Wednesday, July 4, 2018

July 4th Links

  • Like cobalt, which is produced as a by-product of nickel and copper production, helium is produced as a by-product of oil and gas production. "To get more cobalt you have to mine more nickel and copper, and to get more helium, you need more big, conventional oil and gas projects that happen to have a helium component, but frankly, most of those mega oil and gas projects aren't economic anymore because of the advent of shale gas," says Nicholas Snyder, founder of North American Helium. The shortage has been accelerated by the U.S. government's decision in the mid-1990s to sell off its helium stockpile. [Northern Miner]
  • I had the urge to buy an old four-wheel drive Toyota Pickup. The boxiness of the body, the square stance of the off-road suspension, the no-frills interior, and the perceived reliability of an old Toyota—it all came together to create an irresistible combination. [Jalopnik]
  • Young people look fundamentally different today from when I was younger. There are still good looking young people, but far fewer of them. It is almost like there has been some kind of genetic collapse. [Free Republic]
  • Taylor Sheridan was an actor who wanted to write. After small roles on Veronica Mars and CSI, he landed a recurring role as a policeman on Sons of Anarchy. But he spent most of his downtime hanging out with series creator Kurt Sutter in the writers room. "I got very fascinated with the craft of storytelling," he explains. After a couple of seasons of Anarchy, the 46-year-old quit the show and acting altogether. "My wife had just gotten pregnant, and I didn't want to look at my kid in seven years and say, 'You can be anything, son, but I can't go to your baseball game because I have to go to a Windex audition.' I sat down and wrote Sicario." [link]
  • As for the future, we may say, with equal certainty, that inhabitants of the Earth can not continue to enjoy the light and heat essential to their life for many million years longer unless sources now unknown to us are prepared in the great storehouse of creation. [Kelvin]
  • The buildup of heavier elements in the nuclear fusion processes in stars is limited to elements below iron, since the fusion of iron would subtract energy rather than provide it. Iron-56 is abundant in stellar processes, and with a binding energy per nucleon of 8.8 MeV, it is the third most tightly bound of the nuclides. Its average binding energy per nucleon is exceeded only by 58Fe and 62Ni, the nickel isotope being the most tightly bound of the nuclides. [link]
  • A physicist named Shawn Bishop has extracted atoms of iron-60 from fossils of ancient bacteria buried under the floor of the Pacific Ocean. This is significant for a couple of reasons. First, iron-60, a radioactive cousin of ordinary iron, is created only in stars that explode as supernovas. Second, iron-60 decays relatively rapidly into a different atom, nickel-60 (not radioactive, but much less common than garden-variety nickel-58). [New Yorker]
  • One realm that has seen substantial progress in my lifetime is not technological, but social. Tolerance for different races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and other conditions/choices marking individuals as "different" has improved in most parts of the world. This is not without exception, and at times appears to lurch backwards a bit. But there is no doubt that the world I live in today is more tolerant than the one I grew up in. And only part of that involves moving from Tennessee to California. The one caution I cannot resist raising is that I view this tolerance as stemming from a sated world. In times of plenty, we can afford to be kind to those who are different. We are less threatened when we are comfortable. If our 21st Century standard of living peaks—coincident with a peak in surplus energy (i.e., fossil fuels)—then we may not have the luxury of viewing our social progress as an irreversible ratchet. Hard times revive old tribal instincts: different is not welcome. [Do The Math]
  • The estimated per capita consumption of soybean oil increased 1000-fold throughout the 20th century. As a consequence, the amount of LA increased 3-fold, and the amount of ALA doubled. Because the amount of ALA increased and amounts of n−3 EPA and DHA remained relatively stable, the total amount of n−3 fatty acids actually increased slightly. However, the net effect of increasing dietary LA, rather than these modest increases in dietary n−3 fatty acids, likely decreased the n−3 EPA and DHA status of human tissues over the 20th century. [NLM]
  • Since the beginning of the summer, we've moved toward satellite-based ABS-B tracking and ocean going surface robots with ADS-B receivers, but the core of our network remains our terrestrial receivers hosted by thousands of volunteers around the world. We are always looking for new receiver hosts to help expand our ADS-B network and we often get questions on where we're looking for hosts. [Flight Radar]
  • We are excited to announce for the first time that we have received and processed ADS-B signals collected by our autonomous boat. The unmanned surface vehicle, a Wave Glider manufactured by Liquid Robotics and managed by Maritime Robotics as part of their new partnership, is receiving ADS-B signals from aircraft over the North Atlantic Ocean and transmitting them to the Flightradar24 network via satellite relay. This is the first use of an autonomous surface ocean robot for ADS-B reception by any commercial flight tracking service. [Flight Radar]
  • The flight records on one of the jets from the last few months alone show that despite their $30-54k car allowances, management routinely takes 15-20 minute flights to and from airports within different parts of Houston. Given the time spent driving to and from the hangers, preparing/taxing/parking the plane, pre-flight check lists, etc, it can't possibly save a material amount of time versus driving the already paid for automobiles. The list also includes a mid-day on a Tuesday 70 min joy ride taking off and landing at the same airport (KAXH). [link]
  • Your boss is your age. He never got an exit either. He references his :start-up glory days" regularly. OK. Who are you kidding? You are bored. You are surfing the internet. You start with searches about real estate licenses. Maybe you should be a real estate agent. It feels like the purpose of tech companies and venture capitalists is to funnel money into property anyway. Maybe if you magically get between two gigantic piles of money, some will land in your lap somehow. [link]
  • It wasn't so long ago that a single exclamation point still felt extreme. One grammar guide from 2005 says the exclamation point "indicates extreme pain, fear, astonishment, anger, disgust, or yelling." At journalism school, I was told that you get one exclamation point to use in your entire career, so you should use it wisely. You could, perhaps, spend your one exclamation point on a headline like "WAR OVER!" but nothing less would merit one. (I'm sure I've already spent beyond my means, don't email me.) The writer Elmore Leonard had a similar rule for fiction: "You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose," he once wrote, though he apparently didn't abide by that. [Atlantic]
  • There are no simple interventions that can change average life expectancy by more than a few years or maximum life span at all. As a corollary, there is no single or small number of genetic or biochemical 'master switches' of aging, because if there, some of the thousands of interventions during the past 3 centuries of active scientific research would have flipped them directly or as a downstream effect, someone would have exceeded the Calment limit, or heritability estimates of longevity would be far higher. Research proceeding on the basis of 'identify a correlate of aging' is effectively doomed: the signature feature of aging is that it is an exponential acceleration (the Gompertz curve) of mortality due to all causes ie. all organs are simultaneously becoming nonfunctional and losing homeostasis and efficacy, and these problems interact as well. [Gwern]
  • If we sometimes cannot recognize a migration as an invasion and as warfare, it stands to reason that there will be certain kinds of warfare which we will not recognize as such when they appear. [link]
  • The size of the subject in the frame is a function of the square of the focal length. A subject that fills 25% (5X5) of the frame in an image created with a 500mm lens will fill 36% (6X6) of the frame if photographed with a 600mm lens from the same distance. The huge advantage here goes to the 600 II which will render the subject 44% larger in the frame than the 500 II. Along with this huge advantage comes less disturbance of birds and wildlife and less chance of flushing a desirable subject while approaching. It is difficult to quantify or overstate the importance of these closely related factors. [link]
  • If the Bavarian Motor Wizards boiled down their brand to the stuff that made it legendary, a 135is badge would be floating at the bottom of the cauldron. That essence, made real, would be a compact coupe with tubby rear-wheel-drive proportions, just like the small Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties sport sedans that made BMW a household name. [link]
  • I see a huge amount of construction everywhere, but fewer people occupying bigger spaces. For example, the graceful Victorian mansions built back in the 1800s were carved up into apartments decades ago. Now they're being repurposed into single family home again by prosperous families. Or homes that used to be occupied full time are now second homes that remain empty most of the time. [Granola Shotgun]

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