Monthly Archives: March 2015

New Horizons Spacecraft Nearing Pluto

I have been following the voyage of the New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto since its launch on January 19, 2006. It will flyby Pluto on July 14, 2015. I have already marked that day on my calendar! Continue reading

 
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Submarine Fiber-Optic Cable Trivia

I am at the Optical Fiber Conference in Los Angeles this week and learning a lot. This morning I attended a great talk submarine fiber optic cables given by Neal Bergano, CTO of TE Connectivity Subcom. I thought I would put my notes on blog for others to view. I was not able to find a copy of Neal's presentation, so I will replicate my notes on his presentation here. Where possible, I will include supporting information that I located on the web. Any errors introduced are mine. Continue reading

 
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Species Longevity

I am always surprised when I read about how long some members of the animal kingdom live. Back in 2007, I saw an article about a bowhead whale (Figure 1) that was confirmed to have lived ~130 years. In fact, there is some chemical evidence that one bowhead whale may have lived to be 211 years old. Continue reading

 
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Retirement Planning Spreadsheet

As I thought about it, people really need a spreadsheet that will allow them to try different retirement options – I have not been happy with any of the web-based retirement planners that I have worked with. Continue reading

 
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"The Green Girl" Documentary Review

I just watched an excellent documentary on Susan Oliver called The Green Girl. She played the character called Vina in the Star Trek pilot called "The Cage". Her photo in green makeup appears at the end of many episodes of the original Star Trek series (Figure 1). It appears that she had a sense of humor about all the makeup she had to wear in her role as Vina (Figure 2). I have revealed my love of all things Trek in previous posts (example), so my interest in this video should not surprise anyone. Continue reading

 
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Lake Water Clarity Over Time

I have a small summer cabin on a lake in northern Minnesota that my family uses for recreation. The health of the lake is very important to me because I plan on leaving the property to my children so that my children and grandchildren (when and if they come) will have a nice place to vacation. One way to assess the health of the lake is by measuring its clarity, which is measured using a Secchi disk (Figure 1). Continue reading

 
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Cool Photo of Telescope Guide Stars

The use of adaptive optics requires that precise measurements be made of the disturbances present in the atmosphere so that they can be compensated for – a process known as deconvolution. These measurements are often made by reflecting light off of sodium atoms in the upper atmosphere. These reflections effectively create artificial stars known as guide stars (Figure 1). Continue reading

 
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Motion Picture Aspect Ratios

I love old movies and one of the best is The Quiet Man. I recently picked up the Blu-Ray version and watched it with my wife this weekend. During the movie, my wife asked about the movies aspect ratio – it is not a widescreen movie. The Quiet Man was filmed in Academy Ratio (1.37:1), a ratio which was standardized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1932. The Quiet Man was released in 1952, a year before the mass introduction of a plethora of widescreen film formats. Continue reading

 
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Dimensional Analysis and Accounting

It has been reported that 90% of spreadsheets have serious errors (source). These errors occasionally are large enough that they have international implications (e.g. London Whale). In my small part of the world, one small company I worked at had an error in a cost estimation spreadsheet that cost it hundreds thousands of dollars on one contract. This caused that company great hardship. Continue reading

 
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Math Anxiety with the Pythagorean Theorem

You might be amazed the amount of math anxiety I deal with at work. Folks often stop by my cube for help – I always try to help because I remember how I felt when I was in school and did not understand any math. Continue reading

 
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