Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Random surfing: Queen - Hammer To Fall

This has been a good evening. Another gem...
Queen - Hammer To Fall (live at Wembley ´86)

"For we who grew up tall and proud
In the shadow of the mushroom cloud
Convinced our voices can't be heard
We just wanna scream it louder and louder louder

What the hell we fighting for?
Just surrender and it won't hurt at all
You just got time to say your prayers
While your waiting for the hammer to hammer to fall"
Brian May PhD, The Works (1984). Grow into these trousers... >>

Random surfing: Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb

Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb Pulse 1994 (Live)

"When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb."
Roger Waters and David Gilmour, The Wall (1979). Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 27 July 2008

A couple of quick quizzes

Via Grrlscientist.

Created by OnePlusYou - Online Dating Service


There are about 2,876,160 germs on your keyboard right now!
That's equivalent to the number of germs on 575 toilet seats (Eww!).

2,876,160How Many Germs Live On Your Keyboard?

Created by OnePlusYou - Free Dating Sites

How do you fare? Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Randy Pausch - The Last Lecture

I was previously unaware of this man. Why does it sometimes take the death of the talented to bring their talent to a wider audience?

Randy Pausch, (1960-2008), see here and here.

And here:
The Last Lecture

Another sloppy tentacle to PZ Myers. Grow into these trousers... >>

Friday, 25 July 2008

Chemistry in its element #2

A quick update to Chemistry in its element - podcast.

See the Periodic Table of Videos for another viewpoint. A guy with great hair and a couple of well-educated nutcases enjoy playtime on video. You don't believe me, watch Na - sodium. They end up laughing like schoolkids.

And yes, I have done this 'experiment' myself. It's what sodium metal is for, isn't it? Grow into these trousers... >>

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

I prefer not being plugged in, thank you

So this is what doG does to believers, and I was always told that it was Stan who does things like this to non-believers:

Love the steam shot right at the end.

NOTE: this is not a spoof.
QDOS to PZ Myers.
Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


Well he was here. Grow into these trousers... >>

Chemistry in its element - podcast

Everyone should tune in to this podcast - Chemistry in its element.

It's a weekly series of short (5mins) descriptions of the properties and uses of the chemical elements, produced by The Naked Scientists for The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Very enjoyable so far, brief and pitched at a level which is easy-going but very informative. This week it's Antimony or Sb, element 51.

While we are here, take a deep breath and sing along with Tom Lehrer. Or, if you prefer something longer and more laid back, try George Hrab. Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Not the most noteworthy anniversary, the 39th...

Sort of ruby-1, worth celebrating though.

JULY 1969 A.D.

(Photo credit NASA)

July 16, 1969
13:32:00 UT (09:32 a.m. EDT) Kennedy Space Center

July 20, 1969
20:17:40 UT (4:17:40 p.m. EDT)

July 21, 1969
02:56:15 UT (10:56:15 p.m. EDT July 20, 1969)

Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Cool video - Moon transits Earth

From the viewpoint of the Epoxi spacecraft.
Not sure of the distance but it's a long look back.
31 million miles away.

For more insight see the BA. Grow into these trousers... >>


Just tripped across this nice little vid from cdk007

The Origin of Life - Abiogenesis
Grow into these trousers... >>

Credit crunch concern crops corporate construction collateral credibility and confidence

In other words, if they built it now they would lose money.

This is close to home. The Yorkshire Evening Post reports that construction work in Leeds on what was to have been the largest residential apartment block in Europe has been halted because of financial worries.
Richard Dean, Joint Managing Director at K W Linfoot Plc said: "We are of course disappointed that we are unable to progress plans for Lumiere to the anticipated timescale but we have to take heed of the current climate. We have made a sensible and pragmatic decision to put on hold construction at a time when the piling works are complete and before we embark on the next phase.

"We have already invested a considerable amount of time and money to deliver this iconic structure for Leeds and remain committed to progress plans when the market stabilises. Hopefully this will be sooner rather than later".
I hope so too. I pass this site often and do not want to see it abandoned and walled off. We've all put up with the mud, noise and traffic delays for months so how about giving something back Linfoot? All it would take is bit of topsoil and some turf, what better way to mothball a site? Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 14 July 2008

Music - love it -The Bastard Fairies


Grow into these trousers... >>

Sunday, 13 July 2008

An update on 'The Inner Life Of The Cell'

This is not what I set out to write the other day, but there were things I wanted to say.

Great animations like 'Inner Life' are exceptional. Though I do have some issues with this way of depicting molecular scale events. Over the years I have been fascinated by animations and visualizations; it was in my mind long ago.

In the early 80's I was modeling the 3D structure of heam on our BBC-B computer at work, and soon after on an Apricot Portable
It was mathematically fun, especially as processors got faster and you could do free rotations. Things like this are space filling models where the Van der Waals radius defines the size of each atom and X-ray diffraction locates their positions.

At a similar time I heard Max Perutz talk and was issued with 3D spex to look at some of his slides. It was amazing to see molecules floating in space in front of you, showing the conformational change when oxygen binds to haemoglobin. It was much better than the image here.

When I got a 486 I went through a Pov Ray period (and a mate was running early versions of Bryce). Pov is a programming language for placing objects in a space, saying where the light comes from, pointing a camera and saying 'render'. I saw the potential for scientific modeling in astronomy and biochemistry. Of course I was years behind the times by then, computing and innovation had moved faster than I did.

So what is my problem with animations like 'Inner Life'? It's simple, where is everything else? At that resolution the view should be awash (pun intended) with a blur of H2O, dissolved ions and small inorganic molecules not to mention the peptides, polypeptides and proteins, sugars and carbohydrates, fats (OMG), nucleotides and RNA's all going about their own business. Relentless kinetic and electrostatic interaction are the driving forces but it's two steps forward, one step back in a kind of chemically coordinated dance which drives to temporary equilibria. However if all this other stuff was included you would never see the points of interest. It's a compromise and we need to keep that in mind while we are watching.

In the previous comments, Mark said:
Forget the space stuff for now, more of this please.
I'll see what I can do.

Watch these movies at full screen for the best effect:

Cell Signals (Part 1 of 2)

Cell Signals (Part 2 of 2)

And talking of cell signaling... What about Calcium - or the calciun ion, Ca2+?
Grow into these trousers... >>

Makes you think - or should that be 'drink'?

Here are the words again thanks to The University of Adelaide, and an audio file. Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Weeing down my trouser leg #3 - The Inner Life of the Cell

What I was aiming to do: add my overview of this video and outline the controversy which surrounds it. But now I can't even remember the correct word to describe the whole process. Evagination I think. Please, someone put me out of my misery.

Here's the link again, it's awesome:
Here's the home page.
And I really hope that Harvard don't take legal action 'coz o' this.
What really happened: A relative of mine phoned wanting to borrow some money, and then spent an hour telling me how great his life was, poor lucky bastard.
PS: extravasation Grow into these trousers... >>

Monday, 7 July 2008

Stonehenge revisited

Update to Stonehenge. Why I won't go back.

The Archaeo News site at Stone Pages (and the podcast) are even today describing the
"disgraceful visitor facilities, appalling traffic conditions and the poor environment at Stonehenge after the dramatic collapse of the tunnel and visitor centre schemes."
The collapse is not, I hasten to add, the tunnel 'under' the road I talked of last time but the collapse of talks proposing a 'road tunnel' to divert passing traffic off the A303 near Stonehenge. Improvements to the gift shop were also implied which might or might not have involved a second van selling ice cream or hamburgers (or both, can't remember), as dictated by the Office of Fair Trade and the Monopolies Commission.

Anyway... Idea scrapped:
"The back-to-square-one move follows the waste of £37.85 million of taxpayers' money on failed attempts to solve traffic and heritage problems at Stonehenge. After eight years of planning and controversy, the Stonehenge A303 Improvement Scheme was axed late last year."
"Culture Minister Margaret Hodge pledged to do everything possible to upgrade clogged roads and disgraceful visitor conditions at Stonehenge before the 2012 Olympic Games."
Well good'o, about time!

£37.85 million for nothing. English Heritage? Collectively we should hang our heads in shame.
Thanks to 'Anonymous' for the comment, or I might not have gone digging and missed this. Grow into these trousers... >>

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Stellar billiards for real

Thanks to The Bad Astronomer for pointing out this link:

Universe Sandbox - An Interactive Space Simulator

Be awe inspired but be warned, this is a real timewaster.

See what our solar system looks like:

Play with how gravity works. Turn it off, see how Newton was right. Quickly turn it back on and let the orbits settle down, see how Kepler was right before Newton. Bombard the solar system with dozens of planetary sized objects and watch them all miss and do nothing or fall into the Sun. Space is big, most objects are very very small.

Or do what I did, put a 100 solar mass black hole just outside the orbits of Eris and Sedna. Sit back and watch the fireworks.

After two loops of the black hole (Object 33) I noticed a little blurred streak emerging from the chaos:
Is this simulation trying to tell me something? Grow into these trousers... >>

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Christopher Hitchens gets WATERBOARDED

Christopher Hitchens is a very outspoken anti-religion, pro-Iraq-war, defender of free speech for whom I have a certain respect (see below).

Late last year, the writer, polemicist and fierce proponent of the US-led invasion of Iraq Christopher Hitchens attempted, in a piece for the online magazine Slate, to draw a distinction between what he called techniques of "extreme interrogation" and "outright torture".

From this, his foes inferred that since it was Hitchens' belief that America did not stoop to the latter, the practice of waterboarding - known to be perpetrated by US forces against certain "high-value clients" in Iraq and elsewhere - must fall under the former heading.

Enraged by what they saw as an exercise in elegant but offensive sophistry, some of the writer's critics suggested that Hitchens give waterboarding (which may sound like some kind of fun aquatic pastime, but is probably best summarised as enforced partial drowning) a whirl, just to see what it was like. Did the experience feel like torture?

Then I go find the original piece (Note: no link from the Guardian)
From Slate (this quote is on page 2)
"At a time when Congress and the courts are conducting important hearings on the critical question of extreme interrogation, and at a time when accusations of outright torture are helping to besmirch and discredit the United States all around the world, a senior official of the CIA takes the unilateral decision to destroy the crucial evidence."
This was a different argument. However, when asked by Vanity Fair 'if he would be willing' to endure simulated torture, Hitch said yes.

It is torture.

Meanwhile, below the belt is why I really like Hitch.

Christopher Hitchens was invited to debate at the University of Toronto on the topic 'Be It Resolved: Freedom of Speech Includes the Freedom to Hate.'
November 2006."

Part 1

Part 2


Hitch, if ever I meet you I will demand you drink Tetley Bitter all night; but I'll cover your bar bill :)

Grow into these trousers... >>

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Weeing down my trouser leg #2

Holroydian poetry.

The Evolution of Consciousness
I know!
I know that he knows.
I know that he knows that I know.
I know he knows that I know he knows.
I know that he knows that I know that he knows I know.
Oh! doG knows…
Grow into these trousers... >>

Only politicians could be so stupid

From today, in Holland, it becomes illegal to smoke tobacco in the coffee shops, says today's Guardian.

However, it remains legal to buy and smoke cannabis on the premises. So you can have a pipe, a bong, a chillum, hot knives or a pure spiff of marijuana. If you don't smoke you may enjoy cannabis coffee (doh), cakes, cookies, tea, fudge (thank you vicar*), bhang or just eat it raw.

But smoke it mixed with tobacco in a coffee shop and you are for the slammer mate!
"It's a bit like saying to someone you can go into a cafe and you can buy a beer, but you can't drink it there - you'll have to stick to whisky, rum and vodka," said Paul Wilhelm, owner of De Tweede Kamer, a popular Amsterdam coffee shop.
I'd say it was more like buying a short and not being able to have a mixer. Who drinks neat vodka for doG's sake? Oh! Oops, err... exit>>>
Take home message:
"It's absurd. In other countries they look to see whether you have marijuana in your cigarette, here they'll look to see if you've got cigarette in your marijuana."
*hashish fudge - just the thing for the vicar's tea party. Grow into these trousers... >>

This has the right feelings - Oh Yes!

It's just not long enough...
Tip o'the hat to PZ Myers yet again. Grow into these trousers... >>

"On the Tendency of Species to Form Varieties;"

"And On the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection"

150 years ago today:

Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace's ideas on the origin of species were jointly presented to the Linnean Society of London on July 1st 1858.

The Beagle Project has a long post on the history and importance of this day to science. Grow into these trousers... >>