Man on the Mun

man on the mun

Finally, a Kerbal stands on the Mun in Kerbal Space Program. Well done Corkin Kerman! Unfortunately the lights go out each night as the rechargeable battery runs out of power around 3am. That upsets poor Corkin as he’s engrossed in David Nicol’s new book, Lament for the Living. He printed out the Kindle version you see..

I would like to say I did it without any help but Mechjeb 2.0 played a part in getting Corkin there. The Smart A.S.S is invaluable for landing and a great help lining up for a manoeuvre node. Thanks TalenTaylor for your asparagus engine layout and moon lander tutorials. With 7 Jumbo fuel tanks I reached orbit with a tank that was almost 75% full! Good thing too as I burned that getting to the Mun and cirularizing my orbit. Efficiency? Bah, I laugh in the face of efficiency!

ksp minor glitch

It wasn’t all plain sailing. Once or twice the moon lander never even reached orbit. Ooops.

TCPEye: Windows network software to list Internet usage

If you use Windows and you’re curious about what’s using your Internet broadband then the free TCPEye tool will probably help you.

I used it a few weeks ago when something was sucking down gobs of data and making everything else slow. Turns out it was Windows Update, but not on my desktop machine, a laptop on my network was updating.

The odd thing with TCPEye is that CNET Downloads is in the number 1 place when searching for this tool. Reviews even link there instead of the author’s homepage!

US and Canadian Area Codes

So, I needed a list of US telephone area codes for a project I’m working on but it turned out to be harder than I thought to find such a list. I did find one here but then had to create an account there to download it. Bah!

To save your fingers from extra typing I created a pastebin of the list which you can find here.

It’s interesting to note that Wikipedia has a page for each area code. I had a look at a few in my attempts to verify the list was good and 985 caught my attention:

Area code 985 is the telephone area code for southeastern Louisiana, excluding New Orleans and St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes. The area code was created in 2001 when it was split off from area code 504.
Area code 985 also originally included areas southeast of New Orleans. However, after Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005, much of this area switched back to 504. These communities are now being served with dialtone from telephone switching facilities in New Orleans following near-total destruction of local switching facilities due to flooding from Katrina. Permissive use of 504 alongside 985 to reach these downriver communities began on July 29, 2007. Mandatory use of 504 to “again” reach these communities began on May 1, 2008. These communities are on both sides of the Mississippi River in “lower” Plaquemines Parish, including Pointe à la Hache on the east bank, with Port Sulphur, Buras, and Boothville on the west bank.

The list of Irish area codes is much shorter and 021, the area code for Cork shares it’s page with a number of other regions.

The tech that caught the Higgs Boson

Peter Higgs, who first theorized the existence of the Higgs Effect in 1964.

My understanding is that the higgs field is like a net, the “heavier” something is the more it interacts with the net. And the higgs boson is an excitation of this net, like if someone flapped the net and caused one of the knots to jerk arround. Physicists have equations and they have predictions to what the propertires of this excitiation, or of this “knot” (higgs boson) should be, and the properties of this new particle are very similair to the predicted properties of the higgs boson. So the net itself has no weight but when it’s excited it does, the rest of the net pulls on it. (reddit comment)

So, CERN announced that they found evidence of the Higgs Boson yesterday. I imagine the theory of this particle and the Higgs Field will be taught in schools in years to come and it’ll be just-another-thing-to-learn for hard pressed students preparing for exams. Today, it’s exciting in that “Oh, this is great news! The LHC found something! I wish I understood what!” sort of way. It’s not going to mean much to most people but it’s still a remarkable discovery.

The technology that detected the short lived Higgs Boson is amazing too. We’ve all seen photos the LHC, the long tunnels and gigantic machinery but the BBC Discovery Podcast interviewed Tejinder Virdee a few weeks ago about the project. He’s responsible for the CMS detector in the LHC, and likens it to a 100MP 3D digital camera that can take 40 million photos a second. Well worth a listen.

In other news, Steven Hawking is out of pocket today after the discovery!

Why so skeptical?

In a few years time, there may well be no rhinos left alive. And when I say no rhinos, I do not mean “none left in the wild”. I mean none in the zoos either. The captive animals will have been killed too. The reason for this is an insatiable desire among some people for rhinoceros horn – a material thought by some to possess magical healing powers. It’s really just a mass of keratin – the same substance that your hair and fingernails is made from. …

This is what you get when critical thinking is left to one side and blind belief trumps patient scientific inquiry. Where unsupported and uncontested beliefs thrive, dreadful scenarios can play themselves out, right down to the last animal standing.

Skepticism – the wider issue

What is radiation?

Here’s the first part of an excellent talk given by Professor John McInerney, of the UCC Physics Department on what exactly radiation is, the different types, the effects they have on the human body and what creates it. Do you know where most radiation comes from? You might be surprised.

Early in the talk, John dispelled with the idea of non-ionising radiation being responsible for detrimental health effects. ”Microwaves in general are not harmful, including the ones in cell-phones and radars. Unless you cook yourself. If you stood in front of a 10KW radio antenna it would be bad for you. It would serve you right. That’s Darwin’s principle at work”.

The video was filmed at a Cork Skeptics session in Blackrock Castle last May. The second part of the talk goes into nuclear power and you can watch it above.