Phase of the Moon
Angels from Another Pin

The metric system is a tool of the devil! My car gets forty rods to the hogshead, and that's how I likes it.

--The Simpsons

22 October 2005

Welcome to Hotel Infinity: a child's primer for Hilbert's paradox of the Grand Hotel. No I'm not kidding. permanent link


Michael Bowers, a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, has discovered a way to make quantum dots emit a clear white light.

When you shine a light on quantum dots or apply electricity to them, they react by producing their own light, normally a bright, vibrant color. But when Bowers shined a laser on his batch of dots, something unexpected happened.

"I was surprised when a white glow covered the table," Bowers said. "The quantum dots were supposed to emit blue light, but instead they were giving off a beautiful white glow."

Then Bowers and another student got the idea to stir the dots into polyurethane and coat a blue LED light bulb with the mix. The lumpy bulb wasn't pretty, but it produced white light similar to a regular light bulb.

The new device gives off a warm, yellowish-white light that shines twice as bright and lasts 50 times longer than the standard 60 watt light bulb.

This work is published online in the Oct. 18 edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

So, how long will it be until we get luminescent paint? permanent link

Doing something stupid once is just plain stupid. Doing something stupid twice is a philosophy.

--Dan O'Neill

20 October 2005

If civilization falls and you need to make a computer that runs without electricity, you might want to look into LEGO logic gates.

Warning: A computer of any practical size made of these gates will either deform under the stresses put on it or will melt from the heat generated by friction. So your civilization will stay fallen. Sorry to get your hopes up. permanent link


I noticed that Wikipedia was missing something I knew about, so I added it: the Sundance Sea. I once again am the infinite source of useless knowledge. Although I imagine this is actually useful knowledge. permanent link

The key is to get the flour-to-gunpowder ratio exactly right.

--Betty Ragan

15 October 2005

You, my friend, appear to need to know how to be a scientific crackpot. permanent link


I cannot stop laughing. It is a deep, hearty laugh that ends with me killing a subordinate for not laughing loudly enough, for I have now seen the theme to Sesame Street translated into Klingon.

Sunny day
Sweepin' the clouds away
On my way
to where the air is sweet.
Can you tell me how to get,
how to get to Sesame Street?

A day of the daytime star.
The clouds are compelled to commence fleeing, and are filled with dread.
I have a destination;
and there, because of the atmosphere, I am pleased.
Describe to me immediately
how to go to Sesame Street.

Link via the extremely talented Betty Ragan permanent link

There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia.

--Kurt Vonnegut

14 October 2005

Dear Ohio:

That dork Tom Brinkman, who voted against re-ratifying the 14th Amendment, is still in office. Get to work on firing him, please.

The Rest of the Country. permanent link


I, too, want to be a devotee of Godzilla. The entire giant-monster pantheon is available for your perusal.

Link provided by Dirisha Zuri. permanent link


Archaeologists in China have found the world's oldest noodles.

[The noodleolite] was in amongst the human wreckage that scientists found an upturned earthenware bowl filled with brownish-yellow, fine clay.

When they lifted the inverted container, the noodles were found sitting proud on the cone of sediment left behind.

"It was this unique combination of factors that created a vacuum or empty space between the top of the sediment cone and the bottom of this bowl that allowed the noodles to be preserved," Professor Kam-biu Liu said.

The noodles resemble the La-Mian noodle, the team says; a traditional Chinese noodle that is made by repeatedly pulling and stretching the dough by hand.

Uh...I made up the word "noodleolite," so don't use it in any distiguished archaological journals. That might cause problems. permanent link


For Joe: The Daily SuDoKu. permanent link


The Geneva wheel escapement is the most beautiful machine, in both form and function, I have ever seen. (Turn on Java to see it.)

The same site has a clear illustration of how gears should work as well as several other things of interest. permanent link

In college, before video games, we would amuse ourselves by posing programming exercises. One of the favorites was to write the shortest self-reproducing program. Since this is an exercise divorced from reality, the usual vehicle was FORTRAN. Actually, FORTRAN was the language of choice for the same reason that three-legged races are popular.

--Ken Thompson

12 October 2005

Rolling Stone reports the story of Kid Cannabis, the pizza-delivery boy from Idaho who became a drug kingpin. It's a fascinating (and almost certainly atypical) glimpse into a world I know little about.

Perhaps unwisely, the guys flagrantly ignored an oft-quoted maxim from Scarface - namely, never get high on your own supply. "We were stoned every day," Scuzz confirms. "Me and Nate would just take the best-looking bags. I don't think I had a sober day for three years. I mean," he quickly adds, "a lot of it was networking. We were finding clients. You know, go hang out at some dude's house, smoke with him, find out if he knows anybody out of state to sell to. Next day, go to some other dude's house. But in the in-between time, yeah, we'd be rolling two-ounce joints and playing video games."

Such behavior, while enjoyable, led to the occasional lapse in judgment. Example: Nate decided he needed a Cadillac Escalade, so he sent a couple of his guys -- with $40,000 in cash -- to buy one from some dude in North Dakota.

"The dumb-asses," says Detective Morgan, "took a video camera."

"It's like watching Wayne's World," says Cikutovich, Nate's lawyer. "They're videotaping themselves smoking doobies. Then they get there and there's no Escalade, and they're going, 'Dude! Let's find this guy and beat him up!'" Nate eventually bought the Escalade in Seattle, paying cash and telling the salesman he won the money gambling.

"We were doing a lot of stupid s---," groans Scuzz. "I mean, we were living in a town where, if you get in a car wreck, your mom's uncle will know immediately. Everyone knows everything that's going on. And we're moving hundreds of pounds of weight, making millions of dollars. But we were a bunch of eighteen-year-olds, and we weren't thinking about the long run. We just had that attitude. We didn't give a f---."

I dub this guy Philip J. Fry, Drug Kingpin! permanent link


Serenity in 2000 words or less. I cannot improve upon Sue's warning, which is "Spoilers. do not go here if you want to see Serenity and haven't."

Link courtesy of Sue Monroe. permanent link

The timeless appeal of our ancient texts doth amaze. Three members of our quiet region lie within the world's top 5% of publishing sectors. If fact, a new edition of "The Collected Wisdom of Father Dagon (with a new Foreward by Mother Hydra)" is planned for release in time for the Surface Dwellers' holiday shopping season. There are things that Man was not meant to know. They can now be found in a beautiful leather-bound edition at a Borders near you. Ia!

--"The Most Serene Republic of City of the Deep Ones"

11 October 2005

The natural world never ceases to amaze, as it does with news of a marathon shark.

A female great white shark has completed the first documented round-trip ocean crossing by a shark, swimming farther than any other known shark, according to a new study.

Nicole, as the shark is being called, traveled from Africa to Australia and back—a total of 12,400 miles (more than 20,000 kilometers)—in nine months. The feat also set a second record: fastest return migration of any known marine animal.

The shark's approximately 6,900-mile (11,100-kilometer), 99-day swim from South Africa to Australia was tracked with an electronic tag that had been attached on November 7, 2003. The device had been set to pop off on a specific date in late February 2004.

After floating to the surface, the tag told a satellite the details of its journey. The information was then automatically relayed to scientists' e-mail accounts.

Link contributed by Sue Monroe. permanent link


Cheese shark!

Picture contributed by Fred Coppersmith. permanent link


All of the sets and props for Aardman Animation have been destroyed.

Link via Jon Acheson. permanent link

And when they engulf and devour a Swedish embassy, whom does the coalition force to read an apology to the UN?

--Shaenon Garrity

8 October 2005

English as She is Spoke versus Babelfish! permanent link


This is one of the more impressive things I've seen on the Internet: a bunch of Russian artists all riffing on the same artwork. I've seen artist jams like this in the past, but this one is excellent. permanent link


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