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Turn Your Geek Party Into an Event With "Anti-helium"

Every Geek worth the moniker has inhaled helium from a toy balloon and proceeded to amuse everyone with the cartoon-like high pitch of his voice. I’ve been doing it almost forever and especially now that I have grandchildren (six and one in the oven).

Now, there’s a new Geek inhalation toy: “anti-helium,” better known as sulfur hexaflouride. Jay Leno tried it and it’s a hoot. Check out this video. Very cool.

Now, I just need to find a source for sulfur hexaflouride so I can turn my geek party into an event.

The Geek

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Filed in: Fun Stuff, Science

Would You Free Fall From 60 Miles in Space?…for Sport?

image Wow! Talk about extreme. I can’t think of anything more extreme than falling from 60 miles up at 2500 miles per hour (unless it’s falling out of orbit from 150 miles up at close to 18,000 miles per hour). This article in Popular Science describes work being done to develop a spacesuit that would allow a person to survive such a fall.

Ostensibly, the suit’s purpose would be to allow astronauts and space travelers to bail out of a doomed ship and survive. But it could also spawn space diving as an extreme sport.

“Forget skydiving. Two entrepreneurs want to sell you space diving. You’ll feel the rush of a 60-mile free fall—and become a guinea pig for the next emergency space suit.”

Of course, there are big obstacles to overcome, like dealing with extreme heat and G-forces. From 60 miles up, your suit will have to withstand 464 degrees Fahrenheit and you’ll endure a sustained 4.4 Gs, meaning that if you weigh 150 pounds, you will weigh 660 pounds as you decelerate. From 150 miles up, your suit alone won’t withstand the 3000 degrees reentry heat–you’ll need a heat shield–and you’ll endure G-forces on the order of 8.2.

Then there’s this little problem:

The least-understood danger comes from transonic speeds—what happens when you cross the sound barrier. Are there shock waves at such speeds that can injure a person, or send him into an unstoppable spin? No one knows because no one has ever gone that fast outside a vehicle.

Do I have any volunteers?

The Geek

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Filed in: Science

Who Wants to Go Green?

Twenty-nine years ago (according to the date on my drawing), I designed a roofing system that could be retrofit to any home and which would provide up to one-half of winter heating needs on sunny days. At the same time, I designed a geothermal heating/cooling system that would provide a constant stream of air into the home at a temperature of 55 degrees year-round; cooling in summer, heating in winter. At the time, these designs coupled with homes that were three-quarters underground would have been the ultimate in *green*.

These days, with all of the focus on global warming, *going green* means much more than just having an energy-efficient home–it means doing everything you can to reduce your contribution to the greenhouse gases that are responsible.

So, I figured I’d tell you about a few things this Geek is doing to reduce his *carbon footprint*:

  • Crank-power radios and flashlights. One of my radios uses no batteries at all; one of them is recharged by cranking. Same with the flashlights.
  • I turn my PCs off when I’m not using them.
  • Most of the time, I use my laptop instead of my desktop PC; a little over 50 watts energy usage instead of 250 watts.
  • I use those spiral florescent lights instead of conventional bulbs (yes, LEDs would be better, but they’re still too expensive).
  • I recycle what I can.
  • I cook with the microwave whenever possible (less energy used to cook a meal than with my electric stove).
  • I cool only the bedroom to comfort level and keep the rest of the house bearable.

I wish I could do more, but certain job constraints prevent my limiting my gasoline usage. When I get my own house again, I’ll do much more. Stay tuned.

The Geek

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