Wednesday, March 20, 2013

NASA, Phasers, Guns, and Mr. Rogers

I just keep stumbling across these interesting tidbits in my Internet travels, which have actually increased since I retired (to my work ethic's chagrin).

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was recently called on the carpet by Congress to explain why they haven't done more to locate and advise the public on Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), such as the meteor that exploded over Russia recently.

The answer? Congress keeps cutting their funding.

Duh! And d'oh!


From the science desk comes the invention and miniaturization of the ... are you ready? ... phaser! Seriously, you know that the word laser is an acronym, right? It stands for "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation." Well, scientists in Japan have now done basically the same thing that lasers do, only with sound waves instead of light waves. Those particles are called phonons, so the appropriate name for the process is "phasing."

It was actually first invented about three years ago, but at that time the phonons needed a medium - such as light - to move through. The Japanese research lab has successfully removed the light ride-along piece. Unlike a laser, which can move through the vacuum of space, the phaser needs air to get the job done, so it will only have an earthly application at this time.

They've been able to put it on a microchip, though, so it may well end up replacing quartz as the regulator in all of our timepieces. At least for those of us who still wear a watch instead of peeking at our cell phone for the time.


Speaking of guns, the website Thumbs and Ammo posits that real men don't need to use a gun, just the power of positive thinking.

So they have dedicated themselves to taking images from popular movies, removing the gun(s), and replacing the trigger fingers with a "thumbs up" sign.

Some of them - such as the one pictured here - are quite funny.


Finally, today would have been Fred Rogers 85th birthday. Here's an interesting mashup honoring his life as the children's TV host, "Mr. Rogers."


Mark's Musings is published on a periodical basis - right now on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays - but that may change without notice. Find me on Twitter at This blog is considered to be a digital periodical publication and is filed as such with the U.S. Library of Congress; ISSN 2154-9761. Why yes, it *is* a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

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