Monday, 30 November 2009

Cathedral at Tampere

We went for a drive over to Tampere this weekend, mainly because I wanted to see the interior of the cathedral at Tampere. I also wanted to see some of the artwork of Hugo Simberg

The ground floor entrance reveals a moody interior with great architecture. The ceiling above supports the second floor ...

Tampere Cathedral Interior

There are a few reasons I'm interested in it ... firstly (while its not large) its beautifully designed and decorated inside, especially when you consider that its a Lutheran Cathedral.

It shows an interesting Gothic sort of character, combined with the traditional central European sorts of things (like the organ). You can see the second floor "balcony seats".


This shot is an ultra wide, showing from the pews up to the interestingly decorated ceiling, note the use of "wings" to fill in arches and the serpent over there in the top right hand corner at the top of the dome.


The Resurrection meaning

Probably the most striking feature for me however is the lovely art work behind the Altar. Unlike so many churches with a crucifix depicting the death of Jesus on the cross, this has a beautiful artwork which has is depicting the rise of the dead to the after life.


To me, this is so much more the message of salvation (which is supposedly what the church is sending) than a depressing one of sacrifice and suffering which is usually sent.

Lastly, a view from the 'balcony seats'

Tampere Cathedral Balcony

I love it ...

Friday, 27 November 2009

ants (vs human organisations)

One of the interesting things about Ants is they remind me of people

antNestThey build their little city close to nice places and all scurry around doing what the hive needs.

Its sort of fun to watch them.

They scurry about busily, with seemingly no specific purpose. When working alone they can be carrying something back to the nest or carrying something out of it. Work is clearly getting done.

In groups it all seems to break down, with what seems to be an uncoordinated tug of war in all directions.

Eventually the item seems to get back to the nest (despite) all their efforts.

Strange thing is, no matter how disorganized it looks they are really quite successful creatures. Each ant may have totally no idea, but the hive does well

Reminds me a lot of people.

Like this week ... after spending some months working on a database project it appears that the other part of the organisation has decided they can't coordinate themselves properly and have instead gone with each member of their team putting data into a spreadsheet. Essentially leaving me with the leaf ripped out of my mouth after some struggling with pulling it in the right direction. It remains to be seen how much better their direction is ... Glad I'm not the one putting that together later ... mean time I've picked up something else and I'm wandering around with that in my mandibles.

In contrast to Ants (and our organisation), White Ants are quite organized creatures. These cool little guys normally eat decaying tree in the natural environment (and people's Homes in the urban one ;-)

whiteAntsTrackYou won't see them easily in the wild because they can not tolerate extremes of humidity and UV.

So they live inside their food and construct sealed environment walkways between food sources and their nest.

These are really hard to spot as they're made of chewed up wood pulp and blend in nicely, but on the trunk of this white Gum (Eucalyptus) their track stood out clearly.

I thought it would be interesting to give them a little challenge, so I made a small bit of damage to this walkway roof, exposing the interior.

whiteAntsFairly instantly they all set up a guard and protect the gap in their tunnel.

Notice the fellows with the pointy heads? They are quite different to the other ones there which have jaws.

Quickly they set up a strong defense perimeter but do not go beyond it ..

They are quite specialized creatures, some being defenders others being workers.

The fellows with jaws are the workers, and you can see that soon after the defense is set up they emerge and begin repairing the breech in their system.

In the image below you can see clearly the guard ants (with their antenna spread wide to sense any movement or smells) with the workers in below them already chomping and spitting up chewed wood pulp to rebuild the damaged wall.


Quite a good system they have ... no wonder they're so successful.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

H56N2 infects Parliment

The greatest fear of virologists is the combination of Pig flu (H1N1) with Bird Flu (HPAI or H5N1) that could form a virus that is irresistible to the immune system producing the dreaded so called "Pigs can Fly" flu H56N2 EWV variant.

This results in hallucinations and distortions of reality which can make the sufferer to believe that "Pigs can Fly".

It is suspected to have been to have made the mutation by extended close proximity by having their snouts in the same troughs.

It can then be passed from "high flying person to high flying" at conference venues through out Asia and Europe where snouts may be placed in the same troughs and or course via other vectors such as unmentionable secret handshakes.


The early signs of this is a fever of creation of impossible political targets without understanding the meaning of any of the underlying issues (such as the Australian ETS) which are not likely to be effective, but can induce a sweat similar to a fever in those effected with such a malady.

Look closely at our politicians ... it seems they've been infected with this deadly pathogen.

The only remedy for this is isolation of the contaminated persons. Its important to not allow them to do anything harmful while suffering from this!

and remember ... always wash your hands after handling a politician

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

the next US shock: will that be bonds?

I've never studied Economics at uni, I spent my time there in Chemistry, Computing and Environmental Science instead.

So as a self confessed non-economist you can take this how you will.

Right now the USA owes heaps to China, there is discussion that the Current Account Deficit in the US is blowing out big time, for instance:

The current-account shortfall could rise from 6 per cent to 15 per cent of gross domestic product by 2030 and net foreign debt could explode to $US50 trillion ($54.4 trillion).

The budget deficit could remain close to $US1 trillion until 2020 or later.

Scary stuff ... that same writer makes an interesting assertion which I happen to agree with:

Most analysis underplays the root cause of the crisis: the US political system’s refusal to adjust to the global labour supply shock - the sudden increase of workers leading to a sudden drop in the price of labour - from China’s industrialisation.

We all live on the same planet, so it has been obvious to me for some decades that if the standard of living in China goes up, then it will likely mean that has to come from somewhere ... well that would be from the west wouldn't it :-)

It gets worse with the USA facing nations turning away from Oil trading in US$ to possibly trading Oil in Euro ... noone will need those US$ as much anymore ...

Now, let me cast your mind back to 1971 to the time when the US economy was in deep trouble for all of its spending in the Vietnam war. They had printed bucket loads dollars and exported them off shore.

Soon enough European countries were presenting the USA with demands to fulfill their "promiary note" of gold for US$. This lead to what was called the Nixon Shock. At this time Nikon (without consultation with the IMF essentially betrayed the Bentton Woods agreement and decoupled Gold from the US$

So, with China investing heavilly in the USA at the moment (to allow the US to get at cheap imports), I wonder if the USA will do something similar again but with bonds?

"Hello, My name is Bond ... "

Monday, 23 November 2009

Environmental Science (or is it yet a science?)

one of the things which bothers me is the state of the situation in Environmental Science. All too often this subject is dragged into disrepute by people who are either complete fruit cakes (and whom seem to barely grasp the basic ideas of science) or is bound and gagged to be used as a political tool. Sometimes both occur.

As I was writing this blog idea it seems that some other people are also working in quite a different way to me to draw public attention to the short comings of the science involved in the climate change issue.

As I've mentioned before I am still unclear on the issues and facts that surround global warming, however something which I am more clear on is the effects of over development. It seems to me that this entire "Climate Change" debate is overshadowing this sort of more practical discussion.

For instance ... back in 2002 ~ 2003 the city of the Gold Coast was running critically close to the limits of its water supply. Below is some data which was sourced from the GCCC website that monitors the Hinze Dam Levels. I have added 2 ellipses to this which I will discuss in a moment. I would like to give you the link (which is here), but this data is no longer published on the GCCC website as it once was, only the less meaningful data of 'consumption'. I'm sure many Gold Coast residents are familiar with this graph...


The red line in the graph tracks the dam level as a percentage, my blue ellipse shows the period of January through March which is normally the wet season for this region. As is clear from the graph the dam levels fell to less than 30% capacity just prior to the onset of the (slightly late) wet season of 2003.

Clearly this was quite a worrying time for both residents and council.

During this time a contracting company was employed to reassess the yields of the dam system. The consultant presented the (quite reasonable) proposition that Estimation by Historical Simulation was an appropriate methodology. They proposed a method of analysis which looked at remainders after periods (rather than something state over time). The decided on the simple formula of:

Storage at End of Period = Storage at Beginning + Inflow - Losses

Sounds reasonable but ignores an important point which I'll come to later, additionally it has another strange view ... in determining the Inflow they presented the following model to Council and members of the public:


some interesting issues arise from examining this data:
  • Why was a 5 year period used? (to iron out the wrinkles?? of high and low)
  • Why were periods ending in March chosen? (ending in the end of the wet season on a 5 yearly period?? like what difference would it make {my calculations show nil})

Notice the word Average in the above data chart? Now the definition of average is to add up a series and divide by the number of elements in that series.

I attempted to validate their data so using data sourced from the Rainman application (the same source as them, Bureau of Metorology) I obtain a almost identical result taking periods ending December and over a 5 year period (60 months) but not dividing by five.


So it appears that this data is obtained by taking the sum of the 60 months and not an average. If we then divide that data by 5 to form an average we find that the scale on the graph now comes much closer to that we expect from yearly rainfall data.


One can only hope that this was never used for real calculations on expected inputs to the system ... although I suppose it may have been. If it was not, then what is the purpose of this data? I can only surmise that the Ronald Coase "adage" was used in the construction of this
torture the data long enough, it will confess

Does this mean that figures between 6,000 and 8000 were used?

It is interesting to note that the peak lows of average yearly rainfall data fall significantly lower than the values provided by the rolling 60 month average. What is the purpose of this model as when you compare this with the empirical observations in Fig 1 its clear that the usage rates (based on the fall of dam level in the absence of significant rainfall for addition to its level) will not support two consecutive years of low rainfall, something which the above model seems not to yield.

Lets look carefully at the critical period of 2002 ~ 2003, the figure below contains that component in detail.


there is nothing to suggest from this model of stream flow *(the blue line, not the yearly totals) that the water supply would be in any more danger of reaching the point of failure to meet community needs than in other years, in fact 1996 looks more threatening to the water situation.

The fact remains however that it was. Given the climate variability I have no idea what this person was trying to do by presenting this. Was it just to show fancy lines and baffle people with bullshit?

Getting back to my important point before, it may just be that their model would be accurate, and at the end of a 5 year period that the dam would have the calculated amount of water in it...

Do you want to go without water for a few weeks waiting for the 5 year average to equalise?

The evidence (based on empirical data of the dam levels in the period 2001 through 2004) demonstrates the shortfalls of this rolling 60 month model in representing available stream flows, and perhaps also suggests that a basic error in calculation (remember the failure to divide by five?) was responsible for over estimation of yields.

Why was this model used? Perhaps because of mis-understandings in its construction? Perhaps these limitations had never become an issue because up until about 2001 (based on my estimates) the population had not reached the carrying capacity of the system and thus tested the validity of the model.

This is the point at which the available water in the environment (using existing water supply paradigms) is less than the demands of the population.

This is represented in the figure above as the point where available water / person reaches the same level as the water extracted per person. Using this model of water sourcing it is clear that population plays an important role in this ...

Since you simply can't get more water than is available, as the population goes up if the amount of water available remains the same then the lines must meet as essentially there is less water available to each person. This is of course why there were water restrictions introduced at that time.

To me this is an example of the inadequate levels of "science" applied in Environmental Science to date.

So, how do we move away from this?

To me the answer is clear, we need to:
  • move to more open and critical appraisal of this branch of knowledge
  • we must clear about what we are doing and why
  • our methods lay open to scrutiny and
  • open meaningful debate encouraged.

I ask can we continue to base the foundations of the planning of our society on models like this? Should we all not have vested interests in and indeed rights in being involved in the decision making process? Are we not living in a society where we have this right?

Until this happens Environmental Science will remain some sort of political tool for the justification of ends based on who yells loudest

"did too"

patterns in water


out walking today found this wonderful example of a partially frozen puddle with a little bit of snow dotting the grass poking up out of the water


lovely patterns in the water ... click on it for a larger view

Sunday, 22 November 2009


In my last blog post one of the commentors posted a link on pollution in China. I encourage you to look at that link and then to remember that it was not that long ago that we were doing exactly the same thing. In fact its because we've pushed these foul industries "away" where we can't see them that we forget what is the real cost of disposable things and our lifestyle.

Now I'm not a professional journalist, I'm just a more or less an ordinary fella in that respect. So with that in mind, in 2005 we went to visit China from South Korea (where we were studying) for a holiday. We went to Beijing, traveled to a place called Ping Yao. This is actually a fascinating historical villiage which in spring and summer is a popular tourist location in China, it also happens to be centered around an interesting UNESCO listed medieval walled city.

What I didn't mention on my above linked tourist trip snapshots of Ping Yao was the devastation to the environment which became quite clear to us on the way out of Beijing and all along the way. I would like to show some images of what we saw ... just without even going out of our way to document things as the Journalist has done in the link at the top of the page.


Along the side of the railway line was a small river, which was clearly so horribly polluted by this mine, for kilometers and kilometers!


Its hard to actually see much because of the dense smog that always filled the air. In fact the air quality is so bad there my wife was getting skin irritations in a few days and we had to cut short our trip because she was so distressed by the environment (she comes from Scandinavia where it is much cleaner).

Even in Ping Yao it became quickly clear that there just was not the proper facility for the population density there ...


Because it was winter the air was thick from the smoke of every house burning coal ... coal which happens to be high in sulfur.


of course the demands for catering to tourism increase the energy needs of the place too

pingYao roofs

Just while I'm on the subject, we went for a walk along the Great Wall ... a wonderful place


but its not for the faint of heart as its really steep ... no kidding


with often no hand rails and falling apart in many places


not for your typical tourist but well worth it for the adventurous.

Friday, 20 November 2009

climate change - we've been working on it for years

This has gone past being a hot topic and become something of a religious discussion, science is cast aside and belief is the rule of the land.

Perhaps one or the reasons that Science is cast aside is that it would seem that the vast majority of people (including our leaders) are quite simply ignorant. They've spent far too much of their lives learning the importance of which brand of suit matters, what is the fashionable thing to be saying or some other strictly intra-human stuff.

People pat them selves on the back and marvel at the advances of the modern world when they are fundamentally so ignorant of the materials our "modern world" is built on they don't even know how the match they light their cigarette with works or even how to brew some of that beer they are drinking.

Heck many people struggle with understanding price / quality relationships in what they buy and some people are starting to forget why salt is a preservative...

So is it any wonder if you view it this way that understanding climate change has descended into an argument sounding like a pair of children repeating:

did not
did too
did not

ad infinitum

Question, why do there have to be predominately such polarized views in the community about this topic. In reality you don't need to be a genius to see that not only are things changing but we are changing things.

Well if you look at children you get the answer: yell louder and you win

Don't get me wrong, children are highly intelligent ... its just that they're both ignorant and as yet have not acquired wisdom (you know, that stuff which comes from built up experience and reflection)

To not see these things you must live in a mega city like New York, LA, London ... hardly ever leave or have anything to do with the world outside your neighborhood. Chances are, that even then you'll notice something, but equally you'll probably find some structure or fiction to help you believe what ever you want to.

Amid the guff that gets touted in the media and the even bigger circus of parliament some people are actually plugging away trying to understand what we see and make sense of it. Last week I read just such a publication in the Journal of Climatic Change (ISSN 0165-0009 ) by William F Ruddiman. He is from University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904, U.S.A. and published a peer reviewed article called "THE ANTHROPOGENIC GREENHOUSE ERA BEGAN THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO" (that title is a link to the full text)

I thought his hypothesis made so much sense that I wanted to bring it a little more mainstream than among researchers. Hence this blog article.

A good summary of his view of this comes from his abstract:

The [human generation of CO2] era is generally thought to have begun 150 to 200 years ago, when the industrial revolution began ... A different hypothesis is posed here: anthropogenic emissions of these gases first altered atmospheric concentrations thousands of years ago. This hypothesis is based on three arguments:

(1) Cyclic variations in CO2 and CH4 driven by Earth-orbital changes during the last
350,000 years predict decreases ... yet the CO2 trend began an unexplained increase 8000 years ago, and the CH4 trend did so 5000 years ago.

(2) Published explanations for these gas increases based on natural forces can be rejected based on paleoclimatic evidence.

(3) A wide array of archeological, cultural, historical and geologic evidence points
to viable explanations tied to human changes resulting from: early agriculture in Eurasia, including the start of forest clearance by 8000 years ago and of rice irrigation by 5000 years ago.

now, this makes more sense to me ... especially when you consider the following:

The first problem with this "industrial era" view is that it neglects the impact of time. Per-annum rates of carbon release in pre-industrial times may have been smaller by an average factor of 10 or even considerably more, but the cumulative emissions could still have been enormous because of the much longer interval of time over which they operated.

The pre-industrial "tortoise" (starting very early, even though at a slow rate) can cumulatively outdo the industrial "hare" (faster rates, but starting much later) by a factor of two:

7800 years × 0.04 GigaTon of C per yr average = 320 GtC cumulative total
200 years × 0.8 GigaTon C per yr average = 160 GtC cumulative total.

This all sounds so plausible, simple and fits the facts without distortion it is quite compelling.

So, who'd have thought, all those people for the "romantic" notions of keeping the land as it is, trying to disturb minimally and live in "harmony" may have just made sense.

The bottom line of this article to me is:
  • human activity is a significant contributing factor to our present changes
  • its not just what we are doing now, its what we've been doing for ages
  • that we are doing it more and faster just has to stop

but as a friend of mine says ... the entire system is self correcting. The correction however means that we just may make the place very ugly by our standards and it may not support humans anymore.

We need to move beyond stupid carbon trading schemes, pull ourselves out or our past and move forward with modern solutions.

Our ancestors burnt wood because it was all they had ... we now have:
  • energy from solar (space based solar stations are an attractive solution)
  • more efficient methods (even if they are using more energy in total its often less per person)

so what's holding us back? Is it politics, economics or just ignorance?

Post Scriptum

I thought I would mention here after the brief comments made below that I am neither a believer or a non-believer. I try as I can to understand the issues at hand with an eye to the rational. I can say for sure that I do not like the many changes which we humans are clearly to blame for such as:
  • clearing (try this Australian Government link)
  • soil salinity
  • urban sprawl destroying the already reducing habitat of animals such as Koala
  • destruction of ecosystems due to excessive waterway adaptations
I certainly bemoan the lack of science in what often embarrassingly passes for Environmental Science. Hopefully this young discipline will manage to pass to a more mature phase in the future.

Maybe everyone wants to live in places like this:



but myself, I prefer to live in places where I can live like this

and do stuff like this:


and go spend time in places like this


Sunday, 15 November 2009

tonemapping raw tutorial for the lazy photographer

since I've talked about this to a few people and spent some time describing it I thought I'd put it here so I can refer to it from now on ... and maybe if anyone finds it in google it may be useful to them.

Ok, first this is the JPG that came from the camera ... something really challenging with lighting extremes.


loading the RAW into Photomatix I select (more or less) what I think makes a good 'starting point' of an overly flat image with low strength and very long gamma ... note the settings.


I save this as a TIFF and then load it into photoshop


where I apply "local area contrast" which is essentially unsharp mask:
about 15% ~ 25%
about 50 ~ 70 pixels radius


to this I then give a quick curve tweak giving the final item:


Did you notice the extra colour detail in the scroll work on the left hand side?

I might drop the saturation a wee bit .. but hey, that's up to taste. There may be of course ways of doing this in photoshop with some masks and whatnot, but this all takes a few clicks and can be automated for "batches" of images which are "all contrasty" or whatever.

micro 4/3 OM adaptors

I thought I would write this review on micro 4/3 to lecacy lens adaptors to being up an issue which seems to be ignored in the literature at present ... that of mount construction. Much is written and discussed in forums about the issue of Infinity Focus, and that can be an issue on some badly designed adaptors (so far I have only heard of significant problems on adaptors for Leica M mounts).

Back a few months ago there was only a few options for adaptors for OM lenses (this is before Olympus brought out their E-P1 camera and OM adaptor) Essentially at that time there was only the adaptor by a fellow in Polland who sells on eBay under the name Ciecio7. Another seller jinfinance who sells the RJ Camera adaptor had some other mounts but if you wanted OM you had to buy a set which was a base micro 4/3 to 4/3 adaptor and then add onto that an adaptor from 4/3 to your mount. This meant you needed to sandwich 2 adaptors between lens and camera which I felt would be 'shakey'

I bought the Ciecio7 adaptor. At that time I wrote this review, and identified a few minor issues with the adaptor.

So, now that I have the RJ camera adaptor (and used it for some time) I thought I would make a quick comparison.

Personally I would like very much to see what he has done with development of this mount but i tseems he no longer sells it. So this review is perhaps better focused on only the RJ Camera adaptor.

Clearly the first thing which one observes is that the RJ Camera adaptor is bulk made and the Ciecio7 one hand made. If you have been involved with engineering much you'll noitce that some detail things just can't be done effectively unless doing stuff in bulk and using computer lathes with complex layups.

That's interesting as the RJ Camera adaptor is more expensive than the Ciecio7 one despite the amount of hand work done on the Ceicio7 one.


Now, its important to remember that an adaptor is just a simple bit of tube designed to:
  • hold the older legacy lens at a distance further away than the mount on the camera would do
  • have a physical design to match the shapes of the legacy system at one end, and the micro 4/3 on the other end.
there can be no electronic couplings as the vast majority of these lenses were not electronic anyway!

Now, most cameras have a little spring to add tension to the mount like this:

this allows some tolerance in the small gap you'll see in the back of the lens mount system and pull it snugly onto the mount.

Just how this is solved is an important part of the system. RJ camera solves this by a cunningly placed precision slice being made in the metal and then it butterflied out.


Notice that little slice in the metal up there? Seems this is a common 'strategy' in China, as an OM to EOS mount I have:


uses a similar strategy.


The strategy employed by Ciecio7 is rather different, he makes a nick in the flange and bends the entire flange down as can be seen here.


He has said to me that he used an extension tube (I thought Vivitar) as his template, and looking at my OM mount Vivitar extension tube set I see exactly the same strategy.


When I first got the Ciecio7 adaptor it had a bend similar to the Vivitar above ...

but yet was so damn tight I could barely move the lens on and off the mount. I've used OM cameras and lenses for many many years ... so this is not simply a case of me not being used to them. In the photo above I had removed the chrome plate from the adaptor and sat it on an up-side-down lens on the mount so I could see carefully the amount of spring tension the bent bit was applying.

I carefully 'polished down' this surface to make the effective tension less...

This worked wonders and with my hand finishing of the hand made adaptor mentioned in the article above the Ciecio7 adaptor worked beautifully.

However the RJ adaptor despite looking nice has some small issues as well, it barely has any tension on the mounted lens. Despite having a similar cunning strategy

Look carefully at the amount of space in the splits:

The lower portion of the image is the adaptor for mounting OM onto EOS cameras. From this image you can see you can see that the gap (which is hand made by inserting a tool into the slit and bending it wider) is larger on the lower one. This makes the "fit" of the OM lens on this adaptor much nicer than that on the other one.


essentially none of the OM adaptors I have are as good as the system which the OM cameras have natively. I don't know if either of the two methods is "superior" as clearly the Vivitar (system used by Ciecio7) has worked when Vivitar made it, but the issues found with that adaptor demonstrate how there must be issues of manufacture with that method (perhaps materials).

The RJ Camera adaptor is not without fault either, and again the requirement of hand tensioning that gap in the butterflying of the mount metal is crucial ...

Essentially both require a little bit of accomodation and understanding in the users. I think this is actually quite a reasonable expectation, as these things should by nature be appealing to the enthusiast and those who have "some" compentency with their hands.

If reading this has put you off buying one of these adaptors, then perhaps look to the Olympus made one, or the Rayqual one ... both of which are much more expensive but may have better quality (I don't know as I don't have one).

fifties - FD 1.4 compared to OM 1.8

Fifties are nice lenses on micro 4/3. I have a few (as you may know from reading my blog) , for instance the OM 50 f1.8 Its beautiful not only in image quality but in build. Its compact mechanically elegant and a pleasure to use.

Being curious I spent a few bucks and bought an FD 50mm f1.4 to compare to my OM 50mm f1.8 (which I bought after seeing how lousy the FD 1.8 I have is ..)

Essentially I find the FD 1.4 is equal to the OM 1.8 in terms of quality ... both wide open. However the FD has some advantage in reduced DoF. Firslty here is an overview of the image ...

I guess the leaves in focus are about 10 or 20 feet away. Below is a couple of central image segments to get a feel, these link to 100% pixel samples and are about a central portion of the image.

FD 50mm @ f1.4

OM 50 f1.8

notice the difference on the bark?

I don't know if the 1.4 vs 1.8 makes much difference in portraiture or other uses, if it makes things better or worse but I don't expect it'll be hard to stop it down if 1.4 is too shallow for an application ;-)

I ponder if I'll sell either ... but as they only cost me $50 and $12 its hard to see the point. Besides I use the OM lens on my Canon EOS body when I use film.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

The Death Ray

some time ago we bought a cheap microwave oven, something in the less than $100 range.

I'm used to microwave ovens destroying food when trying to defrost frozen things. You know, the usual problems like:

* set to high when you meant defrost
* the thin bits being cooked when the thick bits are still frozen

stuff like that.

But this oven is like some cross breed between a narrow beam communications device and a military weapon.

Seriously, I'm not exaggerating!

I have been restricting its use to only liquids where convection of the liquids will even things out.

Well today my wife tried to melt some butter in the reactor ... and well ... this is what happened.

She heard "something funny" and looked in to see eruptions of molten butter being ejected out from the core of the 500g slab of butter and splashing over the interior of the micro wave ROOF.

For Gods sake the thing was set on its lowest setting!

Now ... I know that a microwave works by heating the water, as the energy beam penetrates the item the water absorbs it and it eventually looses enough of its strength that it no longer heats stuff. Since the exterior can cool by loosing the heat in a few ways, the stuff inside is effectively insulated by the food around and get hotter. This leads to the view that microwaves heat from the inside.

Which isn't strictly true ... but in this case you can see that heat ray has heated the core really fast and not only liquefied it, but started to boil it. The small amount of steam pressure popped back the small dome like a trap door and then molten butter began to boil up out of slab of butter, propelled 10cm high to splatter off the roof of the microwave oven by the steam pressure.

So I have dubbed our "reactor" the death ray like the savage unearthly heat ray used by the Martians in
War of the Worlds

It has regularly drilled holes in my chicken fillets and you should see the crater it leaves in a bowl of oats if "cooked" in the microwave!