Apr 172007

Ever have that feeling ‘Today is a great day!’ or ‘Man, today sucks’, even though nothing particularly great or sucky occured to sway your gut feeling?

Well, “Does Today Suck?” is a blog that may help answer where that feeling comes from. Each day is a high level review of events in history on that day with either a ‘Good’, ‘Bad’, ‘Cool’ rating. Sum up all the ratings and that day in history gets an overall rating.

Here’s an example for April 16th in review:

746 – 1,600 men are killed in the Battle of Culloden. – BAD

1780 – The University of Munster is founded – COOL

1946 – Syria gains independence. – COOL

1947 – 600 lives are claimed in an explosion aboard a freighter, in what would be known as the Texas City Disaster. – BAD

1963 – Martin Luther King, Jr. pens his famous letter from Birmingham Jail. – COOL

Notable Births:

Louis the Pious, Henry George Chauvel, Wilbur Wright, John Millington Synge, Ernst Thalmann, Charlie Chaplin, Spike Milligan, Peter Ustinov, Kingsley Amis, Pope Benedict XVI, Dick Lane, Dusty Springfield, Margrethe II of Denmark, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Belichick, Billy West, Rafael Benitez, Ian MacKaye, Martin Lawrence, Selena, Fredrik Ljungberg, Cat Osterman

Notable Deaths:

George Villiers, Francisco Goya, Alexis de Tocqueville, Rosalind Franklin


 Posted by at 12:17 am
Apr 162007

Wow!  There were some good guesses for the last picture post :)  Noone got it, but the right answer is the speaker for a Blackberry 8700g.   Too tough for you?  Well it’s only going to get harder!  Perhaps I can even convince my editor to pony up a small prize for correct answers on these….I’ll keep you posted.

This week I was removing everything from my kitchen (including the sink!) to do that once a year cleaning job that is always a very daunting activity.  You know…getting all that stuff that fell behind the oven, dust under the fridge, etc.  Not a pleasant or anticipated task, I assure you!  So, in a break from all that nifty cleaning, I saw this little gem.  Drop your guesses in the comments..I’ll be watching :)

What Is That??

Apr 162007

For the past three years a satellite has circled the Earth, collecting data to determine whether two predictions of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity are correct. Sunday, at the American Physical Society (APS) meeting in Jacksonville, Fla., Professor Francis Everitt from Stanford University provided the first public peek at data that revealed whether Einstein’s theory has been confirmed by the most sophisticated orbiting laboratory ever created.

This is the longest project in NASA’s history, has cost over US$700M and started in 1963. It went on so long that the project was canceled 7 times and of course revived each time. To get a layman’s explanation of the project, listen to the NPR story on Gravity Probe B that was first aired shortly before it was launched in 2004.

From the Stanford Press Release this weekend:

Gravity Probe B has been a great scientific adventure for all of us, and we are grateful to NASA for its long history of support,” Everitt said. “My colleagues and I will be presenting the first results today and tomorrow. It’s fascinating to be able to watch the Einstein warping of space-time directly in the tilting of these GP-B gyroscopes—more than a million times better than the best inertial navigation

The GP-B satellite was launched in April 2004. It collected more than a year’s worth of data that the Stanford GP-B science team has been pouring over for the past 18 months. The satellite was designed as a pristine, space-borne laboratory, whose sole task was to use four ultra-precise gyroscopes to measure directly two effects predicted by general relativity. One is the geodetic effect—the amount by which the mass of the Earth warps the local space-time in which it resides. The other effect, called frame-dragging, is the amount by which the rotating Earth drags local space-time around with it.

According to Einstein’s theory, over the course of a year, the geodetic warping of Earth’s local space-time causes the spin axes of each gyroscope to shift from its initial alignment by a minuscule angle of 6.606 arc-seconds (0.0018 degrees) in the plane of the spacecraft’s orbit. Likewise, the twisting of Earth’s local space-time causes the spin axis to shift by an even smaller angle of 0.039 arc-seconds (0.000011 degrees)— about the width of a human hair viewed from a quarter mile away—in the plane of the Earth’s equator.

Additional References:

  • Website for the Gravity Prove B project
  • Wikipedia page on the Gravity Probe B
  • Discovery Channel representations on what the gravity effect would ‘look’ like. Pic1, Pic2
 Posted by at 9:18 am
Apr 152007

[Update: See the Doctor’s link in the comments, looks like it’s not Apple’s fault after all]

Macenstein has talked to Oxford University Press about the Anti-War and Anti-President definitions in Apple’s Oxford Dictionary widget. It appears that a rogue dev at Apple snuck in some not so nice easter eggs.

Here’s just one example below. You can read the investigation over at Macenstein; while you’re there, check out April’s Mac Chick.

Apple Dictionary Widget

 Posted by at 6:00 am