Om Nom Nom

Several hours after being eaten, the moon appeared to emerge from the Arecibo radio telescope, quickly quelling a new-born myth; but, gave rise to more questions than it answered.



Shutdown: Moon River

“Wider than a mile, I’m crossing you in style some day…”


Image via


Startup: How Far Away Is The Moon

This annoying strip represents the distance of the Moon from Earth (to scale relative to the size of the bodies pictured). Hit the jump for a full size (12,000px +) version.

The ISS is in low Earth orbit, a mere 370km (230mi) above us is less than four times the height of the Kármán line – an imaginary point 100km (62mi) above us which is the lowest altitude that can be considered to be “in space”. There’s still some air up there, which is how some people have sent Lego and iPhones into what qualifies as space using a helium weather balloon.

Next out is things that we put there and appear to stay in the same place. Most commercial communications satellites are out here at almost 36,000km (22,000mi).














This is how far light, over-the-air broadcasts of Doctor Who, and your banal cell phone conversations travel in one second.


An Asteroid creatively named “2005 YU55” passed this close to us in late 2011. In 2028, it will try to smash us again. If it does (0.001% chance of this happening) it will make a crater as wide as the Oakland bridge is long.


This delightful little guy is our Moon. He’s about 400,000km (250,000mi) away for now, but he’s not staying. He’s moving away about as fast as your fingernails grow – around 1½ inches per year. Fortunately for us, we’ll be long dead as the expanding Sun consumes both of us before he can leave.

Continue reading Startup: How Far Away Is The Moon


Secrets of the Moon

It’s downright amazing what you can dig up with the Open Records Act.


Image from Jason Heuser via

Communications, Free Range Technology

The $30 Cell Phone: Impressively Modest

The Rovan Q2/XP Moon

I recently spent a week using an ultra-cheap Chinese mobile phone I bought off eBay. I have an iPhone 4 that I normally use, and it’s truly a marvel of functionality and interface design. But unfortunately, my longtime cellular service provider is Verizon, whose phones utilize only CDMA network access. That’s a bit of meaningless technobabble if you’re in the US, but the CDMA protocol is nonexistent in Europe, which uses GSM mobile networks exclusively. So if you go overseas, a Verizon (or Sprint or Alltel) phone becomes a very handy paperweight. I spent last week in England. My options for mobile telephony on my trip were to rent a “tourist phone” for a week in the UK, rent a world phone from Verizon prior to my departure, or buy the cheapest unlocked GSM phone I could find. I went with that last option.

My iPhone supposedly cost me $149, but that was subsidized by a lucrative 2-year contract that absorbed much of the phone’s cost. The outright purchase of an unlocked 32GB iPhone 4 will land on the north side of $600. Just to calibrate, I bought the Rovan Q2 for one-twentieth of that cost. I wondered, would it have 1/20th the functionality? Would it drop calls, freeze up, or simply be DOA? It turns out I was pleasantly surprised how much I got for my money. Continue reading The $30 Cell Phone: Impressively Modest


Robonaut 2

Yeah, I look badass.

Robonaut, R2A

In case you haven’t heard by now, this is a big week in space! In addition to the Glory mission (scrubbed, rescheduled for 24FEB11, 2:09am local Pacific time Thursday morning) being launched from Vandenburg AFB, tomorrow’s Discovery launch will have a very special guest on board.

Meet R2A, a highly dexterous anthropomorphic robot scheduled to punch a one-way ticket on STS-133 and become a permanent resident on-board the ISS (International Space Station). Continue reading Robonaut 2

Free Range Technology

Stuff from my… House

hmmm… not cheese

Extra Crater

I love globes and maps.  Not any globes.  They have to have moving parts (like one of my previous posts) or be unique in some way.  My moon globe is one of my most prized possessions because it is so strange.  Sit back and let me tell […]