Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Setting things on fire with your fingers, the grounding device, and more!

Electronic Man - This guy manages to light paper, matches and cigarettes all with the use of his finger via electric charge.

Note: I wouldn't recommend this. You know how on the back of CRT TV's it says "danger, electrical hazard"? It says that for a reason.

The CRT's have huge capacitors on them in order to operate. Well, when you remove power from a TV, especially on old TV's, this capacitor maintains its stored charge (for days, perhaps). If you hold your hands across the terminals of this capacitor inside the TV, it could potentially release (depending on home much charge was stored) enough current to kill you instantly (i.e brain nerve damage). Capacitors can dump tons of electric charge very quickly (that's how flash on cameras work!).

Well, this guy ignored that fact, or at least that is what it appears to me. He's building up a big charge (just like you get on a dry, winter day in your office chair, and when you stand up.. zap...grr...) on his body, and releasing it via his fingers :)

Anyway, I got sick of getting shocked everytime I got up from my chair.

Solution? I tied a piece of wire from my chair to the ground, and to the metal part of my desk. So far, much less or no severe shocks (i.e the shocks I was getting were very audible). :)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Politics .... again :)

I can't help being a little political. I see US politics as very important; ie. if Bush (or his damn brother), or better yet, the Republicans, win, AGAIN, after all their oil gouging and ill-favored war decisions, I'd be afraid to visit the US :) The "terrorist" factor gets stronger the longer a Bush stays president.

I was watching the Colbert Report today. The guy he was interviewing had a book about "How the Democrats can win without the South". He cites all of US history, as it was the southern states that were last to join the union, bitterly held on to the practices of slavery, racism, etc etc.

That, in reality, is the major problem with the US, when you think of it: it's half and half split (almost). A good chunk of the country are Bible thumpin', Bush and Republican lovin', people. Then another chunk are the more liberal kind, with some people in between.

However, this guys strategy that the democrats focus their campaign only on the States they know they can win (ie screw most of the Bible thumpin' states), seems a bit misguided. Sure, it might help guarantee success to get in the office, but what then? You at least have to appease the opposite side a bit, else it'll be one hell of a job.

It seems to me Hillary would make a great president. Why? You know she'll do at least, if not better job, than Clinton (as she was probably running the show anyway :) ) . The US needs some change in politics; so does Canada.

When Bush gets the boot, so should Harper.

To me, these seem to be the overall agendas of various political parties
In Canada,
Liberals- more accepting societal views (i.e. gay marriage), more focus on education, healthcare, stable economy. We kicked them out for having some corrupt members, but I'd bet good money all the parties do, they just didn't get caught.
Conservatives- expand the economy, screw the little people in the process (ie. Harper, Malrouny, etc etc).
Perhaps Canada "needed" a hardass for a few terms, who knows (to push the economy more). However, we certainly don't need it for that long.
NDP=a more liberal liberal ;)
The Block (I won't get started about these guys.. :)
... etc

at least we have some choices in Canada.

Republicans- expand the economy, keep economy going with war(s), oil, war on drugs, keep people afraid.
Democrats- not sure about these guys, but the US gov't seems to make better decisions when they are in charge (i.e. Clinton vs Bush). Definitely more liberal than the Republicans.

With all of these different parties, what about a "Logical Party"?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hillary for President

Not surprisingly, Hillary is running for president.

Can she win? Some stats say that 1/3 of the American public won't even consider to vote for her. However, I have no idea how they made this statistic, although I can see it being true. However, it's perhaps not fair, because 1/3 of the Americans won't vote for a democrat, let alone a woman democrat (i.e. the reason Bush won.. twice.. my god.)

I think the US needs a woman president.

In fact, Canada could probably use a female PM. To me, every time I see Harper on the news, I think "idiot". I understand that some of his policies might not be representative of what he himself thinks, but rather the Conservative Party (as Chef says, they can suck on my balls).

All I see on the news about Harper is how he shot down some of the Liberals ideas (ie. on energy and environmental issues, drug issues); now that the ice caps are melting at an alarming rate, he steals their ideas, presents it as his own. Basically, the Conservatives are wasting Canadians, including myself, time. It's clear to me they don't have any good ideas of their own.

I don't like Harper's ideas on drugs: put drug addicts in jail, for longer. Way to go, dumbass. Now that crack is cheaper than weed in Windsor, we'll have 10% of the city in jail. Great. :)

To me, the Liberals ideas of essentially making drugs like weed legal, and supporting programs for people to get over the harder drugs, is a much better use of money than throwing these people in jail. Who cares if Bush doesn't see it this way? We're not the US, we're Canada, Mr. Harper.

For example, Harper and the Conservatives tax restructuring is useless. 1% less GST, 0.5% more income tax (only for the poor folks, though, thanks Harper). So, essentially, no net change whatsoever, but I bet took millions of dollars to change. Way to go Harper, you dumbass.

Either get rid of the GST completely, or leave it alone. 14% is much harder for me to calculate in my head than 15% :)

Sorry Harper, we don't want a Bush-like Canada (ie. Harper and the Conservatives think more along the lines of Republicans.. oil, oil, tough on drugs, screw the little people). Get the fuck out of office, please.

I've heard a rumor Bush wants Canada to increase Alberta's oil output X5... haven't been able to verify that though. Makes some sense, I suppose. ;)

Here's hoping the next federal election in Canada doesn't see the Conservatives winning.

After all, it was a Conservative, the infamous Malrouny, that introduced the damn GST in the first place, then had a big shindig with his CEO buddies to rub it in ;)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Must have sucked to be a married guy in the late 1800's

See Advice to New Brides

In an almost Victorian like attitude, these supposed church groups promoted that sex "was evil, but neccessary to bear children". Men, like animal beasts, would request sex at least once a day of their wives.

So, the idea was to let the man have sex only maybe once a week for the first year of marriage, then once a month by a few years of marriage, etc etc.

To this day, this is the reason most bachellor's don't want to get married, ie.

Soon to be groom "Awesome! Once I'm married, I can get blowjobs all the time"
Soon to be bride "Awesome! Once I'm married, I'll never have to give a blowjob again".

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Tesla Roadster

Ah, yes, finally an electric car worthwhile. Some E-Com rich geeks decided that the auto companies were too slow in making a good electric car, so they teamed up with Lotus,and a bunch of other manufacturer's (motors, batteries, etc) to make the Tesla Roadster.

The biggest problem with electric cars is not that we can't make good enough motors and motor drives (which we can, as shown below), but the power source. This supercar's solution is to use a huge array of lithium ion batteries (as they have the best performance).

That's the motor that powers it. It produces a huge amount of power (about equivalent to a 300 HP engine).
However, it weights 70 lbs. It's motor drive stage (as you can see in the picture) is a fraction the size of the motor. Something the size of a watermelon can deliver the power of a gigantic truck engine, it just needs a 1000 lb bank of batteries to do it ;) However, if you like lots of "oomf" in your acceleration / starting torque, here's a comparison of standard internal combustion engines to the induction motor:

This means when you hit the pedal, your car lunges immediately. There's no lag in developing the torque, as with standard engines.

None of this is surprising; modern electric motor and electrical generators are about 95% efficient (the loses from converting mechanical to electrical and vice versa are mainly are due to resistance/heat dissipation in the motor windings.)

Comparatively , gas engines are about 20% efficient.

Some argue electrical cars really don't "save power", as the power still comes from the grid, which comes predominantly from coal/oil (although a smaller percentage of the grid is powered by hydro, nuclear, and wind/other.)

However, the makers of the Tesla Roadster argue (which I think they are right), is that the whole electrical car process is still more efficient by a large margin.

Let's see.. the overall efficiency of the "electric car" takes into account the efficiency of the turbine/steam process, generation efficiency, and transmission losses, on the grid end, and then finally, the battery and motor efficiency on the car side of things. This is an uber rough estimate and probably makes a huge amount of assumptions, but what the hell:

Pefficiency= 0.65* 0.95 * 0.97 *0.90 * 0.95 =~ 50%

So, the whole process of the electric car is still 50%, twice that of the gasoline engine's 25% efficiency.

The problem with electric cars, ultimately, is still the battery. Sure, if you only use it for everyday driving and then recharge every night, no problem. What about road trips, though?

The answer lies in an energy storage device that can be very quickly recharged (ie not current battery technologies.) If your "battery" could be recharged in a matter of seconds/minutes, no one would mind, gas takes that long too! :)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Borat's acceptance speech! :)

It's probably funnier if you've seen Borat, but funny nevertheless I imagine.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Biomechatronics and Electromechanical batteries

Mechatronics=Getting motors or other actuators to do stuff (robotics, power assisted vehicles and devices, etc.)

Biomechatronics=getting motors, or even better, actual muscle tissue, in combination with a living person (or animal), to do stuff (whether it be

See HowStuffWorks:Biomechatronics

The medical field has came along way in the past few years: for instance, we now have:
- working electromechanical and pneumatic hearts, which are allowing people to live that would die without a compatible transplant (certainly, they view these as temporary devices.)
- Biomechanical arms, and legs.
- Exoskeletons
- Replacement ears, eyes (even if EM eyes don't work so well, yet, but the concept and working prototypes are there, used in actual disabled people.)
-etc etc

I think if I ever went back to the research area, this would be the field. I know mechatronics fairly well, but biomechatronics adds a whole new dimension to the concept.

Another interesting concept I revisited today: electromechanical batteries.

Flywheels are just rotating masses designed to efficiently store rotating kinetic energy -- i.e. the friction is much reduced, and their mass to interia ratio is exceptional. To the friction end, some flywheels use the magnetic levitation principle to hold them on their axis, instead of mechanical bearings, to reduce the friction. The spinning friction is what causes flywheels to lose their kinetic energy overtime.

Anyway, the idea behind electromechanical batteries is as such:
- Make a large array of microflywheels. Attach each flywheel to a micro electrical generator.
- The "stored" energy in the battery comes from the fact, before you sold the battery, you'd spin all of the microflywheels to their highest speed (which would be very, very, very fast).

With advances in micromachining / nanotechnology to make better, faster, flywheels with less friction, and MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) to make really small working electrical generators, this seemingly simple idea might just work great.

That's the thing -- most of the ideas people are now doing research and development in have been around for 50 or even 100 years -- just back then people didn't have other technology to implement those ideas.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Some high school physics..

Well, over the past few months, I've decided teaching is a good route to go.

Teach what? Physics ("main" teachable) and math (other teachable) is what I'm qualified for.

Then reading the gr 12A physics curriculum, realizing it's much more detailed than the gr 13 (OAC) I took a ways back.

Infact, it now includes topics on general relativity and quantum mechanics - of which I know mostly superficially.

However, I know a ton about EM stuff. I'm kind of excited to eventually build a whole bunch of simple EM machines, including:

-Tesla coil
-home built dc motor to explain motor principle.
-home built AC motor/generator to explain generation.
- Rail gun (would be good for part on projectile motion as well).

Ideally, in any science or engineering, you should demonstrate as many concepts as possible with real devices. Understanding the underlying math is great, but nothing beats a working demo to get the ideas to click in the most students head.

Einstein's theory of relativity is really, really profound, the more and more you read about the implications of this theory (of which, apparently, I only know the "special" or "simpler" theory of relativity).

With his theory:
-Everyone views the speed of light as the same speed, irregardless of their relative speed
- i.e. if light was a speed car, it would appear to be going the same speed to you regardless if you were following said car or heading right head on for it (which is not normally the case).

-Electricity and magnetism are essentially the same thing, just "time/space shifted".

-Matter is energy, E=mc^2

I've gotten myself to accept "modern physics", ie quantum theory and general relativity. You pretty much have to accept these, and it's nice to know a bit about them, as modern technology depends on them: without these, we'd have no advanced transistors, thus no uber computers, no satellites, as they wouldn't be able to keep themselves correctly in orbit.)

This new string theory with 11 dimensions is beyond me, though.

Why Oil is so valuable

Oil is so valuable, along with other fossil fuels, that entire wars are started because of it (like Bush's failed war in Iraq.) Sure, Bush says it's about establishing democracy, but most people know he and the government are full of shit.

After all, the average person can accept (although not like) that the war in Iraq was made to free the country of Saddam. Would people support the real reason, however? I doubt it.

Here's the reason why, the numbers don't lie: oil powers most of the human made devices on the planet.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Smoking 350 joints a week might be bad for you

I'm continually amused by much of the so called "medical research". Assuming you are awake for 16 hours a day, and only smoke after work, that's 6 joints, per hour, for 8 hours, per day, every day.

That's a whole lot of weed. You'd give a new name the name "pothead".

Marijuana isn't really bad for you (besides the carcinogenic effects of smoking). I bet smoking 6 joints made of anything per hour would be bad for your health. I'd still like to know the person who figured out "the lethal dose of pot is your body weight, smoked". Jesus, if I had 250 lbs of pot, I'd sell it and retire for the rest of my life, not smoke it all in one session :)

In conclusion, if the results of research can be explained by extremely normal common sense, perhaps they weren't worth investigating in the first place ;)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Beatles, Love!

This new CD / 5.1 DVD Audio CD Dani bought on Boxing Day is amazing. It has all the Beatles hits, but the producer went through all the old material to make an entirely new mix (for instance, compare the original "Get Back" to the new "Get Back", IMO, the new "Get Back" is a much more interesting mix).

In fact, this album was actually intended originally for a Cirque De Soleil ala Beatles theme.

The reason I love the album so much:

1) it's the Beatles, the greatest rock band ever (well, the Stones also claim this :) )
2) the mixes are more upbeat
3) each song blends into the next, so the album is one continuous song (like Dark Side of the Moon.)

I'd love to see such a compilation with other of my favourite bands ( Stones, OLP, Weezer, etc).


Here's a pic of Keith Richards (right) in Pirates of the Carribean 3. I don't know who the bald dude is in the middle.

So that's what you look like at 60 something, living as a Pirate on a diet of RUM. ;)