Good Day Sunshine

Sunshine is a welcome sight on wintery days. Even when it’s chilly outside, the cheery presence of our solar system‘s very own resident star makes a blustery breeze and low temperatures bearable. Want to accurately calculate sunrise and sunset? Want to keep up with the sun’s movement? Take a look at SunCalc.

This is a screenshot of SunCalc.

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Any Way the Wind Blows

Arctic blasts, chilling drops in temperature, freezing gusts everywhere–BRRRRR! Welcome to winter. Take a look at Windyty, an interactive wind map and see where earth’s atmosphere is casting about all of that cold air.

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Arise, Awake

Winter holidays are great. We get a chance to stay up late and sleep in for a few days. It’s decadent, a thoroughly guilty pleasure. The only problem with this kind of arrangement is that we enjoy our sleepfest too much. We indulge just long enough to get out of the habit of waking up when we normally would. Later, when we have to return to our workaday schedule, sloughing off slumber is all the more difficult. Alarm clocks help. Even so, a little bit of assistance in the form of a bedtime calculator is extremely prudent. Here are a few resources designed to help the most determined dozers disembark from a cruise through Dreamland:

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Out of This World Ideas, Warped Space, and a Planet That Never Was

An attendee at the 2012 Montreal Comiccon displays the Vulcan salute, a hand gesture consisting of a raised hand, palm forward with the fingers parted between the middle and ring finger, and the thumb extended.

Vulcan salute

Something important happens every day of the year. For example, imagine celebrating the New Year one day and getting an opportunity to celebrate a new celestial body on the next. Well, it almost happened.

How?

On January 2nd in 1860 attendees at a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences in Paris, France were told of the discovery of a (hypothetical) planet dubbed Vulcan. The noted French mathematician Urbain Le Verrier, attempting to explain peculiarities of the planet Mercury’s orbit, suggested that another (unseen) planet, purportedly located in an orbit between Mercury and the Sun, was the cause of the astronomical aberrations.

Verrier, though intellectually brave for sharing his hypothesis, was incorrect. How do we know? Although there was an extensive search for Vulcan that planet was never found. The strangeness of Mercury’s orbit, the most eccentric orbit of all the planets in our solar system, have been explained by Albert Einstein‘s fascinating theory of general relativity. The short explanation is the Sun’s mass warps space-time around our resident star which, in turn, affects the orbit of the body closest to it, the small but speedy Hermean planet.

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Beautiful Noise

Screenshot of myNoise.net

I enjoy experimenting with audio especially if the sounds I am tinkering with lend themselves to relaxation. Being able to construct a soundscape that evokes multiple moods is a pleasure that could, if I had the time, provide me enormous delight for all of my days. That’s why I was so pleased to come across a website maintained by a genial signal processing engineer, Dr. Ir. Stéphane Pigeon. Although Dr. Pigeon’s alluring auditory work, myNoise.net, is designed primarily for sound therapists and hearing professionals, exploring the noises portion of the site is an exhilarating experience. Imagine expertly-crafted sounds wafting into your welcoming ears, systematically exciting your neurons, and refreshing your mind and you have a pretty good idea of how wonderful Dr. Pigeon’s site is. Find a sound set, put some headphones on, close your ideas and drift away into a soothing sonic universe. I like highly recommend Wind Noise.