another spam—quick, call 911

October 25, 2006 at 4:45 pm | | great finds, science and the public, wild web

I was in my home town (Falmouth, Maine) for a few days for a cousin’s wedding. I always read the Police Beat in the local paper. Very funny. This one might top the time some old lady called the police because there was a tennis ball in her yard.


Another Victory for Newtonian Mechanics – take that Brownian Motion!

October 21, 2006 at 6:54 pm | | everyday science, literature

It is well known that low Reynolds number flows are reversible.

This is perhaps the best demonstration of Newtonian mechanics in fluids that I’ve ever seen. It’s also a great analogy for “dephasing-rephasing” events that happen in photon echo, NMR, and other spectroscopic experiments. Take a look, and make sure to check out video 1.

Someone forget to tell Feynman physics doesn’t suck, it blows.

October 20, 2006 at 1:55 pm | | literature, nerd

The solution to Feynman’s infamous sucking sprinkler problem. What really amazed me about the article was how true to the KISS principle the paper was. Alright, so it has a Gedanken experiment of shooting bullets from a gun underwater on a boat, but who out there has honestly not plotted an assassination staged from the moonbay of a marine biology ship? The key is shooting from underwater to begin with, so you don’t have to contend with refraction.

A first case study of homosexual necrophilia in the Mallard Duck

October 18, 2006 at 3:57 pm | | crazy figure contest, literature, science@home

As promised, an oldy but goody.

Beyond the great title, the article is an even better read, and truly deserving of it’s Ignobel prize status.

Yeah, Baby, Yeah!

fermi’s golden rule?

October 17, 2006 at 3:14 pm | | nerd

I can never remember Fermi’s Golden Rule. All I can think is each electron doing unto other electrons as that electron would have other electrons do unto itself. I mean, I know that it really has something do to with transition probabilities and perturbation theory, but how am I supposed to remember it with such a silly name?

fat = stupid?

October 15, 2006 at 8:05 pm | | crazy figure contest, literature

OK, this one wins the worst-figure contest:


The authors of this paper (Cournot, M. et al.Relation between body mass index and cognitive function in healthy middle-aged men and women. Neurology 2006, 67, 1208–1214. or read the PDF: cournot_fat_stupid_neuro_2006.pdf) try to argue that there is a negative correlation between body-mass index (BMI) and cognative function (i.e. fat people are stupid). They report the correlations (such as -0.008 +/- 0.13) that are the equivalent of saying, “There are 3 people in this room … plus or minus 300.”

I swear to god, this is a quote from the paper describing that figure (this is not taken out of context, read it for yourself):

This cross-sectional association between BMI at baseline and cognitive scores persisted after adjustment for age, sex, educational level, physical activity, and region of residence and had a linear shape (figure).

Linear shape?!? Looks more like a big fat (pun intended) blob to me. Isn’t that awesome? The funniest part is that they worked so hard to adjust for all these different parameters, and still got a complete scatter. The authors must be fat, ’cause they’re pretty stupid. I can’t believe this stuff can get published! This is why people are starting to claim that most published research findings are false.

Too bad I already made the mugs for the Chemical Physics Journal Club this year, because that plot would have been perfect!

[I have to thank Spectroscope for bringing my attention to this travesty. I also have to thank Retrospectacle for reminding me why the softer sciences have a bad reputation; but my housemate thinks Shelley’s hot, so I won’t be too mean.]

My nerd-factor goes to 11!

October 12, 2006 at 10:45 am | | great finds, hardware, nerd

Hey hey hey, do you know what Saturday is? Its electronics flea-market day! I plan to check out this fine event at De Anza community college. Interested? come along.

In other news, I just got an ELENCO ANALOG-DIGITAL TRAINER XK-550 from eBay for a song. Finally I can learn some neat-o PIC programming and start working on my next Burning Man project(s). Look ma, no flip-flops.


Time permitting, I’ll be throwing out schematics for my latest and greatest circuit ditties occasionally for the masses


October 12, 2006 at 8:33 am | | grad life

I was on the train yesterday and saw out the window a big field. For some reason, I thought, hey, after I graduate, I could be homeless for a little while. What?!? If my goal is to be homeless, why am I in grad school? Good question: but I’m really enjoying science and research, so what’s the point in questioning anything…

On a similar note, I really want to get a camper van and sleep in it on days when I’m too lazy to commute all the way back up to my place in the city. But where would I park it? And my girlfriend doesn’t seem too thrilled with the idea (even though I’d let her use it too!).

Sam’s Laser Site (Different Sam)

October 9, 2006 at 11:05 am | | hardware, wild web

I came across this absolute compendium of amature laser know-how a while back, and figured I’d post it for the world to to share. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about building your own laser.

Let’s just say this has given me a couple of pet projects, with updates to follow any actual progress.

view the satellites

October 5, 2006 at 1:41 pm | | nerd, science and the public, software, wild web

My brother showed me this cool Applet from NASA: you can track tons of satellites! My favorites are the many satellites in geosynchronous orbit—this is called the “Clarke belt” after the author Arthur C. Clark, who discovered/promoted the idea of placing satellites in an orbit with radius 42,000 km. Also, if you click on “Satellite -> Select” and choose “Human Crew” under type, you can see what I presume is the International Space Station. But where’s the type with “Simian Crew,” so we can see how the monkeys are doing?

Wow, that’s a lot of citations!

October 3, 2006 at 5:42 pm | | literature

I was looking for an old Chidsey paper on his SAM work in Bell labs and came accross a startling discovery:

The paper (Porter, M. D.; et al. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 1987, 109, 3559-3568 ) has been cited 2070 times and, in 2003 (about 500 citations ago), was listed as JACS 43rd most cited paper since the beginning of the journal.

His second most cited paper, a study on free energy dependence of electron transfers (Chidsey, CED; Science, 1991, 251, 919-922) has a measly 667 citations. His top 5 are rouned out with a 1991 alkane-thiol paper in JACs at 649 citations, a SAM chemical-functionality paper in Langmuir from 1990 with 602 citations, and a alkyl-monolayers on silicon from 1995 JACS cited 420 times.

So, apparently in 1998, the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI, now Thomson Scientific, and creaters of the Web of Knowledge) ranked the top 10000+ chemists between in terms of number of times their work (published between 1981 and 1997) has been cited. Chidsey was 542nd with 3049 citations for only (get this) 36 papers!!! That’s 84.69 average citations per paper! In terms of average citations/paper, Chidsey is 272nd out of 10,000+.

Some other famous Stanfordians on the list (data from 1981-1997):

Read more of this post…

weird al is “white and nerdy”

October 2, 2006 at 9:57 am | | nerd, wild web

Sorry, I know this is so lame to just link to a YouTube video, but I really liked this Weird Al video, “White and Nerdy.”



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