24 November 2006

Thanksgiving-time

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.


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