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Waiting for laundry to be done; watching a squirrel hanging by its toes to eat birdseed.

I haven’t read the Hunger Games books, don’t really feel like it at the moment.  But I’m always overhearing people complaining about the third of the trilogy, about how characters die — important characters that everyone has come to care about, and suddenly “by the way, that guy died.”  But that is how people die in war (and there’s a civil war going on throughout most of the trilogy, right?).  There’s no setting or plot or buildup or backstory.  They just don’t come back.

I was talking about this with C.  He used to eat at the mess hall with one pilot; then that guy died.  He just didn’t come back to the mess hall.  Completely ordinary lunches, then no lunches.

When people are shot they don’t fall slowly and agonizingly just because you knew them or they were on your side.  Neither are they forcefully thrown in some lateral direction, most of the time; they just fall.

There’s nothing very deep or important here.  Laundry’s done, too.

and trying to keep up with classes and things, and the weather.

But those aren’t really good reasons to stay up all night.  Inertia, however, is.


So happy that Hulu has it.  Thirty years later it’s still without equal.


They go through oceans of ballistics gel on MythBusters.  If you, too, want oceans of ballistics gel, you can make your own

Ballistics (Gk. ba’llein’, “throw”) was an area I really aced when I took the ASVAB.  I had just taken a year of calculus, and my friends and I also practiced by making up scenarios involving the launching of, well, defenseless little children, okay?  It was a more resilient time.  We didn’t launch actual babies, we only launched jokes about launching babies.  People would probably be suspended these days for discussing such things in any but the most hushed and somber and righteous tones.  But we did, and I got a great score on the ASVAB, so on my results it said I should consider the field artillery.  But that’s a combat arm and I’m a female and I also value my hearing.  Still, if my country should ever need me to, I’m sure I could be trained to artillerate all kinds of things.

Unit of electrical conductance.  Its symbol is an inverted omega: \mho.  It is also called the siemens, S, after Werner von Siemens.  That Siemens.  The mho or siemens is the reciprocal of the unit of resistance, the ohm:

\mbox{S} = \Omega^{-1} = \dfrac{\mbox{A}}{\mbox{V}}

A brown dwarf is not really brown, but cherry-red. 


It’s not cold; I mean, it experiences molten iron rain, you don’t want to put your hand on it.  First discovered in 1995, they’re too big to be planets, but too small to be stars, and therefore too cool (surface < 2500 degrees C) to sustain significant nuclear fusion in their cores.  You need to be at least eight percent of the mass of our Sun if you want to be a star, and then you’d only just qualify as a red dwarf.  (Most stars are red dwarfs, actually.)   But a brown dwarf isn’t nothing; it’s still a brown dwarf.  It can fuse deuterium into helium for a while (a few million years), and to achieve that it had to be about ten Jupiters (.01 solar masses) or larger.  So that’s pretty respectable.  Luckily for anyone looking for brown dwarfs, they can keep on glowing after that initial fusion period is over because they release gravitational energy as they contract.

Related rates problem from my ancient calculus memory:  you know how fast the radius of your snowball is shrinking; you want to know how fast the volume of the snowball is shrinking.  (The rates are related — hence, related rates problem.)  Applet and explanation here.  (I also remember a similar quiz problem about an oddly-shaped sink with water level falling at a given rate.) 
The phase transition I’m waiting on at the moment is the evaporation of water from my clothes.


I don’t have Death from the Skies! in front of me but needed to check out something I wondered about and find some links for when I’m completely done correcting this bilge and have a chance to … So, after the black hole era, the dark era; positrons, electrons, neutrinos and photons scattered around, the positrons and electrons crashing into each other every few octillion years and mutually annihilating, right? So I’m assuming eventually just … neutrinos, if there are about as many + as – and they cancel each other out; what happens to photons?  Anyway, all this needs to be looked into.  Deep, deep time.

The Dark Era

Mysteries of Deep Space Timeline

BBC – Final Frontier

Death from the Skies!:  The Science Behind the End of the World, by Philip Plait, Ph.D. — This is a terrific read for anyone who loves space, science, reason, and disaster porn as much as I do.  The Bad Astronomy blogger explores scenario after scenario with a flair for gruesomeness and a clear head for the probabilities involved.  The Washington Post called it “strangely comforting,” and they’re right.  It makes me feel about impending-albeit-statistically-improbable doom exactly the way I feel when watching Alex Filippenko talk about the same topics on The Universe:  one of these days we’re all gonna DIE, but it’s so interesting and cool that you can’t help but smile.


(M.E. < L. < Gk. onos, “ass” + agrios, “wild” < agros, “country” — source)


Equus hemionus kulan at the Helsinki Zoo (source)

The onager is endangered and ranges from the Arabian peninsula to Mongolia.

The name “onager” was also given to a type of Roman siege engine (animation and construction plans here), because it kicked like a wild ass.



The Ratel Motel