Tycho Brahe Heat-1X: successful launch of danish spacecraft!

June 3, 2011

– Our mission is very simple. We are working towards launching a human being into space.

Today at 16:31 (GMT+1) , the two danish amateur rocket scientists Kristian von Bengtson and Peter Madsen (founders of the non-profit organization Copenhagen Suborbitals) successfully launched their first standing-room-only spacecraft Tycho Brahe Heat-1X, named after the danish astronomer. The rocket reached a height of about 2.8 km. The rocket was launched after the first attempt on sept. 5 2010, which failed.

Congratulations from here!

Interview: New Scientist

The $100 Laptop

December 19, 2005

(This article was originally posted on blogger.com on Nov 21, 2005)

On January 2005, the MIT Media Lab officially launched a research initiative (headed by Nicholas Negroponte, chairman and founder of MIT’s Media Labs) to develop the $100 laptop – a technology that could revolutionize how the world’s children are educated. For this purpose, a non-profit association, called One Laptop per Child (OLPC), was created by Negroponte.

The laptop basically looks like a mutated version of ordinary machines, and uses an LCD display. Some of its current specifications are: 500 Mhz processor, 1GB flash-based memory, 1 Megapixel LCD screen. The laptop will be WiFi-enabled and have USB ports.

It has a removable keyboard and has an actual crank (!) to turn so it can be powered anywhere (see the RHS of the picture above; [Image courtesy of MIT Media Lab]). This lends credence to the “laptops around the world” ideal. It’s a brilliant idea for children in the developing countries, where there are not too many powerlines avaliable, but also for poor children in the Western world, such as in Massachusetts, USA .

However, one should take notice, that (according to the develolpers at the Media Lab):

… the $100 laptops—not yet in production—will not be available for sale. The laptops will only be distributed to schools directly through large government initiatives.

But surely, this will be good for competition not only in the educational market for computers. When the $100 laptop is released, most likely a powerful laptop (like an Apple iBook) could end up costing maybe $150. News about the $100 laptop can be found at Google News. A FAQ-list  about the $100 laptop is here. More pictures of the $100 laptop can be found at the following page.

Such IT leapfrogging may not do much to help the very poorest of the poor, but for people in China, India, throughout Latin America and the more successful states in Africa, it can be incredibly valuable. Life-changing, for some and – perhaps – even world changing.

Stanford @ iTunes

December 19, 2005

(This article was originally posted on blogger.com on Oct 26, 2005)

Apple Computers and Stanford University has just been starting a collaboration, such that lectures, talks, music etc. by members of Stanford U. are made available from the iTunes music store. The idea is to give alumni – and the general public – free access to a wide range of Stanford-specific digital audio content. The relevant link is here.

So far I’ve only heard two talks: one by Prof. Philip Zelikov titled “The United States and the World”, and one by Prof. Robert Dunbar with the suggestive title “Is Global Warming Real?” (The last one is more than recommended for Lubos Motl, who most likely will find it quite obnoxious).

Prof. Dunbar works on measuring the effect of climate change in the ocean (I guess he finds this more important than, for example, measuring the temperature in the atmosphere since the temperature in the ocean supposedly is less sensitive than in the atmosphere to climate change – a temperature change requires more energy). His main points are:

good news (?) from the media: Russia is going to sign Kyoto Protocol;

more good news from the media: Pentagon has published a report on the impact of climate change on national security;

there is consensus view, that global warming is real;

level of CO_2 in the atmosphere is increasing (which we all know), but at an increasing rate;

the ice-cap in Greenland is melting away (again, there is consensus about this, but not about how fast it will happen), which can result in a sea level rise of 6 meters;

Interesting talk – just wished, that Prof. Dunbar had heard the story, that in fact, Greenland ice grows (Thanks, Lubos).