Science with Crossbows

From today’s seminar: “Of course, you cannot do this experiment in ordinary atmospheric pressure. It will explode. We observed this. It was quite messy.”
Also, the presenter was a German scientist with a group trying to model planetary accretion. Their experiments needed to propel marble-sized samples into a 1kg dust target in vacuum. The found the best way of doing this was with a small holder mounted to an arrow which was fired from a crossbow. The crossbow was placed in the vacuum chamber and was fired remotely. The holder and arrow would be stopped as soon as they were no longer accelerated by the bowstring and the samples would then fly out of the holder to the target.
It’s worth pointing out that the title of the presentation was “What can Wilhelm Tell teach us about planetary accretion?”
I imagine the paperwork needed to approve the purchase of the crossbow for the lab went something like this:
Item: Crossbow
Quantity: 1
Reason: SCIENCE!

I’m famous!

Ok, no, not really famous…but one of my old photos has been making the rounds on Facebook.
To answer the inevitable questions:

  1. Yes, her reloading technique needed work. It was the first time she’d fired an AR. She’s improved in the intervening years.
  2. No, I’m not taking cover behind the side door/window. I’m bracing my arm against the A pillar, so I’m right where the windshield meets the hood. Should I be further forwards, and thus more protected by the engine? Probably, but I’m being a gentleman and yielding the best cover to the lady.
  3. Yes, I should probably be less exposed.
  4. The picture was intended to humorously illustrate Tamara‘s quote, “A true gentleman provides covering fire while a lady is reloading.” (I forgot the exact wording when I captioned the photo. My apologies to Tam.), not to be a serious demonstration of shooting skills.
  5. The point was not that she’s reloading the rifle for my use and that she remains under cover during the gunfight — I’m providing covering fire for her while she reloads her own rifle, after which she’ll engage the enemy.
  6. No, she’s not pointing the AR at my head. She’s about half a meter to my right and the rifle is pointing up and downrange.
  7. Yes, a full-size AR-15 is a bit too big for her. Since the photo was taken, we’ve purchased an “M4gery”-style AR with an adjustable stock and a shorter barrel for better balance.
  8. Yes, I’m left-handed. She’s not (hence why the reloading looks so awkward).
  9. I’m shooting an XD-45.
  10. That was one of our first dates, and we were out shooting in the Arizona desert with friends. I may be able to dig up the coordinates of where we were if anyone is interested.
  11. I married that woman, and am the luckiest guy in the world.
  12. Is a Camry ideal cover? No, but the big chunk of American (( The 2006 Toyota Camry was made in the US from more US-made parts than most of the vehicles made by “American” brands.)) steel aluminum under the hood is certainly better than nothing.
  13. Why is the Camry in the desert? What, you expect we’d walk way out there? The Camry can handle the road and suited my everyday driving purposes.

Football Fun

Football Ref on TV: “Neutral Zone infraction…”
Me: “Neutral Zone? What the hell? Isn’t that what separates the Romulans from the Federation?”
Wife: [laughing, followed by detailed, informative explanation]
I love being married to a nerdy, intelligent woman who likes football and beer.


I came across an online ad that stood out to me today: it was an ad for ADT, and consisted of the text “Feel safe for only $1 a day”, referring to the cost of their monitoring service.
Personally, I think it’s rather silly. I can “feel safe” by simply ignoring any potential threats, and this costs me nothing. Of course, that’s rather foolish.
This also reminds me of the absurd ADT commercial where a burglar attempts to break in while the helpless family is at home, the alarm sounds, and the burglar flees. The police are notified, and presumably arrive at some point in the future. Of course, they never mentioned what would happen if the burglar didn’t flee…
By having a means to defend myself — rather than relying on others — I can not only feel safer, but I can be safer.
That said, a burglar alarm is a useful when one isn’t at home, as it can notify the police if someone is breaking into one’s house. $30/month still seems a bit excessive; I wonder if there’s some sort of lower-cost (or free?) internet-based monitoring, or perhaps even self-monitoring? I’ll need to look into that.