James Marshall's Science and Technology Page

Since these are generally the fields of my professional work, I naturally have an interest in them. While that often amounts to just following news headlines at various web sites, I've included a few sections here with some more information: science and technology, with some other sci/tech related topics.


Astronomy and physics are my major fields, so my strongest interests are in these areas. A few sites with interesting science news (alphabetically) are Improbable Research, Live Science, Physics Today (I read the print magazine more than the web site though), PhysOrg, Science Centric, Space.com. The SLOOH Space Camera site provides views of the night sky, sometimes in live events, and when they have free public shows, it's usually worth a look. A nice page about the constellations with maps, basic descriptions, mythology, and history is The Constellations. The Peterson Field Guide: Stars and Planets is a great general information book with lots of star charts and stuff. Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy site is devoted to "airing out myths and misconceptions in astronomy and related topics". It's a good place to get the facts and the truth about sometimes misunderstood topics. For a similar site about science in general, check out Bad Science. Other interesting sites where you can help with science are the various Zooniverse projects, NASA's Be A Martian and mapper projects, fold.it, and SETILive. You might also like to check out the Intellectual Icebergs podcast for some interesting science and geek-oriented material, Sixty Symbols with "videos about the symbols of physics and astronomy", or The Symphony of Science which aims "to bring scientific knowledge and philosophy to the public, in a novel way, through the medium of music." Also, TED has some interesting talks on topics related to technology, entertainment, and design (hence the TED acronym). Another interesting site is Clear Dark Sky, which contain charts of "the astronomer's forecast" (when skies are predicted to be clear and dark). They have charts for many locations, so check out the site for one near you if you like it. Perhaps a technology item, but green laser pointer are good for pointing at stars in the sky, and I'd recommend the 5 mW CORE model by Wicked Lasers. Sam's Laser FAQ has a lot of good information on laser safety, types, etc. which is worth a look (especially if you get a more powerful laser pointer). I'd also recommend this Astronomy-aware Unix Calculator, a Perl script that lets you do command-line calculations and includes a number of mathematical functions and astronomical constants.


I put computers and the like here, along with other areas that seem more technical than scientific. I generally follow news in these areas as well, from sites (alphabetically) like Ars Technica, CNet News, Geeks Are Sexy, How-To Geek, Lifehacker, MakeUseOf, Slashdot. In the computer area, I have an MSI laptop with mainly Logitech accessories, and a Samsung mobile phone and smartwatch. FWIW, I bought my computer from XOTIC PC (here's my referral link that should get you a $10 off coupon). This Jargon File containing lots of definitions of terms and slang used in the computing world may be of interest. A general computer note -- you should always protect your system with antivirus software (pick your favorite), but beware of hoaxes. Make sure a virus is real by checking sites like Vmyths.com, HoaxBusters.org (or the HoaxBusters.org FAQ), Hoax-Slayer, or Symantec's List of Hoaxes before e-mailing everyone you know about it. Related to this, check out snopes.com and/or TruthOrFiction.com for the truth behind some of the urban legends and other tales being spread around the Internet.

Other Sci/Tech

Flexagons are essentially polygons created by folding up paper in such a way that they can be "flexed", or basically turned inside-out, to reveal additional hidden faces, which are interesting mathematically as well as fun to play with, Flexagon Portal has templates and a forum, Scott Sherman's Flexagon site has templates for edge and point flexagons as well as a few interesting flexagon mazes, and here are some flexagon papers. Here's a site with information about the theory of tie knots -- the author developed a mathematical model to calculate and classify 85 tie knots, including four commonly used knots plus nine new aesthetic ones. The slide rule was the primary science/engineering calculator from the 1950s until the early 1970s when electronic scientific calculators took over (check out the links in this Wikipedia article for more information). The first one I bought was a Pickett N600-ES new in box with case, manual, and guarantee card. It's a 6" pocket-sized model that was apparently used by astronauts on Apollo missions; here's a virtual Pickett N600-ES if you're interested in seeing it. I've obtained some more since then, two from my father, including ones by the following brands (alphabetically): Acu-Math, British-Thornton, Dietzgen, Faber-Castell, Keuffel and Esser (often just K&E), Pickett, Post (by Hemmi), Sama & Etani (by Concise), and Sterling. I may provide more info on them and slide rules in general in the future, but if you're looking for some starting points, try the International Slide Rule Museum (ISRM) or The Oughtred Society, and for how to use a slide rule, see the great series of videos on Professor Herning's YouTube Channel. The Giveaway of the Day site is a nice place to pick up free licenses for software, with one new application being offered each day. Also, I've been trying out Dropbox for keeping files in sync across multiple computers/devices and Zapier for automating the transfer of information between different services (e.g., send an e-mail about certain Twitter posts). Both are free, but if you register via my referral links here, we'll both get some free bonuses, so please do use these specific links if you want to get accounts. I'd appreciate it. Thanks, and enjoy!

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