeable considering the growth in the economy that will have occurred by then.

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It’s difficult to overstate the impact of smartphones on affluent societies. Barely more than twenty years ago, payphones were normal. If your car broke down or an emergency occurred outdoors, someone had to trek to the nearest landline. Sometimes I pity novelists and Hollywood scriptwriters who can no longer rely on the dilemma of being […]

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I couldn’t see the lesion but the name of the drug being prescribed for it rang a bell. I should’ve asked the dermatologist: “There’s a fungus back there?” But I do not challenge physicians since they know more (and see more) than I do. And now I know the answer: there’s a fungus all over. […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Made in the USA

 

More than a year ago, I was contacted by a film maker on the East Coast who wanted to interview me for a short documentary on Robert Noyce and the history of Silicon Valley. I agreed and he filmed me for several hours one autumn morning, in my house and atop my water tower (I have the oldest home in the Valley). Afterward, distracted working on two books, I promptly forgot all about it.

Tonight, I suddenly discovered the finished documentary on another website. I was astonished how well it was done, and how comprehensive in its history. It also, especially in the last few minutes, it captures some of my thinking in my upcoming book The Autonomous Revolution (co-authored with Bill Davidow). I hope you find it entertaining — and a little eye-opening.

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