Saturday, October 13, 2007

Landmark Scavenger Hunt!

So it'll be a while before we travel the world. But, hey, why bother messing with Airports and Passports? You can see the Wonders of the World from the comfort of your own home! All you need is Google Maps!

I've been trying to track down some of the world's more interesting landmarks with Google Maps. This is what I have so far:

1. The Eiffel Tower
2. Teotihuacan
3. Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii
4. Washington, DC: The White House and the Washington Monument
5. Niagara Falls
6. The Statue of Liberty
7. The Great Pyramids in Egypt
8. The Kremlin in Russia

Go ahead and navigate around like in regular Google Maps:

- The arrows in the upper left corner of the map will let you move around on the map (or you can "click-and-drag", which I think is easier).
- the + and - buttons (by the arrows) will zoom in and out.

Click on the blue markers to see what's there. If you want a bird's-eye-view of the landmark, make sure you're on "satellite" or "hybrid" view, and zoom in as far as you can.

View Larger Map

I'm still looking for the Great Wall of China and that GIANT crater in Arizona (Oh! and Crater Lake! That should be pretty easy.)

Any other cool landmarks you can think of? Leave 'em here in the comments section and I'll try to track them down while watching "The Office" or "The Unit".

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Where do you go?

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach...

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,

to life so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life

to cut a broad swath and shave close

to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms

...and not, when I came to die, discover than I had not lived.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

A New Hope?

These guys get an automatic 100% on their sci-fi, science, and dork scores!

More menacing than a fleet of Imperial Star Destroyers, it's Earth's Gravity Field effectively neutralizing the fledgling Rebel opposition. A New Hope ... dashed to pieces.

(Thanks to Benji for this great link:

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Global Confusion Science

So this post has been a while in the making. It’s been really interesting to see the “global warming” debate play out, not only in the scientific literature, but in the NEWS. For a guy who hasn’t really made up his mind on this, I have been surprised to see what is fundamentally a scientific debate turned into a public relations campaign on both sides of the issue. After reading Brian Anderson’s thoughts on the subject, I felt like it was time to get this one out there.

There are two basic questions at the heart of all the “global warming” hype. First: is the temperature of the Earth increasing? Second: if the Earth is warming, what is causing it? The answer to the first question is “yes”. Since diligent temperature record-keeping began in the mid 1800’s, there has been an upward trend in Earth’s temperature. I don’t know what the answer to the second question is, and I think the people who do know need to do a better job of communicating that to the public. The people who don’t know (or think they know) need to shut their cakeholes.

Now that I’m up on my soapbox, let me just summarize my thoughts on the subject: Whether or not human activities are causing global warming is a hard question to answer. The people who know the most about climate admit it. A lot of people think they have it all figured out, or think they really could figure it out if. Only. They. Had. More. Research. Funding! (Sniff, sniff! Call the wah!mbulance!). But my personal opinion is that this is in fact an open question, despite what Al Gore, Rush Limbaugh, Senator Inhofe, or RealClimateScientists say.

Here’s the thing: if man-made climate change is still an open question, there are two “worst-case-scenario” questions everybody (everybody who has an opinion anyway) needs to ask:

1. What if global warming has NOTHING to do with human activities, but we try to do something anyway? I guess that depends on what we try to do. If we’re going to penalize companies for non-compliance to arbitrary regulations, we run the risk of hurting US, and as a result, world economies. That’s a bad thing. On the other hand, if we’re talking about throwing money into research and development, I think developing new energy-efficient or energy-production technologies is definitely a good thing, even if “experts” are wrong about global warming.

2. On the other hand, what if global warming has EVERYTHING to do with human activities, but we don’t do anything? That’s a tougher one, in my opinion. If we don’t start doing things now, we will be in a world of hurt later. Sure, climate changes. But if WE’RE causing it, every living thing will be affected and we are bad citizens. Worse than that, if there’s something we could have done and didn’t, then by the time we convince Senator Inhofe, we’ll REALLY have our work cut out for us.

Either way, it seems that the prudent thing to do is hedge our bets, and focus on developing energy-efficient and energy-producing technologies. There are at least 3 other good reasons for doing this: 1) We will stay on top of R&D and innovation in the world, 2) With innovation come more jobs and better standard of living, and 3) New technologies can help get us off dependence on foreign oil. All of these are in my mind more immediate, tangible reasons for Energy R&D than averting *possible* climate change.

There I said it.