Sunday, June 27, 2010

Think think think

...and the first person he though of was...

Winnie the Pooh?

No, General McCrystal. Does anyone but me think that this is all too convenient (for someone). I'm not sure if he ruffled Obama to get reassigned or if Obama decided to become ruffled to pick a new general, or both, but it's fishy.

In other news, a South African doctor invents a condom with "teeth". Finally a condom whose use is not immoral. I wonder how effective it would be, though, since rape is generally about violence more than sex. I would think a rapist caught in that trap would murder the rape victim. I am also dubious about the claim that it requires a doctor to remove it. I can't imagine that it could not be cut off.

In a stunning example of government gone wrong California license plates may go digital. What's the benefit? advertising dollars for the state. What's the down side? Cost, for drivers, for the initial plates, and for replacing them when they break in fender benders, get caught on curbs, get hit with items being put in the trunk, etc. Oh, and let's not forget the cost of batteries, and the extra toxins that will go into landfills. Not to mention whether or not it is even constitutional for a government to require citizens to advertise for third parties. What happens when an atheist's license plate displays an ad for a mega church? I can see the lawyers getting rich already.

speaking of government gone wrong and constitutions, the senate committee has approved the "Internet kill switch" bill. Words fail me. Some points of interest in the bill:
These emergency measures will expire after 30 days unless the President orders an
Oh, well, that makes it all right - as long as the president has to issue an order every 30 days he can control the Internet all he wants. Also
The Act will provide liability protections to owners/operators that comply
with the new risk-based security requirements.
So now the government is the insurer of private businesses as well.  I encourage you to read the bill. There's much more insanity than I can convey here. The amazing thing is that nobody's running down the streets with pitchforks about this.

No blog post is complete without some "nucular" stuff. I came across this article about a Brooklyn man who built a homemade fusion reactor. I read about fusors before. Remember Philo T. Farnsworth? The boy who invented TV in the 1920s? Even less well known is that he invented a fusion reactor in the 1960s.

For those not familiar with fusion, it all starts with Einstein's famous E = MC2. That is, energy and mass are equivalent. It turns out if you break apart an atom into protons, neutrons, and electrons, and put them together again in a different configuration, you can turn one element into another, and the new configuration has a slightly different mass than the old one. The difference in mass becomes energy. Iron and its neighboring elements have the lowest mass configuration, so you can get energy either by breaking up a heavier element into something smaller (which is called fission) or squishing two or more lighter elements into a heavier one (which is called fusion).

"Normal" nuclear reactors are fission reactors, and break uranium and its neighbors into lighter elements. The fusor takes deuterium, which is a kind of hydrogen and turns it into the next heavier element, helium. What's cool about the fusor is that it can be built with "common" items, since it doesn't need any restricted or exotic materials to make it work. Don't start looking for a fusion powered car just yet, though. The fusor is a laboratory experiment, and it takes more energy to make it run than is produced by the fusion inside it. If I had infinite time and money a fusor is one of the first things I'd play with, though.


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