We went to Argentina! Rebecca was in Guatemala for reasons in late October and continuing our tradition of traveling after other travel, we skipped down to Buenos Aires for two weeks in early November. There are so many fascinating cultural details from far away places that I think about when I’m traveling and it seems that I always forget to write about them when I return. So I took some notes this time while I was away and this is my attempt at turning those into a cohesive post.
In my small experience with Chromebooks, they make a great guest machine for visiting friends and for personal use ChromeOS is somewhat hackable itself. For power users, given that the software is specifically designed for the hardware it’s being run on, you have a nicely paired linux machine - probably a better choice than trying to find linux kernel extensions for your custom built machine. Although you can make ChromeOS a development environment if you’re into VIM or emacs, it’s probably the hardest way to get started coding.
We’ve waited ten long years since Rosetta launched but finally, after flybys of Earth (three times), Mars and other asteroids, Rosetta will finally reach the Churyumov–Gerasimenko comet tomorrow. It’s already pretty close (as seen by pictures it’s sending back) but it will officially decelerate into orbit around the comet which is a first for humanity. After mapping the surface for a while, it’ll achieve another first by sending the air-conditioner sized Philae lander towards the comet which should be able to grapple onto the surface and send back data about the general make up of the comet.
Someone at NASA clearly read my issues with the SpaceX cockpit layout while designing the Orion capsule. Note the easy to reach joystick and lack of information overload on the screens! Seriously though, it’s interesting how similar the SpaceX and Orion configurations are. Just a few seats and a screen that folds down in front of your face!
It took me a few weeks to get started but I’ve been working on a few projects in swift recently and my opinions have been ranging from “this is not very different that Obj-C” to “this is a vast improvement over Obj-C” depending on the task. I’d say that’s pretty positive considering the age of the language. I’m constantly wondering what the correct pattern or syntax for swift is given the equivalent way of doing things in Objective-C so I started a little blog where I collect the examples that I find.
Adam Frank notices a critical breakdown around our expectation of flying cars: We’re masters of electromagnetism, not gravity. It’s fascinating to think about, actually. Our high tech world is based almost entirely on the electomagnetic force. The electron and photon are the basis of most technological progress in the last hundred years. Or, as Adam puts it: And the digital culture we’ve built rests directly on our ability to understand and manipulate electromagnetism’s quantum manifestations.
Yesterday evening Elon Musk presented the next generation of the SpaceX Dragon 2 module; the top part that actually makes it to the space station and back. The existing Dragon module has already delivered cargo to the ISS three times, splashing down in the ocean after reentry and descent via parachute. The new Dragon 2 module is a step beyond that. It should descend through the atmosphere, slowed only by friction until it lights reentry and landing rockets (the SuperDraco rockets namedropped in the presentation video), slowing the craft until it comes to a comfy stop on the ground.
Now that the Apple/Beats deal is definitive I thought I would recount an interesting feature of the lengthy rumor discussion that occurred on Twitter over the few weeks of speculation: some people agreed with the acquisition even though all the consequences weren’t clear while others were baffled by the whole thing. The disconnect was pretty fascinating. People that I consider business savvy immediately understood the cultural connection but didn’t understand why others were confused about it.
I’m used to seeing lots of predictions for which exoplanets might be in the habitable zone for which newly discovered solar system (less so now… Kepler has identified so many of them people don’t even bother anymore) but here’s a best-case scenario: A solar system filled to the brim with 60 habitable worlds (and a bonus 4 gas giants)! The system is really a combination of two systems in binary configuration (two suns orbiting each other at a distance of 100 AU).
A spacecraft now known as ICE (formerly ISEE-3) launched in 1978 has been inspecting comets and solar wind on-and-off since launch until 1999 when it had supposedly been sent signals to shut down. In 2008 it was “rediscovered” and found still in an active state with most of its experiments in working condition and a suitable amount of maneuvering fuel still available. Sometime before April of this year a group not affiliated with NASA realized that ICE could potentially be sent off to follow another comet and return interesting data if they could communicate with it during a close approach to Earth in mid-2014.