September 30, 2007

Sunday Funnies

Not exactly new, but still good.

September 29, 2007


I think they printed up these shirts a little early.

Suck it, most other teams.

Update: Mr. Papelbon, preparing for the post-season.

September 27, 2007

Happy Kneecap Day!

Two years ago today I dislocated my knee -- a tragic event that destroyed my innocence forever. As I noted on last year's anniversary I dedicate the day to solemn remembrance, and of course, raising awareness for knee-related charities.

September 24, 2007

Microfun with micropictures

Check out these award-winning microscope pictures. This one is an "Electron mirror formed by a point charge created by electron irradiated metallic dots on a MgO substrate."

September 23, 2007

Clear Noise Delivery System

These are the speakers that those French turn-of-the-century people would have imagined. I've never understood those guys who are obsessed with stereo equipment, spending thousands of dollars for, as far as I can tell, negligible improvements in sound. However, I can certainly see why you might want to drop £9950 on these clear acrylic noise delivery systems. Especially since I have no clue how much £9950 is.

I wonder if you could see anything if you put smoke in the horn...


Waking from the (Sudoku) Nightmare

Remember that hideously difficult particle physics sudoku puzzle from a month ago? Symmetry posted solutions to it this month. Too bad they didn't do that before I wasted 6 hours on it...

September 21, 2007

Providence is Not Expanding Either

I have resisted ripping off Cosmic Variance for as long as possible. Someone put the 'Brooklyn isn't expanding' bit from Annie Hall up on YouTube. Ah, the cosmological knowledge of Woody Allen.

September 20, 2007

The Purpose of the WWW

The NY Times just made its archives freely available. I'm deliberately avoiding this massive time-sink, but one article deserves, nay, demands, mention. The earliest article mentioning the existence of the 'World Wide Web,' (1993). Notable not for its hilariously outdated internet terminology, or its reminder that Al Gore took the initiative in creating the internet, but rather for the singular outstanding phrase, laying out the true purpose of the web in clear, indisputable terms.

...and the World Wide Web, which makes available physicists' research from many locations.

Truer words were never written.


Intelligently Designed Bingo

Via Pharyngula, a fun way to pass the time if you ever find yourself subjected to creationist arguments. You win when you hear 5 in a row, vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. I can't really envision when anyone would ever find themselves truly forced* to listen to that type of insipidity, but I suppose you could randomize it to test on various articles. If you have nothing better to do with your time than read the views of people espousing ideas you find repulsive. Which you don't.

*Michael Behe came to my college once. I didn't bother with it -- it made more sense to just pretend that my supposedly respectable institution wasn't actually hosting a talk by such an ignominious fraud.

September 19, 2007

Stationary Banana On Texas

The Geostationary Banana Over Texas project seems to be moving forward. If you are not familiar with this website, it purports to explain an artist installation in a rather unusual location: hovering over the largest continental state. Apparently they want to build a huge banana-shaped floating banana and float it over the republic of Texas. They state that

The Geostationary Banana Over Texas is an art intervention that involves placing a gigantic banana over the Texas sky. This object will float between the high atmosphere and Earth's low-orbit, being visible only from the state of Texas and its surroundings. From the ground the banana will be clearly recognizable and visible day and night; it will stay up for approximately one month.

Of course, nothing about this makes much sense, the banana would not be visible from that height, and it certainly wouldn't be visible from everywhere in the state. It also wouldn't remain frozen in the sky, winds would blow it out of the state in a few days at most, and there is no way that they could float it as high as they say they would. I do enjoy the bit about using gyroscopes at each end of the fruit to maintain a particular orientation, though given everything else they've said about the GBOT I don't think the gyroscopes they would want to use are anywhere near light enough. Not to mention the fruit flies! Either they're loopy artists who can't figure out how to figure out whether of the stuff they are proposing is possible, or they just assume that the people reading their website can. Other than the obvious, who this website is intended to fool, mainly? People who don't know better? Artists? Probably Texans actually, but why a banana? Is this a subtle way of suggesting that they aren't getting enough fruit in their diet?

They recently stepped up their campaign with a slick-looking video interview of some Mexican artist. I have to admit, seeing it in that format sure makes me wish it were real. And if nothing else, the artists reasons on the main website's "Concept" page would be enough to convince you that these are your standard loopy modern artists.

It is banal.
It is Visual.
It is a fiction. It is live 3D. It is surreal.
It is dream-like.
In the land of dreamers and the ones with faith.
A banana appearing in the Texas sky might seem like a 'message.'
As a signal.

It is in Texas because it has oil,
and a lot of Walmarts, Exxons,
and Haliburtons. (and The Ranch)

It is a buffoon act, trying to
Texan dominant Aerospace,
and all the Gun Clubs.

Amazingly, the wikipedia article doesn't even cast suspicion of hoaxiness, nor is there yet a Snopes page dealing with the banana's claims.

September 17, 2007

In the Year 2000

This set of French drawings from 1910 depicts life as they imagined it in what is now our modern age. It is pretty standard stuff, levitating trains, interesting architectural technology, etc. I think it is notable however for the invention depicted above, which is excellent on several levels. Not simply the fact that the children are learning through helmet-like devices, (which is something I think most of us have all imagined at some point), but that this is achieved by feeding piles of books into some type of grinder, which is sophisticated enough to transmit reams of knowledge from ground up books through electricity, but not advanced enough to digest them automatically. And the topper is that the machine is powered by some poor child who is unworthy of education, but instead must toil away while his peers effortlessly master calculus, biology and the works of Shakespeare.

September 13, 2007

While they were doing this an orphanage burned down

A demonstration every freshman physics class should repeat-- lifting up a car with firemen's hoses. I love the eerie way that it adjusts its position, and the tentacle-look of the hoses.


September 9, 2007

SkyMall II

I'd love to be a fly on the wall at a SkyMall board meeting. "OK, so I've got an idea for how we can justify charging $80 for a TV remote holster..."

Who knows why they think the most receptive crowd for their overpriced lawn furniture and non-existent-problem solutions are cranky travelers, but they're always coming out with new products so there must be something to it.

Nuclear Globe, $274.99

Welcome to a brave new world of water fun! Step into your private 6-foot inflatable sphere and spin your way across the water. Purchase two globes and stage a "nuclear face-off" as you bump and bounce off your opponent. Inset cups on the outer surface function as paddles as you maneuver within the globe. (Weight limit 170 lbs.)

Purchase our death ball now and you'll also receive half off on our SkyMall-brand talking LED tombstone! Seriously though, is there anything I want to do more than purchase two of these to stage a 'nuclear face off'? Cool off with poorly-formed Cold War references!

Motorized Snack Float, $49.99

Radio controlled snack float brings food and drinks to you!

No need to paddle around or get out of the water for a cold drink or snack -- make 'em come to you! Motorized tip-proof float operates by remote control -- just press a button and it zips right to you. Great for parties.

Holds 5 cans and a snack bowl.
Requires 6 D batteries (not included).

This could be the standard-bearer for the SkyMall franchise. Do you think you could use it in combination with the Nuclear Globe™?

Personalized Branding Iron, $89.95-99.95

This is exactly what it looks like. Impress you friends! With your initials in meat!

Charger Valet, $75.00
This handsome wood cabinet charges them as it conceals their power adapters. Keeps all your devices charged and ready for action -- and eliminates cable clutter. Includes six-outlet internal power strip and straps for cable management.

The charger valet is notable for its price. It doesn't seem like a useless thing, and I can imagine that it must be convenient if you really are finding yourself frequently tangled in cords, and yet, there are so many better ways of dealing with this. Like just being better organized. Furthermore, I can't imagine the the person who has fortune enough to blow $75 on completely irrelevant items, yet also finds themself overwhelmed by plugs.

September 6, 2007


I've been settling into my "new" school and city. And in honor of the commencement of studies at Brown here's a clip of the world's largest tetris game, played on the science library by what I can only assume to be a crack team of sad loners from the engineering dept.

Seriously though, is there any better use for a library?

September 5, 2007

Where the dumb people live

Seven percent of the U.S. population reported their ancestry as American.

The number who reported American and no other ancestry increased from 12.4 million in 1990 to 20.2 million in 2000, the largest numerical growth of any group during the 1990s5. This figure represents an increase of 63 percent, as the proportion rose from 5.0 percent to 7.2 percent of the population.

5American was considered a valid ancestry response when it was the only ancestry provided by a respondent.
This is a convenient map of stupidity, provided by the U.S. Census. The "Americans" live in the off-white counties, which trace a predictable outline. Predictable if you are a contemptuous New England elitist. Apparently knowing what the word "ancestry" means is enough to make you an elitist.