For the purposes of moral instruction and edification of the youth:
Have you had to endure industrial or promotional films? Do the crass clichÃ©s of commercial hack-work leave you cold and unmoved?
Or, are you a communications specialist in a burgeoning field of industry? Do you have a pressing need to explain the world-changing innovations of your corporation to the public?
If these descriptions sound familiar, then Calvin Communications has the tool for you! We here at Science After Sunclipse are proud to present The (Your Name Here) Story, the world’s first truly multi-purpose cinema document:
Continue reading The (Your Name Here) Story
You know, sometimes I regret having a workaday job in the hinterlands of academia (that is to say, two subway stops from MIT). It drastically reduces the quantity and variety of the shenanigans up to which I can get.
To wit, I could never fake a website to create the illusion of a news organization, assume the role of a man inflicted with “Asperger’s Syndrome by Proxy,” bluff my way into Ken Ham’s Creation “Museum” and write the whole thing up, gonzo-style.
Yes, there’s video:
â€œIn the garden,â€ Ham said, looking over me into the filtering crowd, â€œyou know, the Bible tells us in the garden before sin, in fact in the world before sin, all animals were vegetarian and so was Adam and Eve, and even though they have sharp teethâ€¦â€
â€œWhy they have sharp teeth?â€ I interjected in my slow droning falsetto.
A cameraman, most likely from a local news outlet, rushed to Buntingâ€™s left to film the inspiring exchange.
â€œRight. Thereâ€™s a lot of animals that have sharp teeth, uh, that only eat plants,â€ Ham ruminated, â€œfor instance most, most bears are primarily vegetarian, yet they have teeth like a lion or a tigerâ€¦â€
â€œThey eat fish!â€ I vehemently disagreed. â€œI saw it on the Discovery Chan-nelâ€¦ but itâ€™s sec-u-lar.â€
â€œSome of them do,â€ Ham conceded, â€œbut a panda eats only bamboo.â€
The interview was going well. Ham was spouting nonsensical creationist rhetoric, and I was in full-blown retard mode. We were like long lost twins. He continued averting his gaze, however. My assumed detriments reminded him of manâ€™s fall from grace. It was time to test this man of God.
Read the whole thing. . . and have a safe and happy Independence Day.
(We were somewhere outside Newton on the Mass Turnpike when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying to Kevin and Mark, “I feel a little strange; maybe you should drive,” and suddenly the air was full of huge pterodactyls, swooping and diving around the yellow Datsun 240Z, and a voice was screaming, “Holy Jesus, what are these goddamn extinct animals?”. . . .)
I had dim sum in Chinatown today with nine friends. On the way there, all ten of us saw a street festival which we had not anticipated, and seven of us saw a beach towel with a picture of Spiderman and the legend, “Red Spider.” The bill came to 107 dollars plus twenty percent tip, which using roughly fifty person-years of higher education was proportionately divided among the ten lunch-eaters.
All of this is just to set the mood for Look Around You #1: Maths.
On the way back, we saw a real-life lolcat, on a box of crabs in the store where I bought the mango juice I am drinking now: “U B CAREFUL! WE STILL LIVING!”
(Tip o’ the fedora to Eric, who observes, “See in America we had Square One.“)
I’ve blagged before about physics videos available on the Web. I just heard about SciTalks, a site for gathering and organizing links to videos on scientific and technical topics. This was something I recall Eric and I wishing for just a few weeks ago, so Iâ€™m glad to see somebody trying to make it happen! Hopefully, people will pick up this idea and run with it, so that science-themed videos will actually be easy to find. It’ll be, like, totally sweet: with freely available “multimedia” resources, we’ll finally live up to the hopes we had in, I dunno, 1995 or thereabouts.
In other news, Terence Tao writes about “ultrafilters, nonstandard analysis, and epsilon management,” making me feel that I was not the only one to gripe and grouse during the epsilon-delta part of undergraduate analysis. Tao also mentions the idea of a “highly rational number,” that is, a rational number p / q where p and q are both limited in magnitude (for some slightly technical definition of “limited”). This nomenclature opens all sorts of possibilities: for example, I’m curious if one could restrict the whole numbers to a new group, the “wholesome numbers,” which have large family values.
I wouldn’t bring up the topic in this context if I didn’t have a video to show. Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Lehrer:
[VIDEO REMOVED FROM GOOGLE’S ARCHIVES]
This is the lecture in which Feynman presents an example I have appropriated before, concerning the necessity of knowing math before being able to do science, and how popularizations of physics often fail because they leave out the mathematics.
Feynman’s example goes like this: I can say that when a planet travels in its orbit, a line from the planet to the Sun sweeps out equal areas in equal times. I can also say that the force pulling on the planet is always directed toward the Sun. Both of these statements require a little math — “equal areas,” “equal times” — but it’s not really math, not a kind to give the layman heebie-jeebies. Given some time for elaboration, one could translate both of these statements into “layman language.” However, one cannot explain in lay terminology why the two statements are equivalent.
Continue reading Missing No More
This Friday, for your viewing entertainment, the panda gnomes which keep the bits flowing through the tubes and stop the Blagnet from unraveling present the Beatles in 1964, performing “The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe.”
Hah! And you thought the only thing the Beatles had to do with Shakespeare was the BBC production of King Lear which John piped into the background of “I am the Walrus.”
While I’m drawing the diagrams for my next actual math post, why not enjoy a video mashup set to a Tom Lehrer tune?
Forget the future of citizen journalism — this is what online video is all about.
Remember, I’m the blogger. I make the decisions.
10. The Fifth Element — sure, it’s over the top, but that just means it cleared a high bar (and Milla Jovovich is an excellent addition to any Periodic Table).
9. Metropolis — at least as recently restored, it’s deep, complicated, character-driven and visually hardcore.
8. Forbidden Planet — Monsters! Monsters from the id! Nobody can be trusted, except maybe Robbie the Robot, ’cause he’s programmed with the Three Laws.
7. Brazil — there’s a reason paperwork labeled “Form 27B-6” suddenly started appearing in the MIT Student Services Center a few years ago.
6. Ghost in the Shell — the perfect mixture of philosophy and explosions.
Continue reading Meme-o-Rama: Top 10 SF Movies
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[The video previously referenced here, one of Richard Feynman’s Messenger Lectures, is no longer available due to copyright concerns. I should make perfectly clear that I’ve never had a copy of this Feynman video or any other on my server; I found it one day during a bit of idle Google-searching, and the film to which I linked was stored on Google’s servers. Offhand, I don’t even know how to make a video stored on my own computer play in a nice little box.]
Don Herbert, better known to my generation as Mr. Wizard, has died. He was 89.
Everyone needs to go, now, and build a baking-soda-and-vinegar volcano in his honor. With enough of them, we can move the world.