A moment of silence for Pluto

In case you missed the science news in the last week, we now only have 8 planets in our Solar System with Pluto demoted to “dwarf planet” status, 76 years after it was discovered.

I must admit that while studying Astronomy at Uni I was never 100% convinced that Pluto should be called a planet. It is afterall tiny, in a binary orbit with its moon Charon (the centre of gravity of the pair is located between them), and its orbit is higly tilted from that of the remainder of the planets and crosses inside Neptune’s.

The decision was made by scientists meeting recently in Prague who agreed that a planet (put simply):

  1. orbits the Sun
  2. is big enough to be nearly round
  3. has “cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit”

Point 3 is a little strange since other planets don’t pass this test – including Earth, which orbits the sun with many near earth asteroids (ie our neighbourhood is NOT clear).

That aside, the result is that we now have 8 planets, and currently 3 dwarf planets – Ceres, Pluto and “2003 UB313” (how’s that for a stupid name!) Ceres orbits in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Pluto’s binary companion Charon is NOT a dwarf planet as it’s classifed as a “satellite” (or moon), and lastly “2003 UB313” orbits beyond Pluto.

While I tend to agree with the decision from a technical point of view, it has divided the scientific community. Many disagree with the change and reckon things should have been left alone, and to complicate matters only 424 of the 2500+ attending voted on the issue.

One group happy with the decision might be the publishers of school and uni text books – just a few are now out of date and in need of reprinting!

For more, see the following Wikipedia entries,

Three weeks on…

Had the midwife visit last Wednesday at which time Matthew weighed in at 4kg after 3 weeks. Seems he likes his milk! We also decided to move him into his own room giving Mum and Dad a better sleep. Point to note: babies are not quiet sleepers!

Cutting his fingernails still scares the bejesus out of me – nail scissors to his fingers is like a chainsaw to a muffin, except the muffin sits still. I’ve also had to learn to change a nappy faster than the F1 guys swap tyres. Any slower and that nice cool air down below will often trigger a little fountain…

No more photos to add just yet, but I do have a short video to share. Apologies for the quality, but you’ll get the picture.

Here is Matthew sitting in his bouncy chair last night looking rather tired and just checking things out.

(here’s the direct link to the video on YouTube)

And if you really want another video, I uploaded a test a couple of nights ago – click through to see “Sleepy baby“…

Same blog, new address

If you were looking for my blog and have made it here, then congratulations!

Don’t be alarmed by the new URL, all the old content is still here, but the blog is now hosted remotely by the good folks at wordpress.com. The look and feel should be almost identical and you can still add comments to my posts.

“Why move?” I hear you ask. That’s a good question and has a couple of answers. The primary reason is technical – for the geeks, my web host is implementing a new security policy to deny all external http requests! This breaks the trackback/pingback system used by blogs, is likely to impact on some plugins that require remote access, and prevents syndication of remote content on my pages included via scripts. Bummer. That’s Major Bummer, with a capital B. Their solution is to permit remote http access on a case by case basis which I reckon is plain mad. But then, I don’t run the hosting company. Another reason for moving is one cited by many people doing the same, that is, with a hosted install you don’t have to worry about updating the software, server space and load is taken care of and as a blogger I can focus on blogging. Sweet. The major downside is that customisation is severely limited (including plugins), but to be honest, I just want the nuts and bolts.

So here I am, now blogging at chrisnoble.wordpress.com

Feel free to keep your bookmark to noble.gen.nz – you’ll just need an extra click to get here.

See you round the blog.


A film in 48 hours…

OK, so I’m a bit behind the times with this post, but I thought it was worth a shout out to Mike and his team that put together an entry for NZ’s 48Hours Film Competition which took place at the end of May this year.

What’s the competition all about? This from the 48Hours website,

Teams have just 48 hours to create an entire short film – this means writing, shooting and editing – or die trying. Shorts are then seen in cinemas and judged by a huge appreciative audience. The top 8-12 from each city are chosen by a panel of judges to compete in their city’s final. And then, the best short from each city competes in a live TV National Final on C4.

This year Mike’s team was given the following,

  • Genre: Based on a True Story
  • Line: “That’s what I’m talking about”
  • Character: “Robin Slade – an eternal optimist”
  • Prop: mirror

So, without further rambling from me, here’s their entry titled “Coupled”…

(if the embed breaks, view their entry at YouTube here)

And here’s Mike’s comments on the 12 regional finalists.

Kudos guys. Look forward to next year. 🙂

Happy Birthday WWW and PC

This August is a big month for birthdays in the tech world with the World Wide Web turning 15 and the IBM PC turning 25!

Having grown up with computers starting with the Apple II (when floppy disks were actually floppy) and later using the internet and email in my earliest Uni years, myself and others from “Generation-X” are probably the last to recall living without both.

Time for a quick blast from the past…

On 12 August 1981, IBM announced the “5150″, priced at US$1,565 with a whopping 16K of memory and a processor running at 4.77MHz. Ha! This machine wasn’t the first, but it was successful and lead to the popular use of the term ‘PC’ meaning to be compatible with IBM specs. Head to BBC News or Wikipedia for more.

Then, 10 years later on 6 August 1991, Tim Berners-Lee posted a WWW project summary and source code on the “alt.hypertext” newsgroup making it publicly available for the first time. You can see his original postings via Google Groups here,

with final comments in the first post,

The WWW project was started to allow high energy physicists to share data, news, and documentation. We are very interested in spreading the web to other areas, and having gateway servers for other data. Collaborators welcome!

Thanks Tim! Again, check out BBC News or Wikipedia for more.

So where to from here? Who knows! One thing seems obvious to me – personal computing will change dramatically as more and more devices become connected to an internet that is getting more powerful and interactive…

Two weeks

MatthewHard to believe that Matthew has been with us for two weeks now, but it’s fair to say that all is going well in the Noble household. Mum and Dad are learning to sleep fast when possible and the little guy is spending more time awake now – unfortunately he thinks that 3am is playtime…

The cats are getting used to the little person that spontaneously erupts into noise without warning, although Meggy still keeps a respectable distance.

McLaren BuggyMatt has now had a couple of outings and loves his racy McLaren buggy, although we’re not sure if it was the gentle movements or the fresh sea air that put him to sleep.

For those that asked how tall he his, we tried to measure him in between wriggles and came up with 52cm +/- a bit! His other achievements include getting back above his birth weight and helping to keep the nappy and baby wipe manufacturers in business.

Lou and I would like to thank everyone for the cards, pressies, flowers, food, visits and kind wishes over the last fortnight. Your support has been fantastic and helped out a lot. And kudos to Russ for the first sushi since Christmas!

And lastly, Matt’s next trip out? Glad you asked. That will be to the final antenatal class tonight! 😛

Click through to matthew.noble.gen.nz for more (& larger) pics…

It’s a boy!

MatthewLou and I welcomed Matthew Thomas Noble to the world at 3:37pm on Wed 2 August 2006.

He arrived via an unassisted natural birth weighing in at 3.36kg (or 7lb 6oz for the old school folks out there).

The parents reckon he’s cute as, especially since he’s doing lots of sleeping… 🙂

UPDATE – 8 Aug: We’ve added several photos to the group and can now report that we’re settling in at home – the cats however are a little unsettled by the new arrival…