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December 4,2012- RainyDayGiftGuide:Science...

Finding a gift for a science geek can be difficult. Not many NSGs (Non-Science Geeks) know what the science-minded really want. As with previous years, the RainyDayScience folks are here to help! Just remember that science geeks have inquiring minds. They want to explore and discover. Tools, books, and activities which assist in the quest for knowledge will always be appreciated.

Two popular frontiers with lots of potentials for exploration and discoveries are outer and inner space. While a telescope is the obvious choice for exploring outer space, something like the Vixen Polarie StarTracker (FirstLook, Setup, accessories) can offer an even more rewarding evening under the stars. This pocket-size device will give the owner the ability to... [more] -RainyDayGiftGuide: Science


November 19,2012- 100 digits of Pi...

Using some of the techniques in The Memory Bible and Mind Hacks, we started on our goal to memorize the first 50 digits of Pi. We tried a few different techniques, but the one which worked the best for us was the "Memory Palace (MP)." In fact, the technique worked so well that we ended up memorizing the first 100 digits of Pi in no time.

The invention of this memory technique has been attributed to the Greeks and Romans and is pretty easy to learn. It is based on linking chunks of images together into a kind of nonsensical story. Like the name of the technique suggests, you... [more] -First 100 Digits


November 16,2012- Super memory...

The world record for memorizing the greatest number of digits of Pi belongs to Chao Lu of China, who memorized 67,890 digits. He set this record on November 20, 2005. He actually memorized about 100,000 digits, but made a mistake on digit #67891...bummer. While this feat is certainly extraordinary, the amazing fact is that this "extreme" memorization ability is within the capabilities of the average person! How? By using methods and techniques which have been known for centuries. The skill is so simple that even a two-year old can do it.

We have all heard that the reason why telephone numbers are seven digits is because that is what the average person can easily remember. However, that is true only for short-term memory. What most people can store in long-term memory is almost LIMITLESS. The trick to remembering a long sequence of numbers is to... [more] -Super Memory


November 15,2012- Spaced-repetition learning...

Every once in a while, we read something that sticks with us. In 2008, we came upon an article by Gary Wolf in Wired magazine which did exactly that. It was coincidental that the subject of the article was on remembering things. The piece, about a Polish scientist named Piotr Wozniak, piqued our curiosity because of our interest in "brain hacks."

The brain is obviously highly programmable. The "flaw" is it doesn't come with an instruction manual. We know it works, but most of us do not really how or why. Over the last few thousand years, those interested (monks, magicians, scientists, etc.) have gained some insight into... [more] -Spaced-Repetition Learning


November 14,2012- Speed Reading...

Is it really possible to read 3,000 to 5,000 words-a-minute? This question had been at the back of our minds for some time. Four years ago we came across a book by Stanley Frank called Remember Everything You Read: The Evelyn Wood 7-Day Speed Reading and Learning Program. We had heard of the Evelyn Wood program, but knew nothing of its techniques. Intrigued, we decided that the $3.00 investment for this used book seem like a small amount to risk to find out more.

We purchased the book, did a quick read, and then shelved it in the RainyDay library. Fortunately the book was recently rediscovered and this time we read it in its entirety. We not only read it from cover to cover, we also did the exercises and practiced the techniques as recommended.

Almost everyone reads by sounding out the words and going from left to right. This is referred to as "subvocal linear" reading. There is a physical limit to this reading technique and it tops out at... [more] -Speed Reading


October 29,2012- Frankenstorm Sandy...

Last year at this time we got smacked with a snow storm that brought many New England communities to a standstill. This October, instead of snow, we will wrap up the month with a hurricane. Not just any hurricane, but a "Frankenstorm." This giant storm has already wreaked havoc in Cuba and the Bahamas. As it heads north, coastal flooding, flooding rainfall, high winds, downed trees, power outages, and snowfall are all possible. Weather-geeks on the East Coast are all a-twitter over this one!

Why is this storm such a monster? Hurricane Sandy was coined a "Frankenstorm" because of a rare confluence of factors: an existing storm to the east of it is causing Sandy to take the unusual path of turning westward into the coast instead of moving out to sea; the existing storm is making Sandy's movement slower than usual; Sandy is coinciding with very high tides; there is a cold front coming down on Sandy's northwest. So even if the force of Sandy's wind is only at the CAT 1 level, the duration will be much longer than... [more] -Frankenstorm Sandy


October 17,2012- MyndPlay Install...

Mention "brainwave detection" and people think of its tantalizing potentials: controlling things with our thoughts; mind-reading; and of course, mind-control. Tantalizing, but the reality is a still quite a bit different. The electromagnetic brain waves we can detect with an external sensor are a very low resolution version of what is going on inside the head.

NeuroSky MindWave Mobile is one of those emerging technologies searching for its place in the world. At this point, EEG sensors such as the MindWave can only give us a very rough feel of what is going on in our noggins. It is not yet able to distinguish anything specific. A simplistic analogy would be like listening to music through a thick wall and hearing the thumping of the... [more] -MyndPlay Software Install


October 16,2012- Meade ETX-90EC Autostar...

Buying a telescope is tricky. It is tempting to start off with an inexpensive telescope (say, a $50 one) to see if astronomy is a pursuit worth pursuing, but that is exactly the problem. A cheap telescope will do nothing but turn you off because they are not much good for star gazing. The photos on the side of the packaging of the planets, stars and galaxies are most certainly NOT what one would be likely to see with a low-priced scope. This is why we always steer readers away from most low-priced telescopes as they are typically not worth the money.

If you want a good telescope you can buy one retail, or you can do what the RainyDayScience team has been doing for that past few years and keep an eye out for high-end units on Astromart, EBay, or Craigslist. Astromart is the best source for hard-to-find quality astro items. The buyers and sellers are quite knowledgeable and the rating system is very trustworthy. EBay is great for accessories such as filters, eye pieces, and other more common items. For those interested in acquiring a telescope, Craigslist is the way to go. You get to see the equipment, check things out, and avoid having to... [more] -Meade ETX-90EC FirstLook


October 5,2012- Mammoths and Mastodons...

The Museum Of Science's new exhibit, Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age, opens on Sunday October 7th. The RainyDayScience folks had a chance to preview the exhibit on Wednesday and came away impressed.

The Pleistocene Epoch spanned from 2,588,000 to about 10,000 years ago, which also marked the end of the last Ice Age. Discoveries made by British, American, and Soviet scientists and explorers have indicated that the last of an isolated population may have been living on Wrangel Island until as recent as 2500 BC.

Mammoths and mastodons were giant creatures of the Ice Age. These beasts weighed as much as 8 tons and had tusks reaching out 16-feet. As amazing as it was that these huge animals existed, it was even more amazing that they eventually became extinct. What is cool is they have... [more] - MOS: Mammoths and Mastodons


October 4,2012- NeuroSky MindWave Mobile...

We looked at a product called the MindWave a year ago. The device was a low-cost way to get a glimpse of the electrical activities of the brain. NeuroSky managed to take decades of laboratory brainwave technology and squeeze it into a headset that anyone can use, and for under $100! A year later, they have improved it by eliminating the need for the proprietary USB dongle.

The newest headset, the NeuroSky MindWave Mobile, is now Bluetooth enabled. This means that any device (iPhone, iPad, etc) that supports the Bluetooth communication protocol can potentially work with the MindWave. This is absolutely the right decision by NeuroSky. It gives the users more flexibility: no need to decide whether to buy the Mac, PC, iOS, or Android version. It may also... [more] - NeuroSky MindWave Mobile FirstLook


October 3,2012- Iris Seed Pods...

Most of the plants in the RainyDayGarden are perennials. When a plant gets too big for its location, the interns will split it. They will either trade it for something we don't have or create a new spot for it in the garden. Of course, splitting a plant is not the only way to propagate perennials. Many of the perennials in the RainyDayGarden also generate a lot of seeds. Most of the time, we just let the birds have at them. Every once in a while, though, we collect some just to hone our seed-propagating skills. This is what we did this year with the iris pods.

We had hundreds of iris blooms this year in the RainyDayGarden. It was a little surprising because we had split them last June and didn't think they would be that vigorous this season. In August, we noticed that we had a... [more] - Iris Seed Pods


October 1,2012- Elements...

At the beginning of the year we did an article on The Elements. It has been touted as "the most beautiful Periodic Table Products in the world." After having spent some time with it, we could not agree more. The photography is excellent, the info on each element engaging, and the layout and presentation were first rate. We didn't think we would find anything to match it and we still haven't. However, what we have found is another take on the Periodic Table which is just as innovative, engaging, and amazingly enough...entertaining. This fresh new look is by Japanese artist Bunpei Yorifuji in his fantastically illustrated book, Wonderful Life with the Elements.

Wonderful Life with the Elements: The Periodic Table Personified is a whimsical guide to the elements, their relevance in our everyday life, and their place in the overall order of things. The author/illustrator, Bunpei Yorifuji, is well known in Japan for using humor to... [more] - Wonderful Life with the Elements


September 18,2012- Polarie Setup Videos...

At the start of the year we posted a few articles on Vixen's Polarie (FirstLook, Setup) and accessories. To make sure the Polarie was field-ready, we custom-fitted it with a waterproof carrying case. The first opportunity we got, we took the unit out for its FirstUse. It was out in the desert in Palm Springs and we got a few decent shots of Orion.

We learned a lot about the Polarie Star Tracker on that L.A. outing. Our main realization was that we could have used a bit more instruction on how to set up the Polarie. Setting up the Polarie wasn't difficult, but it has a few quirks and does require a bit of practice to get it right. It is best to... [more] - Polarie Setup Videos


July 16,2012- Hummingbird at the FPZ...

We are trying to entice hummingbirds to the RainyDayGarden. A few weeks ago, we got a couple of beautiful glass feeders from our favorite garden-gear source, Gardener's Supply Company, and put them up. So far, no luck in spotting the little hummers. However, we are hopeful that our efforts will be rewarded now that the trumpet vines and cone flowers are in full bloom.

When we were at the Franklin Park Zoo in June, not all of the exhibits had opened. One of those was the Butterfly Landing. We have been meaning to go back to the FPZ to check it out. So when we heard that the FPZ had some hummingbirds nesting there, we dropped everything and... [more] - Hummingbird at the FPZ


June 26,2012- Sizing Up The Universe...

Last August we wrote a piece called "Two Hundred Light Years." In it we discussed just how enormous is the known Universe using the "200-light year" metric. 200-light years is the distance traveled in space to date by the very first radio transmissions broadcasted on Earth. Similar to a two-dimensional ripple on a pond, this first broadcast rippled out into space, but as a 3-D bubble in every direction. The photo in that article showed just how far that distance is relative to the overall size of the galaxy of which Earth is a part, and there are hundreds of billions of other galaxies out there...

Most of us can relate to the numbers 100, 1,000, and even 1,000,000. They are numbers we can visualize and say "Yeah, I see what you mean." For most of us, though, it is difficult to get a sense of how large the numbers quadrillion, googol, and googolplex really are (apparently "gazillion" is not a real number). Instead, we have to use scales like... [more] -Sizing Up The Universe


June 13,2012- Origami Design Secrets...

Recently, we watched a great documentary on Netflix called "Between The Folds." The program was an exploration of all the ways where the ancient art of paper folding meet up with the modern world of science and mathematics. Watching the show brought to mind a book we have had on our shelf since 2004, but have not really taken the time to dive into, Origami Design Secrets by Robert Lang. Inspired by the movie, we decided to spend a day with the book and see what we could do.

Origami (ori meaning folding, gami meaning paper) started in Japan around the 17th century. However, it may also have evolved independently in other parts of the world. Regardless of where and when the art originated, systematic study of it did not occur until the 1980s. In 2003, Robert Lang published the definitive work, Origami Design Secrets, on the techniques and the mathematics behind this ancient art. In order to describe how the folds are executed, Lang introduced a set of... [more] -Origami Design Secrets


May 23,2012- Get-A-Grip Install...

The Meade 10" LX200 GPS SCT is a pretty hefty piece of gear. It is a LOT heavier than the Celestron C8 SCT it replaced. We are not exactly sure why that is, but it is what it is. Moving the Meade around can be quite the workout, especially since there are no convenient places on its body to get a good grip. There are handles on the fork mount, but they are skinny and clearly not intended as grip points for picking up the unit.

When we were at NEAF last year and met up with Pete of Peterson Engineering. Pete is an avid astronomer and has created a series of products specifically for the Meade SCT. One of those product is the Get-A-Grip handles. We took a FirstLook of the grips a year ago. We were waiting for a stretch of time where we could... [more]- Get-A-Grip Install


May 17,2012- Mind Mapping: Knowledge Graph...

We have been extolling the virtues of mind-mapping for a long time. This technique of linking personally relevant information can be done manually or with special purpose software. Regardless of method used, building a good personal mind-map can take years. We have been using The Brain software for over 10 years and have built up a fairly useful map. It contains the projects we have done at various companies, things we have found to be interesting on the web, and miscellaneous thoughts we didn't want to forget.

One of the problems with using The Brain or any of the other mind-mapping software is the program still ran best on "real" computers (laptops, desktops) and not on tablets or cell phones. So we were pretty excited when Google announced and rolled out Knowledge Graph yesterday. Knowledge Graph is an enhancement to Google's search engine. While the Knowledge Graph is not... [more]- Mind Map: Google Knowledge Graph


May 2,2012- SEM in 3D...

While 3D TV programming and movies have not caught on as widely as the studios have hoped (OK...not at all), 3D itself has always been popular in areas where having the third dimension is helpful in one way or another. One area in which depth information can impart significant insight is in science.

When we hacked our Superfocus glasses so we could see Anna Kournikova in 3D, we did not anticipate that they would also be perfect for looking at all of the really cool 3D science stuff available on the Web, stuff like... [more] - SEM in 3D


April 19,2012- Brain Hack #28...

Many people have the impression that being creative is a talent: some people have it, some people don't. However, neurobiologists have a greater understanding of how the different parts of the brain interact with each other, and have realized something. The state of mind which fosters creativity is something which can be induced, exploited, and yes...hacked! In fact, people have been doing it for years.

A few years ago, we came across a few books (Mind Hacks, Mind Performance Hacks) on mind-hacking. The books are a great source of cool things one can do to the brain without the use of chemicals and their associated side-effects. Whenever we have some time on our hands, we flip through the books and select something to try. We, of course, are no strangers to... [more] - Brain Hack #28: Onar


April 11,2012- SKB/Vixen Installation...

Yesterday, we took a FirstLook at the waterproof case from SKB. Today, we will show how simple it was to create a custom-fit insert using the Pick-n-Pluck foam that came with the case, for the two pieces of Vixen equipment we want to protect.

We had to decide how best to layout the pieces inside the case. We removed two of the three foam layers so we could better understand how depth played in the layout. We worked through the various combinations to see what would work best. Things to consider are the space between the pieces and whether the items would bang against each other if... [more] -SKB/Vixen Installation


April 10,2012- SKB i-Series Waterproof Case...

When we took the Vixen Polarie mount and the Polar axis scope to L.A., it was easy enough to pack it in the carry-on case. That got us to thinking that we should get a dedicated case to protect the mount and the polar scope for when we use it in the wild. There are a couple of well known makers (Pelican, Storm, Otterbox) of ruggedized cases suitable for such a situation. We have looked at many of them in the past, and normally we would have gone with something from one of them. However, a while back a reader told us about a company called SKB after reading our DIY article about retrofitting a Pelican case. We had never heard of SKB, so we investigated.

SKB got its start in 1977 making guitar cases in a small garage in Anaheim, California. Today, SKB is a leader in the design and manufacture of molded polymer cases that are used in a wide range of... [more] -SKB iSeries Waterproof Case


March 13,2012- Quadrivium...

Quadrivium is a word derived from the Latin roots quad and via, which translates roughly as "a crossing of four roads." The idea of quadrivium can be traced back to the time of Pythagoras (around 500 BC) with the emphasis on the study of four fundamental subjects: arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. It eventually formed the basis of the European education structure later known as the seven liberal arts.

The quadrivium subjects are, of course, connected by mathematics: arithmetic is the study of numbers and their relationship to each other; geometry is the examination of how numbers relate to each other spatially; music is study of the relationship of numbers temporally; and astronomy is the study of numbers in both space and time. The mastery of the quadrivium was a... [more] -Quadrivium


March 6,2012- Vixen Polarie Setup...

When we went out to L.A., we took with us the Vixen Polarie on the chance that we would have an opportunity to give the Star Tracker a try. For expediency sake, we decided to leave the Velbon tripod at home. That was a mistake.

The problem was the tripod we had in L.A. was not as sturdy as we would have liked. Also, trying to set things up with just one ball joint was a lot more difficult than we expected. We did manage to get some usable shots, but we would have done a lot better had we... [more] -Vixen Polarie Setup


February 27,2012- L.A. Visit: Day 4...

Knowing that we were in L.A., a few readers suggested we check out the Griffith Observatory. Of course, Kristin had already scheduled us for a visit as Saturday was the date for this month's star party.

The public star parties are held monthly with the assistance of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society and the Los Angeles Sidewalk Astronomers. These parties are a great opportunity for those interested to look at the sun, moon, visible planets, and other celestial objects. It is also a perfect chance to... [more] - L.A. Visit: Griffith Observatory


February 16,2012- The GoldXpert...

A year ago, we did a FirstLook of the Olympus Innov-X DELTA, a handheld device which looks like it was straight from Star Trek. While the DELTA was designed for the rapid screening and analysis of over 80 elements, including regulated toxic metals, the core X-ray technology has applications in many different markets. One such market is the non-destructive analysis of items for jewelers, pawn shop owners, and anyone who deals in the buying/selling of gold, silver, and other precious metals items.

Up until now, determining the precious metal content of jewelry, coins, and similar items has been an inexact process at best. Olympus' new portable countertop GoldXpert XRF Analyzer is aiming to change all that. The GoldXpert uses the same proven technology as their other elemental analyzers. The technology is X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) Spectrometry: when a high-energy X-ray photon hits a sample, the impact causes a chain of events which results in a brief flash of fluorescence. The fluorescence is unique for... [more] - The GoldXpert


February 15,2012- The Talent Code...

We were in New York City this past weekend and one could not turn a page without reading something about the new Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. Until last week, Lin was a virtual unknown outside of a circle of devoted fans. How quickly things changed for Lin! However, like all "overnight" successes, Lin's rise from obscurity was actually a decade in the making. Anyone who has read either The Genius in All of Us by David Shenk or The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle knows exactly why.

Talent is neither inborn nor out-of-reach for the average person. There are real, repeatable, and proven ways to develop talent. Some coaches (Tom Martinez, Linda Septien, etc...) have a "knack" for nurturing individuals into superstars. Now, thanks to advances in medical imaging and neurobiological research, the scientific foundation for the "how" and "why" of the process is starting to become clear. What it is telling us is that... [more] - The Talent Code


February 8,2012- Vixen Polar Axis Scope...

In early January we posted a FirstLook of the Vixen Polarie Star Tracker. As astrophotography is still a bit of a niche hobby, the number of questions we got about it were surprising. We took it as a good sign for Vixen, as they clearly have tapped into a market with some pent-up desires. As a result of the Star Tracker review, some readers asked us about Vixen's Polar Axis Scope accessory as well. We took a look and found the Scope to be of a much higher quality than others we have seen. Interested readers may appreciate this opportunity for a closer inspection of the scope.

When taking photos of stars, long exposures are often required. When an exposure is longer than a few seconds, the rotation of the Earth will result in the capture of streaks of light instead of points of light. The arcs created by these "star trails" have been used to great artistic effect by numerous astrophotographers. However, those who WANT to capture pin-sharp photos of stars have to compensate for the Earth's rotation by using a... [more] - Vixen Polar Axis Scope: FirstLook


February 3,2012- The Genius in All of Us...

This weekend's NFL Super Bowl is one of the biggest sports event of the year. The hype surrounding the game is inescapable and sometime descends into the absurd. Even with the media madness, the blog buzz, and the attempts at contrived controversies, the teams themselves have been both respectful and sportsmanlike in their references to each other. This is very heartening to see, especially in the age of super salaries, huge egos, and self-aggrandizement.

It is fascinating to try to understand what qualities lead to the formation of athletes such as Tom Brady, Eli Manning, or any of the other top performers we see in professional sports. Is it a natural born talent, great coaching, or something else? Moreover, is it something which can be codified, duplicated, and applied? Well, according to David Shenk in his book, The Genius in All of Us, the answer appears to be... [more] - The Genius in All of Us


February 2,2012- HDTV tuner and antenna...

The NFL Super Bowl is this Sunday. A few lucky fans will be at the stadium, many will be at a local sports bar, but most of you (like us) will probably be watching the game at home. Today, there are many more ways to enjoy the big game beside just watching it on TV. There are live blogs and commentaries of the ads via the web, NFL play-by-play on the iPad, and your own instant replay on the computer if you are recording it with a digital tuner. We have put together a few gadgets to help you get the most out of Game Day. Of course, all of these suggestions are still applicable should you be more of a Downton Abbey than a football fan...and even better if you happen to be both!

Many readers have purchased a new large-screen TV the past few years, and probably get their TV signal from satellite or cable service providers. Maybe that is because they do not known that there is a free (and often higher quality) TV signal which can be pulled right out of the air. We have talked about this a few times in the past, but we feel obligated to... [more] - HDTV tuner and antenna


January 30,2012- Geckos at the MOS...

The Museum of Science unveiled a new exhibit last week. Geckos: Tails to Toepads is a traveling exhibit created by Peeling Productions, part of Clyde Peeling's Reptiland. With over 60 living exotic geckos, it is the country's largest and most advanced exhibition of its kind. RainyDayMagazine was on hand for the preview and it was amazing!

"We are excited to introduce our visitors to the fascinating world of geckos," said Paul Fontaine, Museum of Science VP of Education. "The exhibit allows visitors to take on the role of biologist and observe these intriguing creatures in naturalistic habitats. By immersing themselves in the geckos' world, visitors will enjoy a unique educational experience that includes... [more] - Urban Safari: Geckos at the MOS


January 24,2012- Lego Mindstorms Competition...

The FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is a program designed to get kids ages nine to sixteen interested in science and technology. Founded over 20 years ago by inventor Dean Kamen, the League has gotten more popular with each passing year. The goal is to challenge the participants to be innovative, to explore, and to promote competitive creative play or "coopertition." Unlike a sports competition, in FLL, coaches and teams are encouraged to help each other. FLL wants everyone who participates (team member, coach, event volunteer) to have a fun time and a rewarding experience. That’s the reason why FLL has a clear set of Core Values that guides everything they do.

Every September, a new Challenge, based on a real-world scientific topic, is posted. Each Challenge has three parts: the Robot Game, the Project, and the FLL Core Values. Teams (up to ten children + one adult coach) tackle the Challenge by developing a solution to a problem they have identified. Teams may then choose to attend an official tournament, hosted by... [more] - Lego Mindstorms Competitions


January 19,2012- LEGO Mindstorms NXT...

The name LEGO has been synonymous with interlocking plastic bricks for over 80 years. While those colorful pieces has been the foundation of endless hours of creative fun, LEGO wanted to leverage their brand to expand into robotics. In 1998, LEGO launched the first generation of the Mindstorms Robotic Invention System (RIS). Eight years later, they followed up with the easier-to-program NXT 1.0 system. With the LEGO Mindstorms NXT, kids as young as 10 can design, program, and construct real working robots! In keeping with the LEGO traditions, the kind of robots one can build with the Mindstorms is only limited by the imagination.

The Mindstorms NXT kit comes with 577 pieces of building material (struts, connectors, etc.) It also comes with various sensors (sound, light, ultrasonic, touch) and servo motors. At the heart of the system is the 32-bit microprocessor-based controller. The NXT controller can handle... [more] - LEGO: Mindstorms NXT


January 11,2012- The Elements...

Everyone (we know) is familiar with the Periodic Table from high school science class, and we have little doubt that few have given it a second thought since (unless of course they work for an elemental analysis company, and they never stop talking about cadmium and magnesium and sometimes gold). Over the past few years, however, Theodore Gray has pretty much single-handedly brought it out of (adult) obscurity. He did it by spending more than seven years painstakingly obtaining, photographing, each element and offering the collection in a number of mediums (book, puzzle, iPad app) in an informative and entertaining way. Talk about an itch! (We have no information on whether Marilyn Monroe was familiar with the Table...)

The claim of being "the most beautiful Periodic Table Products in the world" may sound grand(iose), but in this case we think it is justified. Both the book and the iPad app have received widespread praise from scientists and artists alike. Of the various products, though, our favorite is the card deck. The gorgeous photography paired with the wealth of technical-but-succinct data on each card makes looking at the card almost as interesting as if... [more] - The Elements


January 9,2012- Boogie Board RIP FirstLook...

We posted a quick mention of the Boogie Board RIP at the end of 2011. Many of you emailed us asking what we thought of the device. Well, we are happy to report that the RIP is exactly as we had hoped...an easy-to-use digital sketchpad which can save the drawings and transfer them to the computer for further manipulation or to share with others.

The specs for the RIP is as follows:

  • Plastic Scratch-Resistant LCD
  • 7in x 11.1 x 0.5 (179mm x 282 x 13), 9.5″ LCD
  • 11.5 ounces (325g)
  • Rechargeable (Polymer Lithium Ion) battery
  • Files saved as vector PDF (editable in Adobe Illustrator)
  • 8MB of internal storage sufficient for 200 typical images
  • Standby Time: 60 days; Usage Time: 1 week (typical usage)

We have no idea how the image capture is being accomplished. Our guess is that there is a pressure-sensitive layer underneath the LCD panel which is detecting and recording the strokes. This conclusion was based on our observation that light strokes, while clearly visible on the LCD layer, are not recorded by the tablet. For the marks to be recorded, a firm stroke is... [more] - Boogie Board RIP


January 6,2012- The Book of Secrets...

Our review of books on da Vinci brought forth a welcomed slew of suggestions regarding technological achievements from times past. All of them were fascinating and worthy of coverage, but the one which stood out was The Book of Secrets by the Andalusian engineer Ibn Khalaf al-Muradi.

The original dates back to the eleventh century. A copy of it was made in Toledo, Spain in 1266. The only copy of this manuscript is conserved in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. The thousand-year-old manuscript is a collection of drawings and descriptions of more than thirty fascinating devices, from mechanical apparatuses to water clocks to automatic calendars to war machines. The manuscript is important to the field of the history of science because it... [more] - L3: The Book Of Secrets


January 4,2012- Vixen Polarie FirstLook...

Last Spring we attended our first Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) conference (Day1, Day2, Day3). The conference is an annual gathering of astronomy enthusiats and vendors from around the world. We got a first-hand look at some amazing astro gear, met a lot of great folks, and had the best time at a conference in a long time. One of the nice folks we met was Kensuke Kazama from Vixen. He showed us one of the most intriquing devices at the show. Mixed among their many fine optics on display was a prototype of a small device called the Polarie. We would have missed it had it not been for Kensuke. The Polarie is a pocket-size motorized camera mount designed specifically for wide-field astro-photography.

Astro-photography used to be a highly specialized niche of astronomy. The main reason wasthat in order to get acceptable images one had to have a combination of sophisticated hardware (scope, camera, tripod), expert knowledge, and patience, lots of patience. With the switch to digital photography and the availability of sophisticated astronomy software, the cost/time of experimentation and the expertise required dropped dramtically. Vixen recognized this trend and... [more] - Vixen Polarie FirstLook


Science 2011

Science Gift Guide

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Da Vinci Collection

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iOptron telescope

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Celestial Globe Read more >

Dark Matter
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Otterbox Microscope
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A Day In Pompeii
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Pixeet Pano Lens Read More>

NeuroSky MindWave

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Celestial Globes

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Vintage Tech

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Sugru Hacks

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Nixie Tubes

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Tooling Microscope

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200 Light Years

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Night Vision

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Manga: Universe

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Last Shuttle Flight

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Boyer Clock Plans

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Nat Geo DVDs

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MOS: Dinosaurs

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PED3 iPhone Mount

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Lensbaby Macro

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iPhone Microscope

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Wakeup Light

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iPhone Lens

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Meade scope grip

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NEAF Wrap up

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NEAF Solar Party

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Gesture Interface

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iPad Microscope

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Tornado Alley

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XRF Delta

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MOS: Planetarium

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Meade scope case

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RCX400 Tripod

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iOptron LiveStar

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