Jan 252015

So a New Jersey high school physics teacher confiscates a cell phone from a student during class. Guess what happens next. Go on, guess.

Much to my surprise, it seems Lil’ Dickens here is actually facing consequences: he’s been suspended and is facing third-degree aggravated assault charges.

Sixteen is old enough to know better. Sixteen is old enough to face the consequences. Sixteen is old enough to be *permanently* removed from taxpayer funded public education. Horrible jackholes like this have no place in a classroom.

I like this line:

a disciplinary hearing will determine “an appropriate, educational placement” for the rest of the school year.

I have some suggestions:

You know where he *doesn’t* belong? In civilized society.

 Posted by at 2:38 pm
Jan 242015

US Navy to publicly show their amazing railgun for the first time ever

The US Navy will publicly show their formidable railgun at the Naval Future Force Science and Technology Expo in Washington D.C. on February 4.

A little vague on what’s meant by “publicly show.” Somehow I have doubts that this will include “publicly demonstrate by shooting a shell from D.C. into midtown Manhattan.”

 Posted by at 10:24 pm
Jan 242015

I’ve mentioned before that I have a bit of a problem with my drafting work: my software works great on Windows XP, but not on Windows 7 and beyond. It’d cost thousands to upgrade to modern versions of AutoCAD… thousands I don’t have. I have one somewhat elderly laptop still running XP; when it inevitably goes down, I’ll be kinda screwed.

I stumbled across a laptop in a pawn shop today that was actually running XP. I’ve been looking in pawn shops for a few years now; it seems to be standard practice for pawn shops to scrape laptops clean and load Windows 7 or later on them. As this laptop was only $70, I bought it with the intention of loading software on it…and then putting it into storage for the day when my good, old laptop take a dirt nap.

The question is: how to store it? First task will be to clean it… run compressed air through it to blow out any dust, and wipe the surface clean to get rid of the blood and other bodily fluids that no doubt coat it (it’s a pawn shop laptop, after all). But beyond that, anybody got any suggestions? Is it best to store laptops with the battery charged, or drained? It’ll have to be stored wrapped in plastic to keep it dry, but maybe also wrapped in foil? Or would that be *worse?*

 Posted by at 7:47 pm
Jan 232015

Structured photons slow down in a vacuum

The claim has been made that scientists have figured out how to make photons in a vacuum travel a tiny little bit slower than the accepted speed of light in a vacuum…

The researchers created a source that emitted pairs of photons simultaneously. One of the photons went straight to a highly precise photon counter, while the other went via two liquid-crystal masks, which imparted their profile onto the passing particle of light.

Across a propagation distance of 1 m, the team found that the spatially structured photon lagged behind its partner by between 10 and 20 wavelengths. That equated to a drop in speed of about 0.001%…

As described, this sounds insufficient to me. I can see a number of reasons why they’d see a slight lag across a 1 meter gap, not least being that the photons simply rattled around a little bit in the apparatus before going on their way. The real test would be to test the lag time over *numerous* distances… 1 meter, 2 meters, five, ten. If the lag time is the same, then the speed of light is unchanged, there was just a slight delay at the beginning; if the lag time expands as the distance expands… then, yup, you’ve got yourself light that travels slower than light.

And that would be kinda… disturbing.

 Posted by at 2:35 pm