Category Archives: Science Stuff


Why not? Build your own Apollo Guidance Computer.


This report describes my successful project to build a working reproduction of the 1964 prototype for the Block I Apollo Guidance Computer. The AGC is the flight computer for the Apollo moon landings, with one unit in the command module and one in the LEM.

I built it in my basement. It took me 4 years.

If you like, you can build one too. It will take you less time, and yours will be better than mine.

(via Stephen Hackett)

Cooking: humanity’s ‘killer app’”?

As reported in The Economist, Harvard’s Richard Wrangham has a theory that “cooking and other forms of preparing food are humanity’s ‘killer app’”:

Cooking is a human universal. No society is without it. No one other than a few faddists tries to survive on raw food alone. And the consumption of a cooked meal in the evening, usually in the company of family and friends, is normal in every known society. Moreover, without cooking, the human brain (which consumes 20-25% of the body’s energy) could not keep running. Dr Wrangham thus believes that cooking and humanity are coeval.

In fact, as he outlined to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in Chicago, he thinks that cooking and other forms of preparing food are humanity’s “killer app”: the evolutionary change that underpins all of the other—and subsequent—changes that have made people such unusual animals.

(Hat tip to Alisa for the link on FB)

Five Years on Mars!


Spirit landed on Mars five years ago today. I recall being overcome with emotion when it landed, watching the joy of the crew at the JPL, knowing that the human race had sunk a jump shot from millions of miles away.

These Mars rovers rekindled my imagination and belief in an American space program. Let’s hope we can keep the momentum going through these difficult times.


“The Universe, Yours to Discover”


The International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) will be a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture, highlighted by the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo Galilei. The aim of the Year is to stimulate worldwide interest, especially among young people, in astronomy and science under the central theme “The Universe, Yours to Discover”. IYA2009 events and activities will promote a greater appreciation of the inspirational aspects of astronomy that embody an invaluable shared resource for all nations.

Gonna have to come up with some ways to get my daughter even more excited than she already is about space and astronomy…