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Showing posts from November, 2009

1905: Annus Mirabilus - Photo electric effect

1905 was a great year for physics, in this year a 24 year old patent examiner in Bern Switzerland published 4 fundamental papers in physics in 4 disparate areas of the field. The topics included special relativity, the relationship between energy and matter, brownian motion and the subject of this post, the photo electric effect.

The photo electric effect paper by Einstein was probably the most practical paper next to the brownian motion paper in that it provided an answer to a long standing problem in electromagnetic theory at the time that had stood as an embarrassment to particle physics. This embarrasment was a legacy of the work of James Clerk Maxwell and his fundamental equations of electromagnetism, by using a continuous wave analog to describe the energy of propagating fields Maxwell was able to do the astonishing, he explained the riddle that was the relationship between electricity and magnetism in clear mathematical terms and he was able to show how light must be itself an …

Ever lives... the continuum

I recently answered the question of my life purpose in an FB comment response, excerpted in its entirety below.

The "purpose" of life is what you make it of course, a relative thing, I don't use "purpose" in some grand metaphysical sense disconnected from people that is often solely the stance of those with a religious, I feel personally fulfilled that I am the guide of my life, what ever I chose to do it is me that is the conductor of the great symphony that attends the short time I have on this rock. (longer if we succeed in eradicating the disease of aging in the next 20 years as we are on schedule to do!)

I am contended to know that our consciousness is a blip on the continuum that through our work over centuries passed on from one to the next we are able to extend temporally, opening a wider stage over which to do our life dance. Ultimately, we are in the infinite expanse of existence an infinitesimal blip of many such blips that came infinitely …

Email will never go obsolete.

As definitive as a post title as one can get, what follows is an analysis of why I am convinced that email , the electronic message delivery system that has been in use on the internet for over 30 years is here to stay...even in the face of more real time oriented communication technologies.

How it works:

In order to fully understand why email is here to stay we need to take a look at the history and the internals of the communication medium. The purpose of email as stated in the RFC (request for comment) document that specifies the technology and the protocols. RFC 821 written in 1982 states:

The objective of Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is to transfer
mail reliably and efficiently.

SMTP is independent of the particular transmission subsystem and
requires only a reliable ordered data stream channel.

Several things are important about this statement, first note "simple" is in the name, when designed it was more important that messages were delivered (at some time) tha…

Taking global warming heat to use it..

A recent article in the Times online describes the idea put forward by by Art Rosenfeld, a member of the California Energy Commission that simply painting roof and road way surfaces could reduce carbon emissions this got me to thinking of another possibility that I've entertained in the past. Instead of reflecting the light into space we could try to harness it.

Existing research on building more efficient solar cells is moving forward all over the world and if we can create significantly efficient panel designs we could succeed in solving the heat absorption problem and acquire energy (to avoid needing to burn fossil fuels) all in one solution. It is true that trapping the energy for use could definitely kill two birds with one stone but it would be orders of magnitude more expensive than just painting or coloring surfaces. The advantage would be the power generation of the panels which depending on efficiency could pay themselves off in a short time. Let us say solar cells ar…