Musings on optics, physics, astronomy, technology and life

Archive for January, 2014

Question for my readers

I’ve got a few things to say in another post. First, though, I want to pick your brains.

Readers, do you like my blog layout? What do or don’t you like about it? WordPress has so many different themes. Originally I picked one that has an astronomical “look” right out of the box, so to speak. But I’m tired of the tiny type. I also realize that more people may be reading this blog on mobile devices, either on a mobile browser or on the WordPress app, which strips away the themes for readability.

So I’m throwing the question to you: How would you like my blog to look? What would make it more convenient for you?

5 Tech Products That Will Be Dead in 5 Years

So, what do YOU all think about these five predictions? I think one will be spot-on, one will never happen, and the rest will be somewhere in between. But I’m not sure which is which….

Tech

With the speed of innovation in the tech industry, we can’t know every piece of technology that will fill our everyday lives in five years, but we can predict what won’t last.

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Happy New Year!

First of all, I would like to wish my friends and readers a very Happy New Year! I wish you inner peace, good health, much happiness, and at least enough prosperity to keep the metaphorical wolf away from the door.

I also wish you much light, especially in the darkness of the Northern Hemisphere. It’s easy to feel the “winter blahs” without actually connecting them to the shortened hours of daylight and the increased time spent indoors under artificial lighting. Here’s a New Year’s resolution you may not have thought of making: Get in touch with your circadian rhythm; make sure you get some natural light into your eyeballs during daytime hours, and sleep in a nice dark room (after you’ve done some stargazing, of course!).

Some six or seven weeks ago, I wrote a short Optics & Photonics News article about a small Norwegian town that, for its entire existence, has gone without direct sunlight for six months in every year, because it is located in a deep valley. That’s right — for six months, every day feels like a cloudy day, even if the sky is clear overhead. To brighten up the town square, the town of Rjukan installed a mirror array atop one of the nearby mountains, with solar-generated electricity running a computer system to move the mirrors to track the sun.

When I did the article, I must have gotten on Rjukan’s press mailing list. Just before the winter solstice, I got this notice:

52 days of winter sun in Rjukan.
Since the unveiling of the sun mirror 30th of October this year, the sun mirror has brought light and attention to Rjukan. For the first time the sun shines on the Christmas tree at the market square.

The square has become a meeting place for both young and old residents, as well as for tourists. Several shops and cafes have increased sales. Krossobanen, the cable car that still carries people up to the sun, drove filled carriages the first weekends after the sun mirror opening. It is not usual in November.

– People have been curious about the small town between Gaustatoppen and Hardangervidda ,” says tourist manager Karin Roe. We hope the curiosity takes over and that they visit us as well. – Because we have so much to offer to visitors, especially our exciting history now nominated for UNESCO World Heritage List, she concludes.

Mayor Steinar Bergsland has been busy on other areas after the opening. In late November he presented the news that Green Mountain Data Centre establishes in Rjukan. 2 weeks later the mayor and Rjukan population mobilized against plans to close down parts of the local hospital. However, he still has the great pleasure of the sun mirror.

 – The Sun mirror has become a natural part of life. Even when the clouds are low down the mountainside we are looking up at the sun mirror as we walk past the square, says the mayor who believe that citizens have been more proud of their city and what they have managed to achieve.

Here is a photo of the sun mirror shining down on the Christmas tree in Rjukan’s town square:

Photo credit: Terje Prestaarhus

Photo credit: Terje Prestaarhus

I think that’s a beautiful image, don’t you? I hope the people of Rjukan are having their happiest winter ever.