Archive for the 'science' Category

Like Music? Pandora.

October 23, 2006

Thanks to another heads-up my from my most excellent friend, Jim, I played all evening (along with about 6 — no, 5 — cups of green tea) with a great new(?) service at I had other shit stuff to do, and once I got ‘er all tuned up I was able to get that, uh, stuff at least started — all to some similar and many unfamiliar sounds from the uncharacteristically strong sound from the ‘ol Toshiba laptop.

PANDORA was started by the guys at The Music Genome Project. They’ve been listening and catalogueing all sorts of music since 2000. Quite a gig if you can get it. Of course, someone had to catalogue the crap too. I’m not sure if that’s a valid category, but I can think of about 100 bands I’d save some time on and just batch into “crap”. I digress…

It works really well, and looks good to boot. Very clean.

Pandora Player

You can rate all of the songs you hear with a “thumbs up” or the down version. How very TiVo-esque, but it works and it’s intuitive. They start you off with a track from the band you choose (you can also base a “Station” on a song — but that’s not how I listen to music) and then roll out the tracks based on the Music Genomes.


Hate a song (or somthing about it)? LOVE a song? You can take your feelings a step further by snapping the “Guide Us” button at the bottom right.


Right away I thought I stumped ’em. “Radiohead” comes up in a “Mountain Goats” station and before I hear it, I giggle. And then — it fits, perfectly. Wanna know why the system popped it in? Just ask.


  • Mellow rock instrumentation? Not always, but in this case, OK.
  • Folk influences? Check.
  • Acoustic sonority? I like the sound of that — check.
  • Major key tonality? It certainly is, although most of the time gimme a minor chord.
  • Acoustic rhythm guitars? Yes.

Detailed and an interesting insight.

Want to share your “Station” with a friend or find public “Stations” to give a listen to?Couldn’t be easier.


The player has visual ads and when you sign up you are told that they’ll have audio ads too — gotta support it some way. They give an option to subscribe for $3 – $4 per month (based on length of subscription/donation).

Give ’em a try at

Scuderi Air Hybrid Engine

August 28, 2006

This thing looks like it has a chance. I’ll be keeping my eye on what happens next with it. The computer models seem to show it will work. They’re building a couple of prototypes that should be ready next year.

Link to video –>

More on The Scuderi Group can be found at

fossil hunting in lilydale

September 14, 2005

The ECHO-South group today had a trip to the old St. Paul Brickyards. Unbelievable place. This is pretty much where kids die in cave cave-ins every few years.So about a quarter-mile in (to the park, not the caves — no caves for me thank you very much) we hang a left and there is a HUGE clay “mountain”. Totally natural and literally brimming with amazing fossils. Back in the forest there is a network of trails that takes you to some rather pristine areas so close to the city. Two-hundred foot sandstone walls being slowly carved away by the water seeping through the rock. There were 10-foot wide slabs of limestone crawling with perfect coral fossils.

This is apparently an area with fossils from the Ordovician Period (we were at almost 30 degrees SOUTH of the equator at this time — now we’re 45 degrees NORTH) of the Paleozoic Era (~460 million years old) and include marine invertebrates such as crinoids, bryozoans (sponges) and brachiopods. These are more than twice as old as the dinosaur fossils at the museums.

I had more fun than the kids. I can’t wait to go back.

More good info on fossil hunting in Minnesota

avian flu timeline (h5n1)

May 19, 2005

The Journal ‘Nature’ has a fascinating and terrifying timeline for a possible Avian Flu pandemic. The H5N1 virus is about as serious a threat to a mass die-off as this planet has seen in many years. Hard to believe that 40 million died from the Spanish flu (H1N1) in 1918 and that scientists are more worried about H5N1. With the increased population on the planet, this could be a real mess.Check out the latest entries on the timeline. Is this thing about to break wide open?

I need to get an academic subscription to ‘Nature’ for home. Expensive, but really excellent content.

get on the waiting list for your own t-rex…

March 24, 2005

I don’t know how there could be 70,000,000 year-old tissue, but this appears to be the real deal and apparently many of the fossil skeletons at the various museums may be filled with their own tissuey goodness. We’re only a few years away from seeing a living dinosaur.