Archive for July, 2011

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.

Software: General Astronomy Course Assistant
Vendor: Wolfram Research (www.wolfram.com)
Price: $4.95

Many modern students use their smart phones in school, and Wolfram understands this so they are releasing a series of course assistant applications for smart phones and devices like the Apple iPhone and iPod touch. I’ve already looked at Wolfram’s Course Assistant for Astronomy, and I wanted to look at Wolfram’s General Chemistry Course Assistant when it was released since I initially majored in Biochemistry when I first started my undergrad degree.

This Course Assistant is sold through the Apple Apps store for $4.95, and I downloaded and installed the app through iTunes, which was flawless. The data (just like in the Astronomy Course Assistant) was organized by categories:

  • Atoms, Molecules, Ions
  • Atomic Structure & Periodicity
  • Reactions & Stoichiometry
  • Gases
  • Chemical Bonding
  • Liquids & Solids
  • Acids & Bases
  • The Nucleus
  • Units & Chemical Properties

Atoms, Molecules, Ions

This category has these subcategories: Find an Element. Find an Isotope, Atomic Properties of Elements, Abundance of Elements, Properties of Monoatomic Ions, and Ion Groups.

I went to the ‘Find an Element’ subcategory and entered 8, and then pressed ‘Compute’ to see the information on Oxygen, which displayed the element name,the location in the periodic table, an image of the element, some basic element properties (symbol, atomic number, electron configuration, block, group, period, and atomic weight), thermodynamic properties (melting point, boiling point – in centigrade and fahrenheit – critical temperature and pressure, molar heat of fusion, heat of vaporization, specific heat at STP, and adiabetic index), material properties (density, molar volume, refractive index, sound speed, and thermal conductivity), electromagnetic properties, reactivity (valence, electronegativity, electron affinity, ionization energies, atomic properties (term symbol, atomic radius, covalent radius, and van der Waals radius), abundance (universal, crust, and human), nuclear properties (half-life, isotopes), and identifiers (CAS and PubChem numbers).

In addition to searching for elements by atomic number, you can also use the number of protons and electrons. My favorite subcategory of this category of the course assistant was the ‘Atomic Properties of Elements’, because the search criteria you can use to find information include atomic number/weight/radius, number of protons/electrons.neutrons, and the Lewis structure.

Atomic Structure & Periodicity

This category has four subcategories: Light & Matter, Electron Configuration, Periodic Properties of Elements, and Ionic Radii.

The ‘Light & Matter’ subcategory lets you compute EM Radiation, the energy of a photon, and photon energy. The ‘Electron Configuration’ subcategory lets you compute configuration information for atoms or ions. The ‘Periodic Properties of Elements’ calculates information for elements and element groups. The ‘Ionic Radii’ subcategory computes radii for monoatomic and polyatomic ions.

Reactions & Stoichiometry

This category has eight subcategories to Solve for Mass/Volume, Convert Mass/Volume, Calculating Molar Mass, Composition of Compounds, Concentration and Solutions, and Equations and Reactions. My favorite subcategory was Equations and Reactions, which lets you plug in data to compute Reaction Enthalpy, the Reaction Equilibrium Constant, balance chemical equations, and calculate theoretical yields. Each section lets you specify 1 to 4 reactants and 1 to 4 products. Very useful.

Gases

This category has nine subcategories to solve for Avogadro’s Law (V or n), Boyle’s Law (V or P), Charles’s Law (V or T), Gay-Lussac’s Law (P or T)/Density or Molar Mass, the Ideal Gas Law (P, V, n, and T), Graham’s Law, Average Kinetic Energy, and RMS Velocity.

Chemical Bonding

This category has two subcategories: Bond Properties of Chemicals and Lewis Structures of Elements. The ‘Bond Properties’ include dipole moment, bond types and bond lengths for water, ethanol, acetic acid, acetone, and chloroform.

Liquids & Solids

This category has three subcategories: X-ray Analysis of Solids (Bragg Equation), Boiling Point of Liquids, and Liquid Vapor Pressure. I really liked how the second subcategory lets find boiling points based on city, elevation or mountains.

This was the only area of the app that I saw an error. I went into all three subcategories and all were blank, even though I waited 10 minutes. I quit the app and after I went back into it I was able to see each subcategory, but then the app locked up for a minute. I was able to restart the app, but I have notified Wolfram about this issue and will update this review as soon as I hear back from them.

Acids & Bases

This category lets you look up properties of acids and bases, calculates the ionization percentage of a solution, determine acidity and basicity of solutions (calculate pH and pOH, H+ and OH-, and look up the pH of a chemical), calculate pKa, and solve for pH or pKa.

The Nucleus

This category lets you look up information on isotopes (get element isotopes, look up nuclear properties, and find isotope half-life), as well as compute carbon-14 dating (if you believe that the earth is actually older than 6400 years). I went into the ‘Isotopes’ subcategory and looked up the isotopes for Oxygen, which showed all of the stable and unstable O isotopes. My favorite subcategory of this section was the ‘Isotope Half-Life’, as you can easily use element name or mass numbers to compute the half-lives of elements, which was interesting considering the reactor problems currently being experienced in Japan (as well as in Chernobyl).

Units & Chemical Properties

This category contains five subcategories: Unit Conversions, Physical Properties, Thermodynamic Properties, Element Properties, and Chemical Properties. The ‘Unit Conversion’ subcategory allows conversions based on length, mass, temperature, and volume. The four types of ‘Physical Properties’ are molecular weight, density,boiling point, and melting point. The types of properties found using ‘Thermodynamic Lookup’ are enthalpy of formation, entropy, free energy, heat capacity, enthalpy of fusion, and combustion heat.

I liked the ‘Element Properties’ subcategories, because it returns a ton of information for each element (the element name, periodic table position, an image, basic element properties, thermodynamic properties, material properties, electromagnetic properties, reactivity, atomic properties abundances, nuclear properties, and identifiers), but that seems to be the same as the data returned in the ‘Find an Element’ subcategory option in the ‘Atoms, Molecules, Ions’ category of the app.

Conclusion

Wolfram has expanded their offerings beyond the first 6 course assistant apps available for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. I tested this app using my iPod touch and was satisfied with the amount of useful information as well as the content layout. I did have a problem at one point and had to exit the app, but it then functioned normally.

As much as I enjoyed this app on my iPod touch, I’d love to be able  to retrieve all of the ‘Element Properties’ (in the ‘Units & Chemical Properties’ category) using a GUI image of the periodic table instead of the keyboard that was implemented in the app. To select elements not included on the keyboard, you just need to highlight the element that begins with the same first letter of the alphabet, then select the desired element. Preferring a GUI for this UI is a person preference and not a bug or error, but it might be more appropriate on the larger screen on the iPad.

Recommendation

A good value. Good data that will preclude the need to look up technical information in a textbook, which is handy for high school or college students.

By Tobias Lindemann, © Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.

Introduction

I was not happy when Atlantis lifted off last Friday, because I thought we would not have a chance to see it here in Europe. I was relieved when a friend told me that there would be a Solar-Transit of the ISS (International Space Station) near our home in Munich, Germany. The day after the launch, I read that the Shuttle Atlantis docked with the ISS, so I knew I had a chance to get the ISS and Shuttle together in a picture.

To verify the possibility, I went to www.calsky.com which is a nice site where you can calculate where the ISS will pass, as well as moon and solar transits for your location. Even if there is a flyby that is close to the sun, this site tells you where to go to see a perfect crossing. I was happy to learn that I could go to a place that is only a stone’s throw from my house.

I don’t own a mobile telescope, so I took my 300mm telephoto lens, a solar filter I built years ago for a solar-eclipse, and my EOS to the observation site. But before I left I had to synchronize the clock of my camera to match an exact radio clock.  Calsky had calculated the exact time for the crossing at 14h 56min 18.2sec UTC, and the whole transit duration was only 0.89 seconds which is fast.  I arrived at the observation location at 14:40 UTC, so I had enough time to find the sun, focus the lens and set the correct exposure time (I felt the best exposure time was 1/6000 at ISO 100 and f/9 with my filter).

IMPORTANT! Regarding the correct filter, it is extremely important that you do not look at the sun even though a small photo lens without a filter. Direct sunlight can seriously damage your eyes!!!

I choose JPEG as the image format because I can take many more photos in this format in burst-mode than taking raw format images.

A few minutes later, the key moment approached and I started the photo shot. I didn’t look at the sun through the finder, but after one minute of exposing the image I decided that the crossing must be over and released the trigger. I went home and transferred the photos to my computer and was very exited to see there were pictures of the sun, with something in front of it. I had about 800 photos to look at, but I realized that I had adjusted the time of my camera with a radio clock, so every photo has a very exact time stamp. It was unbelievable, but there were some pictures with the ISS in front of the sun at the exact time of 14:56:18. Thank you calsky.com; that is what I call that accurate.

The only tasks I had left was to stack the images with Fitswork using the “minimum function”, so that the dark ISS looks better plus reduce the intensity of the sun in the consolidated photo. Here is my photo from that event:

Even when a telephoto lens lacks high magnification, you can see the modules and solar panels of the ISS. Normal ISS passes occur in the evenings and mornings, and I do photograph very often at either time, but this was the first time I took some photos of the ISS in front of the sun, which was very exciting.

– Tobias <TobiasLindemann@iss-tracking.de>

Editor’s Comment

Tobias does astro-photography and shares his photos with fellow astronomy enthusiasts. He recently took a beautiful image of the ISS transitioning across the sun and I saw it when he shared it with members of the ISS Tracking Yahoo User Group. I was impressed enough to ask Tobias to write a short article about it for the readers of this site and he was happy to comply. Thank you for sharing, Tobias.

– Mike

By Ted Bade, © Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.

Product: SkyWire Serial Accessory
Vendor: Southern Stars (http://www.southernstars.com)
Price: $79.95 USD
Shipping: varies according to destination

SkyWire Serial Accessory is a simple cable that makes it a breeze to connect your iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone to your computerized telescope and control it with an app called SkySafari. Set up and use is really easy, although you need to use Southern Stars SkySafari version 2.1 app (or later) to take advantage of this cable.

Years ago I purchased a computerized telescope mount (and telescope), and found it was a serious step up for the rank amateur sky observer. Nowadays, rather then dealing with the frustration of using guiding stars to target in on a celestial object, I can now let a computer do all the work. Although the process isn’t perfect, it was an improvement over the tasks I needed to follow to get setup in the past. The Meade Autostar computer controller on my mount has a funky red LED display, which has issues like being completely un-readable when temperatures are in the lower 30 degree F. While it does know the position of a fair number of objects, it is also a bit of a process to select one. Not to mention that, before you begin to search, there is no indication  that an object is currently in the sky until after you select it. It didn’t take me long to look for a more intuitive interface.

From my previous articles here on our Space page, you see that I use my MacBook Pro along with different Astronomy software to make the process even easier. But what if you are starting out like most people today, you may already have one of Apple’s i-devices. SkyWire used with the SkySafari software makes it easy to step a telescope up. Additionally, most of these devices make use of the compass and GPS features, so you can use them to assist with locating the general area of the sky your object of choice might reside.

SkyWire is a cable that transfers the serial data (RS232) signal from the telescope controller to the i-device you are using. The SkyWire cable ends in a DB9 connector. If your telescope controller doesn’t use this connector, you will need a cable to convert the DB9 connector to whatever your ‘Scope” uses. In my case, the Meade LXD75 uses a standard telephone connector (RJ11). It came with a cable that has the RJ11 on one side and a  DB9 on the other, so all I had to do was plug the SkyWire DB9 into the telescope’s DB9 connector and plug the RJ11 end into the AutoStar. Note that I mention all this cable detail because it is specific to my set up. Hopefully there is enough detail so that someone with a different set up will understand what to do.

The current version of SkySafari is version 3, and you need version 3 plus to gain the telescope control features. I was pretty impressed with SkySafari. It is a very comprehensive piece of astronomy software with lots of features. It is a great standalone product and worth considering even if you don’t have an interest in the SkyWire feature.

With SkySafari 3 Plus running on my iPod Touch, I plugged in the standard i-device connector into it and an alert box in the software told me I am connected to the SkyWire. By default SkySafari 3 Plus has the telescope control set to “demo mode”.  You need to go into the settings and select your telescope controller and mount type. This system will work with a wide variety of telescope controllers (those that use the RS232 interface), but some do not. Check the products web site to see if your controller is included.

Once you have selected the telescope controller, bring up the telescope control and select connect. If your controller is on and ready to go it should immediately connect. Now all the power of SkySafari 3 Plus is available to control your telescope. And there is a lot of power in this program!

I have both an iPod Touch and and iPad, so I used both to control the telescope. The iPod Touch is a bit smaller then my Meade Autostar controller but it is infinitely easier to find objects in my sky and slew the telescope to them with this setup. The display is huge compared to the Autostar’s display. Secondly, I am looking at an image that represents what the sky looks like where I am currently located, so by looking at the display I know if the object is above or below the horizon. Using the iPod’s compass feature, I can actually locate the part of the sky tof he object I am interested in viewing, and it is easy to see if there are obstructions that would prevent viewing. SkySafari 3 Plus provides information about the object as well as an image, so I have an idea of magnitude and have data I can read about the object, and can even see what it would look like using a larger telescope. It would be truly cool is there was an easy way to mount and align the iPod on the telescope, so that it could be set to show what was in that part of the sky the telescope is currently pointed toward!

A benefit of any piece of software to aid in observing the sky is its ability to help find objects of interest. Like most astronomy packages, SkySafari show solar system objects, many stars, and puts symbols on the screen where deep space objects are located. It also has two features that point out interesting objects in the current sky. First of all under the search menu there is a “Tonight’s Best” selection, which lists a number of items that should be viewable in your local night sky. You can go through the list and create an observing list of objects you would like to view, or just select one and go to it. The observing list(s) in SkySafari are accessed using the search menu.

The other feature requires an internet connection, it is Sky & Telescope’s SkyWeek feature. This weekly list provides a sky observing task or suggestion for each night of the week. Scroll through the weeks list, choose the correct day and you can read their suggestion. There is also a “View” button that when clicked, centers the object in SkySafari, so you can see where it is.

Using the iPod is nice, but the screen is small. The iPad has a larger screen, and I find this more effective when displaying the night sky. However, it is a bit more awkward to hold up to the sky, (but just only a bit more difficult). One issue I have had with connecting my MacBook Pro to the Autostar is tripping over the cable. The cables I have aren’t long enough to easily string around to protect from an accidental pull and unplug. One advantage of the iPod is that it is small enough to just hang on the telescope mount, so the cable stays out of the way, just as the Autostar cable does.

The SkyWire coupled with SkySafari and your i-device is a cool way to control your telescope’s computer. It is easy to set up and simple to use. I am certain any user will discover that using the data, display, and easy interface of an i-device will be far superior to what came with the telescope. If you have a telescope, and i-device, and want to make the connection, this is definitely the way to go.

Author’s note: In the next review, I discuss Southern Star’s SkyFi, a device that lets you wirelessly connect your telescope computer to your WiFi enabled computer.

By Harry {doc} Babad, © Copyright 2011, All rights Reserved.

Greening Introduction

REFERENCES AND THEIR USES – A late night musing

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is making changes to improve its scientific integrity. The move comes in part because of mistakes discovered in the panel’s 2007 assessment, including the incorrect statement that Himalayan glaciers would melt away by 2035.

Last year, the Inter Academy Council, a coalition of national scientific academies, recommended changes to IPCC to address these and other issues (C&EN, Sept. 6, 2010, page 15). At a meeting in mid-May, IPCC adopted a procedure for evaluating and correcting errors in its assessments. The group also established a standardized method for addressing scientific uncertainties in its reports, and it approved a new conflict of interest policy.

The present approach is compliant to the reviews of the IPCC by leading British and American Senior Technical advisory groups (e.g., NAS)

In addition, the panel set a benchmark for scientific literature used for its assessments. This gives priority to peer-reviewed studies but recognizes that reports from governments, industry, and research institutions may provide crucial data even if they aren’t peer reviewed. It states that magazines and newspapers are generally not valid sources of scientific in formation and bans the use of material from broadcast media, blogs, social networking sites, and personal communications of scientific results.

Note that the criteria the panel espouses are comparable to those I use in determining whether or not to use a reference in one of my articles.However, there is one major difference. I seldom use primary references (e.g., journals) as examples for further exploration for you my readers. First, such use of such would be counterproductive as a communications tool on the basis of knowledge accessibility.

Many of you, including my self, would be swamped by journal article contents in areas we had not studied Alternately if long ago studies, has evolved to the point where can not easily connect either with the concept details or newly evolved semantics. There for the contents would be, in terms of understanding, inaccessible to us!

Second, the entireties of journal articles are not easily available via Google and other publicly accessible search methods. Although, the abstracts of the article are, they are not detailed enough to serve as serious information even to a casual ‘knowledge-hungry’ reader. Again it’s a matter of access.

You can access full journal articles through a public library or local college library, only if the local agencies have individual subscriptions to that service. [No I’ve not tried the Library of Congress for journal\access detail.] Buying articles for archive reference copy use w/o the academic and public library discount is pricy… Certainly, as a routine expense, out of my budget. Indeed getting access to an occasional primary reference is the primary reason I maintain local library cards; other information is as easily available from my desktop iMac.

Therefore all of my references will remain secondary and shall only be used after a sanity, logic, and check on WIIFT <What’s in it for them>.

Check out my approaches to topic selection in the endnote entitled Sources and Credits.

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 The New Snippets and Topics ——— Titles, As Usual, in No Formal Order

 References and Their Uses – A late night musing

New Reactor Harnesses Sun’s Energy Like Plants The science keeps getting us closer but we’re a long ways from commercial or even breakeven costs.

Carbon Sequestration Core NETL R&D — The DOE Program

The Commuter Bike Redesigned and Electrified — If I was a rich man…

Pollution & Global Warming — Climate change in black and white

Symbiotic Coupling Of Wind Power And Nuclear Power Generation Finally someone serious about merging green power, renewable but intermittent Wind and greenhouse free baseload effective nuclear.

Nuclear Efficiency — With new fuel formulations, reactors could extract more energy, and reduce hazardous waste

Is the Coal Killer Flying Thousands of Feet Up in the Sky? — A new meaning to go fly a self powered kite.

IAEA Fujushima Dalichi Fact Finding Mission Summary and Initial Findings

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 New Reactor Harnesses Sun’s Energy Like Plants The science keeps getting us closer but we’re a long ways from commercial or even breakeven costs.

Researchers have unveiled a prototype reactor, which mimics plant life, turning the Sun’s energy to make hydrocarbon fuel. Developed by a team of scientists from the United States and Switzerland, The device uses the Sun’s rays and the mineral ceria (cerium oxide), to break down water or carbon dioxide into energy, which can be stored and transported.

Harnessing the power of the sun has been but a pipe dream, as conventional solar panels must use the power they generate in situ. With the ceria-fueled reactor, this issue is solved

The scientists, who include Caltech professor Sossina M. Haile and Swiss Institute of Energy Technology professor Aldo Steinfeld, wanted to figure out a way to harness the sun efficiently, without incredibly rare materials. They decided on testing ceria, a relatively abundant “rare-earth” metallic oxide with very special properties.

The solar reactor takes advantage of the ceramic ceria’s ability to “exhale” oxygen from its crystalline framework at very high temperatures and then “inhale” oxygen back in at lower temperatures. “What is special about the material is that it doesn’t release all of the oxygen. That helps to leave the framework of the material intact as oxygen leaves,” Haile explains. “When we cool it back down, the material’s thermodynamically preferred state is to pull oxygen back into the structure.”

Why start the long hard journey to practicality… click the link.

From: FoxNews.com, January 20, 2011

An alternative approach to generating solar power, based on making more effective use of Thermoelectric devices then have been previously been possible is referenced below.

Solar Tower—The Third Way. (A new method of making electricity from sunlight has just been tested) Reported in the May 12th, 2011 Economist.

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 Carbon Sequestration NETL Core R&D — The DOE Program

Many of you know that I have grave doubts about carbon sequestration, putting carbon, as a gas, in underground geological repositories.  Nevertheless, in the interest of fairness, DOE’s efforts on the topic are summarized below, the information taken from their The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) web pages. I am pleased to note that other, international efforts are approaching the demonstration stage, but still fear for the risks associated with diverse environmental (geohydrologic-seismic) environments for any site-specific demonstration of long-term storage or disposal. Each and every location, not just environmental setting, must be proven safe for the so-called ‘disposal’ period, despite effect of plate tectonics (earthquakes) and perhaps climate change. [Think nuclear waste repositories.] 

Therefore herein, I am sharing only information focused primarily on the two areas of Pre-Combustion Capture and CO2 Utilization. However, the references I, link to all the current DOE efforts, my interests continue to mainly focus only on areas where the long term economic risk is a more important factor than the environmental ones.

The DOE Core Research and Development (Core R&D) focuses on developing new carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to a pre-commercial demonstration level. The Core R&D Element includes five technical focus areas: (1) Pre-Combustion Capture; (2) Monitoring, Verification, and Accounting (MVA); (3) Geologic Storage; (4) Simulation and Risk Assessment; and (5) CO2 Utilization.

From my perspective, until the issue of ‘licensing’ geologic site for long storage [… let’s say 100 -300 years> or disposal < ≥ 1000 years> is actually address and consensus reached on it resolution, the most useful part of the pram is the isolation, capture and reuse of the CO2 we emit in generating electricity from coal, oil, and natural gas. Remember, CO2has no half-life. If we don’t concert it to a solid mineral form or release it to challenge the next ice ago, it will do damage whenever it get released back in to the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) capture is defined as the separation of CO2 from emissions sources or from within the CO2 emission process. When CO2 is recovered from emissions sources, such as power plant flue gases, it is in a concentrated stream that is amenable to storage or conversion. Currently this process is costly and energy intensive, accounting for the majority of the cost of storage.

The Carbon Sequestration Program (Pre-Combustion Capture Focus Area) is focusing on developing technologies used to reduce the cost of capture and separation of CO2 in pre-combustion systems. Pre-combustion capture is mainly applicable to Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power plants and refers to removal of the CO2 from the synthesis gas (syngas) prior to its combustion for power production. CO2 is concentrated and at a high-pressure as a result. A simplified process schematic for pre-combustion CO2 capture is shown below. Near-term applications of CO2 capture from pre-combustion systems will likely involve improvements to the existing state-of-the-art physical or chemical absorption processes being used by the power generation industry.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) utilization efforts focus on pathways and novel approaches for reducing CO2 emissions by developing beneficial uses for the CO2 that will mitigate CO2 emissions in areas where geologic storage may not be an optimal solution. CO2 can be used in applications that could generate significant benefits. It is possible to develop alternatives that can use captured CO2 or convert it to useful products such chemicals, cements, or plastics. Revenue generated from the utilized CO2 could also offset a portion of the CO2 capture cost.

Processes or concepts must take into account the life cycle of the process to ensure that additional CO2 is not produced beyond what is already being removed from or going into the atmosphere. Furthermore, while the utilization of CO2 has some potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, CO2 has certain disadvantages as a chemical reactant. Carbon dioxide is rather inert and non-reactive. This inertness is the reason why CO2 has broad industrial and technical applications. Each potential use of CO2 has an energy requirement that needs to be determined; and the CO2 produced to create the energy for the specific utilization process must not exceed the CO2 utilized.

Want to know more about potential uses of captured CO2, check out the link.

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 The Commuter Bike Redesigned and Electrified — If I was a rich man…

This week, most people on the East Coast were hunkering down indoors, prepared for this winter’s fourth Snowstorm of the Century. I (Dave Pouge) on the other hand, was riding around a hotel ballroom on a YikeBike. And I’ll be straight with you: I had kind of a Segway moment.

Remember that? After inventor Dean Kamen first gave secret demos of his self-balancing upright scooter to industry hotshots, their awed reactions included remarks like, “They’ll redesign cities for this thing.” Of course, the Segway never did become as commonplace as the bicycle, and the YikeBike won’t either. But what a cool idea.

It’s an electric bike. Top speed is about 15 miles an hour. Buttons that are right under your thumbs on the handlebars smoothly controls the accelerator and brakes. The handlebars themselves are at your waist level, which might seem odd but makes sense—you ride sitting fully upright instead of bending forward, as on a bicycle. That design also means that you can jump forward off the bike in a crisis; there’s no hardware in your way.

Here’s the twist: the whole thing folds down into its own front wheel. You undo four stainless-steel latches, then snap the back wheel, seat and handlebars into the front one. It takes about 10 seconds. (Watch the video embedded in the linked post to get the idea.)

After providing lots more details, David notes,I’m not sure how many takers of the high tech carbon composite the YikeBike will have at $3,600. But I really admire Mr. Ryan’s lean, green folding machine, and I wish him the best of luck.”

The YikeBike on Pouge’s PostsThe Latest in Technology from David Pogue, June 30, 2011, for the New York Times.

You want another choice…

After YikeBike Its Turn Of Honda’s U3-X!Another fun one-wheeler?

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 Pollution & Global Warming—Climate change in black and white

As noted in a recent Economist article, black and white (data) has many grey aspects. When air pollution hurts people’s health and heats up the climate it makes sense to do something about it. But, what about pollution that cools the planet?

An ideal fossil-fuel power plant would produce power, carbon dioxide and nothing more. Less-than-ideal ones—not to mention other devices for the combustion of carbon, from diesel generators to brick kilns and stoves burning dung—also emit various gases and gunk. These often cause local environmental problems, damaging lungs, hurting crops and shortening lives. And some of the gunk, notably soot or “black carbon”, can warm the planet, too.

Next week (February 28, 2011) ministers attending the governing council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi will be presented with the summary, which I could not find, of a new report on how fighting air pollution can help the global climate (the report itself is due to follow a couple of months later). The summary makes a powerful case for acting on two short-lived climate “forcing’s”, factors that change the amount of energy the atmosphere absorbs, as carbon dioxide does, but stay in it only briefly. One is black carbon and the other is ozone. The later is both vital for blocking ultraviolet rays in the stratosphere but hazardous in the bits of the atmosphere where plants live and people have to breathe.

According to the UNEP report, implementing measures known to be effective against these two pollutants over the next 20 years would have “immediate and multiple” benefits. These include (1) average world temperatures between 0.2°C and 0.7°C lower than they would otherwise be by 2050 and (2) the saving of between 0.7 and 4.6 million lives with improved air quality. For black carbon the measures are largely in the form of more efficient ways of burning things; for ozone they mostly involve reducing emissions of methane, which encourages reactions in the atmosphere that make ozone. The black-carbon measures save a lot more lives than ozone control, but are trickier to assess in terms of climate

Beijing, but it could have any major urban industrial community in Asia.

The article continues with a discussion of the history of UNEP’s interest in black carbon including observations initiated by Veerabhadran Ramanathan, of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, and Paul Crutzen, a Dutch climate scientist who was one of the first to theorize about “nuclear winter”. These studies revealed the hitherto unappreciated extent of an “Asian brown cloud” thousands of kilometers across and fed by fires, diesel fumes and all manner of other things.

The article then focuses on the climate politics, as opposed to the science of black carbon; since reducing CO2 release internationally seems stalled politics takes the forefront. [Check it out, this is not intuitive. It’s an interesting read for the non-politicians amongst us.]

The article, lengthy but well written, ends with a straight forward section called “Clouding the Issues” that deals with both potential warming and cooling effects of atmospherically distributed and surface settled carbon soot. Who said science is black or white?

There’s no punch line but the realization at times, due to doubling effects, more R&D is needed before any action makes sense, especially from regulatory forcing factors.

Indeed, if the Arctic is warming faster than might be expected, other parts of the world are warming slower. One reason for this, widely accepted by scientists but little appreciated by policymakers, is that the sulphur given off by coal-fired power stations and some other industrial fossil-fuel use. Sulphur is very good at forming reflecting aerosols that can also make natural clouds both whiter and possibly longer lasting, which provides an added cooling effect. Acid rains anyone?

It is no coincidence that a non-governmental organization active in the fight against air pollution, America’s Clean Air Task Force, now strongly advocates more research into the pros and cons of geoengineering. Jason Blackstock, at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Canada, points out that black carbon; sulfates and geoengineering are all neglected by the institutions that govern climate policy. He is looking at ways to bring the topics together in the broader context of how nations make choices about the climate. If human action on the climate is ever to be properly deliberate, it must first be properly deliberated.

This is a thought-provoking read that should threaten any ‘nature is simple paradigm’. I’ll be doing an Op-Ed analysis on Geoengineering for release in July; keep clicking to keep me honest and on schedule.

The Economist Magazine, a staff report, Feb 17th 2011.

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 Symbiotic Coupling Of Wind Power And Nuclear Power Generation Finally someone serious about merging green power, renewable but intermittent Wind and greenhouse free baseload effective nuclear.

I’ve copied the abstract from the peer reviewed Proceedings of the 1st International Nuclear and Renewable Energy Conference (INREC10), Amman, Jordan, March 21-24, 2010. The paper by Kate Rogers and Magdi Ragheb from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Nuclear, Plasma and Radiological Engineering at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A bit of disclosure, I got my Ph. D. in Organic Chemistry for the U of I at Urbana.

Why?  It has always perplexed me why so little has been published about use of coupled technologies (e.g., nuclear and wind or solar; and perhaps geothermal and wind power) in trying to get cost effective and function solutions to our energy needs while minimalizing direct worsening greenhouse gas releases? The life cycle releases still remain since you must mine-smelt-manufacture the facility, deal with land use footprint and water issues. However these environmental costs are a small portion of the pollution costs of facility based on transporting and burning hydrocarbons for 20-40 years. Okay, here’s the abstract. Check out the whole article…as Arthur Stanton Eric “Arte” Johnson would say on Laugh in, ’it’s verrry interesting.

The coupling of wind power production as an intermittent supply to nuclear power generation as a base load supply is discussed. Wind turbines on a standby operational mode are net importers of power for their control and yaw mechanisms. They need a supply of about 5 kW of power from an existing grid. They also require the vicinity of a power grid with excess capacity to export their generated power. A choice is the construction of wind farms in the immediate vicinity low population density population zones around nuclear power plants.

An example, used by the authors, is the Grand Ridge wind farm adjacent to the LaSalle nuclear power plant near Versailles, Illinois. Since the best wind resources in the USA are located far from the industrial and population centers there is a need for connection to the grid trough High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC). Due to ramping considerations, the planned introduction of 20 percent of electrical wind production in the USA by 2020 would pose challenging grid stability issues. Energy storage alternatives such as hydrogen production, compressed air, flywheels, superconducting magnets and pumped storage, need serious consideration. Doc agrees as long as the results are integrated into life-cycle system operations consideration… To misquote John Donne — no widget is an island!

Another related and more current reference

Hybrid Power Plants: Could They Bank Roll Nuclear Power? Nuclear Insider, 19 May 2011

http://analysis.nuclearenergyinsider.com/industry-insight/hybrid-power-plants-could-they-bank-roll-nuclear-power?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=nuc&utm_campaign=1905

Except casually, I’ve not searched this particular mother lode of greening information so any feedback from readers would be welcome.  Doc.

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 Nuclear Efficiency — With new fuel formulations, reactors could extract more energy, and reduce hazardous waste

When it comes to nuclear energy, the world is not exactly an early adopter of new technology: The vast majority of nuclear reactors running today falls into the so-called Generation II category and uses technology from the 1970s. Generation III reactors—the ones being built now or in the near future—are fundamentally based on the same water-cooled design, with improvements in safety, reliability, and efficiency.

It is in the development of Generation IV reactors—the ones that will start up around 2030—that nuclear energy will see a significant change in technology. The six models put forth by the Generation IV International Forum, chartered in 2001 to carry out nuclear energy research and development, aspire not only to be even safer and more reliable than previous generations, but also to get a greater return from the energy source—by extracting up to 90% of the available energy in their fuels instead of the 5% more typical of today’s reactors. In some cases, the reactors will use reprocessed or recycled waste fuel from other reactors. The fuels may also incorporate some of the longest lasting radioisotopes from waste fuel, including americium, curium, and neptunium, thereby turning these radiotoxic isotopes into less hazardous materials while providing a little extra energy in the process. To reach those goals, and especially to reach them safely, nuclear scientists are working to develop and evaluate new fuel formulations and materials.

Current reactors use either uranium dioxide or a mix of uranium dioxide and plutonium dioxide. The fuel powder is pressed into pellets that are about 1 cm in diameter. The pellets are then inserted into thin tubes to form rods. The tube material, known as cladding, is considered an integral part of the fuel. In traditional reactors, the cladding is a zirconium alloy.  After the rods are sealed, they are assembled into bundles of dozens to hundreds of rods; several hundred of the bundles make up the core of a reactor.

Jyllian N. Kemsley goes on to discuss, in a well-written and clearly illustrated fashion, the Generation IV reactors and how they will and can achieve bowered costs, safer operation and minimal need to dispose of high-level long lived radioactive waste. What I drew me to this article was the realization that outside of the US, that future is becoming now!

Article by Jyllian N. Kemsley, originally published in the ACS’ Science & Technology Magazine, September 13, 2010.

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 Is the Coal Killer Flying Thousands of Feet Up in the Sky? — A new meaning to go fly a self powered kite.

JoeBen Bevirt is building an inventive, flying turbine in a bold bid to make wind power practical. Bonny Doon, California is hardly the place one thinks of visiting for high-tech thrills. Once an old logging camp, the tiny hamlet northwest of Santa Cruz, California, sits at the end of a country road, past miles of empty beaches and strawberry farms. Hang a left before you reach the vineyard and you find a short dirt track leading to a barn. And then, amid hundreds of acres of redwoods out back, you encounter an avatar of the future—a whirring black gizmo, about the size of a bread box, zipping around overhead. The strange flying object is controlled remotely by a cluster of giggling engineers. Their leader, a tall man with the build of a gazelle, windswept blond hair, and a permanent grin, starts extolling the possibilities of his device before he remembers to introduce himself.

To inventor JoeBen Bevirt, the flying black box holds our clean-energy future, a world in which wind turbines lift off the ground and fly among the clouds. His company, Joby Energy, designs these turbines from scratch. “In order to have truly sustainable energy, we’ve got to beat coal,” he says. “We are going to need game-changing technology. I believe that technology is high-altitude wind.”

In concept his idea makes sense: Wind power from the sky would strip turbines of their expensive, heavy towers and oversize blades, allowing them to collect energy unobtrusively from the richest lode of wind in the world. Winds at an altitude of 30,000 feet carry 20 times as much energy as those near the ground, representing a source of power that could be a fraction of the cost of coal. The challenge, observers say, is keeping such turbines aloft. ——— Enjoy, read the rest of the article summary-The full version is, alas, available only to subscribers like me.

By Erik Vance; photography by Sean Fenn In Discover Magazine, February 8, 2011.

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 IAEA Fujushima Dalichi Fact Finding Mission Summary and Initial Findings_ A reference masquerading as a topic. I will deal with this topic in March of 2012, when most of the sound and fury has died down, and the facts have been collected, subject to peer review and published.  Meanwhile, we likely be watching the field days being enjoyed both by the anti-nuclear greens and the folks at big oil-coal and gas who profit as the earth appears to warm. From their perspective the only significant competitor, in the absence of a carbon tax, of CO2 and other green house gas free energy is being politically assaulted. No the nuclear renaissance is not dead, some government’s believe both killing their people with smog, and supporting the onward going warming is wrong.

I’ve been wondering whether the European Union, and perhaps the UK and Japan might impose a Value Added Tax [VAT] on product produced with electricity generated by pollution based plants. How? It’s naively simple. The VAT should be the ratio of ‘clean to polluting energy generated within the exporting country, other than transportation related. I know it’s in constraint of trade, but so are likely rising sea levels and the drowning of our port cities.

IAEA International Fact Finding Expert Mission Of The Nuclear Accident Following The Great East Japan Earthquake And Tsunami  Tokyo, Fukushima Dai-ichi NPP, Fukushima Dai-ni NPP and  Tokai NPP, Japan   24 May- 1 June 2011     Preliminary Summary

IAEA Fact-Finding Team Completes Visit to Japan (1 June 2011) – Preliminary Assessment

IAEA links to the Japanese Reactor Accidents and their Aftermath.

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Endnotes

Copyright Notice: Product and company names and logos in this review may be registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Some of the articles listed in this column are copyright protected – their use is both acknowledge and is limited to educational related purposes, which this column provides.

Sources & Credits:  — Many of these items were found by way of the links in the newsletter NewsBridge of ‘articles of interest’ to the national labs library technical and regulatory agency users. NewsBridge is electronically published by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, in Richland WA.  If using NewsBridge as a starting point, I follow the provided link to the source of the information and edit its content (mostly by shortening the details) for information for our readers. I also both follow any contained links, where appropriate, in the actual article, and provide you those references as well as those gleaned from a short trip to Google-land. Obviously if my source is a magazine or blog that the material I work with.

In addition, when copying materials that I cite, I do not fill the sourced ‘quoted’ words with quotation marks, the only place I keep quotes intact is where the original article ‘quotes’ another secondary source external to itself.  Remember, when Doc sticks his two bits in, its in italics and usually indented.

 

In Closing

Readers please read about my paradigms views, prejudices and snarky attitudes before flaming me… I show and tell my beliefs and paradigm at:

https://mhreviews.wordpress.com/2010/05/23/the-greening-continues-a-column-intro-may-23-2010/

The materials I share in the topical snippets that follow come from the various weekly science and environmental magazines and newsletters, both pro or anti any given subject’s focus or technologies; as well as excerpts from blogs and ‘lists’ to which I subscribe.

Article selection (my article – my choice} are obviously and admittedly biased by my training, experience and at rare times my emotional and philosophical intuitive views of what works and what will not… But if you have a topic I neglect, send me feedback and I’ll give it a shot.

Since my topic segments are only a partial look at the original materials, click on-through the provided link if you want more details, as well as <often> to check out other background references on the topic(s). … And yes I trust Wikipedia, but only if I’ve checkout most of an articles references for bias and accuracy!       Doc.

QUOTE de Mois — A Richard Feynman Cornucopia

  • The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.  I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy.
  • For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.
  • Scientific views end in awe and mystery, lost at the edge in uncertainty, but they appear to be so deep and so impressive that the theory that it is all arranged as a stage for God to watch man’s struggle for good and evil seems inadequate.

Doc’s Eclectic Views — A doc_Babad EDU-Torial Article for MHReports

By Harry {doc} Babad, © Copyright 2011, All right Reserved

Introduction

Over the years I have both given and attended a variety of presentations made by colleagues, fellow volunteers, and subject mater experts. Alas, most of the ‘seminars and presentations by any other name, I attended as a profession, volunteer, or just pain working stiff (aka scientist and teacher) were just plain awful. They wasted my time, insulted my intellect, and inflicted pain and suffering on my fragile mind already weak from living in a world of linear {cause effect} logic.  Unfortunately, the later exceed my own then feeble pitches by a factor of at least 100; didn’t someone somewhere say that it was better to give than to receive?

Folks of all ranks, experience and pedigrees gave these poor presentations. I also must admit to have dished out more, at least early in my career, of lousy presentations. Not on purpose — Just plain Ignorance <no video monitor> or a bit later in my career not caring enough to do better … If the shoe fits, you name your excuses, lack of time is always a good excuse.

DISCLOSURE: On the subject of Persuasive (e.g., Effective) presentation, I am an impassioned and outspoken demagogue. My colleagues always think such a compulsion strange – – needing to be treated – so what! Me strange, why? …I’d rather read even a relatively poor, by a non-English speaking author than hear the pitch.

Day glow colors, and wiz-bang media props not withstanding,  I remain convinced after being a 55 year part of tortured audiences, that the presenters, at least 99.0% of them, are their own worst enemy. Images with a punchy message that don’t detract from your presentations are not, hard to find or create.

This article is about you making peace with your audiences so they not only listen to you but also give real attention to the information you share.

It’s strange or perhaps even amazing how effective a person scheduled to make a presentation can be when we sit around, sharing their ideas. The props are usually napkins or a scratch pad and now an iPad/Stylus combo. However, make it a PRESENTATION, they become hills of Lethe, the forgetfulness inducing spirit. Amazing, how awful the same information becomes, when you hand that person a microphone and a projector and even worse turn out the lights. As a minor sidelight, the best presentation by a newbie I mentored, was rehearsed by the speaker and a few of us, friends all, in a swimming pool.

A Definition of Presentations, One Man’s View — What you may ask is a presentation? Usually it is a semi-formal, nominallyorganized and mostly a one-way exchange of information – a sales pitch made by you or a co-worker aimed at convincing others of the wisdom and rightness of your views and expertise.That’s different from either listening to or passively watching a speech, or sitting at a coffee house actively table trading of ideas (brainstorming) with colleagues. You can pursue these subjects – Google search about them. It’s also alas different from how most classrooms work – oh my preference the coffee table or booth in a bar with lots of napkins, beverages optional or perhaps optimal.

 Thank you for listening!

A Presentation is More than a Sum of Its Parts — There are main two aspects to a presentation, whether at a convention, or made internally to your management and co-workers. There’s you, the presenter (salesperson), and there’s the visuals – props you use.  The later serve, hopefully, to catch and maintain audience attention interest on YOU! – You’re the key to a grrreat presentation.

Note that I’ve liberally adapted materials from those who’ve written the books I’ve studies, Garr Reynolds for example. Many of the illustrations, not quite randomly selected, were gleaned from the many fine examples on the Slide Share site; those items that seem to fit the themes/points/rules/guidelines in my article.

For most of us today, our visual tool is a PowerPoint (Microsoft) or Keynote (Apple’s iWork) presentation. However, presenters should use be any combination of hard or soft props of which they remain in control! Watch Steve Job’s at a recent TED presentation or at various product release events. [E.g., the Macworld Conferences and Expo) or the WWDC developer’s conferences.] Bill Gates, just to drop names, is no slouch at presentation based out reach. All of these folks have been TED presenters. Okay, in a less technical vein, but presentation professionals all, there’s Bill Cosby, the late Daniel Schurr, Conan O’Brien, and of course Garr Reynolds of Presentation Zen note.

Okay, neither you or I are likely the naturally talented, much polished and practiced ‘orator’ heroes types that are part my FAVS list. I’d actually pay to hear my heroes speak, rather than watch them on HD TV for free. The KISS rule suggests also keeping in short so I’ll pick only of few whose last names start with the letter ‘B’.  [E.g., Jeff Bezos <Amazon.com>, Mark Bittman <NY Times Cooking>, Richard Branson <CEO Virgin Galactic>] who share their views on the great, and at times not so great ideas of the world

Focusing The Sales Pitch

  • Selling Me (e.g., my knowledge, trustworthiness, or capabilities.)
  • Selling My Project (e.g., funding, change in in organizational direction, focus.)
  • Selling Negative Findings (Don’t let them kill the Messenger, put you in control instead.)

In the material that follows I’ll first share my views on creating presentation graphics and tools. It’s the easiest element to deal with and initially avoid likely personal confrontation like you talk to the podium. There’s lots of available guides, books and examples to use to train yourself, a few of which I’ll reference below. Some of this you know and practice already great… skim it as a refresher. However if I left the material out, I’d be cheating by the rest of you and insulting the gods of pedagogy.

The section that follows the one on creating the visuals will be all about the human element in a presentation.  The me and you making the presentation – the part that is associated with the forever-moving target of know thyself and know your audience.

How often in my early days of presenting, did I wish I could leave both a copy of my slides and paper on each seat? Let me count the times. Then with a cup of espresso in my hand, likely laced with a bit of rum, go to the microphone… sit and sip or a while. After 15 minutes, I’d turn down the background music, and ask “ANY QUESTIONS?”

Do you remember the first — second —third time you looked at video of yourself
making a presentation? … For it was a pure YUCK moment!

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VISUAL AIDES and PROPS — The 13 Commandments of PowerPoint/Overhead Slide Preparation

Presentation Graphics Do’s and Don’t – Death by PowerPoint creates a lose-Lose for both you and your audience.

1.  Practical Attributes of Better PowerPoint Presentations [Paraphrased from Garr Reynolds]

  • Presentations must be both verbal & visual.
  • Too much slide information overloads people’s cognitive systems.
  • Can your visuals be understood in 3 seconds? If not, redesign them to support your talk.
  • Both your slide design & delivery must help your audience organize, and integrate information. Thinking well of you never hurts.

2. Include only one concept, point or idea per slide. If you have a complicated slide with lots of different data, it may be better to break it up into 2-3 different slides (assuming no side-by-side comparisons are needed). If necessary split your slides horizontally into before and after columns. However, you must then then cut down the bulleted items from phases to single of double word descriptors. You won’t have time to get nervous, you’ll be busy sharing what only you, you only know.

  • Capture the major point of the presentation on the title of a slide.
  • A slide one PowerPoint page or one overhead (transparency)

3. Use key words, phrases and or concepts rather than whole sentences and paragraphs. The slides serve as a crib card to you as well as an anchor to your audience.  After all, you will, hopefully, briefly be explaining — discussing many of these individual key points in your oral presentation. AVOID exposing your audience, to death by PowerPoint.

4. Words and Space Use — Follow doc_Babad’s 8 x 10 rule (I do try…)

  • Use no more than 8 lines per slide
  • Use no more that 10 words per line
  • There is no free lunch here; a blank line counts as a line!

5. Minimize Theme DistractionsE.g., Useless) space consuming, repeated information that serves only to clutter your graphic with redundancies. What that?

  • The 40+ point presentation title of the talk on each slide
  • Too large ≥ 2 x 2 organizational logos in the lower right hand corner of every slide.

The tile page, with your firms logo highly visible is okay… sort of a requirements, but after that it should get only minimal expose, except for you conclusions or acknowledgements slide. You have one, don’t you?

Notice that most Canned PowerPoint Templates are just plain wrong for creating an effective outreach to your audience. The most important items on a slide must be limited to your main points and sub-points using simple graphics that highlight the individual ideas. Most templates I’ve checked, and initially used, do the opposite, they because the focus, you the afterthought.

  • Most Data Tables, complex graphs and curves,  cluttered photographs with an unreadable legend just plain suck.
  • Do you want the reader to listen and learn from you or read your slides?

Too often, when trying to hurry the design of a presentation, the temptation is to use materials directly excerpted (cut/pasted) from your paper. Such selections are likely to be cluttered, (likely) disconnected, and semi-organized Think about it. Every time I work first from my paper, rather than crating a story board from scratch, I triple the work it take to create an acceptable set of visuals for my presentation.

6.  Font Selection Suggestions

  • Sans Serif fonts are more appropriate and legible than other fonts
  • Comic Sans MS is an example of a “fun” Sans Serif font
  • Arial is a more “serious” Sans Serif font, but appears too compressed for easy reading
  • Times New Roman is an example of a Serif font, easy to read in a book, harder to read on a slide. Occasionally at a larger than line size [e.g., 12 ==> 16 points makes a great highlight, but use it sparingly.

To avoid visual clutter limit your fonts to two (2) typefaces. I get too uncontrolled when I try to use three font families. I like the Helvetica Neue Family, at times coupled with the more ‘airy” Verdana or better yet an item or two accented with a bit of Comic Sans MS.

This is the different from what I do when writing articles, like this one.  There, I add emphasis by switching between Helvetica and Times New Roman and making extensive use of indented sometimes framed space.

7.  Use a Consistent Combination Of Font Sizes And Character Enhancements for organization and emphasis:

  • Character enhancements include bold, italics, and underline
  • Use character enhancements sparingly
  • Avoid the use of italics and underline if possible; they are hard to see so lose their purpose.
  • Text should be large enough to be read from any location in the room
    • 40 point is appropriate for SLIDE titles/main headings
    • 24-36 point is appropriate for sub topics. Nothing Smaller Will Be Visible.
Experiment by projecting your slides before the actual presentation. Better yet print them out on 8.5 x 11 transparencies. Then tape the transparency aka viewgraph, to a window. Get at least six feet away from the window and see if anything on the slide is either legible to eye catching. Ask yourself, right after lunch, could you stay awake, attentive, interested if these were flashed in front to you?

8. Other Style Suggestions

  • Use all UPPERCASE for acronyms only. If you explain them, they need not be spelled out!
  • The first letter of a header or phrase should be capitalized.
  • Use bullets to list items. It is acceptable to use alternate symbols in place of the traditional dot variant for a bullet, but don’t get cutsey or change the bullets at random.

9. Maintain Consistent Backgrounds For All Slides

  • Eliminate razzle-dazzle effects and unless your audience are rockers and punkers.
  • No clashing backgrounds or distracting colors between slides, background means exactly that – they’re unobtrusive. They also can serve to effectively frame a slides content.
  • Bad background colors make the words hard to reading distracting the audience away from YOU.
  • Photos make lousy backgrounds, the text which overlays them is both hard to read, and the effort of reading them irritates the listener.

10. Bar graphs, pie charts but NOT line graphs are effective tools to show trends and statistics.

  • Use contrasting, bright colors to delineate between categories.
  • Keep graphs simple and use more of them to make your point.
    – I’ve occasionally used a slide show element, for segwaying evolving data;
    – Namely 2-3 evolving graphs, all formatted identically. Typically, I make a simple introduction before using a related compare sequence. …So things went to hell, having first identified the parameters of interest when addressing the first chart.  
  • Actual data collection based curves are seldom legible, and add too much audience distractions as they squint at your figure.

11. Choose a color combination that is pleasing  to the eye as well as fostering the legible.

  • Use a color for the wording that has a very high contrast to the background
  • I use a white or very light pastel backgrounds with dark lettering rather than dark with light lettering. I prefer dark letters, because I find white print hard to read.
  • Use no more than four (4) colors max, preferably three. If you need more to make the point, redesign the slide!

12. Use high-quality graphics including photographs.  — You can take your own high-quality photographs with your digital camera, purchase professional stock photography, or use the plethora of high-quality images available on line (be cautious of copyright issues, however). Use such graphics and photographs only when emphasizing or illustrating a point.

13. I do not use either Audio Clips and Video clips. They may work for Steve Jobs or other widgeteers, but for me, they only distract from my pitch and chew up time!

Additional Slide Related Transitional Thoughts

  • Visual aids should support and enhance the presentation; they should not replace it or repeat it. The most disastrous visual aids traditionally have been visuals made from typed copy. Although perhaps permissible in a classroom, with handouts, these are useless beyond 20 feet.
  • Keep the lights on. If you are speaking in a meeting room or a classroom, the temptation is to turn the lights off so that the slides look better. But go for a compromise between a bright screen image and ambient room lighting. Turning the lights off, besides inducing sleep, puts all the focus on the screen. The audience should be looking at you more than the screen. Today’s projectors are bright enough to allow you to keep many of the lights on. [Paraphrased from Garr Reynolds].

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The Presenter – It’s all about you and your message

  1. Try To Move Away From The Podium —  Connect with your audience. If at all possible get closer to your audience by moving away from or in front of the podium. Use a remote control to advance you slides. This minimizes your dancing around the stage or having to call out next slide, as we all did in the days of viewgraph transparencies.
  2. Memorizing Your Talk — Memorizing can limit spontaneity and detract from your enthusiasm. However, some speakers memorize their opening and closing remarks to allow them to look directly at their audience with undivided attention. Try to avoid memorizing your entire presentation.
  3. Skip the Pomp and Circumstance — You are not a dinner speaker for Rotary or the American Association of Barstool Professionals. As you present, be respectful toward those you are addressing. Be cautious. I avoid, about using words or phrases such as “obviously” and “as you can clearly see from the figure.” This approach projects a pretentiousness that you don’t want to convey. Don’t be afraid to answer questions, with an I don’t know … leave me your card and I’ll find out for you. But do follow-up or the word will get around.
  4. Body English – Avoid distracting movement and unintentional body language: Be aware of your body’s nervous gestures. Some body language to steer clear of:
    • Checking the microphone con tenuously, if it fail’s you’ll know it – It’s the time for a short break of carry on, pretend your hog calling.
    • Jangling keys or change in your pocket or using a Napoléon pose.
    • Practice using appropriate gestures but only for emphasis. Moving your arms excessively is a sure giveaway – you’re spotlighted as uptight.
    • Watch the introductory ‘poises’ of taken show aspirant, before and often during their performances.
  5. Checkout a TED Presentation or Three [http://www.ted.com/] — Better yet just watch one of Steve Jobs keynote address. Ignore the fancy media effects; just watch him hook you and the rest of their intended audience. Slide share is great for presentation graphics but there’s no audio stream.
  6. Speak Slowly And Clearly enough that people at the back of the room can hear you. My machine-gun New York-ese, actually Bron-nix, although I can do Boston as well but am lousy at Brooklyn.) This is my Achilles heel, which to often I drop into when giving a talk when somewhat unprepared. But don’t speak to your self!
  7. If you have a Quiet Voice, Use a Microphone even in an intimate setting. This is especially true if you are a plenary speaker giving your talk in a large theater. If you’ve not used a microphone enough for comfort, talk to an organizer or secretary, if at work, I’m sure they’ll find you a place to practice.
  8. Start your presentation with a brief outline of your talk. Its helps orient the audience to why information is being given. There’s wisdom on the “tell them thrice” adage.
  9. For Technical Talks, give only:
    • An overview of research undertaken, the reason for doing it,
    • A few examples of tools used and/or chemical/technical pathways involved,
    • The important key results, and
    • Possible implications of your work.
  10. Limit Your Content — You or I, no not even Steve Jobs, can coherently present more that an overview in 20 minutes. The “emphasis should be on significance, rather than detail” The people can always read the paper or you can provide them with more detailed information if needed.
  11. Be Prepared — Go over your talk prior to the conference to determine whether it fits into the time available. If it does not, cut it down — Remember to leave some time for questions.
  12. QA — Check the quality of your slides and overheads well in advance of the conference. If they cannot be seen easily from the back of an average-sized lecture room, do something about it! ASAP. I also do a mike check in the seminar room and use my own laser pointer
  13. DON’T move the laser pointer arrow all over the slide while you are talking. Use the arrow or bright spot to highlight a point or value on a slide and then switch it off. [Resting your arm against the podium avoids the Darth Vader effect.]

Most importantly, starting with PowerPoint of Keynote or even large poster boards, use the KISS approach—“Keep It Simple, Speaker

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After Thoughts  — 13 items (commandments) are too few, but the next prime number 17, were way too many!

Some speakers outline their presentations, and then determine the best way to illustrate their ideas. Others sketch their ideas first, and then build their talk around these. However you proceed, be sure your figures and text support each other.

  • As you write the paper, think just a bit about creating a storyboard for your required presentation. Some folks use a large whiteboard; if you’re lucky it’ll have Xerox capability. I prefer cheap copy paper, which I recycle.
  • It is easy to play with ideas to create good concept slides. I use a text editor to minimize distraction of wanting to format and make pretty.
  • Wait until you have written your paper to have your final figures drafted –
  • Legends on figures and table headings must be self-contained.
  • Think about the presentation of the variables that must be identified. For example, use “Heat Transfer Coefficient, “w/m2” –not “h”; “Flow Rate, m3 /s” –not “f.”
  • You usually use more complex figures for the proceedings than would be appropriate for your presentation. Otherwise the figures will get the attention, illegible or not, not you.

Not only will your figures be consistent, but also you might throw out many too rough to use figures in the process.

Don’t Argue!   EVER — As you receive questions from the audience, always be cordial and courteous. The question may be from a novice. Patience will encourage questions and audience participation. and you’ll look all the better for it.

If you must, punch the person out, after the meeting, preferably in the ally. Your career will be dead anyway, but fewer folks will know about it right away.

Microphone Technique – The best position for the microphone is 6 inches from your mouth. This will keep the static down. I like lapel mikes, on my eclectic hand picked custom Bolo Ties, they work fine and give me room to walk around a bit.

Transitions In Your Presentation — Share the main headings and subheadings in your notes with your audience so you don’t falter. Pauses aide the listener–so if you do falter, just consider it a pause.

Presentation Room Size Considerations — Due to the size of the rooms at the conferences, (100-500 people) and the necessary use of a microphone, your presentation will often appear quite formal. Strive for directness and eye contact that you would use in a smaller setting.

An Extra — Read all about it!!

Although I am in the process of preparing presenters instructions, alas only 2 pages long, for a conference I support, I was delighted by the Techniques for Spoiling Your Own Scientific Talk by Joseph Burnett that I reference below. This is material I cannot use because of my sponsor’s concern over offending their audiences. Since Burnett’s audience were mere graduate students…

Due to copyright limitation I’ll only provide you with the list of John’s 10 commandments. These are a mix of graphics and presenter related goodies, you get to figure out which is which.

   

Notice How The Data Trends Change

It’s Simple, Let Me Walk You Though My Data

  1. Spend a lot of time saying things unrelated to your research.
  2. Don’t waste time on introducing your topic.
  3. Fill your slides with detail.
  4. If possible, represent trends by tables of numbers, rather than graphically.
  5. If you do present material graphically, {e.g., a spectrum) omit from the slide identification of the compound or system represented.
  6. Organize your talk so as to involve many slides as possible
  7. Noting that the rectangular open space on a slide is longer in one dimension than the’ other, arrange your material such that the lone dimension runs from top to bottom.
  8. Create your slides with a few apparently random mistakes that require correction as you discuss them.
  9. Present every detail of your experimental or theoretical results.
  10. If your work involves theoretical principles not frequently discussed, assume that your audience is fully familiar with them and proceed directly with their application to your work

Dr. Burnett closes with… “In summary, to spoil  your talk effectively, you can utilize a number of techniques. Which ones you can use depend on the nature of the work you have done. The general thrust of these techniques is to mystify your audience, to block its efforts to grasp what you have done, and above all to keep it from perceiving the Big Picture. This short article may not provide sufficient guidance on how to spoil your talks. You will however have opportunities to observe practical application of the practices presented in these guidelines, at meetings you attend, at seminars in your department, and the like.”

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References

Slide Share Internet Site — a great place to look at slide presentations, many of which, done by folks like you and I, are great. There are even a section of talks on Persuasive Presentation and Effective Presentation.

The Presentation Zen Books (…and Presentations) by Garr Reynolds. [Disclosure, I reviewed the books for macCompanion]

Don McMillan: Life After Death by PowerPoint, a YouTube Presentation, September 15th 2008.

Techniques for Spoiling Your Own Scientific Talk by Joseph F. Bunnett of the University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 J. Chem. Educ., 1995, 72 (12). I found, on Google, a copy of his Illustrative PowerPoint  presentation is posted, but the article itself was harder to find.

Presentation Zen: The Sound Of One Room Napping by Garr Reynolds

Death by PowerPoint in Wikipedia, 2011.

PowerPoint Hell: Don’t Let This Happen to Your Next Presentation (An off day for Bill Gates?), March 25, 2009. [Subtitled: In the “so bad it’s good” category, we honor eight PowerPoint slides that will make you say, “Holy $#@%, What were they thinking? Did Bill make these work?]

 

Story Board Related

Multimedia Or Just Plain Storytelling By Jane Stevens for the Knight Digital Media Center, Updated May 17, 2011.

Story Board for Pre-Production Videos – This works fro presentation, I done learned it before I had a care for creating more complex media presentations; it was all about viewgraphs then. Google PowerPoint Storyboards for other views on this process.

Other Highly Praised Mostly Book Based Resources

Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences [Paperback] by Nancy Duarte.

Multimedia Learning [a Paperback] by Richard E. Mayer

The Elements of Graphic Design: Space, Unity, Page Architecture, and Type [Paperback] by Alexander W. White.

Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft PowerPoint to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire [Paperback] by Cliff Atkinson

The Short Road to Great Presentations: How to Reach Any Audience Through Focused Preparation, Inspired Delivery, and Smart Use of Technology [Paperback] by Peter & Cheryl Reimold

Presentations That Get Results: 14 Reasons Yours May Not [Paperback] by Marian K. Woodall

Non-Designer’s Design Book, The (3rd Edition) [Paperback] by Robin Williams. [Disclosure: reviewed by me for macCompanion]

Robin Williams Design Workshop, The Second Edition [Paperback]. [Disclosure: reviewed by me for macCompanion]

The Non-Designer’s Design and Type Books, Deluxe Edition [Paperback] by Robin Williams. [Disclosure: first edition reviewed by me for macCompanion]

The Ten Commandments of Effective Visuals by Deborah Kendell on August 23, 2009 for the Effective Leadership Community Blog.

—————————————

PS:

Remember it’s all about getting, keeping the audience’s attention and making you look credible!

Sidebar

You will have noticed, quickly I hope, that I violate some of the graphics concepts I espouse, in my illustrations. However, splitting hairs, this is an article, not a presentation.

I also didn’t always document from which set of slides I grabbed an example, mia culpa – authors-presenters may you all forgive me; it’s not a copyright violation, just my getting absent minded and being to lazy to recheck four or five dozen files for the samples I extracted.

By Harry {doc} Babad,  © Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved

Authors: Hideo Nitta, Masafumi Yamamoto, Keita Takatsu and Trend-Pro Co, Ltd.

Publisher: No Starch Press — An O’Reilly Media Imprint

Web Site: http://nostarch.com/mg_relativity.htm

Updates/Errata: http://www.nostarch.com/mg_relativity.htm

Review Rating:  4.5 Quills

Cost: List Price: $19.95, Ebook:  $16.00 (PDF format),  Print +Ebook $21.95 [USD], Street Prices:  $10.88 [USD],  £15.19 [UK],  $15.12 [CDN].

ISBN-10: 1593272723
ISBN-13: 978-159327272

Language: English, Published (April 22, 2011)

Product Dimensions: 192 Pages including the Index, is a 9 x 67 x 0.3 inches paperback, or if you prefer buy it as an eBook from the publisher or Safari books online. The publisher offers the Ebook free when you buy the book from them.

Audience: Folks with science interests who not offended by comic based learning.

Strengths: A high quality, but at time mildly repetitive introduction to the history and implication of relativity from early classical mechanics to the world of Einstein.

Weaknesses: The detailed more academic sections are more disjointed then I cared for, relative to the comic story line and narratives, for my comfort.

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Introduction

Since I attended undergraduate school or perhaps earlier, I have been interested in relativity, as well as the peripherally associated quantum mechanics. That interest was always piqued by the apparent paradoxes they establish related to classical Newtonian mechanics. My often love-hate relationship blossomed as I read popularizations of these theories (often at ‘dummies’ level) about Albert Einstein, the Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and Erwin Schrödinger’s discovery of quantum mechanics. [Check Wikipedia for lots more detail on these and other topics in this review often with beaucoup equations.]

Alas, the hate part of relativity related information; my class on ’introduction to’ was so filled with math (Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, NY) that I nearly imperiled my future as an organic chemist. For my BS and Ph. D. degrees, at that time, organic chemistry and to a lessor extent analytical chemistry (my minor) were computational requirements-free fields of study.

Flash forward… Articles in Discover, Scientific American and other reputable secondary sources (e.g., not journals or textbooks) kept me reading. Although I was and still am mathematically impaired. More recently my interest level was heightened when my readings alerted me to reports that both physicists and engineers were discovering likely quantum (fuzzy logic) and perhaps relativistic effects associated with Newtonian mechanics. Wow… I’ve added a few references at the end of the review to peak your interests toward further reading.

The Manga Guides — I have previously reviewed a number of books in the Manga series (Molecular Biology, Electricity, Databases, Newtonian Physics and Statistics.) Therefore I was pleased to discover that a new book on relativity had been released. This review services as killing two virtual birds with one quantum stone, as it were. The book credibly supports both my interest in science and technology education and my love-hate for relativity and associated subjects. I am also hard science fiction addict and dote on the assumptions of hyper drives and faster then light travel, as well as the effects of relativistic travel in closer proximity to Sol, our sun.

The book covers all the main questions and topics you would expect such as the definition of relativity, the time dilation effect (where times slows down as speed approaches the speed of light), mass and the contraction of length (again, as speed approaches the speed of light), and explores the difference between special relativity and general relativity.

Each main chapter, as I expand upon below, contains both a Manga comic section and a text tutorial. The former serves as a quirky manga type introduction to and discussion of a relativity-associated subtopic. This is followed in each chapter by a more detailed and technical section filled with equations and deeper explorations of the chapter’s subject.

The Nature of the Beast — How the book is organized

The preface to the book succinctly neatly frames its purpose and goals… “Everyone wonders what relativity is all about. Because the theory of relativity predicts phenomena that seem unbelievable in our everyday lives (such as the slowing of time and the contraction of the length of an object), it can seem like mysterious magic.

“Despite its surprising, counterintuitive predictions, Einstein’s theory of relativity has been confirmed many times over, by countless experiments by modern physicists. Relativity and the equally unintuitive quantum mechanics are indispensable tools for understanding the physical world.” This includes such demonstrated knowledge that the speed of light is a constant, the very faster you travel, the slower you relatively age, and time is not quantized.

The books preface has introduced us to the fact the ’players’ not the story characters, are going to be Galileo Galilei, Sir Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein. It alas neglects one of my scientific favorites James Clark Maxwell, the father of electromagnetic theory and of course the infamous ‘daemons.’ He is only initially acknowledged in Chapter 1.

The preface concludes that:  “Relativity has given us a more accurate understanding of concepts regarding the space-time in which we are living. In other words, relativity is the result of asking what is actually happening in our world rather than saying our world should be a particular way.”

So on to what our ‘graphic’ teachers (the characters) teach us about the mysteries of relativity in the manga world. These characters are mainly our suckered student ‘hero’ Mr. Minagi and his oddly sexy teacher, Miss Uraga. And look out for the metaphysical dog.

In the material that follows I have paraphrased liberally, but only of a sentence or three from references [1 & 2], which surprisingly were both written by Michael Larsen. Nice writing sir!

Okay – Let’s get truckin’

Ignoring the ‘comic’ stage setting prologue and the somewhat surreal epilogue, the later dominated by a sort of deus ex machina dog. The book’s four main chapters focus on:

Chapter 1:  What Is Relativity?
 — “The first chapter helps us get into the mindset of our protagonist Minagi and his sensei Uraga as they discuss the differences between special and general relativity. The history of relativity from Galileo, Newton, Maxwell; on through Einstein and the idea that the speed of light is a constant and the fact that all reality is in constant motion is explored. The illustrations are both cute and informative, and help fill in the blanks for many of the concepts that might be difficult to visualize any other way.” [1, 2]

Chapter 2:   What Do You Mean, Time Slows Down? —“Time dilation is the situation where as an object approaches the speed of light, time slows down for the object. The manga guide uses an imaginary device called a “light clock” to help define how this idea works. This is further emphasized but use of the traveling Twins paradox. It occurs when one of a set of a twins goes on a space voyage for a year at light speed and returns to Earth, and sees that their twin has aged by several years in their absence.” [1, 2]

Chapter 3:  The Faster an Object Moves, the Shorter and Heavier It Becomes.


“The text continues with a discussion of the idea that, when an object gets towards the speed of light. Space and time are said to contract based on this theory of specific relativity (general relativity is discussed in Chapter 4.) Because of these findings, we need to look at space and time as not separate entities, but as interlocking interrelated subjects. In addition, we learn that objects get progressively heavier as they approach the speed of light. Light, which by its very nature is assumed to have a mass of zero is excluded from these relativistic effects. Strange! But otherwise the theories will not work the way they do).” [1, 2]

Chapter 4:  What Is General Relativity?

Special relativity focuses on the concept that gravity and motion of an object traveling in a straight line. General relativity is more mathematically complicated, because the gravity of nearby objects (such as stars) has a direct effect on the object in motion. That requires gravitational effects on fast traveling ‘things’ must to be accounted for. … Time also slows down as it passes such a large gravitational pull as well.” [The later effect has rationalized a number of unexplained fundamental astronomical observations. 1, 2]

The Plot Thickens – General relativity also takes into account, counter intuitively, that matter, space and time all have interactive relationships, and while it’s a “theory” there are devices we use everyday that depend on this theory [e.g., GPS] and in its actions prove it works. [1]

“Follow along with The Manga Guide to Relativity as Minagi learns about the non-intuitive laws that shape our universe. Before you know it, you’ll feel more comfortable, alas not master (shucks) difficult concepts like (1) inertial frames of reference, (2) unified space-time, and the (3) equivalence principle. You’ll get introduced to the concepts that are the basis\ in relativity theory affect modern astronomical observations. Then you’ll discover why GPS systems and other everyday technologies depend on Einstein’s extraordinary discovery.

The Manga Guide to Relativity also teaches you how to:

  • Understand and use E = mc2, the world’s most famous equation
  • Calculate the effects of time dilation using the Pythagorean theorem
  • Understand classic thought experiments like the twins paradox, and see why length contracts and mass increases at relativistic speeds — Poor space explorers.
  • Begin to grasp the underpinnings of Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity

If the idea of bending space and time really warps your brain, let The Manga Guide to Relativity straighten things out.”

 

The Text Tutorials

The Underlying Technical Basis

What is light  — Chapter 1 associated tutorial provides detailed descriptions of the results of (1) Maxwell’s pioneering work, (2) Einstein’s positing and others demonstrating the constancy of the speed of light and the (3) the true meaning of “simultaneous” which is really in the eye of the beholder. The section then proceeds to explaining the Galilean principal(s) of relativity and relating things Galilean to (an introduction to) Einstein’s  special principal of relativity.

Looking at the Slowing of Time —Chapter 2‘s lessons first use the Pythagorean theorem to prove time dilation and then follows this up with qualitatively dealing with how much does time slow down?

Using an Equation to Understand Relativistic Length Contraction — Focusing first on the implication of Lorentz contraction, and then for reason of which I’m some what uncertain, the tutorial branches off in the effects of Muons (a sub-atomic particle) as a means to demonstrate (1) the slowdown of time and (on 2) the parallel effects of contraction of an objects length at near light speeds. [The objects mass also approaches infinity.]

The primary focus of this material is to explain relativities’ effects on a rapidly moving mass using three approaches. First comes a discussion of the Galilean theory. Then, Newton’s second law of motion is invoked. Third and finally there’s a fine discussion of the use of the Lorenz transformation.

These ideas ore explained and their relationships related. [These relativity associated topics (ideas) and more  are explained in significantly greater details and depth on Wikipedia, alas often in a more mathematical manner. — Do check out my  reference 6].

My favorite part, herein, is the treatment of the relationship between energy and mass. The section ends, alas with an all to brief (an after thought?) on whether light has mass; no being the answer.

General Relativity and the Slowing of Time  — Chapter’s 4’s science focus deals with a discussion of the slowing of time under relativistic conditions. It is well illustrated by fallen and at rest clocks, and is accompanied by thee math that support the theory. Check it out, it’s clear in the book.

Kudo #1 —Of all of the technical sections of the book this one is both extremely clear/accessible and well illustrated. All though accompanied by equations of ‘proof’; the diagrams make what could be abstruse ideas, are made clearer, even to the minimally mathematically incline reader.

But then I’ve always had a weakness for melting watches (e.g., Salvador Dali) or even ones that fall, the later were used as thought experiments in the various physics classes I attended.

This section concludes with a more detailed, than the comic section, discussion of Gravity and other phenomena that become more understandable using the principles of general relativity. Nicely done!

Kudo #2 – The Plain Text Sections I found these sections too brief, a bit too mathematical for my taste, but scientifically very solid. Indeed I crosschecked parts of the subject matter in Wikipedia. All passed both that external screen, and my memory of courses long ago taken and doubtless somewhat forgotten.

Disappointments

None of significance

Conclusion

As noted by Michael Larson with whom I agree [References 1-2], the combination of storytelling, emotion, quirky characters and an illustration style that’s both cute and engaging helps lends itself to the idea that “hard topics” can be discussed using manga, and  in addition, that the topic will be much more engaging for the reader.

The comics style approach is as is usual for the Manga Guide Series, is always augmented by thoughtfully presented topical analyses, that provide the reader with a more detailed technical basis for understanding tough aspects of the comic’s subject matter. The Manga Guide to Relativity is an excellent example of this approach to knowledge sharing. Most notably, to my delight as an ex-academic, researcher and author, the book covers a broad variety of interesting, difficult and sometimes downright geeky topics.  Horray for No Starch Press.

As always in this series, the Manga Guide to Relativity is focused on a science or engineering topic. Pedagogically, it uses the premise of the accessibility, in both the young and not-so young, to visual or cartoon learning. There is usually a quirky story, written in a way to entice adolescent page turning. I was also both impressed and delighted that there was no attempt of Americanize the text. Shades of California and Texas textbook sensors’. I loved the subliminally sexual innuendos and ‘light’ by play between the characters; obviously, at least to the Japanese reader, are not either puritanical or virginal.

Never the less, this book, and the series for that matter the intent is more serious, to maintain attention long enough for the ideas in the story to take root in the brain. While the “come on” is the cartoons, there is a lot of knowledge hidden both in the often-simple seeming image sequences. This is accompanied by the more detail information in the textual materials that accompany the graphics based presentations the book is well worth my stingy 4.5 Quills.

My only concern about the effectiveness of this book in reaching the majority of American students is the deplorable level of science education we’ve foisted upon them. This as acknowledged in statistics of worsening scores in math Science and all too often reading, compared to Japanese, Chinese, and other students in the word from India to Sweden. But since I’m not in favor of dumbing down, to the least common denominator our educational goals, bring on this book… and more in the excellent educational and entertaining series.

PS:

If I appear to be badmouthing American education, don’t let my soft tone deceive you. As a hiring manger and ex-academic I was contiguously, even 35 years ago bewildered and frustrated by so-called graduates with great grade point averages who could not write even a simple ‘product’ description or project statement. All to often these folks as well as those I tried to work with in education associated volunteer organizations were both functionally illiterate and totally estranged from scientific reasoning, methods and logic. Someday I’ll blog about my experiences.

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References

[1]Amazon.com <Books> By Michael Larsen (San Francisco, CA United States)
http://www.amazon.com/Manga-Guide-Relativity/dp/1593272723

{2}  Book Review: The Manga Guide to Relativity, by Michael Larsen. April 28, 2011.
http://mkl-testhead.blogspot.com/2011/04/book-review-manga-guide-to-relativity.html

[3] The Manga Guide to Relativity, Reviewed by Dr. Richard Isaacman
http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/review/manga-guide-relativity

[4] The Manga Guide to Relativity, Reviewed by Brian Dunning, May 19 2011
http://skepticblog.org/2011/05/19/the-manga-guide-to-relativity/

[5] Book Review: The Manga guide to Relativity by Jonathan DuHamel, on May. 18, 2011            http://tucsoncitizen.com/wryheat/2011/05/18/book-review-the-manga-guide-to-relativity/

Other General References

[6]  Einstein’s Theory of Relativity
Made Relatively Simple — Written for those who want to understand relativity but can’t quite grasp the concepts. <Hurrah, no equations!!!>
http://www.perkel.com/nerd/relativity.htm

[7]  Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity – An Easy (I hope!) Explanation, Squidoo blog site – Undated with no author listed
http://www.squidoo.com/relativity_explanation

[8] Theory of Relativity Made Simple, Factoidz Blog, May 22, 2010,
http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=Relativity%20-%20Simple

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Copyright Notice: Product and company names and logos in this review may be registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Sidebar #1: Reviews were written in MSW 2011 on my iMac 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 4 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM running Mac OS X version 10.6.8 with all current security updates installed.

Sidebar #2: Disclaimer: When reviewing books I will often use the authors or publishers product description, functions and features descriptions. Because of this unless I’m quoting directly from another unique external source, I do not clutter up the review with quotation marks. All other comments are strictly my own and based on my review. Why need I rewrite the developer’s narratives, if they are clearly written?

By Mike Hubbartt, © Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.

In the old days, developers used file system directories with customer naming conventions to organize their code and support files. This was a problem if the files were stored locally and the computer hard drive failed, and it made it difficult to keep code in sync when other developers had local versions of code that may have changes that impacted other areas of a program. Some companies used file servers to store source code, but again it could be difficult to keep source code synced if developers made local changes and forgot to update the main code on the file server.

The solution? Code repositories. Repositories are programs that store and organize source code, executable code, images, attachments, and libraries for client and server-based applications. Many companies also prefer to store project documentation like requirements, specifications, user guides, and project plans in their repositories. With repositories, materials are checked in and out as needed, and older historical versions of the materials are available for rollback (or comparison) in the event that code changes introduce a bug in the program.

Since many company applications are developed and maintained by more than one developer, repositories enable developers to access the entire application while working on their individual coding tasks. Each developer checks out part or all of the code, modifies existing or creates new code for their assigned tasks, tests their code, and then checks the code back into the repository. The changes are tracked, so it is easy to see who made what changes at any point of the project.

This post covers the procedure to setup a remote Git (a Distributed Version Control System) and a remote SVN (a Centralized Version Control System) repository. Please refer to our posts Configure Mac IDEs to Access a Remote Subversion Repository (June 15, 2011) and Configure Mac IDEs to Access a Remote Git Repository (June 24, 2011) for the steps to configure IDEs to access repositories like the two covered in this procedure.

ProjectLocker

I like ProjectLocker because Git is a popular repository in the business world and I’ve seen a number of companies move towards it the past year. ProjectLocker has one free plan where one to three people can share a SVN or Git repository, whereas Freepository also has a free plan but only one person can access the SVN repository – teams are required to pay a monthly fee to share the repository. ProjectLocker also offers five commercial plans where groups of 15 – 250 users can have SVN or Git repositories. I encourage students that want to learn about code repositories to check out this repository hosting site.

To get setup with a repository at ProjectLocker,  go to their website (http://www.projectlocker.com), register, setup a project, and then you are ready to configure your IDE so it can access your repository. Its pretty simple and straight-forward, so I won’t go into the setup at this time.

Something nice about ProjectLocker: refer friends and gain extra resources. For each friend that you recommend and they join ProjectLocker, you gain 50 MB of disk storage space. When 5 friends you recommend join ProjectLocker, you gain another user for your account.

Setup a ProjectLocker Account
  1. Go to the website (http://www.projectLocker.com), select the Account Type (the first one is free).
  2. Now enter an Account Name and Initial Project Name. Select the Initial Project Type (Git in this case), then enter your email address and a password to access your repository. Press the ‘Continue’ button to continue setup.
  3. Provide personal information as requested.
  4. You should receive a Account Created confirmation.
  5. Log into the ProjectLocker portal.
  6. The first time you log in, you will be prompted for a security question and a security answer. Enter both, then press the ‘Save Security Information’ button to continue.
  7. You now see the main portal screen.
  8. Stepping away from the Portal Page of ProjectLocker, you need a public key to communicate with Git via SSH. Open a Terminal Window and enter ‘ssh-keygen’. You are asked for a file name/location for the file (both a public and private key are generated).
  9. Back at the Portal Page, Select ‘Manage Public Keys’ underneath ‘User Links’ at the far left side of the page.
  10. Since no keys have been added, select ‘New Key’.
  11. Enter the Name, User name, and public key, then press the ‘Save Public Key’ button.
  12. A ‘Public Key <Name> Saved Successfully’ tells you the process was done correctly. Now select ‘User Home’ under ‘User Links’ at the far left side of the screen to return to your main portal page.

Codesion

Codesion, like ProjectLocker offers SVN and Git repositories for free and for a monthly charge.Check out their website for pricing information.

  1. To get started, go to the Codesion website and begin the sign up process.
  2. Enter your information. Your domain, login, and password entered at this time are used to log into your account, so keep track of them. Your email address is where you receive confirmation about the repository setup.
  3. Enter all the information with an asterisk beside the field label and select the ‘Create My Codesion Account’ button.
  4. Codesion emails confirmation the account is setup – check the email you specified in step 2 of this procedure.
  5. Login to your account. Enter your domain, login, and password, and then press the ‘Login’ button.
  6. Enter your industry information from the three drop down lists on the bottom of this page.
  7. Now enter a new project name and press the ‘Next’ button.
  8. Select Git or Subversion as the repository for your new project. For this example, select ‘Subversion’ and press the ‘Next’ button.
  9. Now select ‘Blank repository’ or ‘Best Practice’. For this example select ‘Best Practice’ and press the ‘Next’ button.
  10. You project is now setup. The screen now shows the project URL you need to access the repository from your IDE.
  11. Now that the project is created, you can view the website project tab in your browser.

Pretty simple process to setup a new remote SVN repository.