Member Since: June 27, 2008

Country: United States

  • This is a lesson a lot of people learn over and over. I am a chemist in my day job, and have not had many big booms, but I have had a few. They all came out of the blue. I tell people now "No one plans accidents. Be paranoid." Be careful out there.

    And thanks, Dia, for saying something. Perspective matters. And I'm glad you are OK.

  • To answer a few questions about how well the pump sucks, I hooked it to a vacuum gauge. The gauge read 760 mmHg before I powered it up. After turning it on and letting it equilibrate, the gauge read 218 mmHg. Thanks very much to my bro Mike Stephenson for setting up and letting me use the gauge and LabVIEW program for reading the gauge.

    Transmorgrifying to other units, atmospheric pressure at that time was about 14.7 psi, and the pump made the pressure in the tube 4.2 psi. This is the thing I wanted to know, that there would be a 10 or so psi difference between atmospheric pressure and, for instance, the pressure in my coffegroundgrippermachine. I only have one of these vac pumps, so I could not perform any statistics, and I'll have to experiment anyway to figure out how to do stuff. In the words of the great philosopher Lemmy Kilmister "Take it or leave it."

    Your mileage, of course, may vary.

  • Figs and beans to Tim above. I work in industry, and yup, we have Matlab and all sorts of add ons, all blisteringly expensive. Good stuff, and a lot of our work requires something with that sort of power.

    But a huge part of Matlab's functionality is available in Octave, which is open source, and yet I assure you it is serious. I don't pay for a Matlab license because I don't need the fancypants add-ons. The EEs down the hall do. Not paying money you don't have or need to spend is pretty 'serious'.

    This stuff about serious scientific programming most often done in Matlab sounds like someone making noise like 'I use it, so it is bestest! WOOT!".

    You use what works. If it works, and it is not expensive, or better, is free, then you win even bigger.

    I am a scientist. I do scientific programming, and I am real darn serious about it. I use what makes sense. I like Matlab, and think it is great. For some things. Sometimes. But if I can get what I want from Octave, I'll download it, and leave Matlab and its acolytes to themselves.

    And Python is far more portable, is a much less ugly programming language, is easy to embed on small systems, and is used by NASA and NOAA and lots of seriously scientific places. If I have a fuss about Python, it is the uncertainty about how much of my work I will have to redo when I finally have to migrate from 2.7 to 3.x

  • Probably the Pt. These function partially by reducing (adding electrons to) oxygen. Even platinum has a rather large overpotential for reducing oxygen, around half a volt. For hydrogen, the overpotential (for oxidation at a platinum electrode) is maybe a tenth of that. A good oxygen reduction catalyst would improve the efficiency of hydrogen fuel cells a lot.

    Electrochemistry can be pretty vexing, and hence, expensive.

  • I love Limor's pink hair! Somebody dye Nate's hair "Fireball Sparkfun Red".

  • I don't think you are. Although the price is kind of high, assuming that were to drop, these things look very much simpler, and there is less dexterity and planning involved. It might be a great way to show a 4 year old robots, or an older child that shows no interest in building complicated things (I assume these exist; mine certainly aren't like that, nor was I, nor anyone I knew). Very quick, ad hoc demonstrations to school kids ought to be really easy.

    I like the idea of these. I just find them out of my price range for diddling around.

  • Maybe. I think that it is possible, though, to have a very healthy respect for intellectual property and still oppose this stuff. The problem, clearly, is that giving anyone the power to shut down a site without due process is just asking for trouble. We have a lot of very confused legislation, I think, when it comes to being able to literally charge property for crimes (most forfeiture laws applied in organized crime cases are like that) while not having anyone advocate for the property.

    I love open source stuff, but even more so in the context of a society that will vigorously pursue intellectual property claims if the creator reserves the rights to the IP. It makes it an even more admirable gesture. Making it the norm is not necessary, and will dissuade some people from creating things. Information should belong to the creator. If they choose to free it, I applaud and support it. If not, I decide whether it is worth paying for without knowing all I could. Sometimes the answer is yes.

    Wishing for, or cheering on, revolution is imprudent, because 'we' almost never prevail. Some elite does, and the position of ordinary folks gets worse. There are counter-examples. But for every American Revolution, there are dozens of Reigns of Terror or Killing Fields also lurking. Freedom from coercion, for us ordinary people, against those with tons of money, is what we really need. Patents and copyrights have their place. So does open source. Let it be done by choice, not by the tyranny of the moneyed class nor the mob.

  • I'm sure that's just around the corner. I'm hoping the geek takes over in him before the scamp gets out of control. The other geeks in the house have him surrounded...

  • I think it is cool, too. My 6 year old son is a bit overwhelmed by the Mindstorms stuff (though he does like to take things that his older brother makes and put heads and limbs on them from other lego stuff...) It is a bit pricy, but I think we are getting to see this at a not quite ready for prime time stage. If it is a really good idea, he will either scale up and the price will drop, or someone else will. If I had fewer responsibilities, it would be cool enough to buy now.

  • Quite. Although I wonder how you know so much about my parentage. I smell of elder hamsters.