Its Black Friday! I hear there are a lot of deals out there to be had. Unfortunately I never have the day off to go to the store and stand in line to get the latest gizmos. I still don’t have a flat screen TV – just too expensive for my budget. My old TV works just fine. I keep hoping that the price will come down, kind-of like portable DVD players. The first one’s on the store shelves were anywhere from $500 to $700 dollars. Now they are less than $50. It sure would be nice if the big plasma and LCD TVs dropped by a factor of 10. I could get a nice 42 inch TV for $100. Doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon. I do keep my eye on the latest lighting and display technology and have my fingers crossed for a newer, cheaper, and more energy efficient technology to develop. Maybe quantum dots could save the day and make it easy on my wallet to buy a big screen. OLED technology from Sony looks great but come on! An 11 inch OLED-TV for $2,500. This one is only for rich early-adopters. A little history here for those of you who followed the LED light bulb story. I interviewed the CEO of Polybrite last year because they were promising a new super efficient LED light bulb. It was going to cost $10 to $15 and be available in major retail outlets. I titled that blog series "a true revolution in lighting". It turned out to be a "what could have been" story. Polybrite did not deliver. I suspect that their potential deal with Sylvania fell through and they could not mass produce the bulbs. Thus, the Polybrite bulb is only for sale online for $50 per bulb. Again, way out of my budget range. Sigh, maybe a couple years from now.
Back to the present. If you are out shopping today you should find good traveling weather. We will end up with partly to mostly sunny skies and high temps in the mid to upper 30s. The clouds will increase tomorrow with temps in the same range by afternoon. Sunday is the day when we could have a dusting of snow. A little snow could affect the Packer game as well. The game time temperature will be around 33 and there will be a NE wind about 10-15 mph. Not too cold for a Packer game but you will want to dress warm. If you are hoping for enough snow to put you in the holiday spirit you will have to wait until the middle of next week. A small storm system moving through the Midwest on Wednesday could produce an inch or so.
Here is something fun for all the kids out there. Alert your local teachers! NASA is having a contest to name the Mars Science Laboratory. It is open to all elementary and high school students in the U.S. Here is the link to the contest. The MSL landing site has been narrowed down to 3 possible areas. I think they should go to a place where there are visible signs of past flowing water. Maybe near the "canals" – old river gorges. Or they could go to a site near, or on the edge of the recently discovered underground glaciers. One thing the scientists are concerned about is possible contamination from earth based life forms – namely bacteria. If they discover evidence of life on Mars, they want to make sure it is from Earth. Here is a quote from one of the mission scientist:
“Even though MSL is not designed as a life detection experiment, any type of microbes, either dead or alive, could confuse the types of signals we are looking for. So we need to be as clean as possible."
NOT DESIGNED FOR LIFE DETECTION! That is rather disappointing. According to my count, NASA has sent 6 different robotic probes to Mars. Isn’t it about time we had one of the rovers designed with at least ONE instrument to detect current or past life? How many more mission are going to run around Mars and look at rocks and dirt? Also, I hope the MSL will have a greater range so that if it lands in an interesting spot, it can quickly drive a few kilometers to a new location. The current rovers have done a great job, but they move at a snail’s pace.
If we plan on sending humans to Mars someday then the contamination concern is a mute point. We will "contaminate" every planet we travel to. I would like to travel to other planets someday and I hope I am not held back because of some concern over "contamination". The biggest concern for extended space travel is radiation. In order to protect future astronauts, some researchers have proposed a magnetic force field for space ships.
Lastly a little update on India’s first lunar mission: They planted a flag on the surface. "Planted" is the key word. They crash landed a probe on the surface and on the probe was the Indian Flag. It was a test to see how future robots might land on the surface.
Have a great weekend! Meteorologist Justin Loew.
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This post was written by bniznansky on November 28, 2008