20120329

It is most unusual, Mister Tricorder!

Day by day our technology becomes more like that from science fiction books and series. The most recent awesome gadget comes from Dr. Peter Jansen, a PhD graduate of the Cognitive Science Laboratory at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. This great guy, whom numerous Star Trek fans will soon learn to respect greatly, has invented the legendary tricorder - 'a multifunction handheld device used for sensor scanning, data analysis, and recording data.' On his website you can even find all the information on building and programing your own Tricorder. Yup, that's right - the whole thing is open-sourced! There is also a community forum where Peter is making a thread to help people find and order actual parts necessary. Some of the sensors included in this neat little piece of every nerds dream are things like atmospheric temperature and humidity sensor, magnetic field sensor, pressure sensor, GPS receiver and a portable shower. Well, this last part is not included, actually. Not yet, anyhow. So check out Peter's site, join the forum, and start building your own Tricorder. I know I will, as soon as possible.


Now, beside the fact that this guy made a friggin tricorder, what strikes me the most is his honest and sincere interest and love for the science end exploration. When you read his blog or listen to the video above, you can see how eager and hopeful he is about the change the Tricorder might bring to people, especially young people. He believes, and I certainly concur, that with a piece of hardware like this, every walk from school to home or wherever becomes a journey of knowledge. You can learn about the aspects of your surroundings on a level you normally can't. You can see physical processes and forces on a screen of a device that you can carry around in your pocket. Imagine the impact this can have on a young, knowledge-seeking mind! I used to run around my garden with a magnifying glass and a compass and I was insanely amazed by the things that I discovered. What an adventure would it be to run around the garden with this thing! Hopefully, next generations will be able to experience that thrill, and we have to thank people like Dr. Jansen for that. I know I will follow this guy's explorations with much hope and awe, and so should you.

20120328

Luna, oh Luna

Have you ever noticed that huge white ball up on the sky, the one other than the Sun? You know, the one that helps you walk back home after a party (or a really long session of Dungeons & Dragons)? Yeah, I'm talking about the Moon. Although I personally prefer its poetic name, Luna. When you see it, you probably don't think much about it. We've all seen it numerous times, everybody knows what it is and, to be honest, it's not even that cool to watch anymore, at least without the telescope. We even visited it, albeit not in the last thirty years or so.

But think about it a bit. It's a fucking tiny, minuscule planet orbiting our own, slightly bigger planet. Four times bigger, to be precise. It serves as a protective shield, all fighting meteorites and probably evil alien robots that we know nothing about. It also governs the tide, which is awesome. It's like Luna is a real Poseidon. Only without that badass triton-thing. It presumably formed out of the debris left after another planet collided with the young Earth. Another. Planet. Slammed. The Earth. Can you imagine that? Another cool fact about Luna is that it's rotation is synchronous with the Earth. How cool is that? What that means is, as you've probably noticed (I hope), she always shows us the same side. Maybe she's ashamed of the other one, I don't know.

Also, humans visited Luna. That might not seem as something big, or even particularly important at first glance, but it actually is. It's one of the most important moments in human history. We actually left footprints in the dust that hasn't been disturbed in something like 4 billion years. And yes, you silly conspiracy-theorist, it actually happened. And hopefully, it will happen again some time soon. It was humanity's first step in serious space travel, and by reaching it, we also reached a frontier that once seemed unreachable. It would be a great shame if it ended there.

So anyway. Next time you lift your gaze up towards Luna, think about not only what it physically is (which in itself is a great deal to think about), but also what it represents.

20120326

Some planets and stuff...

It's interesting how everybody turns to the sky only when there's some 'extraordinary' thing happening up there, like the Moon, Jupiter and Venus occupying roughly the same area. As though the sky itself isn't fascinating enough. However, I'm glad that people notice the starts at least once in a while, despite the fact it's mostly because news-portals told them to do so. *sigh*

Anyways, here are some pictures. I'd write about how I have bad equipment and all that, but I guess it's pretty evident from the pictures, so I won't. 
(click to see larger images)
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