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April 24, 2011

Max Mathews — father of HAL 9000's "Daisy, Daisy" — is dead at 84

Excerpts from William Grimes obituary in today's New York Times follow.

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Max Mathews, often called the father of computer music, died on Thursday in San Francisco.

Mr. Mathews wrote the first program to make it possible for a computer to synthesize sound and play it back. He also developed several generations of computer-music software and electronic instruments and devices.

He was an engineer at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J., in 1957 when he wrote the first version of Music, a program that allowed an IBM 704 mainframe computer to play a 17-second composition of his own devising.

Because computers at the time were so slow, it would have taken an hour to synthesize the piece, so it had to be transferred to tape and then speeded up to the proper tempo. But the experiment proved that sound could be digitized, stored and retrieved.

"The timbres and notes were not inspiring," Mr. Mathews told a conference on computer music at Indiana University in 1997, "but the technical breakthrough is still reverberating."

The implications of Mr. Mathews's early research reached popular audiences through the 1968 film "2001: A Space Odyssey," in which the HAL 9000 computer sings "Daisy Bell (A Bicycle Built for Two)" as its cognitive functions are dismantled.

The science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke had visited Bell Laboratories in the early 1960s and listened as a vocoder, or voice recorder synthesizer, developed by John L. Kelly, sang "Daisy Bell" [top] to a musical accompaniment programmed by Mr. Mathews. He incorporated the innovation into the novel on which the film was based.

April 24, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ice Spheres — Episode 2: Way cheaper

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You may recall a January 6, 2011 post about a very high-tech ice sphere maker, priced from $204 to $2,037 depending on the size sphere desired.

Maybe you're not willing to pay that much.

I can understand that.

For the rest of us, then, there's Muji's ice-ball maker, which consists of two conjoining silicone semi-spherical halves, with a hole at the top for pouring in water.

$11.75.

An extended discussion of the merits and minuses of various ice shapes

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and their use in different libations may be found here.

April 24, 2011 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fruit & Vegetable Sculpture by Dimitri Tsykalov

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"The Russian artist

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takes fruits and vegetables,

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then carves out

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impressively sinister-looking skulls."

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[via Milena and SweetStation]

April 24, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sketch Lamp

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"A desk lamp that doubles as a light box. The idea is simple. Turn the lamp and put it on the table."

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"It is transformed into a light box suitable for A4 paper, ready for sketching."

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Co-designer Ninna Kapadia for Stockholm-based Hommin.

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[via Fancy]

April 24, 2011 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WindowSeat — Another reason to request one

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You may recall the April 5, 2011 post about MondoWindow, a website that "shows airline passengers a detailed satellite map of the landscape they are flying over — and lets them direct the view."

Now comes WindowSeat, "an interactive iPhone app [that] takes flight maps up a big notch. Enter your travel details and it will not only track the path of your plane, but will offer up details about landmarks on the ground."

"WindowSeat [$2.99] works off-line, so you can avoid being tackled by a flight attendant. In early summer, it will be available for the iPad, too."

Bonus for those who read to the end: "WindowSeat Lite is FREE for flights departing from Atlanta, Austin, New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco."

[via the Wall Street Journal]

April 24, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Bugs By The Numbers"

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Wrote Meghan Cox Gurdon in the Wall Street Journal in an April 23, 2011 rave review of this new book, "Sharon Werner and Sarah Forss... [have] used innumerable miniature numbers to create the shapes of creatures, about which they then tell us more. The numbers have relevance, but the bug connection is often quirky and so especially memorable. The pages devoted to the cockroach [top], for instance, show us the insect composed of hundreds of tiny black 168's, because 'a cockroach can survive for 168 hours without its head.'"

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April 24, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MorphWorld: Guillaume Canet into Patrick Dempsey

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I saw the 38-year-old French star (above) for the first time in "Last Night," an absorbing 2010 film also starring Keira Knightly, Eva Mendes, and Sam Worthington ("Avatar").

Below, Patrick Dempsey, 45.

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FunFact: Canet's girlfriend, actress Marion Cotillard, is due to deliver their first child any day now.

April 24, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Concrete + Glass Tumblers

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"Heavy hand-made concrete base helps prevent tipping."

3.5"H x 3.15" top Ø.

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Weight: 0.5 lb.

Set of two: $49.

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[via The Green Head]

April 24, 2011 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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