GalacticMu

Press your spaceface close to mine

Would You Like Extra Dimensions With That?

Posted by Sunday on May 7, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Apologies to those who know me and have before endured my rant about this video, but I can’t help myself. I watch this thing over and over again, each time getting a little closer to forming my brain into a torus.

In summary, it is a sort of ad and/or visual tool for a book by a gentleman named Rob Bryanton. Touted as a musician foremost (and possessing one seriously suspicious Wikipedia page), I found myself confused when first looking through his website. Is he a quantum physicist? Trained in string theory? No? I clucked at him in disapproval – another What the Bleep Do We Know to make quantum science look like New Age wankery.

But a story emerged that interested me: after a near-death experience and a prolonged exposure to prescription morphine, Bryanton mused on a longtime mental image that he’d had of seven dimensions, a way of visually demonstrating the concept so that someone might grok it. So that while his book might be a metaphysical musing on the nature of perception and the universe, I still appreciate the video as a unique example of how exciting string theory and dimensional study might be. The more I read his writing, the more I like his mellow, creative and exploratory mind-experiments. And while I may not agree on many fronts (there are times when the word “meditation” makes me want to punch myself in the neck), Bryanton always strikes me as an ideal dinner guest; anyone who can talk about universal patterns and not make my theology-hackles rise seems like a good conversationalist to me.

Rob Bryanton’s website for his book “Imagining the Tenth Dimension.”
Rob Bryanton’s personal blog.

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2 Posted in Weird Science

A Special Necklace for a Special Lady

Posted by Sunday on May 6, 2008 at 11:41 pm

Poking around on Etsy will get a girl into ten kinds of trouble, not the least of which is the sudden need to borrow $2,500 from whoever will lend it.  Behold, a most totally awesome necklace:

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(click on image to go to sales page)

Etsy seller discomedusa has a great variety of pieces that fascinate me (including these that I just purchased, thus putting a dent in my goof-off budget for the month), but this necklace is out of this fucking world.  Or rather, not – as discomedusa says,

this showpiece is based on the glass diatom and radiolarian models at the museum of natural history in NYC.

I suppose it is for the best that I don’t have a great deal of money at my disposal, or I’d soon find myself the owner of the worlds largest collection of diatom-inspired jewelry.

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1 Posted in Visual, Weird Science

Housekeeping

Posted by Sunday on May 4, 2008 at 1:11 pm

For anyone following the Mutant 59 saga, you may have noticed that Part 3 is still not yet available.  For this I apologize, and have a super-weak excuse: I haven’t been reading anything this week.  I’ve have a cold/allergy/infection triple roundhouse to the face the last week and as I previously mentioned, the Sudafed has made reading and writing a near impossibility.  Comic books and Netflix are the height of my cognitive ability.

In a non GalacticMu-themed note, does anyone who reads this site use Dreamhost?  BattleGate, our intrepid engineer, has been struggling almost daily with these people, writing them a constant stream of “Why the fuck is our service so slow?” emails and then forehead-against-keyboard slamming when the reply is always “Check with your local service!  Thank you for using Dreamhost!  This is an automated response!  We’re not sure how to use periods, but since an exclamation point has a dot at the bottom, we just use that!”  I let BattleGate handle this because she’s smarter than me, but I thought I’d ask the readers if they have the same problem with every provider or if it’s just Dreamhost that does this.  And for clarity’s sake: we live in different states, so our local service is most certainly not our problem, nor is the problem with BattleGate’s elegant, ladylike coding skillz – just now I timed loading the WordPress dashboard and it took 27 seconds.  This is about 25 seconds longer than any other website pages I load.  That’s 25 seconds of my life I had to spend reflecting on how I’ve wasted my life so far.  Also enough time to doodle a duck shooting laser beams out of its face at Dreamhost:

dsc_6657.jpg

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7 Posted in Daily Space

Ratings Hunters

Posted by Sunday on May 3, 2008 at 5:49 pm

If I have ever claimed to be a good scientist, I hereby rescind. I draw conclusions too early, I extrapolate and hypothesize without facts. I have a tendency to resort to Occam’s Razor as an explanation for everything from why brown jelly is coming out of my nose (sinus infection) to why space human space travel isn’t yet a viable reality (an alien race has made a complicated political pact with the government restricting our passage off planet).

On the other hand, I think it takes a mediocre scientist to acknowledge that they are not being a good scientist. And as a mediocre scientist, I have this to say:

I love TV, but it’s making for some seriously fucked up science.

Today I was sitting around, minding my own business, choking on some post-nasal brown jelly when I decided to watch a TV show called Ghost Hunters. It claimed to be about paranormal researchers whose exploits are captured on film. Great! Two of my favorite scary things, paranormal activity and documentary video.

Joke’s on me!

I’m naive, I know. It is true that I thought the show was going to be a delightful combination of science (EMF detectors!) and paranormal (Deanna Troi stand-ins!), where some flouncy, ringlet-haired older medium would declare that she felt some kind of disturbance in the force, and then Egon Spengler would approach and say “My electromagnetic bi-planar disambiguator is off the charts!” and then I’d feel the delighted chill that all godless heathens feel when we pretend like we believe in things beyond the apparent.

Instead what we have are a team of “investigators” who are part-time plumbers and I don’t know, car stereo installers or something. Which isn’t to say that these people can’t be paranormal investigators, only that I expected more than some dudes from the Brooklyn or whatever walking into buildings, listening to the local’s stories about a place and then turning out the lights and going, “Did you hear that?”

(I’m very distracted from writing right now because I can see and more importantly HEAR my single middle-aged female neighbor lip-synching and performing to Celine Dion, during which she walked over to her balcony and emptied her ashtray onto the flower bed.)

There are so many things wrong with Ghost Hunters I’m not certain where to start. Well, most importantly: it is just terrible, terrible science. I know, I know, terrible science in a paranormal investigation show? But gimme a break here – I’ve experienced paranormal or unexplainable events before, that doesn’t mean I don’t respect scientific method. It just means I don’t understand what happened. But even the set-up is bad: the crew of the show arrives at a location where locals tell them all the stories of paranormal activities they can think of. So now you have a group of people that are utterly predisposed to experience those exact events, undoubtedly to the exclusion of other possible events. Which is to say, if you tell someone there are voices heard in a bedroom, that person will then try to hear those voices. What if something else happens, like a vase moves or a cold spot forms? Chances are, the observer will not even recognize an event because it wasn’t what they were expecting. And the flip side, if nothing happens at all in that room, the observer will still most certainly be straining to make order of the white noise, order I have no doubt their brain will provide.

Additionally, the “investigators” seem, and please forgive me, but they they seem a little slow. In the brain region. In one of the shows a character is describing a bar as having once been a speakeasy, to which another adult, American man says “What’s that?”

For the most part, poor production choices are the greatest failure of the show. Tense, quiet moments are overloaded with sound effects. Scenes are shot and cut badly in order to create a sense of frenetic danger. It all goes to cement what one might suspect of the show: that what we’re actually watching is about 25 minutes worth of someone’s home video of a moody locale. Made into a one hour Sci-Fi Channel show.

But I don’t want a bunch of perfectly staid, buttondown disbelievers going in, either. I actually want to watch these freaked out people rooting around in an old hotel attic – I just want them to turn off the goddamn “Spooky Halloween Sounds” record played over the show and focus on the things that are really happening. How about you have a “guide,” or an agreed-upon middleman who arranges for the investigation and knows what has been happening. The person who knows that someone was hung to death in the bell tower. Then that “guide” takes the crew all through the building and has them check out all the rooms. That way, when no one notices anything interesting about the bell tower, we can say with a vague sense of conclusion “There’s nothing spooky going on in the bell tower.” Or, excitingly, “I felt weird in the bell tower,” “Hey, me too!” and then the guide can reveal: someone was hung to death in there! Wouldn’t that be fun pseudoscience? I think so.

Watch a few episodes of Ghost Hunter at Hulu.com, in the event you don’t have the Sci-Fi Channel.

The Atlantic Paranormal Society, the group that the TV show films. Take note of the “TAPS Mentality” page where they write, “ Remember, though we like to have fun, we understand the fear and the seriousness of your situation. We are after all, normal people. Heck, I don’t think we even watch Star Trek. ha ha ha.” Ha ha ha indeed, people who have a TV show on the Sci-Fi Channel.

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5 Posted in TV, Weird Science

I’m a bit of a kitchen whore, which means that while I love technology as much as the next geeky lady, I get a little wetter over the cooking stuff. Not gadgets like onion choppers (uh, have you tried a knife?) but more like cooktops. Oh, lovely cooktops.

Take for example this sexy beast:

izona-cook-surface-details.jpg

That’s right, it recesses when not in use. It’s the Izona Luna cooktop, which combines the technology of ceramic/glass cooktops with gas. This may seem just gimmicky at first glance, but it in fact combines the two best qualities of both cooktop methods. You see, nothing cooks like gas. Nothing. There are a lot of scientists that can go about explaining why this is, but I’m not one of them. But a gas range (electric too, for that matter) is notoriously hard to clean due to the open but inaccessible chambers directly below the cooking element. A ceramic/glass cooktop is a smooth surface, but the heating element in these is often no better than a cheap electric stove.

Blah blah blah, all of this doesn’t matter – look at that thing! It makes me want to fry up a big batch of vat-grown meat and some heavily gene-modified vegetables.

Via Appliancist

Link to the flash-heavy Izona website for lots of images of gorgeous women lounging on cooking technology.

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7 Posted in Techie

Here, Have A Giant Squid

Posted by Sunday on May 1, 2008 at 11:27 am

The last few days have been a gelatinous blur, caused in large part by the professional quantities of pseudoephedrine employed to stop a mysterious brown jelly from coming from my sinuses.  Every attempt I’ve made at being creative has resulted in the same half-sentences of frenetic boredom, if you can imagine such a contradiction.

Also: anyone who says that the replacement chemicals for pseudoephedrine they’ve foisted on the public are in any way equal, I invite them personally to a contest of my choosing.  I choose bake-off, incidentally, and a gentlewomanly warning: I will beat your ass so far into the ground your family will need to hire a forensic anthropologist to identify your remains.  But the matter remains: pseudoephedrine is a miracle drug, and I imagine that it will soon go the way of every other drug that makes life worth living.  It’ll be available only via prescription, which means that anyone who wants any will need to run the gauntlet of suspicious, paranoid doctors who do not believe that educated adults can take care of themselves.

Let’s move on to the giant squid, yes?

The Te Papa Museum of Wellington, New Zealand is far and above the best museum I’ve ever been to, so it comes as no surprise to me that they are now the home of the foremost giant squid of our time, which they refer to charmingly as “The colossal squid.”  I think it gives the creature an added respectability.

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Photo © unknown/Te Papa’s Blog

They’ve been sporadically blogging the process of unthawing her and then preserving her remains in formalin.  Expect photos and direct communications from the scientists examining the squid.

Te Papa’s Blog via Neatorama

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