Science and Engineering at Your Fingertips #innovation #tech #science #engineering

Isn’t science all about stars and black-holes type stuff?”

Carlos Delgado; CC-BY-SA

Carlos Delgado; CC-BY-SA

There’s so much more, and we encounter it every day in so many ways. Take, for example, a ball point pen. It’s a fairly recent invention. You’ve seen the iconic pocket protector worn by Dilbert and engineers everywhere. Do you remember them? They were needed before ball point pens because fountain pens leak.

The first patent was filed in 1888, but it took years and a lot of failure before our familiar pen emerged. Different pen designs and different inks were tried. In 1941, a fleeing German and his associates (the Western Hemisphere didn’t just get nuclear physicists from Germany because of the Nazi!)

Early ball point pens had problems – the ink would hang up and the pen become unusable. This happened all the time. There was also a safety issue – people like to chew on the ends of pens and a swallowed cap could choke someone. Such an accident might be rare, but consumers don’t expect their pens to kill anyone.

A brilliant engineering solution came across the creative mind of scientists, and a newly innovated cap was introduced into the market which enables the nib to breathe in air, helps in regulation of air pressure [inside the pen] to match the air pressure outside, and to avoid death in people who accidentally swallow the cap. Yes, the innovation in design was just a hole being placed on top of the caps.”

Competition was fierce but it wasn’t until well into the 1950s that pens “boasting additional features and technological advances which also included the use of tungsten-carbide textured ball-bearings in their pens” [wikipedia] began to sell in the millions each year – and familiar names such as Parker and Bic emerged. Today ball point pens are so cheap we tend to walk off with them without thinking, and loads of businesses hand them out for free as advertising.

How cool.

Thanks zainsofficial.blogspot.com for pointing out this miracle of modern science, and for the quotes above.

4 Books on Mars white background (500x500)Our world is full of amazements we take for granted. Consider the fantastic logistics behind the pencil. I found inspiration there for my science fiction novel Glory on Mars. What fantastic technologies will the first colonists haul to Mars? And what common conveniences will they leave behind?

All my books, including the On Mars series, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major online retailers, including Smashwords and Create Space for paperbacks. On Mars books 1 and 2 are available now, with books 3 and 4 due out this fall. Read one today.

 

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Fifty Million Years Play Out on Earth #geology #science #earthquake #poem #poetry #nature

Tectonic plate movement today

Tectonic plate movement today

Earth’s history runs deep,
‘Neath hundreds of miles where
Seismic waves flow through the rock
Like light waves through the air.

Ancient surface plates
That sunk beneath the crust
Last saw the sun when dinosaurs
Lay dead in ash and dust.

Subducted shallow seas
Converged and disappeared,
That’s what captured earthquake waves
Now show
From fifty million years
Ago.

By Kate Rauner

Thanks to livescience.com and National Taiwan University geologists for their study of the deep Earth’s East Asian Sea Plate at the Philippine Sea.

R&R 3 coversAll my books, including collections of my science-inspired poetry, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major online retailers. You’ll also find paperbacks at Create Space and all major digital formats at Smashwords. Read one today.

Universe’s Missing Piece #physics #science #poetry #boson #poem

Simulated Data model from the Large Hadron Collider

Simulated Data model from the Large Hadron Collider

In all of creation,
In all the gains and losses,
There only are four
Universal
forces.

That’s the Standard Model
Which for years has served so well
Predicting interactions
On the cosmic
carousel.

Yet something has been missing,
Something that evades,
Dark matter and dark energy
Beyond the model
strayed.

Oddly interacting
Are dark light’s weak protons
That could be an anomaly
Or protophobic
bosons.

The ideas are exciting,
But confirmation’s key
Before our minds can grasp
What makes up
reality.

by Kate Rauner

Thanks to csmonitor.com/Science and a new study published in Physical Review Letters that might indicate a fifth fundamental force exists.

R&R 3 coversAll my books, including collections of my poetry, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major online retailers. Read one today.

America’s Coyote #nature #science #biology #environment

Coyote pups

Coyote pups

Coyote is our canid,
A true American,
For a million years
Remaining at his origin.

Coyote’s always waiting,
Coyote’s always hungry,
And so we have waged war on him
All across the country.

Kill half a million every year
On foot, in trucks, from planes,
But Coyote found a refuge
Where humans aren’t their bane.

He spread from coast to coast,
From plains to cities, towns,
To parks, and urban sprawl,
To built himself a home.

He thrives on rats and mice
That follow mankind’s rise,
Absorbing genes from wolf and dog,
That’s how Coyote thrives.

America’s own avatar,
Our native totem beast,
Howling out your anthem,
May your singing never cease.

By Kate Rauner

I’ve been intrigued by stories of coyotes’ success surviving rural attempts at extermination and now moving into cities – the stories keep coming. Thanks to nationalgeographic.com coyotes and urban animals.

More Life’s Coming #Alien #space #star #life #poem #poetry

Stromatolites

Pre-Cambrian fossil, 3.5 billion years old, but reminds me of a starry sky by Van Gough. Thanks to the US National Park Service

Life arose on Earth
In conditions fairly rare,
Yet as the universe matures
Life could be everywhere.

With star formation winding down,
Supernovae will dwindle,
Small dim stars proliferate,
More room for life to wiggle.

Impatient were our ancestors
Or maybe we’re just lucky
Self-replicating molecules
Simply weren’t too fussy.

Earth may be a pioneer
With most life future-tense,
Good news for astrobiologists
Five billion years hence.

By Kate Rauner

My schedule got away from me this week, so I’m posting my weekly poem late. I hope it’s worth the wait, and my thanks to smithsonianmag.com

Does Reality Matter? #reality #science #politics #dnc #rnc #reason

Hartwig HKD

Hartwig HKD

I usually stay away from politics on this blog, but America’s two major political parties have their conventions in July so it’s hard to resist. The Republicans are done and the Democrats are about to begin. Conventions are an opportunity to revel in the echo chamber, to be surrounded by those who agree with you.

And to ignore facts in favor of politics.

I was reminded of that by a piece in Live Science. This article fact-checks truthiness in the Republican platform but I don’t doubt you’ll find similar fabrications when the Democrats issue their platform. It seems that anyone zealously bound to a position is immune to information. Each extreme dismisses different facts, but they both do it.

Even a depressing reality is better than a fantasy however pleasant, because reality wins in the end. I try to read multiple opinions and fact-checks, and to be ready to change my mind. It takes conscious effort.

Once a human being embraces a position, proofs and facts are abandoned, and showing a person contradictory facts just makes them more angry and more determined to dig in deeper.

That’s because we are each grounded in moral foundations deeply important to our vision of who we are – more important than any fact.

Friendly relations, commonality, and trust make it easier for people to listen to each other. More important than presenting facts is establishing bonds with people before you try to convince them. Try it. You might both see the issue in a new light.

I read a book with insight to this aspect of human behavior and reviewed it here for a friend’s blog. I also posted a piece on how to talk with people who disagree with you: Don’t be a jerk.

Keep in mind what Carl Sagan said:

In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.

This is why science inspires me and also why I’m optimistic about the future. Let your open heart lead to an open mind and we can build a better world.

Poetry of Science #poetry #geek #poems #nature #read #amwriting #amreading

Poems inspired by science https://books2read.com/u/bOrE99Hurray.

After working through several versions with problems like, the page numbers are missing, Rhyme and Reason Three is available now in a digital edition at Amazon and other major on-line book-sellers. The paperback edition is on Amazon and Create Space.

No matter how many notes I take, I learn something new with each book I publish – darn it. So I’ve also updated the formatting for Rhyme and Reason and Rhyme and Reason Two.

Now’s the time to collect all three.

My poetry is inspired by the real, objective world we all share and by Richard Feynman – one of the most important physicists of the 20th Century and certainly the most interesting. He wrote that

Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars – mere globs of gas atoms. I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination – stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light. A vast pattern – of which I am a part… It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?”

Spheres of methane and ammonia make me rhyme, and so does earthbound science. Rhyme and Reason Three includes the popular Desert Watermelon. Here’s an excerpt:

Ruby slabs of watermelon
Decorate my table,
While in the wild deserts
Its ancestral stock is stable.

Civilization could collapse,
There could be Armageddon.
But in five thousand years,
Survivors could
-Again –
Have watermelon.

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