Archive for November, 2005

ATLAS on BoingBoing

ATLAS partially assembled in cavern
This Friday BoingBoing mentioned ATLAS, the huge particle physics experiment I work on. Things are looking much more impressive down in the pit (where that pictures was taken) now that the barrel torroidal magnets (the striped radiating tubes) are now in place. It will be fun to watch the installation of the muon chambers that cover the torroid, but in a way this is one of the most visually exciting moments because now the cavern is really starting to fill with equipment. You can get more of the context by watching the video on the ATLAS public page. Also, webcams monitor the cavern all the time for your viewing pleasure.

Hopefully this will inspire me to finally get around to posting the photos from my tour of the pit more than a year ago. Keep your eyes peeled for updates. In the mean time, I could give you Jeremy’s closeup photo of the toroidal magnet structure from his tour of the pit this summer.

Also, I notice that CERN, on their public page, are announcing a big video conference event that will happen December 1. Einstein lovers of the world should tune in.

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Hexagonal Drums

hexagonal drums
Hexagons rock! And remember the 80s? You could rock with hexagons! I have but one complaint: I know hexagons and pentagons ain’t hexagons. Get your regular sided polygons straight. Got it? Good. (via Gizmodo)

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Double the Fun

x-ray of root canal and crown
Chicken pox and root canals are two things nature had the good sense not to inflict one of us our our teeth. Well, that is except for me. I am one of the brave and few who has had chicken pox twice, both when I was quite young and both quite mild. Let’s hope that is the way of the root canals too. Today I was surprised to discover I need another root canal in a tooth that I was under the impression had seen it’s share of root canals. (Just one is a generous share, I’d say.)

The deal is this. Almost exactly a year ago I had a tooth abscese and need immediate treatment. It was a tooth that my dentist had filled about 10 months before with the warning that it was 50/50 that it would need a root canal within the year. I got the bum 50 in the deal. I visited a dental clinic in Geneva and the dentist cleared things right up. Other than the pain I was already in the procedure was quick and painless; within a day the tooth felt fine. Now, a year after the root canal and about 10 months after my dentist had put a more permenant filling in the tooth, a piece of the tooth broke off. (Thanks to Linda’s kind friend in Ohio and her chocolate tooth-chipping cookies.) What was really strange was when the dentist today, after looking at my x-ray, asked me “are you sure you had a root canal on that tooth?” It seems likely that the dentist in Geneva didn’t do a full root canal such as is commonly done in the States. Though another possibility, suggested by the endontist that I also saw today, was that over time saliva had somehow leaked into the canal and disolved away the filling. He said such a thing is possible in as little as a month’s time. In any case, both the endontist and my dentist believe it is important it get done completely before my dentist covers the tooth with a crown. So, on Thursday morning I’m going in for my second root canal. Wheee! Only then will I be able to go back to the dentist to repair the gaping hole in my mouth that is tooth 29.

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Cookies and Umbrellas

I love this title-caption-photo combination. I am very hungary right now and am starting to crave a big plate of chocolate chip umbrellas and milk.

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Greatest Independent Films

Andie MacDowell with camera in Sex, Lies, and Videotape
Everyone loves lists! Here’s one I enjoyed browsing:
Empire’s 50 Greatest Independent Films

(Via MetaFilterBoingBoing)

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New Photos & Life Aquatic

Zissou looks through porthole in Life Aquatic
I’ve started adding photos to my Winter 2004 gallery. I should be able to finish this afternoon. After that I think I will go back and work on adding some photos from the summer of 2004. I know Pierre would like to see them and he was kind enough to lone me his Life Aquatic DVD this week. So, my next uploads are dedicated to you, Pierre!

(Though it may not have lived up to all the reviewers’ expectationsRushmore is a somewhat better film—I found Life Aquatic to be great notheless.)

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“God in Einstein’s Universe”

World Year of Physics logo
Wow, even the church-goers can’t escape the World Year of Physics. I noted this among the announcements on the CERN users page today,

A service to mark Einstein Year —
Sunday 13 November, 10:00, St. Peter’s Cathedral, Geneva —
Pastor Henry Babel will speak on the theme ‘God in Einstein’s Universe’ and Dieter Bleschmidt will convey a message on behalf of the scientific community

Culte pour marquer l’année Einstein —
dimanche 13 novembre à 10h00, cathédrale Saint-Pierre, Genève —
Le Pasteur Henry Babel parlera sur le thème « Dieu dans l’univers d’Einstein » et Dieter Bleschmidt apportera un message de la part des scientifiques.

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Wind Coming

Nicolas Cage in The Weather Man, umbrella in rain
We’ve been hit with some crazy nice weather recently. The last few days have reached up into the 70s (after a few weeks were it was getting down to freezing at night). Now it looks like we are in for a fun ride tomorrow. Temperatures are dropping rapidly and the wind will reach into the upper 30s in MPH, gusting to 57 MPH. This according to the best forecast around, the National Weather Service – Ann Arbor.

Oh, and this makes a convenient segue into a mention of The Weather Man staring Nicolas Cage. It’s not a bad movie, I recommend seeing it. Nicolas Cage doesn’t always play it perfectly and at times the writing is overwrought, but there are a few brilliant bits of humor (one being the tartar sauce train of thought scene) juxtaposed against some believable drama. Cage plays a Chicago TV weatherman who’s life is simultaneously going right and going wrong, mostly wrong. It can be uncomfortable to watch because Cage’s character very clearly doesn’t know how to handle himself, but he somehow muddles through.

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Gallery Update: all recent photos up

A bunch of new photos went up in my 2005- Ann Arbor gallery. All the photos that I plan to post for that section should now be up. The titles are “Return from Geneva”, “CERN Rockers”, “Toledo Speedway: Night of Destruction”, “Babbs After Party”, “Terry’s Potluck”, “Math Friends at House”, “Tech Transfer Fair”, “Around House”, and “Halloween”. I have no captions or meta data at the moment, that will take more time.

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Laptop Lost in Kentucky

Thinkpad
I finally received my new laptop today. It rocks! It’s a Thinkpad 42p with 1.8GHz Pentium M, 60G 7200RPM drive, builtin Wi-Fi, builtin keyboard light, a DVD writer, and the usual kick-ass IBM keyboard and solid build quality. I love it! It wasn’t cheap but I didn’t spend as much as I could of for a computer like this because the T42s are being replaced by the newer T43 models so the T42s are nicely discounted. The -p model Thinkpads are a special workstation variant with a hi-res (1600×1200) screen and special video adapters with more video ram (128MB). It even has a finger print reader to supplement or substitute for password security. That isn’t a feature I really cared about, but it certainly sounds cool. In addition, IBM invented the TrackPoint, that little eraserhead in the middle of the keyboard, and they implement it very well on all the Thinkpads. It’s shocking to me that people consider Trackpads an acceptable alternative. The Wi-Fi and keyboard light are notable IBM features. This laptop has better Wi-Fi reception than many laptops because IBM had the smart idea to locate the antannea along the top edge of the screen rather than buried under the keyboard. Also on the top edge of the screen is a small LED to illuminate the keyboard when it is very dark.

My only two unfulfilled desires with regard to features is builtin flash media slots and a Firewire port. I can get along fine without them, though. With regard to design I only wish the CD drive opened toward the front instead of the side. My messy desk leaves little room to the side, but plenty in front. (I can see how the placement on the side might be advantageous on an airplane, often there is more room to the side than in front.)

What’s this in the title about the laptop getting lost in Kentucky? I ordered the computer over three weeks ago with shipment estimated to be “within 2 weeks”. That did in fact happen, but when the shipment arrived in Kentucky from Hong Kong it was held for a random customs inspection. When I called about it I was told that the issue affected a large shipment of computers and Lenovo had to send someone in person to Kentucky to resolve the issue. (Lenovo is the Chinese company that now owns IBM’s desktop and laptop division. Though my laptop is boldy stamped with “IBM Thinkpad”, as of this summer it is technically a Lenovo product, not IBM.) If you view the rest of this entry you can seen the detailed and confusing tracking info I was faced with for over the week.

Read the rest of this entry »

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