Wer singt denn da draußen?

June 26th, 2016

Nabu: Von Amsel bis Zilpzalp – Die 40 häufigsten Gartenvogelarten im Porträt.

“Am besten achtet man auf mehrere Kennzeichen, um eine Vogelart sicher zu identifizieren: Größe und Gestalt, Färbung des Gefieders, das Verhalten und natürlich der Gesang bieten Anhaltspunkte. Oft ist es zuerst die Stimme, die auf einen Vogel aufmerksam macht, noch bevor wir ihn zu Gesicht bekommen.”

Brexit

June 24th, 2016

Deutsche Welle: World adjusts to Brexit vote after initial shock. “EU officials have called for the UK to start the exit process ‘as soon as possible’ after voters decided to leave the bloc. But the US president said their decision speaks to the ‘challenges raised by globalization.'”

Merkel calls Brexit ‘a watershed for Europe’. “German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called the UK’s decision to leave the European Union a watershed for Europe and European unity. It’s now up to her and EU leaders to ensure other countries don’t follow suit.”

The Guardian: Is the EU referendum legally binding? “Parliament is sovereign and, if Brexit wins, Cameron will not be legally obliged to invoke the Lisbon treaty to start an EU exit.”

Die Zeit: Wenn Politik am Stammtisch entschieden wird. “Mit Parolen, Drohungen und Lügen haben Populisten die Entscheidung über den Brexit beeinflusst. Bei einem so komplexen Thema hätte es kein Referendum geben dürfen.” Von Tanja Dückers.

Damn! Berlin im Brexit-Schock. “Die deutsche Politik muss sich nach dem britischen Referendum neu sortieren. Mit diesem Ausgang hatte ernsthaft niemand gerechnet. Umso größer ist die Ratlosigkeit.” Von Ludwig Greven, Katharina Schuler und Lenz Jacobsen.

Sarah Koenig’s Serial podcast

June 23rd, 2016

Transom.org: Sarah Koenig’s Manifesto.

“In her long-awaited Transom Manifesto, Sarah Koenig breaks down just how tricky it can be to tell a story in sound. By deconstructing the Leakin Park episode, by explaining all the things her team was unable to get to create the story, she reveals exactly how they did create it. This, fundamentally, is how non-fiction narrative works. You try to get what you want, but ultimately, you work with what you get. Sometimes the obstacles make you jump even higher. Sometimes they’re just obstacles.”

Nuclear Power and Clean Energy

June 22nd, 2016

NPR News: California’s Last Nuclear Power Plant To Be Shut Down.

NPR All Things Considered: California To Close State’s Last Nuclear Power Plant.

I remember both the Chernobyl and the Fukushima nuclear disasters and have become much more wary about nuclear power since the latter happened. Japan uses the same kind of reactors that are used in German nuclear power plants, and the disaster there has shown that even if the core doesn’t melt down like it did in Chernobyl‘s graphite-moderated reactor, there’s still a lot that can go wrong even in a water-moderated reactor like the ones used in Japan and Germany (boiling water reactors, pressurized water reactors).

The German government ordered eight of the seventeen reactors to be shut down immediately after Fukushima, and the others will be shut down by the end of the year 2022 at the latest. A few kilometers from where I live is a nuclear power plant that I’ve visited with groups of students several times (in fact I just went two days ago), and while this is of course an interesting excursion, I won’t be sad to see it shut down by the end of 2018 at the latest.

I’m surprised that environmentalists count nuclear power as “clean” like solar and wind because no carbon dioxide is emitted, but what about the tons of radioactive waste? This is an unsolved probleme here in Germany, and I wonder about the situation in other industrial nations like the US, but also Japan or the rest of Europe. Has any country solved this problem for real?

A second moon

June 21st, 2016

Jet Propulsion Lab/NASA: Small Asteroid Is Earth’s Constant Companion.

“A small asteroid has been discovered in an orbit around the sun that keeps it as a constant companion of Earth, and it will remain so for centuries to come.

As it orbits the sun, this new asteroid, designated 2016 HO3, appears to circle around Earth as well. It is too distant to be considered a true satellite of our planet, but it is the best and most stable example to date of a near-Earth companion, or “quasi-satellite.””

The picture of the orbit reminded me of my first (and second-to-last) programming project: During my first year of university I had to write a program that calculated orbits of a satellite influenced by the gravity of sun and earth, also known as three-body-problem. Even though I checked my work again and again, the stupid program wouldn’t turn out the right (periodic or chaotic) orbits, so I had to get an extension on the deadline for handing in the project. Took me two whole days to find the sign error.

And now you know why I hate programming. 😉