Tag Archive: Translator Pique the Geek

Sep 06 2010

Pique the Geek 20100905: Star Trek Gadgets

Most of you who read my posts know that I am a big fan of the Gene Roddenberry Star Trek universe of science fiction.  Those of you who do not read my posts as often also know that I am a dedicated fan of Doctor Who.

What you might not know is that both of those TeeVee Series have contributed more that you might not have thought towards our technology as it stands at present.  Well, we do not have a TARDIS just yet, but we have many of the things that Star Trek pioneered.  Tonight we will study just a few of them that are common.

Please stay with us on this trek.  By the way, the term “Star Trek” was NEVER used in the original series, but finally was uttered in the very last installment of Star Trek, The Next Generation, by “Q”.  

Aug 30 2010

Pique the Geek 20100829: Automobiles, Part III. How to Keep Everything Going at Once

We have talked about how engines work in the past couple of installments of this series, and now need to bring together some important engineering factors.  We have talked about intake strokes, compression strokes, and others, but only very superficially touched on how everything comes together.

For an engine to work properly, everything has to be coordinated.  For simplicity, we will consider a conventional four stroke, gasoline powered automobile engine.  Diesel engines are in some aspects simpler, and will be covered concomitantly.

Remember, an engine has to do all of the things about which we have discussed, completely synchronized, and EVERY time.  For an engine rotating at, say, 4000 times per minute, this can be a daunting task.

Aug 23 2010

Pique the Geek

For some reason, I published an early draft of tonight’s column yesterday while editing it.  Please scroll down to see the final version for tonight.  I apologize for the confusion.

Warmest regards,


Aug 21 2010

Pique the Geek 20100822: Automobiles Part II: Engines and Motors

I apologize for posting later than normal.  Windows decided to perform an update when I sat down to finish this piece, so I lost around 45 minutes this evening.

The most important part of an automobile is how to power the wheels (or belt, if one talks of a snowmobile).  What ever device does this must fulfill several requirements, which we shall look into later.

A device to propel a car must do several things, depending on the complexity of the automobile.  It must produce enough power to overcome internal friction, to overcome air resistance, to overcome rolling resistance of the tires, and a couple of other things as well.  Because of differences in combustion engines and battery operated motors, each type will be discussed separately.

Aug 09 2010

Pique the Geek 20100808: Automobiles Then and Now, Part One: Overview

With the near release of the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt, both 100% electric driven automobiles, I thought that it would be appropriate to reflect on the history and technology of the automobile.  Actually, the Volt also has an internal combustion engine on board, but that engine runs a generator, so both of these cars are exclusively driven by electric motors.

The engine to generator concept is not at all new, as practically all big Diesel locomotives are driven that way.  There are significant advantages in using electric motors to propel vehicles, even if they are powered by on board generators.  We shall get to that in future.

Aug 02 2010

Pique the Geek 20100801: Lincoln One Cent Pieces

Many of you who read my posts regularly know that I am a very dedicated numismatist, and that I have written many posts about coin collecting.  I have also written about the history of United States coins extensively.

What you may not know is that I specialize in Lincoln one cent pieces, minted from 1909 to the present day.  This is the longest running series of all United States coins by a large margin, lasting 101 years now with little change on the obverse, but with some.

This post will let you know a bit more about them, and also some of my passion for what most people think of as something insignificant.  They are far from insignificant.

Jul 26 2010

Pique the Geek 20100725: Corruption of Scientific Terms

Scientific terms are often corrupted, and the wingnuts often do it.  They conflate hypotheses with theories, and theories with laws.  They also reduce the value of a theory to what they make out as just a guess.

This post is an attempt to separate the words and make the scientific method more sensible to folks who are not trained scientists.  As always, if I not clear, comments and questions are always welcomed.

Jul 12 2010

Pique the Geek 20100711: Essential Materials. Zinc (Updated)

Most of us have heard of zinc in passing comments.  Some TeeVee commercials tout the virtues of it in the diet.  Actually, it is an essential trace element, and part of some coenzyme systems, and so is essential for health.  Interestingly, it is more important for men than for women because the prostate gland needs lots of zinc to produce semen and to maintain health.

That does not mean that women do not need zinc, just that they do not lose lots of it in seminal fluid.  The requirements for zinc in the metabolism is the same betwixt the sexes, but, as females lose iron during menstruation, men lose it during ejaculation.  Please follow, and I promise not to be so graphic for a while.

Jul 05 2010

Pique the Geek 20100704: The Science of Fireworks

This has been sort of a recurring theme for me the past few years for the installment nearest Independence Day.  You can hit my profile and find the earlier entries in this series.

This time, I intend to focus on the single greatest improvement in technology (other than the development of black powder) that has made modern, highly colored fireworks possible.  Until relatively recently the only colors available were white, yellow, and a dull red, with very faded out, compared to today, other colors.

First some theory, then some facts.  Please follow.

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