Shuttersparks

Welcome to my musings on whatever topic catches my eye, plus stories, recipes, handyman tips, welding, photography, and what have you. Oh, and analog/digital hardware design, and software. Please comment on the blog post so everyone who visits can see your comments.

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Flickr Explore

Finally got a couple of photos into Explore! again on Flickr. Yay!

Click the photos to see larger versions.

Greenish transparent jumping spider. This spider makes it apparent that Salticidae are different from ordinary spiders in many ways. For example, their legs are not operated by muscles and tendons, but by hydraulics. You can also see the tiny black dot at the tip of each leg — the spider’s “foot”. Each of those contains around 600,000 microscopic setules which enable these spiders to stick to surfaces by means of the Van der Waals force (an electrical effect). When walking on the ceiling, each of those tiny black “feet” can hold up to 170 times the spider’s weight.

On Flickr

Here’s a fairly common sight in the tropical regions of Central America, the Brown Bark Scorpion. I’m holding this one here by blinding him with a bright light. They have several pairs of eyes and you can see its primary eyes shining like diamonds. Since I startled it, it’s playing possum, playing dead. Notice the tail flopped over to one side and legs all askew. There’s actually nothing wrong with this scorpion and it’s quite alive.

On Flickr

 

 

Salticidae vs. Odonate

Posted a new series of photos in Flickr showing a jumping spider killing a damselfly.

Click to enlarge.

World faces irreversible climate change, researchers warn

The world is facing an increasing risk of “irreversible” climate shifts because worst-case scenarios warned of two years ago are being realized, an international panel of scientists has warned.

Temperatures, sea levels, acid levels in oceans and ice sheets were already moving “beyond the patterns of natural variability within which our society and economy have developed and thrived,” scientists said in a report released Thursday.

The findings came at the end of a three-day conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, where nearly 2,000 researchers gathered to discuss climate change.

See the rest of the story here.

Happy 20th Anniversary to the World Wide Web

Twenty years ago today, Tim Berners-Lee, of the CERN particle physics laboratory in Geneva, wrote a paper describing what quickly became the World Wide Web.

Back in 1989, the Web was just an idea, but it was a world-changing idea and one of the most important ideas of the 20th century.

At that time, the first browser and the first web server had yet to be created but those things came quickly. Back then, we got our news from newspapers and on TV at 6 PM. We did our research and study in libraries. We met with our friends in church or at a bar. We received and paid bills through the mail. We used to go to the bank to deposit checks and take care of business. We shopped for clothing by driving to stores and touching the products. We learned about new products through print ads, billboards, and television. We learned about different cultures and met people in distant lands by getting on an airplane and going there. We got our music by buying CDs or cassettes. The idea of an individual being able to publish his writings or photos and have them instantly visible to millions of people was inconceivable.

By 1995, things were well underway. At that time the first major search engine was created, called Alta Vista. Does anyone besides me remember Alta Vista? There was no Yahoo, no Google, no Hotmail, no online music, no multiplayer games. Web-based email was yet to be invented (by Hotmail, later bought by Microsoft). There was no YouTube because there was no digital video yet. Compressed audio (MP3) had just been developed by the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany. The first MP3 player for computers (WinAmp) came in 1998. The first portable MP3 player came in 1999.

Look at what has happened in the last 10 to 14 years. The whole world has changed for anyone who has access to the Internet.

What will the next 20 years bring?

Quiet Over Here

Canoe on the Rio Dulce River.

Canoe on the Rio Dulce River, Guatemala. Click to view larger.

This blog has been kind of quiet recently because I’ve been working on the Maya Paradise web site. The whole site is getting modernized and improved. There’s lots of interesting information there.

If you are curious about it, you can find it here:

mayaparaiso.com

There is also an associated blog that’s connected to the site here:

http://maya-paradise.blogspot.com

Canoes on the Rio Dulce River, Guatemala.

Canoes on the Rio Dulce River, Guatemala. Click to view larger.

Switch Inventor Honored

After decades of controversy over inventorship, the inventor of the switch was recognized and honored at a recent awards banquet of the International Organization of Electrical Engineers. Professor Turnonanof (1871-1929) was posthumously awarded the Inventor of the Year Award and inducted into the IOEE Hall of Fame. The professor’s son, Clarence “Click” Turnonanof, was present to accept the awards and give a moving presentation of his father’s achievements.

In the early days, Turnonanof’s invention was embodied in an open frame style like this:

Knife switch.

Knife switch. Click to view larger.

Later, he developed a more advanced and miniaturized form of his famous invention:

Toggle switch.

Toggle switch. Click to view larger.

A spokesperson for the IOEE said that the organization was exploring the possibility of setting up a Turnonanof scholarship.

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