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Dustin’s STEM Blog, v 4.0

March 1, 2010

Hello All,

It appears that I have again been a little negligent in bringing my few faithful readers some new and exciting developments in the world of STEM.  It appears that I may be developing a small following of sorts as my count for my last post showed more readers than my previous two.  Maybe some of you just like what I have to say so much that you have been checking it out more than once.  If so, I appreciate that!

Now, on to what you are here for:


It appears that an iceberg the size of Luxembourg has slammed into an Arctic glacier, and has broken a chunk the size of Rhode Island off of the glacier.  Now, I will do the hard part for you and tell you that Luxembourg is just under 1,000 square miles in size, and Rhode Island is about 1,500 square miles in size.  Those are two gigantic ice cubes floating around.

The problem with this, according to some scientists, is that “the newly formed iceberg could potentially disrupt the undersea currents that ferry oxygen throughout the oceans. With that oxygen dispersal interrupted, areas of the ocean could fail to receive the oxygen needed to support life.” 

Of course, there are other scientists that are excited about the new research opportunities that could open up due to this event.  They must not be Marine Biologists.


In light of the recent earthquakes, I decided to see how a seismograph works.  My mother currently lives in Okinawa, and felt the 6.6 that they received Friday morning, then an aftershock or two.  She was also ordered to evacuate to higher ground after the 6.8 in Chile on Saturday sent tsunami warnings throughout the Pacific.  I was amazed when I looked at a map just how far away Chile is from Japan and Kamchatka Russia, and small tsunamis generated from the Chile earthquake traveled all the way across the Pacific.  My geography is pretty good, but seeing an actual representation on a map, the distance was striking.

But I digress.  I seismograph is basically an extremely simple device.  It utilizes a large weighted mass (1,000 pounds or so) with some sort of recording device (pen or ink arm) suspended above it.  When the earth quakes, so does the seismograph and the pen makes and EKG-looking line on the paper to indicate the severity of the quake.  To record a history of events, a spool of paper is used.  The instrument is attached to bedrock to help isolate false readings from large trucks and other man-made sources.


Yes, this next link and article is also from Popular Science.  Hey, I’ve had a subscription for like 9 years now, so I know what’s in there.  Plus, if you read my last post, you know that I like aircraft.

This article covers the new unmanned aircraft that are coming into our military’s arsenal.  I, for one, am pro-UAV.  I think that they are great.  They may cost a few million dollars each, so losing one would not be cheap.  But, having worked on the F-15 fighter jet,  that is a fraction of what a real jet costs.  Plus, you don’t have to feed a UAV or give it some sleep.  These things can fly nearly indefinitely.

In fact, I read in a separate article that UAV to UAV air refueling is being developed.  This would allow these platforms to stay aloft for as long as needed, or until they run out of missiles.

Take a minute to launch the gallery at the bottom of the article, it’s way cool.


HA!  I actually have some sort of number/math related item for this one this week.  I don’t have to scrounge around, or get clever with this one.  If you’re like me, you may have wondered what the Richter scale is, and how it was conceived.  Hey, it’s number/math-based, so get off my case.  Stay with me, and it will make sense.

See, a mathematical formula determined from the logarithm of the amplitude of waves recorded by seismographs gives us the Richter level of an earthquake.  Hey, stop trying to solve that equation and stay with me.  This gets kind of cool.

Keeping up with the number aspect of mathematics, here are a few equivalents of the amount of power generated by earthquakes:

1.0 = Typical construction site blast.  Maybe a few bundles of TNT, 12.4 pounds according to wiki.
2.0 = Late WWII bombs, or about 392 pounds of TNT.
3.5= Chernobyl reactor disaster, about 178 metric TONS of TNT.
4.0= Small nuclear bomb, 1 kilo ton of TNT
5.0= The nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki in WWII, or about 32 kilo tons of TNT.
6.5= Around the range of the 3 earthquakes this year, 5.6 mega tons of TNT (yes, mega is MILLIONS!)

Who says that Mother Nature can’t pack a punch?

Well, that is going to close out this installment.  Once again, I thank you for indulging my ramblings.  I hope that you at least learned something that you did not know before.

Dustin’s Stem Blog v3

February 16, 2010

Hello Everyone.  I hope that everyone is doing well.  Things here have been great.  We got a good bit of snow this past Friday, and had a fun day playing in it with our daughter.  We even got to make some snowmen, what a blast!

This week, I decided to highlight some articles in areas of interest to me.


I am an Air Force veteran, and started my Air Force time working on the F-15 Eagle fighter jet.  I found an interesting information article on Russia’s new PAK-FA Sukhoi T-50 fighter.  While this may not be a typical Science article, it does contain a lot of scientific elements.  First of all, a fighter cannot be designed without following many scientific principles ranging from the law of gravity to aerodynamics.

                The development of this new fighter is an extremely significant event in today’s world for a few reasons.  The US is rolling out the new F-22 raptor, which is our next generation air superiority fighter.  The main purpose of an Air Force during a conflict is to keep any enemy vehicles out of the sky.  Bombing runs are actually a secondary priority.  With Russia rolling out a new fighter that could potentially match the capability, our assumed dominance of the skies could be called in to question.  Russia has a long history of selling its arms to many of our enemies.  The majority of the tanks and aircraft that we destroyed during the Persian Gulf War were of Soviet origin.  Even now, Russia has sold many manufacturing licenses to China so that they can manufacture many of Russia’s more successful war machines.  Even with her booming population and economy, China has been a relative military afterthought for us as they did not have the technology and training to match our forces.  However, their development/fielding of Russian technology could drastically change our odds on the battlefield if we ever squared off.


I have been working for the past 6.5 years with the US Dept of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons as an Electronics Technician.  My job primarily deals with the electronic security and telecommunications capability of a Federal Correctional Complex.  My site encompasses 3 Federal prisons, and we work on quite a lot of systems.  One of my main systems is a CCTV (Closed-Circuit Television) security camera suite.  I found an interesting bit on in case and of you have ever walked around Wal-Mart and noticed all of the security camera balls.  If you have ever wondered how they work, then click on the link and look through the article.


                I have recently become a paintball addict.  I played once a few years back when we lived in Tucson, AZ, and thought it was a lot of fun.  I played a while ago when a friend came to visit, and remembered how much fun it was.  Then, I played with my brother in law several months back and was hooked.  I have since bought my own gear, and try to go 2 times a month.  Not only is the sport a ton of fun, and extremely exciting, it is a great way to burn off some stress.  There is nothing better than running through the woods to hunt other people to work off whatever issues have been building up in your head.  The extreme satisfaction of sneaking up on a group of opposing players or capturing the flag can only be negated when you take a shot to the middle of your back from point-blank range!

                The one thing about paintball that I do not particularly care for is the paint itself.  Most paintball manufacturers use a latex-type paint that is water soluble, and the majority of its components are actually food chemicals.  Still, the thought of all that paint leeching into the ground at the field where I play has always tugged at my conscience.  Fortunately, there is a company that has developed an eco-friendly, oil-free paintball.  The website claims that their new paintball “is renewable, neutral with respect to the “greenhouse effect”, neither toxic nor polluting, and biodegrades faster and completely”.

Click on the link, and click on the press release tab at the top middle.  EcoFill.


                Well, well.  Once again, Mathematics, we meet again.  When are you going to take the hint that I just do not like to research topics on you?  Why can’t you just accept me for who I am, and leave me alone?  I have tried to accept you for years.  I mastered simple math that I can do in my head, and that’s all I really need from you for my day-to-day life and job.  Why do you keep trying to pick a fight?

                Well, if it is a fight you want, it’s a fight that you’re going to get.  Check out the following link for one of the baddest gun platforms on the planet.  A gun platform is my Mathematics article for the week?  What, no monkeys that can count this time?  No.  That’s right; I brought a gun to a math fight.  The reason that this fits as math is because I watched a segment on this system on the Discovery Channel last year.  This gun platform’s technology is basically capable of placing an exponential number of bullets on target.  The system can be set up with as many stationary or portable configurations as required, and can fire whatever combination of numbers of bullets with the push of a button.  To that effect, this is a numbers article.

                They say that this system is capable of a million bullets a minute.  That’s a lot of counting.  The link is a video, so at least you don’t have to read anything!

There you have it.  Another blog posting, another batch of information.  I hope that you enjoyed reading through everything.  I know I did!

Dustin’s Stem Assignment v2

February 1, 2010

Hello again World.  This is the second volume of my STEM blog that I created as a way to earn some extra credit points in a chemistry class that I am currently enrolled in.

I would like to start by thanking all of you that viewed my first post.  I only emailed the link to 25 or so people, but I actually got over 60 hits on it.  I thought that was pretty darn cool.  As I said in my first post, I have never done anything like this before, so I thought it was really cool to get that kind of response.

Also, before I start, I would like to apologize for taking so long to get this next issue to you.  I dealt with a juggling of my work schedule last week between working day shift and graveyard shift, and I really mishandled my time management.   That’s just a fancy way to say that I have been lazy with my school work this last week or two, and it shows!

Now, on with the knowledge!

As you may remember from my first post, this is a blog dedicated to the advocacy of the STEM initiative that is sweeping through the educational system of our country.  STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  This is an initiative that is trying to steal the attention span of our youth to help provide our country with future scientists.  As an acknowledgement to some very positive feedback I received from my first post, I tried to find a site that is dedicated to STEM as an entity.  Believe it or not, I have been unable to at this time.  Each time I do a search, I keep finding STEM websites for each state, or different regions around the country.  I’ll keep looking, and if I find one I will be sure to pass it on.


I recently read this article in Popular Science, and found it to be truly amazing.  This was a technology designed for the mining industry of the early 1800’s.  Basically, there was a problem with pockets of explosive gases deep within mines exploding when coming in contact with
the flame from the open-flame oil lights that were the main source of light deep beneath the Earth.  Humphry Davy found that placing a metal mosquito net over an open flame would actually contain the explosion.

The basic principle of this devise is to remove one of the 3 components that must exist for a fire: heat, fuel, and oxygen.  The metal mosquito net contains the fire/explosion that would be generated by the flammable gases by neutralizing the heat from the flame.  The metal structure
spreads the flame out, dissipating the heat and acting like a heat sink does in modern electronic devices.

Even more amazing, Davy did not patent the technology.  He realized the need to protect miners was more important than his financial gain. 

The advent of battery/electric lights deemed the invention worthless.  Still, I find this to be an amazing feat of both engineering and science.  The best ideas are usually the most simple.

Check out the link for a cool picture of the technology in action.


Well, it seems as though the mandate to return man to the moon by President Bush is on the brink of being a brief thought in history.  In President Obama’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year, NASA will receive nearly the same operating budget it currently has.  This lack of increase in funding will likely mean the end of the program to return our country to the moon.  Sadly, this also means that the ARES 1 rocket, and the billions already spent on its development, will be scrapped for the time being as well.  This will leave our country short on options to conduct manned space missions for the foreseeable future as the space shuttle is due to be retired sometime next year.

Personally, I thought that the mandate to return to the moon with the eventual prize of manned missions to Mars was a joke.  At the time he made the announcement, I thought that President Bush was doing nothing more than trying to deflect attention away from the mess his administration was in.  As I thought about it some more, however, I realized that a return to the moon might be a good thing.  A lot of technology improved our country as a result of the space race.  Maybe we would have benefitted from some even cooler stuff as a side effect of current engineering.  I did wonder though, why would it take us so long to get back to the moon since we were there once before.  What, we couldn’t free an Apollo capsule from the Smithsonian and strap it to a rocket?


Computers and electronics continue to get smaller.  Intel and Micron, major computer chip manufacturers, are about to announce that they have reduced the size of an 8-Gb NAND-based flash memory chip to just 25nm.  This will be a reduction of 9nm from a device with similar capacity currently in production.  What exactly does this mean, and how big/small is 25nm you ask?  Well, this means that the capacity of any electronic device that utilizes flash or solid state memory can have more storage area packed into a smaller space.  This will give devices such as cell phones and MP3 players smaller memory chips that will take up less space and likely use less power.  Space and power are two of the most important dynamic integers when designing electronics.  An engineer always wants more capacity and better power usage.

Oh yea, are you still wondering how big/small 25nm is?  Well, we are talking roughly the size of the hole in the middle of a CD, smaller than a penny.  Anyone remember when complete hard drives for your computer were a few hundred mega-bytes in size and were nearly the size of a VCR tape?  Now, you could have an exponentially larger, more efficient, storage medium in the size of a business card.

I think that this is amazing and exciting.  Dick Tracy’s video wrist-watch telephone is just around the corner.,2817,2358612,00.asp


Why is it that my least favorite subject in the history of my learning experiences is also the least favorite part to do for these posts?  Oh yea, IT’S BORING TO ME!

With that in mind, I give you a serious, yet humorous, article on monkeys that can do mental addition.

I think I’ll just let you read it!

Thank you all for reading my rambling once again.  I had a good time reading through these and other articles, trying to find something that the average person might not take time to read, or would ordinarily have an interest in.  I will do my part to manage my time more efficiently over the next week, and hope to have a new post for your reading pleasure by the early part of next week.

Until then, don’t be scared to turn on the Science channel every now and then instead of reruns of Seinfeld.  You just might find something interesting!

– Dustin

Dustin’s STEM Assignment

January 13, 2010

Hello World.

My name is Dustin Martin, and I am currently enrolled in General Chemistry at Grantham University.  As a requirment for this course, I had to come up with an idea to promote something for the scientific community.  I thought a good idea would be to create a newsletter of some sort and send it out to my address book.  However, my instructor thought that a more aggressive approach would be to create a blog so that the potential number of readers could be exponential.

SO, with that in mind, I plan to create a new post each week that will feature a topic that features on of the aspects of STEM.  For those of you that do not know, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  Pretty clever, huh?  This is a new intiative that is aimed at promoting each of these principles throughout the education system of our country.  As many of you may know, our country is quickly falling behind the rest of the world in the number of scientists and engineers that we develop.  This is where STEM comes in: to make these core topics interesting, viable, and sexy again.

This is a good link for more in-depth information on the STEM initiative:

In this first post, I will share an interesting article from each of the core topics of STEM.

Science: Scientists are using methods from other disciplines to glean new knowledge from old data.   In an effort to curb funding requests to examine previously discovered data, Biologists, in particular, are developing “synthetic science” — an approach which combines concepts, tools, and data from multiple disciplines to produce new insights or discoveries.

Technology: The CES is underway in Las Vegas, NV.  Here is a peak at what is coming in the months ahead in personal technology.  Of cource, the usual  jumps in television and home theater technology are making the usual rounds, giving us louder stereo and pristine television pictures.  What really jumped out to me was the introduction of the Picowatt.  This device allows home owners to monitor their energy use, scaling back thier consumption.  This will be particularly helpful in places like California where rolling blackouts in the summer months are common due to the high demand.

 Engineering: Need a taste of some of the most recent engineering marvels to grace our planet?  Have a few billion dollars laying around?  If so, then check out this myriad of marvels in Dubai.  Granted, the country is currently in a financial meltdown due to its extreme, over-the-top engineering and building choices, but they sure built some neat stuff.  I am not sure of the practicality of it, but it appears that the country felt that it could really boost its post 9/11 tourism draw of the world’s wealthy by building these monstrosities.  It’s just too bad that the price of oil has fallen like a rock.

Math: Chinese Scientists help spark the Chinese space initiative with their advancements in mathematics.  Ok there is nothing too alarming about this article you say?  How about the fact that each of these brilliant men were born less than 15 years after WW1?  To me, that’s just cool.  These guys are each in their 80’s and could do mathematical circles around most of us.  Check out the pictures and ages of the previous award winners.  They range from 75 to 91 years old!

That is the conclusion of my first blog ever written.  Hey, for a guy who doesn’t do Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Yourface, Hisplace, or whatever, I think this came out ok.  Check back around Monday each week.  I’ll find some more cool sciency stuff to post.