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November 2, 2010

Which social search site should I use?


Mathew Honan, in the latest issue of Wired magazine, spells it all out for you.

Note: I'm going with a maximum width of 600 pixels for graphics (you can always click to enlarge them to their original size) this week in response to David Bogner's plea for sympathy for iPad-toting joeheads.

Blowback has already started — yo Joe Peach, I hear you loud and clear — so I'll see what the next few days' reader feedback looks and sounds like before deciding if I'll continue with this policy.

November 2, 2010 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack



Good idea.

[via Haw-lin]

November 2, 2010 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

New Chess Pieces — by Roz Chast


Yes, I'm sure we could all come up with a few — but she did it.

As only she can.

November 2, 2010 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Helpful Hints from joeeze: Post-it for drill detritus


Very nicely done.

[via Brogui]

November 2, 2010 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

When squid fly


Look at the picture above.

What do you see?

Now look at the one below, an enlargement of the center of the one up top.


Now what do you see?

The three white objects running roughly from the upper left to the lower right are squid captured in flight.

Ferris Jabr's August 2, 2010 Scientific American article follows.


Fact or Fiction: Can a Squid Fly Out of the Water?

Marine biologist Silvia Maciá was boating on the north coast of Jamaica in the summer of 2001 when she noticed something soar out of the sea. At first she thought it was a member of the flying fish family—a group of marine fish that escape predators by breaking the water's surface at great speed and gliding through the air on unusually large pectoral fins. But after tracing the creature's graceful arc for a few seconds, Maciá realized this was no fish. It was a squid—and it was flying.

With her husband and fellow biologist Michael Robinson, Maciá identified the airborne cephalopod as a Caribbean reef squid (Sepioteuthis sepioidea)—a lithe, torpedo-shaped critter with long, undulating fins. They think the squid was startled by the noise of the boat's outboard engine and estimated that the 20-centimeter-long mollusk reached a height of two meters above the water and flew a total distance of 10 meters—50 times its body length. What's more, the squid extended its fins and flared its tentacles in a radial pattern while airborne, as though guiding its flight.

"It was doing this weird thing with its arms where it had them spread out almost in a circle," recalls Maciá, who teaches at Barry University in Florida. "It had its fins kind of flared out as much as it could—it really looked liked it was flying. It hadn't accidentally flopped out of the water; it was maintaining its posture in a certain way. It was doing something active."

Squid surveillance

On a LISTSERV dedicated to mollusks, Maciá and Robinson (University of Miami), called out for any other researchers who had witnessed airborne squid—a phenomenon the husband and wife had not personally observed before. Maciá and Robinson received numerous replies from scientists with whom they eventually co-wrote a study in 2004 in the Journal of Molluscan Studies. The paper collects sightings of at least six distinct squid species squirting themselves out of the ocean and over the waves, sometimes solo, sometimes in packs—sometimes with enough force to match the speed of boats or wind up on decks. But the paper includes no photographs or video clips; its evidence is largely anecdotal. The fact is that documented instances of flying squid are incredibly rare. Most people are unprepared for such a sight.

Recently, however, on a cruise ship off the coast of Brazil, retired geologist and amateur photographer Bob Hulse captured what may be the best-ever photographic evidence of flying squid. Hulse sent the pictures to University of Hawaii oceanographer Richard Young, who passed them along to Ron O'Dor, senior scientist for the Census of Marine Life. O'Dor thinks he can analyze the photos to gain a better understanding of squid aerodynamics, which few people have been able to properly study due to lack of adequate documentation.

"Hulse was shooting with burst mode on his camera, so I know exactly what the interval is between the frames and I can calculate velocity of squid flying though the air," O'Dor says. "We now think there are dozens of species that do it. Squid are used to gliding in the water, so the same physiology probably allows them to maneuver and glide in the air. When you look at some of the pictures, it seems they are more or less using their fins as wings, and they are curling their arms in [a] shape that could easily be some kind of lifting surface."

From fin to wing

The 2004 paper's authors argue that "gliding" is too passive a term to describe what squid do when they leave the ocean for the air: "flight" is more fitting.

"From our observations it seemed like squid engage in behaviors to prolong their flight," Maciá says. "One of our co-authors saw them actually flapping their fins. Some people have seen them jetting water while in flight. We felt that 'flight' is more appropriate because it implies something active."

The aerodynamic benefit an airborne squid derives from flapping fins and spiraled tentacles is not clear, but some researchers hypothesize that these behaviors provide extra lift and help stabilize the squid when out of its primary element. In the water some squid spread their tentacles into a weblike pattern that facilitates swimming backward—a trick they could try to mimic in the air to gain an extra set of wings, some scientists have proposed. And rapidly changing the position of the tentacles could even function as a kind of brake.

Some squid don't rely on such subtle aerial acrobatics. Instead, like the squid photographed by Hulse, they forcibly propel themselves through the air. Some 370 kilometers off the coast of Sydney, Australia, one of the 2004 paper's co-authors witnessed a skipjack tuna chasing hundreds of what were probably arrow squid (Nototodarus gouldi). The school repeatedly leapt out of the ocean, spurting jets of water behind them as they flew through the air. Some arrow squid reached a height of three meters and flew a total distance of eight to 10 meters.

Fight or flight

For all these flying squid species, jet propulsion is the key for getting out of the water in the first place. First, a squid expands its mantle—the cloak of soft muscular tissue that surrounds its body—which fills with water. Then the squid quickly contracts it to send the trapped water shooting through a flexible tube below its head, called the funnel or siphon. By changing the position of this funnel, a squid can propel itself in almost any direction. Underwater, squid use jet propulsion to pounce on swift prey and escape intimidating predators. But sometimes jetting through the currents is not enough to make a successful getaway—sometimes, a squid needs to get out of the water altogether. So they fly.

Biologists still do not fully understand the mechanics of squid aeronautics, but based on accumulating anecdotal and photographic evidence, they have no doubt that the phenomenon is real and widespread. "Flying is not at all unusual in several families of squid," says Michael Vecchione, a squid expert at the Smithsonian Institution. In particular, the families Ommastrephidae and Onychoteuthidae are known for their loftiness. "It's not uncommon to find squid on the deck of the ship in the morning," Vecchione adds. Many squid remain in the dark depths during the day to avoid predators, Vecchione explains, but when they venture into shallower waters at night to feed they are liable to jump out of the water in a panic and onto a boat.

These morning-after encounters are not infrequent, but catching a squid in the act of flight is still quite a feat. "It just happens so fast," Maciá says. "You really have to be in the right place in the right time."


More photos of flying squid here.

Wrote Jabr of these photos, "When you click on them, the ocean should flood your browser. And then you can zoom in even further to locate the flying squid above the waves. Look for the triangular tips, floppy fins, the fanned tentacles and the jets of water trailing the squid rockets."

November 2, 2010 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Chemistry Clock


"What time is it?"

"A minute past sodium."

Where's Uncle Tungsten when we need him?

"Time is of the elements. Each number relates to the corresponding atomic element by its weight on the periodic table."

Requires 1 AA battery (not included).




November 2, 2010 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A music video with every post is not the same thing as a chicken in every pot


That's the short version of both my own and others' opinions of my three-day experiment (this past Friday, Saturday and Sunday) featuring a music video at the conclusion of (almost) every post, related in some fashion, however tenuous, to the subject of the post.

The idea occurred to me last Thursday when I was appending a video to a post, so I did it a second time that day, and then decided if two is fun, eight should be a real blast.

And it was a blast doing Friday's posts, but less so Saturday's and by Sunday I was already tired of it.

So the experiment would've ended even without many of you emailing me that it was not a good thing.

What spurred me to even try it?

I guess it's my basic philosophy as regards anything I do, nicely put by Jean-Luc Godard, to wit: "The most interesting thing is to go to the end of an idea, to play something out almost to the point of madness."

I think I stopped in time.

Though sometimes I wonder whether eight posts daily for six-plus years might not be a pretty good indicator of something....

November 2, 2010 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Rocking Sheep


乗って、揺らして、イスにして。時には抱きしめてあげられる「ROCKING SHEEP」。カラダは本物のひつじのようにフワフワのファブリックを張り込んでリアル感を演出(笑) でもカタチはスーパーデフォルメ。老若男女問わず このギャップに心を奪われない人はいないはず!




ハンドルとなるツノはヨーロッパの家具などで広く使われているビーチの無垢材を使用。ロッキング部分に使用している成型合板はビーチ材とMDF(中質繊維 板)をサンドしたEMU.ENU.のオリジナル材。色の濃い層と薄い層が交互に重なって、見た目はまるでシマシマのクッキーのよう。これらの木部はシック ハウス対策の一環で無塗装で仕上げています。木のあたたかな感触に触れながら遊ぶことは子供たちにとって情操を高める貴重な体験に。無塗装材はどうしても 汚れやすいという欠点がありますが、使い込めばツヤも現れ、やがて味となっていきます。ひどく汚れた場合はサンドペーパーで磨くことにより新しい木肌を出 すこともできます。


基本は子供1人乗りですがとてもしっかりした作り。ロッキング部分の前後に乗ってジャンプしてみたり。背中に寝そべってみたり、単純な形だからこそ、子供 たちはすぐに想像力豊かな遊び方をはじめます。無邪気に遊ぶ子供の笑顔にホクホクしてみませんか?(モデルの女の子は3歳です)











[via Gyerekszoba]

November 2, 2010 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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