The story of the world’s roundest object is way more interesting than I would have thought:
The world’s roundest object helps solve the longest running problem in measurement — how to define the kilogram.
A kilogram isn’t what it used to be. Literally. The original name for it was the ‘grave’, proposed in 1793 but it fell victim to the French Revolution like its creator, Lavoisier. So begins the tale of the most unusual SI unit. The kilogram is the only base unit with a prefix in its name, and the only one still defined by a physical artifact, the international prototype kilogram or IPK.
But the problem with this definition has long been apparent. The IPK doesn’t seem to maintain its mass compared to 40 similar cylinders minted at the same time. The goal is therefore to eliminate the kilogram’s dependence on a physical object. Two main approaches are being considered to achieve this end: the Avogadro Project and the Watt Balance.
The Avogadro project aims to redefine Avogadro’s constant (currently defined by the kilogram — the number of atoms in 12 g of carbon-12) and reverse the relationship so that the kilogram is precisely specified by Avogadro’s constant. This method required creating the most perfect sphere on Earth. It is made out of a single crystal of silicon 28 atoms. By carefully measuring the diameter, the volume can be precisely specified. Since the atom spacing of silicon is well known, the number of atoms in a sphere can be accurately calculated. This allows for a very precise determination of Avogadro’s constant.
I’m thrilled I live in a world where I get to watch stuff like this on almost a weekly basis:
The multi-center Morpheus Team successfully completed Free Flight7 (FF7) at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) on Monday, February 10, 2014. FF7, the 5th free flight of the Bravo vehicle, flew to 467 feet (142m), altitude and then traversed 637 feet (194m) in 30 seconds before landing in the hazard field. Initial data indicated a nominal flight meeting all test objectives. The vehicle flew its pre-planned trajectory flawlessly, reaching a max ascent velocity of 13 m/s, and landing with no appreciable deviation from its intended target 74 seconds after launch. The Morpheus Team again demonstrated engineering and operational excellence, relying upon training, discipline and experience to ensure today’s success.
I don’t know if I would like Doug Coulter, and I defiantly don’t know if I would want to live next store to him; but I can’t deny that he’s one hell of an interesting guy:
Doug Coulter used to build signal processing and radio gadgets for our favorite three-lettered intelligence agencies, but for the past decade or so, Doug’s chosen to explore his engineering interests in the isolated backwoods of Virginia, absent from any pesky boss or sticky bureaucracy.
After tiring of living with a meth head who had a trigger finger itchier than an Appalachian mosquito bite, Doug gave his ex-housemate the boot and confiscated his weapons, thus paving the way for his new found love for gunsmithing. Doug has since open sourced his gun and ammo making techniques on his well-trafficked engineering forum.
But Doug’s most exciting creation is his guerilla-engineered nuclear fusion reactor. Doug’s pursuit for a limitless source of clean and self-sufficient energy takes place in what he calls his “den of creative chaos,” which is essentially a cluttered workshop in the entrance of his home, directly underneath his bedroom.
Can all of us, with no additional training, instantly read faster? The answers is: yes, yes we can. Scroll to the bottom of the link and see for yourself.
The reading game is about to change forever. Boston-based software developer Spritz has been in “stealth mode” for three years, tinkering with their program and leasing it out to different ebooks, apps, and other platforms.
Now, Spritz is about to go public with Samsung’s new line of wearable technology.
Other apps have offered up similar types of rapid serial visual presentation to enhance reading speed and convenience on mobile devices in the past.
However, what Spritz does differently (and brilliantly) is manipulate the format of the words to more appropriately line them up with the eye’s natural motion of reading.
The “Optimal Recognition Point” (ORP) is slightly left of the center of each word, and is the precise point at which our brain deciphers each jumble of letters.
At the average science fair you probably would expect experiments about plant growth under different circumstances, egg drops, or batteries made from food. A nuclear fusion reactor that creates helium from hydrogen would probably be quite unexpected, but that’s exactly what 13-year-old Jamie Edwards from Lancashire did.
After receiving a £2000 ($3,350) grant from his school last November, Edwards, a self-described “amateur nuclear scientist,” set to work building his reactor, often staying late after school. He used a blog to chronicle his battles with parts that were damaged during shipping, shaping brittle tungsten for the inner grid, and patching leaks in the reaction chamber. After his reactor was completed, he had to be trained through a radiation safety course before he was allowed to switch it on.
When the time finally came to test and Edwards’ reactor worked, The BBC was there to document the historical moment. He had become the youngest scientist to achieve nuclear fusion, dethroning Taylor Wilson from Nevada, who first fused atoms together at the age of 14.
THE Irish singer Bono once described a difference between America and his native land. “In the United States,” he explained, “you look at the guy that lives in the mansion on the hill, and you think, you know, one day, if I work really hard, I could live in that mansion. In Ireland, people look up at the guy in the mansion on the hill and go, one day, I’m going to get that bastard.”
Alexis de Tocqueville phrased it a little differently, but his classic 19th-century text contains the same observation. Visiting from France, he marveled at Americans’ ability to keep envy at bay, and to see others’ successes as portents of good times for all.