maradydd: (Default)
For free, even. And with a lot of help from physicists all over the world.

Relatedly, I want to start a collection of Famous Dutch-Speaking Scientists With Distinctive Moustaches:

Gerard 't Hooft, Nobel prizewinning physicist Bart Preneel, rockstar cryptographer

I'm not sure whether to include Edsger Dijkstra or Guido van Rossum, whose beards seem more distinctive to me
maradydd: (Default)
One of the cooler things about living in Belgium is that it is basically impossible to live in a reasonably-sized town and not be within a couple of blocks of a bakery. (We're a block from one, and within four blocks of two more.) This has had a really positive impact on my life in terms of breakfast. Every morning, post-caffeine, I hike over to our nearest bakery, which is also a candy shop, and pick up a bunch of fresh pastries to start [ profile] enochsmiles' and my day.

This morning, the baker -- a short, apple-cheeked woman who in thirty years will look like every cartoon Mrs. Claus you've ever seen -- was laying out a tray of Santa-shaped chocolates as I walked in. "Oh, Sinterklaas?" I asked. "Nee," said the baker. "Kerstman!" This threw me, since I knew that the English "Santa Claus" is a borrowing of the Dutch "Sinterklaas", which of course is a contraction of "Sint-Nicolaas" (St. Nicholas). Come to find out, after Anglophone culture borrowed Sinterklaas and morphed him into Santa Claus, Dutch (and, by extension, Belgian) culture borrowed him right back as Kerstman ("Christmas man"). So now we have two St. Nicholases (Nicholi?), one who brings presents on December 5th, one who brings presents on December 25th.
maradydd: (Default)
An enterprising open-source hacker who goes by the moniker Famulus, using polywell plasma confinement, has achieved desktop-scale nuclear fusion.

There are some really lovely photos of plasmas and lab equipment on the blog, and all the STL files for the polywell itself, plus Ruby source code for running the thing, are available on github. Go to.

ETA: That's fusion full stop, not "a sustained fusion reaction producing more energy than is consumed by plasma containment". I'd wager my left temporal lobe that he's running at a net energy loss. However, polywell confinement is one of the more promising technologies out there for net-gain fusion; interested parties should check out the work that EMC2 Fusion is doing.
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The one conference that [ profile] enochsmiles never wants to miss is the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium, which is the place to be in the summer if you are an anonymity and privacy researcher.

I wanted to look up a paper from this year's conference, and googled "PETS 2009". Third from the top was PETS 2009 -- the Eleventh IEEE International Workshop on Performance Evaluation of Tracking and Surveillance.

It's like PETS and anti-PETS. The mind reels.


Aug. 11th, 2009 02:44 am
maradydd: (Default)
Lobster bisque, amaretto and attribute grammars on a rainy night.
maradydd: (Default)
When you need to glue crayfish to plastic, or anything else to anything else for that matter, This to That is there.
maradydd: (Default)
A three-day-long rave. In a field full of windmills. With an absinthe bar. Cool art; music so good that I frequently could not convince myself to leave the dance floor; truly excellent conversations about evolutionary psychology, game theory as applied to intentional communities, chemotaxis and other forms of animal communication (did you know bees' dances have regional dialects? I didn't until Sunday), and emergent network behaviours at the molecular, cellular, and human scales. I spent a good chunk of the time uncertain where my boots were and mostly unconcerned about that fact; I also lost my pants for a day and a half straight, though not the ones I was wearing at the time and not for any particularly exciting reason, but hey, that makes a good line, doesn't it? (Works better for "No shit, there I was" than for "So, there was this girl...", but hey, you can't win 'em all.)

More details later. At the moment I'm going to go soak the grime off of myself, see if a warm bath will unwind these knots in my shoulders, and slather Vitamin E cream all over the ridiculous-looking asymmetric sunburn that is my shoulders and upper back. (Note to self: do not fall asleep in full sun while wearing a tank top ever again.)

Ah, summer

Jul. 4th, 2009 04:07 pm
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Crazy mad heat and humidity -- and small children on the street outside having Super Soaker wars, who are all too happy to hose me down on the way to swap out the laundry. That was refreshing.

I'm heading out in a bit to go to a techno party in the middle of the woods, where it will hopefully be a bit less oppressively hot. Happily, all the good stuff happens at night anyway. Have a great weekend, LiveJournal!
maradydd: (Default)
...wait, I could do 3D "circuit board" design if I could somehow produce the unholy fusion of gEDA and Blender.

If Blender lets you freehand draw on the texture of a surface, that could actually work. omgwtfbbq.

...and then you somehow convert the Blender data file into a knitting pattern, which would in and of itself be a neat little hack, since you could 3D model a garment and then convert it into a pattern ... oh cloning why are you not here yet

I forgot to take my antidepressants today. Maybe I'm actually back to the point where I don't need them anymore. That would be nice.

ETA: apt-get install blender but I am not allowed to play with it till I get more work done, it is a reward


Jun. 18th, 2009 05:58 pm
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I'm a huge fan of Instructables, not so much eHow. The former is an amazing treasure trove of projects with a well-implemented search function; the latter has some pretty cool material too, but is plagued by pointless articles such as "How To Be [insert Naruto character here]" which keep coming up as "related articles" when I'm looking for, say, information on making a planter.

Given the, shall we say, tender age of most Narutards, I wondered whether eHow was being used as a sort of covert social channel for the Nickelodeon set -- the kind of people who would think it a major victory if their little eHow bullying page ("How To Be A Total Loser Like Amy Kunkel") or guilt-trip page ("How To Make Your Girlfriend Cry", calling the target out on recent behaviour) picked up a whole thirty hits, because that's like half the school, seriously. Searching on "how to make your girlfriend cry" came up empty, but there is How To Make Your Boyfriend Cry. For the, uh, teenage passive-aggressive gold-diggers in the audience, I guess.

No covert mockery that I can find, either, so I guess it was just a passing fancy. But I share it with you anyway, a flicker of some possible internet future.
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There are enormous clumps of fluffy snow falling down outside. I don't know if they'll stay on the ground, but they're starting to accumulate on top of the cars.

I still need to do that Prop 8 followup; it's coming, I just have conference reviews to finish first. But the snow is beautiful and I wanted to remember it. :)
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Hi, everyone popping in from Slashdot, reddit and so on. Yes, I am the Meredith L. Patterson in this article. Thanks for dropping by.

I've seen a lot of questions raised in various comment threads so far, and will be glad to address them when it's not 3:30AM CET and I'm not jet lagged from flying to Germany. I'll see about putting together a mini-FAQ or something. For now, though, the question I've seen most is an easy one to answer: how do you safely dispose of biological materials when you're through with them?

Answer: I sterilize all glass, metal and high-temperature plastic equipment in an autoclave before throwing it away. The high temperature and pressure kills off any remaining bacteria. Equipment that can't be autoclaved, such as single-use plastic petri dishes, gets sterilized by being soaked in bleach for several hours. (I prefer to cover it, to prevent spills, and leave it overnight.)

More later, when I've had some sleep.
maradydd: (Default)
I had managed to run myself out of the petri dishes I'd gotten from AS&S lo these couple of years ago, so I hit up ebay to restock. Found a great price on 60mm x 15mm pre-sterilized plates in packs of 20, so I bought five of them.

Except ... I completely spaced on how small 60mm is. Ergo, I am now the owner of the most adorable little petri dishes ever. They are ever so slightly larger around than the bottom of a Red Bull can. [ profile] whimsywanderer snickered when she saw them. I feel compelled to reassure them that size doesn't matter, we are doing science here.

In the long run I think this will actually be a good thing, as in the very near future I am going to need to use, uh, just about all of them in rather large batches -- possibly 60 at a time -- and there's really no way I could fit 60 full-size plates in my teensy little incubator. It will also mean using up fewer consumables, which is in general a good thing for the budget-conscious citizen scientist.

Science Cat Sasha is, as usual, fascinated with the new arrivals. If he bites holes in the sterile packaging I will be very cranky.

I also snagged the economy size package of graduated 3mL disposable transfer pipettes. With 500 of them, I don't think I will be running out any time soon.
maradydd: (Default)
Seriously. I wish I'd had this as an example when I was teaching about prestige dialects in sociolinguistics; he knows the theory and the practice.

maradydd: (Default)
In the headers of a spam I just received:
Subject: This is simple junk letter about your health
Well, at least they're being upfront about it.


maradydd: (Default)

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