Monday, February 20, 2017

The Web pages for the 2004 Transit of Venus have been updated to HTML5 with improved typography, embedded animations, and stale external links fixed. All pages and CSS style sheets have been validated for correctness....

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

I have just posted an updated version of Les Quatre Saisons, a one-year time lapse video of construction in a field adjacent to Fourmilab in 2005–2006. The new version includes embedded video using the HTML5 video facility. This provides higher resolution than the embedded YouTube video used previously. Some broken links to the tools used to produce the movie have been fixed. The YouTube version of the video and links for users who wish to download the movie in a variety of formats continue to be available....

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Pitch Drop describes the longest continuously-running scientific experiment, which demonstrates how even the most viscous fluids will eventually flow as the liquids they are. Do it yourself instructions are included for the very patient....

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Jenne, Mike. Pale Blue. New York: Yucca Publishing, 2016. ISBN 978-1-63158-084-0. This is the final novel in the trilogy which began with Blue Gemini (April 2016) and continued in Blue Darker than Black (August 2016). After the harrowing rescue mission which concluded the second book, Drew Carson and Scott Ourecky, astronauts of the U.S. Air Force's covert Blue Gemini project, a manned satellite interceptor based upon NASA's Project Gemini spacecraft, hope for a long stand-down before what is slated to be the final mission in the project, whose future is uncertain due to funding issues, inter-service rivalry, the damage to its Pacific...

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Web edition of Jules Verne's 1873 novel Le Tour du Monde en Quatre-vingts Jours was originally posted at Fourmilab in December of 1996. An updated version, with improved typography and confirming to the XHTML 1.0 and CSS 3 standards, has just been posted. All illustrations have been remade from the original scans into greyscale PNG images, adjusted for contrast. All documents have been checked with the W3C Validator....

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

In April 1996 I posted a French language, completely illustrated edition of Jules Verne's De la Terre à la Lune. This 1865 novel, about a voyage to the Moon conducted by a group of members of a gun club by means of 900 foot cannon, was one of the first works of science fiction in the modern sense. I have just posted an updated edition, using modern Web standards (XHTML 1.0 Strict and CSS 3), with improved typography and formatting. All of the text and illustrations are unchanged. All documents and style sheets have been validated for standards compliance by...

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Sunday, February 5, 2017

Verne, Jules. Hector Servadac. Seattle: CreateSpace, [1877] 2014. ISBN 978-1-5058-3124-5. Over the years, I have been reading my way through the classic science fiction novels of Jules Verne, and I have prepared public domain texts of three of them which are available on my site and Project Gutenberg. Verne not only essentially invented the modern literary genre of science fiction, he was an extraordinary prolific author, publishing sixty-two novels in his Voyages extraordinaires between 1863 and 1905. What prompted me to pick up the present work was an interview I read in December 2016, in which Freeman Dyson recalled that...

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

No, you're not dreaming—starting today, you can access Fourmilab over the IPv6 Internet protocol as well as the legacy IPv4 protocol. IPv6 remedies the address space exhaustion problems of IPv4 by moving to a 128 bit address space which should alleviate the crisis at least until every elementary particle in the universe requires its own Internet address or the network is extended into the multiverse. An IPv6 address is written as groups of hexadecimal digits separated by colons. Fourmilab's IPv6 address is thus “2a05:d014:d43:3101:c6ee:ea42:3836:6cbf”. If you're a glutton for punishment, you can type in this address, for example in a...

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Bending Spacetime in the Basement was one of the first “basement science” experiments posted on Fourmilab. It shows how to demonstrate universal gravitation on the human scale with simple apparatus and speculates on how Archimedes might have discovered universal gravitation 1900 years before Newton. This page was originally posted in July of 1997, and was showing its age. I have just posted a 2017 update, which uses HTML5 to provide improved typography and embed videos of the experiments within the page. This is a demanding experiment. Some people have managed to reproduce it, while others have run into difficulties. You...

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Since February 1997, Orbits in Strongly Curved Spacetime has allowed visitors to explore the wildly non-Keplerian orbits of a test mass in the vicinity of a compact gravitating body such as a neutron star or black hole. This was accomplished through an animation which plots the orbit and shows the motion of the particle in the gravitational effective potential and gravity well surrounding the object. The animation was implemented as a Java applet, which, as I have noted earlier here, fewer and fewer browsers support. I have just posted an updated version which uses HTML5/JavaScript animation instead of Java, and...

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Friday, January 27, 2017

The Retropsychokinesis Project (RPKP) celebrates its twentieth anniversary this month. Launched in January of 1997, the project may be the largest and longest-running parapsychology experiment in history, having recorded over 880,000 experiments performed by more than 34,000 volunteers around the globe. (Participants can designate experiments as “practice” or “for the record”. The total above includes both categories, while the Experiment Summary, updated daily, includes only for the record experiments, which currently number more than 380,000.) In addition, control runs are automatically run and reported daily: almost 150,000 control runs are in the database. Retropsychokinesis tests the hypothesis that users are...

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Friday, January 20, 2017

In his 1922 book, American Individualism, Herbert Hoover, then Secretary of Commerce in the Harding administration, wrote of his cabinet colleagues: That our system has avoided the establishment and domination of class has a significant proof in the present Administration in Washington, Of the twelve men comprising the President, Vice-President, and Cabinet, nine have earned their own way in life without economic inheritance, and eight of them started with manual labor. In my December 2016 review of Hoover's book, I compared the cabinet in which Hoover served with the Obama cabinet at the time as follows. Let's see how that...

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Twenty years ago I posted The Probability Pipe Organ as part of the “Introduction to Probability and Statistics” documenting the Retropsychokinesis Experiments Online (RPKP). The pipe organ illustrates how the results of a series of experiments involving random values approaches the binomal distribution as the number of experiments increases. This page was original implemented as a Java applet. When the Java language was launched, the accompanying hype claimed “Write once. Run everywhere.” After experience with several implementations of Java on different platforms, I added “Yeah, right.” to the slogan. Still, at the time, Java was the only practical way to...

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Wolfe, Tom. The Kingdom of Speech. New York: Little, Brown, 2016. ISBN 978-0-316-40462-4. In this short (192) page book, Tom Wolfe returns to his roots in the “new journalism”, of which he was a pioneer in the 1960s. Here the topic is the theory of evolution; the challenge posed to it by human speech (because no obvious precursor to speech occurs in other animals); attempts, from Darwin to Noam Chomsky to explain this apparent discrepancy and preserve the status of evolution as a “theory of everything”; and the evidence collected by linguist and anthropologist Daniel Everett among the Pirahã people...

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Brown, Brandon R. Planck. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. ISBN 978-0-19-021947-5. Theoretical physics is usually a young person's game. Many of the greatest breakthroughs have been made by researchers in their twenties, just having mastered existing theories while remaining intellectually flexible and open to new ideas. Max Planck, born in 1858, was an exception to this rule. He spent most of his twenties living with his parents and despairing of finding a paid position in academia. He was thirty-six when he took on the project of understanding heat radiation, and forty-two when he explained it in terms which would launch...

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