Sunday, February 28, 2010

london in color in 1927

color film was very rare in 1927, which is partly what makes this silent color film of london so great! the film was created by Claude Friese-Greene who gives written commentary on the many common landmarks of london he shows. the one that made me laugh starts at minute 1:40 when he shows the greenwich observatory, and describes who astronomers are and what they like to tell you!

also, i wish more people wore hats on a regular basis today.

earthquake in chile, telescopes seem undamaged

during the wee hours of the morning, a magnitude 8.8 earthquake hit chile southwest of santiago. there are several major observatories in chile which house some of the largest telescopes on earth. the gemini-south telescope lives at the southern-most observatory, which is about a 7 hour drive north of santiago. a friend has reported that he could feel a rumble at the telescope, but no damage occurred as a result of the earthquake and observations will carry on as normal tonight! i havent heard news from the other observatories, but they all live several hours farther north of the earthquake epicenter.

the earthquake generated a tsunami that is currently propogating across the pacific ocean. it is set to hit hawaii at 11 am local time. i have several friends using telescopes on mauna kea right now, and some in airplanes traveling there, so i'm sending positive thoughts their way! i'll keep you posted on any news as i hear it.

the big picture has an early set of photos from chile.

UPDATE: aside from some power outages and lack of communication soon after the earthquake, no major telescope facilities have suffered damage. the ESO facility in santiago reports no damage. the university in concepcion is another story... news from colleagues is that people they know working in concepcion have relocated to stay with friends in other cities (mainly santiago) until the infrastructure is fixed a bit. read more at SarahAskew.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

facebook friends

i just received the strangest and best facebook friendship request from a complete stranger that i could imagine. ever.

So here's the story... All of our dogs (Bernese Mountain Dogs) are named after astronomers... First was Tycho, then Zoey had "Galileo" in her registered name. Next was Ptolemy, shortened to Ptolli. Then Jago was registered with "Bernoulli" as her name is Welsh for Jacob... Then we took in a rescue whose name was Brandy. Giving Brandy a new start in life, we transitioned her name to Mandy and then 'Manda and then Amanda... After Amanda, came Tosca, named for Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli. So, just thought you might like to know that "somewhere out there" is a dog named after you! ;-).

i accepted.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

mental calculation

the looks on the faces of the students in this 1895 painting by n. bogdanov-belsky are wonderful. i love moments when everyone is really focused on trying to figure something out. they are counting in their heads and feeling hopeful and confident that they can solve the puzzle shown on the board if they just think a little more...

try it - no calculating aids allowed!

via dark roasted blend

ps. the answer is discussed in the comments, so have a go at solving it before you peak!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

rockin' electron microscope

scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) were developed in the 1950s and are widely used in medical science. SEMs have the power to magnify objects hundreds of times more than regular optical microscopes because they monitor the way electrons react with a surface instead of focusing photons of light through lenses to form an image.

below is an image created by chris supranowitz using an SEM. can you guess what the long path is?

its the groove in a vinyl record. awesome!

in an SEM, an electron beam is carefully focused down to the sample. when the beam hits the sample surface, various electrons bounce back in different directions and x-rays are produced. these data are converted into a signal that maps the sample surface, and we see an image as a result.

you can also put your 3D glasses to use and check out the anaglyphs of many different objects featured in the study mentioned above!

Friday, February 19, 2010

the three types of knowledge

i was in school for a long time. essentially, i never left, its just that now instead of taking tests, i have to create new knowledge, convince my "peers" that the new information is interesting, and struggle to find jobs every couple of years.

as i really began to focus on one field during my phd studies, i realized one particularly fascinating and frustrating fact: the more i learned, the more questions i had! the more knowledge i gained, the more i realized i *didnt* know! and i became acutely aware during the build-up to my PhD defense that there were lots of things i learned in classes that i'd already forgotten, and all sorts of topics that i should review before defending because i felt i didnt know them well enough... overwhelming.

BUT, considering that i am in such a specialized field, i realized just how much potential information existed in the universe that i didn't even know i didn't know!! ... daunting.

according to the blog of steve schwartz, these are the three types of knowledge: (1) the things you know, (2) the things you know you don't know, and (3) the things you don't know you don't know.

the interesting twist is that the ratio of these categories of information changes throughout one's life, and i dont think there exists a "perfect" combination. certainly there is no universal combination that we can all strive for, because we're each so different!

the entire article i mentioned above is hilarious and well worth the read, but i want to share the pie charts here, because they are a nice and clever summary of the possible evolution of the ratio of these three types of knowledge.

this is what we start out with:

and as he points out "this chart is not to scale; the red slice is unimaginably large."

then we move on to the goals of education. learning more should mean there is less you don't know, right?

but in reality...


in my opinion, the real goal is to be curious... to be aware of what's going on, to question why, to investigate the things that interest you, to recognize things that don't work, and to do what you can to make those things "better" in your local community, or in the world if you can reach that far.

"the cure for boredom is curiosity. there is no cure for curiosity."
-- dorothy parker

dancing birds

how can beautiful birds dancing to michael jackson be this funny?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

house of snow

this photo is dedicated to my family, who have received several massive snow storms in the last couple weeks, while all the precipitation i get in england is rain, rain, rain, and snow that doesnt stick.

via neat-o-rama

a brief history of pretty much everything

i used to make little flipbooks inside my notebooks in school, but this is pretty much the ultimate one!

thanks mike!

Monday, February 15, 2010

t-shirt war

rhett and link have a clever stop animation t-shirt war!

rhett and link also produced a funny facebook song several years ago, and the cornhole theme song!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

the food of chiang mai, thailand

i've decided to dedicate a whole post to photos and stories of the food that i encountered in chiang mai, thailand. as anyone who knows me or has traveled with me knows very well: i enjoy a good meal. my uncle once commented that i have "a healthy appetite" after i stayed with their family for a week, so you get the idea: i'm a fan of food. and chiang mai has been a culinary highlight of my travels!

i was mesmerized by the choice of ingredients...

... that she pounded together inside the big tree trunk for a spicy salad. everything is spicy hot.

corn and red beans in your yogurt?

most apartments around the city lack kitchens, so people either create makeshift stoves on their balconies, or eat from the plentiful street carts. the food is cheap, tasty, unidentifiable (mostly), and always available!

frog's legs ready for frying....

mango sticky rice - YUM!

smoothie me!

night markets occur most nights all over the city and of course offer lots of variety of food too! how many ways can one attempt to spell "sausage"?

she yelled at me for taking her picture... continuously... until i bought some of her tiny fried eggs.

i'll try anything wrapped up in such a leaf!

i spent one long, food-full day at a lovely cooking class!

the specialty of the day was learning to make curry paste. no matter how much you think you can take, always add WAY LESS chili than they suggest! also, remember to wash your hands several times after chopping chilis. i forgot once and i couldnt feel my nose for 30 minutes after i accidentally touched it. painful!!

we sat in little classrooms for lessons before attempting to create the tasty dishes.

best dish of the day!

the dessert was good too, though!

KFC appeals to the thai clientele by adding a nice layer of green worms to their sundaes...?

liquor counts as food, right? cheers!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

a different kind of spam

another hilarious comic from abstruse goose.

here's a little preview...

click below for the full comic!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

rare photos of famous people

a blog called something beautiful has a great collection of rarely seen photographs of famous people. it took me quite a while to get through the whole collection, but it was worth the journey! here are my favorites:

melanie griffith and don johnson

bob marley

salvador dali

pablo picasso

miss marilyn.

charles bukowski and mickey rourke, back when rourke was so cute.

alfred hitchcock with his children

i couldnt even tell who this was at first...

sean connery! ha!

george clooney and his teeth

Saturday, February 6, 2010

what happens in a black hole...

found at fresh photons.

chiang mai, thailand

in april, 2009, i shared the story of traveling for 38 hours to get across thailand. here is the (much delayed) continuation of that story.

once the bus from koh chang ("best waterfight ever") dropped me off in bangkok, i took a tuk-tuk to the train station...

... where i saw huge (decades old) images of the king everywhere.

after 17 hours on the train for a trip that was advertised to take 14 hours, i made it to chiang mai, in the northwestern region of thailand.

some parts of the ancient wall still surround the square-shaped old part of the city.

a canal/moat system also surrounds the old city.

the region is known for wooden carvings and stone/gem inlays.

i wasnt disappointed!

there are markets open all over the city selling food and goods all day, and almost all night!

this group sat right in the middle of the the pedestrian path at a night market. all the musicians were blind and their music sounded amazing!

a beautiful place to visit is the flower market.

these are necklaces or bracelets for your buddha statues!

people present impressive offerings at all the many temples throughout the city. this one includes cigar(ette)s in the style of the hill tribes. i found some at a little hidden shop and tried one out of curiosity. yuck!!

this is the view from inside the little hidden shop:

this man sat with his collection on a completely empty road and seemed very pleased when i asked if i could take his photo.

this was a page inside a beginner's thai language book. so the important scenarios to understand: old people yelling at kids, mustached-men beating snakes, life in prison, and liquor...?

i visited an orphanage one afternoon and played with a lot of active two-year-olds.

i'm working on an entire post dedicated to the food i encountered in chiang mai... coming soon!