May 24th, 2006

marcus 2013

OMG, it's full of stars...

Probably old news to some of you, but I'd never heard of it before; Celestia is an open-source astronomy program that tries to do for astronomy what Google Earth does for geography. Zoom in on planets and speed up their rotation, zoom out and see the galaxy, etc. etc. There are versions for Windows, Mac OS-X and Linux, and you can download the source code, also lots of add-ons available, an educational version, etc.

The Windows version is a 16mb download, just about runs on the 400mhz XP box I use at work and is like greased lightning on a 2 ghz machine. Amazingly pretty, and very strongly recommended

http://www.shatters.net/celestia
Mad scientist

More balance pron

Picked up another 2nd hand balance for work tonight.

I have a couple of dozen eBay searches for balances active at the moment, on manufacturers name as well as category etc.

So a few days ago one of them found me one for a minumum bid of £19.99 plus delivery. Except that they'd called it a set of scales rather than a balance and hadn't put it in the scientific instrument category. And when I checked out the vendor it turned out to be the local branch of Cash Converters, about a five minute bike ride from here.

So, not surprisingly, I waited with bated breath until the last 20 seconds or so, just before the end of the day, and bunged in a bid for £36.60 which is about what I thought I could spend without my boss shooting me.

Except that I turned out to be the only bidder and got it for £19.99

And went over there after work and paid for it and got it home, and tried it with the accurate weights from an old chemical balance I keep as an ornament. And it works, accurately enough for anything up to A-level.

And that, kiddies, is how I got a 0-600g x 0.01g, 0-60g x 0.001g balance for 20 quid.

Sometimes I think my school doesn't deserve me...