Thursday, June 28, 2007

Spherical Cows

This is one page of a workbook I completed for my last required course at YU. For those who can't read my handwriting, at the bottom I wrote: "I'm a physics major, so I'm used to drawing spherical cows." Be sure to click the picture to see it full-size.
For more cow fun, and many cow puns, you should check out the "Cows With Guns" Flash animation by Bjørn-Magne Stuestøl [link, alternate YouTube link]. And yes, I only included his name because of the ø's.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sound of Silence

I have been informed that I have too many words and not of enough pictures, for today I will change that.
This morning when I logged into my Yahoo Radio Station I was greeted by this lovely message (it really made my day... VERY MUCH LACKING MUSIC, and not very much fun at all).

Some time ago I noticed this intresting phenomenom, then when I got a camera to take a picture it was gone (The picture was taken the following day).
"Not to amazing" you say, well if you look at the fire hydrant you will notice that the bottom half it covered with dirt, this is because it had been half buried.

Now for some picture taken last summer at a paintballing game.

I am resting between games (I dont wear my kippah while paintballing, I would lose it), note the sniper barrel and CO2 tank line. I have now got a stock for it as well.

Now hard as this may be to believe, the pile of leaves is in fact my friend Jimmy we buried him so he could ambush the opposing team.

You can just see me looking over the rocks, great bit of cover they couldn't shoot me at all. Plus its a nice picture.

While this may look like we have a arabic guard, in fact we have Sergey with my machete and the press hat (to avoid shooting the press during a match whoever was taking pictures would wear the plastic bag on there head).

At the end of a hard day we let loose with a bit of running around like mad men with machetes (you can even see where I have been shot during the day).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A morning bike ride

This morning I went for a bike ride along the Hudson River bike path. The weather was perfect: A clear day, with a cool temperature. It was a good thing I brought my camera along. There's something about bridges - especially giants like the George Washington - that, to me, is truly beautiful.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Good Year for Plants Indeed

I was speaking on the phone recently with Eli’s Mom. She casually remarked that it is a good year for plants. I would agree. Here is why in a very roundabout story.
Last year, bizarrely, after getting engaged, I decided to try my hand at a garden. (For those of you that have not been engaged, this was bizarre, because being engaged is both time consuming and stressful). In any event, it turned out well, as evidenced by the pictures of my tomato crop.
However, you may not have known the full extent of the gardening experience. (Sorry I don’t have photographic documentation)
Here’s what happened:
1. I planted a few herbs, they did really well and we ate yummy food as a result through November.
2. I planted a blueberry bush with high hopes, however the birds ate the berries and the bush got a fungus.
3. I planted the SUPER tomato plants that gave me oodles and oodles of tomatoes.

But this is the surprise; all my efforts last year have made for a banner SECOND year crop! That’s right, with no effort! Here’s what I found this spring:
1. The herbs, for the most part, came back.

The mint came back like a weed, I have a TON and it is only June.
Luckily Eli has learned how to make lemon-mint ices!

We are using the GARDEN FRESH DILL (that I didn’t plant this year, or even really do anything to encourage its growth) in chicken soup.

We are not sure what to do with the Oregano.

2. The Blueberry bush is resurrected from its near death fungal experience!!!! Not only is the fungus gone but for some reason the birds are not eating the berries this year, and it looks like we are going to have a bumper crop! (Bli Ayin Hara!)

3. And this was the big shocker. I thought the mutant bumper crop of tomatoes died in November. While this was sort of true, it was not entirely true. There were so many tomatoes, we could not possibly harvest all of them, and some animals must have gotten to them, scattering them all over the side of the house, and this year we have (so far) FORTY,(yes, you read correctly, FORTY) little baby tomato plants. Wow, was that six bucks well spent last year.

4. And because I am getting a little cocky with plant related success this year I put in some red peppers.

A good year for plants indeed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Movie Magic

Recently when I see movies that try to be realistic (i.e. they don’t explain impossible feats with magic or future) I find myself being very critical. When I see a movie now I am way to analytical with my analysis of the vehicles and stunts that occur. I look at an airplane for example and I say well that’s just plain impossible, although it looks cool it is not aerodynamic; the engine intakes are to small etc. this removes some of my enjoyment of the films in question. Additionally I have begun to do sums; I have begun to count things or people. I have begun to look for movie mistakes or blunders and I am not talking about things like in Batman the movie (Adam West Batman) where robin trips and falls while ducking under the tail boom of the Batcopter, no I am talking about doing bad algebraic operations. The example I will discuss happens in the movie Thunderball (I have been watching the classic James Bonds over the summer). Toward the end of the film there is a huge underwater battle, in this battle the bad guys are fighting some good guys underwater with harpoon guns, now I counted the number of bad guys who enter the fight based upon a helicopter shot from before the battle. I confirmed this number based upon a pan underwater of the bad guys, I said that there was 25 bad guys to start (this is an overestimate in my opinion). Now during the course of the battle I counted how many bad guys get killed (this time underestimating the number), I also count how many run away and how many surrender (once again underestimating). I counted twenty-four dead, three ran away, and five surrendered. This results in a simple equation 25=24+3+5-x, now with some simple operations you will find that x=7 this means that the makers of the film decided to have seven extra bad guys killed in the fight then there where to start with. Of course there are tons of other inaccuracies in other James Bond films, however as you don’t want to be here all day so I won’t. My advise to you is that if you want to enjoy movies more leave your brain at the door.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Foreign and Exotic Urinals

Here at the blog we were first introduced to the American urinal by Aryeh here then the taxonomy was clarified by Eli here. I would like to do my part by classifying a few more exotic urinals. The britanias urinalas clearly classified under urinalas cornu, it is speculated that the ones found in america are actually invasive species escaped from british ships with segregated toilets (restrooms).

A urinal normally found in France, urinalés corné

Nearly extinct, I found this one living in the basement of the University of Leicester, urinalas grosses.

This is a fossilized toilet from Perivel Castle . . . carefull!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The sad state of science education

Last Friday, the YU Physics (and Engineering) Club went to Junior High School 143 in Washington Heights to do some physics demonstrations. Cuz dys (one of our blog's occasional commenters) did an index of refraction demonstration where he made Pyrex disappear. I showed them a laser light show (think Lissajous figures). Eliyahu had them play with electromagnets and paper clips, and Elie (yes, there were three "Eliyahu"s there...) did a cool velocity amplification demo with basketballs. Overall, some cool stuff. One would have thought that this would be an exciting and educational distraction from an otherwise dull school day.
However, the 6th graders were bored. They sat there with blank stares and no interaction. When one of us would ask a question, a few kids would raise their hands in the fashion of "Look! See! Class participation!" They seemed more interested in dribbling the basketball than in making one bounce to the moon. I noticed this in both 6th grade classes we visited.
However, we were pleasantly surprised by the 5th graders. They were interested and intrigued. When they were playing (yay!) with the electromagnets they weren't (yay!) paying attention to the speaker:

They asked me good questions about the laser show, and a bunch stayed after class, into their lunch period, asking how they could make something like this on their own and repeating the basketball demo on their own, only reluctantly leaving when forced by their teacher. During the index of refraction demo they gave good explanations as to why the sky is blue, and one girl had an excellent (intuitive?) explanation of energy's relationship to mass (we're talking classical energy, not E=mc2.
Now, I'm not sure what happens to kids in between 5th and 6th grade, and it's possible that this latter class was just a better group of kids. I don't have enough info to comment intelligently on the difference between the two grades, so I won't. But that's not the sad state of science education.
This is:
This is bad. In truth, this is only part of the badness. Each and every poster was about global warming, or damage to the ozone layer or something like that. Each and every poster had data and graphs (in all cases the data wasn't relevant and certainly didn't support the conclusion), hypotheses and conclusions. But not a single poster had any science.
This stuff looks like science. It is as if the teacher described what science is supposed to look like - you know, the scientific method and all that - but then told them to write a book report in a science poster style and the kids followed the (stupid, pointless) instructions perfectly.
I will note that the teacher told us that they don't have any labs, but they do have lots of books. Now, books are great - I'm a big fan of books - and the books they had were good books, but gimme a break. I did better science projects before 4th grade! You don't need "labs" to do experiments. For example, phototropism or thigmotropism. Does mold grow on toast quicker than bread? Dominant and recessive genes in family eye colors. Simple things, but still real science.
I'm not sure who's at fault here, but this is the sad state of science education in at least one NYC public school.
But hey, at least it's not England.
Then again, we're not much better.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Plane Building

I haven’t given an update on AIAA building progress recently. Unfortunately, the rate of our building has been a bit slower than expected. We have completed the main frame, the main shaping fuselage foam, and the nose cone. We have completed the design, and are not on the final legs of the build, at this point there is no more design work involved we are not working almost primarily on building. I do not have any pictures of the actual constructed plane however here is a CAD (Computer Aided Drawing) model of the plane now (I CAD’ed the tail frame however it is covered by foam shape of the tail, additionally the tail is not yet finalized, almost).

Sunday, June 10, 2007

DNA Fingerprinting and Sir Alec Jeffereys

This is me with Professor Sir Alec Jeffereys FSR, in the University of Leicester lab where he invented DNA fingerprinting and did the first DNA paternity tests and criminal identifications. He has quite a few awards as well as being elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1986, and Knighted in 1994. It is speculated that he may well win a Nobel Prize one of these years. Read about the discovery here. Thanks for your time Professor Jeffereys!

Since I leave England tomorrow I thought I might make this post really classically English.

This is just a regular room in a not so regular Burghley House in Alex's best preserved stone town in England, Stamford, thanks for everything Alex!

This is a regular hall at Cambridge University, thanks for everything Amitai!

And they just don't make headlines this funny in the states.
"We work the longest hours of any developed country, says the UN . . . And here's the head of the Labor Party . . . Showing the signs of working too hard (or of too much international travel), Tony Blair adds a little more CO2 to the atmosphere before getting down to talking about global warming at the G8 summit in Germany yesterday."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Where's the one?!?

My wonderful wife recently brought me home a present:That's right - a working electric typewriter!!! SO MUCH FUN. Now, I love Microsoft Word as much as the next person, but this thing is really cool. Sitting down with it, I feel like I should be starting the next great American novel, or perhaps writing a letter to the editor of some now-defunct newspaper. The thing vibrates when it's on, and there's a really satisfying "thunk" sound each time you type a letter and a great "ding" when you reach the end of a line. So I started messing around with it when I noticed that there is no numeral one anywhere on the typewriter. In the place where you'd expect to find the 1, there's a mysterious "M-R" key (any ideas as to what this does?). It seems that you can't type "1" without resorting to elementary arithmetic. You need to type:and "cancel" the 2 or 4. The strange lack of 1, notwithstanding, it has a decent set of features. It has a correction ribbon and a whole slew of characters:

Then I realized that I'd never seen an email address, and certainly never a blog address typed on an actual typewriter, so there was only one thing to do:
Also, if anyone knows where to get a ribbon for a Smith-Corona Electra C/T, please let me know at the above email address.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Rutgers Lunar Symposium

This week at Rutgers the CSXE(Center for Structures in Extreme Environments) is hosting the Rutgers Symposium on Lunar Settlements. Now this may sound funny to you guys; however in reality it’s all very interesting and I have been enjoying the talks. I am not going to bore you with all the cool things that I have found out from these lectures, just the highlights. Of course a good start one of the lecturers on the first day is the founder of SICSA (Saskawa International Center for Space Architecture) he is also the head of the MS program in space architecture at some university. We of course found this very amusing because you can probably do less with space architecture then with philosophy, along with all the other brilliant bits he put in was to say “your all engineering types so you know that the volume of a sphere increases by r squared” another good one was his reference to something’s radiation life. Now away from the guy who clearly doesn’t belong to a guy who does. This guy discovered that lunar soil is magnetic and then went on to discover that this is because regolith contains Nanophase Iron. Additionally, he developed a lunar magnetic vacuum cleaner that’s uses a series of magnetic coils to suck up lunar dust. Of course the thing to top all of this was his experiment with sintering regolith. He discovered that if you microwave lunar soil it melts (hits a temperature of approximately 1200 C before your water will boil) this is because the Nanophase Iron absorbs instead of reflects the microwaves. Finally the highlight of the first day, I met former Senator Dr. Harrison Hagan "Jack" Schmitt. I shook his hand and got a picture with him. This is by far cooler than meeting an active Member of Parliament like Yoni did. This is because that same hand that I shook took this picture.
Additionally, that hand piloted the Apollo 17 Lunar Module to the surface of the moon and finally he became the 12th man to walk on the surface of the moon.
This is him walking on the moon.

From left to right, Me!!!, Sergey, Dr. Schmitt!!!, Paul, Curran, and Stephen.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Strasbourg is quite close to the border with Germany.

Germany has another one of these on their side with a guy walking . . . apparently the French one has been severely vandalized on many occasions. The Nazis did some scary stuff to the regular citzens of this city.

On the way to Paris, classic.

10 points for guessing where this is.

The tower is the Eiffel Tower.

And as a hint of more to come, this garbage can from Montepliers says "no hot ashes."