The BBC Radiophonice Workshop pioneering more than a bit of electronic music and sound effects beginning in 1958 with a 40 year run before digital tools made it "irrelevent" ... of course it wasn't and now it is being recast as The New Radiophonic Workshop.
This version will be virtual - I hope it works, but I have real worries about not having people rub shoulders with each other.
Take a look at their webpage - and a great video on a bit of the BBC unit's history
The wealthy in third world countries create their own non-public infrastructures. As failure to imagine and invest in the future continues in the US fueled by our dysfunctional political system coupled with personal greed, we're beginning to see that expand in the US.
The power grid is basically 1950s technology and has been crumbling for decades. Massive storms are pushing it past its limits and the topic of conversation in many NJ and NY households this Thanksgiving will center on installing a small fixed natural gas powered standby generator. A limp along unit that will supply selected power (forget about your oven or electric dryer - or electric car) may have a 8 to 10 kW rating and go for $6k to $10k installed (quality varies widely!). There are additional costs for scheduled yearly maintenance and the small size of the engine gives an inefficiency that makes these units, despite the fact they are fueled by natural gas, dirtier per kWh than a coal fired generator coupled to the electric grid.
There are people who can and should justify such expenses, but the massive flight to them indicates the failure of the system and a social response around it. And over a twenty year period lifetime the cost per kWh may be astronomical - say you spend $8k for a small unit and use 1.5 kWh per day (an average in suburban NJ) for being without power for 30 days. That's 45 kWh. Fuel costs will be tiny, but the yearly maintenance will probably be at least $200 a year, so add $4k on the expense side. Thats $267 per kWh .. a bit spendier than the 15 cents the power company charges and much more expensive than a residential solar installation (perhaps 20 to 50 cents per kWh depending on rebates, location and scale) would cost.
Of course this $12k total cost may be less than the costs associated with a half dozen long power failures assuming food losses and hotel costs (if you choose to go that way and can find one), but as in global warming the cost of prevention is much less than that of dealing with the outcome. Unfortunately it takes collective vision and investment to take preventive steps as a society and we seem to have given up on such undertakings.
That’s how things often work in America. Half-a-century of tax cuts focused on the wealthiest Americans leave us with third-rate public services, leading the wealthy to develop inefficient private workarounds.
It’s manifestly silly (and highly polluting) for every fine home to have a generator. It would make more sense to invest those resources in the electrical grid so that it wouldn’t fail in the first place.
But our political system is dysfunctional: in addressing income inequality, in confronting climate change and in maintaining national infrastructure.
The National Climatic Data Center has just reported that October was the 332nd month in a row of above-average global temperatures. As the environmental Web site Grist reported, that means that nobody younger than 27 has lived for a single month with colder-than-average global temperatures, yet climate change wasn’t even much of an issue in the 2012 campaign. Likewise, the World Economic Forum ranks American infrastructure 25th in the world, down from 8th in 2003-4, yet infrastructure is barely mentioned by politicians.
So time and again, we see the decline of public services accompanied by the rise of private workarounds for the wealthy.
Is crime a problem? Well, rather than pay for better policing, move to a gated community with private security guards!
Are public schools failing? Well, superb private schools have spaces for a mere $40,000 per child per year.
Public libraries closing branches and cutting hours? Well, buy your own books and magazines!
Are public parks — even our awesome national parks, dubbed “America’s best idea” and the quintessential “public good” — suffering from budget cuts? Don’t whine. Just buy a weekend home in the country!
Public playgrounds and tennis courts decrepit? Never mind — just join a private tennis club!
I’m used to seeing this mind-set in developing countries like Chad or Pakistan, where the feudal rich make do behind high walls topped with shards of glass; increasingly, I see it in our country. The disregard for public goods was epitomized by Mitt Romney’s call to end financing of public broadcasting.
One wonders if we will ever get back to the point where the trend will be believing in America rather than just themselves.
An extremely interesting idea for a physics experiment... testing the structure of spacetime at almost unimaginably small scales. MIT's Tech Review blog has some layman's level comments and the paper cited appears on arXiv.
Is a tabletop search for Planck scale signals feasible?
Jacob D. Bekenstein
Racah Institute of Physics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
Jerusalem 91904, Israel
(Dated: November 19, 2012)
Quantum gravity theory is untested experimentally. Could it be tested with tabletop experiments?
While the common feeling is pessimistic, a detailed inquiry shows it possible to sidestep the onerous
requirement of localization of a probe on Planck length scale. I suggest a tabletop experiment which,
given state of the art ultrahigh vacuum and cryogenic technology, could already be sensitive enough
to detect Planck scale signals. The experiment combines a single photon’s degree of freedom with
one of a macroscopic probe to test Wheeler’s conception of “spacetime foam”, the assertion that on
length scales of the order Planck’s, spacetime is no longer a smooth manifold. The scheme makes few
assumptions beyond energy and momentum conservations, and is not based on a specific quantum
A research team consisting of a University of Arizona graduate student, about 40 middle school students and a UA research lab has undertaken the first systematic study looking at how much plant leaves shrink when they dry out. The results are published in the November issue of the American Journal of Botany, one of the foremost publication venues in the botanical sciences.
“Our simple observation that leaves shrink when they dry out has very important consequences for our understanding how ecosystems work,” said Benjamin Blonder, a graduate student in the UA’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology who led the research. “Many studies in ecology, especially reconstructions of past climate, depend on knowing how big leaves are. By relying on measurements of dried leaves, a very large number of climate and ecology studies may have obtained biased conclusions.”
Sadly this type of program is being cut back for budget reasons (along with a good deal of fundamental and applied science). But it is fabulous to see gems like this!
A friend had problems with a crazy neighbor damaging his property and struggled to create a photographic record for the police. Now such things are easy and inexpenisve - here is an infrared camera DVR. It would also be useful for observing wildlife at remotely - assuming you had access to power.