Well, on day ten (see the earlier post, and also this one) I had no choice: I had to find the time to make some bread soon. I decided to try the default recipe, even though it was not much like the bread I make. One should try new things. The good news was that it is quick and easy to do, and so I did not need to set aside a huge amount of time. So after a bit of prepping:
Monthly Archive for April, 2009
Take a cruise through the universe (a simulated one) over time:
Was using this video in a cosmology class the other day (given to a group of Continue reading ‘Cosmic Cruise’
Nothing like a mild bit of burlesque down at my old downtown favourite watering hole, the Edison, along with some decent G&Ts, to raise one’s spirits a tad on a Tuesday night. Well, a tad.
This was the Radio Room special. All about radio era, silent film, special cocktails, and with featured guest “mixologists”. And must not forget the strategically placed Continue reading ‘Charged’
Remember the Culture? Not the Iain M. Banks civilization, interesting as that is. I mean the yeast from last week’s post Culture is Science.
You’ll recall I mentioned that its primary role in the whole baking business is the production of carbon dioxide. Well, you only see that indirectly via the results of the baking, of course, but while it was going through the ten day growth phase, I got the chance (after feeding it on day 5) to get some nice pictures of the swollen bag that results from its generation of the gas after its munching down on flour and sugar:
Continue reading ‘See Oh Two’
Ok. So here’s a little experiment. I’ve noticed (perhaps you have too) that everyone seems even busier than they did a couple of years ago, and furthermore, that facebook, twitter, and other such social networking sites have fragmented and otherwise mopped up some of the conversation that used to take place a lot on blogs. You might say that there’s nothing wrong with that since the conversations are still happening somewhere, but the problem with that is the fact that if parts of the conversation disappears behind the horizon of people’s facebook accounts (so that only their friends can see it) it takes away from a lot of what I think is the best spirit of an open blog – (1) anyone can join in, (2) the conversation is there on the web to be searched for and used as a resource later, and so on and so forth. Besides, in my opinion there’s a lot of fun chatter on facebook, etc, but it is mostly the exchange of (sometimes playful) short remarks about a status update or a picture of something. Conversations can be more than that, but I’ve found little of that there. (Of course, as we know, conversation can rapidly deteriorate on blogs as well, for a variety of reasons. As you know I’ve tried to steer clear of the shouty stuff here for that reason.)
Anyway, I’m not expecting a huge change as a result of this, but in an effort to try to connect thoughts expressed here to conversations inside facebook, I’m trying out Continue reading ‘Facing Up To Social Media’
…to deal with vital questions like this*:
On Sunday evening (perhaps after a lovely day at the Festival of Books), come along to the Mt. Hollywood Underground for a fun evening of poetry, organized by Smart Gals in the Speakeasy series! There’ll be food, fun, and even celebrity (!) poetry judges, (plus me), on the panel. There’ll also be live music form the Red Maids. Here’s some of the description from their website:
L.A.’s intentionally lowbrow, literally underground literary salon returns! Now running as a seasonal series, Smart Gals’ Speakeasy celebrates National Poetry Month with its fourth annual Dead Poets Slam. Year one, the Suicide Poets stood down the Natural Death Poets by but a few points. Year two, the Men took on the Women. Year three pitted East Coast against West Coast. And now, Smart Gals’ Spring Speakeasy presents a fresh challenge, ripe for a Continue reading ‘Poetry Slam!’
Don’t forget this weekend’s LA Times Festival of Books! It is always a pleasure to wander the huge festival and see what’s on offer, and simply be part of an enormous gathering of people in LA on the usually lovely weekend days. – Gathering in the name of books! How excellent that is!
Some bad news this year. You’ll recall that I’ve reported (here and here) on the Oscar-like awards ceremony for the book prizes, complete with fancy after-party. (With chocolate fountains, and ice sculptures with embedded typewriters, no less!) Well, they’re not doing it this year. I imagine its the hard financial times. You see… now it’s hitting home to me that there’s a crisis out there – no awards gala, and no chocolate fountains. However will I survive?
Well, the good news is that the awards continue (actually there is a private ceremony at the LA Times building… yes, for all I know if it is the usual affair, and perhaps they just don’t want the riff-raff any more) and the short lists are interesting once again. You can Continue reading ‘Literary Festivities’
The LA Times Festival of Books is coming up this weekend (see my upcoming post). In memory of the fun time I had at the first time I went to the accompanying awards ceremony in 2006, I’m reprinting a post I did over on CV that year, in which I reported on it. (Timestamp: April 30th, 2006 3:45 am.)
Well, I’m recovering from an excellent hike up Mount Wilson with the USC Neurobiologists earlier today, so while I do that, I’ll tell you about last night. Recall that the LA Times Book Festival is happening this weekend.
I came closer to seeing a realization of one of those topsy-turvy scenarios I often fantasize about, where more “academic” pursuits, or at least those more associated with the life of the mind, are celebrated in full Hollywood fashion. (I envision it in the context of science and scientists….imagine an Oscar-Like awards ceremony for the year’s best science papers, watched by millions on TV in prime time… but this will do for a start.)
Yes, I went to my first LA Awards ceremony, the Los Angeles Times Book Awards, and although I joked about Oscar analogies in a previous post, it actually was Continue reading ‘I See Book People’
Ironically, the day after earth day, a TV program (part of the Naked Science series) entitled ‘How to Kill a Planet’ will air tonight (Thursday 23rd April) at 10pm (Eastern) on National Geographic Channel. It explores various scenarios for how the entire planet could be destroyed. Sensational, yes, but maybe an interesting way of exploring some interesting physics topics in an unusual way, assuming they don’t scare people unduly. I appear in it somewhere, I’m told. I’ll be talking about black holes, and may in fact be shown being swallowed by one, if I recall correctly what was planned. Some may rather enjoy that aspect! [Update: Phil's on it too!]
You may recall me mentioning a shoot I did up near a dry lake (El Mirage) in the Continue reading ‘Killing the Earth’
So, has anyone else, while teaching a class, heard a breakout of schoolboy giggles behind them upon sketching the typical shape of the spatial intensity of the synchrotron radiation from a charged particle? You know, this:
As soon as I drew it* and heard the giggles I knew what they were getting at. I had not anticipated it at all. It did not help that I drew it in the more exaggerated fashion that Continue reading ‘Unintended Giggles’
Hey, it’s Earth Day today! (Remember Earth Hour last month?) Take some time out to reflect, and maybe join in with one of other (or more) of the events taking place near you. Look here for a link trail that’ll lead you to such activity…
Really, I suppose this should be entitled “Making Movies, 1″, but I think that the earlier post “Call Me Cecil…” is morally the post of that title. Several days of insanity later (from worrying more about insurance, to locking in locations, worrying we would not get the HD cameras in time, trying to find a PA for the shoot, negotiating with various parties here and there about various things – in between the usual activities of physics professoring), the first big shoot day came. That was yesterday.
It was a day with record (for the date) heat (90+, in F), which was not helpful, but overall it was fun. On Thursday, in my location scout mode, I was to be found popping over once every hour or so to a particular location on campus and taking a snapshot. Why? I wanted to see where the sun would be at what time, so that we could figure out exactly when we could use the location, and for what shots. The sun Continue reading ‘Making Movies, 2′
Lunchtime. Here’s a brief report on my garden activity this morning. It’s all about the succulents. Or the succulence. Take your pick. I’ve been meaning to plant these out for almost a year, I sheepishly admit…
…and also it was time to transplant the large aloe to a more suitable pot.
The next Categorically Not! is tomorrow, Sunday April 19th. The Categorically Not! series of events that are held at the Santa Monica Art Studios, (with occasional exceptions). It’s a series – started and run by science writer K. C. Cole – of fun and informative conversations deliberately ignoring the traditional boundaries between art, science, humanities, and other subjects. I strongly encourage you to come to them if you’re in the area. Here is the website that describes past ones, and upcoming ones. See also the links at the end of the post for some announcements and descriptions (and even video) of previous events. (Image above right is discussed in an earlier post here. The last paragraph of the description below made me think of it.)
The theme this month is Doing Darwin Differently. Here’s the description from K C Cole:
Well, on my way home on the bus just now I was the one responsible for the strange smell. Guilty as charged.
Let me explain.
This morning, a colleague, one of our teaching lab managers Joe, came by with a surprise gift. It was in a black bag, which I opened. Inside was a transparent bag with a quantity of mysterious looking goop in it. From it came the strong and very familiar smell of yeast. Along with it was a piece of paper with instructions.
Yes, it was/is a living yeast culture that Joe wanted to share with some friends. It was this that was with me in my bag on the bus just now. The idea is that you let it grow over ten days or so, and then you either make it all into a batch of bread, or you leave some over to make new cultures that you hand on to others after ten days and/or bake another batch of bread. What a remarkably unusual (these days) gift! (Thanks Joe!)
I’d actually been planning to start up my bread-making again (I used to do it a lot as a student, postdoc, and young professor-with-more-time-on-his-hands), and had Continue reading ‘Culture is Science’
Marina Hyde at the Guardian wrote a hilarious article on the rise of celebrity spokespeople on matters of science and health, focusing on the claims of Madonna, Stella McCartney and Gwyneth Paltrow, concerning subjects such the healing powers of “energy injected” Kabbalah water, nuclear waste, “chemical-free” food and “biological foods (whatever those terms mean), among other things.
I recommend having a read of it, (here*) as it is an amusing distraction. I’m a bit puzzled, however as to why she does not mention the efforts of their esteemed Continue reading ‘The University of Celebrity’
…Well, just for a 24 hour period or so.
Why? Well, it’s just that one of the many projects I’ve not yet had time to report to you about is inching along, growing ever more involved, has been sucking up a huge amount of time recently, and is going to go really large this week.
What’s “going large”?
Ok, here goes. I’ve been taking a turn at being a filmmaker, on and off, for over a year now. I hope that the products of this will be coming to a theatre near you one day soon (probably your computer), but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. What is it? Much more later, but I’ll just say now that it’s got science, and it is educational and – I hope – fun.
So far, what have I been doing? Writing a script, sketching storyboards, waving my arms about trying to explain the concept to actual filmmakers (you know, ones who Continue reading ‘Call Me Cecil…’
Following on from the previous one, I could not resist sharing this one. It is a facebook style Haggadah. Rather brilliantly done, I must say. A snapshot:
Tim Burton’s film Sweeney Todd is utterly brilliant. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it since its release in 2007, but it hasn’t grown old for me at all. The Sondheim songs are so well done, for a start, and Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter are especially wonderful as the leads (along with the excellent Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall, of course). I caught a bit of them again on HBO the other night and delighted all over again at darkly hued songs such as “A Little Priest”. How many other songs about eating people are quite so excellent? (Lyrics here if you can’t catch them all.)
I hope Passover was good for those of you who observe it. I was honoured to be invited to a Seder last night and thoroughly enjoyed it, actually. Lots of telling, reading, telling, and more telling. And food. Plenty of food. And wine. Plenty of Wine. Then, lots of conversation into the night. More food, more wine. Excellent. (Image: Passover Seder plate from thedailygreen.)
Today, I was sent* a link to a Graduate Student Haggadah. It will no doubt resonate with many of you from either tradition. Among my favourite bits:
Continue reading ‘Haggadah’
I’ve mentioned the Machine Project before, here on the blog. They’re often up to some interesting things… I just heard* that they’re going to be hosting a newly restarted book reading project, about …Physics! So if interested, find out more Continue reading ‘Reading Physics in LA’
One of the offerings I whipped up for a small gathering of friends at my place not Continue reading ‘Edible Squares’
Well, I’ve upgraded my WordPress installation and since some plugins might be not quite working with the newest version, things are going to look slightly different for a bit. But not hugely so.
Oh, if you are on facebook, you might like to know that I have put Asymptotia on the NetworkedBlogs application so that you can sign up and get a feed directly within facebook. Click through to here if signed in. Please note the difference between me, my facebook page, my blog Asymptotia, and Asymptotia’s space on facebook. All four are different. I’m just sayin’. Don’t forget to keep visiting here, for example.
Strangely, as a result of upgrading a few things, something weird happened that I Continue reading ‘Some Changes, and Connecting with Facebook’
I promised a report on last week’s College Commons trip to the Page Museum at the Tar Pits, here in Los Angeles. It was an excellent trip. The usual thing I do for blogging these things is, some time later, as time allows, I sit down and do a sort of brain-dump. I tried to do something different this time, and walk on the tour with my Palm Tungsten (yes, really really old technology, I know) and simply write a sort of narrative into it as I went along. Then I combined the uploaded file with the images I took as I went along, and supplemented with some extra sentences here and there. The overall effect should be a sketchier description of the event than I usually do, which may or may not be an improvement given that everybody seems to skim everything these days anyway. (Click on the photos for larger views.) So, here goes:
3:39 and we’re off! (We run by the excavations for the Expo line and since it is an elevated bus, I get a nice view of what’s going on for quite a way. Wish I’d had the camera out to make a video for you.)
My colleague David Bottjer, a paleontologist, gives a little run down of the history of the region (both social and paleontological) as we go north on La Brea (appropriately – they are the La Brea Tar Pits… Or given that La Brea means The Tar, they are The Tar Tar Pits…)
4:05 We’re here! Somehow, the little bag of goodies is all empty already. Except for Continue reading ‘Pit Visit’
It is a series of re-workings of certain classic paintings, but featuring Star Wars themes and characters*.
Some of them are actually quite brilliant.
It’s here. Enjoy!
Well, this is what I was puzzling over for a little while last week:
I thought I’d share it with you to puzzle over too. I designed and constructed it a while back, installed it, and then took it down for a while (as other work was being Continue reading ‘Rope Tricks’
This weekend, you might like to participate in the 100 Hours of Astronomy events going on all over the world. Recall that it is the International Year of Astronomy, and that there are lots of things going to celebrate the 400 years of the Astronomy era launched by Galileo’s use of the telescope for his landmark Astronomical observations. There are all kinds of exciting events, from local astronomers setting up telescopes in your neighbourhood for all to use, to things involving some of the great professional telescopes around the world live webcasting and even… twittering. From the main page of the organizers:
…while I prepare the longer post on the Tuesday special visit to the Page Museum at the Tar Pits.
I think it would be just fantastic if domestic cats had teeth like their cousins of 40+K years ago. (Click left for larger.)
Would make for a considerably different dynamic while stroking them…
What do you think?