The connector between the blog and Facebook and twitter has been broken and I’ve not been able to make the time to fix it. It looks like I might have to install a whole new system and I’ve not found one that works as well as the old (now unsupported) one, so that’s (partly) why I’ve not posted any updates on anything much. Also, I’ve been very focussed on trying to do more on the book with even less time than I’d planned for the final months on it. (The reasons for the less are actually positive, but […] Click to continue reading this post

Neither a Hot Shot nor a Know-it-All, But…

hotshotknowitallI’m neither a Hot Shot nor a Know-it-All, but I’ve agreed to appear as one or the other Saturday night (Sat. Dec. 3rd), in the company of real hot shots Joel Hodgson (from MST3K!), Sarah Silverman, Sam Phillips, and several others. It’s a fun event with the proceeds going to a charity, and tickets are still available! I think (I’m not sure) that I’ll be part of a team sitting at tables around the venue that people can ask questions about… you know, stuff. I imagine I’ll be asked physics questions…?

More information here. Or here.

For the record, I’m a know-it-some.

-cvj Click to continue reading this post

Suited Up!

war_gear_smYes, I was in battle again. A persistent skunk that wants to take up residence in the crawl space. I got rid of it last week, having found one place it broke in. This involved a lot of crawling around on my belly armed with a headlamp (not pictured – this is an old picture) and curses. I’ve done this before… It left. Then yesterday I found a new place it had broken in through and the battle was rejoined. Interestingly, this time it decided to hide after some of the back and forth and I lost track of it for a good while and was about to give up and hope it will feel unsafe with all the lights I’d put on down there (and/or encourage it further to leave by deploying nuclear weapons to match the ones it comes armed with*).

In preparation for this I left open the large access hatch and sprinkled a layer […] Click to continue reading this post

Compton Delight

compton_effectI forgot to mention that I saw some skywriting two days ago over Los Angeles that I took to be – of course – a celebration of the Compton effect. You know, when a photon scatters off a charged particle and loses energy? That. It’s so good to see physics being celebrated so exuberantly in the public sphere**.straight_outta_physics_2


**My wife, who I was with at the time, suggested to me that it was to do with someone called Dr. Dre, but I’m pretty sure that it was Dr. Compton who discovered that phenomenon, so I gently explained the discovery to her. Click to continue reading this post

Strange Omission

tardis_earls_courtSo over a quick lunch of sardines, tomatoes from the garden, and homemade bread*, I decided to glance and the bbc news website. It had a thing in the corner listing the top five stories, and one of them was How to build your own TARDIS.

Well, naturally I looked, because I was not aware that the required technology was available to do this yet. (I was sure we’d still have to wait until last year, or at least to 1985…. But anyhoo….) Turns out it is in the Technology section, so even more interesting, right?
Click to continue reading this post

Maybe one of the best emails yet?

I get a lot of unusual emails each day. Typically, offerings of alternative theories of the universe with requests/demands to review them (sorry – please send them to a journal), discoveries of remarkable forms of energy saving or propulsion systems (People, I have my own crazy sh*t to work on – don’t ask me to work on yours too), offers of marriage and/or marriage-related things (Ladies (and, yes, some Gents), no thanks, I’m just fine.), and so on and so forth. But yesterday’s email is up there among the recent highlights. It was sent out to an anonymous group, so I have no problem sharing it here (I have removed the name of the sender):
[…] Click to continue reading this post

Not Really Herding Cats

It is a cool and damp morning here in Los Angeles. There’s a slow mist covering everything in moisture, and there are dripping sounds from many directions if you are still and listen. I made a cup of tea at about 7:00am and decided, what with the mist, the coolness, and the Saturdayness, to head back to bed for an hour. But on my way there I spotted my friend outside in the garden, so we hung out for a while, before he eventually wandered off down the street (possibly a bit miffed at me encouraging him to chase an annoying squirrel rather than just sit and have a good groom…).

Somehow this put my in mind of the following film*. Yes, it is for an advertisement for Ikea (other curiously-named, fun-to-assemble and maybe-soon-to-fall-apart furniture is available), but it is still quite lovely. 100 cats let loose in an Ikea – fun!

The finished advertisement (appropriately for my mood called “Happy Inside”) is here: […] Click to continue reading this post


obama_light_sabre 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 […] Click to continue reading this post

How to Help

haitiThe Daily Beast has a good list, with donation links, of many NGOs on the ground in Haiti that you can pick from to help out*. (Map right from Lonely Planet.)

Please go and have a look, and make your choice.

If you’re really too busy, consider the texting options. You send a text message to a number and it results in a donation that is later deducted from your phone bill. A pair of examples:

Text HAITI to 90999 ($10 to Red Cross)
Text YELE to 501501 ($5 to Yéle, Wyclef Jean’s development organization.)


*Thanks Zdravka! Click to continue reading this post

Speed Demons

karpov-vs-kasparovHave you heard about the rematch between Kasparov and Karpov, in commemoration of the classic matches of the 1980s? (I was always a Kasparov fan, myself). What is different about this time is that they are playing speed chess. (Collective sharp intake of breath… distant tinkling sound of dropped gins-and-tonic all over the web…) There’s a nice story by Giles Tremlett in the Guardian with some background on the earlier matches, their rivalry, and some discussion of the 80s era for those of you who suspect that period was only in black and white. There are some nice pictures (old and new) here. I cheekily borrowed the one above right (credited Kai Foersterling/EPA) for this post.

Look, the K vs K speed chess thing was bound to happen, given our increasingly limited collective attention span. Everybody is apparently too busy to take time to focus on anything for much of a length of time, so adjustments are happening to… […] Click to continue reading this post