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3D Printed Topological Map February 27, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Applications, Awesome, Publishing Tools.
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One of the more retentive members of Silicon Valley 3D Printing Meetup has printed a very complex and beautiful rendering of (some of) the Earth’s topological features in glorious PLA. Thirty-two tiles, ranging in print time for four hours to twenty-two(!) hours for the taller elevations, each “pixel” is 10 KM on a side.

 

New Aussie Fusion Technology February 25, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Science, Star Trek Technology.
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The lateral-thinking Australian fusion start-up HB11 (from the University of New South Wales) patented a unique new fusion technology. Interestingly, this laser-driven technique uses no radioactive fuel(!), and much lower temperatures than “traditional” approaches employed by most fusion researchers involving heating deuterium and tritium fuel up to 15 million C.

I don’t need to tell you that method hasn’t worked yet, do I? Fifty-something years and no joy yet. I wonder why in an industry arguably filled with geniuses or at least Really Smart People that someone hasn’t said, “Hmmm…maybe we should try something new.”

UNSW Emeritus Professor of theoretical physics Heinrich Hora did. His research is being commercialized by HB11, which uses hydrogen-boron fusion wherein two lasers to push  atoms of hydrogen into boron. The lasers use “Chirped Pulse Amplification” technology, which won Gérard Mourou, Arthur Ashkin and Donna Strickland the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics(!).

One laser creates the magnetic containment field for the plasma and the second laser triggers the ‘avalanche’ fusion chain reaction. The alpha particles produced by the reaction would create a positive electrical flow that can be channelled almost directly into the existing power grid with no need for a heat exchanger or steam turbine generator, and no chance of blowing the whole thing to atoms leaving a smoking crater.

The simplicity is pretty compelling…if it works. Time will tell.

 

Artificial Intelligence Finds an Antibiotic February 20, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Applications, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Science, Star Trek Technology.
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In a news flash from M.I.T. scientists announce the discover of a (potentially) low-toxicity molecule which interferes with bacteriological cell walls’ ability to maintain electrochemical gradients, which are essential to creating ATP, the main energy molecule in, well, everything: the cells would starve. An A.I. was trained on 2,500 molecules and then scanned the Broad Institute’s Drug Repurposing Hub, a library of about 6,000 compounds. The model picked out one molecule that was predicted to have strong antibacterial activity and had a chemical structure different from any existing antibiotics. Using a different machine-learning model, the researchers also showed that this molecule would likely have low toxicity to human cells.

It worked very well in vitro and in mouse models on a bunch of stubborn microbes that are getting to be pretty resistant to everything we have: Clostridium difficileAcinetobacter baumannii, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The drug apparently worked on EVERYTHING they tested, except Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) February 18, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Brilliant words, Geek Stuff.
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What happens when you take a slightly-brighter-than-average engineer (Bob) and give him immortality in a starship equipped with extremely advance prototyping machines, then  tell him to set up infrastructure for colonists to follow in a few decades?

In the fertile imagination of Dennis Taylor, Bob takes over guardianship of not only the whole human race but at least two other sentient species, invents FTL communication, planet-movers and nifty full-sense android bodies. It takes  quite a few decades, but Bob has made many, many clones of himself, and they all have all the time in, well, the universe with which to foil the Evil Plans of man, machine and alien.

Well read by Ray Porter with excellent inflection and pacing, all three Bob books skip right along, neatly compressing the decades into digestible chunks and holding a listener’s attention well enough to keep me awake during six-hour drives that end at 2AM…like last night.[0]

The dialogue is interesting, the characters internally consistent and the technology descriptions are pretty darn good. Taylor is very obviously a sci-fi fan and geek, and we should all be glad for this; it lends credibility to his character’s engineering comments and descriptions of space, the choices of star systems (he apparently did some homework) to visit, and the tropes he chooses to infuse with credibility.

In the immortal words of Joe Bob Briggs, check it out.

[0] Goddammit.

Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics February 13, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Uncategorized.
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by Stan Giblisco is a pretty good solid introduction to the very basics of electronics. An adult could run through a chapter a night while on vacation if his wife doesn’t talk too much (ahem). I’m technically inclined and I read for a living, so maybe that’s too ambitious for most folks? In any case, it’s a good grounding in the basics[0] with tests at various periods[1] to make sure the reading sinks in.

The trouble is, because I was on vacation, I didn’t apply any of the knowledge and so it’s fading fast (in all fairness to me, it was a year-long vacation–not that it took a year; it was only about two weeks, but I didn’t have a workbench to build cool toys on, since I was living in an RV).

What a re-volting[2] development. I’m going ohm.

 

 

[0] See what i did there?

[1] I almost said frequencies but that would be too poor a pun, so I resisted. I am reluctant to subject my readers to puns because of their strong capacity for reactance.

[2] OK, fine! One more.

 

Chrono-synclastic Infundibulum February 12, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Brilliant words, Photography, Toys.
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I texted this picture to my stepdaughter. She wrote back:

“Did it work???”

“Can’t tell; everything is still weird.”

NOTE: it’s funny how you can remember something as strange as “chrono-synclastic infundibulum” and spell it off the top of your head after having read it once in high school, nearly fifty years ago.

View from the back porch February 6, 2020

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Uncategorized.
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