Showing posts with label Wednesday Wonders. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wednesday Wonders. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Starfish Are A Beautiful Thing


























While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance picking something up and throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young boy, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.

He came closer still and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what you are doing?”

The boy paused, looked up, and replied, “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

The old man smiled, and said, “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”

To this, the boy replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, “Do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile. It can't possibly make a difference!”

The boy listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it back into the ocean and said, “It made a difference for that one.”


I'm not sure what this post is about, really.  The post-holiday, pre-inauguration gloom is setting in and it seems like a good time for a little more beauty in the world.

Making a difference one starfish at a time is a beautiful thing.  We can do this, America.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rest In Peace, Maya Angelou























The world woke up to the sad news that Dr. Maya Angelou died this morning.  There is little that a blogger can say about this amazing woman, that her own magnificent writing and the example of her courageous life cannot say better.

Rest in peace, Maya Angelou. Humanity is a little poorer today for your passing, yet you have enriched us all with your wisdom, grace and incandescent humanism.

And Still I Rise

Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Design 'Er B'ys!

Beautiful Quidi Vidi Gut, the setting for Design 'Er B'ys


























Is HGTV one of your guilty pleasures?  Are you secretly convinced that if you only had the chance, you too could perform miracles of home improvement? More important, have you ever rolled your eyes a little skeptically and wondered about what may have been going on off-camera for who knows how long which never made the cut for a 26 minute show format? Then, read on! This blog post is for you!

From time to time every human being enjoys a moment of the purest pleasure; a sublime interlude when the stars align to bring a couple of the elements closest to one's heart together in a sensational synthesis that comes close to perfection. For me, the niftiest imaginable confluence of awesomeness would be anything that combines my love for decorating shows, my love for salt of the earth Newfoundland and my love for great comedy. I never thought it could happen.

Until yesterday...

... when a Facebook friend (actor and singer, Robert Power) posted the link below.  It is a "proof of concept" trailer for a potential new TV show in Canada (apologies to the rest of the NiftyUniverse; you might be out of luck.  However, activism pays off, y'know - start "liking" the youtube video and spreading the word and perhaps you, too, can make this happen on a tv channel near you!).

They did a good job - but
three months! That's too long
to be without a kitchen and a
bathroom. You know
what I'm saying'...
Here's the concept for "Design 'Er B'ys" straight from the keyboard of Unstoppable Urges Productions:

For Dan and Jimmy, 2 gay men living in the Quidi Vidi area of St. John's, "the Gut", NOTHING is more important than finishing their ambitious renovation projects. Nothing that is, except pretty much everything... friends, family, dogs, school, pickling - they might be living in reno hell forever. And now their well-meaning friend and huge fan Doris has entered them in a contest to host their own reno show. But that would mean finishing the reno...

An appealing couple surrounded by an assortment of genuine (and hilariously frank) friends and beloved dogs, mired in a never-ending renovation project - I ask you, what's not to love about this concept?

Featuring legendary Newfoundland actor and comedian, Greg Malone , the cast draws on a rich range of musical, acting and comedic talents with RenĂ©e Hackett, Blair Harvey,  and the b'ys* Craig Pike and Miles Sharp. The trailer is a pitch perfect fusion of Newfoundland humor, wonderful comedic acting, refreshingly authentic Newfoundland settings and a marvelous tongue in cheek send-up of the current mania for interior design by Everyone! We could all be designers and the B'ys can too!

Enjoy the trailer and then LIKE it and SHARE it! Nifty Readers -- ENGAGE!!

* b'ys -  Newfoundland for two or more friends (usually male).  e.g.. "Me and the b'ys are going down to the pub!"


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

More Than A Second String Queen!



(via A Capella Science - shamelessly ripped off Pharyngula)

Love science? Love Queen? 

Sit back, turn up the volume and take in the latest tour de force from a rising star in science education media.

Tim Blais has done it again! If you thought he could not outdo himself after "Rolling in the Higgs", you are in for a treat! This video has everything - musical talent, humor, an Einstein puppet and best of all - it condenses some difficult science concepts down to a nearly comprehensible 4 minutes! Sure, I still haven't a clue about string theory, (hello, people go to university for years to try to understand that stuff!), but oh it is thrilling to see the first glimmers of that distant light!

For your Wednesday Wonder:  Bohemian Gravity!

Bohemian Gravity

Is string theory right?
Is it just fantasy?
Caught in the landscape,
Out of touch with reality
Compactified
On S5 or T*S3

Space is a pure void
Why should it be stringy? 
Because it's quantum not classical

Nonrenormalizable
Any way you quantize
You'll encounter infinity
You see

Quanta
Must interact
Via paths we understand
Using Feynman diagrams
Often, they will just rebound
But now and then they go another way
A quantum
Loooooop
Infinities will make you cry
Unless you can renormalize your model
Of baryons, fermions
And all other states of matter

Curved space:
The graviton
Can be thought of as a field
comic by xkcd

But these infinities are real
In a many-body
Loop diagram
Our results diverge no matter what we do...
A Quantum Soup (any way you quantize)
Kiss your fields goodbye
Guess Einstein's theory wasn't complete at all!

I see extended 1-D objects with no mass
What's their use? What's their use? Can they give us quark plasma?
What to minimize?
What functional describes this
String?
Nambu-Goto! (Nambu-Goto)
Nambu-Goto! (Nambu-Goto)
How to quantize I don't know
Polyakov!
I'm just a worldsheet, please minimize me
He's just a worldsheet from a string theory
Reperametrized by a Weyl symmetry!

Fermi, Bose, open, closed, orientable?
Vibrations
Modes! They become particles (particles!)
Vibrations
They become particles (particles!)
Vibrations
They become particles (particles!)
Become particles (particles!)
Become particles (many many many many particle...)
Modes modes modes modes modes modes modes!
Oh mamma mia mamma mia,
Such a sea of particles!
A tachyon, with a dilaton and gravity-vity-VITY

(rock out!)

Now we need ten dimensions and I'll tell you why
(anomaly cancellation!)
So to get down to 4D we compactify!
Oh, Kahler!
(Kahler manifold)
Manifolds must be Kahler!
(Complex Reimannian symplectic form)
If we wanna preserve
Any of our super-symmetry

(Superstrings of type I, IIa and IIb)
(Heterotic O and Heterotic E)
(All are one through S and T duality)
(Thank you Ed Witten for that superstring revolution and your new M-theory!)

(Maldecena!)
(Super-Yang-Mills!)
(Type IIB String!)
Dual! Dual!
(In the AdS/CFT)
(Holography!)

Molecules and atoms
Light and energy
Time and space and matter
All from one united
Theory

Any way you quantize...

Lyrics and arrangement by Tim Blais and A Capella Science
Original music by Queen


String Theory 2  (artwork via fractalpages)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Bible in Under 11 Minutes



Back in March, I posted Dusty's first segment on parts 1&2 of The "History" Channel's "The Bible" - a Christian propaganda piece of monumental proportion.  The series was heavily promoted and, cashing in on the false presumption that a series on the History Channel would actually be... oh I don't know... historically accurate and factual, the producers managed to cull a very large audience for their proselytizing Christian lying for religion. Dusty cuts through all the nonsense and points out the laughable inconsistencies and ferociously vindictive evil described as god's love in the so-called "good book".

Here is Dusty's hilarious recap of parts 3 & 4 of that dishonest series presenting mythological horror stories as "historical" programming.  It is definitely Not Safe For Work (language, gruesome nature of Biblical mythology), but is definitely worth a viewing by those with strong constitutions (and few triggers). Caution:  graphic violence, rape, murder, blood.

Good job highlighting the twisted Christian "morality", not to mention the political agenda behind this sleazy propaganda.

via cultofdusty


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Audi is Star Trekkin'!


via skyguyuk (hat tip to richardguru who posted a link to this treasure on Pharyngula)

This may be the best thing you look at all week!  For your Thorsday Tonic this week, I was planning to post "Star Trekkin'". But why wait until Thorsday? Let's make it a Wednesday Wonder!

Context:  So, it seems like the entire Facebook universe is sharing an AUDI S7 video ad featuring Leonard Nimoy (Spock, the original) and Zachary Quinto (Spock, recent incarnation).

Undeniably, the Audi ad rocks! If you have the spare chunk of change, I order all NiftyReaders to race right out to your local dealer and buy one of those cars at once! haha not really. But, wow, if awesome ads could ensure marketing success, Audi for the win!

For the younger crowd, the little 60's-vibe ditty ("Bilbo Baggins") that Leonard Nimoy is groovin' to as he drives to the club may be the most rocking thing about the entire ad - which is saying a lot! The video at the top of this post fills in the missing context. Enjoy!

And, because it is just so full of win, here is the Audi ad:


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

In The Eye of the Beholder - You Are Beautiful






















The video below may be the best thing you see today. Please take 3 minutes out of your busy day to watch it. If you are a NiftyWoman, you may want to have a hanky handy!

Sure, it's an ad campaign, but this is the best kind of use of corporate clout writ large. These Dove campaigns give wide exposure to crushing toxic notions of femininity that feminist groups have been struggling - and failing - to overcome for decades.

Harmful, demeaning cultural pressure on women to conform to an impossible fantasy of beauty is propped up by the constant barrage of media objectification of women and an unquestioned beauty culture. Girls soak up that poison early, too, so that self-criticism will usually fill in on the rare occasions when another person might try to reassure her that she is beautiful just as she is - that her beauty is in her humanity and all that makes her her, not in whether she wears a certain dress size or has a certain set of facial characteristics.

Just as rape continues to be epidemic even in so-called egalitarian, progressive societies because few powerful voices challenge the notion that most rape is not really rape, so the toxic beauty culture persists because few powerful voices challenge it either. One such powerful voice could be a large corporation with a robust advertising budget.

I think these promotions may and should pay off for this company. They have invested in ideas that matter. They have given corporate sponsorship to a recognition of the value of humanity - of women - beyond the superficial. And, as we have learned, well-funded campaigns really do change societal opinions and  bring meaningful shifts in cultural norms.

Someone at Dove decided to pair corporate self-interest with a social conscience. I call that a win-win.

What a NiftyIdea!




via doveunitedstates

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wednesday Wonders - Good Morning Starshine!




A dollop of pure joy for your Wednesday morning. Turn it up, close your eyes and enjoy.

Good Morning Starshine

La la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la la la la la la la la ................

Good mornin' starshine, the earth says hello
You twinkle above us
We twinkle below

Good mornin' starshine, You lead us along
My love and me as we sing
our early mornin' singin' song

Glibby gloop gloopy Nibby Nabby Noopy La La La Lo Lo
Sabba Sibby Sabba Nooby abba Nabba Le Le Lo Lo
Tooby ooby walla nooby abba nabba
Early mornin' singin' song

Good mornin' starshine            
There's love in your skies
reflecting the sunlight
in my lovers eyes

Good mornin' starshine, so happy to be
my love and me as we sing
our early mornin' singin' song

Glibby gloop gloopy Nibby Nabby Noopy La La La Lo Lo
Sabba sibby sabba nooby abba nabba Le Le Lo Lo
Tooby ooby walla Nooby abba nabba
Early mornin' singin' song

***musical interlude***

Can you hear me?
Singin' a song, hummin' a song, singin' a song
Lovin' a song, laughin' a song, singin' the song
Sing the song, song the sing
song song song sing, sing sing sing song

Song song song sing, sing sing sing song

Sing sing a song sing a song
yah, you can sing sing song sing a song
Sing sing a song, sing a song

Sing..........

(from the musical Hair)

Performed by Oliver 
Music - Galt MacDermot
Lyrics - James Rado and Gerome Ragni

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Has Arrived!

                                                                                                                                                              photo by another peri






























It is 11:02 GMT (6:02AM CST), our planet has aligned with the sun just so and - in the northern hemisphere where the NiftyFamily resides - spring has officially begun!

The March Equinox occurs each year on either March 19, 20 or 21. It is the moment when the sun crosses the imaginary line we call the equator and on that day, living things on earth experience roughly even hours of daylight and darkness. Equinox comes from the latin for "equal night".

Now, we in the north can look forward to lengthening days and shorter nights until June, while our southern hemisphere neighbors will experience shortening days and longer nights. Best of all, in my garden the earth is beginning to awaken. Yes it is! Even if you have a late winter snow, the earth feels that sunlight!.

Spring has sprung!


Lines Written in Early Spring
BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?


For your musical inspiration today in the first moments of spring: a lushly beautiful rendition of Vivaldi's Spring (from the Four Seasons) performed by violinist Julia Fischer accompanied by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields at the National Botanical Gardens of Wales. Enjoy the glorious music punctuated by birdsong, presented in a gorgeous garden conservatory. This is about as good as it gets!

Seriously, listen to this and give yourself a little gift for spring.






Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Lottery Assumption


























"Your Plan B is someone else's Plan A."


There's something interesting about the way we think about our dreams and aspirations. While we believe our "dream goals" are impossibly difficult to achieve, it seems as though other people doing other things are always an "overnight success". We have a tendency to think that there are other - easier - pathways to success than the daunting uphill trek we imagine our own dreams would require. I think of it as a kind of "lottery" assumption. We figure that people who have achieved success in a creative field were mostly lucky and we conclude that even if we work hard and have talent, our odds of making it in our "dream" field are about as good as our odds of winning the lottery. We also (wrongly) conclude that success will be much easier in some other - usually more conventional - field.

Provided we have reasonable opportunities,
Gary Player's words are simply true.
This lottery assumption is frequently applied to artistic aspirations in particular. The truth is that the people who are "overnight successes" in creative fields - like people who achieve success in any field - rarely arrive at their success overnight. Of course, this is not news to anyone who has ever read the biography of a famous writer, actor or painter. Successful creative people nearly always work hard at their craft for years before their work is widely recognized and/or they achieve great financial success in their artistic endeavors. Yet the conviction persists that there is more than an element of chance to artistic success - not to mention overwhelming odds against you or me winning that particular lottery - undermining the will to work hard and the faith in ourselves that successful realization of our dreams demands.

It's true that opportunity is not equitably distributed throughout the population - and that is a topic for another post - but the lottery assumption goes beyond opportunity. Many people who actually have numerous opportunities to pursue their dreams still fail to recognize opportunity when it knocks. We continue to believe that other people - people who do recognize and answer that knock - are somehow just "luckier" than we are. Most of us turn a blind eye to our chances to do the things we say we would love to do, while telling ourselves that the opportunities we actually ignored just never came along at all. More determined people (who really intend to build a life doing the things that they love) keep an eye out for opportunities and then grab them when they present themselves.

There are lots of reasons why we fail to acknowledge opportunities to pursue our dreams: perhaps we have conflicting dreams and the opportunity means an impossible tradeoff of one cherished dream for another. It's rare that a conflict is so utterly irreconcilable, but it happens. More often, though, our reluctance to commit to a dream may tell us something about ourselves. Although if we pretend the opportunity never existed, we may never figure out what that is while we mourn a dream that we may never have really pursued anyway.

But, I think the biggest reason why we miss opportunities to do work we actually love is because we are socialized to regard enjoyable activities as strictly for leisure, while work is serious business. There is a sense that if we decide to make something we love to do our life's work, that we are somehow...well...goofing off. There is plenty of subtle and not-so subtle societal disapproval to underscore the point, too, so we dream of being able to perform or cook or paint for a living, but we feel a little bit ashamed of ourselves for wanting what essentially sounds like a lifetime of play, when we really ought to be doing more "grown-up" things. We postpone those dreams for some day, never quite formulating a Plan A to make them happen. We give up on our passions at the dreaming stage - decide they are unrealistic and probably we don't have the talent to make it anyway - and move directly on to Plan B. Our culture is more than ready to reinforce that, too.

Meryl Streep's Plan A - Acting
For example, people often say things like "What - do you imagine you'll be the next Meryl Streep?" to young people who express the dream of pursuing a career in acting (or, picking up on the general attitude that performance arts are not serious career options, young people say it to themselves). The unspoken message is loud and clear: performance art is fine for childhood and adolescence, but when it comes to a life plan, get serious! A career in acting is nothing but a pipe dream - a fantasy!

Consequently, the dream never even makes it out of the realm of fantasy to become a Plan A. Feeling naive and foolish for believing that such a childish dream could be made a reality, artistic people all too often default straight to a more acceptable Plan B.

Yet, we rarely hear anyone say things like that to kids who pursue paths that lead to what are perceived as safer, more conventionally solid, high-status careers like law, engineering, medicine or business. Let's take business, for example. No one ever says "What - do you think you're going to be the next Warren Buffet?" to the teenager who announces he is going to pursue a business degree or who hopes to open a small business someday. Unlike the liberal or performing arts, business is regarded as a very sensible course to take. Nobody insists that the only alternative to Buffet-like success is failure or that it is foolish to even consider trying. Why is that?

Out of the millions of people who work in the thousands of business-related occupations, there are very few who achieve the kind of stratospheric success of a Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, and perhaps a few hundred who "live the dream" of merely "great" corporate career success. There are many successful actors, writers and musicians among the thousands of people who work in creative occupations: actually, a person's relative odds of extraordinary success are probably greater in the arts than in business!

Warren Buffet's Plan A - Business
But even more to the point: where does the assumption come from that making it in business (or law, medicine or what have you) is easy - even a given? Have business diploma, will succeed!  Consider the huge numbers of students who flock to business schools. They can't all be passionate about business! And guess what? They're not. Many of these students love other things much more than business, but they've bought into the idea that to be successful (or, rather, to make money which we sometimes mistakenly equate with "success"), they should go into business school. They've shelved Plan A with hardly a whimper and gone to Plan B in the mistaken belief that Plan B will be easier.

They forget that their Plan B is someone else's Plan A.

The biggest pitfall of going with a Plan B is assuming that everyone else who has traveled the same path defaulted to that plan, too. This mistaken assumption is the root of the equally mistaken belief that Plan B will be easier. We see people in solid business careers and we assume: that's the ticket to success! No need to agonize over talent or possible humiliation - it's business!

But virtually every really successful person is working not on a Plan B but on their Plan A. People with no interest or passion for business do not simply walk out of college, diploma in hand and immediately start climbing the corporate ladder.  The people who seem to have effortlessly navigated a dream career have done so only after decades of working their way up through hard work, determination and a little luck. About the only thing that can sustain a person through years of striving at a demanding career is to love what you do. When you love what to do, the work energizes and invigorates you. When you don't, it can drain and depress you.

When you choose something because it seems expedient, rather than because you really want to do it, you actually choose to devote the majority of your one and only life to something you don't care about and don't particularly enjoy. Why would you choose to do that?

Advancing in a field that doesn't excite you is not easy. Aiming higher in a career you really don't love is not easy. Showing up each day at a job you neither care about nor enjoy is not easy at all. It is very hard. Without the passion and excitement we feel when we are working at something we love, it is very hard to find the energy and drive necessary to succeed. Even with a business, medical or law degree success is never easy and certainly not guaranteed.

What should this guy's Plan A have been?
For plenty of young people, these careers are a genuine dream come true, and they are fortunate to be able to convert the sincere desire to do that work into a solid Plan A. They work hard at careers they love, and whether or not they achieve the highest honors in their field, they command respect in society and live satisfying lives, too. Yet, there are doctors and lawyers and business majors who fail because their ambivalence about their work has translated into lackluster job performance. There are Plan B people languishing in dead-end jobs or who are always looking for another job - constantly searching for the right one and rarely succeeding.

It is worthwhile to give some thought to the things we really enjoy doing and try to figure out a way to incorporate those things into a career plan. A career Plan A.  Many of us avoid doing this because we fear the possibility of failure at something we really care about. Yet, by defaulting to a Plan B which ignores our dreams and passions is to guarantee that we will fail to do anything with them.  There are meaningful careers to match any interest known to humankind - if we make the effort to find them.

It is a fact of life that we won't all become CEOs, movie stars or celebrities in our respective fields. Whether or not we end up rivaling Meryl Streep or Warren Buffet, most of us will feel pretty successful if we can enjoy friendships, family, a little fun and the security of a decent job. If that job should also happen to be in a field we really enjoy - if we made a Plan A, stuck to it, worked hard and grabbed our opportunities when they presented themselves - then we will have the satisfaction of spending the best part of our lives doing stuff we love.

And that must feel a little like winning a lottery.


Steve Jobs  1955-2011

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

We Want Snow!



I really do not have time on my hands, but whenever I take a break from working on the 10+ posts I'm currently working on, I find it inspiring to listen to something cheery and fun!

Here is one of the best songs from the classic holiday film, "White Christmas". It is frigidly cold here right now - I believe the saying is "too cold to snow" and that about describes it. The frozen, bare, brown earth and trees could really use a dazzling white blanket of snow!

Two minutes of harmonizing splendor. Thanks to Rosemary, Bing, Danny and Vera (Trudy)!

Now I'm smiling - hope you will be, too!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Because...Hillary























Several news sources are reporting that an opinion poll shows that Hillary Clinton enjoys the highest approval ratings of her long career and that 57% of people polled said that if the 2016 election were held tomorrow, they would support her for President!

Now that is the kind of thing that brightens this long-time supporter's day!

I am more focused on supporting President Obama's efforts right now (which is why I have turned away with steely resolve and haven't clicked on any of those Hillary Clinton 2016 posts on Facebook), but in the back of my mind a little voice is whispering, "Run, Hillary run!".

Run, Hillary, Run: Majority want a Clinton candidacy, Jon Cohen, Washington Post Politics blog, December 5, 2012.

Hillary Clinton is the peoples' choice for 2016: poll, Kristen A. Lee, New York Daily News, December 5, 2012.

Filed under "Who Gives a damn?" but what the hell, I'll include it anyway: Hillary Clinton in 2016: Celebrities who support Clinton, HuffPost Celebrity, December 5, 2012.

And yes, a thousand times yes, let's talk about this question: After Hillary Clinton, who will fight for women? Ritu Sharma, Politico Opinion contributor, December 4, 2012.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Full Frost Moon - And Jupiter, Too!

photo by TaviGreiner











The moving moon
went up the sky,
And nowhere 
did abide:
Softly she was
going up,
And a star 
or two beside -


(from The Rime of the
Ancient Mariner,
Samuel Taylor Coleridge)















The full moon tonight came with a special treat: just off the moon's left shoulder a bright "star", which is not a star at all, but the giant planet Jupiter. Jupiter is the largest planet and the fifth planet from the sun in our solar system. In the ancient Roman pantheon, Jupiter was the name of the putative "king" of the gods - his Greek equivalent was Zeus. Jupiter is the ruling planet of the astrological sign Sagittarius, bestowing upon those lucky individuals good fortune, nobility and lives of meaning and purpose. Jupiter is also associated with luck and happiness.

Perhaps Gustav Holtz was thinking about the good luck and positive influence attributed to Jupiter when he subtitled the movement dedicated to the giant planet, "Bringer of Jollity". Listen to the beautiful Jupiter movement of Holtz's orchestral suite, The Planets. You'll hear the parts which remind you of Jupiter's connection to the idea of higher purpose around the 3 minute mark. Turn up the volume and lose yourself in a 7 minute musical vacation which will be a tonic to body and soul.



Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Levine.

Off to the right and slightly below the moon shines the red giant star, Aldebaran.

Apparently, tonight's full moon was the smallest one of 2012, because the moon is at its apogee - the farthest distance from earth in its orbit. Don't tell me or Carolyn Ann that it was small, however. Tonight's huge moonrise was as spectacular as many a Harvest or Hunter Moon. The huge buttermilk- coloured orb ascending in a deep azure sky that was pierced by the light of the moon's two brilliant celestial companions was truly captivating.

The November full moon is known as the "Beaver Moon" or the "Full Frost Moon" in Native American lore. There was also a lunar eclipse earlier today, but unless you were in Australia or at least in Alaska, you probably didn't have much of a view. Lucky for you, Nifty is here to save the day!

A little night-sky gazing for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!





Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday Wonders - Rolling In The Higgs



I am a sucker for a cappella singing, especially multiple harmonics. I am also a sucker for clever lyrics which make science both easy to understand and fun.

Tim Blais has combined both of these things in a great little video that is well worth less than 4 minutes of your time.


Rolling in the Higgs - Lyrics


There's a collider under Geneva
Reaching new energies that we've never achieved before
Finally we can see with this machine
A brand new data peak at 125 GeV
See how gluons and vector bosons fuse
Muons and gamma rays emerge from something new
There's a collider under Geneva
Making one particle that we've never seen before

The complex scalar
Elusive boson
Escaped detection by the LEP and Tevatron
The complex scalar
What is its purpose?
It's got me thinking

Chorus:
We could have had a model (Particle breakthrough, at the LHC)
Without a scalar field (5-sigma result, could it be the Higgs)

But symmetry requires no mass (Particle breakthrough, at the LHC)
So we break it, with the Higgs (5-sigma result, could it be the Higgs)

Baby I have a theory to be told
The standard model used to discover our quantum world
SU(3), U(1), SU(2)'s our gauge
Make a transform and the equations shouldn't change

The particles then must all be massless
Cause mass terms vary under gauge transformation
The one solution is spontaneous
Symmetry breaking

Roll your vacuum to minimum potential
Break your SU(2) down to massless modes
Into mass terms of gauge bosons they go
Fermions sink in like skiers into snow

Lyrics and arrangement by Tim Blais and A Capella Science
Original music by Adele

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday Wonder - The Longest Time (The Coral Triangle)



Every now and then I come across and video that makes me both smile and think. This is one of them. As one of the commenters below the video on YouTube pointed out: this is what the video campaign promoting science to girls should have been more like.

Lyrics are in the video. It's a great song (Billy Joel's "The Longest Time") and you will learn something new! Please do watch - it's great!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sneak Preview IPhone 5!



via Pharyngula

Quote FTW:

"The Iphone 5 is a game-changer...within minutes I had friends telling me how much fun I was having!"


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Quantum Theory Explained!





Lyrics:

[Morgan Freeman]
So, what are we really made of?
Dig deep inside the atom
and you'll find tiny particles
Held together by invisible forces

Everything is made up
Of tiny packets of energy
Born in cosmic furnaces

[Frank Close]
The atoms that we're made of have
Negatively charged electrons
Whirling around a big bulky nucleus

[Michio Kaku]
The Quantum Theory
Offers a very different explanation
Of our world

[Brian Cox]
The universe is made of
Twelve particles of matter
Four forces of nature

That's a wonderful and significant story

[Richard Feynman]
Suppose that little things
Behaved very differently
Than anything big

Nothing's really as it seems
It's so wonderfully different
Than anything big

The world is a dynamic mess
Of jiggling things
It's hard to believe

[Kaku]
The quantum theory
Is so strange and bizarre
Even Einstein couldn't get his head around it

[Cox]
In the quantum world
The world of particles
Nothing is certain
It's a world of probabilities

(refrain)

[Feynman]
It's very hard to imagine
All the crazy things
That things really are like

Electrons act like waves
No they don't exactly
They act like particles
No they don't exactly

[Stephen Hawking]
We need a theory of everything
Which is still just beyond our grasp
We need a theory of everything, perhaps
The ultimate triumph of science

(refrain)

[Feynman]
I gotta stop somewhere
I'll leave you something to imagine

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Do You Believe In ... ?



via NonStampCollector.

You really have to wonder at the arrogance of people who insist that there is a difference between their supernatural beliefs and those of other people. Bah.

When you understand why you dismiss all other possible gods,
you will understand why I dismiss yours. - Stephan F. Roberts



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Midweek Moment Of Sanity



via GrandUnifiedTheorist

Best quotes:

"Science has the potential to build a better world;  Religion has the potential to destroy it."

"The time is now for atheists to stand up for the future."


Did you see what thadguy did there?



via thadguy.com  (check it out for more excellent cartoons)