Sunday, April 29, 2007

It's the Dust, stupid!

As I've reported here before, Mars is getting warmer. But now an MSM paper has discovered it! Woo!
Scientists from Nasa say that Mars has warmed by about 0.5C since the 1970s. This is similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period.

Since there is no known life on Mars it suggests rapid changes in planetary climates could be natural phenomena.

The mechanism at work on Mars appears, however, to be different from that on Earth. One of the researchers, Lori Fenton, believes variations in radiation and temperature across the surface of the Red Planet are generating strong winds.

In a paper published in the journal Nature, she suggests that such winds can stir up giant dust storms, trapping heat and raising the planet’s temperature.

Yeah, dust. Right. Or it could be that the sun is having a 1000 year sunspot maximum and there's more sunlight shining on Mars, which is making for more wind and more dust as well as heating things up.

Naw, it must be my truck doing it.

The truth is like a flounder.

Yes it is.  You kick it under the table and ignore it long enough, it'll start to STINK.

Case in point:  University!
In their forthcoming book Ivory Tower Blues: A University System in Crisis, Prof. Côté and his co-author, Anton Allahar, sound the alarm about the demise of higher education, where many students are more interested in the piece of paper they get at the end of their programs than in the intellectual journey along the way, where professors are cowed into watering down courses and bumping up grades, and where universities are run like corporations hawking mass-produced degrees which are increasingly in demand but increasingly meaningless.

The consequences, the authors argue, are a disengaged student body, disillusioned faculty and a glut of bachelor-degree-holding graduates with unrealistically lofty aspirations in for a shock when they land in a job market fuelled by "credentialism" and plagued by under-employment.

Credentialism!  This is what you get when people are assumed to be incompetent morons unless proven otherwise.  Doesn't matter a damn if you can DO the job, you have to have the right paperwork. 

Kids are preparing for the workplace the best way they can.  They sleep through the indoctrination, browbeat the gatekeepers into punching the damn ticket and get the hell out ASAP.  That they don't know anything and can't do anything is irrelevant so long as they got the ticket!  If they schmooze well they can parlay their incompetence into a pretty decent sinecure in one of the many layers of public or corporate bureaucracy modern life is infested with.  Kids learn early that the system rewards popularity, not ability.

Problem is this credential madness leads to poor performance in corporations and government.   Guys have the ticket, they look good in the suit and they can bafflegab with the best of 'em, but they can't do the friggin' job.  Leading to countries like China eating our lunch.

That'd be the bad smell from kicking truth under the table too much.

The Smelly Phantom

Monday, April 23, 2007

Blasting the myths

Dear Ms. Marsden,

I was surprised to read your article "Blasting the Myths" in the Sun today.  Equating nukes with handguns is the kind of rhetorical trick I usually expect from a Liberal.

Do you know why Palestinian terrorists use suicide bombs?  The Palestinians discovered 20 years ago that when their death squads tried to stage a massacre in some school or store or theater, they'd get killed  before they could empty a magazine.  Whoever was in the crowd would immediately return fire, long before the IDF showed up with heavy weapons.  Mr. Terrorist would whip an AK out, and some old grandma would blast him.

Bystanders.  Killing terrorists.  With handguns!  In Israeli cities.

But it can't happen here because people like you, Rachel Marsden, hold your fellow Canadians in contempt.  You trust the increasingly corrupt and incompetent Federal government apparatus more than the average Joe.  That's not Conservatism.  That's the same mentality that drives our high tax rates, runaway regulations, the cult of PC victim hood and absurdities like Kyoto.  People are too stupid, venal, wasteful and bigoted to be allowed freedom. They must be controlled by the gentle but firm hand of their betters. 

That's gun control Ms. Marsden.  You want that for our country, you need to join your intellectual brothers and sisters in the Liberal party.

You also need to learn a little about guns before you start raving on about pistols.  The Virginia Tech killer had to shoot his victims multiple times to kill them because he used a handgun.  Had he been using a common deer rifle or shotgun, one round each would have sufficed.  Rifles are considerably more destructive than pistols.  We do not want the nut cases switching to rifles.

If you want to opine on these issues and not appear uninformed and indeed silly, do some homework eh?

The Phantom

Monday, April 16, 2007

New clot finder prototype tested in India.

On a day in which we are being inundated with bad news from Virginia Tech, I thought I'd look at something good instead.  Just to be contrary.

So here it is, a portable device that they claim can image CVAs.

The device, called an "infrascanner", can spot blood clots on the surface of the brain known as haematomas, which can lead to death or disability if left untreated.

It is being tested in India, but if successful it could have benefits for patients anywhere.


The infrascanner uses harmless "near-infra-red" light - like that in a TV remote control.

The light beam penetrates the skull up to three centimetres.

A blood clot absorbs near-infra-red light differently to normal brain tissue and the signal is bounced back to the scanner.

The tech then views the results on a computer or even a PDA.  There's a picture of the whole lash up in the article.  Looks like a really sweet piece of kit, particularly for ambulances, emergency rooms and old folks homes.

The nice part is it'll be cheap enough to become wide spread in use, just like the portable defibrillator.  This will hopefully allow lots of clots to get diagnosed early enough for those miracle clot-buster drugs to have a shot at fixing up the patient.

So there you go, some good news on a bad day.

The Clot Bustin' Contrary Phantom

Friday, April 13, 2007

Fun with Photons

I confess.  I'm a tool guy.  If there's a tool I don't have, I want one.  If there's a tool I do have, I'm dying for a chance to use it.  Welders, chisels, makes no difference I love them all.

When I hear about a new tool to do something completely nuts, I love that too.  NIST just posted a few kewl things on Eureka AlertThis one's a beauty.
In a significant improvement on previous designs, physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have devised a system that delivers such pairs with great efficiency over a wide range of energy, and with very little noise from extraneous photons.
While it doesn't reveal new properties of quantum entanglement itself, it does provide lots of entangled photons, cheap.  Awesome.

How about quantum dot lasers?
Quantum dots are nanoscale regions in a crystal structure that can trap electrons and “holes,” the charge carriers that transport current in a semiconductor. When a trapped electron-hole pair recombines, light of a specific frequency is emitted. Quantum-dot lasers have attracted attention as possible embedded communications devices not only for their small size, but because they switch on with far less power then even the solid-state lasers used in DVD players.

In recent experiments*, the NIST-Stanford-Northwestern team made “microdisk” lasers by layering indium arsenide on top of gallium arsenide. The mismatch between the different-sized atomic lattices forms indium arsenide islands, about 25 nanometers across, that act as quantum dots. The physicists then etched out disks, 1.8 micrometers across and containing about 130 quantum dots, sitting atop gallium arsenide pillars.

Intel processors right now are made on a 65 nanometer lithographic process.  They will be going to 45 nanometers pretty soon.  That's high production commercial kit.  25 nanometer feature size isn't too long away.  Kewl!

The Photonic Phantom

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sunspots at 1000 year high.

Notwithstanding Algore, Dr. Fruitfly Suzuki and the Global Warming Host, there seems to be an under-reported issue in the present climate.  Sunspots!

Dr Solanki is presenting a paper on the reconstruction of past solar activity at Cool Stars, Stellar Systems And The Sun, a conference in Hamburg, Germany.

He says that the reconstruction shows the Maunder Minimum and the other minima that are known in the past thousand years.

But the most striking feature, he says, is that looking at the past 1,150 years the Sun has never been as active as it has been during the past 60 years.

Over the past few hundred years, there has been a steady increase in the numbers of sunspots, a trend that has accelerated in the past century, just at the time when the Earth has been getting warmer.

The data suggests that changing solar activity is influencing in some way the global climate causing the world to get warmer.

Over the past 20 years, however, the number of sunspots has remained roughly constant, yet the average temperature of the Earth has continued to increase.

This is put down to a human-produced greenhouse effect caused by the combustion of fossil fuels.

This latest analysis shows that the Sun has had a considerable indirect influence on the global climate in the past, causing the Earth to warm or chill, and that mankind is amplifying the Sun's latest attempt to warm the Earth.

They had to stick that line in there about human greenhouse effect, but conveniently ignore the measurements of Mars' warming over the last few years.  As I've mentioned here before, that by itself is more than enough to account for the 1/2 degree C increase over the last 20 years we've seen.  The .5C is the only measurement the global warming propagandists have.  Everything else is computer models.

Rage on Algore, I'm going to keep driving my truck.

The Phantom

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Vimy Ridge 90th memorial

To commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, I thought I'd post this link to Google Maps, give you all a view of Vimy from the air.  In the center is the wooded park, which has some trenches etc. restored.  If you zoom in you can see lots of evidence of the craters and trenches of 90 years ago.

Here's a link to a good overview of the battle in the Globe and Mail.

The Phantom

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Daylight saving change saves no fuel.

This is why we need less government.

As it turns out, the US Department of Energy (and almost everyone else except members of Congress) was correct when they predicted that there would be little energy savings. This echoed concerns voiced after a similar experiment was attempted in Australia. Critics pointed out a basic fact: the gains in the morning will be offset by the losses at night, and vice-versa, at both ends of the switch. That appears to be exactly what happened.

Reuters spoke with Jason Cuevas, spokesman for Southern Co. power, who said it plainly: "We haven't seen any measurable impact." New Jersey's Public Service Enterprise Group said the same thing: "no impact" on their business.

So while the US government pats itself on the back for at least looking busy, know that the main goal—energy conservation—has not been met. We can still argue over other supposed benefits, like the supposed reduction in crime (which returns in November?) and the fact that many people seem to simply like the change. As far as the purpose of the move is concerned, that appears to be a total flop.

What's really scary here is this is just the Kyoto Accord on a smaller scale.  You want to see what will happen if carbon credits are fully implemented, just take the costs incurred by this little piece of waste motion and add six or seven zeros.  Total impact on The Environment (caps to indicate an actual entity, like The Church) will be zero, but by George those socialists will look like they Really
Care (TM).

People in government Being Seen Doing Something, on my dime.  Tax cut now please!  Twenty percent per year for ten years will be a good start.

The Phantom