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Archive for April, 2009

Not a great photo but you can see the rows of cell phones beneath the stage

Not a great photo but you can see the rows of cell phones beneath the stage

A phenomena that I have noticed at any college music event is the technological replacement of lighters. In the past (at least based iconographic images and the media) music concerts entailed many of the audience members holding up lighters and waving then slightly to the music.

Now cell phones have taken on that role. There is now a sea of blue screens held aloft by enthusiastic fans; oddly I believe that the band cannot actually see this due to all the screen facing backwards. I am sure most are taking pictures but the effect is the same.

Another potential reason for the replacement is the decline in smoking in the student body. Not many people smoke (cigarettes), I know two people who do, so there is not the prevalence of lighters. Also there would be the safety restrictions on any open flames near any large crowd of people. In fact my friend informs me that they were spraying/splashing water on the crowds to put out a fire of some sort (likely caused by a certain leaf based narcotic).

Overall I like the effect of the sea of cellphones, if I was photographing an event it would add a nice visual element to underline the main performance. The tick of course is to be about one or two feet higher then the crowd so that the sea is compressed into the same horizontal line.

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Oh man, look at those artifacts and lens flares.

Oh man, look at those artifacts and lens flares.

One thing I wanted to bring to the Death Cab for Cutie concert was my camera. I know exactly what I wanted: my Nikon D60 with the 50mm f/1.8 lens. And I was right, I really wanted it, the stage would have fit perfectly in the field of view from where I was sitting.

Except that no bags or cameras were allowed. Of course this probably only meant dSLR cameras since the only photographers there probably had clearance. I resorted to drastic measures.

I used my cameraphone.

In a way I sort of like using it, it is so much simpler and the restrictions make all of the photos have a very clear simplified subject. It works well for graffiti and signs, however a concert posed several challenges; namely the darkness, the lights and the zoom.

The concert was pretty good, I was sitting with a bunch of friends and it was fairly relaxed. The music was alright, I did not start out as a fan and only found a few of their songs I really liked. For the cost it was a superb concert.

The lighting with the bit of smoke/fog in the events center would have made some killer light trails or long exposures. That and the field of cell phones screens held up in lieu of lighters.

Or maybe they were taking photos like myself.

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Venus

We need to start building up to terraforming slowly.

We need to start building up to terraforming slowly.

I think that we can fix Venus to make it habitable and even pleasant.

The current problems are the run-away green house gases, the lack of a habitable temperature range, the inability for the planet to keep water and it is kind of far away.

A simple solution: hit it with an asteroid.

If an asteroid (mostly water) is taken from the asteroid belt and accelerated into Venus (in Venus’ orbit) we can speed up the planet and thereby give it a larger orbit. At a larger orbit it will have a temperature closer to Earth and it will be able to retain water on the surface.

The impact will also likely destroy the current atmosphere and perhaps liquify the surface, hopefully jump starting plate tectonics and allows oceans to form (once it cools).

The best place to put it would be slight closer to or farther from the sun than Earth. We don’t want to collide with it and we don’t want it in our orbit exactly. Once it is in a stable position we can add more water through smaller asteroids or collisions that are relatively slow. Also we can add asteroid as a moon if needed.

We just need an effective asteroid moving system as well as some good long term planning.

Good idea or great idea?

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A sweet capacitor bank.

A sweet capacitor bank.

Last fall UCSB registered the most new voters out of any US college campus, as a result we are getting a free Death Cab for Cutie concert.

To get in they started handing out wristbands (acting as tickets) at about 9 o’clock this morning. Some people camped out the night while other showed up in the wee hours of the dawn. I had class at nine so I walked by the line, hoping that it would not be too bad after my class.

After class I waited for roughly thirty minutes and got a wristband guaranteeing me entrance to the concert tomorrow night.

An hour later I walked by and saw no line and still wristbands available, glad I did not wait all night.

To be fair I don’t think I have heard much Death Cab for Cutie but the factors such as friends and free have enticed me to go.

Hope I like them, I have a general relativity midterm the morning after the concert.

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Vanishing point.

Vanishing point.

The classic example of describing the expanding universe is the inflating balloon.

Imagine that you are on the surface of a half inflated balloon. As the balloon expands you see everything around you moving away even though you are not at the center. If you move around the balloon everything will still be moving away, there is no special center. The two dimensional surface of the balloon is expanding into a three dimensional space for ease of understanding. Likewise one could imagine our three dimensional space expanding into an embedded four dimensional space.

This analogy never really worked for me. I knew what the expanding universe meant but I don’t see how the balloon is the best way to explain it. I heard a better one recently in one of my classes.

Everyone in the room is standing (or sitting) on a particular floor tile. Imagine now that there is an explosion in the room that causes all the floor tiles to fly apart. If someone is at the center they would see everyone flying away from them. But someone sitting elsewhere in the room will see that same person flying away from them. Similarly everyone will see everyone else moving away from them while they are stationary. Except it is not the tiles that are moving apart but space itself.

Of course all of this would easier if we could easily visualize four dimensional space (like a hypercube or 3 sphere).

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The Twitter

Even in a jumble Hulk still smash.

Even in a jumble Hulk still smash.

I finally made the jump, or at least the step: I have started a twitter account.

I have been planning on doing it for a while but never had the impetus to take the step and actually go to the twitter site. Then I received an e-mail from twitter saying that I have been invited to join, by my Mother no less.

Not to be one who is passed technologically by a relative I started an account and have now begun tweeting (twittering? Sounds like a bad side effect).

You can check me out at twitter.com/michutch42

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Stencil graffiti on the grey door faces a Shephard Fairey poster across the street,

Stencil graffiti on the grey door faces a Shephard Fairey poster across the street,

My physics department has a room dedicated to physics undergraduates as a study room. In the room there are two rows of computers, blackboards on opposite walls, a few comfy chairs, two large desks (about a dozen seats each) and a constant scattering of undergraduates. Often there are non-physics majors in the room but these are scant in comparison with the number of physics majors and occasionally grad students who breath often the air of this room.

In this room conversations evolve that would not flourish in any other environment. Today and in the future I hope to capture some of the topics that came out of the this mixture of stress, frustration and physics.

Can dolphins communicate or see at relativistic speeds?

Are they blind due to the sound never catching up with their target? If it could catch up would the location be so distorted from length contraction that it would become a jumble?

Would not the vacuum kill them first?

If they had special dolphin spacesuits could they communicate through radio? Could echo location work through a radio and would a dolphin be able to compensate for the speed of light?

Or would PETA shut down this experiment before we could finish building our Sub Orbital Porpoise Launching Apparatus?

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