July 21, 2005
Dr. Jeannine Mosely and her Menger sponge
From the June 21 New York Times:
The structure, famous among mathematicians, is a three-dimensional fractal.
That means, according to Dr. Mosely, who received her doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, that "if you zoom in on a section of a fractal, the close-up view looks just like the bigger view."
Fractals are infinite, in theory, so there is no end to zooming in.
Dr. Mosely's sponge (above) is not.
It has big holes, medium holes and small holes, making it a Level 3 sponge.
It is built of 66,048 cards, and she and countless helpers started work on it in 1996.
Lonely Home Bench
It's alive: part domestic furniture and part robotic pet.
You sit on it and it might try to throw you off.
You toss a magazine on it and it dumps it on the floor.
You stroke it and it wiggles.
Internal sensors and actuators give it a personality.
Kind of like how you operate, now that I think about it.
What don't we know? The 125 biggest questions facing science
To celebrate its 125th anniversary the July 1 issue of Science magazine focused on the 125 biggest quandaries so far not understood by scientists.
The journal surveyed more than 100 leading researchers in myriad disciplines and asked them to focus on questions that have a chance of being answered within the next 25 years.
It took 17 drafts to whittle the list down to 125.
Here are the top 25:
- What Is the Universe Made Of?
What is the Biological Basis of Consciousness?
Why Do Humans Have So Few Genes?
To What Extent Are Genetic Variation and Personal Health Linked?
Can the Laws of Physics Be Unified?
How Much Can Human Life Span Be Extended?
What Controls Organ Regeneration?
How Can a Skin Cell Become a Nerve Cell?
How Does a Single Somatic Cell Become a Whole Plant?
How Does Earth's Interior Work?
Are We Alone in the Universe?
How and Where Did Life on Earth Arise?
What Determines Species Diversity?
What Genetic Changes Made Us Uniquely Human?
How Are Memories Stored and Retrieved?
How Did Cooperative Behavior Evolve?
How Will Big Pictures Emerge from a Sea of Biological Data?
How Far Can We Push Chemical Self-Assembly?
What Are the Limits of Conventional Computing?
Can We Selectively Shut Off Immune Responses?
Do Deeper Principles Underlie Quantum Uncertainty and Nonlocality?
Is an Effective HIV Vaccine Feasible?
How Hot Will the Greenhouse World Be?
What Can Replace Cheap Oil -- and When?
Will Malthus Continue to Be Wrong?
Occhio Ripetizione Minuti — Hear what time it is
The watch has 37 jewels, 414 components, a 12–blade dial and a three–gong minute repeater for the hours, quarters and minutes.
It measures 43.6 x 56.4 mm; a very limited edition of 50 has been produced and there will be no more.
The timepiece comes in 18K red gold or blackened 18K white gold/950 platinum; both styles feature a ceramic diaphragm.
Your tourbillon is so over.
As the Swiss sniff, "Even the Chinese are making them now."
Oh, yeah, I almost forgot: the Occhio Ripetizione Minuti costs $300,000 (£170,000;€251,000).
BehindTheMedspeak: Why do mosquitoes prefer certain people?
Scientists at Rothamstead Research in Hertfordshire, England reported this past January that some people give off "masking" odors that make them essentially invisible to mosquitos.
The work builds on previous studies in cattle which showed that the number of flies in a herd depended on certain cows being present.
Professor John Pickett showed that when certain "repelling" cows were moved from a herd, the number of flies surrounding the remaining cows increased while the new herd enjoyed a distinct reduction in fly count.
Rothamstead research student James Logan found that in human volunteers differential attractiveness to mosquitos appears to result from the production of either repellent compounds or masking chemicals — or both — by less attractive–to–mosquitoes individuals.
This represents a huge paradigm shift in the field, since the prevailing theory up to now has been that unattractive individuals lack the attractive components.
Long story short: it would appear, at least in the case of mosquitoes, that the best offense is a good defense.
The way it is T–shirt
I don't know why but I think this shirt is hilarious and perfect.
bookofjoe — The Fragrance
I got to thinking about this the other day after I read an article in the New York Times about Alan Cumming's new cologne, Cumming.
Sephora is carrying it along with his new line of shower products including scrubbers (Cumming Off Buff) and soaps (Cumming in a Bar).
No, this is not Version 1 redux.
Accompanying the Times story was a picture of Cumming himself at a Sephora store doing a bottle signing (top).
Time to get in touch with my perfumer, SB, up in Buffalo, as well as put in a call to Luca Turin on the scent hotline.
Yeah, turn up your nose all you like; go ahead, sniff away.
We'll see what's what when I throw down.
I just hope no one throws up.
3M Pre–Taped Plastic Drop Cloth
Good idea: one less headache when you're painting a wall.
No more cursing because you forgot to buy masking tape, or ran out before you were done taping.
If you've got this drop cloth, you've got enough tape.
I guarantee it.
The two–foot–wide roll is 90 feet long.
Unroll what you need, press the tape down and get to work.
No more excuses or lollygagging.
$8.99 a roll here.