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01/23/12 - Some Chemistry Software

We've updated our ancient Period Table of the Elements - five downloads since 2006 - to include a simple chemical equation solver and balancer. If you know what this means, then this post is for you. If you actually might need such a thing, then this post is probably a godsend. So, assuming you are one in a billion, follow the link and take a look at the latest update from Kaleberg Labs.

Keywords: software, science, kale

11/01/11 - Halloween

We had our usual Halloween passing out bales of candy to perhaps 200 tricker treaters. Our street must have a reputation as a soft touch. A reputation like that takes some living up to. That, and a lot of little candy bars. It also takes a giant spider in a giant web, our shaman transforming, and a bit of mad science. (Is there any other kind?)

Our spider greeting trick or treaters

Our shaman and mad science

Another view of our spider

Keywords: halloween, science

05/24/11 - Constructomatic

We've been doing some geometry tutoring, and one thing seems to have led to another so we threw together a little program for doing geometry constructions. You put them together from points, lines and circles, and then you can interact with them. If it sounds intriguing, give it a try.

Keywords: software, science

12/28/10 - Antisolar Crepuscular Light

One of the things about the Olympic Discovery Trail west of Morse Creek is the amazing view of the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. It is about 30 miles to Vancouver Island and farther to the San Juan Islands. The Cascades and Mount Baker are even farther, so there is a lot of sea and sky visible. Looking north, away from the sun, one often sees patterns in the shadows of clouds falling on other clouds. This is known as crepuscular light, and it can often be subtle, but sometimes the rays of light are impossible to miss. Just in case you are having trouble seeing them in the picture to the right, roll your cursor over it to see a contrast enhanced version.

Keywords: morse creek, atmosphere, science

04/23/10 - Shadow Mountain Telephone Booth

The telephone system seems to enter a time warp out near Lake Crescent. It's easy not to notice, but if you look carefully at one of the many telephone cable warning markers along East Beach Road, you'll see that they have good, old fashioned Bell System logos. There's none of that Qwisp, or Quaker, or Qwest stuff they put on our phone bills these days. The Bell System was a telephone system. Qwest was a breakfast cereal.

There are even a few markers, and some curious equipment, right along the Spruce Railroad Trail. You probably haven't noticed it because there is awful a lot of distracting beautiful scenery. Still, it is time warp country. Check out this telephone booth at Shadow Mountain. That's the store along route 101 that sells gasoline, hot dogs, books of ghost stories, and just about everything else. We suppose that Sasquatch uses it when he comes out of the woods and changes into his civvies. As we said, it's time warp country.

They have just about everything else, so why not a phone booth?

Keywords: lake crescent, spruce railroad, science

03/14/10 - Sunrise at Lake Crescent

It was quite a sunrise Saturday morning looking east over Lake Crescent, at least according to these images from the park service webcam. That's the moon rising along with the sun. Obviously, the sun couldn't have been that bright a the time, or the moon wouldn't be visible. It's definitely worth checking in on the various webcams now and then.

The morning gloaming

Sunrise and moonrise

Good morning!

Keywords: lake crescent, atmosphere, science

02/21/10 - Sparkling Light at Lake Crescent

It has been sunny and calm lately, so we noticed an amazing light out on Lake Crescent. We were on the Spruce Railroad Trail, and the light reflected from the gentle ripples on the lake reflected onto the trees, sparklling and twinkling. Our camera only captured this so well.

Move your mouse over the image to see the subtle change, or click to watch the movie.

Keywords: lake crescent, spruce railroad, art, science

02/20/10 - From the Journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

I'm not sure how much of this is science and how much of this is stunt, but it was written up in the journal Science. Some guy named Felix Baumgartner is planning to jump from a helium balloon from about 20 miles up. Apparently, it's pretty tricky since it's minus 100 degrees up there and the air pressure is so low that water boils even when it is that cold. Still, it sounds like it could be real science.

The accompanying picture, though, was the clincher. If you look carefully, or click for a bigger version, you can see the SR-71 spy plane at cruising altitude, and way above that is Joe Kittinger, the current high altitude balloon jumping record holder. That's probably Felix's balloon up there at the top along with an action shot of Felix on his way down.

There's Joe!

Keywords: science

02/18/10 - What's the next town after Joyce?

We were looking at an old map of Washington State in an early 1930s edition of The Volume Library and couldn't help noticing that there seemed to be a lot more towns west of Port Angeles back then. For example, there was the town of Ramapo, right there on the statewide map. What was Ramapo? Where is it today? There were even towns west of Joyce; the next town was Hilda, and even further west, there was the town of Majestic. How could we not have heard of a town named Majestic? We had driven out west on route 112, but we had never noticed any signs for Majestic.

Naturally, we decided to investigate. So, follow the link for the mystery of the missing towns, or who's Hilda.

The map that started it all

Keywords: science, port angeles, maps, washington state

02/11/10 - Sunrise, Sunset

This isn't a software site, but Kaleberg Laboratories does maintain a few little pieces of software. There's our equation solver, Equato, a computer teaching tool, Cardiac, a program for making volvelles, and a number of tide forecasting and tide finding tools. One surprisingly popular program is Sunrise Sunset which simply produces an iCal calendar giving the times of sunrise and sunset. It is just an old basic program rewritten. You type in your latitude and longitude, your time zone and a few other particulars and out scoots an iCal calendar ready to use. Apparently, a fair number of people have some concern with when the sun rises and sets. Now and then we get feedback about the program, usually noting that it is broken. The latest note was from an Australian who reminded us that they do daylight savings time a bit differently in the southern hemisphere, so we've added a Down Under option to account for winter and summer being reversed. It still doesn't support British double war time, but the updated version is now more useful for people on the other half of the planet.

If you have a Mac, you can download the program here.

Keywords: software, science, kale, australia

01/01/10 - Blue Moon

This full moon we photographed on New Year's Eve is either a blue moon or the full moon after a blue moon. We aren't going to get into that argument. Instead, we are going to goggle in awe at the wonders of hand held photography. That's a pretty spectacular moon.

Keywords: science, art

Mount Baker and the moon

12/02/09 - Moon Over Mount Baker

This is a photo of Mount Baker taken from the Kaleberg Plateau in our backyard. We were out howling at the full moon.

Keywords: science, art, mount baker, kale

11/14/09 - From The Annals of Film Editing

From an article on the usefulness of subtitles in learning accents in foreign languages published by the journal Science:
"For the study, Dutch students who were fluent in English watched either a 25-minute episode of the Australian sitcom Kath & Kim, whose characters speak in broad accents from the Melbourne suburbs, or a version of Trainspotting, which was edited down to the same length by taking out the offensive parts."

According to the IMDB, Trainspotting has a 94 minute running time, so they cut out 69 minutes. That's pretty impressive.

Keywords: art, science, australia

10/30/09 - View From The Bluffs

We took a short stroll at the Dungeness Bluffs, from the main parking lot to the big field near the entrance. The bluffs look much the same, which means that they are still crumbling into the strait. At points you can see the overhang. Here and there the trail has been "adjusted". They try to keep the safety fence up to date, but the bluffs give them a run for the money.

The bluffs offer a great view of the waves below, and we couldn't help noticing that the waves meet the beach with a scalloped front. It is much more noticeable from up on the bluffs than when one is down on the beach. The shape is persistent, from wave to wave, and is probably reinforced by the shape of the beach and the land underwater. From the bluffs, you can't see the subtle shaping that guides the waves, but you can't miss its effect.

You can really see the scalloping as the waves recede.

The trail moves now and then as the bluffs collapse.

The waves come in.

Keywords: dungeness, science

10/23/09 - The Seattle Museum of Flight

We often fly Kenmore Air from Port Angeles to Boeing Field, but we rarely stick around the field for long. However on our latest trip our friends insisted that we head to the other side of the runway and see The Museum of Flight.

First, we stopped by the Fisherman's Terminal in Seattle and grabbed some lunch. We hadn't expected much. After all, this is supposed to be a tourist trap, so we were pleasantly surprised. The fish was fresh, as we had expected, but it and the side dishes were also well prepared. If nothing else, they used real butter, and that can make a lot of difference.

Then, we made our way the museum. It was much bigger than our friends had remembered with a veritable plethora of airplanes. We spent some time in the space exhibit. The full scale prototype module from the space station was larger than we had expected. Maybe there really is a space station orbiting up there, even if it doesn't have a cocktail lounge a la 2001.

A lot of our favorite planes were there including the Gossamer Albatross, the first man powered ultralight to cross the English Channel, the SR-71, always a crowd pleaser, an old Alaska Air DC-3, and, of course, the war planes from the first and second world wars. We didn't take too many pictures. If nothing else, the place was so chock full of aircraft it was hard to find a place to stand for a good shot.

We even crossed the road for a peek inside an old Concorde. Wow, it was cramped inside. Give us a full length, fold down bed seat, and we'll be happy even if it takes an extra hour or two to get there. We didn't get to see the old Boeing red barn and a whole lot of other things. All told, we were impressed, and we plan to come back.

The Museum of Flight

The Gossamer Albatross - one of the first successful man powered flying machines

From World War I

From World War II

High technology - The SR-71

Low technology

Keywords: seattle, art, science, kenmore, alaska

09/07/09 - Marine Traffic

Have you ever been watching the strait and wondering what all those ships are? You can tell they are container ships, or ferries, or tankers, but even with a telescope you can only find out so much. For an answer there's a Greek web site, in English, that can tell you a lot more. It's at It's a Google Map, so it's easy to navigate. Just click on a ship to find out more about it including its registry, pictures, and its route. It has world wide cover if you want to broaden your horizons. All told, it's a great internet time waster.

It's a Google Map

Keywords: science

08/15/09 - Regular or No Lead?

We recently purchased two bags of coffee, one caffeinated and one decaf. Unfortunately, we forgot to mark the bags and had no idea which was which. Sure, we could have tried drinking some of each, but the effects of caffeine can be subtle and are subject to the vagaries of human psychology.

So, what did we do? We went to Discover Testing and ordered ourselves a set of caffeine test strips. When they arrived, we brewed two pots of coffee and tested them. You can see the two strips on the right. Each strip has two reaction strips, and you can see that each batch of coffee reacted more with a different strip. D is for decaf. C is for the real stuff.

The upper strip shows D for decaf; the lower strip C for caffeine

Keywords: science

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