Category Archives: Points of Information

Toyota cars did not have a sudden acceleration problem

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that all but one of the approximately 3000 incidents of out-of-control acceleration involving Toyota vehicles were because of driver error, not mechanical problems. In other words, the accusations that there was something fundamentally wrong with the Toyota vehicles was false.

Greenland icecap is not melting

Steve Goddard has posted on Anthony Watt’s webpage a very detailed update on the state of the icecap covering Greenland. Surprise! There are no signs of it disappearing anytime soon. (Note that you might have to scroll to the right to see the text of Goddard’s post, as on some computers Watts’s webpage is unfortunately far too wide for the screen.)

Boulder tracks on Mars

Here’s a nice picture from the HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, released July 7, showing the boulder tracks left by rocks bouncing down the escarpment of Kasei Valles in the low gravity of Mars. Fun quote:

Some of these blocks traveled downhill several hundred meters (yards) as they rolled and bounced, leaving behind a trail of indentations or poke marks in the surface’s fine-grained, light-toned soils. The raised borders in some of these poke marks indicate they are relatively recent features, unaffected by wind erosion, or that this soil has cohesive properties, such as if it was cemented.

Boulder tracks on Mars

Jeff Foust analysis of the New Space business

Jeff Foust of the Space Review has written an excellent analysis today explaining why some new space companies have succeeded (SpaceX) and some have failed (Rocketplane). Key quote:

If your business plan requires hundreds of millions of dollars of investment, and your founders don’t have that money available themselves, it may be wise to reconsider that plan in favor of an effort that can bootstrap itself with much less funding.

Caving July 10, 2010

I was out in West Virginia this weekend for the monthly gathering of the Germany Valley Karst Survey. This project has discovered and mapped more than 37 miles of virgin cave passage in West Virginia in the past eight years. For the last two years I, along with about a dozen other project members, have been focused on a dig in a small cave that has the potential to break out into a lot of virgin passage. Below are two pictures taken by fellow caver Daniel Martinez, the first showing me at the cave entrance and the second showing my feet as crawl in.

At the entrance

entering the cave

A dark and stormy night

The 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest has been awarded, given to the writer who comes up with the worst opening sentence for an imaginary novel. This year’s winner, Molly Ringle, achieved the honor with this gem:

For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity’s affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss — a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity’s mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world’s thirstiest gerbil.

Go here to see the runners-up, all of which are worth it.

More questions about climategate inquiry

More questions are being raised about the various climategate investigations, this time in the UK Parliament. Key quote:

Climategate may finally be living up to its name. If you recall, it wasn’t the burglary or use of funding that led to the impeachment of Nixon, but the cover-up. Now, ominously, three inquiries into affair have raised more questions than there were before.

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