NASA: The Blue Marble, 2012 Edition

NASA: The Blue Marble, 2012. Click the image for full resolution.
NASA: The Blue Marble, 1972. Click the image for full resolution.

NASA today released a crazy high-res reconstructed photograph of the world, 61 megapixels (8,000 x 8,000)… we can finally replace the one from Apollo 17 from 1972.

Here are the deets.

A ‘Blue Marble’ image of the Earth taken from the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA’s most recently launched Earth-observing satellite – Suomi NPP. This composite image uses a number of swaths of the Earth’s surface taken on January 4, 2012. The NPP satellite was renamed ‘Suomi NPP’ on January 24, 2012 to honor the late Verner E. Suomi of the University of Wisconsin.

Suomi NPP is NASA’s next Earth-observing research satellite. It is the first of a new generation of satellites that will observe many facets of our changing Earth.

Suomi NPP is carrying five instruments on board. The biggest and most important instrument is The Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite or VIIRS.

Image Credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring

Never Buy a Dust Cover Again

New Printer, right next to sawdustgenerator

Here at Hive76, my desk sits right next to the wood working station. Normally, this isn’t an issue because my computer uses passive heat management, so there is no risk of getting dust clogged up in the fans. But I recently bought a new printer and want to keep it nice and clean. I initially thought of buying a dust cover, but serendipitously completely forgot to even look for them before I left the store. So, necessity being the mother of invention that it is, I was stuck in the space, not wanting to hop back in the car for a silly little dust cover, when I realized that I had a useless cardboard box that I was about to discard that was almost the exact dimensions of the printer itself. Duh! The box it came in! I cut one side off of the box, taped the corners down, left the hole from the missing flap for the wires coming out of the back of the printer, and voila! A free dust cover. I suppose if the color ever bothers me I can just spray paint it a solid color. This solution is actually better than a real cover because now I can stack papers and other lite objects on top when the printer isn’t in use and not have to worry about them sliding or rolling off because of the somewhat round top of the printer.

A few simple cuts

How convenient

Blender used to Render cover of Nature Chemistry

Christopher Wilmer from Northwestern University just got published in a leading chemistry journal, Nature Chemistry. Congrats Christopher! To convey his scientific findings to a broader audience, he designed this artwork that made it on the cover of the journal. Open source science and art FTW…

Check it out!

And here’s the Nature Chemistry paper.

Cover art Summary:
Randall Snurr and co-workers describe a computational approach for simulating every possible metal-organic framework (MOF) that can be built from a given set of building blocks (metal clusters and organic ligands) — represented conceptually on the cover using Tinkertoys. Some of the properties of MOFs can also be simulated to uncover structure–property relationships or materials suitable for specific applications. The MOF shown on the cover was identified for its methane storage capacity — a property that was subsequently confirmed experimentally.

Paper Abstract:
Metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) are porous materials constructed from modular molecular building blocks, typically metal clusters and organic linkers. These can, in principle, be assembled to form an almost unlimited number of MOFs, yet materials reported to date represent only a tiny fraction of the possible combinations. Here, we demonstrate a computational approach to generate all conceivable MOFs from a given chemical library of building blocks (based on the structures of known MOFs) and rapidly screen them to find the best candidates for a specific application. From a library of 102 building blocks we generated 137,953 hypothetical MOFs and for each one calculated the pore-size distribution, surface area and methane-storage capacity. We identified over 300 MOFs with a predicted methane-storage capacity better than that of any known material, and this approach also revealed structure–property relationships. Methyl-functionalized MOFs were frequently top performers, so we selected one such promising MOF and experimentally confirmed its predicted capacity.

Art Hack Day in Brooklyn

The MAKE blog recently posted a notice of an event being held this weekend–Art Hack Day–that I find very intriguing. I’ve been bandying about an similar idea, in part inspired by the Bravo Channel’s reality TV series Work of Art. The show has the typical “Top XYZ” format of elimination challenges. What strikes me about the show is that their work space looks very much like a hackerspace, and once the artists settle in to the work format, they start producing some extremely intriguing pieces.

In a lot of ways, the artist’s studio and hackerspaces are very similar; indeed, we here at Hive76 have made a former artist’s studio as our fire-retardant-home-away-from-home here at 915 Studios. So with that in mind, we are putting together a similar event to the Art Hack Day. We would like to make it an open build session with recycled materials. Stay tuned for the full details in an upcoming blog post (honestly, I will write it, really, I will).

Last Call: Introduction to 3D Rendering with Blender

Rendered My Little Pwnies in Blender.

Last Call for tickets to this class this weekend.

January 28th, 1-6 pm @ Hive76

If you’ve been waiting to get your ticket, now’s the time to do it!

Download or create a 3D model of your choice and the free and open source Blender (v2.61 or later, and I’ll take you through the process of texturing, lighting, rendering, compositing, and post-processing to make a photo-realistic 3D render.

You’ll learn the ins and outs of the interface in Blender, a professional strength, free and open source program for 3D rendering, animation, modeling, texturing, compositing, and post processing.

For all the details, click here to see the previous post…

January Philadelphia Star Trek Meetup Wrap Up

The meetup was great, we had a blast!

We watched “The City on the Edge of Forever“, and then played Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator (with a Star Trek mod) 5 times. We faced many Klingon, Romulan, and Orion ships in battle. Special nod to Captain Johnston, the best captain of the night. Nods to Lieutenant-Commander Kalup, as she was able to warp us out of danger many a time; and to Mr. Williams, for keeping the photon torpedo bays hot and ready to fire.

Our next meetup will be Sunday, February 12th, where we’ll be having a double episode watch (TOS & TNG) and more of Artemis with the Star Trek mod.

I’m going to try and put together a crew for the next meetup, if you’re interested in joining Captain Johnston, Lieutenant Williams, Lieutenant-Commander Kalup, and I (Chief of Communications Toliaferro), please email me at “”. We really need an engineering officer, and a science officer. Captain, helm and tactical applicants are ok too, because we can rotate people in and out.

Live long, and prosper

Open Question to our Readers

We all bring our own ideas to the table of what hackerspaces are about. For some, it’s a place to work. For others, it’s a place to socialize. For me personally, hackerspaces are a place to do work for the community in ways that are unique and effective for engineers and scientists.

I’ve participated in a lot of community service work in my life (voluntarily!) and I found that traditional community service organizations tend to mostly require manual labor from their membership. As you get more involved in the organization, there are other, minor administrative duties that you can take over, like publishing a print newsletter or keeping financial records. Some of the larger organizations have different divisions of state- and national-level management infrastructure that long-time committed members may participate in, for the greater governance of the organization.

But none of these things have any particular bearing on science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. I found myself feeling like I wasn’t contributing as much as I possibly could, because I wasn’t using my strongest skills (in my particular case, I’m an expert programmer with strengths in technical project management). While I certainly appreciate the need to just have bodies that can move trash, it seems a bit wasteful to perform traditional community service duties when you have a group of highly technical people on your hands.

But that is also just me. A lot of people have completely different ideas about what it means to have a hackerspace. Ultimately this is the beauty of the model: the hackerspace is incredibly malleable, independent, and always current. I’m very interested in knowing the variety of opinions from our readership on this very question – what DOES hackerspace mean to you? There may be an aspect of Hive76 some of our readership find intriguing that we fail to advertise to others.

January Star Trek Meetup

Hailing frequencies, open…

Attention all Trekkies, Hive 76 is hosting another meetup for the Philadelphia Star Trek Meetup Group! We’ll be watching an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series and then taking part in an immersive starship bridge simulation, so bring your laptops!

The event is happening this Saturday (Jan 21st) at 5 PM. Sorry for the late notice, but if you can make it, please sign up to our meetup group and RSVP.

Boldly go where no one has gone before, with us!

Open call for help from ESR

The GPSd Project

Eric S. Raymond has recently asked for some help from Philadelphia’s DIY and engineering community with an exciting project. Amongst many other interesting projects, ESR is the lead developer on GPSd, a “service daemon that monitors one or more GPSes…”. He needs help building a cheap GPS repeater to forward the RF data from his roof antenna to his test rack in his office. For any student or hobbiest electrical engineers looking to make a name for themselves, this could be an excellent opportunity.

CLASS: Introduction to 3D Rendering with Blender

January 28th, 1-6 pm @ Hive76

Download or create a 3D model of your choice and the free and open source Blender (v2.61 or later, and I’ll take you through the process of texturing, lighting, rendering, compositing, and post-processing to make a photo-realistic 3D render.

You’ll learn the ins and outs of the interface in Blender, a professional strength, free and open source program for 3D rendering, animation, modeling, texturing, compositing, and post processing.

The class will be broken up into 3 parts:
Part I: I’ll start from the very basics of learning the interface
Part 2: We’ll all go through texturing and lighting a basic scene together
Part 3: Each person will move on to importing, texturing, lighting, rendering, and compositing their own model of choice for the remainder of the class.

Class is limited to 10 people to help ensure you get enough attention.

Hardware: You must bring a computer with Blender v2.61 installed and a 3-button mouse. Any computer that can take Blender v2.61 will work (OS X, Linux, Windows are all fine!), but newer ones will render faster giving you better feedback as you work.
Human: No previous knowledge of Blender is necessary.

Here are a couple links to see some of what you can do in Blender:
Soda Cans
OMG Pwnies

Eventually you’ll probably want to do animations and motion tracking (NOT COVERED IN THIS INTRO CLASS):
Motion Tracking on Youtube

Some places to grab legally free 3D models for the class. Smaller file sizes will ensure you will be able to manipulate the interface with zero glitches.