Units will set me free.

How to be 95% sure your physics/chemistry/science homework is correct? Check your units.

My friend Jamie Gladhart posted this to Facebook and it’s definitely worth a share here:


You’ll have to click on the image to see it in full resolution. If you get the joke, then you are a good person. If not, then I hate to say that you’re missing out on a very good science joke.

I post this because I’ve been asked by several friends (and even colleagues!) about doing the math of science problems. Here’s what I say to them, and repeat after me: Units and Dimensional Analysis will set me free.

If you want to be about 90-95% sure that the math you have done is right, check your units. If your units in your problem make sense, then you’ve most likely done the math right. If they don’t, then check your work and your logic.

Units will set you free.

Veterans’ Day 2012

Veterans Day 2012

While tomorrow may be a day off from work, it’s a day filled with observation, commemoration, and gratitude for friends, family, and all who have served, are serving, or are yet to serve in our country’s armed forces. We are eternally grateful for your service and sacrifice every day, even if it’s just more acute on this day.

Her Secret is Patience

A picture of Her Secret is Patience, the public art piece in downtown Phoenix.

I think it goes without saying that my all-time favorite piece of public art hangs right here in downtown Phoenix. It’s Her Secret is Patience, created by the artist Janet Echelman, for the Downtown Phoenix Civic Space Park.

Photo of the Day, 19 Oct 2012

It, like most things in downtown Phoenix, photographs better at night than during the day.

What’s OUR Apollo moment today?

What is our Apollo moment today? What can we accomplish before THIS decade is out?

Forty-three years ago, humanity set its first feet on a foreign celestial body. Or, in other words, 43 years ago, we landed on the Moon.

New York Times, 21 July 1969

Forty-three years ago today, Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., set humanity’s first foot on the moon. It came from an audacious dream in 1961 from the then-President, John F. Kennedy, and it was achieved “before this decade is out.”

What is our Apollo moment today? What one goal can we as Americans — nay, as humanity unified — achieve before this decade is out? Do we choose to eradicate poverty and hunger? Or pledge to ourselves that war will be no more? Do we challenge ourselves to stop our influence on global warming?

If we don’t dream audaciously, then humanity’s future is bleak. Here’s to exploring further, digging deeper, and dreaming like we’ve never dreamed before.

Rendering the word “sustainable” useless

The webcomic xkcd has this interesting diagram showing that the word “sustainable” is unsustainable.

That is not a sustainable strategy because sustainable sustainable sustainable sustainable.

For what it’s worth: the webcomic xkcd has created a diagram rendering the term “sustainable” as unsustainable. It’s an interesting chart but one that I’m sure merits little attention.

Unfortunately, there’s a bill in the Arizona state legislature (SB 1507) that would make sustainability illegal in the state of Arizona, including its cities. My friend Stacey Champion has been leading the fight to stop this very bad bill from making its way through the Capitol. At her blog (phxosophical.blogspot.com; guidance: language), you can find information on this bill, including a petition signed by many of us to stop it.

We’ll see what happens…

Failure to Launch: Downtown Phoenix edition

Downtown Phoenix still isn’t ready to take off. Parking lots for cars — the enemy of density — is still a priority. Grr.

In the midst of re-doing my blog, I’ve gone through and looked at some old posts of mine. (Unfortunately, I’ve lost almost everything I’ve written before 2011, which happens to be a lot of content. But that’s okay, I guess.) Anyway, one of those posts was my year-end retrospective post I wrote before the New Year 2011, in which I said:

We’ve learned that downtown Phoenix just isn’t ready to take off…yet. We’ve seen steps forward and backward with CityScape. Even with light rail access, parking spaces are still important to downtown Phoenix planners, as evident with the demolition of the Sahara/Ramada Inn for a parking lot (even with better alternatives) and an extension of a parking lot’s life in the heart of the urban core. [from here, written 27 December 2010]

Keep in mind that this building at 2200 N Central Avenue is less than a block away from the Encanto / Heard Museum METRO light rail station. But no, we have to consider car parking. If we have to consider that “abundant parking” is a key feature for anything in central Phoenix, then what we have here is a failure to launch.


Doctrina Urbi Serviat?

…in which we read into a building plaque at ASU Downtown more than we probably should.

One of the things that I do is take pictures of building plaques. They’re the little things that are inside city/state/federal buildings that gives a snapshot of the relevant legislative bodies and executive officers at the time of the building’s construction.

Much has been made about the recent decision by the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus to close off the buildings to the public. There’s a lot of confusion over ASU’s justification to do that considering that the buildings aren’t ASU buildings but are, in fact, City of Phoenix buildings. It will be interesting to see how that conversation plays out and I am very curious what ASU has to say about this.

But back to building plaques: One of the more subtle ironies in this whole discussion is this plaque that’s inside the Cronkite School building. It has the usual cast of characters on it: the Mayor, the City Council, other city leaders, and the requisite names from the Arizona Department of Education and the Arizona Board of Regents. There are, however, two other inscriptions that accentuate the irony just that much more:

“Dedicated to the people of the City of Phoenix whose vision, trust and commitment made this campus possible.”


Let Knowledge Serve the City

I couldn’t help but notice this as we all considered the repercussions and impact of a newly closed campus at ASU Downtown.

Spring Cleaning


It was time to do a little Spring Cleaning on the blog and I’ve re-launched the blog. Happy February!

There are a few new features on the latest version of edwardjensen.net that you should know. First, page organization is handled a little differently. I’m beginning to focus on three key areas: bicycling, downtown Phoenix, and technology. Those key areas are in the header bar above. You can also find my current biography (under biography) and the latest posts (under blog).

Over on the right-hand side are other links to other resources that I’ve found useful online and to my various profiles on various networks. Find and follow me there.

There might be a few hiccups along the way. In exchange for that, I’m going to be introducing some new features. Bear with me…and we’ll all win.

My new bicycle!

…in which I share the good news: I have a new bicycle!

I decided to get a bicycle! It’s a 1980’s Kabuki bicycle made by the same people that make Bridgestone tires. The crew at The Bicycle Cellar in downtown Tempe meticulously refurbished this cycle with new cables, new brakes, new accessories, and an extended seatpost and handlebars. It’s an absolute thrill to ride!

Over the coming weeks, months, and hopefully years, part of this blog will be dedicated to my adventure with cycling in downtown Phoenix. I’ll write down my hints that I’ve learned as a new cyclist, share advice I’ve learned from others, review some interesting technology, rant about the Phoenix metropolitan area’s bicycle infrastructure, and share some miscellaneous ephemera.

With that, I invite you to join me on this ride. Getting to our destination doesn’t have to be solely about arriving. It’s about the journey. Put the helmet on, pack up, and let’s get moving!