Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gyroscopic Platform in Microgravity

Scientists aboard ISS create a third hand using three cd players duck-taped together.  Engineering brilliance in the geekiest form:

Monday, July 30, 2012

Perfect Numbers

A perfect number is defined to be one which is equal to the sum of its aliquot parts.  The four perfect numbers 6, 28, 496 and 8128 seem to have been known from ancient times and there is no record of these discoveries.
6 = 1 + 2 + 3,
28 = 1 + 2 + 4 + 7 + 14,
496 = 1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 31 + 62 + 124 + 248
8128 = 1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 32 + 64 + 127 + 254 + 508 + 1016 + 2032 + 4064
Today 46 perfect numbers are known, 288(289- 1) being the last to be discovered by hand calculations in 1911 (although not the largest found by hand calculations), all others being found using a computer.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ecstatic Shock

ecstatic shock
n. the surge of energy upon catching a glance from someone you like -- a thrill that starts in your stomach, arcs up through your lungs and flashes into a spontaneous smile -- which scrambles your ungrounded circuits and tempts you to chase that feeling with a kite and a key.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

* Eating Fire At Cloud Ship

My evening at Yun Chuan Garden Restaurant tasting their incredibly authentic Szechuan cuisine was very ... um ... flamalicious!  One of the items on the menu was "Spicy w/ Spicy" with three red peppers next to it - just looking at the menu was tear-jerking.  Every single dish is so tasty and so spicy, you almost feel like you are being punished for having discovered the secret garden of amazing food.

Inquiring about their name from a Chinese coworker, I learned that Yun Chuan is a combination of two characters: Yun  (Yun-Nan province - 雲南省) and Chuan 川 (Si-Chuan province – 四川省) in southwestern China.  I also looked up phonetic translations for those two characters and that is how I came up with "cloud" and "ship" in the title.

I must say, I normally do not enjoy extremely spicy hot food when I cannot taste the food itself anymore, and every inhalation becomes a reason for tears and irritation in my throat.  However, the hotness of this Far-Eastern feast was perfectly balanced by the exquisite and wonderfully sweet conversations that circulated around the table, thanks to the brilliant group of people that shared the evening with me.  谢谢 Xièxiè* G, M, M, and S!  :)

Just one last thing:  Make sure to ask for extra napkins to wipe off sweat, you will need lots of them!

*Xièxiè :  "Thank you" in Mandarin Chinese according to Google Translator.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Le Ossa Della Gioconda

Forensic sciences and technologies will hopefully shed light on the mystery of Da Vinci's Mona Lisa after they reconstruct the face of the skeleton recently found in the Convent of St. Orsola in Florence, Italy.  There is very little doubt that Lisa Gheradini was the model for the world famous painting, and expectations are high that this skull used to wear Mona Lisa's face:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hostels With Former Lives

If you are not into how fancy the room you are staying at is as long as it is clean, and more interested in the city you are visiting, hostels are great places to stay for much less cost.  I love staying at hostels that are converted from buildings that used to have other functions in their former lives.  Once I stayed at a hostel in the Austrian Alps that was a small castle.  Sleeping at the top of the tower made it worthwhile to share the room with 15 other people!  This September, I will be staying at yet another hostel that was converted from a lighthouse.  So when I found out about this list of "10 hip hostels around the world", I decided to make sure to stay at them if I visit those cities during my future travels!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sex And Punishment

Since you are reading this post, either you are not offended by the topic or you are offended but still curiosity got the better of you.  This is not a post about a dominatrix story.  If that is why you are here, then I would recommend watching the BBC series "Sherlock", season 2, episode 1 "A Scandal In Belgravia" for a tasteful dominatrix tale.

This post is about a new book I am reading, and liking very much, called "Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire" by Eric Berkowitz.  This is a very interesting book on how different cultures, governments, religions, individuals judge how this basic human desire is/has been practiced  throughout history.  How one culture's leisure activity becomes another's crime just by crossing over  borders.  Highly recommended to the curious (and open) mind.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Incessant Visions

Today I learned about Erich Mendelsohn, an amazing architect that took inspiration from everything around him.  He would go and stand at the site of the building he was going to design for ages before he even sat at a drafting table.  The curves, the clean lines, the openness of his style move me immensely.

Incessant Visions is a documentary film by Duki Dror about this architect's untold life story.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

PCB Art For Nerds

These works of art created by Steven Rodrig using PCBs and electronic components really speak to the geek in me!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012

Be Seduced A Little Everyday

"Going out there and letting yourself fall in love a little bit everyday.  Letting yourself be seduced a little everyday."  This is how blogger / fashion photographer Scott Schumann describes his everyday ventures into a visual life.  His blog The Sartorialist attracts tens of thousands of readers from around the world and for good reason.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Shakespeare’s Iambic Pentameter

The mathematics of Shakespeare's poetry revealed through the example of his Sonnet 18:


Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? 
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date: 
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd; 
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest: 
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Lost in Sofa

I am not sure if this creatively designed sofa by Daisuke Motogi, is the best or the worst thing!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


hypethral \hi-PEE-thruhl\  , adjective:
(Of a classical building) wholly or partly open to the sky.

Hypethral stems from the Greek roots hyp- which means "under" and aîthros meaning "clear sky."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dave Gahan Soulsavers

The outcome of Depeche Mode's very own Dave Gahan's collaboration with Soulsavers is brilliant.  Here's the official video clip for Take Me Back Home from the album The Light The Dead See.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

One Scoop Of Vacation, Please!

I just came back from a brunch at an Organic Vegan Bistro on Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park, and my taste buds are still aglow with the unexpected richness of their unique cuisine.  Now I have an overwhelming desire to try every item on their menu!

The place is called SAGE and looks more like an old style ice-cream parlor from the outside, but once you taste their food, you are destined to be hooked!  Whether you are a carnivore, vegetarian, or vegan, make sure you try their food if you are in L.A.

They also serve KindKreme, and they have flavors with lovely names.  The flavor I tried was called Vacation.  It lifts your spirits when you ask for "a scoop of vacation" and makes everybody smile! :)

Bon Apetit!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

* Perfect Day To Touch Clouds

Today I lived the indescribable exhilaration of flying in a glider!

First a NOTE to my dear MUM and DAD:  I apologize for not telling you about this sooner for I did not want your gentle hearts to do backflips and worry about me.  This flight took place at a very reputable flight academy, and the glider was flown by a licensed pilot the entire time (almost).  I am alive and well, and yes I will do this again!  :)

Now on to my big adventure:

I took flight in a Schleicher ASK 21 glider today, and did not want to come back down.  In my opinion, everyone who enjoys flying should do this at least once in their lifetime, provided that they have a strong stomach, and a strong heart!

I was very lucky to have this entire flight facilitated, piloted, and filmed by the 4-time Emmy winner Director/Cinematographer Geoff Schaaf!  Unfortunately, I do not have that footage yet but I will post it on this blog as soon as I have a copy, and learn to edit it on iMovie.  So for now, you will have to do with my amateur photography on my iPhone.

The basic principle in flying a glider is utilizing rising hot air that is usually found under cumulus clouds for lift, and then glide using controls identical to a motor-airplane.  Here's how lift and glide works:

These are the cumulus clouds that we used for our lifts:

Here is a footage of takeoff:

The towing plane pulls the glider until a good altitude is reached preferably under a cumulus cloud.  Our glider was towed to 7,000 ft.:

After the cord is released, you start circling under the cloud to climb up, until you literally touch the bottom of the cloud.  In our case, this was 12,000 ft.:

Then the best part starts - gliding!  I do not have words to describe how incredibly beautiful it is to soar like a wild bird without the constant engine noise.  Granted, it was not absolute quiet due to the air flow through the little window opening - that is until I learned how to stall the plane, and actually did it!  This can be a little scary for at the moment of stalling, the plane comes to a complete halt, and the noise of air flow subsides!  For me, that one moment of silent suspension in air was the climax of the entire experience!

After the 4th lift, we glided back to the airfield and landed:

The entire flight took 77 minutes, and standing on the ground after touchdown felt very unsatisfying.  This was by far one of the most amazing days of my life.  

I touched the clouds today, and I intend to do it again!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mathematical Oneness

The Collatz conjecture is a conjecture in mathematics named after Lothar Collatz, who first proposed it in 1937.  The conjecture is also known as the 3n + 1 conjecture, the Ulam conjecture (after Stanisław Ulam), Kakutani's problem (after Shizuo Kakutani), the Thwaites conjecture (after Sir Bryan Thwaites), Hasse's algorithm (after Helmut Hasse), or the Syracuse problem;  the sequence of numbers involved is referred to as the hailstone sequence or hailstone numbers, or as wondrous numbers.

Take any natural number n. If n is even, divide it by 2 to get n / 2.  If n is odd, multiply it by 3 and add 1 to obtain 3n + 1.  Repeat the process (which has been called "Half Or Triple Plus One", or HOTPO) indefinitely.  The conjecture is that no matter what number you start with, you will always eventually reach 1.  The property has also been called ONENESS.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mirror Of The World

To the south of the desert plains of Altiplano, Bolivia at an altitude of 3,650 m above sea level, lies a dried-up salt lake Salar de Uyuni.  Its area is ​​10,582 km ², this is the largest salt marsh in the world.  In the rainy season is covered with a thin layer of saline water and turns into a huge mirror.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Incubate Like An Egyptian

At around 3,000 years ago, the early Egyptian incubators consisted of a large mud brick building with a series of small rooms (ovens) located at each side of a central passageway.  In the upper part of these “small incubation rooms”, there were shelves for burning straw, camel manure, or charcoal in order to provide radiant heat to the eggs below.  Vents were located in the roof of these cambers, and they allowed smoke, and fumes from the fires to escape and also provided some light.  The entrance to each incubator room from the passageway was through a small manhole. 
Thousands of eggs were placed on the floor of each incubator room, and they were turned twice a day.  Temperature control was achieved by controlling the strength of the fire, the opening of the manholes, and by regular openings of vents in the roof of the ovens and passageway.  Humidity was controlled by spreading moist jute over the eggs when necessary.  
In this rudimentary incubation system, the temperature, humidity, and ventilation were checked and controlled without using measuring devices like thermometers.  It was done by having the hatchery manager and the hatchery workers actually living inside of the building.  By living there, they would soon learn to judge the humidity, temperature, and air freshness using their own feelings, and their sense of touch.  In other words, they were able to detect any deviation from the standard.  It is  recorded, for example, that they used to test the temperature of the eggs by holding them against their eye lids (the most sensitive part of the body) for judging temperature.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012

Antikythera Mechanism

In 1901, a group of divers excavating an ancient Roman shipwreck near the island of Antikythera, off the southern coast of Greece, found a mysterious object - a lump of calcified stone that contained within it several gearwheels welded together after years under the sea.  The 2,000-year-old object, no bigger than a modern laptop, is now regarded as the world's oldest computer, devised to predict solar eclipses and, according to recent findings, calculate the timing of the ancient Olympics. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012


6174 is known as Kaprekar's constant after the Indian mathematician D. R. Kaprekar.  This number is notable for the following property:
  1. Take any four-digit number, using at least two different digits. (Leading zeros are allowed.)
  2. Arrange the digits in ascending and then in descending order to get two four-digit numbers, adding leading zeros if necessary.
  3. Subtract the smaller number from the bigger number.
  4. Go back to step 2.
The above process, known as Kaprekar's routine, will always reach its fixed point, 6174, in at most 7 iterations.  Once 6174 is reached, the process will continue yielding 7641 – 1467 = 6174.  For example, choose 3524:
5432 – 2345 = 3087
8730 – 0378 = 8352
8532 – 2358 = 6174
The only four-digit numbers for which Kaprekar's routine does not reach 6174 are repdigits such as 1111, which give the result 0 after a single iteration.  All other four-digit numbers eventually reach 6174 if leading zeros are used to keep the number of digits at 4.

495 is the equivalent constant for three-digit numbers.  For five-digit numbers and above, there is no single equivalent constant.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Everyone Has A Philtrum

Amazing how a face takes shape and the philtrum forms during embryonic development.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Night Enters Day Like A Thief

Today I fell in love with the beautiful poetry of P.K. Page...


P.K. Page

What is this love that is my life's companion?
Shape-changer, sometimes faceless, this companion.

Single traveller, I wander a wasting world
awaiting the much anticipated Companion.

A trillium covered wood one April day
served as a nearly consummate companion.

A horse, two dogs, some cats, a blue macaw
each in its turn became a loyal companion.

Behind the loved embrace, a face of light-
demon or angel-lures me from my companion.

The street of love is neither wide nor narrow.
Its width depends on me and my companion.

Am I too bound and blinded by coarse wrappings
ever to know true love as my companion?

O Poet, squanderer of time and talents
why do you search for love as your Companion?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Quantum Magic of Higgs Boson

In the Standard Model of particle physics, the Higgs Boson is a hypothetical elementary particle. According to the standard model, the Higgs boson and the associated Higgs field explain the origin of mass of elementary particles.  The Higgs boson is named after British physicist Peter Higgs, who along with others, proposed the theoretical model that predicted such a particle in 1964.

In particle physics, an elementary particle is a particle not known to have substructure, thus it is not known to be made up of smaller particles.  If an elementary particle truly has no substructure, then it is one of the basic building blocks of the universe from which all other particles are made.  In the Standard Model, the elementary particles include the fundamental fermions (including quarksleptons, and their antiparticles), and the fundamental bosons.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Although I knew the concept of old documents being scraped off to reuse the pages throughout history, I did not know these were called palimpsests.  I learned this from this great article by Tim Miller on cruciality of physical objects and our interactions with them that creates stories for us to retain and how in this digital age physicality is becoming more an more important for clouds of information is destined to ultimately parish due to non-physicality.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Leonardo Da Scissors

Had no idea that Leonardo Da Vinci invented scissors!  Well, he did not exactly invent the concept of scissors but he did invent the precursor to modern scissors with the two pieces attached at a pivot point.

Monday, July 2, 2012

World's Oldest Temple?

Predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years, the formation of carved stones discovered in Göbekli Tepe is believed to be the oldest temple!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Silently Looking Up At The Sky

The sky is always new to me and I am connected to the sky by my middle name.   I love the way Joan Feynman describes how Richard showed him something magical one night: