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japan rocks and rolls to earthquakes and typhoons

An easily undestandable report from Japan.

“this saturday niigata prefecture [...] were often not much weaker than the original three quakes? were still continuing this morning. the main three shocks were felt in far off tokyo and measured around 6.9 on the richter scale (kobe was about 7.2). however, almost nobody in japan has even heard of richter. they use their own home grown system called "shindo", which in many ways is far more useful to the average bod.”

The report includes explanations, a map, and links.

the web address for the article above is




kryptonite - well, positronium actually

“The real excitement, though, is this: If electrons or protons collide with their antimatter counterparts, they annihilate each other. In so doing, they unleash more energy than any other known energy source, even thermonuclear bombs.

“The energy from colliding positrons and antielectrons "is 10 billion times [...] that of high explosive," Edwards explained in his March speech. Moreover, 1 gram of antimatter, about 1/25th of an ounce, would equal "23 space shuttle fuel tanks of energy." Thus "positron energy conversion," as he called it, would be a "revolutionary energy source" of interest to those who wage war." ”

“A new generation of military explosives is worth developing, and antimatter might fill the bill, Lynn told The Chronicle: "If we spend another $10 billion (using ordinary chemical techniques), we're going to get better high explosives, but the gains are incremental because we're getting near the theoretical limits of chemical energy."

“Besides, Lynn is enthusiastic about antimatter because he believes it could propel futuristic space rockets.”

There is much more detail in this copiously illustrated lecture. [PDF document.]

the web address for the article above is

robot report [pdf]

  • “Is recovery around the corner? Robot orders in first half of 2003 were up by 26% to the highest level ever recorded
  • Worldwide growth in the period 2003-2006 forecast at an average annual rate of 7.4%
  • Household robots are starting to take off
  • UNECE issues its 2003 World Robotics survey”

    “And not hire people? In Germany, for instance, the prices of robots relative to labour costs have fallen from 100 in 1990 to 34 in 2002 and to 17 when taking into account the radically improved performance of robots.
    In North America, the relative price dropped to 24 and to about 12 if quality improvements are taken into consideration. "Falling or stable
    robot prices, increasing labour costs and continuously improved technology are major driving forces which speak for continued massive robot investment in industry", concludes Jan Karlsson.
    Even in developing countries like Brazil, Mexico and China, robot investments are starting to take off at an impressive rate.”

Much information, with tables and charts.

the web address for the article above is

starcatcher—why it crashed

“The Genesis space capsule that crashed into the Utah desert last month failed because four pencil stub-size gravity switches designed to trigger the release of the spacecraft's parachutes were installed backward, NASA officials said [...]”

“ When Genesis decelerated entering Earth's atmosphere, a plunger inside the switch was supposed to compress with the rising G-forces, closing a circuit, Ryschkewitsch explained. As the craft descended further and slowed, the pressure would relax, breaking the circuit and activating a trigger to deploy the drogue parachute.

“Because the design drawings called for the switches to be installed backward, Ryschkewitsch said, neither the primary set nor the backups could do their jobs. Ryschkewitsch said the switches are so small that investigators needed to X-ray the part to verify they were improperly installed.”

Murphy’s Law: “If there are two or more ways to do something and one of those results in a catastrophe, then someone will do it that way.”
Not to be confused with Finagle’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

related material
sundust catcher returns wednesday, live mid-air stunts included
sundust catcher — update, not wonderful
sundust catcher—update 2, there is hope

the web address for the article above is

powering spaceship one - the x-prize winner

Very impressively, on, relatively, a shoe-string budget, SpaceShipOne has won the Ansari X-Prize for being the first within a window of two weeks to successfully make two flights to 100 kilometres attititude, carrying a three-person payload.

The X-Prize web-cast is still available at [Windows Media, unfortunately]. Note how nothing approaching this web-cast has been shown on the fossil media, except in the shortest and most superficial segments.

The web-cast gives a lot of easy-to-understand information on the technical details about the ship and the flight.

spacer at

One of the many significant differences between this flight and those of the leviathan NASA shuttles is the composition of the propellant used:

“All rocket motors have some form of "fuel" and an "oxidizer". In solid rocket motors the oxidizer is embedded into the fuel (like an Estes rocket motor) and when lighted will burn until depleted. In liquid rockets the oxidizer is usually liquid oxygen and the fuel another liquid like hydrogen or kerosene. In our hybrid motor we use Nitrous Oxide (N2O or laughing gas) as an oxidizer and hydroxy-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB or rubber) as the fuel. Both of these can be safely stored without special precautions and will not react when put together. Finally N2O has the nice quality of self-pressurizing when at room temperature so that the space ship doesn't need complicated turbo pumps or plumbing to move the oxidizer into the combustion chamber.”

For take-off, Space Shuttles use solid fuel composed of:

  • fuel - atomized aluminum (16 percent)
  • oxidizers - ammonium perchlorate (70 percent)
  • catalyst - iron oxide powder (0.2 percent)
  • binder - polybutadiene acrylic acid acrylonite (12 percent)
  • curing agent - epoxy resin (2 percent)

the web address for the article above is

world’s second largest known mushroom

honey fungus or armillaria ostoyae

“Swiss scientists have discovered what they think may be the biggest mushroom in Europe, a monster fungus the length of eight football pitches and mostly lurking underground.

“The mushroom, [an "Armillaria ostoyae" or honey mushroom] which covers a whopping 35 hectares (86 acres) area in a Swiss national park near the eastern town of Ofenpass is thought to be more than 1000 years old, forestry experts say.”

“One reason why the fungus may have survived for so long undetected and untroubled is that it is only edible when young, and even then is not a favourite with lovers of mushrooms.”

and the world's biggest fungus?
Another armillaria ostoyae, it was found in the Malheur National Forest in eastern Oregon, USA.

“Officially known as Armillaria ostoyae, or the honey mushroom, the fungus is 3.5 miles across and takes up 1,665 football fields. The small mushrooms visible above ground are only the tip of the iceberg.

“Experts estimate that the giant mushroom is at least 2,400 years old, but could be 7,200 years old.”

“The honey mushroom uses tentacles, called rhizomorphs, to take water and nutrients from roots, killing trees.

“The process benefits the ecosystem by creating clearings where new plants grow. Animals, such as woodpeckers, live in the dead tree trunks. Mushrooms also recycle nutrients.”

the web address for the article above is

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