Friday, August 31, 2012

Sensible Bicycle

I am an urban dweller, and I love the idea of efficient, sensible, simple bicycle designs that should occupy our streets, and not take too much space in our homes.  The 15 bicycle designs that were the best of all entries to 2010 Seoul Cycle Design Competition are appealing with their different features.   

This design - beik - with AUDI branding is my favorite:







Thursday, August 30, 2012

iShower

Now that's what I call a squeaky-clean innovation!  Le Terme is a smart shower - designed by Fei Chung Billy Ho - that can let you rule the world while listening to Chopin without leaving your shower.




Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Painting With Shadows

Light sources, piles of rubbish, suspended translucent objects are some of the tools the Azerbaijani artist Rashad Alakbarov uses to paint surfaces with sometimes colorful shadows.




Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Hundred In The Hands

Brooklyn, NY band The Hundred In The Hands has a sound that is a culmination of some of my most favorite bands like the cure, pet shop boys, blonde redhead, new order, the bird and the bee, a-ha.  Every single song on their latest album Red Night - released in June of this year - is dessert to my ears...

Here are samples from their first, self-titled album:

Pigeons:
Commotion:



Monday, August 27, 2012

Nanoelectronics Merge With Tissue Engineering

This article on "Merging Tissue With Electronics" just blew my mind.  This opens up a whole new era in biomedical engineering including in the pinpoint drug delivery by sensing events in tissues via silicon nanowires placed on tissue scaffolds.

Here's what Silicon Nanowires look like:





Sunday, August 26, 2012

Alexandria The Great

Every little girl needs to be told an "Epic Bandit Story" with americana exotico butterflies, great wall of china, twirling dervishes, taj mahal, box of favorites, eiffel tower, oranges, love, elephants, green pastures, and charles darwin in it, and no matter what happens, it MUST have a happy ending.  The 2006 movie The Fall has all of the above and more.




Saturday, August 25, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Keyboard Laundry

Keyboards are probably the dirtiest things we keep touching every single day and are impossibly hard to clean.  Logitech made the Washable Keyboard K310.  Go ahead, dunk that cup of coffee on your keyboard and add some cracker crumbs on top, then take a shower with your keyboard!


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Preciosa

I learned a new word in Spanish today.  Someone called me "preciosa", and I guessed it meant something nice but when I looked it up, I was utterly flattered!


preciosa / precioso   - adjective
1. (=valioso) precious , valuable 
2. (=hermoso) (generally) lovely , beautiful
(=primoroso) charming


This word reminded me of a Depeche Mode song for I cannot exist without music:





Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wanderwall Project List

Wonderwall is a Tokyo based company known for unique and functional interior space designs.  I must say I am more fascinated by their animated project list on their web page than the actual contents of that list.  Their website is a delight to navigate in.  I would strongly recommend checking out their screensaver preview.





Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Beirut's Lovely Vagabond

Indie rock band Beirut has a calming sound that makes you want to get up and sway to the waves of music that float in the air like the slow rising smoke from a lover's cigarette.  The voice of multi talented Zach Condon has a gramophonic quality that would make modern-day minstrels weep.  Here are three samples of their lovely music with lovely videos:

The Rip Tide:
Nantes:
Vagabond:


Monday, August 20, 2012

Malcolm Gladwell Book Generator

I laughed so hard at some of these books generated at the Malcolm Gladwell Book Generator website.  This is one of my favorites:


and this:
and this:

Just follow the link and look at them!



Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Scientist's Poetic Revenge

In the year 1984, J.W.V. Story - an Australian physicist - submitted his paper on "The Detection of Shocked CO Emission From G333.6-0.2" as a poem when he was scheduled as the last at the Annual Meeting of the Astronomical Society of Australia.  Now this is what I call creativity:

"I wrote my abstract, sent it in,
With words that don’t offend.
Imagine my horror to find that I
Am scheduled at the end.
Let me say, to be last speaker,
There are very few things worse.
And so this talk, to get revenge,
Will be entirely in verse.
The subject I address today
Is that of star formation.
And what we’ve found out recently
About the situation.
Stars start out as clouds of gas and
Dust and bits of spinning stuff.
Collapsing gravitationally
Until they’re dense enough.
They form themselves in little lumps,
(Or so says this bloke Jeans).
‘Dynamic Instabilities’
Whatever that term means.
A protostar is thus created,
Igniting nuclear fuel.
Before too long the star begins
To really lose its cool.
A massive wind begins to blow;
No one’s quite sure why.
But it’s quite clear the gas and stuff
Begins to really fly.
Well, from all this result what’s called
Protostellar outflow.
Bipolar, fast, and hot as hell —
We see it in CO.
But radio can’t tell us much;
There are but few transitions,
And cool CO’s so common, it
Confuses most positions.
So, most of what we know of this
Comes from the infrared —
That bit of spectrum in the middle
That decent people dread
Way back in 1976,
2 Micron lines were found
In Orion where, I’m sure you know,
Molecules abound.
Now everyone was most surprised,
These lines put out much power.
No one thought they’d be that strong —
Not even Neugebauer.
The lines were due to hydrogen
Molecules, and they
Don’t emit much until heated
To at least two thousand K
Well, people studied this for years,
Finding H2 everywhere.
But still these lines don’t tell you what
Density is there.
What we need’s another line:
Density dependent.
This view needs no genius
In order to defend it.
I’ve talked for several minutes now,
(I’ve half an hour to go),
I’m sure you’re most surprised I haven’t
Mentioned yet the KAO
Carbon monoxide, really hot,
Has heaps of good transitions
Depending critically upon
The density conditions.
These lines are in the far — IR,
But wait — here’s the best bit –
To see them you will need to use
The KAO, you guessed it!
In 1980, from the plane, we
Found it in Orion,
But no more CO could we find
Despite long hours of flyin’.
So models of Orion’s shock
Were looking really grand,
But it remained the only source
We claimed to understand.
We needed several other sources,
All of which we’d then compare.
But when we looked for shocked CO,
We always found it wasn’t there.
And so I searched for southern sources
Of this shocked H2,
And found it, in G333
Point six, minus, naught point two.
It’s really very, very bright
And made us all quite happy.
The data’s good, the lines are strong
(Though the slide don’t look real snappy.)
So, if we want to search again
For shocked CO, and wouldn’t you?
What better place than G333
Point six, minus, naught point two!
The problem with this new-found source,
I hardly need to warn you,
Is that it’s too far south to see
From sunny California.
And so to us the Kuiper came;
In May last year it made it.
The cost was astronomical,
But NASA mainly paid it.
Thus we made a set of flights
From Richmond Airforce Base.
One such flight is shown right here:
Our tracks’s this dotted trace.
How the instrument is made
Upon this slide is told;
It uses liquid helium
To keep all these bits cold.
Well, here’s the data — please don’t laugh,
It often looks this way.
A few times through the VAX and then
We’ll publish it as Ap J.
The line is there, I kid you not,
This dip here’s just the sky.
To see the peak you simply need
A good impartial eye.
Least-squares fitting gives a curve
From which derive the facts.
(Oh, let me thank the AAO
For lending me their VAX.)
Vlsr is fifty-three.
It’s pleasing, as you see.
The radio line velocities
More or less agree.
Intensity is really weak:
It’s two point nought by ten.
To the minus eighteenth power
(In watts per square cm.)
That’s thirty times as weak as we
Detected in Orion.
No wonder it took several years
Of concentrated tryin’
Well, as you see, I don’t yet have
Any numbers clear
For density, and things like that.
(It’s only been a year.)
But now we have not one, but two
CO sources, it is true:
Orion, and this G333
Point six, minus, naught point two.
In fact, the sources now are three
Because, again last May,
The very next flight that we did
Found CO in Sgr A.
Well, thank you all for listening
(Though some of you have slept)
I wonder now, will Dick McGee
This manuscript accept?
"


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Minimalist Histories Of The Famous

I love the works of the Milan based design studio H-57.  Of all their creations, my most favorite are the minimalist pictogram flowcharts of famous figures.

Darth Vader:

Marie Antoinette:

And Michael Jackson:


Friday, August 17, 2012

The Allegory Of The Cave

In his allegory of the cave, Plato likens people untutored in the Theory of Forms to prisoners chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads.  All they can see is the wall of the cave.  Behind them burns a fire.  Between the fire and the prisoners there is a parapet, along which puppeteers can walk. The puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall of the cave.  The prisoners are unable to see these puppets, the real objects, that pass behind them.  What the prisoners see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects that they do not see.  Such prisoners would mistake appearance for reality.  They would think the things they see on the wall (the shadows) were real; they would know nothing of the real causes of the shadows.



Plato’s point is:  the general terms of our languages are not “names” of the physical objects that we can see.  They are actually names of things that we cannot see, things that we can only grasp with the mind.  Our very ability to think and to speak depends on the Forms, for the terms of the language we use get their meaning by “naming” the Forms that the objects we perceive participate in.

We may acquire concepts by our perceptual experience of physical objects, but we would be mistaken if we thought that the concepts that we grasp were on the same level as the things we perceive.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mysterious Math

Solving 1/998001 generates all the three digit numbers from 000 to 999 in order.  Try and see if you have a calculator that will not truncate the result.





Wednesday, August 15, 2012

SSSS

SSSS is the debut album of VCMG - a band formed by acclaimed musicians Vince Clark and Martin Gore - released on March 12, 2012.  Here's is a manifestation of this brilliant duo's magnificent insanity:




Tuesday, August 14, 2012

* Father Sends Learning Wisdoms

My father shared a beautiful poem by Mevlana Jalaladdin Rumi with me and my brother today.  Mevlana was a prominent poet of Sufism whose burial site is in current day Turkey.  Mevlevi Sufis are also know as the Twirling Dervishes.



Below is my translation of this poem, so forgive me if it does not make complete sense:


I was born from an endless darkness
I saw light, got scared and cried
*
In time, I learned to live in light
I saw darkness and was afraid
Day came, I sent my loved ones to darkness
I cried
*
I learned to live
I learned that birth is when life starts ending
The time in between is stolen from death
*
I learned time
I raced with it
In time I learned, it cannot be raced
I learned to keep peace with time, in time
*
I learned people
Then I learned there are good people and bad people
Later I learned there is good and bad in each one
*
I learned to love
Then learned to trust
Then I learned trust stays longer than love
I learned trust is the strong foundation of love
*
I learned human skin
Then the spirit that lies underneath the skin
Then I learned that the spirit lies higher than the skin
*
I learned the universe
Then I learned ways to light up the universe
And later I learned to first light up what's around me to light up the universe
*
I learned bread
I learned to make bread in abundance to keep peace
Then I learned sharing bread equally is as important as making many
*
I learned to read
Later I taught myself to write
And then writings taught me myself
*
I learned to leave
Then to return because I could not stay away
Then to leave again despite myself
*
In my youth, I learned to go against the world
Then decided to walk with the masses
Then I realized the true walk should be against the masses
*
I learned to think
Then I learned to think in molded frames
Finally I learned that healthy thinking is to think thoughts that break these molds
*
At home I learned the importance of honor
Then I learned it is not honorable to expect honor from dishonorable
I learned honor is not to touch iniquity when it is within reach of your hands
*
One day I learned truth
I learned truth is bitter
Then I learned just enough bitterness adds to the taste of life just like spices in food
*
I learned every living thing will taste death
But only very few will taste life
*
I love my friends neither with my heart nor my mind
You know
Hearts stop
Minds forget
I love my friends with my soul
For it neither stops nor forgets



Monday, August 13, 2012

Wet-Plate Collodion Process

The Wet-Plate Collodion process, first introduced in 1851, involves coating an enameled metal or glass plate with a collodion mixture, which is then sensitized, exposed and processed all within a few minutes and while the plate is still wet.  The resulting image (while technically a negative) is made up of extremely fine silver particles that are creamy-white in color, which allows the image to be viewed as a positive when seen against a black background.







Sunday, August 12, 2012

Parlez-vous Burushaski?

Burushaski a language spoken in Pakistan - was recently tied to the Indo-European family line, which includes Spanish, English, German and many others.  According to the linguist who discovered the connection, Burushaski is most closely related to Phrygian – the language spoken in what is now Turkey about 3,000 years ago.  King Midas of the fabled Golden Touch was a Phrygian king in 800 BCE.  After the collapse of Phrygian rule, other kingdoms alternately ruled the land, including the Persians and Alexander the Great.  It is not inconceivable that the Phrygian people moved as far east as India.  In fact, the Burusho people claim that they are descendants of Alexander the Great.





Saturday, August 11, 2012

* I Am Therefore I Run

Today is one of those rare days that I learned once again that my personal limitations are as wide as I allow them to be.

I ran my first 5K today exactly 77 days after the first time I put on running shoes, and much like this blog, I hadn't much idea where or how far those running shoes would take me.



Almost all of my practicing was done on a treadmill where everything was controlled.  The best 5K time I've achieved on the treadmill was 42 mins. 35 secs.  Expecting the real terrain to be more difficult to navigate, my goal was to finish the race regardless of how long it would take me.  When I arrived at the 5K site this morning and started talking to seasoned runners, one person who claimed to run a 5K every weekend asked me 'why I did not choose a flat 5K for my first run'.  I heard myself say "I'm here for the challenge!", although I did not even think to look for a 'simpler' 5K when I did my google search.  The important thing for me then was to pick a race that was local, and one that would allow me enough time to feel prepared but not too far out that would lose its appeal.

Today I ran uphill, downhill, on grass, dirt, asphalt, walked a little to catch some breath here and there, passed little kids, and swallowed dust from senior runners whizzing pass by me.  I kept my inner conversation, and stride steady and did not sprint the last few yards, and to my big surprise, I completed the course in 38 mins and 06 seconds.





While preparing for this race, I learned that I had true supporters out there that applauded every one of my minuscule accomplishments, and fill me with more encouragement.  People who think about me before dawn on the day of the race and call me at 5:30am to wish me good luck! (Thank you my best friend CM.  I love you.)  (On that note, I was already awake and driving to the race track, and my car has Bluetooth so I was handsfree and safe.)

Another key is to have a good playlist that will provide the energy you need at the moments when you are ready to give up.  Here is one from mine that gave me the last push today:



And here's the other song that kept my feet moving:



In the past few years leading up to today's small victory, I have learned to make little promises to myself and most importantly learned to keep those promises.  If I fail to keep my promises to myself then I will be allowing others to not keep their promises to me and be ok with that.  I cannot change how others choose to live their lives but I have full control of what happens to me.

Now I have a dirty pair of running shoes, achy muscles, and a content heart filled with new promises to myself...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Quantifying Magical Energy

The Thaum is a measuring unit used in the Terry Pratchett series of Discworld novels to quantify magic.  It equals the amount of mystical energy required to conjure up one small white pigeon, or three normal-sized billiard balls.  It can, of course, be measured with a thaumometer, and regular SI Prefixes apply (e.g. millithaum, kilothaum).
A thaumometer looks like a greenish glass cube with a dial on one side.  A standard one is good for up to a million thaums — if there is more magic than that around, measuring it should not be your primary concern.
Parodying the introduction of the metric system later Discworld novels refer to the introduction of the newer unit Prime to avoid arguments around standard sizing of pigeons.  It is more reliably defined as the magical energy required to move one pound of lead one foot.
It is not to be confused with the magical particle "thaum" from the same series of novels.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Capturing Cosmic Rays

Once again NASA scientists were inspired by a simple everyday object to come up with a grand idea to capture lower energy X-rays emitted by a variety of astrophysical sources.  Today these cosmic rays are not observable by telescopes on earth, and the satellite technology that is being used, like the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, is very costly.

The new idea was inspired by a roll of scotch-tape to create the nested mirror structure needed to capture the soft X-Rays.  Although, it is in its early stages of testing, success seems highly likely.



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Maxwell's Complex

If you are a fan of Depeche Mode and/or Pet Shop Boys, you are more than likely to enjoy Maxwell's Complex.  Although they have some way to cover to get into the ranks of DM and PSB, they have great potential, IMHO.  Their debut album "First Transmission" was released on May 1st of this year.


Watching this video, I cannot help but be reminded of Marvin from Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy! :)


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Emergent Behaviour

Thomas Jackson is a photographer with very creative projects, and the creator of The Robot Book of the tree-hugging robot.  His photographic masterpieces capture your attention with the absurdity of the moment created and then keep holding it in a state of mesmerized stunneddom.



Monday, August 6, 2012

SLIM is Supr Good!

SLIM is a brand new product that is designed to reflect the need for simplicity in our lives.  This product is the brainchild of two brothers who are friends of mine, and I am very happy to support them.  Please go to their page HERE on KickStarter and help them launch this great product and hopefully many more in the future.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Song Of A Tree's Life

German designer Bartholom√§us Traubeck plays a slice of tree trunk with an altered record player.  Sounds like this tree had a sad life:



Saturday, August 4, 2012

Dream Pushers

DreamPushers is a most intriguing webplace where original design, technology, art, media, and many other ideas and visions are pooled together.  One very interesting hi-tech innovation I learned from their website is PhoneGap:


Friday, August 3, 2012

Modern Fakes Are Beautiful

Maisie Maud Broadhead's quirky reproductions of old paintings and photographs are a delight to look at. This young British artist is trained as a jewelry maker by trade but has a brilliant mind to re-create images with unimaginable originality.  I would definitely recommend following the link through her name and browsing all of her work.  Here's a sample that is not on her website:




And the original photo that was recreated:





Thursday, August 2, 2012

Reuleaux Triangle

Reuleaux Triangle is the simplest non-circular curve with constant width.  Although these curved triangles were used as architectural features as early as 13th century, and they appear in Leonardo Da Vinci's 15th century Codex Madrid, the constant width properties were demonstrated in the 19th century by the German mechanical engineer Franz Reuleaux. 





Wednesday, August 1, 2012

LivePlasma

LivePlasma is an awesome website to get to more music, movies, and books through your tastes!