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October 4, 2006

George Gamow wins second Nobel Prize in Physics

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joe, you're really more messed up than we thought.

First of all, Gamow (above) died in 1968, and dead people can't win the Nobel Prize.

Second of all, he never even won one so how can he win another?

Michio Kaku, professor of physics at the City University of New York, explains it all for you in his editorial page essay in today's Wall Street Journal.

Brief piece short: Gamow predicted the existence of the microwave background radiation from the Big Bang and he published his work — in 1948.

Nobel Prizes confirming his predictions were awarded in 1978 and again yesterday — to others.

Here's Kaku's piece.

    Echo of Genesis

    Alas, in business, as in love and even in science, life can be so unfair. Has anyone ever received credit for your ideas? Have your insights been ridiculed, only to win accolades for others?

    Yesterday, John Mather and George Smoot won the Nobel Prize in Physics for providing "increased support for the Big Bang scenario for the origin of the universe." Of course, they richly deserved the prize. But so did George Gamow and his students, who made their stunning prediction back in 1948 but never got the Nobel.

    Gamow was one of the principle architects of the Big Bang theory, the seminal idea that the entire universe began in an unimaginably hot explosion, which blasted the stars and galaxies in all directions in an expanding universe.

    But how do you test this idea? He and his students, Ralph Alpher and Robert Herman, reasoned that the Big Bang must have been so blisteringly hot that its radiation might still be circulating around the universe, even today. They predicted that this "echo of Genesis," the afterglow of the Big Bang, would have cooled down after billions of years, filling the universe with a chilly radiation five degrees above absolute zero. Their landmark paper is arguably one of the most influential scientific papers of the 20th century, opening up the field of cosmology as a true science.

    Unfortunately, their paper was met with deafening silence. It was quickly relegated to the dust bin of preposterous ideas that are wildly speculative and impossible to test.

    But in 1965, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson were scanning the heavens with the huge Holmdel Horn Radio Telescope in New Jersey, which picked up a pesky background "noise" that filled the sky. They were mystified, and even thought this annoying static might be due to bird droppings on the telescope. Later, it was pointed out to them that this spurious noise was probably the residual radiation from the creation of the universe, predicted by Gamow. (Remarkably, this echo from the Big Bang makes up a significant fraction of the static you hear on the radio. You literally pick up signals from Genesis itself every time you spin the radio dial. And if we somehow had eyes that could see microwave radiation, we would see this radiation come out every night, filling the night sky with a soft, faint glow.)

    Wilson and Penzias won the Nobel Prize in 1978. Their work determined that Gamow's background radiation was 2.7 degrees above zero, remarkably close to the original prediction. But the work of Gamow and his students was pointedly ignored. Gamow, ever the gentleman, had never complained publicly, but in private letters he wrote that it was unfair that their work never got the recognition it deserved.

    The latest Nobel Prize recognizes the work of Messrs. Mather and Smoot, who used the Cosmic Background Explorer space satellite, launched in 1989, to give us the most detailed chart of Gamow's fossil radiation. Their stunning picture of the Big Bang's relic radiation was dubbed by the press as "the face of God." It was really a "baby picture" of the infant universe when it was only about 400,000 years old, clearly showing the tiny ripples that would eventually grow into today's galaxies.

    So why did the Nobel Prize committee ignore Gamow? Some have argued that no one could take him seriously because he was an amateur cartoonist who wrote children's books (e.g., the classic "Mr. Tompkins in Wonderland" series, which were the first to inspire generations of schoolchildren, myself included, to the wonders of quantum physics and relativity). Others have said it was because he was too colorful a figure, notorious for his practical jokes. He once added physicist Hans Bethe's name, without his permission, to a paper written by him and his student Alpher, so it could be called the Alpher-Bethe-Gamow paper. He was also famous for his silly limericks. He once wrote: "There was a young fellow from Trinity / Who took the square root of infinity / But the number of digits / Gave him the figits; / He dropped Math and took up Divinity."

    It's a disgrace that Gamow and his students never got the Nobel. But perhaps they got something even more important. Prizes come and go. But the ultimate testament to their monumental work comes out every night, when the residual radiation they predicted fills up the entire night sky, bathing all of us with the glow from Genesis itself.

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"If I have seen further than others, it is only because I have stood on the shoulders of giants." — Isaac Newton

October 4, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Roku Wi-Fi-delity AM/FM/Internet Alarm Clock Radio

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There's something happening here; what it is ain't exactly clear....

From the website:

    Roku Wi-Fi-delity AM/FM/Internet Clock Radio

    Listen to stereo internet radio (and your PC or Mac-based music library) anywhere in the house — free — with the world’s only Wi-Fi-delity, AM/FM internet clock radio!

    Sharp-eyed audio enthusiasts of a certain vintage will recognize the look of Roku’s Wi-Fi Internet Radio as echoing the powerful minimalist designs emanating from A/D/S throughout the 1980’s under its talented founder, Godehard Guenther.

    Not only did Guenther design the stunning enclosure for Roku, but also the exceptionally articulate, 20-watt, class ‘D’-powered Linear Magnetic Drive stereo speakers and the potent 30-watt, Tunnel-Tuned rear-mounted subwoofer.

    So you know it will sound better than any table-top stereo.

    Here’s how it works:

    Wireless — Inside this bold and handsome tabletop enclosure, Roku Labs has combined an AM/FM radio with alarm functions, Wi-Fi wireless music streaming, and Wi-Fi Internet Radio — even an SD/MMC card slot for playing stored digital music!

    So you can enjoy Internet stations, literally thousands of them, without sitting at your computer.

    The Roku is completely self-contained, needs virtually no set-up and doesn’t depend on your computer for Internet Radio reception!

    In fact, as long as you have a wireless network connection to your broadband service, your computer doesn’t even have to be powered up for you to surf the world of national and international, internet radio!

    Roku’s 18 preset buttons are linked to the most popular internet radio stations right out of the box.

    Another 100 popular stations are preprogrammed into memory and available through the scan button — including a mix of internet-only stations like ‘BootLiquor Radio,’ ‘Radio Margaritaville’ and ‘Beatles Radio’; commercial stations like KFOG (Rock) in San Francisco and WFAN (Sports) in N.Y.C.; college stations like WKSU (Kent State – country); and international broadcasters like BBC (news/talk) and SwissRadio (classical).

    To access the many thousands of additional stations streaming on the internet, just use the built-in web interface to locate and copy their web addresses to one of your presets.


    Music Server — Roku also detects and wirelessly streams music files from your computer, except of course the protected music you purchase from iTunes.

    So you can enjoy your favorite play lists in rich, room-filling stereo anywhere in the house instead of being tethered to your computer and its relatively tinny sound.

    You can even wake up to your favorite music files, as Roku lets you choose AM/FM/Internet/music streaming (or even a menu of alarm tones!) as your wake-up call.

    And Roku ramps the volume up to rouse you gradually, with dual alarms for you and your spouse!

    Includes IR Remote; headphone jack; and highly informative fluorescent display with 6-selectable font sizes.

    Requires Wi-Fi home network (802.11b or 802.11g) and Windows 2000 or Mac OS10 (or higher).

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TechnoDolts™ are urged to quickly move on to the next post before rereading the above and starting to wonder if it might be possible... because it's not.

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$399.

October 4, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

We get email: From Kerry Cooper, copywriter for Polder's award-winning Duo shower curtain rod

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Just in at 1:22:03 p.m. today, it appears above and in the "Comments" sidebar.

Not one word has been altered or omitted.

Sort of like Kerry's tricked-out shower curtain rod (below),

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and its presence in "the best stores," his comment can be found on the best blogs.

Though I haven't won any major awards yet.

Or even a minor one.

Oh, well.

I guess, as Howard Cosell said of someone or other, it's okay to be "a legend in his own mind."

Come to think of it, I haven't patented anything yet, either.

People are probably running to the bank with bulging bags of cash as a result of using my ideas.

But that's okay too.

October 4, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fire Bell Alarm Clock — 'Never sleep through the big meeting again'

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A mixed blessing, that.

Details here.

Best price ($12.95) here.

Requires 2 AA batteries (not included).

Finally, a look behind the curtain inside Apple's skunk works, where an attempt to cross an iPod Nano with a tomato to create the iLiv went terribly wrong.

In a bookofjoe World Exclusive™, the first pictures ever published of the awful outcome appear above and below.

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US Weekly and People magazine offered me in the high six figures for exclusive rights to these but I declined in a fraction of a zeptosecond.

w00t!

[via onelooker.com]

October 4, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Edison Effect

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I happened across this wonderful blog by chance.

Well, not really: as Gilda Radner said, "There are no accidents."

I was simply doing my due diligence re: comments, which consists of religiously visiting each and every website that appears under the author's email address.

Every now and then something wonderful pops up, as with edisoneffect.blogspot.com.

It's a one-man show by a guy named Jack who's professionally involved with museums and libraries.

He writes in his introduction: "Much of it will deal with history but also music, art, culture and politics."

The pictures (above and below) in and of themselves are worth a visit.

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I do know Jack — at least virtually.

October 4, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Easy Lid — Instant Vacuum

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From the website:

    Say Goodbye to Finicky Plastic Wrap! Seals any Pot, Bowl or Pan to Keep Food Fresh Longer!

    I hate plastic wrap.

    I can never pull it off the roll and put it in place before it sticks to itself.

    And now I read that it may not be good for your health to use it in the microwave.

    So we’ve switched to Easy Lid, a round stainless steel rim surrounding a thin, flexible food-grade silicone membrane.

    Simply place Easy Lid over a bowl, press down lightly on the center, and voilà — Easy Lid seals itself to the edge after air hisses out.

    The vacuum is strong enough to pick up the bowl by Easy Lid’s rim.

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    And the silicone’s strong enough for stacking in the refrigerator!

    Oven, dishwasher, and microwave safe; covers pots on hot stove too!

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Set of three lids: 8", 9.5" and 11" in diameter.

$39.95.

October 4, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Experts' Expert: Richard Lambertson on touching up scuffed leather

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Lambertson is a former design director at Gucci who's now co-creative director (with John Truex) of Lambertson Truex, a manufacturer of high-end leather goods.

In the course of a shopping trip with the Wall Street Journal's Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan to choose men's wallets for a story that appeared on September 30 he dropped a few pearls, among them this:

Use a permanent marker to touch up "corners that turn white after a while."

Great minds — well, minds, anyway — think alike.

For many, many years I've prepared myself for formal events by detailing the edges of the leather soles of my black dress shoes with a Magic Marker.

The ultimate in quick and dirty instant upgrades.

October 4, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Popskull Ultimate Halloween Rug

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From German-based Floor To Heaven.

October 4, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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