Monday, December 7, 2015

Gone for a Month...

Lots has been happening. Let me catch you guys up:

I was in Paris for the IEC TC 29 (Electroacoustics) standards meeting. This also coincided with the Paris Attack. I am fine, I was staying near Gare du Nord at the time, and my meetings were at AFNOR, which is right across the street form Stade de France. So yeah, I was right in the middle of everything. Pictures to come on Dark...

Yesterday marked Remembrance Day to honor those who fell at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Today is the 26th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, in which 14 women were killed... because they wanted to study engineering and science. This atrocity has lent itself to further
thoughtless if less tragic acts performed by the engineering sector, mostly in the name of "recognizing women through science". This has created such things as "Hack a hair dryer", as if women can't think of their own things to hack and make.

Guys (and Girls too!), we need to do better. We need to look at women as equals. We need to treat them as equals. We as engineers need to involve our daughters AND sons in our engineering tinkering. We need to nurture the fact that that little girl can and probably will be just as good as any little boy at any of the stuff we do in our labs, workshops, or on our work benches. We need to stand up for ladies who are being treated unfairly by other engineers, teachers, and scientists. We need to hold them to the same standards that we hold our male brethren, but no higher. We need to be fair with everyone we work with, teach, or guide, no matter if they are male, female, their color, or their origin.

Sorry for my soapbox on this. We need to stop killing each other simply because we disagree with what someone else wants to do with their lives, or what they say. Everyone has the right to pursue their life as they wish, regardless of what any of us, or any of our gods, think.

Monday, November 9, 2015


I'm on the road right now, which is why I haven't been updating lately. Yesterday and today (the 8th and the 9th) mark some pretty important birthdays in astronomy and science.

Edmund Halley was born on the 8th of November in 1656. He was the second Astronomer Royal, succeeding John Flamsteed. He, using he friend Isaac Newton's equations, was the first man to accurately predict the course of a comet in the sky before its return, the comet named for him in fact. From his time on the island of Saint Helena, he deduced that a transit of Venus across the face of the Sun would give an accurate measurement of the size of the solar system, though he would never live to perform the measurement himself.

Carl Sagan was born on November 9th, 1934. His is a legacy of sharing knowledge of the sciences with the masses through his popular series Cosmos. He determined that the surface of Venus is extremely how due to its runaway greenhouse effect. He helped design the Golden Record on Voyager, as well as the Pioneer Plaque, the first intentional physical man made communication with any extraterrestrial life.

These men are titans of modern science, without whom we wouldn't know a great deal about out universe, solar system, and world. Where might we be were it not for people such as them?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

It's been a while, and a lot has been going on...

The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross is now on Twitchtv! Who doesn't love happy little trees!

At 383 days and counting, Scott Kelly has been in space longer than any other American Astronaut.

Someone 3D printed this pretty awesome Turbofan Engine.

and I took this pretty awesome picture of Jupiter, Mars, and Venus in conjunction last week:

Note, the moons of Jupiter... I was pretty excited when I found out I could get that through my 300 mm lens!

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Goodnight Space Man...

I had only heard the name George Mueller in a couple documentaries talking about the various Apollo Missions, the Space Shuttles, and a couple of random other books on space flight. He may not have walked in space, but he oversaw that completion of the Apollo Missions and the start of the Shuttle Missions. He pushed reorganization on a massive scale in one of the most inertia bound groups in history.

Dr. Mueller passed away on October 12, 2015. May he rest well after a job well done.

The full NASA write up is here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

October Conjunction Craziness

This is a photo I took a couple weeks ago just as Jupiter was becoming visible before sunrise. In this show Jupiter is low, and to the left of the scoreboard, directly above the scoreboard at two-thirds from the bottom is Mars in red, and on the right toward the top is the bright dot that is Venus.

In October, these planets get extremely close (photo from Stellarium app) on their approach. For those of you with clear skies, look east in the mornings and you'll see these dots nearly converge on the 27th. The Moon gets in the mix between now and then, over the next couple days. Universe Today talks about all of the pre-dawn happenings this month here!

2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to:
Tomas Lindahl
Francis Crick Institute and Clare Hall Laboratory, Hertfordshire, UK

Paul Modrich
Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC, USA

Aziz Sancar
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

“for mechanistic studies of DNA repair"

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

2015 Nobel Prize in Physics

The 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics goes to:
Takaaki Kajita
Super-Kamiokande Collaboration
University of Tokyo, Kashiwa, Japan
Arthur B. McDonald
Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Collaboration
Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
“for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass”

Monday, October 5, 2015

2015 Nobel Prizes

It's Nobel Prize week! This is always a great time for people to recognize scientists, engineers, artists, and humanitarians who have given something great to humanity.

The first Nobel Prize this week is in Medicine/Physiology, going to:
divided, one half jointly to William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura "for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites" and the other half to Youyou Tu "for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria".
Congratulations! More to come tomorrow!

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Ferryman

In Greek Mythology, Charon is the ferryman of the kingdom of the dead. He would take souls across the rivers Styx and Acheron, and served the God of the Dead, Hades. It is for this reason that the largest satellite of Pluto share this name. Across the solar system, planets (and dwarf planets) are named for the gods of roman mythology, while (for the most part) the satellites are named for the equivalent greek god's close allies.

Charon, the moon, was one of the objects imaged by New Horizons on its flyby back in July. NASA just released this picture of it, along with a whole bunch of new data. Check it all out here!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Total Lunar Eclipse

The 27th/28th of September brings a total lunar eclipse to those between 60E and 150W longitude, including all of South America and Europe, and most of North America and Africa. The Bad Astronomer outlines the timing:

It’ll take just over an hour for the Moon to pass fully into the shadow, and the last sliver of it will slip into darkness at 02:11 UTC (10:11 Eastern). It’ll stay dark for more than an hour, and then start to be illuminated once again at 03:23 UTC (11:23 Eastern). “Last contact,” when it is out of Earth’s shadow, occurs at 04:27 UTC (00:27 Eastern, after midnight).

The great part of this is as long as you have clear skies, you'll be able to see it without a telescope or binoculars. I highly recommend checking it out, I will be. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Buffalo Bills Noise Measurements Follow-up

Sunday was absolutely ridiculous. The teams, the fans, the weather... all perfect for football. Sadly, at the end of the game the Bills were defeated, and a new world record crowd noise was not obtained.

Many questions popped up at the end of the record attempt, and I want to answer one particular one right here and now.

The Ralph wasn't designed to be a noisy stadium/All of the noise is reflected up and out and we were at a disadvantage trying to break this record:
I have two replies for this. The first is, show me your data that says this. Acoustic spaces do NOT react in ways that are always sensible. If any of those who have made this statement have data modelling the Ralph and noise generation, I'd love to look at it with you to see where your argument lies. EVERY stadium is shaped like a bowl, reflecting sound out and up. Technically Seattle MIGHT be better shaped for noise with it's partial roof. I ask, then, why Arrowhead Stadium holds the current record?
Second, this was one measurement made on one particular Sunday during an afternoon of football. There are quite literally uncountable variables involved in the acoustics and noise generated in this space. Were the seats filled? What was the weather like? How did the teams play? What was the age of the fans sitting nearest the microphone? Where was the microphone positioned? Were noisemakers used/allowed? Was the gameplay mundane or nerve wracking? Were the fans engaged and in the know about what was going on? Each of these things can have a HUGE impact on the noise generated during an event like this. This is the reason that trying to break a record like this is so hard. If it was easy, it would be broken all of the time.

I want to thank everyone involved in this for the opportunity to make this measurement. The Bills, the BillsMafia, Guinness World Records, and the Basil Marketing Group. I want to thank the local news outlets for taking an interest in this as well. I also want to thank my employer, PCB Piezotronics, for keeping me around in the right place at the right time with the right equipment to be able to something fun and amazing like this.

You can find my interviews with the various News outlets below:

The Buffalo News

Friday, September 18, 2015

Every once in awhile, an opportunity comes around...

Engineering isn't the most glamorous trade. As a research and development engineer, I can't complain with my career path. I get to run interesting experiments, and even break (intentionally) somewhat expensive equipment from time to time. Even during my day to day work, though, something comes along randomly that really tells me that I picked the right line of work...

I'm probably one of the few noise and vibration test engineers in WNY, and I've tested a lot of stuff. I've measured noise from automotive torque converters, planes, semi-trailers, cars, snowmobiles, guns, and boats. This weekend, I get to measure crowd noise, which isn't really that ludicrous of a measurement. What makes this special is that the measurement is at Ralph Wilson Stadium when the Buffalo Bills are playing the New England Patriots, and the measurements are for the Guinness World Record.

WIVB (Channel 4 in Buffalo) interviewed me today, and we talks about everything from why some sound meters (Shameless Plug) are better than others to what a decibel is. Not all of it made the aired interview, here is a link to what did! Enjoy!

UPDATE: I'll probably be talking to at least ESPN at some point tomorrow. We'll see how this crazy ride goes. BUFFALO NEW YORK, LET'S MAKE SOME NOISE!!!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Thank you Charles Messier

I didn't take this picture, NASA did. I'm nowhere near that good with my astrophotography yet. The subject of the picture has a rather interesting story though. Some might recognize it as the Crab Nebula, and it is a remnant of a supernova.
The Crab Nebula has a rather important distinction today. Back in 1758, a French astronomer by the name of Charles Messier was trying to look at comets, which to his viewing tech were fuzzy moving objects; but he kept seeing weird fuzzy objects that did not move. In order to not get bogged down in his comet hunting, he made a list of objects that were fuzzy, looked like comets on first glance, but were not moving. The list is known today as the Messier Catalog, and M1 is the Crab Nebula. The date that it was recorded was September 12, 1758, 257 years ago today. His entire list are objects that backyard astronomers (like myself) strive to look at through our humble equipment. In total, Charles Messier listed a total of 110 of these objects, which include the Pleiades (M45) (link goes to my pictures of them), the Orion Nebula (M42), and the Andromeda Galaxy(M31). He also discovered 13 actual comets.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Archery Dodgeball

Combine the insanity of dodgeball with the deadliness of archery and you are left with a ridiculous sport that I won't even dare to describe how awesome it must be... I'll just let the video speak for itself.

Feedly Collections

I've been using Feedly for a long time as my news aggregator. They just added a pretty awesome feature: Public collections. You can now share a web link to various lists that you follow with your friends, family, twitter, etc...

I put mine together, which was pretty much the nerdiest grouping of sites you can imagine. If you're interested, check it out here. This is where I find about 70% of what I post!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Game of Loop

Alex Bellos designed and commissioned a pool table that is an ellipse. This has been up on Numberphile for about a month, but I saw it again on BBC just now. Along with this, he has devised a rather fun game that he talks about in the video as well as on BBC here.

An ellipse is a geometric shape that is commonly referred to as a conic section. Other examples of conic sections are parabolas and circles. The geometric definition of an ellipse is "the locus of all points", (that is all of the possible points) such that the sum of the distances to the two focal points is constant for every point on the curve. Interestingly, a circle is just a special kind of ellipse where the two foci are at the same point.

The really cool part of this is that if you were to draw a line to the edge of an ellipse from either focus, the reflection would draw a line through the other focus. For the game above, this is the core. That means that a player must be cognizant of the other focus of the ellipse in order to sink the ball into the hole, which sit on the other focus. Watch the videos, and enjoy the gameplay. I, for one, want one of these tables...

I'm working on another write up that will talk about ellipses, hopefully to post later this week. My buddy Tyler asked me about how we solved for the distance between the Earth and the Sun, using a pair of Venus transits across the Sun. I'll post that soon!

Friday, August 21, 2015

How to Become and Expert in Anything

This is a an extremely cool interview with Neil Degrasse Tyson, perhaps one of the most rock star scientists of our time. He talks to PopSci from the point of experience on how to become an expert, what that means, and what comes with it.
To be an expert means you are on the frontier, making discoveries, thinking thoughts never before dreamed of. I’m an expert in astrophysics.
I don’t generally share opinions. It may not feel that way because I speak passionately about what I know, but if you look at my tweets and books, I hardly ever express opinions—because I don’t care if you have them. I don’t care a rat’s ass. As an educator and as a scientist, I care only that you are scientifically literate.
The more informed you are, the more empowered you are to think for yourself, and the more representative our democracy will be.
Don’t come to me to debate whether climate change exists. If you’re coming to me in that fashion, you do not understand how and why science works. You’re expressing an opinion, and I’m expressing a fact.
Successful people are driven without regard to their social life, love life, or the opinions of others. Every one of them has a story saying, “Here’s a list of people who said I should do something safe.”
To be genius is to be misunderstood, but to be misunderstood is not necessarily to be genius.
I am the consequence of my life experience. Everything that has happened to me has summed to be what I am. If I jumped back in time, I would derail that learning curve, so I don’t have any urge to go to my younger self and say, “Do this, not that.” What would that mean? Making mistakes contributes to your wisdom.
It’s not that we fear technology, it’s that we occasionally take it for granted, and when we do, we discount the brilliance and work that went into it. You’ll say, “Oh, we don’t need to increase the funding on science; I’ve got my smartphone. We don’t need to go into space; I’ve got” Well, where the hell do you think you got the image of the hurricane that just tore up Galveston, Texas?
If you want a career in science and technology, well, you better hang out with some geeks. Go ahead. They are a friendly people. They’re not talking about the clothing you are wearing. They’re not talking about your waistline. It’s just, “Who are you, and do you have interesting things to say?”
No matter what you do, you need to be able to fail and know how to recover from it in order to one day succeed. There is no successful person who has never failed. Think of the lessons you learn every time you fail. It’s the people who ignore those lessons who basically check out of that contest permanently.
The fastest way to end a career in science and technology is if you’re guilty of fraud. No one will listen to anything you publish thereafter. The greatest statement you can make to a scientist is to pay no attention to his or her science.
When you are first in the world to know something, there’s nothing like it. There is no salary, there’s no car you can drive to substitute for that feeling.
This is from PopSci, interview done by Cliff Ransom

Thursday, August 20, 2015

3D Printing... Glass

This whole concept is pretty awesome. It was only a matter of time for somebody to figure out how to get glass to print nicely, and apparently it happened at MIT's Mediated Matter Group. If you go to their website, you see a fairly simple description:

Additive Manufacturing in Glass

For a process that is both amazing to behold and is absolutely beautiful. Check it out here at PopSci.

Saturday, August 15, 2015


Ferrolic is a fun little device that takes advantage of of the magnetic sensitivity of ferrofluids. The front portion is a very thin tank with a small amount of the volume filled with ferrofluid, the rest of the device has a series of electromagnets that control the fluid and make some very striking art. It can be used as a simple digital clock, or as a desk piece. Check out the videos here.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Meteor Shower Season

Now that the Summer Solstice is well past, the nights can start to get longer so that we can all do more stargazing. The last half of this year promises to be amazing not just for stars, but also meteor showers.

This week (August 10-14) marks the Perseids Meteor Shower, the herald for the season. This is made even more special as the light pollution due to the Moon will not be there, as the Moon is New this week. The following all come from the 2015 Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events.

The New Moons for the rest of the year each coincide with a major celestial event:

In September:

September 13 - New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 06:41 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

September 13 - Partial Solar Eclipse. A partial solar eclipse occurs when the Moon covers only a part of the Sun, sometimes resembling a bite taken out of a cookie. A partial solar eclipse can only be safely observed with a special solar filter or by looking at the Sun's reflection. The partial eclipse will only be visible in southern Africa, Madagascar, and Antarctica.

In October:

October 13 - New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 00:06 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

October 21, 22 - Orionids Meteor Shower. The Orionids is an average shower producing up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Halley, which has been known and observed since ancient times. The shower runs annually from October 2 to November 7. It peaks this year on the night of October 21 and the morning of October 22. The first quarter moon will set shortly after midnight leaving fairly dark skies for what should be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Orion, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

In November:

November 5, 6 - Taurids Meteor Shower. The Taurids is a long-running minor meteor shower producing only about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is unusual in that it consists of two separate streams. The first is produced by dust grains left behind by Asteroid 2004 TG10. The second stream is produced by debris left behind by Comet 2P Encke. The shower runs annually from September 7 to December 10. It peaks this year on the the night of November 5. The second quarter moon will block out all but the brightest meteors this year. If you are patient, you may still be able to catch a few good ones. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Taurus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

November 11 - New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 17:47 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

November 17, 18 - Leonids Meteor Shower. The Leonids is an average shower, producing an up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak. This shower is unique in that it has a cyclonic peak about every 33 years where hundreds of meteors per hour can be seen. That last of these occurred in 2001. The Leonids is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865. The shower runs annually from November 6-30. It peaks this year on the night of the 17th and morning of the 18th. The first quarter moon will set shortly after midnight leaving fairly dark skies for what could be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Leo, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

And Finally in December:

December 11 - New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 10:29 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

December 13, 14 - Geminids Meteor Shower. The Geminids is the king of the meteor showers. It is considered by many to be the best shower in the heavens, producing up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon, which was discovered in 1982. The shower runs annually from December 7-17. It peaks this year on the night of the 13th and morning of the 14th. The crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for what should be an excellent show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Gemini, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

So get out there and enjoy the Night!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Well that was fast!

Soyuz is docking with the ISS right now (10:30PM Eastern Time) Check it out here!

UPDATE: Docking complete. Soyuz is now part of the ISS.

Destin from SmarterEveryDay talks about how the whole procedure of getting from Earth to the ISS goes. Check it out here!

New ISS crew!

From my friend Melissa:

3 astronauts are being flown up to the ISS at 5:02 pm (Eastern Time)--  NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Kimiya Yui of Japan. They’ll catch a ride up in a Soyuz spacecraft launching from Kazakhstan

Check out the Live Feed Here

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Nerd HD Panel at SDCC

I'm proud to call myself a nerd, so when I found out about this discussion panel at San Diego Comic Con with Chris Hadfield, Nathan Edmonson, Adam Savage, Alton Brown, Bobak Ferdowsi, Alison Haislip, Zach Lipovsky, Clare Grant, and Nathan Fillion, I totally geeked out. They spoke about everything from their careers (yes, people asked questions to other panelists than the astronaut), the future of nerddom, and how they themselves nerd out when meeting their pop nerd idols. One of the best quotes from Chris Hadfield, "There is nothing more important than what you are doing right now". I highly recommend giving this a watch.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Travel Week

I've got a bit of work travel this coming week. It's fitting since I may be visiting one or more NASA sites in the south...

Speaking of NASA, this week is almost exactly 9.5 years from when New Horizons was launched, and the journey is reaching its ultimate milestone: the Pluto System. On July 14, New Horizons will fly by the former furthest planet in our system. Keep track of the mission here and see all of the gorgeous imagery that New Horizons has sent back.

For an addition treat, the NY times has made this small documentary about the mission. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Collapsing Bubbles!

For my PhD, I did a lot of work in cavitation detection. I learned a lot about how bubbles form both in cavitation and in boiling. In this video, the Gallery of Fluid Motion creates a bubble using a focused laser, and takes high speed video (at several speeds) as well as Schlieren Video in order to detect the shock waves from the various bubble collapses of the initial bubble, and each of the fluid structures it creates.

Check out a whole bunch of other cool videos at to see more fluid mechanics madness!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Expect the Amazing out of Old Tech

Westerlund 2 — Hubble’s 25th anniversary image

I read a lot about photography, having just picked it up as a hobby, and hear a lot of discussion about people needing to have the latest and greatest tech in order to take better pictures. After reading this article by The Guardian, I'm pretty sure none of these people have any clue about what it takes to make great photography. Hubble has 8 imaging sensors, with the latest having been upgraded in 2009, but most are from 2002 or earlier. Even then, the tech used had to be extremely reliable, hence it was probably outdated even for then. Hubble repeatedly sends down some of the most amazing and beautiful images, and I don't hear NASA complaining about how they could be some much better if only they got the brand new Canon 5DSR up on the scope.

Needless to say, I'll never blame a bad picture on my camera, no matter how old it is...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

3D Printed Marble Machine

Who doesn't love Marble Machines! This little kit was made by Jazzmyn Ellsworth, who is 14 years old. She designed the parts inspired by some of the things people were building with a MakerBot. She give this warning to those who might want to build their own, especially at such a young age:

Warning, side-effects may include: Increased Success in the future and swelling of Awesomeness in areas of STEM.

Well said Jazzmyn. Check out the article as written by Make:

.75 Caliber Homemade Cannon

This gorgeous cannon was made by Ticktock34 on imgur. It actually fires, which you can see here. You can also see the photos of the entire build process here!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Reuben's Organ

I've talked about Reuben's Tubes and had other posts where there were used. This guy decided to build a series of tubes, and hooked them up to a synthesizer. I can't wait to see what this does once he has the crossovers setup properly.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

My Photography

I put a bunch of my photography up on the web! It's a small collection so far, and mostly I'm trying to do some really technical things. You can find it at:


Friday, May 1, 2015

The Messenger Probe Goes Home

Yesterday (April 30th) the Messenger Probe completed its mission with a flourish by crash landing on the surface of Mercury. During its 4 year mission, it orbited the small planet 4103 times, and sent back thousands of images helping us map our tiny neighbor.

Messenger was forecasted to make a 52 foot wide crater, impacting the surface at over 8700 mph.

Check out more about Messenger at the links below:

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Mighty Mackinac

This is a short article I read on Facebook about the Mackinac Bridge. It's a direct copy from the posting. (Thanks Midget Robin!)

For those who don't know, the Mighty Mackinac is the span of I75 that crosses the Straights of Mackinac, which passes water from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. The bridge leaves Lower Michigan from Mackinac City, and lands on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in St. Ignace.

Why the metal grating on inside lanes of The Mackinac Bridge? Simple - it wouldn't survive harmonic wind stresses without it.

Mackinac Bridge January 1953, Steinman was appointed as the design engineer for the Mackinac Bridge, and his recommendations were incorporated into its design. Representing a new level of aerodynamic stability in suspension bridges for its time, the Mackinac Bridge was the first long-span suspension bridge to incorporate specific design features, including a porous deck, to manage the forces imposed on it by winds. Construction of "Mighty Mac" took over three years in a demanding climate, and the structure's completion made all-weather travel between Michigan's two regions possible.

Claim to Fame: Representing a new level of aerodynamic stability in suspension bridges for its time, the Mackinac Bridge was the first suspension bridge to incorporate specific design features to manage the forces imposed on it by winds.

The design of the Mackinac Bridge was directly influenced by the lessons of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which failed on November 7, 1940 due to instability under wind stresses. Three years after the Tacoma Narrows disaster, engineer David B. Steinman published a theoretical analysis of suspension-bridge stability problems. Among his recommendations were that future bridge designs include deep trusses to stiffen the bridge deck and an open-grid roadway to reduce its wind resistance.

Prior to the construction of the bridge, a fleet of nine ferries would carry as many as 9,000 vehicles per day, with traffic backups stretching as long as 16 miles.

In New York the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge, designed by Othmar Amman, was 10 years in the making and finally opened in November 1964.

Both of these monumental spans directly benefited from the legacies of the failed 1940 and the successful 1950 Tacoma Narrows Bridges.

And there folks, is the history lesson for today that most people don't know...

Enjoy, and Thanks for Sharing!! - - U.P. Michigan

Thursday, March 19, 2015


As I said previously, I've been getting into photography, and specifically Astrophotography. I picked up a nice camera, and have been filling up memory card (got a new one on order, as well as another hard drive) with short exposures until I finish building my equatorial mount.

The trick with astrophotos is that since the earth is rotating, the sky is moving with respect to an surface bound observer. This wouldn't be so bad, except that in order to get really great images of the sky, you have to measure (read, expose the camera sensor) for a long time. Long exposures do two things: allow very dim light to impact the sensor, and average out the black background that is space. It's a real battle with signal to noise ratio, and has been a great refresher of my electrical engineering, and even useful for my mechanical engineering background.

This is the best photo I've done so far. It's a stack (read: average) of about 100 four second exposures of the region around Cassiopeia. There has also been a bit of what is called stretching in photoshop in order to bring out the brightness in some areas, and enhance the darkness in others. I've gotten a lot of compliments on it, but I know I can do some way cooler stuff if I just put some work to it. So using my 3D printer, I am making a Barn Door Tracker to help take longer exposures. I'll post some of the cooler stuff here when I get it!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

More Women doing Cool Stuff in Science

Mika McKinnon over at io9 has another article listing off some of the current ladies who are working in science. The only one I've had a chat with so far is Nicole Sharp who writes Fuck Yeah Fluid Dynamics. (Yes, that's a real page) I need to start following some of these folks! Here's some of her stuff.

Whisky leaves behind a pattern that depends on the flow created by alcohol evaporating faster than water.

Women Pioneers in Physics

The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics has posted this gallery of some of the greatest female minds in the sciences. They have everyone from Cecilia Payne, who is the mother of modern Astrophysics, to Marie Curie, who is the only person, man or woman, to have a Nobel Prize in two different disciplines (Physics and Chemistry). Their profiles are below, and the rest can be seen here.

As for this Blog, I find Dynamics stuff so sporadically, that it's hard to talk about JUST that. I have a list of other things that I've wanted to talk about on here for so long that I decided to expand to all of my fascinations including:

3D Printing and Modern Manufacturing
Quadcopters, Drones, and RC Flight
and of course...
Dynamic Systems, Acoustics, and Modal Analysis

Talk soon!