The Crash

“Are we filled?”
“Don’t know.”
“Should we re-enter the order?”
“Don’t know – it could have failed and you need to re-enter, or you could be duping a trade.”
“When will we get reports?”
“Any minute now.”

Great little retrospective post on The Big Picture regarding the big “Crash of ’87”. I only remember that day due to my parents reaction to what had happen – apparently seeing 1/3 of your entire investment portfolio wash down the drain can be somewhat traumatic. My mom gave a quick synopsis, blaming Dean Witter’s computers which apparently “overloaded or something, they were supposed to sell but just didn’t.” I remember thinking that must be wrong.. how could computers be to blame?


The War So Far

So far I’m enjoying it. A lot of wartime footage I doubt any of us have seen much of, and great detail on the various operations and general march of the war, combined with the excellent back home story. I do have one criticism though, while there’s a lot of detail which I appreciate, I would have liked to hear more about the Axis side, their strategy, and their reactions to what we were doing, winning or losing. Other than that it’s been great.

Other misc. observations – I had no idea the Japanese were so cruel to our POW’s. I had seen at least one PBS special on some of the things that went on in the pacific, but after this I’m amazed at the level of cruelty they displayed overall. On the American internment camps, I had known about that for some time. My father told me about it when I was a kid when I asked him about an old scientific slide rule he kept (which currently sits in front of me on my desk). The story goes a Japanese American chemist my father worked with was being shipped off, and he gave the rule to my father to hold onto until they “met again” in the future. That never happened, so now it sits here in front of me as a small reminder of how far we’ve come technologically. For those curious it was made by “Keuffel and Esser Co. N.Y.” and is quite nice, and still works – it’s made of a waxed cherry wood, with a shiny off white lacquer finish where the numbers are printed. On the side it states the company had a “patent pending” on the design, which was ultimately issued to Keuffel on July 06, 1937. That makes it about 75 years old, obviously my dad kept good care of it.

Maybe someday one of the decedents of my father’s friend will read my post, get in touch, and I’ll be able to fulfill my dad’s promise of returning it to its rightful owner.

Fun Friday Links

Some blogs you might not be subscribed too –

Your Pet’s Best Friend – A small town vet who blogs. Hat tip to Smays for the link. I’ve been subscribed to this for a while now, it’s not earth shattering stuff, but if you’re looking for yet another blog to help sooth your scientific curiosity about things, you might find YPBF fun to read from time to time.

If Charlie Parker Was a Gun Slinger – Seminal Images that’ll send you searching Google for answers.

LP Cover Lover – The title says it all.

Deep Sea News – Yet another scientific curiosity soother.

Who Killed Bambi – I can’t even begin to explain it, but it’s always interesting. (Some imagery NSFW)

Tickling The Dragon’s Tail

On May 21, the screwdriver slipped, the upper beryllium hemisphere fell and caused a “prompt critical” reaction, resulting in a burst of hard radiation. The “blue glow” of air ionization was observed and a “heat wave” was felt by the scientists in the room. Slotin instinctively jerked his left hand upward, lifting the upper beryllium hemisphere and dropping it to the floor. He exposed himself to a lethal dose (around 2100 rems, or 21 Sv) of neutron and gamma radiation, in history’s second criticality accident. In addition to the blue glow and heat, Slotin experienced a sour taste in his mouth and an intense burning sensation in his left hand. As soon as Slotin left the building, he vomited, a common reaction from exposure to extremely intense ionizing radiation.

Slotin died nine days later.

Wikipedia Link

The web is the ultimate time suck, but it’s an educational time suck, so I think that makes it better than say something like television. How did I get to this article? Lets see, I started reading about a new solar power plant in Australia –

The government will contribute $57 million to the $319 million project to build a 154 megawatt solar power plant in Victoria state, which will use mirrored panels to concentrate the sun’s rays, Treasurer Peter Costello said.

The plant, which is to be built by Melbourne-based Solar Systems Pty Ltd., would begin operations in 2008 and reach full capacity by 2013.

“The project aims to build the biggest photovoltaic project in the world,” Costello told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Yahoo News Link

(Images of Solar II (above) always reminds me of Sim City.)

This article had me wondering how a 154 Megawatt solar power plant stacks up against nuclear power plants. Turns out your typical nuclear reactor can crank out 1 gigawatt of power, and nuclear power stations tend to house 2 – 4 reactors.

Which had me digging into the different types of nuclear reactors, as well as reading about Chernobyl.

Which in turn reminded me of an old test nuclear reactor in Denver that was plagued by problems – Fort St. Vrain, which has since been decommissioned and is now a natural gas power plant.

In the process I came across Wikipedia’s “List of military nuclear accidents” which ultimately landed me on “Tickling the Dragon’s Tail”. Cool!

Now I need to get back to work. 🙂