January 16, 2006

celestial (half) sphere

for christmas, jenn, among some other things, made me a bowl.

the amount of time and effort she must have put into this boggles my mind. boggles it.

first of all, let me say that this explains a lot of puzzling behavior throughout december. there were these questions she kept asking me that seemed to come out of nowhere at the time, like "what are your favorite equations?" and when i told her, although she had no idea what they were, she seemed quite satisfied with my answers (and didn't want me to explain them at all!). she did the same thing with some other aspects of the bowl. let's continue our tour:

this is the inside. she copied out like a million decimal places of π, this definitely deserves a gold star.

as does this likeness of my pets, staring back at me when i finish eating.

the magnetic part of the feynman-heaviside formulae, (the electric part was on the first picture), an obscure but useful formulation of the fields generated by the motion of a single point charge--something you really never worry about, but certainly a result that feels fundamental, even if it looks like a mess.

this is the sackur-tetrode equation. it gives you the entropy of something. the total entropy. none of this change-in-entropy nonsense. the actual entropy--as in, "the entropy in this bowl of potato salad is nine." it isn't the most useful thing we learned about in statmech.

and the bottom features this inspired constellation map. "hey you, what direction is eridanus in this time of year?" "just give me a second to finish my lucky charms™ and i'll tell you"

all in all, one of the most thoughtful gifts anyone has ever gotten me. certainly at least as thoughtful as this phrenology head she got for me last year after remembering an off-handed remark i had uttered months earlier.