Cowlix Wearing my mind on my sleeve

Wednesday, April 03, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Desktop neutron stars

My Pet Neutron Star: the similarities between Bose-Einstein condensates and neutron stars give experimental physicists a way to study some features of the stars.

They're about the same size as Manhattan Island yet more massive than the Sun. A teaspoonful of one would weigh about a billion tons. On the outside, neutron stars are brittle. They are covered by an iron-rich crust. On the inside, they are fluid. Each one harbors a sea of neutrons -- the debris from atoms crushed by a supernova explosion. The whole ensemble rotates hundreds of times each second, and so spawns powerful quantum tornadoes within the star.

You probably wouldn't want one on your desktop.... That is, unless you're an experimental physicist.

Launch tomorrow

Atlantis is scheduled to lift off at tomorrow evening at 5:13 Eastern, but there is a 40 percent chance of a weather delay. See this entry from March for notes about the secrecy of the launch time and the plans for the mission.

Conserve or preserve?

Novelist turns paper tiger: a review of Nicholson Baker's new book, Double Fold, which looks at the push to scan old books into microfilm or computer media in order to preserve the contents and save space.

The nub of this story lies in the distinction librarians make between conservation and preservation. Conservation means keeping a physical artefact in usable condition. Preservation, on the other hand, means preserving the content in readable form. A book that has been scanned into a computer file and then destroyed has not been conserved, but it has been preserved.

[via Reductio Ad Absurdum]


Defining Terrorism Eludes Muslims: The Organization of Islamic Conference, a group of 56 Islamic countries, failed to come up with a definition of terrorism at a meeting, at least in part, for that purpose. They were able to determine that Palestinian suicide bombers do not qualify as terrorists because it is an independence struggle.

See also: You might be a terrorist..., where Rand gives them some hints on figuring out the problem.

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Copyright © 2001-2002 by Wes Cowley