Saturday, January 29, 2005

Random Musings

Ah, where was I, before I was so rudely interrupted by the audio from a "Megaman" flash animation that had apparently loaded in the background? (props to rtgrl for that). I was thinking about what this update was going to be about. Certainly not the elements, which I tired of before even hitting my favourite one, #5. Milla Jovovich is hot. I suppose I could talk about yesterday's calculus quiz. After getting last weel's quiz back with the lovely mark of 3/10, I figured it was time to put in some extra effort. So I grabbed my trusty bic pen (it's "trusty" due to it's being the only pen I've used for the last four weeks) and went to work adding some non-permanent tattoos to my right hand and forearm. Cleverly placed to avoid the attention of the TA, of course. It's a good thing I did so too, because in each of the quiz questions, I used at least one of the formulae I had so conveniently inked onto my skin.

After the quiz (which I'm sure was a disaster, but less so than last week), I went to sign up for a "space symposium". I only wanted to attend the talk that took place last night, but it turned out that I signed up for the whole weekend (I shot off an e-mail to see if I could sort that out). I then went to the talk, which was pretty interesting; it featured speakers on the Mars Exploration Rovers, the Cassini mission, and some other rather cool stuff. Apparently the MOST (Microvariability and Oscillations of STars) space telescope is the first telescope to be based off a cartoon character. And that character is Spongebob. Nearly everyone in the auditorium cracked up when the comparison picture was displayed.

When this "space symposion" finally finished up (an hour and a half late; but I wasn't complaining), I decided it was a good time to watch a movie. I scoured my hard drive for one that I hadn't yet seen, and hit on "Pi". It's a pretty creepy, though absolutely fascinating movie. The most disturbing part, however, was after I turned it off and looked down to see calculus all over my arm. So I didn't waste any time washing that off.

Apart from these relatively few events, my weekend has been rather boring. Today, I've already watched two movies, but I also did a shitload of work on my computer science assignment (yes, the switching of semesters did nothing to rid me of the scourge of c++). There is something notable about that, however. I actually understand what I am doing. I sat down with a pen and paper, and wrote up a bunch of code, then ran through it, and it worked. The first time. Then I typed it into the computer and it still worked. Well, it compiled, anyways. I have yet to test the program as a whole (for obvious reasons; it's not complete yet). But I have a good feeling about this one.

Anyways, that's all for now. I'll try to update more often (yah right, as if that's gonna happen), mostly because it seems to increase my stats (even though nobody seems to be clicking on the ads! come on, people!).

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Element Number... Ah, Fuck It.

What the hell ever gave me the idea to write about the elements anyways. They really aren't that interesting. At least it got rid of those damned Christmas ads that google saw fit to put there...

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Element #4

And now, the fourth element on the periodic table, weighing in at 9.012 g/mol, it's time to welcome the lovely Beryllium!

Okay, I only say that because it has a cool name. Just say it. "Beryllium". Doesn't it just flow nicely?

Beryllium has the interesting property of being the first carcinogenic element. In powdered form, if you breathe it in, you're screwed. And yet many people are around Beryllium powder every day. Why? Because it is one of the strongest and lightest metals, which makes it invaluble for things that have to be, well, strong and light (think missiles). Beryllium oxide has the strange combination of being an insulator for electricity but a conductor for heat. Some spark plugs have beryllium oxide in them.

There's really not too much more to say about beryllium. It's a pretty interesting element, but I haven't had any personal experience with it (just wait until I get into the non-metals).

Element #3

After a short break, I am back with tales of the third element on the periodic table: Lithium. You might be asking yourself, "is there anything really exciting about lithim?", and the answer, of course, is "no."

Lithium is pretty much just a boring element. It sits there, between hydrogen and sodium, but with none of the coolness of either of those. It's not really a very common element; you would find it mostly in lithium-ion batteries that are used for laptops and other portable electronic devices. Soon to be surpassed by fuel cells. So where does this leave lithium? About the only interesting property it has is its high specific-heat capacity. It's used in some alloys with aluminum, sometimes. In the movie Apollo 13, the air filtration canisters used lithium hydroxide.

That's about it for lithium. If anyone knows of other uses of it... anything that would make it more interesting... feel free to mention it.

P.S. Dilithium and trilithium have nothing to do with lithium, because both of them don't actually exist.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Element #2

Good morning campers, today's element is helium. Two protons, two neutrons, two electrons (mostly). This is the standard helium-4 that is by far the most common form on Earth. Helium-3 is interesting, though, because it has the potential to be used as fuel for a fusion reactor. It's found mainly on the Lunar surface and on Jupiter, according to many science fiction stories.

As a chemical, helium is pretty boring. As a noble gas, it's pretty tough to get it to react with anything. However, it's lighter than air, and safer than hydrogen, so it's regularily used to fill balloons. And get this, it's actually mined from the ground.

The best use of helium, once it has passed its useful life as a balloon-weight-reducer, is to breathe it in. As you well know, this makes your voice sound pretty funny. It has to do with the different speed of sound in helium, which changes the way the waves are created in your larynx...

Well, that's about all I have to say about this lovely second element. I'll be back tomorrow with stories about lithium.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Element #1

So I thought of an idea for something to write about; at least for a little while. My adventures with the elements! Still needs a good slogan though; "Kyle's Elemental Adventures" isn't all that catchy. Anyways, without further ado, I present to you my tale of the first element:

Hydrogen.

As the lightest element; also the most common element in the universe; hydrogen deserves a special mention. It's in the same period as the alkali metals, but it is not a metal. However, solid hydrogen acts like metal, and is even magnetic. Hydrogen has two other isotopes: deuterium and tritium. Deuterium is the basis for heavy water, which is essential for nuclear power, and in the future it might be used a fuel in a fusion reactor. It has one neutron. Tritium is unstable and radioactive. If you've ever seen the movie "K-19", the blueish glow in the water around the reactor core is caused partially by tritium. Tritium has two neutrons.

Enough with the background, it's time to tell the story. In truth, there isn't really much to tell. Hydrogen is phenomenally easy to produce in the home with electrolysis, and I was doing this at a rather young age. There's nothing like putting a lighted match into that inverted test tube that looks empty and hearing that satisfying "POP!" as the hydrogen explosively combines with atmospheric oxygen to form water vapour. However, electrolysis is inefficient for producing higher volumes or pressures of hydrogen. Higher pressures might be needed, say, if you wanted to fill a balloon with hydrogen. This is most easily achieved by reacting some type of metal with some type of acid. I chose Aluminum foil and muriatic acid. In case you don't know, muriatic acid is the name under which hydrochloric acid is sold. It will burn you. If you breathe in the fumes, it will burn your lungs. As I found out on several seperate ocassions.

The interesting thing about having hydrogen in a balloon is that it will float; in fact it floats much better than a helium balloon. So if you let your hydrogen balloon go before the inevitable explosion (for why else would you want to fill a balloon with hydrogen?), it will float up to the ceiling. Depending on what the ceiling is made out of, the explosion can scorch it. Thankfully, the phrase "Oh, that was always there" works in a lot of situations.

Anyways, that's my story. Well, not really so much of a story. I'm going up by atomic number, and believe me, when we get into the halogens, I will have much more entertaining stories for you.

In conclusion, I would like to remind you that I am not liable for any injury or property damage sustained by repeating any experiments posted herein. Please follow every safety precaution, and more importantly, use common sense! I am very lucky that I haven't been killed or seriously hurt by any of my experiments so far, and I don't want anyone reading this to get hurt.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Rain? Thunderstorms?! So much for winter...

Yep... I swear, Southern Ontario gets the strangest weather patterns anywhere. It's been raining on and off, all day, and now I just heard some thunder. Crazy. I want snow dammit!

Ever heard of "numerical integration by piecewise approximation"? That's what I learned about today in calculus. It's strange how this piecewise approximation looks exactly the same as an audio compression algorithm that I thought up back in grade 10.

Holy crap, it's really raining now. There goes the last of the snow...

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

A little help here...

Come one guys, I know you want to help me. Just a
little support. Financial, I mean. I'm thinking that
it would be nice to have some spending money, just in
case I want to eat... I do sometimes need to eat, you
know.

Okay, the reality is; I'm okay for food, but I also
need money on ocassion. For random stuff.

This is why I'm making this plea to you. There's this
hard drive (external, 160 GB), that I have had my
eye on for quite some time...

Anyways, If you desire to help me, you know what to
do. At least, you should. I am assuming that the
subconsious mind will pick up on it...

[/subliminal message]

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Almost Forgot...

HAPPY WINTER-EEN-MAS!!!!

I'm going to go play some Halo to celebrate.

Attention-Grabbing Title

Well, look at me, up blogging at 2:30 in the morning.

So, the fact that it is 2005 is old news now, but I suppose I should say "Happy New Year". Or perhaps I'm just mentioning it as a segue into talking about New Year's resolutions, which then have somewhat of a bearing on another topic that I plan to talk about.

Anyways, I made only one New Year's resolution this year. I wasn't planning on making any, but I was coerced into making a resolution to "get a girlfriend". In fact, this was originally supposed to happen before the end of 2004, but as there were only 45 minutes left... you get the point.

In any case (I need to find new paragraph transitions), I've started going to the gym. I started yesterday, and I figure it's a good sign that I also went today. This is somewhat loosely related to my goal of getting a girlfriend, I suppose. But is it worth it? My muscles are absolutely killing me right now. (It must also be noted that while on the exercise bike, I was analyzing the design of the roof trusses. I must be an engineer.)

Well, that's all for now. Still working on thinking up an actual point for this blog.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Kyle's Technology Predictions for 2005

Here they are; check back in December to see how they pan out.

-Huygens successfully lands on Titan, and sends back proof of complex organic molecules
-computers will advance to the point where they have more processing capability than humans
-fully functional "butler robots" will start being sold, with voice recognition, facial recognition, and the ability to cook, clean, repair stuff, etc.
-holographic projectors will start becoming mainstream
-the space tourism industry will begin to grow exponentially
-quantum computers will surpass the speed of regular computers
-a functioning nanobot will be constructed that can run simple programs, move around, and pick up and drop different types of atoms
-brain implants will become advanced enough to create a "Matrix" of sorts
-optical storage will be developed that will allow over 2 terabytes of storage on a single disc
-the final merger of cell phones, PDAs, mp3 players, digital cameras, projectors, camcorders, and handheld gaming systems will take place
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