We saw the Blue Man Group tonight (Boston) for the second time in several years, and had a really great time. I won't spoil any of their antics for you, but I was thinking about why the performance appeals to me beyond the obvious first layer of "they do very creative stuff, with smart humor, and play some really mean drums, while broadcasting the message that individuality is a Good Thing, in a way that makes you feel connected to some really alien blue guys." I think that another reason that it's enjoyable is that it combats a sense of cynicism that's been festering in me over the years about there being "nothing new under the sun." Live performances, contemporary art, discontinuous scientific discoveries, and clever product introductions are really healthy things to ponder and enjoy, I think. Since I'm so disconnected from modern theater, tonight's performance hit me as a particularly cool and empathetic collection of creative jumps and, heck, I just really liked it.
The other night, J-Fav and I were watching a Nova episode regarding the gradual scientific progress towards making materials at absolute zero, culminating most recently with Bose-Einstein condensate stuff (your friend, the fifth state of matter!) at places like MIT, Boulder, and Harvard. I wondered how I'd define science, particularly as opposed to engineering. (Which, if you're a scientist or engineer, you hear about all the time - so the next three sentences are painfully obvious.) Anyhow, I decided that science is the discovery of nature's secrets - either in terms of cataloging one's observations or making ever-more-precise predictive models, even though the ultimate "why" is always just out of reach. Meanwhile, engineering is the making of things that take advantage of the scientists' discoveries. Usually, this requires a bunch of middlemen called "applied physicists," the nice folks who brought you things like the transistor.
With that banal thought out of my system, here are a few things from the ol' "Read Later" bookmarks folder:
- Once-a-week, play-until-my-fingers-ache obsession: Geometry Wars (DS). Holy cow.
- "Strange science takes time" (MSNBC)
- Seth Godin's free e-book Flipping the Funnel, including a special edition for nonprofits (ahem... J-Fav...)
- Posted this before, but anyone read Douglas Coupland's The Gum Thief?