Category Archives: Technology

Iowa City Airport | 100 Years of History

by Jim and Melanie

The Tin Goose

We visited our local airport in Iowa City on 9 June 2018 as it celebrated 100 years of service to the community and the country. One of the highlights of the visit was the Ford Tri-Motor, which offered rides for $75. What a beautiful and graceful machine. We watched it fly over our neighborhood several times before we went to the airport. It deserved a closer look. The corrugated metal structure gives meaning to the nickname of “Tin Goose.”

It first flew on 1 December 1928. It was sold to Transcontinental Air Transport in January 1929 and was named City of Wichita. The TAT logo is on the fuselage. It and sister ship City of Columbus inaugurated transcontinental commercial air service in 1929.

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Metal Detectorist

We recently watched a delightful series on Netflix called Detectorists. Two friends in England belong to a small local club. They dream of finding gold and treasure. Along the way, their lives are connected with funny, amusing, and sweet events. It is well worth your time. Good News! Season 3 is being made.

It inspired me to resume using my metal detector. I usually scan around playground equipment at parks and schools. Kids drop their coins. A few days ago I went to the city park where music events and fireworks are held in the summer. I found nearly $2 in coins. While sweeping around the sand in a play area I found a car. It was a nice Hot Wheels‚ĄĘ car. As I walked to another area, the detector was in front of me skimming the ground when it beeped loudly. This find will come in handy for some gardening work.

Model CK5TBS

Camera Obscura | Then and Now

How I See It

ūüď∑ This post was published over two years ago. Broken links prompted a re-post.

obscura Brunelleschi’s Duomo, Florence | 17th Century | Library of Congress

The Camera Obscura technique has been with us for much longer than photography. The principle is that of a pinhole camera.

The device consists of a box or room with a hole in one side. Light from an external scene passes through the hole and strikes a surface inside where it is reproduced, upside-down, but with color and perspective preserved.
diagram
The image can be projected onto paper, and can then be traced to produce a highly accurate representation. The first camera obscura was later built by an Iraqi scientist named Abu Ali Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham, born in Basra (965-1039 AD), known in the West as Alhacen or Alhazen, who carried out practical experiments on optics in his Book of Optics

Today’s modern camera equipment adds…

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Fresnel Lenses | How They Work

How I See It

In a recent post about Maine lighthouses, I included two photos of the Fresnel lenses used to project the bright light beam across the water. One of the readers is a man I’ve enjoyed working with before in the blog world. He suggested I add a post with some description of how the Fresnel lens works. Here it is.

Basics of Converging Lenses

The converging, or convex lens, is able to bring parallel rays of light toward a focal point. As a child, I played with a magnifying glass lens to burn leaves, grass, and other things.

ConvergeLens1

The lens can also be used in a different way to project light rays parallel to each other in a beam. Simple projectors work on this basic principle. A lighthouse is designed to do this.

ConvergeLens2Large Lens Applications

A problem arises when the optical instrument using a convex lens becomes very large. The…

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Cotton — Weaving Fabric

Another post in the series on manufacturing fabric.

Catbird Quilt Studio

Earlier this month I began a series of posts on where our quilting fabric comes from. There are so many steps in the process, from growing the cotton, cleaning and spinning it, weaving it, and then making it beautiful. Agricultural workers, biologists, engineers, designers, textile laborers, and more, all contribute to creating the raw materials of our craft. When I consider all the moving parts, I give thanks to all those who help make my projects possible.

The first post looked primarily at planting and harvesting cotton. Next came cleaning and spinning the cotton into yarn. Now we’ll look at weaving.

After creating yarn (threads,) the yarn is woven into fabric. In the most basic weaving process, there are warp yarns, which run lengthwise away from the front of the loom. These are the yarns that are pre-strung. Weft yarns (or filling yarns) are interlaced at a right angle through them using a shuttle or other mechanism such…

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Alaska | Avalanche | Pipeline Hazards

How I See It

In a previous post, I pointed out that Alaska experienced record warmth for the month of January 2014. This image shows water vapor in the atmosphere as blue, white, and green flowing toward Alaska on January 23, 2014 from the south. Yellow is dry air. The warm moist flow had persisted for several days and gave some parts of Alaska 12″ of rainfall in less than two weeks. This atmospheric river phenomenon is sometimes called the Pineapple Express. At the same time, this part of the Jet Stream arced toward the southeast and brought cold arctic air to the eastern half of the country. This pattern has persisted most of the winter. Currently, the Jet is entering the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and northern California with some welcomed precipitation.

I also pointed out that avalanches were a significant problem caused by the excess rainfall. The port of Valdez was cut…

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Space Music | Data Sonification

How I See It

Data streams from experiments as 1 and 0 digits. It arrives at very high rates and is stored for later study. From spacecraft, it is used to make images, produce video, and make sense of the universe. Analysis of the digits simply as visual information is great for most of us. Think of the images from Hubble. But, there are other ways we humans are equipped to perceive our world. These rich data sources can also be converted into sounds. Such a process is called data sonification.

Here is an audio file example (20 sec) from U of IA researcher Don Gurnett. It is called a whistler. They result from lightning strikes which send electromagnetic waves along the magnetic field lines of Earth. This image is the spectrum of a whistler comparing frequency to time of signal. The audio adds a lot to the interpretation of this…

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Hoover Dam | Great Depression Project

How I See It

What can happen when the right components come together? You know the answer. Amazing things can be accomplished. This post highlights one such joining of forces in the construction of Hoover Dam. This country was in the depths of the Great Depression when Hoover Dam was constructed 1931-1935. The labor force was ready. Science, mathematics, engineering, ingenuity, motivation, and technology came together with the support of government to complete one of the most impressive projects the world has seen. I have seen documentaries about it. They pale in comparison to seeing, and being inside, the real thing. Join me below for some visual highlights from our visit to this important place.

Picture 2

The view above is courtesy of Google Maps. At left is the visitor center and observation level. The four round tower structures top center and lower right are water intakes. They stand nearly 400′ tall from their bases…

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Great Chicago Wheel of 1893 – World’s Greatest Ride

How I See It

World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893

The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago was the subject of a book my wife, Melanie, and I discussed. The exposition was in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Americas by Columbus. A centerpiece of the exposition was the huge Chicago Wheel 264 feet high, meant to rival the Eiffel Tower. I love science and technology. The idea of this giant wheel being the first Ferris wheel fascinated me.


Rotating wheel rides have been around since the 17th century. They were known as ‚Äėpleasure wheels‚Äô.¬†George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.¬†¬†secured the patents for the larger metal concept which came to be known as Ferris wheels. Ferris was born in Galesburg, IL, in 1859. That is not far from where I grew up. The family moved to Nevada when he was six. He attended college at California Military Academy‚Ķ

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Warp 0.033 for NASA Spacecraft

Beam me up…

How I See It

Some people get very excited about the possibilities of warp drives for spacecraft. They discuss the concepts of powering a spacecraft using the distortion of space-time in front and back of the craft. This Popular Science article talks about the technical aspects of the theoretical drive mechanisms. I wondered how much readers knew about warp speed and how it is calculated. I won’t go into detail about the physics since it is hypothetical. I only practice physics of the real world. Instead, I refer you to the concept in Star Trek for all the jargon you might want to see.

Warp drive is a hypothetical faster-than-light (FTL) propulsion system in the setting of many science fiction works, most notably Star Trek. A spacecraft equipped with a warp drive may travel at apparent speeds greater than that of light by many orders of magnitude, while circumventing the relativistic problem of time dilation…

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