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Just add salt

March 1, 2011


I Wanna Live in Los Angeles

January 19, 2011

SSN-688I Class Via Defense Industry Daily

No toilet but there’s a football…

September 3, 2010

By Rod Hunt, via Flickr and Illustration Portfolio

A godawful small affair…

August 3, 2010

“The current understanding of the interior of Mars suggests that it can be modeled with a thin crust, similar to Earth’s, a mantle and a core.Using four parameters, the Martian core size and mass can be determined. However, only three out of the four are known and include the total mass, size of Mars, and the moment of inertia. Mass and size was determined accurately from early missions. The moment of inertia was determined from Viking lander and Pathfinder Doppler data, by measuring the precession rate of Mars. The fourth parameter, needed to complete the interior model, will be obtained from future spacecraft missions. With the three known parameters, the model is significantly constrained. If the Martian core is dense (composed of iron) similar to Earth’s or SNC meteorites thought to originate from Mars, then the minimum core radius would be about 1300 kilometers. If the core is made out of less-dense material such as a mixture of sulfur and iron, the maximum radius would probably be less than 2000 kilometers…”


November 2, 2009

“Traffic signs were introduced in 1900, but it was only in the 1950s that symbols are used generally for instructing the use of radios, tape recorders, wayfinding on train stations, subway stations and airports. The oldest symbol for instruction may be the pointing hand to indicate direction, but no date of origin is know. Second oldest will probably be the arrow (first preserved examples date from before 1750), first applied graphically to indicate the directions of the stream of rivers on maps. The symbolic arrow has developed as the most commonly used symbol of all, with a variation of meanings, such as indicating direction or movement. Symbols have been used for a long time in mathematics, chemistry, and later electronics. some of these symbols have found their ways into user instructions. Many instructive elements, such as reference lines and numbers or letters, find their origins in scientific illustrations: mathematics, medical books, starting at the end of the Middle Ages…”


It is interesting to see that the typical style which visual instructions and visual information have developed and which makes them so recognizable as a special category, has also had it’s influence on other media. It may have had it’s influence on comics, since some comics illustrators have occasionally also produced instructional illustrations. Other examples are commercials in a pictorial instruction style and video clips, such as the video clip that comes with the song Remind Me on the CD Melody A.M. from the Norwegian pop-group Röyksopp (2002), directed by Ludovic Houplan and Hervé de Crécy.

Text from Idioms

Royksopp video by H5 and available on YouTube

In the sun son having fun

October 13, 2009


When observing the Sun with appropriate filtration, the most immediately visible features are usually its sunspots, which are well-defined surface areas that appear darker than their surroundings because of lower temperatures. Sunspots are regions of intense magnetic activity where convection is inhibited by strong magnetic fields, reducing energy transport from the hot interior to the surface. The magnetic field gives rise to strong heating in the corona, forming active regions that are the source of intense solar flares and coronal mass ejections. The largest sunspots can be tens of thousands of kilometers across.

The number of sunspots visible on the Sun is not constant, but varies over an 11-year cycle known as the solar cycle. At a typical solar minimum, few sunspots are visible, and occasionally none at all can be seen. Those that do appear are at high solar latitudes. As the sunspot cycle progresses, the number of sunspots increases and they move closer to the equator of the Sun, a phenomenon described by Spörer’s law. Sunspots usually exist as pairs with opposite magnetic polarity. The magnetic polarity of the leading sunspot alternates every solar cycle, so that it will be a north magnetic pole in one solar cycle and a south magnetic pole in the next.

The solar cycle has a great influence on space weather, and is a significant influence on the Earth’s climate since luminosity has a direct relationship with magnetic activity. Solar activity minima tend to be correlated with colder temperatures, and longer than average solar cycles tend to be correlated with hotter temperatures. In the 17th century, the solar cycle appears to have stopped entirely for several decades; very few sunspots were observed during this period. During this era, which is known as the Maunder minimum or Little Ice Age, Europe experienced very cold temperatures. Earlier extended minima have been discovered through analysis of tree rings and also appear to have coincided with lower-than-average global temperatures.

The Sun’s core, Wikipedia

Four freedoms plaza

September 25, 2009

The Baxter Building is a fictitious 35-story office building in Manhattan whose five upper floors house the Fantastic Four’s headquarters in the Marvel Universe.


The design of the headquarters of the Fantastic Four is along strictly utilitarian lines, except for apartments and public areas. All aspects of the design are constantly being improved, including security. For example, windows are 2 ft (0.61 m) thick composites of various glasses and plastics which are mirrored on the outside. Solid, armored, exterior walls are also mirror-clad and are indistinguishable from transparent sections.


The top five sections of the Baxter Building are completely airtight; all doors are airlocks. Complete environmental support (including atmosphere) is provided by the area between elevators 2, 3, and 4 on all floors. The building’s steel-alloy framework is rigid enough to be stood on one corner and not collapse (It was suggested that the Baxter Building did not collapse under its own weight due to the use of tactile telekinesis by Gladiator of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard. Reed himself stated that even with the reinforced structure, it should not be possible otherwise).

The buffer-zone is the interface between the top five floors and the lower levels. It provides a rapid-disconnect between upper and lower segments of building. It contains an array of large oil-rams to dampen any oscillations between the five upper levels and the base of the building. The buffer-zone contains some support equipment for the upper levels, but mostly it is the “mechanical floor,” which provides heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and elevator support equipment for the lower 30 stories.



A running joke for years in the title was that the landlord, Collins, was initially eager to rent out to a superhero team for the publicity and prestige, but he soon regretted his decision, as the building became a constant target for numerous attacks by supervillains, starting with Fantastic Four #6, in which Doctor Doom launched the entire building into outer space. The attacks made things difficult not only for the Four, but for the other tenants in the lower floors as well. Eventually, Reed Richards decided to invoke a clause of the rental agreement and bought the entire building to avoid eviction.


Eventually, the building was destroyed by Doctor Doom’s adopted son Kristoff Vernard, who shot it into space and exploded it in a bid to murder the Fantastic Four. It was replaced by Four Freedoms Plaza, built upon the same site. After the Fantastic Four and other costumed heroes were presumed dead in the wake of their battle with Onslaught, Four Freedoms Plaza was stripped clean of all the FF’s equipment by Vernard and Reed Richards’ father Nathaniel, who sent it into the Negative Zone to keep it out of the hands of the United States military.

Upon their return, the Fantastic Four could not move back into Four Freedoms Plaza, as it had been destroyed by the Thunderbolts, shortly after the revelation that they were actually the Avengers’ longtime foes, the Masters of Evil. Thus, the Fantastic Four moved into a retrofitted warehouse along the Hudson River which they named Pier 4. The warehouse was destroyed during a battle with Diablo, after which the team received a new Baxter Building, courtesy of Reed’s former professor Noah Baxter. This Baxter Building was constructed in Earth’s orbit and teleported into the vacant lot formerly occupied by the original Baxter Building and Four Freedoms Plaza. The current Baxter Building’s ground floor is used as a Fantastic Four gift shop and museum open to the public.

Baxter Building | Wikipedia