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Matt McIrvin
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In which I try out an extremely cheap VR viewer.


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An interview with Tabitha Boyajian, with recent updates, about the mysterious KIC 8462852, aka "Tabby's Star".


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We lost our cat Niobe to feline hyperthyroidism. Some researchers think a common class of flame-retardant chemicals is the cause (and that this may be affecting humans as well), though there are a lot of potential confounding variables.

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...And speaking of computer-controlled, powered tracked vehicles, in case you ever wondered how the drive system on Disney's slot-car rides (like Test Track and Radiator Springs Racers) really works, this page has photos of what's under the road surface:

https://discuss.micechat.com/forum/disney-theme-park-news-and-discussion/disneyland-resort/173390-radiator-springs-racers-ride-vehicle-how-does-it-work

The thumbnail image is of the ride vehicle for Indiana Jones and Dinosaur, which is a slower version of the same thing, but with a motion base on top that can make it tilt and shake around. That design actually predated Test Track.


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And here's an NPR article about the Morgantown system:

http://www.npr.org/2016/10/03/494569967/a-revolution-that-didnt-happen-personal-rapid-transit

There are more modern systems of this general type at Heathrow Airport and in Masdar, a planned city in Abu Dhabi. Hasn't exactly taken the world by storm, though. I'm just amazed that it was considered perfectly workable with 1970s tech (PRT seems to have been a big idea in urban-transit circles for a while).


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Today I learned there was a working German prototype for a personal rapid transit system with on-demand, self-switching cars in the 1970s:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERdF0FK-2io

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabinentaxi

All the logic for maintaining the car separation and switching between tracks was decentralized, in the car--the system's central computer would compute a route and encode it on the passenger's magnetic-stripe ticket. I could see all sorts of potential for mischief and malfunction there, but today you'd do it differently.


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Pictures from Cassini's very last flyby of Titan, on its way to the Grand Finale.
(CORRECTION: This is actually a more distant photo taken during the Grand Finale orbits.) These photos are taken in an infrared band that allows peeking through the global orange haze.

Bands of bright, feathery methane clouds drifted across Saturn's moon Titan during the Cassini spacecrafts flyby on May 7. The dark regions at top are Titan's hydrocarbon lakes and seas. Take a look: http://go.nasa.gov/2qXBdhY
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The passage about Republican members of Congress who (allegedly) privately accept the evidence for anthropogenic climate change is particularly interesting. 
How a professional climate change denier discovered the lies and crossed over to fight for science.

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Probably the last post about our Disney World vacation: Soarin', The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and The Great Movie Ride. Then some final notes about accommodations, food, and what we did on the vacation from our vacation.

https://mmcirvin.dreamwidth.org/494070.html

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