Rogue Waves

The European Space Agency (ESA) tasked two of its Earth-scanning satellites to accurately measure the frequency of “rogue waves,” unusually large waves that occur “only once every thousand years” according to marine scientists’ accepted statistical models. Over three weeks, the project, called MaxWave, took radar “imagettes” in a 6 by 2.5 mile area every 120 miles. In a press release, the ESA revealed that “Even though the research period was brief, the satellites identified more than 10 individual giant waves around the globe that measured more than 25 metres (81.25 feet) in height.”

I learned a little about rogue waves when I studied Wing In Ground effect (WIG) vehicles, aircraft that fly over water at a height low enough to basically create a cushion of air, to simplify it somewhat. The efficiencies gained by flying at this height would theoretically allow monstrously large aircraft to carry huge payloads over water, but these efficiencies quickly evaporate as you increase the altitude. Rogue waves were mentioned as possible obstacles to operating these aircraft at their most efficient altitude, but their frequency was obviously underestimated…

Composer Jerry Goldsmith Dead At 75

Composer Jerry Goldsmith has died at the age 75 of cancer. Reuters reports that the “Oscar- and Emmy-winning film and TV composer [was] so prolific that hardly a day goes by when one of his works is not being played somewhere in the world,” and looking at his IMDB profile one sees the credits for over 200 movie scores and TV theme songs. Goldsmith was nominated for 17 Academy Awards during his career of over 50 years but only won one Oscar, for The Omen in 1976. He will be missed, but his musical legacy will live on…

Update: At the MetaFilter thread on Goldsmith’s passing I came upon a link to Deconstructing Goldsmith, a comprehensive site that reviews every movie score composed by Goldsmith. Well worth the visit…

Dodge Ram Emblem Not So Macho?

This page explores whether the Dodge Ram emblem really conveys the macho image that its creator thinks it does in comparing it to, um, the female anatomy (your middle school anatomy book shouldn’t be NSFW, but I figured I should warn you). The resemblance is pretty startling, actually, more than likely an unfortunate coincidence.

Now that I’ve offended Dodge Ram owners everywhere, I’ll add that I think the funniest thing on the page might be a solicitation for contributions from Ford owners… 🙂

The Daily Show Wins Award For News Programming

Comedy Central’s The Daily Show won the prize for “outstanding news and information programming” at the 20th annual Television Critics Association awards last Saturday night. I think the show is just hilarious, and I think it’s even funnier that a comedy show that billing as “the fake news” beat out all other network news programs for the award. The MetaFilter thread on this topic has several incisive comments on this irony, including:

i find that stewart is a less biased host than many on the news today, regularly features people from conservative and liberal camps, and is a pretty damn good interviewer, spending more time asking about things people care about and less time grinding an axe. he’s also very good at getting his (mostly liberal) audience to respond politely to conservative guests. so why can’t i find that in a real news show?

Something else you won’t find in a “real” news show – the willingness to call politicians on their lies and other outrageous statements. Among my favorite examples – replaying tape from the interview where the Vice-President is saying the very words he denied ever having said in a subsequent interview. This used to be called ‘doing your job’ if you were a journalist – now its ‘comedy’.

John Stewart, the host of the show, makes no bones about his liberal political views, but as some of the commenters noted, he still manages to present both sides of the issues; having watched the show regularly for some time now, I’ve seen him lambaste both sides of the political spectrum with equal hilarity.

I’m really happy to see that The Daily Show is being appreciated. It also won an Emmy last year for “best show and writing in the variety, music or comedy category,” which makes this award all the more ironic. Try and catch the show if you haven’t already; it airs regularly at 11 PM, and reruns are broadcasted pretty often during the day.

K.I.T.T. For Sale!

KITTAn Knight Industry Two Thousand (K.I.T.T.) car from Knight Rider is up for auction at eBay. This is not a replica, this is an “original screen-used hero car used during the second season of the hit TV series” with a “working scanner in the front and highly futuristic interior,” as well as several “studio modifications done… by the Special Effects and Stunt Coordinator.” This would be so cool! Now I just need to figure out how to convince my wife that this is worth $50K or so… 😉

Apollo 11 Experiment Still “Running”

Apollo 11As most of you probably heard, the Apollo 11 moon landing happened 35 years ago last Tuesday. Today I found a story at Science Blog about a science experiment left behind by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin that is still “running:” the “lunar laser ranging retroreflector array,” a “2-foot wide panel studded with 100 mirrors pointing at Earth.” Astronomers have been “pinging” this array of mirrors with lasers for 35 years, measuring the distance from the Earth to the Moon with a precision of “centimeters out of 385,000 kilometers (about 240,000 miles).” These measurements have allowed astronomers to precisely map out the Moon’s orbit, as well as verifying that “Newton’s gravitational constant G has changed less than 1 part in 100-billion since the laser experiments began” and that Einstein’s general theory of relativity “predict[s] the shape of the moon’s orbit as well as laser ranging can measure it.” Pretty cool for a 35 year old experiment…

I also came upon this amazing QTVR panoramic photo of the Apollo 11 lunar landing site at

Update: Slashdot noted that NASA has posted a slew of Apollo 11-related photos from its archive. The first gallery concentrates on astronaut training while the second one focuses on post-launch and lunar events. The Earthrise sequence from the Moon is particularly cool…