Mar. 28th, 2009
Mythbusters 'Big Bang' Shatters Windows - Local News Story - KCRA Sacramento
The residents of Esparto, CA had a close encounter with Mythbusters when an experiment outside the city involving 500 pounds of ammonium nitrate created a far larger explosion than expected. Large enough to shatter windows. The townsfolk took it in stride, and the Mythbusters crew immediately set about replacing the broken windows. The Esparto fire department had been on hand at the explosion but had decided not to warn townsfolk of the impending explosion to avoid having large number of gawkers arriving at the site.
Innovation: What next after the megapixel wars? - tech - 16 March 2009 - New Scientist
Now that cameras have exceeded 12 megapixels, sufficient for most photographic purposes, camera companies are focusing less on more megapixels and more on improving image quality, as well as developing innovative uses for all those digital camera users. For example, Microsoft's LIveLabs offers a free online package called Photosynth (I just finished playing with it, very cool but requires software download and only works on XP or Vista). that reverse-engineers the photographer's position in the environment as it merges the photos together. The end result is a kind of 3D scene view where selecting a picture "moves" you to the new position in the 3D scene. The New Scientist article goes on to describe other innovations, including surface mapping and gigapixel level photos based on merging multiple shots.
University of Miami physicist develops battery using new source of energy
Researchers at the University of Miami have developed a battery that stores energy as a magnetic field. The magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ) device, dubbed a "spin battery", involves applying a magnetic field to nano-magnets, generating a spin polarized current. The developers expected some sort of storage effect, perhaps lasting milliseconds, but what they observed was the storage of over 100 times the voltage they expected, and for times in the tens of minutes. They hope that this device will eventually lead to better solid-state data storage and batteries for everything from cell phones to cars.
Do Elementary Particles Have Free Will?: Science Fiction in the News
Princeton mathematicians Conway and Kochen are working on a theorem to prove Free Will based on quantum uncertainty. The theory can be summarized, albeit poorly, as this: If an experimenter working with particle spin can make decisions independent of past events then the particle can also make a free choice. This grows out of the observations that all particles have spin ("spin" axiom), that the spin can become entangled with that of other particles ("twin" axiom), but that the choice of spin cannot be communicated faster than the speed of light ("fin" axiom). The mathematicians plan to release a book later this year explaining their theory in detail. Meanwhile, people in the Princeton area can go see the lecture series (it started on March 23 and runs to April 27).
globeandmail.com: Gender bias evident in parental alienation cases
A Toronto lawyer recently presented a study of 74 parental alienation cases between 1987 and 2008, in which parental alienation was defined as the situation in which "...an estranged parent systematically brainwashes a child into hating the other parent." He discovered the father was the alienater in only 24 cases while the mother was the alienater in the other 50 cases. More than half (13) of the alienating fathers were ordered into therapy while only 12 of the 50 mothers were required to do the same.