Saturday, May 9, 2015

Building Books

Getting a book published can be difficult. It took years before J.K. Rowling found a publisher for her Harry Potter books. And many other authors have told stories of wallpapering rooms with their rejection slips. Down in Bakersfield the Writers of Kern writing group regularly starts meeting by asking who's been rejected since the last meeting. And I'm a member of “The Failure Club” on Facebook. This isn't to rub noses in our failures but to celebrate our attempts.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Twin Studies

When scientists want to understand something they will often use an experimental “unit” and a control “unit”. And when studying something if you have a second copy around then you can control for more kinds of factors. And when it comes to people identical twins are the closest you can get to a second copy.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Getting There

A few weeks ago I took part in an outing that took the MetroLink from Lancaster down into Downtown Los Angeles. On the weekend you can ride unlimited for $10. This includes not just MetroLink, but the other rail lines in the L.A. area. (It also includes some of the bus lines down there as well.) So you could ride from Lancaster to Oceanside then back again all for $10.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Pi Day

Mark your calendars! It is almost Pi Day! What is Pie Day you may ask? Well, it a bit of fun based on math. The number pi (the Greek letter π) is the ratio of the length around a circle (the perimeter) to the distance across (the diameter). So to calculate pi you just need to measure around the edge of a circle then divide by its width. The number you will get (depending on how well you measure) will be about 3.14. So just for fun people have started to call March 14th (3/14) Pi(e) day.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Colonel Allensworth

Having gone to school in Oklahoma I learned about the state's many “historically black towns”. At least that was what they were called when I went to school. There were many such towns in Oklahoma. And while some are still in existence, there are many that no longer exist. And sometimes the town names tell us about the people that lived there, names like Bookertee and Liberty.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Monoculture

Wikipedia says that monoculture is growing a single crop over wide regions. This provides advantages since the farmers can concentrate on developing techniques to maximize yields for only one crop. So they can develop machines that can efficiently harvest one type of fruit or grain. And crops can be developed that are specifically designed to do well in a specific area.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

If I Had A Hammer

Back in the 1980s observations of a layer of sediment right when the dinosaurs went extinct led to a hypothesis of an asteroid or comet impact being the cause of the extinction. Like many hypotheses that are fairly radical, it took a while to gain acceptance, yet now it is considered the likely cause of the extinction.