GeekSpeak for 2013-03-30

Musically Shaving Bytes with Frozen Smoke

Ben and Lyle chat about music, code, astrophysics and material sciences.

USB Shaver

Lyle was sent a ShaveTech USB portable shaver – and surprises Ben on air.
Lyle: “Surprisingly more useful then I thought.”

Graphene aerogel takes world’s lightest material crown

Although first created in 1931 by American scientist and chemical engineer, Samuel Stephens Kistler, aerogels have recently become a hotly contested area of scientific research. A “multiwalled carbon nanotube (MCNT) aerogel” dubbed “frozen smoke” with a density of 4 mg/cm3 lost its world’s lightest material title in 2011 to a micro-lattice material with a density of 0.9 mg/cm3. Less than a year later, aerographite claimed the crown with its density of 0.18 mg/cm3.

Now a new title-holder has been crowned, with the graphene aerogel created by Gao and his team boasting a density of just 0.16 mg/cm3. To create the record-setting material, Gao and his team turned to the wonder material du jour – graphene. Building on experience in developing macroscopic graphene materials, including one-dimensional graphene fibers and two-dimensional graphene films, the team decided to add another dimension and make a three-dimensional porous material out of graphene in an attempt to claim the record.

GeekBit: JS1k Competition

The object of this competition is to create a cool JavaScript “application” no larger than 1k. Starting out as a joke, the first version ended with a serious amount of submissions, prizes and quality.

Two Eclipses, Two Stories

For NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, it’s eclipse season.

SDO circles the Earth in a geosynchronous orbit, meaning it makes one complete path around our planet every 24 hours. This is a special orbit, because it means to someone on Earth the satellite stays in one spot in the sky, making communication with it much easier.

But it means that twice a year the orbits of SDO and Earth line up, and the Earth irritatingly gets in the way of SDO’s view of the Sun, partially blocking it. These times are called “eclipse seasons”, and we’re in the middle of one of them now. On Mar. 2, the Earth got between SDO and the Sun…and not only that, a few hours later the Moon did as well! Here’s the result:

OS X Mountain Lion: Zoom content on the screen

If you have difficulty seeing or reading items on the screen, you can use Accessibility preferences to magnify items on the screen. You can zoom the entire screen or zoom the area that has keyboard focus in a separate window.