Friday, 6 February 2009

Quotes and Questions 38 - 3 Feb 09


If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for the Creator, there is no poverty.
Rainer Maria Rilke

Time goes, you say? Ah, no! Alas, time stays, we go.
Henry Austin Dobson


1) This is a mathematical formalization of a trajectory that consists of taking successive random steps. The results of this analysis have been applied to computer science, physics, ecology, economics and a number of other fields as a fundamental model for processes in time. For example, the path traced by a molecule as it travels in a liquid or a gas, the search path of a foraging animal, the price of a fluctuating stock and the financial status of a gambler can all be modeled as this. What is it known as?

2) Stephenson's Rocket isn’t really a rocket- what is it?

3) This year the world celebrates the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009), marking the 400th anniversary of the first drawings of celestial objects through a telescope. Where was the first telescope invented?

4) And of course it is the Italian Galileo who is commonly accredited with having made the first telescope-enabled discoveries in 1609. However astronomers and historians in the UK are keen to promote a lesser-known figure who made the first drawing of the Moon through a telescope several months earlier than Galileo. Among other things, this man was a companion to the explorer Sir Walter Raleigh and credited with the introduction of the potato to Great Britain and Ireland. He did publish a study of various stacking patterns in 1591, and went on to develop an early version of atomic theory. July 26, a few months before Galileo, He turned his telescope towards the Moon and become the first person to draw an astronomical object through a telescope. He never published his drawings, but it seems he was the first- who was he?

5) In its earliest incarnation, Groundhog Day was part of Imbolc, a pagan celebration associated with fertility and weather divination. The ties between purification rituals and the month of February also hark back to the pagan era. The Lupercalia, a pagan Roman purification ritual, took place in February. The Romans had celebrated a rough equivalent to our Groundhog Day, in early February -- only this animal was in charge of weather divination- what was it?

6) Kepler's conjecture Is a mathematical conjecture about packing what in three-dimensional Euclidean space.

7) For electrons in a single atom, it states that no two electrons can have the same four quantum numbers. It has to do with spin, and half-integer ones at that. Electrons or protons can be fermions. Only one fermion can occupy a quantum state at a given time; Thus, if more than one occupies the same place in space, the properties of each fermion (e.g. its spin) must be different from the rest. What is this principle?
8) In 1930, Wolfgang Pauli postulated this to preserve conservation of energy, conservation of momentum, and conservation of angular momentum in beta decay. Pauli theorized that an undetected particle was carrying away the observed difference between the energy, momentum, and angular momentum of the initial and final particles. What did he discover?

9) Asimov presented it as a device storing the psycho historical equations showing the future development of humanity. This projects the equations onto walls in some unexplained manner, but it does not cast shadows, thus allowing workers easy interaction. Control operates through the power of the mind, allowing the user to zoom in to details of the equations, and to change them. One can make annotations, but by convention all amendments remain anonymous. What was it called?

10) It is a type of animal territory in which males of a certain species gather to demonstrate their prowess before or during mating season, a river in the west of the Netherlands, means "cure" or "medicine" in most Slavic languages and is a form of Cardassian currency in the Star Trek fictional universe. What is it?

11) It is a tabletop soccer game where the ball is controlled by the brainwaves of the players. Both players wear biosensor headbands which use embedded electrodes to monitor the electrical activity in the brain of each player and the game rewards the player producing the most Alpha and Theta brainwaves, the winners are portrayed by the game’s inventors as “being the most relaxed”.

12) He created in 1884 the world’s first working solar cell by coating the semiconductor material selenium with an extremely thin layer of gold. The resulting cells had a conversion efficiency of only about 1% which in combination with the material's high cost prevented the use of such cells for energy supply. Selenium cells found other applications however, for example as light sensors for exposure timing in photo cameras, where they were common well into the 1960s. Who was this American inventor?

13) Time marches on….Scientists from this EU funded project have recently developed solar cells which are able to convert almost 40% of the energy of sunlight into electricity. Known as photovoltaic multi-junction solar cells, the design consist of different materials including gallium, phosphorus, indium and germanium and are stacked in vertical layers to make optimum use of the solar spectrum. What is this project called?

14) The idea for this derives from a 1990 science fiction novel by Thomas A. Easton: "There's the brain, the spinal chord, the motor centers. A cable, here, from the controller to the interface plug... wires from that to the brain." It explained how the controller, a computer, translated movements of the tiller or control yoke and the throttle and brake pedals into electrical signals and routed them as appropriate to the jets or motor centers, triggering the nervous system into commanding its muscles to serve the driver. This was demonstrated by UC Berkeley researchers at the MEMS 2009 conference What was used to demonstrate this?

15) The first identified was the electron, discovered by J.J. Thomson and his team of British physicists in 1897. They are a family of elementary particles, alongside quarks and gauge bosons (also known as force carriers). Like quarks, they are fermions with a half integer spin and are subject to the electromagnetic force, the gravitational force, and weak interaction. But unlike quarks, they do not participate in strong interaction. There are six flavours of, forming three generations. What are they?

16) How did the monkey wrench get its name?

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