There is an increasing interest in providing frictionless experiences, making life extremely easy. However, sometimes at least, we require friction in the same way that we require sadness….
A frictionless start of the morning would be to have an instant coffee (anathema) or to have an automatic machine with a timer that grinds the coffee and makes a ding! sound that wakes us up. This machine would also produce a perfectly consistent cup of coffee. There would be no ritual involved.
In my start there is pouring water in the bottom of the mocha pot, setting the coffee container, filling it up with ground coffee (but not compacting it), carefully cleaning the borders, and screwing the top part of the pot. Then I turn on the stove, wait a few minutes (until the top container is between half and three quarters full) and removing the pot from the stove. One can see the crema on top of the liquid. I will have some milk and (little) sugar with it.
The coffee is never exactly the same, never perfect. It requires some work and distracts my mind for a moment. I don’t want to work on improving it…. I will not spend a lot on a ‘brand’ mocha pot, or on sophisticated cups, or on a spectacular coffee grinder. It would be transforming the ritual into religion, which is not the point.
For many of us, inaccurate forecasts do little more than ruin a picnic or sully a recently washed car. We’re lucky. Weather is a sideshow to our daily lives. For others, though, advance knowledge of the weather directly affects their livelihoods, from farmers to construction workers to airline pilots. But there are times when weather affects us all, especially instances of severe weather like Hurricane Sandy. There, accurate forecasts can save lives, and those forecasts rely heavily on satellite data.
Unfortunately, in just a few years, part of our weather satellite system that is vital to forecasts will very likely go blind.
Berrien Moore, director of the National Weather Center, and many other experts who spoke with me cite Sandy as a prime example of how vital satellite data has become in weather forecasting and how terrible it would be if we lost any part of it. Typically, hurricanes that make their way up the East Coast end up veering back out to sea. But Sandy didn’t, and thanks to a European weather model that deeply incorporated satellite data, forecasters were able to predict its sudden turn west into the coast. continue reading
Gerhard Hüdepohl captured this spectacular image of ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) during the testing of a new laser for the VLT 14 February 2013. It will be used as a vital part of the Laser Guide Star Facility (LGSF), which allows astronomers to correct for most of the disturbances caused by the constant movement of the atmosphere in order to create much sharper images. Nevertheless, is hard not to think of it as a futuristic laser cannon being pointed towards some kind of distant space invader.
A proposed space-junk removal system would hop from one piece of debris to the next without burning much fuel, potentially making a de-clutter mission economically feasible with current technologiy.
The TAMU Space Sweeper with Sling-Sat, or 4S for short, would harness the momentum imparted by capturing and ejecting one object to slingshot on to the next chunk of space junk, its developers say.
“The goal of this mission is to remove as many pieces of debris with the minimum amount of fuel,” said Daniele Mortari of Texas A&M University.
A growing problem Earth is surrounded by a huge and ever-growing cloud of orbital debris — stuff like spent rocket bodies, dead spacecraft and the fragments generated when these objects collide. [The Expanding Danger of Space Junk (Video)]
NASA estimates that about 500,000 pieces bigger than a marble and 22,000 as large as a softball whiz around Earth at fantastic speeds. And there are probably hundreds of millions of flecks at least 1 millimeter in diameter.
This cloud of junk poses a threat to the satellites and spacecraft circling our planet, including the International Space Station, and many researchers say humanity must act soon to prevent the problem from really getting out of hand.
“It is well understood that we are past the point of no return. Relying solely on improved tracking and avoidance is not enough … it is simply a technical form of sticking your head in the sand and crossing your fingers,” Texas A&M PhD student Jonathan Missel told SPACE.com. “We are at a point where the problem needs to be solved, with active removal, not just avoided.”
A new idea Many ideas have been put forward over the years to combat the space-junk threat, including schemes that would blast debris with lasers or snare it in a giant net.
“While they are interesting to think about, they are often threatening to operating satellites, or need technological advances that are decades out,” Missel said of some of the more ambitious offerings.
The most technically and politically sound idea is a simple rendezvous mission, during which a clean-up craft would travel to and de-orbit debris objects one at a time, Missel said. But such a mission would burn loads of fuel to get between widely spaced targets, making it “fatally plagued by inefficiency,” he added.
The 4S system, which Missel and Mortari are developing, aims to correct this fatal flaw. It would snare debris at the end of a spinning satellite, then fling the object down to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.
The spacecraft would harness the momentum exchanged during both of these actions to cruise over to the next piece of space junk on its list, minimizing fuel use and extending its operational life to the point that such a mission might be practical.
Work on 4S this year includes looks at hardware options, Mortari said, and further optimization of the idea.
My father used to tell me that when people complimented him on his tie, it was never because of the tie—it was because of the suit. If he wore his expensive suit, people would say “Nice tie!” But they were just mis-identifying what it was that they thought was nice. Similarly if you’re…
so, i recently got to visit a friend of mine in his new (to him) neutra house. the sten-frenke house. in santa monica. and, to be honest, as a provincial east-sider i don’t make my way to santa-monica very often. nothing against the west side, but it’s very far away (in my mind it’s kind of like driving to philadelphia from new york, but i’m also prone to hyperbole and exaggeration, so it’s quite possibly a lot closer). in any case, a friend of mine bought the sten-frenke house and has done a whole bunch of remarkable/beautiful period sensitive renovations to it (currently under construction: the pool house. thus: no pictures of the pool house, as it’s a construction site). oh, a potentially rhetorical question: who are the neutra’s and schindler’s and lautner’s and koenig’s and eames’ of l.a’s 21st century? l.a is still a relatively cheap and easy place in which to build a house(compared to, say, any other big city in the western world. i mean, when was the last time someone bought cheap land and built a modest modern house in manhattan?). so, who are the l.a architects building the neutra and eames houses of the 21st century? i know they’re there, as l.a is filled with amazing architects. maybe it’s time to break out the bulldozers and tear down some beige crap 80’s monstrosity houses and let l.a architects build a whole bunch of new, amazing houses. just a thought.