Ask Hackaday: Incidental Earthquake Detection

It never seems to fail: at the very moment that human society seems to reach a new pinnacle of pettiness, selfishness, violence, and self-absorption, Mother Nature comes along and reminds us all who’s really in charge. The obvious case in point here is the massive earthquakes near the border of Turkey and Syria, the appalling loss of life from which is only now becoming evident, and will certainly climb as survivors trapped since the Monday quakes start to succumb to cold and starvation.

Whatever power over nature we think we can wield pales by comparison with the energy released in this quake alone, which was something like 32 petajoules. How much destruction such a release causes depends on many factors, including the type of quake and its depth, plus the soil conditions at the epicenter. But whatever the local effects on the surface, quakes like these have a tendency to set the entire planet ringing like a bell, with seismic waves transmitted across the world that set the needles of professionally maintained seismometers wiggling.

For as valuable as these seismic networks are, though, there’s a looser, ad hoc network of detection instruments that are capable of picking up quakes as large as these from half a planet away. Some are specifically built to detect Earth changes, while some are instruments that only incidentally respond to the shockwaves traveling through the planet. And we want to know if this quake showed up in the data from anyone’s instruments.

Continue reading “Ask Hackaday: Incidental Earthquake Detection”

Five Years On, Where Is Starman And Where Will He Go?

On 6 February 2018, a Tesla Roadster was launched as the mass simulator on the first ever Falcon Heavy launch — putting for the first time ever a car on a Mars-crossing orbit. While undoubtedly a bit of a stunt, the onboard cameras provided an amazing view of our planet Earth as the Starman dummy in the Roadster slowly drifted away from that blue marble, presumably never to be seen again.

This “never” is the point that researchers at the University of Toronto would like to clarify in a paper published after the launch┬átitled The Random Walk of Cars and Their Collision Probabilities with Planets. Using N-body simulations, they come to the conclusion that there’s a 22%, 12%, and 12% chance of the Roadster impacting the Earth, Venus, and the Sun, respectively. But don’t get too excited, it’s not due to happen for a few million years, so it isn’t something any of us will be around to see.

As the Where Is Starman? website shows, the Roadster never reached escape velocity from the Sun’s gravity, meaning that it’s still zipping around in an orbit around our day star. Exposed to the harsh UV and other radiation, it’s likely that very little is left at this point of the Tesla, or Starman himself. Even so, scientists to this day are feeling less than amused by what they see as essentially littering, adding to the discarded rocket stages, dead satellites and other debris that occasionally makes it into the news when it smashes into the Moon, or threatens the ISS.

Utility Mat Turns Waste Epoxy Into Useful Tools

Epoxy is a great and useful material typically prepared by mixing two components together. But often we find ourselves mixing too much epoxy for the job at hand, and we end up with some waste left behind. [Keith Decent’s] utility mat aims to make good use of what is otherwise waste material.

The concept is simple yet ingenious. It’s a flexible mat that serves as a mold for all kinds of simple little plastic workshop tools. The idea is that when you have some epoxy left over from pouring a finish on a table or laying up some composites, you can then pour the excess into various sections of the utility mat. The epoxy can then be left to harden, producing all manner of useful little tools.

It may seem silly, but it could save your workshop plenty of nickels and dimes. Why keep buying box after box of stir sticks when you can simply make a few with zero effort from the epoxy left from your last job? The utility mat also makes other useful nicknacks like glue spreaders, scrapers, wedges, and painter’s pyramids.

We’ve seen other great recycling hacks over the years too. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Utility Mat Turns Waste Epoxy Into Useful Tools”