Archive for August, 2010

Iranian Scientist Says Ouch!

Posted by on Friday, 27 August, 2010



Thinking about being a physicist in Iran?

Can’t blame you. It sounds like a really, great life.

Hashem Rafii-Tabar  ( Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences)  says nobody’ll talk to you. You can’t get invited to scientific meetings. Can’t buy equipment or supplies and yer gonna pay double if you do.


Cause sanctions – those very same sanctions that, supposedly “don’t work” – are KILLING research in that garden of scientific freedom known as Iran.

In case you’re not up to speed on all this, unless western intelligence is VERY much mistaken (and, no, it would NOT be the first time), Iran is closing in on a nuclear device which could be an atomic bomb.

Could be a hydrogen bomb.

Could be a time machine.

Or not.

Cynical western countries certainly don’t “get” all the centrifuges, missiles, and other activities which they say are aimed ONLY at nuclear bang bang.

Iran says it’s a simple case of demonization of Israel’s rivals. A country has the right to its own science and Iran’s only thinking about its future energy needs.

Who’s the fibber here? MisterScienceAintSoBad wouldn’t know fer sure. But he tilts toward the West cause he’s brainwashed by the Boston Globe.

Nobody knows for sure. Maybe Iran’s just “blowin’ neutrons”. But,just to be on the safe side, the “world” is clamping down hard on Iran. Four UN resolutions. And the European Union has its own sanctions regime.

North Korea thinks it’s somewhat overdone.

Can’t please everybody.


Rafii-Tabar says the sanctions are screwing up his life.  “You cannot buy workstations or supercomputers.” Can’t even get free software. Click on a link and the Internet “recognizes the IP address as being in Iran and a message comes through that we cannot download.”

Can you imagine?

MISTER ScienceAintSoBad believes in freedom of science, freedom of the Internet, freedom of the airwaves.. well, you know. And sympathizes with the many, many modern, progressive Iranian men and women who are so frustrated by the consequences of decisions in which they did not and could not participate.  It would be just AWFUL if Iranian scientists felt they had to flee the country just so they could rejoin the scientific community.

Wouldn’t it?

News source:
Physics Today

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“Virus” Implicated in Plane Crash

Posted by on Wednesday, 25 August, 2010



In 2008, in Madrid,  an airplane took off with its flaps and its slats retracted.

It didn’t work out.

The flaps aren’t there to look pretty. When you stick ’em out like that, you’re looking for some extra lift as the aircraft struggles up into the sky. Not that a mistake in setting the flaps is a big deal, really. Nice Mister Computer’ll remind you to make the necessary adjustments.

Unless, of course, Mister Computer’s got his own problems.

In the case of  Spanair Flight 5022, Mister Computer had a virus – a trojan, actually. An article by Leslie Meredith (we always like to give credit) on, writes that the investigation of the NTSB discovered that there was no power to the take-off warning system. No slats. No flaps. No warning.

154 passengers died. 18 survived.

The central computer system got itself infected. Most probably from a USB “memory stick” or such.

The lesson? You knew it anyway. Computers can kill you lots of ways these days. You just can’t BE too vigilant.

The question?

Any PARTICULAR reason you can’t hang the writer of the malware that brought down an entire aircraft with 172 souls on board? MisterScienceAintSoBad hopes, with all his heart, there’s a way.


Posted by on Sunday, 22 August, 2010



In 1980, we met the compact fluorescent light.


Small and twisty with nasty contents. You KNOW something THAT bad must have an environmental justification. Compact fluorescents (CFLs) are just just – I dunno – wrong! The color is off, the shapes are off, they’re just not RIGHT!

They say we’re sposed  to use more and more compact fluorescents because  incandescent light bulbs are on the way out. They (incandescent bulbs)  chew up watts faster’en my dog chews through a morselburger (a morsel of hamburger dropped, accidentally, on the floor).

‘course, if you don’t like compact fluorescent bulbs and you wanna do the the right thing and avoid incandescent bulbs, there are those nice hot orange-ish  halogen lights. MisterScienceAintSoBad likes ’em better than CFLs.

But where are the  sturdy,cool,  long lasting light emitting diode (LED) bulbs which produce a lovely quality of light and  were promised in Genesis, Chapter 1, Verse 1 (Let there be.. “)? Aren’t they the ultimate solution to lighting?

They’re a comin’.

If you’ve bought yerself a nice flashlight, lately, you’ve probably noticed that there are dozens of models that sport LED bulbs. Unlike the flashlights we grew up with  that  throw out a wavering  yellow dot, surrounded by greasy ringlets of yellow and get dimmer and dimmer with use, the new flashlights with LED bulbs are incredible. They’re bright and clear and last a spooky long time. There are tiny versions that surprise with great light and larger versions that ‘re almost like an automotive headlight. Aim one across a big field and you can actually SEE the coyote who’s checking you out. MisterScienceAintSoBad has one for dog walks.

The coyotes in my town are buying them too.

According to Cree, sales of LED lighting components have doubled in the past 12 months.


Home lighting? Just watch. Home Depot’s gearing up to sell a “65 watt LED bulb” that  only uses 10 watts of juice. The light quality will be terrific, it will last a ridiculously long time,  and, if it breaks, no hazmat suits. A vacuum cleaner’ll do nicely.