20 March 2009

A few entries from my "Read Later" folder

Good evening -

I came back from tonight's NES-OSA meeting at the Media Lab, which was a real joy. We learned about Ed Boyden's optically-throttled neuron experiments (in which a virus genetically alters mice embryos to make their brains optically-sensitive), Ramesh Raskar's work in computational photography (including deblurring using "fluttered" shutters), and Michael Bove's progress in holographic video using surface acoustic wave modulators.

Been storing up a few interesting links for my faithful readers:

(movie clip) Dan Dennett's TED talk regarding a Darwinian view on why things are funny, or sweet, or cute, or sexy. The explanation for "funny" was the most surprising to me.

(blog) Kevin Kelley's blog, "New Rules for the New Economy," lately discusses various swarm-related ideas. He's got an RSS feed.

(utterly random nerd humor) From the people who brought you the faux-scientific educational series "Look Around You" is this very brief clip, "The Helvetica Scenario."

Like some other forms of stimuli that need to become progressively more extreme to elicit a reaction, I wonder if there's an analogy for humor. I think my sense of humor is really getting stretched towards the increasingly bafflingly bizarre.

Will this reach a limit? Next year, will I only laugh at things that are a collection of non sequiturs? I remember back in fifth grade, all it took was a good Monty Python episode. Then, in grad school, I needed something along the lines of those parody GI Joe public service announcements, overdubbed with nonsense. Then came the "Retroencabulator," followed by "Look Around You," which is a sort of meta-humor that pokes fun at how utterly arbitrary the scientific method must seem to non-scientists, and then Matthias had to up the ante and direct me to "You Look Nice Today," which I find funny for its stream of utter falsehoods passed off as obvious truths.

What's next, I wonder? :-)

(slapstick) Well, maybe it comes full circle. Here is a video collection of talking cats and dogs.


16 March 2009

3 optics talks Thurs @ MIT Media Lab - RSVP -today-

Hello friends,

I am excited to announce that the New England Section of the Optical Society of America has teamed up with the Boston IEEE Lasers & Electro-optics Society to present an evening of talks with three world-class researchers:

Info: Three Talks at the Media Lab (takes a few seconds to load)

"Computational Photography" with Ramesh Raskar
"Optical Brain Control" with Ed Boyden
"Toward Consumer Holographic Video" with Michael Bove

When: Evening of Thurs. March 19, 2009
Deadline: To join the dinner networking pre-event, RSVP *today, Monday.*

For those of you who haven't been to an NES-OSA meeting before, this is a great way to meet other people in the optics community. Also, there should be sign-up sheets for people who want to join.


ps Remember to RSVP now.