I went off into an extra dimension yesterday. Well, in a manner of speaking. No, this was not anything to do with my string theory work!
I was being filmed in 3D.
There’s a bit of a 3D revolution going on. There have been a lot of 3D movies out lately. Some are better than others, and a great deal more are to come very soon, as you probably know. Many major filmmakers that you probably regard as “serious” filmmakers have 3D films in the works. There’ll be 3D TV channels appearing soon in the UK and probably elsewhere, and they’ve been selling the TVs already, both there and in the USA (and I imagine, in other places).
There are lots of questions you’ve no doubt asked yourself: Is the technology here to stay? Is it just a gimmick? Is it just a ploy to combat piracy? Is it a new aspect of the visual form that creative filmmakers can genuinely use to enhance the story-telling? Has that happened yet? And so on and so forth…
I’ve been asking myself those questions too. I did not expect, however, to be part of the revolution (if that is what it is) and be filmed in 3D, so soon, for a TV show. My Continue reading ‘Tales From The Industry XXXI – An Extra Dimension’
A wonderful, wonderful new image from Hubble, in the week of its 20th year anniversary*. (There is a nice NPR story on the anniversary here. Also, did you see the Continue reading ‘Far Far Away…’
Lovely colours in Griffith Park yesterday. I did a pleasant fast hike up to the top of Continue reading ‘Griffith Colours’
So, indeed, what are you reading? This wall asks the question at the LA Times Festival of Books, and I enjoy looking at what people have written, humourous remarks and all. (Click it for quite large version with readable scribbles.)
Oh, me? What am I reading right now? Actually, I’m Continue reading ‘What Are You Reading?’
Well, indeed there were no chocolate fountains. But the event was good nonetheless. It was a pleasure to be in the LA Times building for real, (instead of gawping in the lovely lobby as I’ve done on previous occasions), and it was an excellent ceremony. The Continue reading ‘Prizes’
So this weekend the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books takes place. This is a two day celebration of books that takes place on the UCLA campus that is a joy to attend each year. I’ve blogged about it many times in the past and you can look at previous posts from the list below. The website for the festival is here.
As you may recall, the night before the festival – that would be tonight – there is a ceremony to announce the winners of the LA Times Book Prizes, with a great reception at the end with lots of interesting people and (often) great conversation. The list of nominated books can be found here, and it is interesting again this year. Here, for example is the science and technology list:
Continue reading ‘The Festivities Begin!’
They’ve released the film “No One Knows About Persian Cats” in the US this week! All I am going to say is…. put it at the top of your list of new releases to see. I think it’s simply excellent. I was lucky to see it in a film festival sometime in the middle of last year and loved it.
Oh… It’s actually about music, and freedom. Not cats. But you know, even without cats in it, it’s still great!
It is Earth day today, the 40th anniversary, in fact. Have you had it in mind at all? I was pleased, in following the leadership debate that took place today over in the UK, to hear very interesting and serious content in the answers about what the various party leaders were doing on environmental both personally and in terms of policy. Over the years we’ve rapidly come to a point where it’s no longer a trendy or fringy issue in front line politics, but a mainstream one with impact in all aspects of policy.
On the left (click for larger view) is the rather elegant flower (two of them) of one of my several aloe vera plants. They’re quite unexpected and rather lovely I’d say. Several different types of bird have been attracted to them and it is a pleasure to look over at them (and others) and see what birds are settling on them at different times of day. These have included several humming birds, and a Continue reading ‘Aloe Earth’
(From NASA:) A full-disk multiwavelength extreme ultraviolet image of the sun taken by SDO on March 30, 2010. False colors trace different gas temperatures. Reds are relatively cool (about 60,000 Kelvin, or 107,540 F); blues and greens are hotter (greater than 1 million Kelvin, or 1,799,540 F). Credit: NASA
You may recall that recently NASA launched a new craft, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, to explore the science of the sun by making measurements of unprecedented resolution. Well, images have been released from it for the first time and they are truly spectacular! The one above is featured prominently in the extensive Continue reading ‘Sun Spotting’
So it has been a quiet week or few in my immediately local world. This is by choice. Recall that I’m on sabbatical, and working on a project. I’m trying to work on it exclusively, but I keep getting interrupted by several other things, especially since I returned from Walkabout.
But I do what I can, saying no to some things, doing some duties where I am needed, and tending somewhat to my private life and friendships of course. But mostly I’ve been hiding and working on the project. Overall, I can report that I’m very pleased with progress in the last month (since I returned to LA) on several aspects of the work. I’m sorry that I have not – and still will not – tell you anything about the project. I’ve already given my reasons, and nothing has changed. Perhaps later.
Most of my work has been in Away mode, which means at offices other than the one assigned to me at work. I am certainly staying away from the department as much as I can, (no disrespect intended, but people find things for you to do if you’re perceived as being around – I am not around!), and the same goes for the campus, making only fleeting visits to the latter, mostly in stealth mode (my obligatory sabbatical beard, among other things, has helped here). Sometimes I appear for a Continue reading ‘And So It Goes…’
The next in the Categorically Not! series the series of events is tomorrow, Sunday 18th April. It is, as usual, held at the Santa Monica Art Studios. 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. (At the right is an image of a beautiful sculpture by artist Yossi Govrin, who is on this week’s program.)
The theme this month is Imagine. Here’s the description from K. C. Cole:
Continue reading ‘Categorically Not! – Imagine’
I’m stealing Andrew’s post idea entirely, and I am not ashamed of this since it is such a brilliant extract, explaining the term “bungee humping”.
It’s a remarkable piece about the mating practices of Tiger slugs (I got the picture on the right from here), from an article in the Independent back in 1999:
Continue reading ‘Perilous Procreation’
…perhaps I am naive. Going to follow (listening online I imagine) the UK’s first ever prime ministerial televised debate. I’m very concerned that it is going to make the UK electorate focus even more on nice suits and good hair and less on knowledge and ideas, following the lead of other countries. But I am hoping. I’m holding out some faith in my countrymen…
Are you going to watch/listen?
Excellent news. The libel case against Simon Singh has been dropped. BBC story here. (See my previous post for details.)
Most important quote is from Simon:
Dr Singh said he was hugely relieved, but expressed his annoyance that libel actions continued to be used to block what he viewed as legitimate scientific inquiry and debate.
“Other scientists, science writers, bloggers, investigative journalists, human rights activists – all get threatened with these libel suits,” he told BBC News. “And at the end of the day, the people who lose out are the general public because we don’t get to find out the real truth because these libel suits just stop good journalism.”
Very true, and there is much work to do on that aspect of the legal system, but for now, beers all around, ok?!
This is a wonderful infrared image (please click on it for lovely larger view) of a region of star formation called the Rosette Nebula.
It comes from the Herschel space observatory, which was launched (along with the Planck observer) by the European Space Agency (ESA) almost a year ago, you may recall.
From the ESA website, here’s a bit more about what this is:
Continue reading ‘Babies!’
Good News Everyone!
You may recall the terrible fires of last year in the San Gabriel mountains, and the scare about whether the Mount Wilson facility might have been overrun by flames. There were Tolkienesque scenes of flaming mountains, dramatic battles on mountaintops, and so forth. No Balrogs were involved (a far as I know), but it was nail-biting enough for many.
One of the fallouts (fallsout?) of this was that the public access to the Observatory needed to be suspended. This included the ability to reserve access to the famous 60 inch telescope for your own use for an evening, an activity that I have highly recommended (from first hand experience) here on the blog.
Well, I can happily announce (I heard this from my friend Shelley Bonus who works Continue reading ‘Mount Wilson Open For Business!’
I’m very pleased to see this flower (and always delighted to say the name out loud: Try it: Calla Lily.). (Click for larger view.) I discovered a patch of shoots growing in the shade of a tall tree some time ago, struggling against a thriving ground cover plant, and decided to clear some space for them and let them grow up, giving them a supply line off the drip system. That was a year ago. Now, they’re nice and large, and Continue reading ‘Calla Lily!’
(Note: Written yesterday afternoon at 6:00pm.) Well, that was fun! I am on my way back from UC Riverside where I visited to give a colloquium. I met a number of faculty that I had not seen since I was last there (talking at a DPF APS meeting in 2004) and people seemed to like the talk (similar to the ones I gave last Fall in LA and in Vancouver), even though I was a bit rusty in my talk-delivery, being deep in sabbatical mode, you understand. I wallowed too much in the experimental physics part of the talk and so had to rush the ending bits where I bring in aspects of string theory to the game. I hope people were not too confused. I invited people to send me email for more information/explanation if they wanted to, since I had to leave immediately after my talk.
You might be wondering why I am typing while I’m driving on the highway. Isn’t that bad? I could respond that texting while driving is illegal but blogging while driving is perfectly fine (along with things like eating, shaving, applying makeup, and a host of other things you see people doing in cars, some of which I won’t mention as this is a family blog). However I won’t make such a silly response since of course I am not driving. I took the train. Yes, I’m weird. It’s a very fine double-decker (actually there Continue reading ‘Riverside Fun’
The alternative title for this post was going to be “Closing in on Unobtanium”, but I realized that it might be better to explicitly remind you that the Large Hadron Collider, understandably featuring in the news a lot these days, is not the only particle accelerator in operation. Such machines are routinely at work all over the world (for example, supplying hospitals with radioactive materials used in medical diagnosis), and doing various kinds of key research (recall as another example the RHIC physics I’ve told you a bit about in relation to certain applications of string theory). One such set of investigations involves finding new heavy elements, extending the periodic table of elements. Yes, just like happened with Pluto’s demotion and its resulting effect on your internalized list of planets in the solar Continue reading ‘Other Accelerator Physics is Available’
The funny video below* is good for a bit of nostalgia for the time of the Thomas Dolby song, the song itself, and perhaps for the X-Files TV show (but not for me, I saw only a few episodes). Scully fans will love this, and although I never regularly watched the show, I did appreciate her character. Strong skepticism, insistence on using the scientific method, etc. Excellent. Good character overall, and broke a lot of ground as a female lead with these characteristics too.
Now here’s an idea. Would someone please do such a video for 24′s Chloe O’Brian? (Pictured left.) She’s definitely one of my favourite technical expert engineer/scientist types on a major show, and Mary Lynn Rajskub does an excellent job giving her life, depth and likeability even though she’s fighting against all the geek/nerd stereotype characteristics they’ve endowed her with. In essence, she does it by embracing them. Her attention to detail regularly saves the day (world, city, state, whatever), and the lives of her colleagues, and in the last episode they even had her supposedly determining that light in a video was daylight by Continue reading ‘She Blinded Me With Science…’
Oh yes. Occult. Exciting right? Those of us in LA and some other areas (apparently points in Nevada, Idaho, and Western Montana, and the cities of Calgary and Edmonton) will see have the chance to see something quite remarkable if we stay up until 03:34 Pacific time (i.e., early morning April 6th). I learned this from Phil’s blog. You can find out more from Sky and Telescope (that’s their figure on the right). The event is this. If you stare at the star ζ (Zeta) Ophiuchi, which is visible to the naked eye, it will go dim for about eight seconds. Why, because an asteroid (824 Anastasia) will pass directly in front of it. You can’t see the asteroid directly, since it is too small and too dim, but nevertheless its presence between you and the distant star will be enough to make it go dim for a bit. Isn’t that wonderful? Have a go!
This remarkable effect (called occultation – hence the sneaky blog post title: the key root meaning here is “hidden”), while it might seem rather mundane in some ways (although you’re seeing the effect of an asteroid with your own eyes!) is extremely powerful in astronomy. It is a great way, for example, of detecting planets orbiting other stars! You’re familiar with occultations already actually. When the moon moves Continue reading ‘Occult Activity Tonight!’
I’ve never been one for the naive Obama-gushing, you may have noticed, but I can’t resist this lovely tribute. It is the site called “President Obama Looking at Awesome Things”, a collection of “photos”, and the example to the left is one of my favourites. (Click for larger view.)
It is excellent use of certain looks he gets on his face when doing things like “looking interested” at things. Isn’t photoshop great?
The site is here, and be sure to look at (currently) all three pages worth, or jump to the Flickr photo set here, where I learned that Continue reading ‘Awesome’
You might not have heard of him, so I thought I’d mark the passing, on Tuesday, of the mathematics teacher Jaime Escalante. (Photo on right by Robert Gauthier.) He was an extraordinary teacher who passionately believed in the abilities of the many East Los Angeles students from disadvantaged and traditionally ignored backgrounds that he taught, enduring the ridicule of his colleagues to press on with the job of teaching them as well as he could, challenging them to reach impressive heights of mathematical ability, especially considering given the circumstances. Some people Continue reading ‘Inspiration and Dedication’
I don’t know if you’ve been following the story at all, but there’s been a major breakthrough in the UK for the ability of people to speak out against, for example, claims being made about the efficacy of medical treatments. It is very important, since the UK courts with their strong libel laws, are commonly used by big companies (with deep pockets) as a stick to beat anyone (such as a reasonably skeptical ordinary citizen who is not willing to believe extraordinary claims with little or no evidence for them) who raises questions. Simon Singh, a well-known science writer (whose work I’ve discussed here before) has, after a long battle, won a crucial appeal that may be a landmark for such matters, perhaps galvanizing moves to reform the legal system, and certainly representing considerable encouragement for people to raise their voices in the name of reasonable skepticism.
This is excellent news! BBC story here, Topnews story here. Guardian opinion here.