Sometimes Your Road Changes

Posted: July 17, 2012 in Announcements

Things are going to go quiet around here for a while. Ever increasing demands of my professional life, and the challenges of parenting a special needs child have left very little time available to generate any useful original content for some time now. Additionally, as a fellow skeptical blogger put it, “the increasingly bitter and divisive struggles happening within skepticism as a movement have exerted a serious downward pressure on my motivation to stay involved.”

Hopefully I will be back in the future with more new content that supports the original mission statement I wrote when I launched this project two years ago. In the mean time I will keep the lights on and continue to administrate the site in the background, moderating comments, clearing spam, and keeping the domain name registered.

Many thanks to you, the readers, for turning out in record numbers over the past few months. This has been an enjoyable project and I am sorry to have to moth-ball it for a while.

You can find me on Twitter (@GearHeadSkeptic) for occasional science, car and skeptic related nonsense, and lots of bad jokes.

See you down the road.

- Jeff

Once upon a time, my buddy Brad built this truck. Another of Brad’s buddies Darren took this picture of it. A lot of people liked the picture, and asked Darren to take pictures of their cars too. Before Darren knew it, he had a nice little business built up doing studio glamour shots of hot rods and custom cars, trucks and bikes.

Now, Darren has so many great automotive images that he has started to publish them in his own Garage Shots Magazine. Darren writes;

Each issue, we will feature three cars with artistic photos and the story behind the build.  Our goal is to create an art piece that captures the mood and beauty of each of these vehicles.  Car builders put their heart and soul into these creations and they are truly pieces of art and deserve to be treated as such.  We have no intention of being a technical magazine but we do strive to be the best art publication for hotrods and customs.  We will also try and include an art feature.  It could be a set of images featuring old gas stations, car parts, roads, highway diners or anything else related to the automotive culture.

Issue #1 has recently hit news stands in Canada, and can also be purchased on-line at GarageShots.ca. It is exceptionally well done, and offers some beautifully artistic and creative images of automotive subjects unlike anything else currently on the market. The digital version is nice to flip through on a screen, but the physical print copy is a different experience that is well worth the money. This is the sort of thing that may just turn into a collectors’ item some day.

I have THREE copies of Garage Shots Magazine Issue 1 to give away for FREE. These are brand new, never opened, fresh off the news stand. If you would like to score one of these for yourself, send an email to TheGearHeadSkeptic@gmail.com and answer the following skill-testing question:

What Year is Brad’s Ford Truck?

The first three correct responders to land in my in-box will each win a copy. Winners will be notified by email, one entry per household please. Good luck!

UPDATE: Winners Winners, Chicken Dinners! All three copies have been given away! Brad’s truck is in fact a 1951 Ford. Contest is now closed. Thanks everyone!

Recently, my community newsletter printed a small sidebar article offering advice to gardeners on how to use the phases of the moon to their advantage when planting their gardens during the coming month. The article stated how different phases of the moon exhibit different gravitational effects on plants, and offered planting and fertilizing tips to take advantage of this.

The lovely and talented Dr. Wife™ spotted it first and brought it to my attention saying something like “this sounds like bunk, but you’re the space nerd. Does this make any sense?”

No. No it did not.

I hiked my pants up to my rib cage, told the neighbour kids to stay off my lawn, and sat down to write a sternly worded letter to the editor to correct these scientific inaccuracies.

“Dear Sir,” I began, “I am not a crank…”

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What’s a Higgs Bozo?

Posted: December 19, 2011 in Science news
Tags: ,

By special request (yes, I take requests) we’re going to talk about particle physics today, and what all this chatter in the news about the possible discovery of “The God Particle” means. Don’t panic, we’re going to keep this as simple as possible, because that’s as far as my own understanding of it extends, and there are far better resources out there for those interested in the hard science.

OK, first it’s boson, not Bozo, and nobody calls it “The God Particle” other than slimy headline writers trying to play up the tired old “science vs religion” angle to grab eyeballs.

Since about the early 1960s, physicists have been building an understanding of the very small bits that make up matter, and how they interact with each other to construct the universe around us.  This framework is called The Standard Model of Particle Physics. It includes 12 fundamental particles that make up all known matter, and four fundamental forces that govern the interaction of that matter. Together, they account for everything we observe happening in the universe (except for gravity, but we’ll get to that later).

The four forces (the strong nuclear force, which glues quarks together to make protons, the weak nuclear force, which causes radioactive decay, the electromagnetic force, which acts between electrically charged particles, and gravity) could also be described as “interactions” between matter; when a force is acting on matter, the matter is actually exchanging tiny messenger particles called bosons.  As it happens, all of the fundamental particles predicted by the Standard Model have since been confirmed in high energy collider experiments, except one: The Higgs Boson.

Not only is the elusive Higgs Boson the last missing puzzle piece that would either confirm the Standard Model is complete, or overturn it and send physicists back to the chalk boards to further refine the model, the Higgs is theorized to be the reason why matter has mass, and therefore why everything we see as the physical universe exists at all.

Deep, huh? Read the rest of this entry »

“Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.”

- Christopher Hitchens, 1949 – 2011

There is so much more yet to be done.

You Can’t Drive THAT!

Posted: October 21, 2011 in Car Culture, Video Posts
Tags:

"My God... the Ovaltine!"

Recently, the back-end of an F-150 and Newton’s third law of motion performed some custom body work on the front of my daily driver Chevy HHR. Normally, I’m a big fan of Newton, but his custom shop sucks. Things got a little wrinkly, but no one was hurt. We all exchanged information and parted ways pleasantly enough. I drove the car to the local police station to file a report, and when Officer Friendly came out to look at the car, things got weird.

It had a good whack on the nose, so the radiator was a little messed up and there was a small coolant leak under the front of the car. I can only assume from his reaction that a damaged radiator had at one point broken into his childhood home, shot his dog, beat up his skateboard and drank all the Ovaltine. “You can’t drive THAT!” he shouted. He may have started to go for his gun too, I can’t be sure. Visibly shaken, he disappeared back inside the station and within minutes, a FIRE ENGINE arrived, and six guys in full gear set to work sprinkling kitty litter on the eight inch puddle under the nose of my car. He took my keys, my car was impounded, and I never saw it again.

I imagine later that night, under the cover of darkness, Officer Friendly returned to the impound lot with his service bazooka. Childhood trauma clenching his heart, he shouldered his weapon and took aim at my little Chevy. “This…” he whispered in the moonlight, “this is for my Ovaltine.”

So if Officer Friendly happens by some chance to stumble across this post, I would like to point out that at least a few other cars with more damage than my wrinkled hood and drippy rad have at one time or another graced the roads of the world. Not that I’m saying they should have, but maybe my little Chevy wasn’t quite the menace to society that it seemed.

Click the link for a collection of truly bazooka-worthy damaged rides.

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Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) is becoming increasingly common in pump gas. Most commonly produced from corn crops in North America, it is viewed by some to represent a more sustainable alternative fuel source, reducing North American reliance on global petroleum markets. While the validity of those “greener fuel” claims may be disputed, one thing seems to be quite clear about Ethanol blended fuels: If you own a vintage, collector or just plain old car, Ethanol fuel might be causing damage to your engine’s fuel system.

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