Archive for 'science' Category


Baby Science Paper

This is just awesome. So is the rest of the article, which talks about raising kids when you’re scientifically-minded parents. Exactly what Rosa and I are!

Baby Science Paper

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The End is Nigh! Again!

In case you’ve not heard, the end of the world is this Saturday, May 21st, 2011. If this is true then I hope they wait until after my sister’s wedding that afternoon. Yep, my little sister, Heather, is getting married (marriage being the current “disease” in the family lately). While some might say that the end of days is because she is getting married, I disagree.

In fact, there have been so many predictions about the end of the world it amazes me that they still keep popping up. Even that “saint” of science, Sir Isaac Newton, made his own predictions. At least he was clever enough to predict a date beyond his death so he wouldn’t have to deal with side along glances. Personally I don’t believe any of this claptrap and deep in my gut it bothers me that others believe it. Still, I like to have fun at other’s expense so…

Happy Apocalypse Day!

1 Comment | Catergorized: family  science


Hemp Oil Versus Gasoline

This morning started with an interesting discussion about replacing all energy consumption with hemp oil. What this has to do with IT, manga or anime I don’t know but there it is. The debate got heated (we failed to follow the rules) and eventually the other fellow walked away in a huff. He said, in essence, that hemp oil could essentially fix all our energy problems. I disagreed saying hemp oil couldn’t resolve even one energy problem. Later he came and apologized for his overreaction and I’ve since sent him an email with most of what appears below to give him some insight. I thought it worth sharing.

With best estimates, hemp can produce about 100 gallons per acre.

Using outdated information from 2004, America consumes about 140,000,000,000 gallons of gas per year.

Hemp can be harvested every 120 days, which gives about 3 harvests a year in an idealized world (which we do not have).

140,000,000,000/100 = 1,400,000,000 acres required from a single hemp harvest to equal gasoline consumption. However, let’s go with the hypothetical three harvests a year:

1,400,000,000/3 = 466,666,666 acres needed if we can get three harvests a year.

466,666,666 acres = 729,166 square miles. America is 3,537,441 square miles, which seems like a lot. However, of that land only 635,038 square miles are usable (based on 406,424,909 acres of cropland).

635,038 is less than 729,166, so not only could we not grow enough hemp, but we wouldn’t be able to produce any crops and we would starve. Incidentally, hemp will not grow in some environments so usable acreage is actually smaller. Even more damning is the fact that gasoline is already processed for consumption; hemp oil would need to be processed as well, which would reduce the volume actually produced. There is also hemp’s lesser fuel efficiency to factor into the equation. Clearly hemp oil cannot replace gaoline on any sort of equal footing.

All of this only addresses automobiles gasoline consumption; it doesn’t touch upon electrical or natural gas consumption.

The problem with the whole argument isn’t necessarily that my coworker was wrong. It’s that he listens to and blindly agrees with pundits that say things like, “Hemp oil can replace gasoline!” The best thing for the world would be to stop believing people on the radio, television and in books who talk like they know what they are saying but possibly don’t. Look up the facts for yourself. Use a critical mind even -and maybe especially- with people you agree. Don’t get sucked into the belief, so prevalent today, that one way is absolutely correct and everything else is wrong. Remember wise Yoda: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

In this case The Suffering is our world and so many people on it. Our inability to find fact-based solutions to problems because so many people are blinded by ideas and beliefs has, and will continue to, give rise to too many evils.

1 Comment | Catergorized: grrr  science  technology  thoughts


Religion on the Decline

Some say religion is on the decline in many parts of the world. In fact, it is supposedly heading towards extinction. Read this and tell me that wouldn’t be a bad thing. I know the article about Pi is satire, but it rings so true that I don’t think I would miss this brand of Republican, nor the religion that inspires them. I’m not slamming all religion, mind you, just the ones that aren’t dealing with reality and could think that Pi (?) could equal three, or that the Earth is only a couple thousand years old, or that the Earth is flat and the sun, planets and stars orbit us. There are a shocking number of people who fit this category…

1 Comment | Catergorized: political  science  thoughts


Preparing for the Worst

By now everyone has heard of the devastating earthquake in Japan, preceded by the one in New Zealand and almost exactly a year earlier in Chile. These three earthquakes have the coast of California bordering on the paranoid, and maybe with good cause. There are a couple things you can do to prepare as best you can. The first is to go through this excellent website, 72 Hours, and read and prepare what it recommends.

I don’t know about other areas, but if you live in San Francisco you can also sign up for Alert SF which can communicate with you via cellular text and email about various alerts you should be aware of. You can also volunteer for NERT, the Neighborhood Emergency Response Teams. They can help train you to help others in the case of an emergency. In the case of a city-wide disaster emergency vehicles will be hard pressed (and overloaded) so if you own a motorcycle you can volunteer for MERC, the Motorcycle Emergency Response Corps. NERT and MERC require training, but think about what happened in Japan and realize that if volunteers hadn’t been available the death toll wouldn’t be in the ten thousand range, it would have been much MUCH higher.

I don’t think paranoia serves anyone, and living in fear is a way to give yourself an ulcer. That being said, it’s not a matter of if an earthquake happens in California, but when. Preparing for it can help you feel more in control of yourselves and help your loved ones through the calamity. If nothing else talk with your family and friends about evacuation routes and meeting points; it could save your lives and give you hope.

1 Comment | Catergorized: life  motorcycle  san francisco  science


A Bevy of Updates

I haven’t written Jack Crap here for a long time now. It’s not that there hasn’t been anything to write about… I’ve just been a lazy SOB. Not that it’s any consolation to me or you, but here’s some tidbits to maybe distract you from noticing it’s been some three weeks since I wrote here last.

Unemployed? Over 11% in California are. Looking for a career change, probably in a more tech/sci direction? Check out MIT’s Open Courseware. They have courses in architecture, biology, electrical engineering and tons more. I don’t know if you get a degree for this sort of thing, but it certainly can’t hurt, and for the whopping price of free you can’t go too wrong, either.

At long last Zombies are getting representation. The Zombie Anti Defamation League is live and active addressing the concerns of the Post Vital as they continue through existence.

When I was a kid in Korea there would come occasions when a friend was going to Japan and would ask if they should bring something back from their trip. The answer was almost always Felix Gum. Allegedly made from whale blubber, this gum could be chewed for days on end with little diminishment of its flavor. In fact we’d have contests. The funny thing is that when I ask my Japanese coworkers about this stuff they look at me like I’m an alien. Well, prepare to be probed because I found Felix Gum here in San Francisco. Behold.

Japanese Felix Gum

Hmm… Many of the other updates I won’t be going over because, well, they’re not that big a deal for this venue. Been to a few parties, hung out with friends, work, etc. I will just try to keep this up now at my more frequent approximation of a post a week. Ciao for now!

3 Comments | Catergorized: friends  korea  san francisco  science  technology  work


Bay Area Earthquake Due

Everyone that lives in the San Francisco Bay Area knows that we could experience a large earthquake at any time. We’ve got the San Andreas, Loma Prieta and Hayward faults all here (and more!). What most residents don’t realize is that we are due -almost past due!- for another big one that they are saying could create a disaster larger than Hurricane Katrina.

When the next big earthquake hits the San Francisco Bay Area, it will be a catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina proportions. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people will die, and hundreds of thousands will become homeless. Economic losses will be on the order of $200 billion, the vast majority of it uninsured. Outside help will be desperately needed, but difficult to coordinate and execute.

And just as before Hurricane Katrina, scientists have been sounding the alarm, warning that the disaster is inevitable. It’s not a matter of if, but when the “Big One” will strike.

Fun! Or not. Interestingly, the Hayward fault slips on average every 140 years. On October 21st we passed 140 years since its last quake. Time for me to restock my disaster preparedness kit again…

1 Comment | Catergorized: life  san francisco  science


I Love Dinosaurs

The Natural History Museum in Los Angeles has an awesome exhibit: dinosaurs walking the halls. It’s funny to see because I was actually trying to design something just like the T-Rex as a Halloween costume at one point. Here’s the first video; goto the above link to see the other two. I love dinosaurs!

2 Comments | Catergorized: geek  science


Rusting Away

Regardless of the slow posting, I do read a lot online (I’m just too lazy lately to post the links!). Recently I found an article on aging in which scientists found evidence that the traditional notion of age, that we simply wear down over time, may not be entirely true. Their research suggests that age might be the result of an evolutionary process. They point to animals that live well into their many hundreds of years like tortoises (laying eggs into their hundreds), certain whales (living to be over 200) and clams (that can make it a whopping 400 years). The money quote for me, though, was this.

“Everyone has assumed we age by rust,” Kim said.

Help me! I’m rusting away!

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Sometimes We Forget How Small We Are

Sometimes we think we’re such big, important creatures in the scheme of things. Perhaps in some sense we are, but we also forget our literal size in the vastness of the universe. There’s a scene at the beginning of the movie Contact that I love. It starts with a shot of Earth and moves back and away, slowly at first, passing the Moon, and the Planets, then the Oort Cloud… Eventually the camera takes us through the Milky Way, out of the galaxy and past many others. It’s rather humbling. I found an animated GIF to which I had a similar, though less dramatic, reaction. It’s a large file (1.2MB) so give it a chance to load.

1 Comment | Catergorized: science  thoughts
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