Showing posts sorted by relevance for query wikipedia. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query wikipedia. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, October 28, 2021

A wikipedia article all grown up: Brine Pools

I was watching some nature show back in the mid-aughts that covered the topic of the ocean floor.  This show mentioned the geological formation called brine pool.  Brine pools are amazing "lakes" of brine at the bottom of the ocean.  The water of a brine pool is separated from the ocean above due to the pool's extreme salinity.  Brine pools even have their own surface upon which objects can float.  Imagine this: a submarine floating on top of a brine pool at the bottom of the ocean.

So, why all this talk about brine pools now?  Well, at that time, I was interested to learn more about them.  Upon searching the topic on the Internet, I found nearly nothing.  Wikipedia didn't even have an article about brine pools.  That means it was up to me to create the article.  The only thing I had to go on was what I remembered from the nature show.  So, all I could say was this:

"Brine pools have been discovered at on the ocean floor near methane vents. Lifeforms around these pools do not depend on the sun for energy."

That's it.  That was the whole article.  It's dangerous (metaphorically) to add articles to Wikipedia.  Wikipedia is a vicious and uncaring environment with nearly draconian rules about what can stay and what must be removed.  It's doubly risky (again, metaphorically) to create an article with only one sentence for a topic that isn't well know.  The final risk is posting such an article without any citations.  

By some miracle, the brine pool Wikipedia article grew.  This happened due to other editors adding more detail and cited sources.  Images were added soon after.  I kept an eye on the article and helped edit it further from time to time until late 2010.  At that time, the article grew to include a couple of images and three subheadings, each with a short paragraph.  By the Wikipedia measure, it was "2,960 bytes".  

2010 is around the time I stopped editing on Wikipedia in general, but for no other reason than I just got too busy.  So, I forgot about this little article over time.  It wasn't forgotten by others, though.  The article had a moderate number of edits between 2010 and 2017.  Its size grew to a modest 3,410 bytes by the middle of 2018.  

In August of 2018, according to the article's history, something weird happened.  An anonymous editor added a new subheading with a rather large paragraph.  The problem with this edit was that the subject of the subheading had nothing to do with brine pools, but was actually about the land formation of artificial brine sinks.  The edit appears to have been made in good faith by someone who did not understand the topic of brine pools.  After some back-and-forth edits, the incorrect subheading was removed by other editors.  After that, edits to the article went quiet until September last year.

It appears that someone familiar with the topic of brine pools added a ton of detail in Fall of 2020.  Edits by others quickly followed.  The article ballooned to 10,269 bytes, then again to 21,471 bytes.  Over the past year, the article has received regular and quality edits.  It's turned into a good article about the subject.  The current version of the article is 28,184 bytes with five well flushed-out subheadings and tons of cited sources.  Of course, a lot new information has been discovered about brine pools in the past 15 years, which may have something to do with the explosion of information added to the article.  Most of the cited scientific studies were published since the inception of the brine pool article.

How did I suddenly remember this little article that could?  Literally yesterday, a related geological formation, called cold seep, showed up in a news feed.  Cold seeps are associated with one of the three methods that form brine pools.  So, I was reminded about the article I created all those years ago.  I checked out the brine pool article, and it is glorious (hyperbole, of course).  

I'm glad I was able to contribute in some small way to the dissemination of scientific knowledge.  I've created many other Wikipedia articles, but this one seems to be the most impactful.

One side note, I've actually referenced Wikipedia a lot over the years!  Check out this search: Wikipedia search.

Monday, November 30, 2009

My Ten Most Useful Android Apps (and one Outlook Plugin)

The Samsung Moment is a good Sprint smartphone that runs on the 1.5 version of the new Android OS. One great function is that it offers direct syncing with the user’s Google accounts. However, for some reason, Sprint didn’t include enough applications on the Moment. It is fully functional off-the-shelf, but it just seems to be missing stuff that experienced smartphone users would want. Fortunately, the Android Market has more than enough apps to quickly add most (if not all) functionality that one might expect from an advanced smartphone.

This is my Ten Most Useful Android Apps for Samsung Moment (and really any other Android smartphones) in no particular order:

  • Android Backup Tool by Marigold backs-up a multitude of data from the smartphone to the SD Card, including Contacts, SMS, browser links, settings, etc.
  • Star Contact by StarObject provides advanced Contacts search functionally that is missing from almost all smartphones (even Palm).
  • Easy Dialer Premium by UIP ($) does cost a small nominal fee, but it is worth the chump change! It provides a well designed speed dial interface that really should be the standard for any Android smartphone. There is a free version with small and unintrusive ads called Easy Dialer. Another free alternative is Speed Dial by CRinUS. There is no interface to speak of in Speed Dial. It simple allows the user to put speed dials directly on the home page as links.
  • Where by where is highly rated and updated frequently. It provides up-to-date information and reviews about restaurants, movies, local news, weather, friends, etc.
  • Dolphin Browser by MGeek is a great Android internet browser that has powerful and time saving capabilities.
  • OI File Manager by OpenIntents is a good and simple file management utility for the SD Card. It allows for the renaming and copying of files.
  • Wikidroid for Wikipedia by Sirius Applications Ltd is a rapid and simple alternative to just loading the Wikipedia website directly. It loads articles very quickly without all the extras that weight down Wikipedia in an internet browser.
  • ASTRO File Manager by Metago is another powerful file manager. It has different functionality than OI File Manager, so I really recommend installing both until one app starts including the functions of the other.
  • AirPlaneSwitch by C-LIS Crazy Lab. is a simple application that allows the user to switch their phone over to Airplane mode without having to navigate into the smartphone’s settings.
  • TwitterTweet Twitter Client by MEDIAFILL LLC is an underrated app that allows the user to efficiently and simply sync their Twitter account and feeds to their phone.

Sync Android with Outlook

Right now, a PC application that syncs the Moment with Windows Outlook is not included. There is a fairly good Outlook plugin which will sync your contacts, calendar and notes with your Google account. The plugin works great as it allows your smartphone to be updated without ever attaching it to a computer! The plugin is called gSyncit for Microsoft Outlook by David Levinson. It is available at It costs $14.99 and does have unusually strict licensing for installations, so I will be keeping an eye out for free or more customer friendly licensing. For now, this plugin provides a much needed service, so I do recommend the investment if you have any Android smartphone.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Avoided disaster - active shooter in Boulder

Though Monday's mass shooting in Boulder, CO was 15 to 20 miles from our home, our vet is located in that same shopping center.  Joie had an appointment for a checkup at 5PM.  Sometime before 4:30PM, Allie received a call from our vet.  They had to cancel our appointment because of an active shooter in the shopping center.  Everyone was ordered to shelter-in-place.  Even under such stress, our vet rescheduled Joie's appointment for another day.

This isn't how we found out about the unfolding crisis.  At first, we didn't think too much of it.  Active shooter alerts happened before.  Sometimes, it's a mistaken report, or just someone wielding a weapon in public, or targeting a specific person, such as a love quarrel gone bad.  

We quickly found out that this was so much worse.  There's really nothing I can say to sum things up or even make the story more personal.  The worse we had was a rescheduling of an appointment, avoiding the situation ourselves by a couple of hours.  Allie and I are OK and unaffected by the crisis.

Of course, Allie had a couple of family members contact her within minutes of the incident making international news.  Several coworkers also checked with me the next day during meetings that I attended.  

Thankfully, we avoid the whole situation.  Others were not lucky.  Their families are suffering, such as one Erika Mononey, who gave a tribute to her father on Twitter (backup link).

Here's the link to the Wikipedia article for sourced information about the horrific event.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Yahoo's Blunder with unnecessary changes to their services is well explained on

Yahoo's blunder with unnecessary changes to their services such as Yahoo! Groups is well explained on by anonymous poster.

If you have no userbase, the Agile concept of ship (garbage) early and ship (garbage) often even before you really have an MVP actually makes some sense. If you have a 6-month runway of capital before you go belly-up and start over (oh, I'm sorry, "pivot"), there's no point in wasting another month to get it right.
But if you already have a userbase, the developer-centric attitude of leaving what, to users, is core functionality in the backlog while you release half-assed stuff that merely shows off how good you are with AJAX, or how quickly your UX people can change the design from one week to the next, doesn't work. It's bad for your customer base, it alienates them, and it eventually drives them to your competitors.
More of this person's comment can be found here. If you are interested in exploring the topics brought up by this person, click on the links I added to their quote above.  That will take you to Wikipedia articles that will explain each of the terms.  

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bode's Law

Bode's Law, or Titus-Bode Law, is a now refuted law governing planet location with our Solar System. It presumes a relationship between all of the planets in their distances from the Sun.


The Law relates the semi-major axis, a, of each planet outward from the sun in units such that the Earth's semi-major axis = 10, with

a = n + 4
where n = 0, 3, 6, 12, 24, 48 ..., with each value of n > 3 twice the previous value. The resulting values can be divided by 10 to convert them into astronomical units (AU), which would result in the expression

a = 0.4 + 0.3 · 2 m
for m = , 0, 1, 2,...[1]

For the outer planets, each planet is 'predicted' to be roughly twice as far away from the Sun as the next inner object.


It's name comes from the fact that it was promoted by Johann Elert Bode when in 1768, he wrote the second edition of his astronomical compendium Anleitung zur Kenntniss des gestirnten Himmels, which states the following.
Let the distance from the Sun to Saturn be taken as 100, then Mercury is separated by 4 such parts from the Sun. Venus is 4+3=7. The Earth 4+6=10. Mars 4+12=16. Now comes a gap in this so orderly progression. After Mars there follows a space of 4+24=28 parts, in which no planet has yet been seen. Can one believe that the Founder of the universe had left this space empty? Certainly not. From here we come to the distance of Jupiter by 4+48=52 parts, and finally to that of Saturn by 4+96=100 parts.


At the time, Saturn was the farthest known planet. Bode's Law gained credibility when Uranus and then Ceres where discovered. These bodies happened to fall in line with predictions made by the formula. However, this Law become refuted when Neptune was discovered at a location from the Sun that was no where near its predicted location.

Also, to further refute Bode's Law is the fact that other systems exist in our Solar System which do not follow its formula. Although the moons around Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus do follow some sort of pattern, they do not follow Bode's Law; nor do they share patterns with each other.


The discovery of Pluto and more recently other Kuiper Belt objects have proven Bode's Law to be false. It appears that Bode's Law was a misguided attempt to explain an observation that did not have enough data. Given what is known now, it seems that perhaps there is some sort of rule that applies to naturally formed orbiting body systems, but there is no formula that can predict the arraignment of such. Perhaps Bode's Law can be useful in the future, not to predict planet placement in other extrasolar systems, but maybe to point us in the direction to understand planet formation and resonance. We can see there is some sort of resonance. We can also see that a particular resonance is not shared between different systems, and only applies in a limited fashion. It is not useful for anything else. Although it really cannot be called pseudo-science, since it was based on observation and did make some predictions that panned out, it is really not useful science today. Further complicating the issue is that the definition of planet has changed. Ceres and Pluto are no longer considered planets. This means that any use of Bode's Law in the context of what is now known can be called pseudo-science.

Planet Distances from the Sun (from

Mercury factor: 0
Bode’s Law: 0.4, Actual: 0.39

Venus factor: 1
Bode’s Law: 0.7, Actual: 0.72

Earth factor: 2
Bode’s Law: 1.0, Actual: 1.0

Mars factor: 4
Bode’s Law: 1.6, Actual: 1.52

Ceres factor: 8
Bode’s Law: 2.8, Actual: 2.77

Jupiter factor: 16
Bode’s Law: 5.2, Actual: 5.2

Saturn factor: 32
Bode’s Law: 10, Actual: 9.54

Uranus factor: 64
Bode’s Law: 19.6, Actual: 19.2

Neptune factor: 128
Bode’s Law: 38.8, Actual: 30.06

Pluto factor: 256
Bode’s Law: 77.2, Actual: 39.44

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Possible types of Alien Lifeforms (Part 5: Blue Plants?)

It has been sited by physicists that while photosynthesis on Earth generally involves green plants, a variety of plants of alternative colors may also utilize photosynthesis. The other colors might be preferred in places that receive a different mix of solar radiation than that received on Earth.

Plants on Earth are green because they contain chlorophyll. The chlorophyll is green because it absorbs mainly blue and red light in order to produce food for the plant via photosynthesis, while reflecting the green light frequency.

Scientists at NASA point out that if the stars for other planets were in a different state than our sun and if the light frequency that reached the planets' surface was different, then the plants would have also evolved a different type of photosynthetic pigment (other than chlorophyll). This pigment would be dedicated towards the different light frequencies received by the planet. This would cause plants to appear a different color from green, such as red and yellow.

According to recent studies, no photosynthetic plants would be blue-colored. This is because blue light provides some of the highest photosynthetic yields in the light spectrum. It is important for blue light to be absorbed rather than reflected. This is based on the physical quality of different frequencies of light produced by known types of stars.

One terrestrial example of energy conversion based on something other than ordinary light involves radiotrophic fungi that convert high energy gamma rays into useful energy using the melanin. (In most organisms melanin is used to protect the organism against ultraviolet and solar radiation.) Even still, ordinarily fungi derive their energy from decomposing other biomass, rather than by converting radiation into energy for itself.

It could even be possible for photosynthesis to occur using infrared light. In such an environment, plants may actually appear black.

It is fascinating to image the variations of life that are possible, even if life is based on the same fundamentals as our own.

Reference: Wikipedia article; Wikinews article; NASA - NASA Predicts Non-Green Plants on Other Planets; Dadachova, E; Bryan RA, Huang X, Moadel T, Schweitzer AD, et al. (2007). "Ionizing Radiation Changes the Electronic Properties of Melanin and Enhances the Growth of Melanized Fungi". PLoS ONE 2 (5): e457. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000457; Candace Lombardi "NASA: Plants on other planets not green". CNET, April 11, 2007; Julie Steenhuysen "New hue: Plants on other planets may be yellow, red". Reuters, April 11, 2007; Ker Than "Colorful Worlds: Plants on Other Planets Might Not Be Green"., April 11, 2007; “The Color of Plants on Other Worlds” by Nancy K. Kiang, Scientific American April 2008


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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Possible types of Alien Lifeforms (Part 4: Silicon Life)

A popular Sci-Fi topic is alternative forms of life. A common idea is that life could be based on silicon instead of carbon.

The idea is based on the fact that silicon has valence number of four. This means that silicon atoms can be arranged in rings and in long chains that may be useful to create structures upon which biological molecules could be built. However, there are many drawbacks that must be overcome for life to efficiently use silicon as its basis.

Silicon based lifeforms would not have organic molecules used within Terran life. DNA would not be the basis for such life. However, the silicon based molecules may not be stable without an added level of complexity because silicon has a larger atomic radius and mass than carbon. It also has more difficulty forming stable molecules, particularly where water is present.

Even still, it is a possibility. For some reason, many Sci-Fi depictions show silicon based life as being rocklike in appearance. I'm not sure where this idea comes from. It's a bit like assuming carbon based lifeforms look like a lump of coal. I have a feeling that if we do discover silicon based lifeforms, they may resemble us more than many expect.

Reference: Wikipedia article and “Are Aliens Among Us?” by Paul Davies, Scientific American December 2007

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

In case you've not heard of it, there's a great place to find out the meaning of the newest words or phrases being used, called Urban Dictionary. Fellow users frequently update the Urban Dictionary with new words and definitions, including yours truly. So far, I have added 6 words that have been accepted, 5 of which have been met with significant thumbs up peer approval.
I'm also a frequent user of too, which has recently improved its site content.
Oh, and also, on many online searches I do nowadays, I follow up the search text with "wiki" to make sure wikipedia entries show up, as these are often more concise and useful than traditional news or database sources.