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+ - DIY physics: A spark chamber on a steel tower, for no reason.-> 6

Submitted by Gigabit Switchman
Gigabit Switchman (16654) writes "Slightly deranged hoopy frood (and artist) Douglas Ruuska has convinced a bunch of folks to help him build a functioning spark chamber (which is pretty cool, high voltage FTW), and then to put it on top of a steel tower covered with a few kW of addressable LEDs. Because that totally makes sense. The particle detectors will output data to a BeagleBone that controls the LEDs, and the design is being open-sourced once it's functional. Details at the story URL. (They're also running a Kickstarter, but I'm not linking that.)"
Link to Original Source

Breaking the Squid Barrier 126

Posted by timothy
from the calimari-for-the-5000 dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Dr. Steve O'Shea of Auckland, New Zealand is attempting to break the record for keeping deep sea squid alive in captivity, with the goal of being able to raise a giant squid one day. Right now, he's raising the broad squid, sepioteuthis australis, from egg masses found in seaweed. This is a lot harder than it sounds, because the squid he's studying grow rapidly and eat only live prey, making it hard for them to keep the squid from becoming prey themselves. If his research works out, you might one day be able to visit an aquarium and see giant squid."

The Murky Origins of Zork's Name 70

Posted by Soulskill
from the murky-enough-for-a-grue dept.
mjn writes "Computational media researcher Nick Montfort traces the murky origins of Zork's name. It's well known that the word was used in MIT hacker jargon around that time, but how did it get there? Candidates are the term 'zorch' from late 1950s DIY electronics slang, the use of the term as a placeholder in some early 1970s textbooks, the typo a QWERTY user would get if he typed 'work' on an AZERTY keyboard, and several uses in obscure sci-fi. No solid answers so far, though, as there are problems with many of the possible explanations that would have made MIT hackers unlikely to have run across them at the right time."

Comment: Re:Just off the top of my head (Score 1) 211

by Gigabit Switchman (#30040076) Attached to: How Do You Evaluate a Data Center?
Do they pay attention to temperature with any granularity? "Cold aisle temperature" is not a single number; it varies. If it *doesn't* vary, they're either REALLY good (unlikely) or spending too much on cooling and charging you too much. Field Guide to Datacenter Temperature Monitoring: 5% off from the Engineering department, use this code: ENG09 (expires Jan 1 2010)

Comment: Temperature monitors (Score 1) 152

by Gigabit Switchman (#15955141) Attached to: How to Run a Computer in a Sub-Zero Environment?
I'm a design engineer at a temperature monitoring company (not a sales guy, I asked 'em not to bug you) and could probably give you a suggestion or two for your wiring etc. (A sales guy saw your post and asked me "how Slashdot worked" so I told him I'd contact you.)

Of course, I think in terms of our devices - we have a 16-channel monitor that's rated for installation down to -40 C (-40 F) and isn't terribly expensive ($499, I think, but since I'm a tech guy I don't know for sure) plus $50 per probe. Max run on a probe is half a mile (2600' or so) over cat5 (or you can buy more expensive long probes.) If you use someone else's hardware, look for industrial-temperature rated hardware if the PCB is going to be inside the cooled area. Mechanical parts (e.g. hard drives) should be avoided at all costs.

If you have any more specific questions I'd be happy to answer, even if you don't use our hardware. Our stuff is all Ethernet interfaced, for an example look at:

For humans:

For computers:

XML for computers:

Perl scripts are available that grab data from the devices. Note that they don't log data (normally... there's an HTTP POST feature that does log up to 18 hours of data) but are designed to get the data into PC-land as quickly as possible. They run a tiny embedded OS, Linux is a bit heavyweight for cheap 256K flash hardware. (uCOS/2, not that it matters.)

--Drew Van Zandt
    Hardware Engineer
    Sensatronics LLC

"I'm not a god, I was misquoted." -- Lister, Red Dwarf