The Science of Blogging Better – for Newbie Bloggers

By Anupum Pant

The following is not a cheat sheet to double visitors, conversions or rank better on search engines. Like AweSci’s tagline says, this article is meant for “being a better person through Science”.

Even though I’m doing good with Google search results, I’m not much of an SEO enthusiast. I blog because I love to do it. I don’t like to craft posts to trap clicks from a search engines. I write about things that really interest me, and not necessarily about the things that are most searched.

However, I don’t mind making a few logical alterations to my style, that would NOT change the kind of articles I really want to write, and at the same time would add better value to people reading it. My aim would be to write for that person, who would search for something on Google, would end up here, and thank me for giving him/her the answers he/she was searching for. That would make me a better person.

The science of it

Blogging gurus will tell you to “produce quality content”. To break down the meaning of “quality content” in a detailed way is impossible in a single article. However, here are some of the most important things that will turn your content into “quality content”. The two major studies I discuss here are no less than full-blown psychological studies (is the reason I put it in the Psychology section) – They don’t mention the hard science separately, but they essentially deal with the psychology of your readers.

While going through a blogging guru’s blog yesterday, I noted the following interesting things that can clearly help you newbie bloggers stand out and create real value on the internet. And I think it is worth knowing. For millions of people out there looking to start a blog, or the ones have just started blogging, a careful initial look at “Blogging” with the magnifying glass of science would definitely make them better people on the internet. That, I think, should be anyone’s aim with a blog. So, here is the basic science of blogging better – Continue reading The Science of Blogging Better – for Newbie Bloggers

Building A Solar Death Ray At Home

By Anupum Pant

Sun’s Energy

Sun is an huge fusion reactor. Every second it produces enough energy that could power the US for 9 million years. But from the perspective of people living on earth, most of it radiates into the space and gets ‘wasted’. Still by using even the part of energy that is received by us, a solar death ray that melts steel can be built.

Earth is only a fraction of the size of sun. In comparison, sun is so mind-boggling-ly big that I bet you can’t manually scroll this page from Sun, all the way to earth (and this is a heavily scaled down version of our Solar System). In short, earth is so small that it receives a microscopic fraction of the energy radiated out by the sun.

Technically: The total flux received by earth is about 343 Watt per meter squared. On the way to earth’s surface, 30% of this gets scattered by the atmosphere and 19% of it is absorbed by the clouds. So, out of 343, only 51 percent reaches the surface. Which is calculated to be about 175 Watt per meter squared. Which is a very small part of the energy that sun gives out. [Source]

And yet, sunlight received by earth has by far has the highest theoretical potential of the earth’s renewable energy sources.

Harnessing this energy

For humans, it is possible to directly harness this energy broadly in two ways – heat or electricity (photoelectric effect). We are interested in only the heat part here. To demonstrate the kind of heat that can be generated by focusing 2 meter square worth of this energy to a single point, watch how this equipment can melt steel in seconds (The melting point of steel is around 1500 degree centigrade).

Making at home

Building something similar at home is fairly easy as far as the concept is concerned. But the process can be very tedious. I found three interesting ways in which this can be done at home.

1. Using a satellite dish: A satellite dish is parabolic and is designed to focus signal to a single point. Instead of signal, you could use it to focus light (sun rays). To use an old dish for making a solar death ray, all you’ll have to do is stick 5,800 tiny pieces of mirrors on its surface, like Eric Jacqmain did. – [Source]

2. Use a projection TV: A projection TV has a huge Fresnel lens in front of it. It is kind of a convex lens that is flat. If you can find an old projection TV, you could use the screen to make a solar death ray like Grant Thompson did.

3. Using water: Another creative way could be to use water. By combining the power of gravity and stretching plastic, you could turn clear water into a parabolic lens like this [Video]. Although I don’t think something like this could be efficient enough to melt steel. It could still be used as an outdoor machine to cook breakfast.

EDIT: Why isn’t there a comments section?

First I forgot to add this and remembered only when a reader pointed it out. I promised in my yesterday’s post, that i’d tell you the reason behind a missing comments section on this blog. Here it goes…

I use a theme built by Leo Babauta (see FAQ) and am a fan of his teachings. It [the theme] has an inbuilt comment section but Leo doesn’t use comments on his blog. For me to not use it too, there are 3 reasons:

  1. I’m a fan of Leo Babauta and try to emulate his ways in my life. (not perfectly)
  2. I want to create a pure reading experience for the reader (now ads, which hinder the pure reading experience, are for experiment only). People who really like to interact usually mail me. And it is a much more enriching experience.
  3. Unlike every other blogger, comments have a great effect on me. This in turn affects my ability to write. For instance, comments which appreciate, seem flattering to me. As a result, I become complacent. If they are critical, I get concerned about my writing abilities. There are hardly any neutral comments. I’d like to focus my energy on writing than arguing on the internet.

I do have plans to include it in the future. It is just that I’m not sure when I’ll do it. Probably when I change my theme, I’ll do that.

Miniature Sealed Self-Sustaining Ecosystem

By Anupum Pant
  1. 53 years ago, David Latimer (80) from Surrey planted an indoor Spiderwort in a huge glass globular bottle. He has watered it just once, in the year 1972. Since then, this self-sustaining ecosystem, has been sealed away from the outside world for around 40 years. In spite of being sealed away like that, the plant has grown very well in its own miniature ecosystem [Picture]. The only regular external energy it has received has been in the form of light. [more about this self-sustaining ecosystem and how it works]
  2. The EcoSphere or the Original EcoSphere takes it to the next level by introducing a shrimp in a similar setting. Like David Latimer’s bottle, this is also a self-sustaining ecosystem consisting of algae, bacteria and shrimp. The company that sells these things says that the shrimps would last for just around 10 years. Although, they also claim of 25-year-old spheres with living shrimps.
    10 years is little as compared to the ecosystem discussed in the first point. But we are talking about a pet living in a completely sealed space for 10 years, without demanding food, change of water or an appointment with the vet. For these little creatures it is probably a safe haven away from the dirty oil slicked oceans and predators; or probably just a prison.

These little biospheres are a far simpler and smaller versions of our big worlds. We are like the shrimp and the trees, our algae. This diagram explains in a simple way, how these artificial, extremely simplified versions of Earth work – [Diagram]

The shrimp and algae biospheres were discovered by two scientists, the late Dr. Joe Hanson and the late Dr. Clair Folsome. Later, NASA became interested in these systems. There got interested because:

  1. This tiny model of the Earth could add information to NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth program for studying Earth’s biosphere.
  2. It could help NASA’s research on human life support systems directed toward the construction of space stations for exploring our solar system.

Make it for yourself: Make magazine published a detailed DIY guide on how to create these living biospheres at home. [Link] Carl Sagan’s Review of these biospheres: The World Arrived in The Mail.

Random Foliage Fact:

The world’s smallest park is located in the median strip of SW Naito Parkway, approaching esplanade along the Willamette River near SW Taylor Street in downtown Portland, Oregon, United States. Mill Ends Park, a 2 ft is a circular park, has held a place in the Guinness book of Records since 1971. It isn’t a park you can send your children to. – [Wikipedia]