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April 3, 2011

My review of Brian Greene's "The Elegant Universe"


Back story: in early 2000 Barnes & Noble held a contest in which entrants were required to explain, in 250 words or less, why a given book of their choice merited inclusion in what was to be called the Independent Thinkers series, a group of books selected for their original and provocative points of view.

Below is my submission for the contest.


Brian Greene's "The Elegant Universe," like any book, is an idea in two dimensions: words on paper. This brave text would put lightning in a bottle; its heart is nothing less than an explanation of how our everyday world is a kind of Potemkin Village, masking a violent, seething, unimaginably frantic 11-dimensional space of energy fields and matter exploding and vanishing within and around us.

The audacity of any attempt at a final "Theory of Everything" is always admirable and yet, ultimately, poignant and futile. In an attempt to understand all that appears mysterious by way of reason and mathematics, Greene shows how the greatest thinkers of modern physics open vistas of thought that appear tantalizingly close to success at explaining our universe. It is as if the belief of the leading physicists at the dawn of the twentieth century that everything important had been discovered, and what remained was only to fill in the details, never existed: what's past becomes prologue.

If indeed we are walking, talking, scheming, dreaming energy fields, composed of nothing but infinitesimally tiny vibrating loops of string-like stuff, sleeping and then waking each morning and resuming our 11-dimensional trip through time, each of us at a submicroscopic level indistinguishable from any other of the six billion souls on the the planet, so be it. The very idea of a shared nature, our common essence, is one so powerful and uplifting that the book containing it demands inclusion in the Independent Thinkers series.


I didn't win, place or show.

I still like the essay, though.

April 3, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Bandits — Rubber band with integrated hook





20 for $9.

April 3, 2011 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Evolution of the Coke bottle


"The Coke bottle is the most perfectly designed package in the world." — Raymond Loewy

[via Larry J. Kolb's Kolb Report]

April 3, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Alexander McQueen x Puma


DKK 1,500.

[via Svpply]

April 3, 2011 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Room 77 — Get a hotel room with a view


This iPhone app lets you search a database of 425,000 hotel rooms in 16 cities by floor number, proximity to elevators, and whether there's a connecting room.


"Users can click on the results to get a Google-Earth-enabled preview of what the view looks like (based on longitude, latitude and altitude of the room) and a floor plan," wrote Monica Drake in a March 7, 2011 item in the New York Times.


Free (the app — not the hotel rooms), the way we like it.

April 3, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What are they?


Answer here this time




April 3, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

French kissing can give you cavities


Wrote Anahad O'Connor in his "Really" column in the March 28, 2011 New York Times Science section, "Everyone knows you can catch a cold or the flu. But can you catch a cavity?

"Researchers have found that not only is it possible, but it occurs all the time.

"While candy and sugar get all the blame, cavities are caused primarily by bacteria that cling to teeth and feast on particles of food from your last meal. One of the byproducts they create is acid, which destroys teeth.

"Just as a cold virus can be passed from one person to the next, so can these cavity-causing bacteria. One of the most common is Streptococcus mutans. Infants and children are particularly vulnerable to it, and studies have shown that most pick it up from their caregivers — for example, when a mother tastes a child's food to make sure it’s not too hot, said Dr. Margaret Mitchell, a cosmetic dentist in Chicago.

"A number of studies have also shown that transmission can occur between couples, too. Dr. Mitchell has seen it in her own practice.

"'In one instance, a patient in her 40s who had never had a cavity suddenly developed two cavities and was starting to get some gum disease,' she said. She learned the woman had started dating a man who hadn’t been to a dentist in 18 years and had gum disease.

"To reduce the risk, Dr. Mitchell recommends frequent flossing and brushing, and chewing sugar-free gum, which promotes saliva and washes away plaque and bacteria."

Below, the abstract of the June 2007 study referred to above, published in the Australian Dental Journal, describing Streptococcus mutans transmission from caregivers to young children.


Factors influencing oral colonization of mutans streptococci in young children

This paper aims to critically review current knowledge about the key factors involved in oral colonization of the cariogenic group of bacteria, mutans streptococci (MS) in young children. MS, consisting mainly of the species Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus, are commonly cultured from the mouths of infants, with prevalence of infection ranging from around 30 per cent in 3 month old predentate children to over 80 per cent in 24 month old children with primary teeth. MS is usually transmitted to children through their mothers, and the risk of transmission increases with high maternal salivary levels of MS and frequent inoculation. Factors that affect the colonization of MS may be divided into bacterial virulence, host-related and environmental factors. Complex interaction among these factors determine the success and timing of MS colonization in the child. As clinical studies have shown that caries risk is correlated with age at which initial MS colonization occurred, strategies for the prevention of dental caries should include timely control of colonization of the cariogenic bacteria in the mouths of young children.


Below, the abstract of a study published in the journal Oral Microbiology and Immunology in December, 1993, which demonstrated transmission of cavity-causing bacteria between spouses.


Transmission of oral bacterial species between spouses

The transmission of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, Porphyromonas gingivalis and mutans streptococci was studied between 4 married couples who suffered from advanced periodontitis. Of the 20 couples investigated, the 4 in which both spouses harbored A. actinomycetemcomitans and P. gingivalis were chosen for the transmission study. Three of these couples also harbored mutans streptococci. A. actinomycetemcomitans isolates (8-24 per subject) and mutans streptococcal isolates (5-23 per subject) were serotyped by immunodiffusion technique. For ribotyping, chromosomal DNA from A. actinomycetemcomitans isolates (4-5 per subject) and mutans streptococcal isolates (4-11 per subject) was digested with restriction endonucleases ClaI or BglI and HindIII or SmaI, respectively. P. gingivalis isolates (2-15 per subject) were ribotyped by using ClaI, BglI and SmaI. The blotted restriction fragments were hybridized to the plasmid pKK3535, which contains the rRNA operon of the E. coli chromosome. The spouses in 2 couples shared the same sero- and ribotypes of A. actinomycetemcomitans and S. mutans. P. gingivalis ribotypes were identical in 2 couples. The result suggests transmission of oral bacteria between spouses.


April 3, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Lapsang Noir Candle


Joya, Baxter of California and Reed Space joined forces to create this candle, with "a primary scent of smoky, steaming black Lapsang Souchong tea with inflections of exotic Indonesian herbal tones over a warm and radiant white floral mix of tuberose, pikaki, ylang ylang and jacaranda blossoms."


Half kilo (burn time 100 hours): $84.

Full kilo (burn time 200 hours): $151.

[via Fancy and hypebeast]

April 3, 2011 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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