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2015 November

November 23, 2015

The awfulness of Daylight Savings Time

(Originally posted at Vox.com authored by Brian Resnick)

One of the biggest problems with daylight saving is that for many of us with 9-to-5 jobs, our sunrises and sunsets often occur at odd times. Some people hate waking up at 7 am for a 9-to-5 and finding it’s still dark out. Others find it sad to leave work at 5 pm amid total darkness. There are also major inequalities within individual time zones. New York City and Detroit are both in Eastern time. The sun will rise in Detroit at 7:28 am Friday. In New York City, it will rise at 6:48 am.

So how might this change if we abolished or extended daylight saving? Cartographer Andy Woodruff decided to visualize this with an excellent series of maps.

First, he looked at how many days per year people around the United States receive “reasonable” sunrise and sunset times, defined as the sun rising at 7 am or earlier or setting after 5 pm (so one could, conceivably, spend some time in the sun before or after work). Right now a lot of people have unreasonable sunrises (the dark spots) for much of the year…

Click here for more from Vox.com

November 9, 2015

ISP created by a network of neighbors

The network for the Doe Bay Internet Users Association (DBIUA) of Orcas Island, WA. They utilize a microwave link with the mainland and are a completely wireless network.

The network for the Doe Bay Internet Users Association (DBIUA) of Orcas Island, WA. They utilize a microwave link with the mainland and are a completely wireless network. (Photo from DBIUA via ArsTechnica.com article)

ArsTechnica.com reported recently about Doe Bay, a small community on Orcas Island, Washington, created their own Internet Service Provider (ISP). The network is all wireless and is dependent upon a microwave receiver link –perched atop their community water tower — with the mainland. Each of the subscribers has their own radio antenna that connects them either directly to another antenna (as a relay) or to the water tower antenna.

The need for this service arose when the CenturyLink DSL became regularly inconsistent. The 1.5 Mbps download speeds would only make it to about 700 kbps — and depending upon network demand almost non-existent.

The community pooled together their resources to purchase the microwave receiver from StarTouch Broadband Services, a local/regional backhaul microwave IP transport company. The Doe Bay Internet Users Association (DBIUA) was then able to build their radio antenna network by utilizing small drones to assist in finding the best locations for antennae, then installing them by tacking them onto tall trees instead of building control towers saving them a great deal of money.

Similar projects exist in serving smaller communities outside San Diego, CA, New York, Germany, Norway, Austria, Greece, and Spain.

For more information about this project, check out this article and supplemental video from ArsTechnica.com

November 6, 2015

Deep magma chambers seen beneath Mount St. Helens

Adapted from Eric Kiser and Alan Levander from Rice University (Houston, TX). Accessed on Science Magazine Online.

Adapted from Eric Kiser and Alan Levander from Rice University (Houston, TX). Accessed on Science Magazine Online.

I know the title to this post seems like stating the obvious given the events that have occurred here in the past but…

Recent tomography (imaging using waves) has shown that there are three separate magma chambers that show more about this system in particular and some about the internal structure of volcanoes in general. These magma chambers seem to be connecting not only Mount St. Helens but also Mount Adams and the dormant Indian Heaven volcanic field to the east.

Researchers were able to map this out using a combination of 2500 seismometers in the ground on trails and logging roads around the mountain and 23 explosive shots, each with the force of a small earthquake. The energy waves from the blast went into the crust and seismometers picked up reflections. Since waves travel more slowly through magma than they do with rock, they were able to piece together an image (seen above). 75 seismometers are presently onsite to record tremors that travel through the Earth –or “teleseismic earthquakes” — so to produce a more robust map down to 80 kilometers.

The goal of this mapping is to match this new data with earthquake data from the 1980 eruption to better understand how it occurred. In the weeks leading up to the eruption, there were a series of small earthquakes that could be connected to magma traveling to the upper chamber which then pressurized to the point of eruption. Since these are only initial findings, there is no way to fully confirm the hypothesis of a two-chamber system for all volcanic eruptions (seen in the 1980 eruption and the Yellowstone supercaldera in Wyoming but not in the 2009 Mount St. Helens eruptions).

For more information about the research findings and methodology, check out this article from Science Magazine.