Archive for October, 2005

Wobbly CERN Tables

Joe and Reza around CERN table

This is somewhat cool, and, like the last entry, brings back good memories from my time at CERN. An article on discusses some mathematical research focused on the most important of all activities at CERN, coffee break. AndrĂ© Martin claims to have proven that given some reasonable conditions one can always rotate a four legged table such that it is steady on uneven ground. I know exactly where he’s coming from, the tables outside the main restaurant at CERN are notably wobbly. The mediocre quality of the tables is an issue (they are orders of magnitude down the quality scale from the table pictured in the Nature article), but one of minor significance compared to the extremely uneven ground. I must admit that I was rarely industrious enough to spend time rotating the table into it’s ideal orientation, thought it might have been the significant annoyance around, second only to the bold little pomme frite filching birds. Mostly we left the coffee to slosh. It was one of the many little thrills that made up the fullness of life as we whiled away an hour in the afternoon sun gazing off toward the Geneva and western Europe’s pinnacle, Mont Blanc.

You can find the table rotating paper on arXive. This was mentioned on BoingBoing.

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Frozen Versoix

ice on trees and cars
Before getting down to business today I hit the StumbleUpon button (a Firefox extension) just once and got this picture of the frozen shore of Lake Geneva. Ah, the memories! I have many more photos of this.


New Mobile Phone

Pink Motorola RAZR V3

I received my new mobile phone yesterday. It is in fact the first mobile phone I’ve ever owned, and in true Alan style it was intensely researched and is guaranteed to be supra-gadgetacular. No, it’s not the limited edition Maria Sharapova Pink RAZR V3 [Engadget], though I’m confident enough in my masculinity to admit there is some appeal there. Of course, if I were a Chip Chick I’d wander blindly in an estrogen soaked haze at the mere thought of it. All of my research* has shown that women love pink things endorsed by hot Russian tennis stars.

The phone is in fact the Sony Ericsson K750i. You can find information and reviews on many sites, Mobileburn, CNET, and Mobile Review, are a few examples. Nearly everybody who reviews it rates it as one of very best phones aviable right now.

Sony Ericsson K750i
The K750i has a 2 megapixel camera with autofocus, a memory slot that can hold up to 2GB, an MP3 player, an FM radio and many great features. Just now I discovered that I can record calls with a few button presses. I can also play movies if they are encoded in the right format. The camera has two insanely bright white LEDs that substitute for a flash and you can use them anytime as a pocket flashlight. The camera has a nice sliding cover and camera-like shutter button and zoom. (It doesn’t have optical zoom, but it does have autofocus.) The camera is almost certainly the best available on a cell phone (at least outside Korea and Japan). In fact this phone isn’t officially aviable in the US at all. None of the major mobile phone companies offer it, instead you have to buy it from a third party. I purchased mine from Mobilebee with a 1-year contract with T-Mobile. It’s a triband GSM phone so I can use it in Europe, and the 1-year contracts that T-Mobile offers are nice because I will likely spend a lot of times at CERN in the future.

* a few seconds thought.

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Banana Trivia

Rejected banana

Did you know that bananas (at least the variety that most of us eat) will likely go extinct? See the NYTimes article: “No Seriously, Save the Bananas” Of course, as always, Wikipedia is the voice of reason, and the situation likely isn’t as dire as it might first sound.

Also, I was scanning the painfully named and highly questionable list of trivia, “True Facts”, when I came across this:

Hostess Twinkies were originally filled with banana filling. The filling was changed during World War II when the United States experienced a banana shortage.

At least this “fact” seems to be “true”, see for example Wikipedia or better yet, the official Hostess FAQ

I just bought some chocolate covered banana chips at the new candy store here in Ann Arbor near the physics department (on S. University, just past Ulrichs). I found them distinctly unsatisfying. Much better is the banana candy I would buy at Carrefour in Geneva, or even better is the banana candy Mirko, Giulia’s friend from Pisa, kindly gave me when he heard we were fellow banana candy lovers. I wish I could remember the brand name, the candy came in shiny golden wrappers, as all good things do.


Video of the People, for the People (though who specifically, no one knows)

Nowhere but at Google Video can you catch, in one moment, the not-so-epic battle between a drunk Brit and some hot sauce, (Matt Smarts vs. Medium Piri Piri Sauce), and in the next a talk at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (Hyperplane Arrangements and Ideals Generated by Powers of Linear Forms) All hail the lord, king, and god of the internet, Google! What media will you conquer next?

Additional choice slices from my random search include Gonzo as Comando and Bus Crash There’s also the overly-epic school project Hamlet the Jedi which may not go down as easy as a bottle of medium sauce, but think of the extra credit. Sidebar of the future: “credit by Google” (earning 0.0023 points per click-thru, only 200 more and you’ve got an A!)



I’m not a a Star Wars geek like some other people but I’m happy to admit that these directions for making an X-wing Fighter out of Paris transit tickets are the best thing since light-saber sliced bread. Multiple tickets are needed and some cutting is required, but according to Wikipedia you are still allowed to call it origami. I love how he integrates the magnetic strip of the ticket into the design. It kicks ass! Oh, and we can all use this moment to practice our French.

(found via BoingBoing)


Puzzle Alarm

I need a 500 piece version of the puzzle alarm clock. Four pieces is just not going to be enough to make a non-brain-eater out of this zombie in the morning.

Thankfully it is not as necessary as it could be. The scheduling this semester has been very kind to me. I don’t have any commitments before 11am every day of the week! Usually that gives me two full hours of transition time to get me running in 100% human mode. Of course there is always room for improvement, but I doubt the University of Michigan is going to adopt 30 hour days any time soon.

(Found via The Cool Hunter)

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