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Posts Tagged ‘Earth’s rotation

Period, Full Start…

Computersherpa at DeviantART has taken the collected wisdom at TV Tropes and that site’s “Story Idea Generator” and organized them into an amazing Periodic Table of Storytelling

click here (and again) for a larger image

[TotH to Brainpickings]

Along these same lines, readers might also be interested in the “Perpetual Notion Machine” (which includes, as a bonus, the story of Dmitri Mendeleev and the “real” Periodic Table…)  See also the Periodic Table of Typefaces (“‘There are now about as many different varieties of letters as there are different kinds of fools…’“) and the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods (“Now See Here…“).

As we constructively stack our writers’ blocks, we might wish a thoughtful Happy Birthday to Immanuel Kant; he was born on this date in 1724 in Königsberg, Prussia (which is now Kaliningrad, Russia).  Kant is of course celebrated as a philosopher, the author of Critique of Pure Reason (1781), Critique of Practical Reason (1788), and Critique of Judgment (1790), and father of German Idealism (et al.).

But less well remembered are the contributions he made to science, perhaps especially to astronomy, before turning fully to philosophy.  For example, his General History of Nature and Theory of the Heavens (1755) contained three anticipations important to the field: 1) Kant made the nebula hypothesis ahead of Laplace. 2) He described the Milky Way as a lens-shaped collection of stars that represented only one of many “island universes,” later shown by Herschel. 3) He suggested that friction from tides slowed the rotation of the earth, which was confirmed a century later.  Similarly, Kant’s writings on mathematics were cited as an important influence by Einstein.


Hands up, Mother Nature!…

From The Firearm Blog:

Celebrated science fiction author Philip K. Dick published Project Plowshare as a serial between November 1965 and January 1966. The story, later expanded into the novel Zap Gun, is set in a world where seemingly deadly new weapons are “plowshared” into consumer products. It is ironic that just a few years after that novel was set, a defense giant is quite literally turning a new weapon system into an agricultural tool.

Defense giant Raytheon is well known for putting the “ray” into raygun. They developed the infamous Active Denial System that is designed to zap rioters with a non-lethal millimeter “pain ray”.

Active Denial System at Moody Air Force Base, Ga.

Raytheon realized that technology which can heat human skin at a distance can also be used to heat crops that are vulnerable to frost. One crop that is very sensitive to frost is grapes. In 2005 Ontario’s overall yield of processed grapes fell by 54% due to injuries sustained by the grapes during winter. In 2007 California experienced $800 million in crop losses due to freezing temperatures with navel oranges being the hardest hit.

Existing methods of frost prevention include heaters, wind machines, sprinklers and helicopters in emergencies. These methods all have significant downsides. They are either noisy, costly, inefficient or are only effective under certain environmental conditions.

Two moths ago Raytheon deployed a prototype of their newly developed Tempwave system to an Ontario vineyard. Tempwave sits atop a 25 feet pole and is powered by the grid. When its sensors detect weather conditions that may result in frost, its low-level microwave delivers energy directly to the crop without wasting energy on heating the intervening air. As long as the Tempwave system has enough power delivered to it, frost protection is guaranteed.

Tempwave proof of concept in a California orchard

Read the whole story– and the Raytheon press release– here.

As we read by the glow of our handguns, we might recall that it was on this date in 1972, the first “leap second day,” that one second was added to the world’s time in order to keep atomic clocks in sync with the Earth’s rotation. Since the adoption of this system in 1972, due firstly to the initial choice of the value of the second (1/86400 mean solar day of the year 1900) and secondly to the general slowing down of the Earth’s rotation (despite “the ice-skater effect”), it has been necessary to add over 20 seconds to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

The U.S. Naval Observatory Master Clock

CLOCK, n. A machine of great moral value to man, allaying his concern for the future by reminding him what a lot of time remains to him.
–Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, 1911

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