Monthly Archives: April 2012

Citizen Science Musings: Telling Tales Out of School

Spitfire Mk. V operated by Historic Aircraft Collection and based at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford. Image:

It’s a problem that has plagued the amateur in almost every field of inquiry for which there is also an “establishment”: where to they fit in? Where in the larger intellectual discourse do we find a place at the table for the passionate amateur who has done the homework needed to add something of value to the discussion? Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, Aviation, Citizen Science Musings, General Interest | Leave a comment

New Wind Turbine Produces Potable Water

Image copyright: Eole Water.

A new design of wind turbine uses the energy it generates to condense and purify drinkable water from the air. Such a system is being tested in the Arabian deserts of Abu Dhabi very encouraging initial results. Continue reading…

Posted in Energy, Experimentation, Invention, Uncategorized | Leave a comment



EDXRF- also known as Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence. It’s a method for detecting or quantitating elements based on the number and energy of x-rays given off. You may also see it abbreviated at XRF. And there is a closely related method used with Scanning Electron Microscopes called EDS. Continue reading…

Posted in Experimentation, Instrumentation, Measurement, Physics, Research Tools | Leave a comment

Magnetoresistance in Bismuth – Experimental Investigations (Part 1)


When an experimenter places a current carrying conductor in a magnetic field, its resistance usually increases. This effect is called magnetoresistance. It is due to the Lorentz force acting on the electrons combined with a distribution in the electrons’ velocities. Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, Electricity, Magnetism, Physics, Projects | 1 Comment

How to Create a Kindle eBook: Part II

The body of your eBook is finished and saved as a Word.doc. Now to make the changes that transform your text from a manuscript to book form. If it isn’t, go back and read Part I of this series. Continue reading…

Posted in Best Practices, Publishing, Tools | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

The Facebook of Sensors

Distributed wireless sensors are increasingly being used to monitor all sorts of things – from the water quality in a river to the temperature in your house. Now, companies like one called Pachube provide a way for anyone to share and access all sorts of this sensor data across the internet and in real time. Continue reading…

Posted in Computer Science, Instrumentation, Measurement, Sensors | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Pupping Season for Moss Beach Harbor Seals


For the last several years, local harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) have used part of the beach as a “haul out” and place to give birth to their pups. The county blocks off that part of the beach to regular beach goers so avoid spooking the seals, which can cause parents to neglect or even abandon their young. Continue reading…

Posted in Biology, Marine Biology, Photography, Wildlife | 1 Comment

VLF Radio Astronomy

Image: Getty

Flares such as the ones seen recently could become the norm soon, though, as our sun’s 11-year cycle of magnetic activity ramps up, scientists explained. The sun is just coming out of a lull, and scientists expect the next peak of activity in 2013. The current cycle, called Solar Cycle 24, began in 2008. Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Radio, Amateur Science, Astronomy, Climate, Electricity, Electronics, Instrumentation, Magnetism, Measurement, Meteorology, Physics, Space | 7 Comments

The Transit of Venus

Credit: Jan Herold licensed under Creative Commons

On the 5th and 6th of June this year Venus will transit across the solar disk. This is an event that happened just eight years ago and yet won’t happen again for another 105 years. Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, Astronomy, Breaking News, History of Science, Mathematics, Measurement, Photography, Projects, Space | 1 Comment

Citizen Science Musings: The Amateur Anasazi Archaeologist

Cliff Palace. Image Source: Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park.

Richard Wetherill (1858 – 1910) lived in Colorado where his family owned a ranch. But Wetherill was more than just another cow puncher. He had an active interest in the history and culture of the various Native American tribes in the region and was on good terms with many members of various tribes. Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, Archaeology, Citizen Science Musings, History of Science | Leave a comment