Saturday, August 22, 2015

From The Pink Into The Stink

I recently re-listened to Roger Waters' entire "The Wall."  I hesitate to call it Pink Floyd's "The Wall" because I believe the David Gilmour/Nick Mason/Richard Wright accounts that Waters became an intolerable control freak during that time and the final product was his and not theirs.

"The Wall" is nothing more than an apologia for unrestricted immigration both here but especially in Europe.

What triggered this? My viewing a biopic about Ginger Baker called "Beware Mr. Baker." It seems to me that both Baker and Waters became insufferable assholes because they both lost their fathers in the fight against fascism.

Who was it again who said that we become what we most hate?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

We Could Use A Moore's Law For Rechargeable Battery Life

Well this is just cool...

Forgetful Scientists Accidentally Quadruple Lithium-Ion Battery Lifespan

Battery technology goes through periodic bouts of breakthroughs followed by long, long, periods of quiescence characterized by product development.

I like the article's focus on chemical elements -- lithium and aluminum.

I found this article while googling tips to conserve lithium-ion battery life.

Seek and ye shall find.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Physics of Storytelling

The living end of characters tells a story. As our eyes move from left to right across its sweep, the story's words leap translated into our imagination from start to finish. It's not just visual though. Read aloud, spoken stories too have living ends -- a beginning and an end heard just now.


An early physics pioneer you rarely hear about is Henry Moseley, who died 100 years ago today. Moseley made an important discovery now called "Moseley's Law."

Up until Moseley's time, chemical elements in the iconic Periodic Table were arranged according to weight. There was other rhyme and reason to the arrangement of elements in the Table, but no true understanding of their masses beyond: things get heavier. There was hope that atomic mass would reveal something fundamental about physics, and the 1914 Nobel Prize went to Harvard's T. W. Richards for his careful and methodical measurements of atomic weights.

Moseley showed that by shining X-rays onto atomic samples, he got a distinct integer value for each element which he called Z. Others before Moseley -- namely Bunsen and Kirchoff -- had shown how unseen atoms could be "seen" and identified by burning them in flames, but Moseley's experiments were beautifully simple and related all elements together with their Z-values instead of getting a unique "fingerprint" for each. Moseley's law is still used to identify elements in deep space.

Exactly what Z was had only been postulated a few years earlier. Niels Bohr had shown that Z was the nuclear charge (1 for the hydrogen atom) and Ernest Rutherford had suggested that Z for heavy atoms might be about half an element's atomic weight. A Dutchman, Antonius van den Broek had suggested--without proof-- that Z was an element's "atomic number." Moseley proved it.

Good ideas need good proof to become good science.

The Periodic Table was never the same after Moseley.

Henry Moseley probably should have gotten the 1915 or 1916 Nobel Prize in Physics, but he was killed by a Turkish bullet at Gallipoli at the age of 27.   
Henry Moseley (1887-1915)
Isaac Asimov wrote: "In view of what he [Moseley] might still have accomplished ... his death might well have been the most costly single death of the War to mankind generally."