MSU Satellite Spoiler

Ten years and a few months ago, I became a licensed HAM operator…

HAM Radio License

I'm going HAM

That means, without any doubt, that the satellite that MSU stuck in orbit last week has indeed been a long time coming.

I’m running up to campus for the mission statement and a possible down-link tomorrow afternoon…stay tuned for this one. We have entered full-on geek mode.

Quantum Levitation Explained

Quantum Levitation is all over the webs. It is way easier to find videos than it is to find explanations…it all boils down to this:

quantum trapping

after cooling

You may want to kill the sound for the video…pretty obnoxious.

As speculated, the main thing in play is the fact that at areas of the superconducting material that are not uniform, (defects) flux tubes exist as the material is cooled to extreme temperatures. These tubes act to ‘pin’ the item, with respect to the permanent field.

Physics rules. I really need to track down some liquid nitrogen.

How Fiber Optics Work

Index of refraction. End of story? You wish…I’m going to pontificate for a while. Where did I set that soapbox…

I dig optics. The coolest class I took was my graduate level optics class at the old alma mater, Montana State. I missed my calling as a physicist. Or rather, I missed my calling as someone who gets paid to play with lasers in a laboratory. Lasers lasing all over the place. Plenty of fiber optic cables around the lab, you can be sure of that, Jack.


fiber optics is fiber-y

Spools and spools of fiber optical cable is a pipe dream, though. That stuff isn’t exactly free, due to the nature of the beast. As pictured above, fiber optic cable is multi layered, and as I mentioned, is all made possible due to refraction. Index of refraction, to be more specific. See the above picture…the layer around the core is of a different index, keeping the photons bouncing towards the finish line (in a huge nutshell.)

The reason these things work so well is that the core (usually a glass of some nature) deals with photons instead of electrons. Massless and charge-free, photons are not crushed and or distorted by elecromagnetic noise. They can be setup to carry tons of data…aka very high bandwidth…thustly making fiber optic cables a perfect choice for high quality, large connections. Jack.

Hit one of those links to see some sweet home uses. Hit wikipedia to see the physics behind the scenes.

The main reason to push signal through fiber instead of copper is reliability. You really can’t wear out glass.

22 Degrees Solar Halo

I took a spin outside for a brief reading session on my lunch break yesterday. I’m glad I did, as I was treated to a little optical phenominon action…in the form of a 22 Degree Solar Halo. FTW.

I’m posting some pics I snapped…I’ll toss in the full write-up soon.



number 1


I inverted the colors of that last pic, quite obviously. That will be my template, so to speak, on which to wax nerdy in a Physics-y kind of way. Stay tuned.


Not sure how many physicists troll around craigslist, but if they do…


Hands down, the best description on a craigslist item EVER

FWIW, An oscilloscope measures two things: voltage and time. A charged beam of electrons “sweeps” the screen in a given time in the x-axis, and is deflected by a signal in the y-axis. The deflection from the standard signal in the trace can gauge the input signal’s voltage and duration/frequency.

And yes, the poster was correct. O-scopes are great.