Monday, May 16, 2011

Good Internet Monday: Tweeting About DTW

Okay, I'll admit it. Post-A-Day-May is an abject failure. Egads.

That said, back to regular posting.

Being from south east Michigan and doing a lot of traveling for work, I've come to love Detroit's airport (DTW.) Compared to most others, it is beautiful, easy to navigate, clean and just damn impressive. Today, I have found that I am not alone in this assessment:

In #Detroit airport and never really sat back and saw how nice an airport it is! It was good to be back for a bit.
That's fan favorite Detroit Lion Ndamukong Suh via Twitter. This morning, renowned writer Peter King echoed his sentiment in his weekly Sports Illustrated article.

Cool beans.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Whiskey Tango Friday: Deep Physics and Analogies

XKCD does an excellent job illustrating a huge problem one encounters when trying to explain theoretical work: simplifying how the world works for explanation to the lay person through the use of analogy often robs the listener of true depth and complexity of the situation. True understanding of the world takes years of dedicated study; there are no short cuts.

Expanded upon in great detail by Richard Feynman (especially at the six minute mark):

One of the greatest theoretical courses I ever took was a graduate level electrodynamics course. The entire class was chalk and chalkboard for 3 hours a week. The professor began with Maxwell's equations and moved through derivations until we had two equations that described the combination of slowly varying, quickly diminishing electric and magnetic fields and the rapidly varying fields that propagate through space- light. It was one of the most enlightening moments of my life, and it took years to arrive at this point. I had taken many courses in physics and upper level math, but it culminated to this one moment in time when I actually understood light. I could do my best to use analogies to put this description of the world in terms that someone without a deep mathematical background could grasp, but I would be robbing them of the truly transcendent moment of deep comprehension.

This is a great problem in physics: it is nigh-impossible to impart the depth or appreciation of the knowledge gleaned from this discipline because of the background required to truly understand it. It must be emphasized that this is not a slight on anyone- the smartest people in the world can not tackle these issues without the proper tools.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Draft Top 100 Wrap Up

Strike one on post-a-day. In any case, let's wrap up the draft.

Here's the final verdict (large here):First thing's first: anyone know a better way to do pictures in Blogger other than the built-in Picasa interface? It seriously sucks. I can't link to a simple hi-res version, the embedding options suck, and it's a plain old pain-in-the-ass. Yeesh.

Anyway, the Lions got some good value, as I posted previously. The Buccaneers dominated the value board overall. How did they do that?

Aha! A small reach for Adrian Clayborn, but huge value for both Da'Quan Bowers and Mason Foster. Bowers is a wild card- reports of a microfracture make him a risky talent. Mason Foster was one that I was hoping the Lions could grab, but they looked towards offense (and got good value with LeShoure) in the 2nd round. I like Tampa's draft; they should have a significantly upgraded defense.

Other teams who drafted well are the Giants, Saints, and Chiefs. The Saints grabbed good value with Mark Ingram (but they had to trade up to get him) while the Giants scored big by letting Prince Amukamara fall to them late in the first round. Had the Lions grabbed Prince at 13, it would have been a reach. Fairley was a huge value and a potentially exciting player for the defense.

What about the "big losers"? Again, it all depends on how the players wind up playing, but the Eagles corned the market on big reaches for the day:

The Jets and Chargers also did their share of reaching, with Nate Irving dragging the Jets down while San Diego had no positive picks (five total). Their biggest reach was Michigan LB Mouton, who was not listed on any top-100 board.

Stay tuned! I'll be discussing the new features of the Draft Ranker software that made the analysis easier than ever and what I'll be doing for next year's draft (open source, anyone?)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Welcome to Post-A-Day May!

For the entire month of May, I will post at least once a day. Why? To try to get this blog off the ground. It will be bigger than the pet rock!

To ring in this fine May morning, I present you with a picture of the lovely Los Alamos weather:


Friday, April 29, 2011

Lions' Draft Through Day 2.

The Consensus Draft Ranker has been re-tooled to give us a quick-look way to assess a single team's draft. How did the Lions look?

Both Nick Fairley and Mikel LeShoure (1st and 2nd round picks, respectively) were good values- they were picked later in the draft then their consensus top 100 ranking. Titus Young, however, was a 13 spot reach. Overall, the Lions nabbed good value with their picks. Fairley is clear evidence for a Best-Player-Available approach (covered extensively by Net Rat) as tackle is not a position of need for the Lions.

The ranking neglects both need and trades, two key factors in the draft. How badly were these players needed by the Lions? This is certainly a hot topic amongst fans; Mike Schottey covers this extensively. What about trades? The Mikel LeShoure pick looks good above, however it doesn't take into account that the Lions had to trade back into the second round to get him. Essentially, the Lions used two picks to get LeShoure, making the value calculation difficult. Need is subjective, so I do not attempt to include it in my analysis. Trades, however, likely can be accounted for, but I am not sure how to approach this yet.

Because the consensus rankings of players are essentially the sum of many opinions, I offer this interpretation of the Lions' draft: there is no clear, desperate reach where the pick value is strongly negative. This continues to provide evidence that Mayhew's approach is one that values talent over need. It also provides context for the Titus Young pick: as high-value line backers flew off the board early in the second round, the Lions could have easily reached for a lower-valued 'backer at 44. Rather, they let a higher-ranked WR fall into their laps. Following these patterns, neither the Fairley or the Young pick surprised me in the slightest. Trading back into the 2nd, however...

Draft Ranker is Back!

Two years ago, I created my first consensus draft ranking system. This year, it's back in a completely new form! It's been completely re-written from the ground up, and is graphical!

To summarize: many different top-100 player boards are averaged to create a consensus top-100. Then, each actual draft pick is ranked by subtracting the position of the pick from the consensus ranking of the player picked. For example, if the Lions pick a player at 13 whose average position in the consensus top-100 is 5, the Lions receive a grade of +8, meaning the player they picked is an 8 slot value. Conversely, if the Patriots pick a player at 20 whose average top-100 position is 98, the Patriots would receive a grade of -78, meaning they reached 78 slots for that player.

This is what the first round looks like (click here for big):

I will detail the work that goes into building this software in the following posts as well as posts the results for the first 100 picks and team-specific results.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Whiskey Tango Friday: Killer Coffee Muppets

This is amazing. Apparently, in 1957, Jim Henson made a series of short adverts for Wilkins' Instant Coffee. Some one dug up the footage of Beta-Kermit making sure you drink Wilkins'... OR ELSE!

Watch for...
  1. Beta Kermit shooting another muppet.
  2. Beta Kermit watching another muppet drown.
  3. Beta Kermit shanking another muppet.
Oh, how I long for the days when muppet violence was considered the norm. It was a simpler time... a better time.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

No Haven for Science, Part 3

FINALLY continuing the climate change email saga. Here is my response to "Carl", the ignorant but sure climate change denier.
Hey, [Carl]. Thanks for the reply.

I think the issues you bring up -- is CO2 the greatest factor in climate change, what other factors are there, etc. -- are good questions and are issues actually being tackled in the climate community. One only needs to follow some of the conversations on [Lab Email] to see all of the factors (including CO2) that are constantly under scrutiny by the scientific community (solar input, the role of aerosols, and more). It is a complex question indeed.

I am CC'ing the climate list again because I believe that your concerns are legitimate but ultimately ones that have been addressed by the scientific community. I do not mean to ridicule whatsoever! The experts on the climate list can address your questions far better than I, and communicating the state of climate science to non-experts (such as myself, see below) is a key part of our careers.

I must admit that I'm not a climate scientist; I merely follow the email list because it interests me. That said, one need not be a specialist to see that the article you originally sent out does not pass the "smell test". The entire article leaves nearly all the work to the reader when it comes to trying to figure out if any of this is true.

A smattering of references (note that they were not placed in the article itself, but rather in the comments section -- this should be a huge red flag) does
very little to settle the matter because if one actually reads them, they are extremely inconclusive. For example, the second reference reports that the recent sporadic pole movement is somewhat expected and not necessarily indicative of a pole reversal. The Nature article (one must find this independently as no link or actual reference is given) concludes with "The evidence relating [pressure systems with magnetic field shifts] is less convincing and there is clearly a need for further comparisons of meteorological data...". This paper is from 1974. If more research was required then, why not include a paper that is more recent? Several articles are --at best -- only tangentially related to the topic.

Some claims are so far fetched that eyebrows should raise instinctively. For example, Mr. Aym says, "And what normally happens is that all hell breaks loose." Normally??? He just stated that flips occur every 500,000 years! We have no frame of reference for what is "normal"!

It requires no specialized degree to administer a smell test, just a recognition that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. This is why I sent out the picture -- I wasn't sure if you were serious or just trying to stir up some fun on the climate list. Whenever you get an article like this, sniff around to see if any of it stinks.

To get to the core of the matter, however, specialized knowledge of the physics and science behind the article is required. That is a big problem, because this article is written in such a way as to obfuscate issues so that it is difficult for a lay person to know what is real and what sounds real but is false. Though I am not a climate scientist, I am a space plasma physicist who studies the Earth's magnetosphere. There is a lot that is fundamentally wrong with this article; I'll hit some of the main issues.

First off, the major solar driver of climate and weather is light radiation. This is not affected by our magnetic field. Studies to how fluctuations in solar intensity affects climate change are performed frequently; it is important to note that we are in the midst of a historic solar activity minimum while Earth surface temperatures continue to rise (for example, see here).

The idea that the Earth's magnetic field shields us from "cancer causing radiation" is demonstrably false. It is the atmosphere that does the greatest amount of shielding. If there was no magnetic field, particles with energies equal to those captured in the radiation belts would not penetrate very deeply into our atmosphere. Currently, these particles can still penetrate near the magnetic poles, but again only to the extent that only very high altitude flights are affected. To penetrate to ground level, only super-energetic (>>GeV) particles have enough energy, and such particles are already moving quickly enough to be only slightly deflected by the Earth's magnetic field. Cancer causing radiation from the sun, as far as humans are concerned, is better known as ultraviolet radiation. This is not shielded by the Earth's magnetic field but by our atmosphere. If the Earth's magnetic field blocked UV rays, we wouldn't be having this conversation now.

Finally, the assertion that Sun's "magnetosphere" (known as the heliosphere as it is a solar, not terrestrial, body) can affect the Earth's rotation, wobble, and core to any significant degree is again incorrect. While the heliosphere transmits extensive energy to the Earth via the solar wind, this energy is dispersed through well known electric current and plasma flow systems. The energy balance is well accounted for without including any change to the Earth's rotation, etc.. Even if all of this energy was put to changing the rotation, wobble, or core, it could barely make a dent in these high-inertia systems.

This is my honest attempt to answer your original question about the veracity of the article. As for some of your follow up questions, the climate community will do a far better job than I. I hope you found this helpful and I'm happy to discuss it further.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Airport Blogging: San Antonio

I'm on the way back from a quick trip to Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas. They have an excellent instrumentation and data analysis team, so it was good to talk to them. Being a numerical modeler, it's easy to lose touch with current missions.

This is my third time traveling since the full-body scanners were put in place but the first time that I was instructed to participate. My feelings about the scanners are strongly negative: the radiation dose is poorly quantified and the potential danger ill investigated, but most of all they just don't help. Right now, as Republicans look to slash billions from the budget either on the whims of uneducated constituents or as a way to control current programs they don't agree with, the scanners remain in place. The machines are horribly expensive and couldn't have stopped the attack for which they are a response.

My mild mutiny against the machines is to opt-out every time. On an individual level, it doesn't do much, but I hope that the number of opt-outs grows to the point where it is making a clear statement. To be clear, I do not wish to make the jobs of TSA agents unnecessarily difficult. While there has been a number of reports of poor behavior of agents assigned to do the pat-downs, notably at Albuquerque, I am not trying to make a point to the agents as a whole.

My opt-out to pat-down was quick and uneventful, which was a pleasant relief. There have been many stories of people facing unreasonable delays due to opting out, but this was not the case at ABQ or SAT. The agents were quick, thorough, but quite professional and respectful. The patting down was not (ahem) overly-thorough. Rather anti-climatic, but this is how it should be.

I'll be back in Los Alamos tonight; I'll post more interesting stuff upon my return.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Good Internet Monday: Los Alamos County Views

Last Friday, I did something that I haven't done in quite some time: got involved politically. I spoke briefly, as did many Los Alamos residents, at a regional transit authority meeting.

Los Alamos has an excellent, free, bus system to take you all over town. It has allowed my family to live single-vehicle for most of our 2+ years here. The way in which funds are divided up among regional transit systems is likely to change, however, reducing the funding that Los Alamos receives -- despite the fact that Los Alamos is, tax wise, the 2nd largest contributor to the regional pot of money. This has caused some residents, including myself, to speak up at meetings.

One of the ways in which the knowledge of the meeting and the decision was spread was through the Los Alamos County Views blog. Good internet at its finest, this is one man dumping loads of local info to the web at a constant frequency. Quite impressive. Such small, but potent, blogs are becoming key ways to stay informed. They certainly deserve recognition.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Where's Space?

Where have I been? Obviously some place that allows me to neglect this blog!

Actually, it's just been a very, VERY hectic time.
-I am learning why a linear extrapolation is not appropriate for quantifying the difficulty of having two kids versus just one.
-I am trying to wrap up three research projects while starting a new one and continuing two others.
-I am in the midst of a travel blitzkrieg, including 2.5 hours worth of presentations to be given this Thursday at SWRI.
-It's proposal season! I'm involved in three, leading the writing on one, and have more coming up soon.

But most of all, it's about the future. My appointment here at the lab ends in less than a year. This means that I have big decisions to make, the sooner the better. If I decide to go back to academia, I need to publish and fast. If I decide to try to obtain a full-time position at the lab, I need to do lab-oriented research. The situation is as tenuous as it gets, with lab funding caught up in the recent Red-versus-Blue budget showdown on capital hill. With science funding from NASA, NSF, and others in the same position, universities may be loathe to hire researchers for fear of available research grants to keep them. All this contributes to long talks at home and less sleep that I care to admit. I, however, do not have it worst- many of my colleagues are in tougher positions due to their citizenship. I do not envy their position whatsoever.

Given my laundry list of responsibilities, where does this blog fall? The lack of posts clearly answers this question, but not how I want it answered. I want this to become a good science blog with a reasonable number of followers, and the only way to do this is by posting, and frequently. Therefore, I lay down two challenges to myself:
1) Drastically increase the frequency of posts throughout the month of April. This should be easy, considering the upcoming NFL draft (which I never miss!)
2) May will be Post-A-Day-May (PADM). I will post every day throughout May.

These two challenges should get the blog back on track.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Good Internet Monday: Put It to the Test

l bought TMBG's "Here Comes Science!" album for my (at the time) 2-year old daughter only to find that there are a number of songs that should be required listening for adults. Case in point: a song that reminds us that we do not need to rely on intuition, gut reaction, or that most loathsome phrase, "common sense", in order to evaluate things. Science gives us a framework to test ideas in a detailed, conclusive fashion.

If more people tested the beliefs they hold concerning science, religion, and politics, I would have a lot less material for this blog.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Whiskey Tango Friday - Orbs That Are Totally Not Dust Particles Reflecting Light From Your Camera Flash

Whoa, where did Friday go? Oh yeah, it went snowboarding. That's why there was no on-time WTF post (which is too bad, because I have a good one!)

I received this from my grad school advisor; he found it by googling "magnetosphere images".

What are these energy orbs? Well, a less informed person would say, "looks like you need to clean the lens and hold the camera still when you're taking pictures." HA! Wrong! They're actually energy... things... that do... stuff. Yeah. Just look at the picture:

Look, I read the site ten times, and I don't know what the author thinks these things are supposed to be. Seriously, what do these words mean?

Space is a fluid ..Hence a field of plasma..Hence a 'plasma field'. . Its motion or state of being is 'Guided by Matter'
. Thus an orb or space craft or other type of matter going through it would affect its field. Think of a boat propelling
itself through water - the faster and larger the boat - the more distortion of the water it is going through .

Yeah, I don't know either.

No Haven for Science, Part 2

When I receive an email like the one I shared in my previous post, I can't help but reply to it in some capacity. The difficulty with this particular message is that I don't know what the person who shared the doomsday story (from here on out, I'll refer to him as "Carl") is looking for -- is he just whipping up trouble on LANL's climate mailing list, or does he want a serious answer? After contemplating possible intents, I realized there was only one way to respond!
And yes, that was a "reply-all".

The next day, I received his response to my rather brash inquiry. Here it is in all its verbatim, sic glory:

I don't know [Spacecataz] it sounds as reasonable a cause for the storm changes as saying "CO2 did it." What if it is a mixture of both. Changes in magnetic flux causing increases and decreases in solar energy. Could it be the reason for the model and reality differences. What if the the global warming science and NASA sciences are stuck in own little boxes and neither can look at the forest.

Just saying! I am a cause and affect Engineer and maybe we are just experiencing something that happens. Just think what the knee jerk reaction would be of our government, and our science today if we around during the dust bowl years of the 30's. We would still be riding horses, no power plants would be built, no industry. This is what I'm seeing happening. Something less happens today and we (well China does anyway) build wind turbines and solar collectors, and ridicules light bulbs to fix it. Like riding horses neither of these industries will do anything to help and history will show that we were enlightened fools.

I will let get back to work. I've got to continue making sure there is a [job related stuff about vacuum chambers]. Just with that little bit of energy we move oceans of air. It is amazing why the earth atmosphere is just not in a huge storm.

TL:DR -- Yes, he is quite serious.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

No Haven for Science, Part 1

Working at a renowned science laboratory, one would hope that there would be a heightened understanding and respect for the scientific process and the great insights gleaned from those who toil in scientific inquiry on a daily basis.

Oh, how naive I am.

The following email was sent to the climate mailing list within the Lab - note that all personal and otherwise sensitive information has been scrubbed. The upcoming posts will chronicle my ongoing experience in dealing with... well, just read the thing.

What If??? Is there any truth in this?

[Begin Forwarded Message]

Magnetic Polar Shifts Causing Massive Global Superstorms

Terrence Aym

Superstorms can also cause certain societies, cultures or whole countries to collapse. Others may go to war with each other.

Courtesy: Weather Snob

(CHICAGO) - NASA has been warning about it…scientific papers have been written about it…geologists have seen its traces in rock strata and ice core samples…

Now "it" is here: an unstoppable magnetic pole shift that has sped up and is causing life-threatening havoc with the world's weather.

Forget about global warming man-made or natural what drives planetary weather patterns is the climate and what drives the climate is the sun's magnetosphere and its electromagnetic interaction with a planet's own magnetic field.

When the field shifts, when it fluctuates, when it goes into flux and begins to become unstable anything can happen. And what normally happens is that all hell breaks loose.

Magnetic polar shifts have occurred many times in Earth's history. It's happening again now to every planet in the solar system including Earth.

The magnetic field drives weather to a significant degree and when that field starts migrating superstorms start erupting.

The superstorms have arrived

The first evidence we have that the dangerous superstorm cycle has started is the devastating series of storms that pounded the UK during late 2010.

On the heels of the lashing the British Isles sustained, monster storms began to lash North America. The latest superstorm as of this writing is a monster over the U.S. that stretched across 2,000 miles affecting more than 150 million people.

Yet even as that storm wreaked havoc across the Western, Southern, Midwestern and Northeastern states, another superstorm broke out in the Pacific and closed in on Australia.

The southern continent had already dealt with the disaster of historic superstorm flooding from rains that dropped as much as several feet in a matter of hours. Tens of thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed. After the deluge tiger sharks were spotted swimming between houses in what was once a quiet suburban neighborhood.

Shocked authorities now numbly concede that much of the water may never dissipate and have wearily resigned themselves to the possibility that region will now contain a new inland sea.

But then only a handful of weeks later another superstorm the megamonster cyclone Yasi struck northeastern Australia. The damage it left in its wake is being called by rescue workers a war zone.

The incredible superstorm packed winds near 190mph. Although labeled as a category-5 cyclone, it was theoretically a category-6. The reason for that is storms with winds of 155mph are considered category-5, yet Yasi was almost 22 percent stronger than that.

A cat's cradle

Yet Yasi may only be a foretaste of future superstorms. Some climate researchers, monitoring the rapidly shifting magnetic field, are predicting superstorms in the future with winds as high as 300 to 400mph.

Such storms would totally destroy anything they came into contact with on land.

The possibility more storms like Yasi or worse will wreak havoc on our civilization and resources is found in the complicated electromagnetic relationship between the sun and Earth. The synergistic tug-of-war has been compared by some to an intricately constructed cat's cradle. And it's in a constant state of flux.

The sun's dynamic, ever-changing electric magnetosphere interfaces with the Earth's own magnetic field affecting, to a degree, the Earth's rotation, precessional wobble, dynamics of the planet's core, its ocean currents and above all else the weather.

Cracks in Earth's Magnetic Shield

The Earth's northern magnetic pole was moving towards Russia at a rate of about five miles annually. That progression to the East had been happening for decades.

Suddenly, in the past decade the rate sped up. Now the magnetic pole is shifting East at a rate of 40 miles annually, an increase of 800 percent. And it continues to accelerate.

Recently, as the magnetic field fluctuates, NASA has discovered "cracks" in it. This is worrisome as it significantly affects the ionosphere, troposphere wind patterns, and atmospheric moisture. All three things have an effect on the weather.

Worse, what shields the planet from cancer-causing radiation is the magnetic field. It acts as a shield deflecting harmful ultra-violet, X-rays and other life-threatening radiation from bathing the surface of the Earth. With the field weakening and cracks emerging, the death rate from cancer could skyrocket and mutations of DNA can become rampant.

Another federal agency, NOAA, issued a report caused a flurry of panic when they predicted that mammoth superstorms in the future could wipe out most of California. The NOAA scientists said it's a plausible scenario and would be driven by an "atmospheric river" moving water at the same rate as 50 Mississippi rivers flowing into the Gulf of Mexico.

Magnetic field may dip, flip and disappear

The Economist wrote a detailed article about the magnetic field and what's happening to it. In the article they noted:

"There is, however, a growing body of evidence that the Earth's magnetic field is about to disappear, at least for a while. The geological record shows that it flips from time to time, with the south pole becoming the north, and vice versa. On average, such reversals take place every 500,000 years, but there is no discernible pattern. Flips have happened as close together as 50,000 years, though the last one was 780,000 years ago. But, as discussed at the Greenland Space Science Symposium, held in Kangerlussuaq this week, the signs are that another flip is coming soon."

Discussing the magnetic polar shift and the impact on weather, the scholarly paper "Weather and the Earth's magnetic field" was published in the journal Nature. Scientists too are very concerned about the increasing danger of superstorms and the impact on humanity.

Superstorms will not only damage agriculture across the planet leading to famines and mass starvation, they will also change coastlines, destroy cities and create tens of millions of homeless.

Superstorms can also cause certain societies, cultures or whole countries to collapse. Others may go to war with each other.

A Danish study published in the scientific journal Geology, found strong correlation between climate change, weather patterns and the magnetic field.

"The earth's climate has been significantly affected by the planet's magnetic field, according to a Danish study published Monday that could challenge the notion that human emissions are responsible for global warming.

"'Our results show a strong correlation between the strength of the earth's magnetic field and the amount of precipitation in the tropics,' one of the two Danish geophysicists behind the study, Mads Faurschou Knudsen of the geology department at Aarhus University in western Denmark, told the Videnskab journal.

"He and his colleague Peter Riisager, of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), compared a reconstruction of the prehistoric magnetic field 5,000 years ago based on data drawn from stalagmites and stalactites found in China and Oman."

In the scientific paper " Midday magnetopause shifts earthward of geosynchronous orbit during geomagnetic superstorms with Dst = -300 nT" the magnetic intensity of solar storms impacting Earth can intensify the effects of the polar shift and also speed up the frequency of the emerging superstorms.

Pole reversal may also be initiating new Ice Age

According to some geologists and scientists, we have left the last interglacial period behind us. Those periods are lengths of time about 11,500 years between major Ice Ages.

One of the most stunning signs of the approaching Ice Age is what's happened to the world's precessional wobble.

The Earth's wobble has stopped

As explained in the geology and space science website, "The Chandler wobble was first discovered back in 1891 by Seth Carlo Chandler an American astronomer.

The effect causes the Earth's poles to move in an irregular circle of 3 to 15 meters in diameter in an oscillation. The Earth's Wobble has a 7-year cycle which produces two extremes, a small spiraling wobble circle and a large spiraling wobble circle, about 3.5 years apart.

For the conclusion of this article, visit:

Also, as a response to comments, Terrence added this:
2002 - Scientists may have detected the beginning of the field's next such reversal:
[ ]
2005 - Movement of North Magnetic Pole is accelerating:
2008 - Earth's Core, Magnetic Field Changing Fast, Study Says
[ ]
2008 - Magnetic Portals Connect Earth to Sun
[ ]
2009 - North Magnetic Pole Moving Due to Core Flux
[ ]
2009 - The earth's climate is significantly affected by the planet's magnetic field:
[ ]
Jan 2011 - British Geological Survey *Possible Pole Shift Occurring* South Atlantic Anomaly is Growing:
2009 - A strong, highly-tilted interstellar magnetic field near the Solar System:
[ ]
2009 - The solar system is passing through an interstellar cloud that physics says should not exist:
[ ]

Find this interesting? Here is the link to Terrence Aym's brand new article published 4 Feb. 2011: Egypt 2011: Preview of America in 2015 - Terrence Aym

Terrence Aym is a Contributor based in Chicago, who is well known nationally for his stirring reports on the top ranked site, Born in Minnesota, Terrence Aym grew up in the Chicagoland suburbs. Having traveled to 40 of the 50 states and lived in 7 of them, Aym is no stranger to travel. He's also spent time in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Western Africa. An executive for many years with Wall Street broker-dealer firms, Aym has also had a life-long interest in science, technology, the arts, philosophy and history. If it's still possible to be a 'Renaissance man' in the 21st Century, Aym is working hard to be one.

Aym has several book projects in the works. Media sites that have recently featured Aym, and/or discussed his articles, include ABC News, TIME Magazine, Business Insider,, Discover, Dvice, Benzinga and more recently, his work has been showing up in South Africa and Russia.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Your Move, Creep.

Anyone who knew Detroit when Robocop first hit the silver screen understood how the movie hit a little too close to home for Michiganders. For years, I've referred to the flick as frighteningly prophetic, and was only half-joking. As a satire that glances oh-so-close to the truth, they nailed it -- right down to the 6000 SUX commercial.

Apparently, some people have grown either too sentimental about Detroit's fictional hero or are awesome IRL trolls. The mayor of Detroit has had to quash a proposal to erect a statue of our half-human, half-machine benefactor. Since starting to type this post, I've been invited to rallies and Facebook groups in support of the effort.

Truly, today is a great day for freedom.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

SamKnows Better Than I Do.

Some time ago, I volunteered to be part of the SamKnows project- an FCC sponsored study of actual versus advertised broadband speeds. I did this for several reasons. First, studies such as this are essential if we are to address the poor state of broadband availability, speed, and cost in the United States. Secondly, it is a powerful tool for the consumer to have a constant quality monitor of a product that you otherwise cannot track.

Last week, the "white box" (it's black) came in the mail. It's a replacement router that sends information about my connection to the SamKnows project. In return, I have a personalized website that tracks upstream and downstream bandwidth, latency, and more. I can finally see if I'm getting what I pay for from Kabletown Comcast.

After seeing the first week's worth numbers, I must admit- I'm definitely getting what I pay for, which is 1.5 Mbs download speeds (I'm poor, don't judge my choice of economy internet!!!) For now, I must contain the rage.

You win this round, Comcast. But I'll be back...

I recommend my 3 readers to jump on the SamKnows project. It's free, they don't track any traffic content, and it is, if nothing else, extremely interesting to see your internet connection broken down into hard numbers and plots.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Good Internet Monday: The Consumerist Validates Me!

In my previous post, I tried to make the case that the availability of lower-quality, less healthy food made it easier for me to pork out while in MI. And seriously, who can resist the siren call of Timbits?

The Consumerist, one of my favorite websites, provides hard evidence to my anecdotes: cheaper, crappier food from Walmart makes it easier for people to be fatties. Who would've guessed?

Additionally, they provide news on a break-through solution for this issue. Thank you, internets.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


One part of living in Los Alamos is getting used to the altitude- approximately 7500 feet above sea level (suck it, Denver.) Santa Fe, the nearest well-known and well-populated city, is at a similar elevation. This is a huge change for someone who was raised in the midwest near sea level -- at least for the first few weeks or so.

Another aspect is isolation. The community is close-knit because it has to be. There are few restaurants unless you want to drive for a half-hour or more each way, and the ones that are in town close early. The end result of this is frequent get-togethers with friends, co-workers, and home-cooked meals. The diversity of the community means that we're not talking burgers and sausage. Authentic ethnic food is commonplace as well as excellent vegetarian dishes (I'm not a vegetarian, but some of these dishes are awesome!) The situation contrasts strongly with a typical urban setting: rather than an easily accessible array of fast, chain, or high end restaurants (e.g. Burger King, Olive Garden, and some local flavor, respectively), you typically eat high-quality, home cooked meals. It's a situation that puts the community in a better position to eat healthier, higher-quality food.

The isolation also takes away sources of entertainment that one grows quite accustomed to while in an urban setting. Movies? Clubs? Expansive shopping complexes? Nope. The region makes it much more convenient to do outdoor activities such as hiking(!), snowboarding(!!!!!), backpacking, etc. Again, the surroundings are a catalyst for a healthier lifestyle. The lab does its part, too, providing free access to their gym for all employees. It's not a fantastic gym, but for the price, it does everything I want it to do.

Part of my grand-blogging-absence (GBA) included an unexpected 3.5 week trip back to Michigan. This was originally a work trip, as I collaborate with the locals. A sudden death in the family pushed the start of the trip forward considerably, and de-acclimation was on in full force. My exercise schedule at altitude was replaced by... driving around a lot at sea level. My regimen of home cooked meals was quashed by my excitement to be in Ann Arbor, where everything from Indian buffets to Tim Horton's was readily available again. The greatest physical labor I experienced was chasing my oldest around the room. I missed the only significant snow that northern New Mexico received, and haven't been able to snowboard at all.
The end result: I gained 15 pounds. Shit.

To be fair, all of this was completely avoidable. Of course, one can find healthy food (and avoid the Never-Ending Pasta Bowl!), exercise, etc. any where they go. It's just that these things are far easier to find in some places as opposed to others.

Last week, I began the process of re-acclimation. I stopped driving to work and started taking the bus. Because the city bus drops people off at the lab's front gate, there is still a short walk to my office. This, of course, left me gasping for air by the time I began checking emails. Mid-week, I kicked it up a notch by biking to work. It's only three miles, but I couldn't make it without stopping for a rest. Today, I made it farther on my bike, but still had to stop and catch some air. I didn't think that the altitude change would get to me, but it is definitely taking a toll- as are my newly acquired saddle bags (not the ones on my bike.)

The ski hill is closed due to lack of snow. I may break out the snow shoes this coming weekend and challenge myself to get to the top. If the coming snow storm delivers as promised, I may even wax the board. It's clear that I have a long way to go, however, before I'm completely back to pre-GBA shape.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Whiskey Tango Friday: This is real and I have seen it in person.

I know that this has made the rounds on the intarwebs before, but I must bring it up again because...



Okay, not the real thing, but a reprint. A family member gave it to another family member of political standing so that it could be proudly displayed in a government office. The receiving party correctly said that the church-state separation issues raised by such a display would be too much. As for myself, there is just so much wrong with this picture that looking at it for any extended period of time breaks my brain.

Also, I'm back.