29 November 2006

Return of the Sci / Eng Links

Workin' the emergence theory: MIT Space Time Programming Group. Beal / Bachrach's paper "Infrastructure for Engineered Emergence on Sensor/Actuator Networks." [PDF]

High-Res 3-D cameras / shape measurement: Song Zhang at Harvard.

A list of 100 hackable toys and electronic kits in time for the holidays at MAKE.

List of funny analogies - contest winners, not really high school entries. Hah!
Her vocabulary was bad as, like, whatever.

MIT Amorphous Computing links, such as this page about the formation of patterns in plants.

John Maeda's simple and depressing "Life Countdown." Click, type in your age...


24 November 2006


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

I hope you had a wonderful time with family, as we did here-near-Boston. We ate turkey, many pies, and a wine-and-herb-based gravy from Cook's Illustrated while Toby practiced his new skills of waving and picking up individual Cheerios.

Far be it from me to scold you for staring at your computer screen instead of hanging out with family, but if you must:

Congratulations, Esteemed Family Poet!
My cousin Adriana DiGennaro scores another poetic accomplishment; her "A Woman, a V, a Violet," is the featured poem at Poetry Circle. "Tiger Lillies" in The Aurora Review.

Teaching Kids Science
Toby and I watched Beakman [show 110] teach us how television works this morning; the historic character Philo Farnsworth (an inventor of television) described an image, pixel by pixel, to another character over walkie-talkie who flipped pixels Wheel-of-Fortune style on a giant board. Sure, they could have gone a little deeper (let's do the odd rows first, then the evens) or been a little more complete about who the earlier contributors to wireless TV broadcast are. But we enjoyed it.

Even as a display-industry guy, I'm still trying to understand the real history of the development of television. Some folks figured out communicating information wirelessly (Marconi, etc.). Others figured out how to use cathode rays and phosphor (Crookes' tube), how to generate imagery using a rotating perforated disc (Nipkow's disc and John Logie Baird's commercialized TV), how to improve the image quality, and how to go to an all-electronic receiver using a raster-scanned TV (Philo Farnsworth; wait, what did Zworykin contribute?).

Like this stuff? Check out They All Laughed... From Light Bulbs to Lasers: The Fascinating Stories Behind the Great Inventions that Changed Our Lives (Ira Flatow). You can learn all this and more -- did you know the original blender was a Blendor?

Teaching Grown-Ups Math and Physics
Speaking of which, I miss the thoughtfully illustrated Mechanical Universe series from the Annenberg/CPB project. Vectors, gravity, and relativity, oh my! You can watch them online here. Their relativity episode is probably the only way that I'll ever come close to understanding it.

In Memory
Unfortunately this 200th blog post does have a serious note. I am relaying the passing of friend John Paul Puglisi, a Yalie and Saybrugian who was very well-liked by everyone around him, including his pledge brothers in Sigma Chi. We'll miss you, John. If you knew John, Googling his name will bring you to articles and a memorial website.

Actually, the last several years have seen their share of tragedy for several warm-hearted, brilliant college friends. Erik Rauch (whose genius and quiet modesty was typified by his working with Prof. Mandelbrot as a freshman or sophomore) and Russ Atkins (whom I knew as the pre-college "Rusty," when he was a 12 year-old programmer and ranked chess star), we'll remember you.


14 November 2006

A silly 199th post

And now for several moments of levity.

A video
"Amateur" by Lasse Gjertsen, a brief video of an "amateur" drummer/pianist pieced together from I-can't-imagine how many clips. I just like it as an art clip. (Dunno if BB reads this blog, but this reminds me of the music video directing style for Art of Noise's "Close to the Edit.") It also reminds me of that wacky clip RLM found of the French horn-honking comedian.

Another video
More oobleck/non-Newtonian fluid madness. A deep vat filled with the stuff - that people walk across. I didn't believe it until halfway though. The video (thanks, NN).

It is always time for McSweeney's Reviews of New Food. Can you find the one written by Safiri? And, there's always the review for "Powerblast Energy Powder."

Here's to hoping I have something deep to say for the 200th post.


05 November 2006

Trying Japanese Instant Noodles, or "Alimentary, my Dear Watson"

Tonight I had unremarkable sushi at a small "bar" within a sort-of mini-Japan in Cambridge called The Porter Exchange. Afterwards, as usual, I went to the grocery store to stock up on things that dear J-Fav tolerates but wouldn't buy on her own: bonito flakes, seaweed, seaweed-based crackers, and two kinds of instant noodles that are a full notch above eleven-cent ramen.

This is my journey as a non-Japanese speaker into the world of multi-packet, fancy-boxed, all-Japanese-language ramen.

I picked up two things: U.F.O., which I've had before, and something new which translates to: "Japanese Style Alimentary Noodle: Ika Yakisoba Ohmori." Eagle-eyed readers will find it in the middle of this page from a food importer.

Alimentary noodles?

Figured I'd sort that out later. The instructions read:

No, really, click on that to see what you're supposed to do.

I thought the answer was cool: boil water, fold up bottom of package, pour in water (and packet of dried... squid? mushrooms?), fold down, and let sit 3 minutes. Then -- and this is the neat part -- fold back the top hinge which reveals a built-in strainer! Hoo-ee!! Pour out the water, mix in some black sauce, stir, and enjoy:

Mm-mm good! (Actually, it was. I'd buy it again.)


04 November 2006


Preprint of 3-D Display Paper
My co-workers invented a type of 3-D display whose imagery is volume-filling and can exhibit occlusion (that is, near objects can block far objects). While this is commonplace in "real life," this is one of the first volume-filling 3-D displays able to pull this off. Prior, quite a few people attested to its impossibility. A photo of the result is at Fig. 6. (Very Winter-appropriate.) I didn't really contribute much to the actual work other than writing it up. Here's the not-yet-typeset manuscript from the Optical Society of America:

O. S. Cossairt, J. Napoli, S. L. Hill, R. K. Dorval, G. E. Favalora, "Occlusion-capable multiview volumetric display," Applied Optics (in press). [link to PDF at OSA site]

Art / Design

Photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten. The folks at Kaliber10000 were right; you get sucked in to her photography.

Postcard Polaroid: put a stamp on a Polaroid.

Pixelsumo design-blog. Today: "draw" furniture in 3-D. Special tag for glitch-art. (nice!) One of my very first photographs was of a color television station whose character generator crashed; alphanumerics everywhere. Must've been about 8.

The Designers Republic. So hip! I didn't know they were able to tone it down enough to do Nickelodeon's neon-orange rebranding. (Click on 'work' and look around.)

Arthur Ganson's kinetic, breathing, eerie, wonderful sculptures.

(The late) Kevin McCormick built a 32-bit processor on a group of breadboards for an MIT class.