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Wil Selwood
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Wil Selwood

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This mornings snow in Didcot, Oxfordshire 
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Wil Selwood

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Lovely little new moon tonight while waiting for the bus.


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Now every one has received them I can post pictures of my Christmas project.

Simple flip lights. Got the design from make magazine which my mum got me a subscription to for my birthday.

It is always nice to make something and they went down well. Also a good use for all the jars of baby food we have around the house. 
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Wil Selwood

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Sunrise this morning over Oxfordshire UK.

Nexus 5 photo while taking my son to nursery.
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The astronomer in me wishes this didn't work as a measure but given the universe we are in this is an interesting way of looking at the state of the world.
 
Real data on the situation in Syria has been hard to come by, since it's not exactly a place where the media can walk about freely, where there are reliable accountings of the state of the war, or for that matter where any single person or group has a big picture. The UN is no longer even trying to count the dead, and the number of IDP's -- "internally displaced persons," government-speak for refugees who are bouncing around within the country's borders -- is (roughly) estimated at half the population. 

Two Chinese researchers have found one good way to get some data about the impact of the war, though: take satellite photos at night, and see how much light is there. The two pictures below are from March of 2011 and February of 2014, respectively. Overall, this represents about a 74% decrease in total lighting. (It's not easy to determine that by eyeball, because the human eye is sensitive to the logarithm of brightness rather than to absolute brightness: that's the same reason why exposure values in photography are measured on a log scale as well) 

That 74% itself conceals some significant differences. Damascus and Quneitra have lost "only" 35% of their light, while Aleppo has lost 88%. But even there, if you look at the map you see that Aleppo was formerly a sprawling region, and is now a fairly localized point: almost all of the 12% of light remaining is in a small, remaining center, while the bulk of the city has simply been plunged into darkness. 

The same map shows an appreciable dimming in Lebanon, also likely tied to its political troubles. Iraq has been dark for over a decade, except for Kurdistan, at the top-right edge of the map. (The area you can see are really its fringes) Turkey, Israel (including the northern part of the West Bank), and Jordan, meanwhile, look the same as they did three years earlier.

Lighting isn't a direct measure of people's lives, of course, but it can give us some estimates of the extent to which daily life has collapsed. 
Three years of conflict have literally plunged the country into darkness.
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A giant vacuum in Cleveland is the place to see feathers and a bowling ball fall at the same rate.
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That's going to be a mess. My sympathies to any one with a science payload on board. Hope enough telemetry got out of the vehicle for them to work out what went wrong.
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Wil Selwood

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Stunning pictures from the landing attempt just real eased by Elon Musk on Twitter.

So very very close.
“@ID_AA_Carmack Rocket hits hard at ~45 deg angle, smashing legs and engine section”
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The fact that the phrase "drone spaceport ship" is a real thing is fabulous. Really hope they pull this off tomorrow. Good luck to all involved, may all your parts work nominally.
 
Drone spaceport ship heads to its hold position in the Atlantic to prepare for a rocket landing
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This is great. Seems to work pretty well on my Nexus 5 so far.
 
Heavens-Above for Android
The popular satellite pass prediction site Heavens-Above just published an Android app. It provides the major features of the site, such as a map summarizing the night events, pass prediction lists grouped by category such as ISS, Iridium flares, HAM radio satellites, and so on.

The app is available in two versions, ad-supported free and paid:

Heavens-Above (free)
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.heavens_above.viewer

Heavens-Above Pro (paid)
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.heavens_above.viewer_pro

The screenshot shows Heavens-Above Pro on my Nexus 5 with Android 5.0 Lollipop. If you don’t have Android, check the website which has an experimental mobile-optimized version:

www.heavens-above.com/mobile

Heavens-Above mobile
https://plus.google.com/115447412616529141867/posts/7ceJv3qs6u2

#Android #Satellites #Space
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Well it is mighty pretty. Go play
 

Play around with this delightful fluid mechanics simulator ... for hours

haxiomic/GPU-Fluid-Experiments:
https://haxiomic.github.io/GPU-Fluid-Experiments/html5/?q=Medium

.
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See this is why you should have a biologist on staff when building giant universes
 
Have you ever asked yourself the basic question, Why are goblins so terrible at everything? Presumably the answer to this is "no" unless you've regularly played a fairly old-school edition of D&D or M:tG or some other game that uses goblins as your sort of generic, low-level antagonist which you're supposed to rob, pillage, enslave, or otherwise reenact colonial history upon. But if you have, you may have asked yourself: in a world so red in tooth and claw, how the heck does a species known for its inventions blowing up, for being eaten by every predator in sight, and for nonetheless being mindlessly aggressive in battle actually survive?

I am grateful that Max Gladstone has analyzed this through the lens of evolutionary biology, and revealed to us the terrifying truth:

Goblins are a fungus.

Via +Jordan Peacock.
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In his circles
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Have him in circles
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Michael Fox's profile photo
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Computer programmer. Geek. Space Nerd. Reader of dead trees. Player of games. Dad. Cat person
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Computer Programmer
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Java, Scala, SQL, JavaScript (If I really have to), C, C++, Groovy, Linux, You know all the usual stuff.