3.31.2006

ouch.

From the Vancouver Sun:

"And while the physics world has been buzzing since Thursday's announcement of the latest anti-matter find, outsiders have barely noticed.

Why?

The experiment illustrates the difficulty in publicizing work in this abstract world of concepts unknown to most people -- quarks, muons, particle accelerators, and anti-matter itself.

The finding at Fermilab, a U.S. federal physics laboratory, is never going to affect your daily life. Fermilab found a particle called a 'B-sub-s meson.' You won't ever buy an iPod made of B-sub-s mesons. And Fermilab's announcement was pure gobbledygook, which didn't help."

Daaaammmn. You can read the gobbledygook in the Fermilab press release, and judge its gobbledygookyness. Does it make any sense to you?

Speaking of Fermilab, the newest experiment there is one that sends a beam of neutrinos through the earth to a detector in Minnesota. The photo below is the Minnesota site, when it was still under construction.



They just released their first result yesterday, showing that the neutrinos were changing type while travelling along through the earth. (Here's another Fermi press release.) Both of these results have to do with quantum mechanics -- with particles changing from one to another. This description of neutrino oscillation is a pretty good one (if not very in-depth) if you are interested in learning more. It's about a similar experiment in Japan. (Sorry for the Comic Sans, font-aficionados.)

In case you were wondering:
Current Location: Chicago
Happily Drinking Coffee from: Intelligentsia
Eagerly awaiting: Axl Rose's new Album
(thanks Alex)


Comments:
I have to agree with the Sun: the first two paragraphs are almost impenetrable. They are full of jargon, like "mixing," "femtobarn," and "luminosity," and go on about confidence levels and future results before the author even tries to tell me why this result is important.
 
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3.28.2006

overly precious child? bingo!



Did you know you can make your own bingo cards online? Keep it in mind, for the next time that the activity you're attending just isn't entertaining enough on its own. Here's the winning bingo card for the superbowl party at T&L's.

We didn't realize there would be an SUV commercial with a touching father/son moment and an overly precious child so early in the broadcast... although, I don't think it counted for "SUV destroying nature." We had that kind of SUV-racing-across-the-mountainside commercial in mind for that one. And "XTREME!" is meant to be in quotes, but the card generator didn't like the quotation marks, so we had to take them off.

Another thing that would make the generator better is if the free space always stayed in the middle, but since it doesn't we just replaced it with another phrase.

Make your own!


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3.26.2006

for tom's birthday


It's my friend Tom's birthday this weekend, and in his honor, I give you two things. The first involves slow-cooking and tasty bacon. The second involves Prince. What more could you ask for?




I've scanned in this recipe as a pdf, so you can print it out. It's truly great winter-time food, but since it's still too cold out, I don't think you have to wait until next winter to make it. Here are some of my notes on the recipe:

- It's very important to use a good pan for the browning of the bacon, onions, and beef. By "good" I mean heavy and non-non-stick. (A "stick pan"?) Spoons and I have been discussing what the right pan would be - I think something like this ridiculously-on-sale calphalon pan would be perfect for the stove top and oven, Spoons says you should do the stove top stuff in a skillet, deglaze it, and then combine everything in something else for the oven part, like a stock pot. Go with whatever you've got.

- "Imported dark beer" is Guinness, or some other lovely stout or porter (not too bitter)

- Beware. This recipe takes frickin' forever, Mr. Bigglesworth. Hours. Like... 3 or 4. Cubing meat/chopping onions takes longer than you think, then browning the beef takes a while if you do it right, then there's 1.5 hours of oven-time on top of that. If you're going to have this after a day of skiing (as suggested by the authors) you better make it the night before.

The recipe's from a book by some of my all-time-favorite cookbook authors, Rosso & Lukins. It comes from the Silver Palate cookbook. I also highly recommend their New Basics book as well -- New Basics is probably the one I would buy first. They are easy to come by used, often for a dollar or two. (But don't you guys buy them, Tom and Laura... they might be on the way to your house already...) There's some sentimental attachment for me, since New Basics is really the first cookbook I learned to cook from in college, but I think the recipes are really solid, and range from complicated ones with weird ingredients to plain old, easy good stuff, like salsa and guacamole.

And! Didn't I promise you something related to his purple-shiny-ness, Prince? Yes, I did. Thanks to Jordi for this post: Prince Made Us Have Sex, since she couldn't have written a better story for Tom if she had known him personally. The page is technically "safe for work," I think, but you may want some time alone afterwards.

In case you were wondering:
I still haven't managed to leave: Pittsburgh
Sometime very soon I'll be flying to: Chicago
If I could choose Flight or Invisibility, I would choose: Flight, in a second. What does that say about me? John Hodgman will tell you on This American Life's Superpowers episode. (soooo good!)


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3.25.2006

new dress. comes with plastic wrap.




This one is another Chicago street find. I like the way the
plastic looks in the photograph - so billowy. Do you think the
photo-taker owned the store? Did the owner leave the plastic wrap
on the dress in the window so that it was easier to sell
later?

Completely Unrelated:

There's a monthly email from the people who do the Ig Nobel Prizes for wacky research, and they usually have a limerick contest. Here are some nice ones from a while ago.


The judges in the first and last annual Feigned Depressed, Sleepy Voice Limerick Contest have chosen the winners, who in some sense explored the research report:

"Feigned Depression and Feigned Sleepiness: A Voice Acoustical Analysis,"
Nicole Reilly, Michael S. Cannizzaro, Brian T. Harel and Peter
J. Snyder, Brain and Cognition, vol. 55, 2004, pp. 383-6.

The winners will each receive a free, sonorous issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. Here are the triumphant poets and their limericks:

INVESTIGATOR RICHARD GRANGER:

Her children's yawned lack of ambition
Aroused Nicole Reilly's suspicion.
By studying faking
She got those kids waking
and published in Brain and Cognition.

INVESTIGATOR MIRIAM BLOOM:

If depression's a thing you would feign,
'Tis writ it will all be in vain.
Your claim is refutable,
Your voice is quite scrutable--
Or so Reilly et al. ascertain.

INVESTIGATOR ANGELA MARTIN:

If you're faking that you are depressed
Or in desperate need of some rest,
Your voice may be slow
But Reilly will know
That you're really just feigning, at best.

And here is the view expressed by this year's
IMPROBABLE LIMERICK LAUREATE,
MARTIN I. EIGER:

When people pretend they're depressed,
Or when they pretend they need rest,
Their speech rates will change,
But never the range
Of pitches they use. Who'd've guessed?

Mini-AIR is a (free!) tiny monthly *supplement* to the bi-monthly print magazine. To subscribe, send a brief E-mail message to: LISTPROC@AIR.HARVARD.EDU The body of your message should contain ONLY the words SUBSCRIBE MINI-AIR MARIE CURIE (You may substitute your own name for that of Madame Curie.)

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3.24.2006

anyone?




This one's really a mystery to me. It was found on the street in Chicago, on the day when Dean's grocery store burned down and Kaki was in town. We had just picked up a replacement guitar for her show in the MRammerMobile, and there was a huge plume of smoke in the neighborhood. We decided to investigate on foot and found this on the sidewalk. Just like that - a ziploc bag, with a crumpled piece of brown paper in it, and just one word: CRUSH.

Speaking of Kaki, I had this bizarre dream the other night where I was in a college-style cafeteria, as though it was being shot for a Wes Anderson film: all lit with deep goldenrod and dark blue and diner-like polished chrome. No one was there to eat yet, but the people working there had the food out. Kaki was behind the counter wearing her hip glasses and one of those fast-food-style paper hats. She was serving deep-fried fish sandwich squares with long, silver tongs, holding up the fish and yelling, "Fish! Fresh Fish!" heavy with sarcasm. Maybe it's because I saw Barton Fink recently?

I think either I'm sleeping too little or too much...

Still in: Pittsburgh
Spoons returns tomorrow from: White Plains, NY, where he was working on a paper at IBM
AP Wire Headline that Recently Made Me Think it Was Centuries Ago: "Donald Trump's Wife Gives Birth to a Boy"


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3.22.2006

hewwo fwiends

I'm hoping that my lack of blog-posting is an indication that I'm not too bored with my work yet, and, therefore, may be successful finishing grad school after all. Or maybe I'm just lazy. Either one.

In case you were wondering:
Current Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Next travelling: to Chicago, sometime soon?
Important Talks done, toward getting my analysis approved: 1/3
Next Important Work Thing: paper due Monday, for the rest of the people on my experiment to look at what I've been doing
Lemony Snicket books read in the last few weeks: 2

I recently scanned in a folder of stuff found over the past few years, and I'll be posting them up here.

This particular note was found near the Rainbow Palace (the rainbow is right above the door!) in Ann Arbor, which is close to a high school and close enough to campus that the author could have been a high school student or undergrad. (Or middle-aged woman, but I'm guessing not...)

so, so sowwy


Samantha, dear. "Give and give" is what you were looking for, I think. That, and the shake-n-bake.

I submitted it to FOUND magazine, with this text: "Yay for notes left on Awex's car! We found this in our front yard a while ago, and tried to picture what this relationship must have been like. Not a lot of do-and-take, that's for sure. I don't think it was stained when we got it -- that's a result of having it on the fridge for years..."


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3.09.2006

spam, it's pink and it's oval!


Working late again tonight... but rocking it out. I am lucky to have some great CDs of happy times. A birthday CD made by HPhil full of tambourine goodness, a Stevie Wonder CD from Lars, Sonia Dada from Tina, Prince from Tom, many Stefan mixes, CDs full of mp3s that my bro and sis made me... the music is making me feel loved! Right now, I'm trying to keep things bouncy and fun with a little Save Ferris. It's very 1998!


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3.07.2006

you know the terrorists have won when ...


Dean and I are at work at the lab, and Dean has been so kind as to purchase not only tasty coffee and chocolate and cheese, but also a bottle of wine to drink late at night in the office. (It only makes our plots look better! I swear!)

So, we need a corkscrew to open said bottle. (It's the classy kind of $7 bottle with a real cork!) But! There is no corkscrew. I used to have a lovely swiss army knife with a corkscrew, which I lost (surprise!) and replaced with a lovely shiny blue Leatherman with a corkscrew. The corkscrew was the #1 most important item on there - scissors and needle-nose pliers coming in distant two and three. I don't honestly open that many bottles of wine with my keychain corkscrew, but when I could, I always felt badass. There's something nicely dissonant about pocket tools and wine bottles, I think.

So, anyway, I used to carry this awesome multi-tool all the time, for maximum geeking-out ("Who needs a Phillips screwdriver? I'VE got one!") but, alas (alack?) I no longer carry the Leatherman, after one particular incident in the airport where I left my keychain (with Leatherman) in the carry-on luggage and then had to check it or give it up to be sold at Goodwill somewhere. (Look at all those corkscrews!)

So, I leave the Leatherman in a drawer at home where it is not very useful. Sad. And for this, I blame terrorism. In a pre-9/11 world, when I was in a pre-9/11 mindset, I could have carried my Leatherman without fear of it being expropriated (*word of the day!*) by the authorities. Since I don't have it here to open this wine bottle, I feel like there's really no other conclusion to draw: the terrorists have already won.

Wait! A breakthrough! Since the cork is plastic after all, and Dean's Leatherman Juice (no corkscrew) has a Phillips screwdriver, and since he unscrewed a Phillips screw from a doorway and screwed it into the plastic, he was able to use the needle-nosed pliers to pull the cork out. Phew! Take that, terrorists.

Thank you! This has been late-night in the trailers with Kathy and Dean. Please do not worry about us. We are fine.


Comments:
I am in awe of your wine breakthrough! I have been without a corkscrew several times recently while having those very same implements lying around. Silently taunting me for not imagining a creative solution, so it now seems.
 
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