Slug!

Well… a snail, actually. But he looked like a slug to me. I was on my way home late at night after one of our spring showers when I ran into this guy on the door frame. I whipped out my camera and flash and took a few pictures of our very photogenic little friend. I often go on runs late at night before I head home, and I see many, many snails out on the road, especially after it rains.

A quick general update: I’m back from the Grand Canyon, but leaving next week for Canyonlands. I’ll have many photos from both trips to share, and I’ll be posting those over the next few weeks as I process them and turn them into panoramas. There will also be exciting, super high-res images that I took with the gigapan , so stay tuned!

Holy Wind Tunnel, Batman!

Thanks to Celine (who defended her Master’s thesis today, and is headed back to Switzerland… Good Bye!), Mikey, Celine, Ian, and I managed to get a grand tour of the NASA Ames wind tunnels a few weeks ago. We toured through three tunnels — a 20×40, a 40×80, and the massive (world’s largest!) 80×120ft.

Our tour guide was a fantastic, animated fellow who was full of stories, history, and enthusiasm for the wind tunnels. “Astrobiology institutes will come and unfortunately go, but these wind tunnels will be here and will be used for many years to come,” was a quote that stuck in my mind. He shared many interesting technical details — for example, he explained why the the outlet of the test cell is surrounded by small airfoils. Apparently they create vortices that draw air into the center of the channel as the channel expands from the test cell section to the full diameter of the tunnel. This prevents the air from losing velocity when it expands too quickly — this leads to turbulent flow that can lead to all kinds of trouble in the wind tunnel.

I also thought it was very cool that the test cell area itself was surrounded with foam that acts as an acoustic damper, thereby creating an nearly anechoic chamber. As our tour guide walked out into the test cell, his voice got quieter and quieter until it was nearly impossible to hear him unless he was speaking directly in my direction. The only echos we could hear were delayed about two seconds because they had to travel out of the test cell, all the way down the tunnel and back again to reach our ears.

Mmmm… fluid dynamics. Yum!

Hello World!

Testing, one, two.

*tap* *tap*

Is this thing on?

I wrote the first version of this post in December, and at the time I had optimistic plans to write regular blog entries a la Mouser, whose blog I very much admire. However, as probably anyone could have guessed, this post sat there for three long months looking very lonely.

Enough of this non-blogging lifestyle!! I have some real content to write about today, and many interesting things happening in the days to come (including a trip to the Grand Canyon and to Canyonlands in Utah, so prepare some sporadic but interesting updates.