Have a Geeky New Year!

This is just pretty damned neat:

Hey, didja know that magnetically levitating graphite can be moved with laser and spins in response to unequal illumination? Pyrolytic graphite has interesting magnetic properties, and the new effects illustrated in the video are due to thermal effects of the light adsorbed by the thin graphite altering it’s magnetic properties and the graphite’s ability to shed heat very rapidly. The 200 RPM speed of a given rotating disks would probably tend to be pretty stable at STP for any level of differential illumination. Flux density would affect the levitation height, so that would be variable. Knowing that doesn’t make it any less fun, though.

The NYT’s paean to real chemistry sets of the past. I remember my old ‘Gilbert’ (complete with the institutional sea foam-tinted reagent shelves), that introduced my to carbon-sulfur-nitrate formulas and phenolphthalein as a pH indicator for titration. Darwin rules! And I get by just fine with seven fingers and part of a thumb!

The cash-strapped government of Ukraine politely asked Wednesday that anyone making money by posing as Did Moroz – the local version of Santa Claus – and his helpers to please pay income tax on their income. It’s a time of charity, folks!

Donde esta el Cafe Diablo? Aqui o (mas facil) aqui!

I just love Arms Control Wonk, can’t say it enough. Lewis’ bits on going over the recovered debris from Nork’s recent Unha rocket launch (the one that came closest to pretty much working of any so far) makes me appreciate that my childhood wasn’t wasted on minutia. The skills one learns from being a geek,  scale modeler, Trekkie, and maker in general have real value in certain fields.

I mean, I’m no rocket surgeon, but this is fun to watch happening in a very serious context. The informed guesswork as to the turbopump scheme of the Uhna first stage (based on four holes in a plate) makes me remember the almost rabbinical debates over the finer points of the  D&D rules, or scaling features of the Goodyear blimp by measuring bicycle tires in a push-processed Ektachrome E-4 slide taken during its night mooring at the local airstrip.

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