gps

Tracking your position in space and voxels

Tracking your position in space and voxels

Our earth moves around the sun at an average speed of 62,000 miles per hour. That’s besides the point that we rotate 1,000 miles per hour (at the equator). Every object is moving in outer space, very quickly. There is nothing that is sitting still out there even if it doesn’t look like it’s moving. Our solar system has gone around the whole Milky Way many times. If we send some travelers out to another solar system, how are they going to know if they are going in the right direction? First off, that’s a long way off if that ever happens. But if science can practically freeze our bodies into hibernation, maybe we’ll send some poor souls off to find us another earth. Maybe they’ll send frozen eggs. Who knows how we’ll be packaged.

Keeping these space travelers on the right path will require something more than our GPS satellites. But we’ve got a lot of other things to choose from in space that give off signals. We’re getting signals right now from a lot of telescopes. Meaning, we’ve got Hubble, we’ve got radio telescopes, x-ray, infrared telescopes…you name it. Right now it looks like we can get reliable signals from pulsars. If the space travelers have some x-ray detectors (telescopes) there are signals from these known pulsars that can be used. The software…before I go further….can you imagine? depending on our technology? We did go to the moon 50 years ago. I guess we can do it, with a lot of backup systems I hope.

Your position right now on earth is pretty easy to find with our GPS satellites. The accuracy is about 15 meters but there’s more accuracy available than that. I had a patient studying environmental science who said they use satellites to track centimeter movements of geology. I think the accuracy is even better than that depending on the who needs to know kinda stuff.

I wrote a post about using autonomous driving cars. I think they’re really getting closer to becoming a reality. I suppose the early adopters will be paying/paving the way for the rest of us. LiDAR costs more than the car. But what’s interesting is how LiDAR determines points in space called voxels. You can look that word up in wikipedia but it represents a volume in space related to other volumes….a square amongst other squares.

But you have your own free space detector and it’s a cool thing in itself. It’s called proprioception. Might be a new word but this is how you use it. Say for example you’re reading this and reach over to turn the light off or pick something up without seeing it. Your brain is aware of your hands position in space without even seeing it. Well, that’s just one example of how our brain knows our bodies position even though we’re not looking at it.

So, pulsars, GPS, LiDARs and proprioception….we somehow will find our way around in space but goodness gracious we get lost a lot.

http://www.popsci.com/cars/article/2013-09/google-self-driving-car

http://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/space-flight/interplanetary-gps-comes-a-step-closer

 

LiDAR

LiDAR

 

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What is right?

What is right?

I’ve said this before to a patient, “cover your right eye.” Sometimes there’s a pause. I’m pretty sure I’d pause too because I often times do a mental check to be sure I pick the right (correct) eye. I also noticed that I might accidentally say, “that’s right.” That’s usually not misunderstood but if I say that (right) after I was talking about one of their eyes, there could be some confusion there. So I do my best to answer affirmatively by saying, “that’s correct.”

There are other conversations many of us have (not in the exam room) about directions. How many times has someone said, “take a right.” (Just noticed that last sentence needed a question mark but I didn’t know where to put it.) I prefer to give the compass direction as in, turn east. But that’s just as confusing to some people. We don’t have a compass on us I don’t think and the mountains that are to the west in my area aren’t always visible to orient oneself.

The GPS voice gives directions to me. I can’t remember if it is a female or male but that doesn’t matter. Why does the brain not easily process the direction our GPS gave us? I’m exiting off the freeway and the GPS says, “stay to the right.” I don’t know if that means get in the far right lane or if it means don’t get in the left lane. If I’m exiting I’m usually going to the right anyway.

If I’m talking to someone and they are facing me and they tell me to “take a right.” My brain pulls up the app that analyzes that direction and I admit that my brain app must not have the latest upgrade because the process seems to go like this. The person I’m facing might mean turn right if I were standing in their shoes. Or they could have been putting themselves in my shoes and turning right. Or perhaps they just meant if you’re going west then turn right, or we just have to assume that we’re at the “right” intersection that they were talking about and then we take a right.

Let’s not even get started on whether someone is right or not. Why do we give a direction attribution when we might just be agreeing with them? Where did this word even originate? I would like to know right now!

I just typed in google, “define:right.” You can see what that says. I guess it’s right.

Right turn or waving?

Right turn or waving?