Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Climate Report Indicted

It is now claimed by a whistleblower that the EPA report on the climate did not take into account his doubts about the rise in global temperature. It is a fact that global temperature has declined the last few years, and, those are the years omitted from the climate report. This is exactly the same discrepancy in the report that I earlier noted. I was unaware of the whistleblower's comments. His views are disputed by others, but evidence based science should be based on evidence. Duh.

So, what is the truth ? I think that this summer's survival, or not, of arctic ice will be a telling thing. Last winter was really cold, arctic ice built up, the polar bears are thriving, and this spring's melt was delayed. Let's wait until September to see whether the new ice will become old ice or water. The resumption of sunspots has been delayed but has now started. Something is going on in the sun.

As if we didn't have earthly matters to be concerned about, there is now concern that the supergiant star Betelgeuse might soon go supernova. When I was in graduate school in astronomy there was a lot of concern about the issue. Most people think the effects of a Betelgeuse supernova will not affect us too much, others are not so sure. Eta Carina star might also soon go supernova.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Copyright infringement

Why is it that journalists are outraged when someone illegally infringes copyright on their own work, but seem to think it is OK to copy Gov. Sanford's private email's and publish them?

Hypocrisy and infringement of privacy are not admirable.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

National Report on Climate Change

The recent report issued on climate change is excellent. About the only thing I would caution against is that not all of the graphs are up to date, nor are the trend lines all that clear. Read the legends accordingly.

As you would expect, both benefits and detriments accrue from climate change. Less winter heating fuel will be required. In the summer, northern states might experience up to 30 days of over 100 degree F weather in the summer with attendant need for air conditioning for elderly safety. For the most part, agriculture will benefit, however, cold weather crops like apples, blueberries and cranberries will suffer. There will be increasingly inequitable distribution of rainfall with heavy downpours in some areas and drought in others. That suggests to me that construction of colossal aqueducts might be a good idea.

One of the report's unexpected predictions is that increased lightning protection will be urgently required. It costs only $100 or so to install in your main panel a surge protector for the entire house. Many firms install lighting rod systems for reasonable prices. I would guess that less than $500 would do most houses. Remember that it is too late to shut the barn door after the horse escapes, so, do it now, especially if you live in a wood frame house.

The basic strategy for lightning protection is to install ground rods catty-corner across a house, run wire up the eaves, then along the ridge of the roof with a few rods along the way and especially at the peak ends. You can buy the supplies yourself and do it inexpensively. Special lightning wire provides minor advantages, heavy stranded wire will do the job in most places. Use no less than #4 bare copper stranded for a minimal installation, with heavier wire being advised. The ground rods should also be connected to the ground rod of your electrical service entrance and also to any structural steel girders at their ends.

The only way the predicted climate change can be avoided is if the Sun changes character, and, that is not impossible. The Sun has proven variable in the past. In any case, increased carbon dioxide will acidify the oceans with carbonic acid with attendant biological effects.

Hilarious video

People of all political persuasions will be rolling in the aisles with laughter after seeing this video.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Localized weather phenomenon

Tuesday, June 16, 2009, 14:00 EDT, Accokeek, Maryland

Today a slow moving very localized tropical downpour sat over the Bryans Point Road and Accokeek Creek area of Accokeek. That happens to be centered over my house. Flash flooding occurred all over the local area, but 2000 feet away, there was hardly any rain. I risked life and treasure to cross our causeway. The fast moving stream could have easily swept away the car with Scot and me in it. Accokeek Creek, now a swift river, had stopped up the Apple Valley Road culvert and the water rose almost to the height of the road. I thought the road would be totally washed out. As it was, damage was done to our drive way and to nearby parts of Apple Valley.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Arctic ice cover

A graph of ice cover in the arctic during the month of May for a range of years is available. The data and graph are from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Whether the recent upward trend will continue is unknown. By fall we should have a better idea.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wobble Pin

Here is something all aspiring engineers should know. When you want to design a mechanism to give fine precise control to a moved object, use a wobble pin to match between the moving screw and the object to be moved. A wobble pin is needed because a screw is never precisely centered or precisely directed, nor, is the object to be moved. In particular, the tip of a screw will always be off-center by a small amount no matter how precisely it is made.

In the illustration is shown, in green, an object to be moved. In this case it happens to be a lever attached to a pinion. A screw shown in orange, is intended to impart fine motion to the lever. The wobble pin is shown in blue and it fits into hollow cones at the end of the screw and on the lever to be moved. If the screw is off-center, and, it always will be, the wobble pin will wobble with it while the other end remains stationary on the lever to be moved. When required, a spring can be used to keep the object moved firmly located against the wobble pin.

In practice, the cones can be a simple hole drilled with a drill. Some set screws already come with a cone on the end. The wobble pin can be either machined, or, more simply, can be two spherical bearing balls glued to the two ends of a hollow tube. More crudely, the wobble pin can use conical ends itself and simply fit into dimples created with a pin punch. In a more refined version, the cones can be replaced with roller thrust bearings. All these things are refinements and variations. The important thing is to keep in mind the basic concept of a wobble pin. Failure to use it, and instead drive directly with the screw, will result in scoring and friction on the object moved.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Horology 101

Last month I bought a 400 day torsion pendulum clock at an antique store. They are more commonly known as an "anniversary clock." After setting it up at home, it would not tick more than a few times. After a bit of investigation on horology web sites, I measured the timing of the ticks on either side of neutral point when it is doing nothing. It turned out that the swing on one side was much greater than on the other side. Making the swing equal is known as setting the beat, and, is essential for making the clock to run accurately or even to run at all.

It turns out that none of the web sites show how to set the beat. Finally I figured out that the thing from which the pendulum torsion wire is suspended can be made to rotate by first loosening an adjacent screw. I turned it until the tick swing was about equal to the tock swing. Now it runs and now you know how to get an anniversary clock running.

Sometimes someone starts an anniversary clock with too much swing and this kinks the torsion wire. In a case like that the wire must be replaced, and that is expensive. My clock did not require a wire replacement and all it needed was to set the beat. It now runs fine, and, I am now in the process of adjusting its timing.

Setting the beat on a swing pendulum clock is similar to setting the beat on the torsion pendulum. Make the tick equal to the tock by tilting the clock. Then adjust the setting so it will do that while level. Move the setting toward the high side of the tilted clock.