I bought a nice little Japanese book (translated to English) by Bunpei Yorifuji called ‘Wonderful Life with the Elements’. In the first few pages he gives an overview of how mankind learned to extract and use more and more elements from the earth’s crust. The universe is made mostly of hydrogen and helium, but Earth (by mass) is made of iron (32.1%), oxygen (30.1%), silicon (15.1%), magnesium (13.9%), sulfur (2.9%), nickel (1.8%), calcium (1.5%), and aluminium (1.4%); with the remaining 1.2% consisting of trace amounts of other elements.
Here is the Wall Street Journal’s tips for getting over spells of waking up in the middle of the night. (Wow. Watching TV with one’s sunglasses on .. I will have to try that! I don’t really wake up in the middle of the night, I just hate to get up in the morning!).
We have had the warmest April on record, and some unseasonably warm weather here in Seattle for May so far as well. Some 20 degrees above average/ 11 degrees Celsius. So we will have to wait and see how high the peaks of the summer days will be, and if we are going to reach up into the 90s or even 100. (The hottest temperature recorded here ever, was in the summer of 2009, on July 29, when the mercury hit 103 °F/ 39.4 °C).
Here is a hydrogen gas dispenser station that I noticed as I was filling up my rental car with fossil fuel gas on Thursday. Whoah, cool ! Let me take a closer look, I thought. I’m still on the look-out for catching a glimpse of a FCV (Fuel Cell Vehicle, such as a Toyota Mirai), on the freeways here in California.
It is 100 years ago this November that Albert Einstein published his series of four papers called ‘The Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity’, each separated from the other by a week: on the 4th, 11th, 18th and the 25th of November 1915. From the Einstein Archives Online : ‘In Einstein’s universe, gravity is not regarded as an exterior force, but rather as a property of space and time, or spacetime. Einstein’s curved four-dimensional spacetime ‘continuum’ is often likened to a suspended rubber sheet stretched taut, but deformed whenever heavy objects – stars, galaxies or any other matter – are placed on it. Thus, a massive body like the sun curves the spacetime around it and the planets move along these curved pathways of spacetime. As Einstein put it : ‘matter tells space how to bend; space tells matter how to move’.
It is of course one thing to put forth a philosophical theory, but Einstein did much more than that. He wrote up a set of ten equations known as the Einstein Field Equations that described the fundamental interactions of gravitation, matter and energy in spacetime.
TIME magazine has an excellent write-up on the on-going efforts – and progress made – to build a fusion reactor to solve the world’s needs for cheap energy. Check it out here. The engineering challenges are mind-boggling, but so are the possibilities, if humanity can ever solve the challenge of harnessing the energy released by controlled nuclear fusion. From the TIME article : The endgame for these companies isn’t acquisition by Google followed by a round of appletinis. It’s an energy source so cheap and clean and plentiful that it would create an inflection point in human history, an energy singularity that would leave no industry untouched.
The Experiminta Science Center is just a block from the Marriott hotel as well, and it was great to see such unabashed enthusiasm for math and science on display. My pictures are of some items that interested me, but there are many other interactive displays geared toward school kids of all ages. Here is the link for Rott’s Chaotic Pendulum.
I was surprised to learn, from looking at my Frankfurt map, that the Senckenberg Naturmuseum was barely a five-minute walk from my hotel. Well, you have to go then, I told myself, and hurry up ! The museum closed at 6, along with every other establishment in Germany*.
*Shopping malls close a little later, at 9 pm .. but there is not much open on Sunday (convenience stores at gas stations are). I think that’s a good thing .. even with the Saturday evening rush that I got caught in at a grocery store just trying to buy a yogurt and bananas.
I was blissfully unaware of the Juan de Fuca Plate tectonic plate, the edge of which runs alongside the Seattle coast, when I moved here in 2000. That did not last long, because in 2001 there was a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Washington State, the Nisqually earthquake. It was deep down and caused some property damage but there were no casualties. A new compelling article by Kathryn Schulz in The New Yorker with alarmist undertones and cataclysmic scenarios reminds us of the 9.0 magnitude Cascadia earthquake from Jan 26, 1700. And that the area is overdue for the next 9.0 earthquake. The logic is irrefutable : ‘ .. we now know that the Pacific Northwest has experienced forty-one subduction-zone earthquakes in the past ten thousand years. If you divide ten thousand by forty-one, you get two hundred and forty-three, which is Cascadia’s recurrence interval: the average amount of time that elapses between earthquakes. That timespan is dangerous both because it is too long—long enough for us to unwittingly build an entire civilization on top of our continent’s worst fault line—and because it is not long enough. Counting from the earthquake of 1700, we are now three hundred and fifteen years into a two-hundred-and-forty-three-year cycle.
It’s Shark Week on Discovery Channel here in the USA .. and here is a goblin shark gobbling up a fish. These stills are from the Discovery website, here. This creature is a living fossil – in that it is the only one remaining from a family of sharks with a lineage dating back 125 million years. Its specialized jaws can snap forward to capture prey. The elongated flattened snout is covered with ‘ampullae of Lorenzini’ that enable it to sense minute electric fields, as little as a 10 millionth of a volt.
There was a smattering of stargazers and their telescopes out at Volunteer Park on Tuesday night when I walked by there. I soon found out the excitement was over the two brightest planets in the night sky – Venus and Jupiter – that were to appear very close together in the night sky. They only appear to do so, though, because of their locations in the night sky. At the time of the conjunction, Venus was 49 million miles from Earth while Jupiter was more than 10 times farther, 564 million miles. Check out this video from NASA. As time goes by, the planets appear closer together.
We went to the annual Greenwood Car Show on Saturday. It is organized by the Greenwood Knights and a fundraiser event for local non-profit organizations. Vintage car owners are invited to exhibit their driving machines along Greenwood Avenue North in the Greenwood and Phinney neighborhoods of Seattle.
Check out the pages from my Time-Life Science Library book that I bought for $7 from Amazon. I remember the book from when I was growing up, and I wanted it especially for the explanation of the effects of relativity, illustrated by a fantastical train called the Relativity Express and the doings of the evil Agent X. The Relativity Express will get you there in a flash : it travels at ¾ the speed of light !
One of the 200+ virus strains implicated in the cause of the common cold have infiltrated my system. So I ran out to the pharmacist on Wednesday night. Help! I said, I need something that will make my nose stop running and sneezing, but still leave my sinuses clear so that I can fly on Thursday. He gave me an antihistamine, which seemed to help. I don’t have a fever, so it’s probably not the flu. I read on line that one can actually have the flu and not run a fever!
Below is my personal little ‘food pyramid’ from the lunch cafeteria here at work, clockwise : orange juice drink, tofu with greens, white rice, potato with red pepper, green beans with pork bits, chicken thigh. Very nice. Below it is the old food pyramid which has since been replaced by a new one in 2002. The new one looks much more complicated. And I suppose the steps says ‘it’s not only about food, make sure you get enough exercise’.