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Ben Bradley
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Human Being.
Human Being.

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I'm delighted to see yesterday's (April 3) Google's Doodle dedicated to clockmaker John Harrison and his birth 325 years ago. Google finds a collection of popular articles on the Doodle and on Harrison in general:
https://www.google.com/search?q=John+Harrison

These articles are "reasonable" short bios of Harrison, and many mention the Dava Sobel book "Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time." This general-public-oriented science book is a popular seller, but a true nerd or geek like me always wants to know more, much more.

Already in my collection was "The Science of Clocks and Watches," covering mechanical clocks from the earliest pendulum clocks through pendulums in vacuum (the most accurate clocks of their time) and then clocks from electronic quartz oscillators, which are much more accurate than mechanical clocks. This book doesn't have a lot on Harrison in particular, but it does show several of his inventions related to clock design.

What prompted my interest in John Harrison was the recent (2015) and remarkable verification of his claim, in a book he published shortly before his death, that a pendulum clock could be made with accuracy within a second over 100 days. The reaction in Harrison's time was the idea was 'absurd.' Only in recent decades did anyone take seriously the instructions in the book on making such a clock. There were several articles on the advance, such as this one:
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/apr/19/clockmaker-john-harrison-vindicated-250-years-absurd-claims

This became the basis (or actually the end point) of a speech I gave to Fellowship of Reason last August. In researching I got both the Sobel book and "The Quest for Longitude: The Proceedings of the Longitude Symposium Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts November 4-6, 1993." This is a beautiful larger-format book with photographs of many of Harrison's clocks (most still running!), as well as technical articles on how he solved many problems of accurate timekeeping. While it features other methods of finding longitude and their inventors, it largely focuses on Harrison's works and efforts to make a chronometer (as an accurate clock/watch came to be called). One of the authors is the person who made the "Clock B" based on Harrison's book that achieved the one-second-in-100-days record.
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Who? I don't get it.
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I donated to this, only a couple days left - I think it's a message that really needs to get out:
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-13th-step
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This "Infinity paper airplane" that flies over hot stove burners is Teh Next Big Thing on Youtube (8,800 to 13,000 view the last few minutes). Is it real?
paper airplane awesome trick infinity heating plate thermal how to
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Know your target market.
People ask me periodically what my target market is. My answer is the same as most technical consultants: My target market is people who need my skills.

If you're a piano tuner, your target market is people who need their piano tuned. I'm a mathematician, so my target is companies that need math.

I may specialize in an industry some day, but so far what my clients have had in common is the nature of their problems, not their industry. They've come from legal, medical, manufacturing, etc. But they've all needed help with probability, numerical computing, etc.

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This looks like an Important Announcement in Number Theory: Not proof of the twin prime conjecture, but proof that there are infinitely many pairs of primes that differ by 70,000,000 or less. Only 69,999,998 to go! :D https://plus.google.com/103404025783539237119/posts/T5vXKd1N819

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Here's a Brand New Community (G+ has communities now!)  for NaNoWriMo, started by none other than (no, not me) ...
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Last April I joined a project team at Freeside Atlanta whose purpose is to order, build and fly a quadrotor UAV for the space. After building (we went with a hexrotor for a bigger payload), fixing and testing, it was decided it was ready for testing yesterday (you know it's serious when the propellers get put back on). Here's the video of the first flight:
Freeside Atlanta: Hexacopter First Flight
Yeah, that's me on the far right, and that's me commenting (in the youtube comments - click on the Youtube logo to see) on the rectangle that shows up at 0:47 into the video. Hover your cursor over it to see the uploader's comment.

Here's the description on the Freeside blog:
http://blog.freesideatlanta.org/2012/07/first-flight-of-hexacopter.html
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Have you ever wanted to make a "model rocket" that would actually go into outer space? I've wanted to, since I was about 12 (this was back when NASA were sending astronauts to the MOON!). But I've got a lot more projects than probable life left, even with the surely-to-come life extension technology, so I've just done the next best thing (until I get really rich and can make my own rocket), I've pledged $100 to this Kickstarter project:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jameyerickson/ison-rockets-to-space/comments

Please consider pledging if you're at all interested - there's only a day and a half left to pledge, and I'd really like to see this one get off the ground!
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