Friday, July 16, 2010

A Disapperaing Number

Thursday morning, NPR had a story about a play called A Disappearing Number now playing at the Lincoln Center Theater Festival. Since I am bringing it up here, you can bet that there are plenty of science connections in this show.

A Disappearing number weaves a number of stories and themes together, some based in history and some original. One of the threads involved a young Indian mathematician named Srinivasa Ramanujan who goes to Cambridge to study with G.H. Hardy during WWI. Together, they worked on formulas which now have applications in string theory. Hardy is famous for writing A Mathematicians Apology, one of the books to read if you want to know how a mathematician thinks. The story is interwoven with that of modern day Ruth (a math professor) and her husband Al, a futures trader (which has plenty of math in its own right).

I love seeing science make its way onto the stage through shows such as Copenhagen, Proof, Next to Normal, Arcadia, the Farnsworth Invention and Hapgood to name a few.

I haven't seen the show and it only runs for five days (two of which are gone) so unless you have tickets, you probably won't see it live this time. Fortunately, it is being recorded for a broadcast to movie theaters in October. I just signed up for their twitter feed so I will not miss it!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

This picture pretty much says it all....

I Write Like

"Check which famous writer you write like with this statistical analysis tool, which analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them with those of the famous writers."

I copied and pasted a few paragraphs from a story I wrote. The result was:

I write like
Kurt Vonnegut

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

The Next Phase of the War On Drugs...

Moves to you iPod. Yep, the Oklahoma Beaureau of Narcotics is warning parents about kids getting high listening to special mp3 tracks. They even have different tracks to simulate the effects of different drugs. Oklahoma New 9 has the scoop.

I heard about this on Buzz Out Loud yesterday where they played one of the tracks which was pretty annoying. I listened to it while at the gym this morning and didn't get high for the record. Maybe its one of those things that only teenagers can hear. I love the comment: will future politicians who are caught with this on their iPod say, "I had it on mute!"

Seriously, where is there a shred of scientific evidence this has any more effect than a good song getting you pumped? Are we going to ban music in aerobics classes as a performance enhancing drug next? Are organ players going to be fired from ballparks across the country? Will Tipper Gore get labels on certain music for it drug like effects? Will Obama be forced to speak in a monotone so he doesn't risk inspiring people? Will I be forced to stop asking rhetorical questions?

The video purportedly showing a person getting high could be easily faked by a fair to middlin' actor. Seems to me like someone came up with a clever idea to try and sell mp3s to a gullible teen audience, and there are bat shit crazy adults are willing to do anything to protect the children from all threats, not matter how implausible they may be.

Open Blog - Weekend Version


Four for Fridays

Hello everybody! Another Friday is here! Would do you know, this one came rather quickly... This week's questions are about blogging.

1) When did you start blogging?

2) What attracted you to the world of blogging?

3) What websites do you like to visit?

4) Do you remember your first blog posted?

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"BP Says That Oil Flow Has Stopped as Cap Is Tested"

NEW ORLEANS — Oil stopped gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for the first time in nearly three months, as BP began testing the cap atop its stricken well, a critical step toward sealing the well permanently.

It's not for sure yet - they're watching it with underwater cameras - but it has stopped, for now.

I hope they've done it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Darth Vader and Princess Leia Walk Into a Subway Car...

And you can see what happens...this is the latest mission from Improv Everywhere.

"Ninja Fail" - Ow! Ow! Ow!

Btw, ow!

The return of the Bird of the week, special edition.

Bird Bird Bird, bird is the word. Especially if it is keeping something that should be front page screaming news on the down low, unless your independent media like Racine Uncovered, who deserves a huge slap on the back for a job well one. Seems like no ones mayor but yours Lying John Dickert has tried to stop all discussions of a small incident at our Jail last night. You would think that something that needs every cop on the beat, plus the RCSD and RFD called to the jail would need to be related to the citizens of our little area. Not according to "Keep it quiet" Johnny.

SO for conduct unbecoming a mayor, rabid censorship, total disregard for freedom of the press and general D-baggery, I hereby name you the winner of the bird of the week, special edition. Congrats John, and party on!

Riot in Racine County Jail, but Dickert Says, "Shhh!"

From Racine Uncovered, "Riot at the Law Enforcement Center-700 Wisconsin"

And, "Thank you Alderman Jeff Coe-City knows at least you care"

According to Racine Uncovered, there was a riot at the County Jail last night, which occupied about 20 squads and fire engines - enough that the city was considering calling in Mount Pleasant to cover for us. Jeff Coe ("my" alderman!) also responded and called the mayor, lying John Dickert, to the scene. According to a witness, the mayor arrived and instructed Coe not to talk to anyone about the incident.

There is nothing about this in our "mainstream" media. Given Racine Uncovered's tenacity in covering the crime problem in Racine, I doubt the incident was fabricated. Police scanner logs should verify that. So what happened? Don't the taxpayers have a right to know, or does lying John just sweep this under the rug along with the rest of his bodies and skeletons?

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my pickled pelicans! How are you? (Pickled pelicans? – Tee-hee, I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.) Well, summer certainly is in full swing after the 4th of July. Last weekend we had the Great Midwest Dragonboat Races and this Saturday, July 17, we have Gallery Night in Downtown Racine: There is always so much going on in Racine in the summer. Like I said last week, we know how to party.

I know how to party, too. Last night I went to an astrologers bar with a friend. I knew I shouldn’t, but we had already had a few drinks down at the Psychic Club. (If you don’t know where that is, you don’t belong there). We ended up in some tealeaves readers’ joint and I proceeded to drink a snootful of cheap gypsy wine. Oh my. You would not believe the size of my head today. I swear that I can hear the beating of a fly’s wings, just over the roaring jackhammer directly behind my eyeballs. I must remember that I am not as young as I once was and cannot party till I drop anymore, for I drop much too soon and much too hard these days.

Therefore, instead of putting a lot of mental effort into this week’s column, I’ve decided to let Google do the blogging for me by once again using their search engine to find where my surname, Zoltar, takes us on the internet. The first stop appears to be this little video gem:

I’m not exactly sure what that is all about, but there is a much longer version here:, and a link to a story in Sneaker News: All of this apparently has something to do with the 2010 World Cup. What it has to do with me is anybody’s guess.

Next, there is an app for me, err, more correctly, for my ex: Sorry, but I would find it creepy to have him with me all of the time - or even some of the time. Is there a restraining order app?

Here’s a group (or something) named Zoltar on MySpace Music: Try “HAPPYMEAL THRASHCORE Minimix” for a snappy little tune.

Finally, I even have a listing in the Urban Dictionary:

Thank you all so much for reading my blog today. (And thank you for speaking so softly out of respect for my hangover.) I love, love, love my dear regular irregulars and irregular regulars. Sharing time with you, even hung-over, makes my day. We are family.

Don’t forget to send the family secrets to:

Be careful celebrating the summer, my dears. You don’t want to end up like me. Moderation in all things and all things in moderation. In other words, do as I say, not as I do. Happy summer! Viraginity.

Open Blog - Wednesday

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do . . .

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How to Take a 3D Picture

I recently got a couple of cameras on the cheap to try and take some 3D pictures. Well, I just got my first results. I decided to make a short video outlining how I took the pictures so you know what I did.

Now on to the pictures. Be sure the picture you choose matches the type of 3D glasses you have. Click any of them for a larger version.

First, the red and cyan version.

Now for the red and blue version.

And finally, a magenta-green anaglyph (HINT: The 3D version of the Coraline DVD comes with magenta-green glasses that work great with this version).

Of these three, I think the magenta-green one works best with my glasses. I see the 3D effect the best. I'll post more in the future as I take them.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Embrace Me, Love Me, Worship Me

Why? Because it's Embrace Your Geekness Day! And I will out geek anyone. Who else has a cat named Hale-Bopp? A spare space shuttle tile in his house, a spare mirror from the Suzaku X-ray space telescope and a Sloan Digital Sky Survey plug plate? Who gets as upset as Sheldon would over that one hot pixel on the digital projector in theater 13 at his local cineplex? Actually understood the jokes when Stephen Hawking was on the Simpsons? Who spent a month contemplating the physics of smooth (soccer) balls? Who spotted rendering errors in Avatar that bothered him (although at least he didn't see it at the theater with the hot pixel!) Who has befriended his eye doctor and schedules late afternoon appointments so she will let him play with the equipment at the end of the day (she has cool toys!)

Don't be ashamed...embrace your Geekenss!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Cloud Top Green Flash

I went out tonight hoping to get a photo of the crescent Moon with the rapidly gathering line of planets in the west after sunset. Unfortunately, it is getting to the rainy season here and lots of clouds ixned that idea. However, I did not come back empty handed.

As the Sun was setting behind some clouds, I saw a very bright green flash from the top of the Sun. It lasted long enough for me to snap off a shot from my camera (which I had already set up and was taking a few sunset shots). I missed the brightest part of the flash, but caught the end. Unfortunately, the shot is a little overexposed as looked a lot more green visually.

I admit I hadn't thought of this before, but when I got home I typed cloud top green flash into google and sure enough, quickly found out that this is a known phenomena. Guess you can see green flashes in a wider variety of conditions than I previously thought.

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Monday Night Grin

An elderly couple were having dinner one evening when the husband reached across the table, took his wife's hand in his and said, "Martha, soon we will be married 50 years, and there's something I have to know. In all of these 50 years, have you ever been unfaithful to me?"

Martha replied, "Well Henry, I have to be honest with you. Yes, I've been unfaithful to you three times during these 50 years, but always for a good reason.

Henry was obviously hurt by his wife's confession, but said, "I never suspected. Can you tell me what you mean by 'good reasons?'"

Martha said, "The first time was shortly after we were married, and we were about to lose our little house because we couldn't pay the mortgage. Do you remember that one evening I went to see the banker and the next day he notified you that the loan would be extended?"

Henry recalled the visit to the banker and said, "I can forgive you for that. You saved our home, but what about the second time?"

Martha asked, "And do you remember when you were so sick, but we didn't have the money to pay for the heart surgery you needed? Well, I went to see your doctor one night and, if you recall, he did the surgery at no charge."

"I recall that," said Henry. "And you did it to save my life, so of course I can forgive you for that. Now tell me about the third time."

"All right," Martha said. "So do you remember when you ran for president of your golf club, and you needed 73 more votes?"

Gene Simmons Military Tribute

This video comes to us via the wayward cyndi in an email that claims the backup band is KISS. It is a fitting tribute to our men and women in the armed services and I like the idea at the end of the video about thanking troops personally.

Open Blog - Monday

What, no parade this week?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Girlie Wisdom

1. A friend of mine confused her Valium with her birth control pills... she has 14 kids but she doesn't really care.

2. One of life's mysteries is how a 2-pound box of chocolates can make a woman gain 5 lbs.

3. My mind not only wanders, it sometimes leaves completely.

4. The best way to forget your troubles is to wear tight shoes.

5. The nice part about living in a small town is that when you don't know what you are doing, someone else does.

6. The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat are really good friends..

7. Just when I was getting used to yesterday, along came today...

8. Sometimes I think I understand everything, and then I regain consciousness.

9. I gave up jogging for my health when my thighs kept rubbing together and setting fire to my panties.

10. Amazing! You hang something in your closet, for a while, and it shrinks 2 sizes!

11. Skinny people irritate me! Especially when they say things like...'You know sometimes I forget to eat!' .....Now, I've forgotten my address, my mother's maiden name, and my keys, but I have never forgotten to eat.. You have to be a special kind of stupid to forget to eat!

12.. The trouble with some women is that they get all excited about nothing -- and then they marry him.

13. I read this article that said the typical symptoms of stress are eating too much, impulse buying, and driving too fast. Are they kidding? That's my idea of a perfect day!

The Pooter Tutorial by Jack Vale

If it were not for the internet, we might not know that products like this exist.