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30 July

I will be off the net for almost 4 days. This is the first time in more years than I can remember. I didn't think going off-net was any big deal, until I actually confronted it and realized how many little interactions would be thrown off.

[ I made it! Phew! No so bad after all, except for a battle if the auto-reply daemons between myself and an organization that tried to email me.]

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
28 September

Every year I try to watch a few meteor showers. This year the conditions for the Perseids, in August, were exceptionally good. I managed to get out a each evening and do some viewing and even snap some pictures.

Here's my favorite picture of a meteor, perhaps a fireball, streaking across the sky North of Montreal.

Meteor trail during the August Perseid shower, 2009
Meteor trail during the August Perseid shower, 2009
(click to enlarge)

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
08 October

From an article in the Montreal Gazette we have the following exerpt:

McGill ranks No. 18 in world


McGill University's very good week just got better.

The Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings puts McGill among the top schools on the planet, placing 18th in 2009 rankings released today.

McGill, which likes to see itself as Canada's answer to the Ivy League, is the only Canadian institution to crack the top 25.

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
11 January

Air Canada now allows frequent flyers to track their annual activity. In 2009 is seems I flew 33 segments on Air Canada. That's sickening... No wonder I don't find flying that exciting any more!

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
01 March

On the weekend, I went with my old friend Robbie Drummond and his girlfriend Kat to the "Bodies" exhibit here in Montreal. hat exhibit includes, among other things, a plastic mold of some the human circulatory system and it's incredible branching structure. This is really one of the most impressive things in the show.

Robbie was impressed by the fact that the veins in the circulatory system, in layed out end-to-end, would reach something like 100,000 km (or miles, since the number is pretty approximate and based on some vague assumptions). I tend not to like this kind of descriptive device since it is unrelated to every-day intuition, and thus lends itself to amazing figures.

To illustrate my point, I thought it would be interesting to consider how much maple syrup we need to make a thin trail of maple syrup from the plate on my dinner table to the surface of the moon.

Well, with 1.21liters of maple syrup (one large bottle), if we lead a trail 0.001 mm thick, we can reach the moon. This is based on the average distance to the moon ( 385000 km ) and the radius of a cylinder of syrup being 0.001mm. The maple syrup you need can be obtained for about $25, but drawing out the stream might be a bit tricky.

In contrast, it you want the trail of syrup to be a more respectable millimeter in radius, you'll need a more substantial 1,210,000 litres of syrup. That's about 1/25 of Quebec's annual maple syrup production: there would still be lots left for pancakes.

In short, with a seeming "minor" tweak in the numbers, we can make it seem easy to get to the moon with maple syrup (or not).

Maple Syrup
Maple Syrup (image by Brett L.)

By Gregory Dudek at | Read (2) or Leave a comment |    
06 March

This site was unavailable in part of Feb 2010 and some of early March. Although the server itself was running, the upstream DNS server was having problems.

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
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