Sunday, December 31, 2006

Letter to Santa Claus

Apparently the Royal Mail knows where Santa lives, ReindeerLand post-code SAN TA1.
See below the letter I wrote to his Saintly-ness

These are the pictures I put in the envelope with it.

Hey, if he can advertise Coke, why not Uncle Bens?
Next week I'll post if he replied.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Kosher Beef

Argentina is known for its beef. Fortunately, there is also really good Kosher beef. There is also Kosher McDonald's.

Although Kosher McDonald's is exciting, we also went to the best (according to everyone in shul) kosher steak restaurant in Buenos Aires. We ordered appetizers, tons of steak and ribs, drinks, and just about every dessert on the menu. As you can see from the third photo, the total bill was $170.
The thing is, the $ sign means "Argentine Pesos" in Argentina. That means, that for a very large meal, at the best kosher steakhouse in Argentina, it costs around 14 US Dollars a person. Also, you may notice in the pictures that there are no steak knives. That's because the steak was so soft that the standard issue restaurant knives were perfectly suited to cutting.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for... this is the purpose of the mysterious bathroom implement:
Aryeh was almost right. It is a sort of soap dispenser. Except that it holds a blob of hard soap that everyone shares.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Winter Break

This is a first for me; I don’t have anything to post about. So I will post about the AIAA airplane. As I have said I am the co-design team leader for the AIAA, and as such I will give you a quick update. The team has chosen a wing and all the other bits that goes with it, so all we need to do now is some fine tuning of the design. That’s all, sorry but I really don’t have anything interesting to talk about. Happy winter break, or for those of you who go to yeshivas happy exams.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Touring British Parliament with an MP

A freind of mine's dad from Uni is an MP. Here I am shaking hands with him, Ian Cawsey (he debates in the house of commons and is part of Tony Blair's party). He was extremely nice and very funny without the creepily smooth feel you get from American politicians. He gave me and another mutual freind a tour of Parliament, stopping occasionally to say hi/ introduce us to his MP/ Lord friends.

We went in the back non-touristy way passing the MP's cubbies "like in grammar school," with name tags and everything. The difference being the little red ribbons which are to hang their swords on (zoom in to see them).

We weren't allowed to take photos at all except for in this hall: built in 1097, the roof is so old that they found some raquet balls stuck in the ceiling from Henry VIII.

find out more about this possibly coolest workplace ever here, but the bottom line is if you live near Grimsby then vote Cawsey!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Mystery Bathroom Implement

Am really tired. Have been traveling by bus, plane, car, foot for way too long. But I'm back in the good ol' Estados Unidos. Firstly, I fixed the pictures from last week's post.
I'll have a more comprehensive post next week, but for now, can anyone guess what the purpose of this mysterious bathroom implement is?
Answers next week.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Happy Exams

As we all go about our holiday shopping, for Chanukah, for Christmas, for Kwanza, for the Winter Solstice, for New Years, and for the Evil Chipmunk, we sometimes forget what the season is really about. Some people will tell you that it is the season of giving, of caring, and of jolliness, I am here to tell you otherwise. Every year as the holiday season rolls around so does the lovely holiday of Final Exams. Now some of you might say “but Final Exams isn’t a holiday”, well you are wrong. They come out about the same time of every year just like other holidays and there is joyous celebration caused by them (when they end). Like other holidays Final Exams causes much preparation even to the point of people staying up all night to be ready for the holiday, I can vouch for this because when my friends and I went to the Rutgers Busch campus dinning hall at midnight for the early breakfast the place was packed. So as you can see you should also give presents to weary college students after they have completed all their finals. I would like to wish everyone very happy holidays, a merry Final Exams, and to remind you to beware of the evil chipmunks.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

English Connection AWOL

I believe that Jonathan/Yoni will not be posting today. From talking to him Saturday night he mentioned that he probably wouldn’t have internet access, the reason he gave me was that his semester had ended, but that they didn’t have exams until after winter break, while those of us in the country of the United States have exams this week. Unfortunately I was not expecting to post anything today and therefore don’t have anything that’s exiting or interesting to tell you about. However, for the record I have found out that the method of integration I talked about last post is called Tabular Integration by Parts. The following is in fact rather old news, at least for those of us who are geeks, so if you have never seen this enjoy if you have enjoy it again.

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy,

it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm.

Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if

However, I will point out that this only works if you know the word in question, this isn’t mentioned in the text. For example “eoxetpneaormus” is a word you might have heard of however “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis” this you might not know. I am 100 percent sure that you will never have seen this “hilrcibottaotndiianiuuifbis”.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Los Lobos y Los Autos

I am currently in Mar Del Plata, Argentina attending a physics conference (if you are just joining our story in progress, see previous blog posts). Among the various attractions here are the sea lions which live in an area near the docks. There is a special sea lion wildlife preserve there. Or something. Here are some pictures of the sea lions:

This one was roaring.


After seeing them in the wild I understand why they're called "lions."
The thing is, that when I said "near the docks" I actually meant "in the middle of the docks." Although the previous pictures made the lobos look all natural, they were on a teeny bit of rocks surrounded by concrete, rusting metal, and other natural niceties. Here is the second half of the colony of sea lions, sitting on a rusting half-sunk ship:

And here are some sea lions inside a large industrial area in the docks. This was a few meters away from the other sea lion area. (Yes, the ones in the picture are alive.)

Here are a few assorted pictures of functioning cars that people drive around here.

Check out the high-tech parking brake:

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Integration by Parts Miracle

Standard method of integration by parts is shown in this image (I only show (u) and (dv) for the first time I do the integration by parts).

If you have no idea of what you read you either have never taken Calc II or don’t remember it. However if you know what you are looking at you will see that we just did integration by part four times in this problem which in this problem took quite a lot of time. Now as an engineer I felt there must be an easier way to do it. One of my friends gave me a method of integration by parts that was show to him by his high school Calc teacher, observe.

If what I am doing here is not clear here is an explanation. You choose your (u) and (dv) the same as you used to do, you then derivate the left column (u) until you reach zero. Then you integrate the right column until you have the same number of rows in both columns. Then diagonally cross over the first value of (u) to the second value of (dv) then add them all together. The signs as show alternate from positive to negative for each pair, starting at positive for the first pair.

As you can see we got the same answer using both methods, but the second is much faster than the first especially if we where to have to do integration by parts more times, such as if our function would be x^10sin(x). We would have to do integration by parts 10 times, or just use the quick trick I just showed you.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Paternoster update

I got some publicity lately for my YouTube paternoster video with the vBlog RocketBoom linking to it here. (It now has over 1,000 views, not a lot for a youtube video, but a lot for one of mine). Some people left comments about it on rocketboom like this guy:

. . . Paternoster . . . meant our father. Apparently, as the lift became popular in Europe, plenty of people started saying quick silent prayers before attempting to use the seemingly dangerous device. The name stuck, and thus the "Cyclical Elevator" was pretty much dropped.

And this other guy:
There was a paternoster at the University I went to (DeMontfort University), also in Leicester.
Rarely running due to people going "over-the-top" I had to climb 7-10 flights of stairs to get to my classes. Great idea if they worked.
Maybe spikes at the top would be an idea?
It probably didn't work at DeMontfort Uni because they're not as good a Uni as Leicester, clearly we are smart enough to keep ours running almost all the time. Anyway, careful not to take any rubbish bins on board or it could decapitate you as shown in the following Swedish diagram.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Do your balls cubes hang low?

Over the course of last year I was doing a rather cool experiment in YU for an Experimental Physics course. I built a macroscopic tool for one-dimensional phonon simulation. This involved hanging lots of (23) steel cubes (in prototypes they were balls) from long strings, vibrating them at different frequencies, and then measuring the amplitude and phase of the vibration of the final block.
I will be presenting the results of this experiment (in the form of a poster) at the PASI conference that I'll be attending next week in Argentina.

You can download a (113kb) PDF of this poster here [pdf], if you want to be able to actually read what's there.

Also, check out this writeup on the conference from YU's webpage [link].

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Fractals, Mandelbrot Fractals

The day after Thanksgiving I went and saw the new James Bond Film Casino Royal. Do not fear I will not ruin the movie for you or anything. For those of you who have never seen a Bond film they traditionally start with some kind of action intense sequence followed by the classic gun barrel view of Bond, he turns and shoot and the camera goes red and falls to the floor. After this is a cartoon type thing with film credits and that particular movies theme song. In this movie the cartoon involved lots of spades, and hearts (card suits) doing things. The main theme however was Mandelbrot fractals using the spades and hearts images. I was definitely the only person in the theater who noticed it.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Lesson 2 on British Signage

We learned in Lesson 1 on British Signage the marks for a railway station. This week we find learn about signs on the rare Motorways of England. Motorways are the highest class of road and they are the only roads in all of England without any roundabouts.

This sign alerts drivers to a fancy merge where two roads of 3 and 2 lanes merge to become a 4 lane motorway.

Often the signs here are very precise, for example this sign is for pedestrians, it means there are absolutely no picnics allowed on this spot, not even with salt and pepper shakers.