X-ray camera for lightning

In Read on March 15, 2011 at 7:24 am

Scientists have known for a while that lightning emits radiation but they haven’t known how, or from where.  To study the phenomenon researchers in Florida built an x-ray camera capable of taking ten million images per second:

Making a camera capable of taking such quick images was an achievement in and of itself, Dwyer emphasized.

“You can’t just go buy a camera and point it at lightning,” he said. “We had to make it.”

Because lightning moves blindingly fast, the camera was required to take ten million images per second.

One challenge in taking such fast pictures is storing the data. To do so, the x-ray detector had to take pictures at a relatively low resolution of 30 pixels, which produced images on a crude, hexagonal grid.

Lightning tower.  Photo courtesty Dustin Hill.

Lightning tower. Photo courtesty Dustin Hill.

Turns out almost all of the radiation is in the tip of the bolt.

Edible giant ants

In Read, View on March 14, 2011 at 7:16 am

Ants are great, but this is gross:

Nutty Bacon-like Taste!
Nutty Bacon-like Taste!

Giant Toasted Leafcutter Ants hold two secrets. One, they are very high in protein and low in saturated fat. Two, they have a very unique taste. And C, they are commonly called (by those in the know): “hormigas culonas.” That roughly translates into “big ass ants” – so named for the size of their abdomen, but also appropriate for today’s slang. Giant Toasted Leafcutter Ants – get ’em now, while the gettin’ is good.

Via:  The Presurfer

Space shuttle launch from above

In Watch on March 10, 2011 at 7:19 am

Neil Monday is a software developer who was on a commercial flight out of Orlando National Airport on February 24th.  His window seat afforded him a spectacular view of the Space Shuttle Discovery’s final launch:

The video really gives you a sense of the power.  A parabolic path for a projectile seems so natural (Angry Birds!), but the shuttle just keeps going up.

Also, the shuttle coming up out of the cloud cover looks an awful lot like the Delta 2 rocket that we looked at last summer.

Via:  The Atlantic, via Cosmic Log

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