Happy New Year everyone!
Here’s little something to brighten the new year.
Will 2009 be the year of the DIY biology? I certainly hope so!
Happy New Year everyone!
Here’s little something to brighten the new year.
Will 2009 be the year of the DIY biology? I certainly hope so!
A quick write-up before I go off to work/last minute shopping
I’ve been really into tumblr lately. Tumblr+twitter had been my medium of choice for past month or two.
I want you to check out two links I put up at my tumblr on the subject of augmented reality.
http://bookhling.tumblr.com/post/66220638/augmented-reality-graffiti-heres-a-cool-idea (((this one’s really amazing)))
Follow up post when I get back home later.
Brief post amidst a mild snowstorm nursing a mug of hot chocolate:
The prominent particle physicist/cosmologist Lisa Randall is apparently hard at work writing an opera with the artist Matthew Ritchie, according to a detailed interview on the Boston Globe. The opera is an hour-long piece between two performers with the title of “Hypermusic Prologue: A projective opera in seven planes”, obviously having to do with the physicist’s expertise in the field of physics.
I have mixed feelings about this, since I hope this to be a good musical piece as well as something that’s scientifically meaningful. Though I must say I do welcome the increasing exposure of ‘artscience’ in increasingly mainstream spotlight. I’ll certainly try to watch it when it comes out, though at the moment it seems they are not planning on bringing it stateside.
A colleague of mine jokingly pointed out that the mediums of science and opera both share a similarity in being hard to comprehend. I certainly hope this work will end up being simply beautiful in artistic standpoint instead of becoming an intellectual tryst of one of the most educated people on the planet.
P.S. I attended the ITP 2008 winter show yesterday, held at the NYU school of arts. It was amazing. I felt like a child in a toy store, except that these toys remixed melodies and mixed cocktails. I took bunch of cellphone pictures which are admittedly grainy. I’ll post them up with description of the event soon.
An ex-senior curator finally succeeded in replicating all known features of the 2000 years old Antikythera mechanism, the first known mechanical computer in human history. Technically this is in similar spirit as a 19th century clock. There is some strange notion among some people regarding how people got smarter over time. Sometimes I feel like throwing the Antikythera mechanism in their faces. Or, I could just tell them to go read a good history book instead. Yes, I could always do that.
All in all, amazing mechanism. Perhaps there were even more amazing things lost to time in other ancient civilizations as well.
Just got back from nyc Sky Crawler’s screening. I’m a little burned out, so let me just jot down a couple of points for further recollection tomorrow.
1)The screening opened with a recorded message from the venerable Mamoru Oshii himself. He said that the movie was about people who stopped/refused to grow up, and drew a parallel between the immortal pilots and the mindset of the current generation. Despite being spoken in Japanese, his words felt well thought out and serene. He obviously gave a lot of thought into this.
2)The basset hound, the major Kusanagi look-alike, gothic architecture in part of the film, strange machinery possibly playing music, lot of thoughtful dialog, and reference to the Albert Camu’s the stranger. This film has Mamoru Oshii written all over it, and that’s a good thing.
3)Everybody smokes a cigarette. Seriously, I think I saw someone lighting up practically every five minutes (the film was two hours long). It’s definitely intentional, but to what end? I think I know what Mamoru Oshii wanted to say, but won’t write it here since there’s a spoiler.
4)Lot of daring here folks. Remember that the main characters are immortal teenagers that must be killed through violence. These teenagers don’t shy away from adult situations, and Mamoru Oshii might have done some intentional dare to the censorship system. I like the realism, but some people might have issues with it. Of course, nothing perverted here. Nothing we wouldn’t expect teens in kill-or-be-killed situations to do.
5)The movie was two hours long, and in typical Mamoru Oshii style there’s a lot of philosophizing dialog, blank stares, and silent scenes. Amazingly though, I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. And the characters, despite not saying very much, felt very alive and understandable through their facial expressions and motion. This movie isn’t boring. If someone does find this boring, they will probably find anything that has thoughtful dialog to be boring.
6)This is a movie adaptation of a novel and it shows. Time to time I needed to glean a lot of information from a simple scene or two, the kind of things the novel might have spent a chapter describing. I think the overall transitions were done masterfully, but it is noticeable.
7)The musical score is done by Kenji Kawai (who also did the Ghost in the Shell soundtrack), and it’s beautiful. I know I’m hunting down an ost for this one.
Will I get a DVD once this comes out? Yes. Definitely. Do I expect this movie to make full theater circuit in America? Unfortunately, that’s very unlikely considering the subject matter. As stupid as the censorship is, it’s not going away anytime soon, and this film has a few things that might make your normal High School Musical lovers feel uneasy (not that there’s anything wrong with liking High School Musical).
I think I had a couple of other points I wanted to make, but my brain is all mushy right now. Gotta go to sleep for tomorrow’s lab session.
Here’s the link to the documentary in full at current.com. It’s about twenty or so minutes long (why is it so hard to embed video on wordpress?).
Unlike some other (let’s be honest. Most other) Japan/robot documentaries, this one focuses on the social conditions leading to the Japan’s apparent love of robotics. It sheds something of a harsh, yet realistic view on the state of Japanese society and their labor market, something I am somewhat familiar on indirect level through experiences of those close to me.
I only wish the documentary was longer. They had a lot of venues to explore in depth, Japanese society being one of the most complex human organizations around these days (but then, aren’t all human organizations complex?).
They briefly mention the difficulty foreign immigrants (even those of foreign-heritage native to Japan) face in mainstream Japanese society. Caucasians get an easier time though, especially if you’re rich and hold a professional job. It must be noted though, that while Japanese society have issues the individual folks are pleasant enough, friendly people.
I wonder what the venerable leaders of the United States are planning in preparation for the incoming onslaught of robotic workforces?
Just a quick note before I go off to fire up a new report. (Cross posted from my tumblr feed)
Original article from the Wired.
Ok, here’s my take on it.
There seem to be a way to build a cheap microfluidic array using household materials costing around three cents. The materials involved are standard double sided tapes and paper (which acts as the pump for the liquid), etched using off-the-shelf laser cutter, a process usually relegated to multimillion dollar semiconductor fabricator.
Provided that mTAS chip systems utilizing chemical fluids follow a law similar to the one that seem to govern standard silicon chips, we might be living in an age signaling the beginning of largest medical sciences revolution in human history. Cheap and effective medical testing and possibly production solutions that can be distributed all over the globe for practically anyone to build on. If such technology can be combined with the openscience movements like the science commons, well the humanitarian and commercial potentials will be endless.
I did think of doing a io9 madscience entry (on science-fictional applications of synthetic biology) on synthetic biology-utilizing mTAS chip that can be used to manufacture minuscule amount of specified chemicals that can be used for periodic medications or for recovering out-house patients, but I scrapped it in favor of epigenetic production using extracellular matrices. This will be a promising development well-worth following up on.
Just a quick post before going to sleep (it’s 2:45 in the morning and I have class at 10:00 ugh).
This is one of the coolest things I’ve seen on the net today. 120 second introduction to what science commons is.
I can think of lot of things that can explain why the idea of ‘opensourced’ science or science commons must be one of the coolest and most revolutionary ideas of the generation, but my brain is turning into a jello right now, so detailed post will have to wait.
Just one thing though. Library of Alexandria.
Just think about it. Why was library of Alexandria so important? Was it because it housed a lot of books? No, it isn’t. If anyone believes that the significance of the library of Alexandria was about stacks of books he/she lacks the understanding of the origin of modern civilization. Books or any individual units of information pop into existence all the time. Libraries are meaningful because they centralize and organize those individual information clusters. Centralize and organize, meaning giving accessibility to.
Greatest threat to any knowledge is not in its misuse or incomprehension. It is in obscurity (as Cory Doctorow pointed out as he released his works under CC license). Libraries made human civilization by providing accessibility to knowledge that would have been forgotten otherwise by centralizing them in one geographic location and organizing them according to a system. From that location new ideas were born since people no longer had to spend their lifetime re-learning what someone else figured out half a century ago.
Science in general, lacks accessibility. Which is very weird when you think about it. Science is about accurate description of this universe, this universe every single member of the Homo sapiens sapiens share. Yet science lacks accessibility, both to the nonspecialists and specialists alike. It’s like having limited access to one of your eyes or limbs or organs.
Accessibility is catalyzing and empowering. When economic systems become accessible we get flourishing finances and trades system, with all the subsequent benefits of arts and culture. When human opinions become accessible we get one of the biggest human community ever, with subsequent benefits of policies and philanthropy. The first time academies and libraries became accessible we began a march toward a new civilization. What will we be able to accomplish once the sciences are truly open and known to every willing member of the humanity?
Just a little something I jotted down a moment ago on notepad, about art, science, and artscience (and possibly what artificial life has to do with it all)
A machine to create as we know it can only a machine that follows certain mathematical patterns giving output that can be interpreted by both the machine and observers as being coherent. Would it imply that there is something missing in such interpretation of the acts of creation or that act of creation and all subsequent endeavors are in effect replicating mathematical algorithms/formulae? Moreover, what exactly is the drive behind the origin of the will to create? In case of artificial machines we can say that we coded its mind/body to act in certain expected way, but the same cannot be applied to the creators of the creating machines, since (as far as we know) we haven’t been programmed by some entity in such specific manner as to will to create objects and ideas (and even that would create the question of who created the entities, so the whole line of questioning is more or less a dead-end). The obvious answer to the explanation of the behavior of creativity as things stand right now, would have to be drawn from the thermodynamic characteristics of the life-like intelligent systems themselves. Arts, and any type of object/idea creation by life-like intelligent systems must be a direct result of the thermodynamic system that forms the basis of the life-like intelligent systems themselves. In short, art is science.
I picked up my Amazon Black Friday purchases from the post office today. Here are shots of the purchases I’m especially fond of.
“The varieties of scientific experience” by Carl Sagan. I didn’t plan on buying this, but at five something dollars per copy? Sign me up!
“Journey through genius” by William Dunham. Lovely book on mathematics, suitable for beginners and advanced readers alike. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder why so many children are released from the education system without ever becoming aware of the elegant beauties of mathematics (something I’m much more proficient at compared to writing).
“Falling for science” with introduction by Sherry Turkle. It’s a book with ‘testimonials’ of sorts written by students and faculties at MIT regarding how they became interested in sciences. Very insightful, I highly recommend this book to anyone even remotely interested in field and pursuit of sciences.
Last, but not least. I’m especially fond of this particular acquisition. “The invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick. I’ve been lusting after this book for months, but had to put off buying it for variety of reasons. I gave up buying a DVD collection of Ghost in the Shell season 1 so I could get this book (woes to the poor finances of a physics student!), but I say it was well worth it. Look forward to a full blown review of the book once I get through with it. Here’s the website of the book to tide you over until then.
For a picture-story book, this one is quite thick. Just how I like it!