News

May 9, 2016 - More good news today, with reports that after a rodent-induced shutdown of the Large Hadron Collider a few weeks ago, they have now repaired the damage and are now collecting data again. It will be most interesting to see what new discoveries the latest run will produce.

May 9, 2016 - A reminder that today will see the transit of Mercury across the Sun. This is quite a rare event, but it is also potentially dangerous. Please remember that the Sun is very bright, and if you look at it it will hurt you. Let the experts guide you if you want to watch the event, and do not ever look directly at the Sun.

May 3, 2016 - Congratulations to the LIGO team on winning the $3,000,000 special breakthrough prize for the confirmation of gravitational waves. I remember when they were just starting on this project, and how many people over the years questioned if it would even work. Now they have proven that it was worth it, and this prize is well deserved!

April 25, 2016 - I am hearing rumors that the server that has been hosting my popular Grandiloquent Dictionary website for the last seventeen years may be shutting down in the next few months. Nothing is confirmed yet though. However my site will still be available through the new mirror site that I am setting up, located at http://dictionary.drchrisbird.net.

April 15, 2016 - I don't normally forward Youtube videos here, but seeing the prime minister of Canada understanding and explaining quantum computing just brought a tear to my eye. The world needs more politicians who can discuss and promote science in this way.

April 9, 2016 - Sad news from the astronomy community this morning, with news that the Kepler probe seems to have put itself into emergency mode. It has already discovered a few thousand new planets, so the mission is certainly a success already, but I am sure that everyone will be hoping it will be able to come back to life and continue its work. UPDATE: The team behind Kepler are now saying it is coming back to life, so there is new hope that the mission will in fact be able to continue.

April 2, 2016 - Happy Arduino Day!  Very few technologies have inspired so many people to become amateur engineers and makers, and the fact that the originators have kept it open source instead of a proprietary commercial product is even more amazing!

April 1, 2016 - A reminder that this is also the start of the Ape-ril fundraising campaign, encouraging people to unleash their inner ape to raise money for orangutan rescue and habitat.

March 29, 2016 - And from the very large end of scientific study to the very small, today saw the re-launch of the Large Hadron Collider, which was stopped at the end of last year just after making a potentially huge discovery of a new exotic particle. They are hoping to have a six-fold increase in the amount of data collected by the end of this year, and with any luck will be announcing major findings soon after!

March 29, 2016 - It has now been confirmed that what the amateur astronomy community was reporting last week is true - a comet or asteroid of some form collided with the planet Jupiter and caused a little explosion on impact. Some estimates are placing the size of the explosion at about twenty megatons of TNT, to give you an idea of how big it was. However since Jupiter is also huge, I can assure any of you who are worried that this will have no lasting effect on the giant planet and it isn't going to affect the Earth at all.

March 27, 2016 - HAPPEASTER!!

March 22, 2016 - I have been tinkering with an addressable LED light strip recently, and discovered a dearth of online information on how to control it through a Raspberry Pi board. There are a few websites that give information on using the SPI output of the Pi, but that is too complicated for many amateur makers. Therefore I have assembled my own simple overview of the Raspberry Pi interface for LED strips, and posted it here. I hope it is useful to some of you.   

March 20, 2016 - For those of you who, like me, are interested in both astrophotography and in Raspberry Pi development, there is a great new project posted on Hackaday called StarPi. It is a project to allow for astrophotography through a WiFi connection, using the Pi-camera and a series of sensors to determine what the telescope is looking at. Personally I am going to build one and replace the Pi-camera with the IR-camera off one of my robotic projects, just so I can start exploring in other wavelengths.


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