Saturday, September 27, 2008

Countries younger than John McCain

I was reading the silly blog Things Younger than John McCain and it occurred to me that there might be a few countries that were younger than John McCain... so I made a list. The following countries were created, unified or became independent during McCain's lifetime.

Algeria
Angola
The Bahamas
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Barbados
Belarus
Belize
Benin
Botswana
Brunei
Burkina Faso
Burundi
Cambodia
Cape Verde
Central African Republic
Chad
Comoros
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
Cote d'Ivoire
Cyprus
Djibouti
Dominica
East Timor
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Fiji
Gabon
Gambia
Ghana
Grenada
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Guyana
Indonesia
Israel
Jamaica
Jordan
Kenya
Kiribati
Kosovo
Kuwait
Kyrgyzstan
Laos
Lebanon
Lesotho
Libya
Macedonia
Madagascar
Malawi
Malaysia
Maldives
Mali
Malta
Marshall Islands
Mauritania
Mauritius
Micronesia
Mozambique
Namibia
Nauru
Niger
Nigeria
Pakistan
Papua New Guinea
Rwanda
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Samoa
Sao Tome and Principe
Senegal
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
Solomon Islands
Somalia
Sri Lanka
Sudan
Suriname
Swaziland
Syria
Tanzania
Togo
Tonga
Trinidad and Tobago
Turkmenistan
Tuvalu
Uganda
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
Vanuatu
Vietnam
Yemen
Tunisia

Oddly two US States are younger than McCain also: Hawaii (birthplace of Barack Obama) and Alaska (home of Sarah Palin).

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Dear Nature

Dear Nature,

I'm doing some historical research and needed to read Chadwick's short paper called Possible Existence of a Neutron where Chadwick posited the existence of the neutron from the radiation emitted by beryllium when an alpha particle hits it. This paper was written in 1932... 76 years ago.

So I go to your web site and you have it available from the archive. That's great! But you want to sell it to me. And you want to sell it to me for $32. How do you justify selling a PDF of a 76 year old paper that contains just over 700 words for $32?

As a point of comparison the neutron was reported in the New York Times in 1932. I was able to buy a copy of that article (all 872 words) for $3.95.

But the New York Times is hardly a journal of record for scientists; Nature is. Why are your archives not either free or open for a reasonable fee?

Chadwick won the Nobel Prize in 1935 for this discovery and his lecture on the subject is available for free online. But you still insist on $32 (almost a nickel a word) for the original paper.

PS. You need to fix your web site. It states the price for this article as:



Perhaps spend part of the $32 on that.

PPS. The entire text of Chadwick's article is available on line. Here, here and here. So what does $32 get me? Oh, right, the Nature logo on a PDF.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

The Ultimate Nerd Honeymoon

There's been a major gap in this blog because I'm in the midst of writing a book for O'Reilly. As part of the research on the book I came across the ultimate nerd honeymoon.

In 1812, Sir Humphry Davy, the British chemist and inventor who is best remembered today for Davy Lamp used in mines, married.

In October 1813 Davy and his wife set off on a honeymoon across Europe. First stop was Paris to pick up a medal from Napoleon. But Davy needed a valet to help out, so he took Michael Faraday with him. That way Davy and Faraday could perform experiments along the way.

While in Paris they got together with Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (of Gay-Lussac's Law) and showed that iodine was an element. And André-Marie Ampère stopped by for a chat.

Off they went to Italy to hang out with Alessandro Volta and also did an experiment setting fire to a diamond using the sun's rays and demonstrated that a diamond is made of carbon.

The honeymoon lasted 18 months.

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