Friday, March 31, 2006

March Madness - Final Four to Championship Statistics

Wow, George Mason, a #11 seed, made it to the final four. I mentioned last week that this has occurred only once in the last 21 years (since 1985). In my statistical observations I have only been using the last 21 years' data because that is when the NCAA tournament moved to 64 games, so that data seems the most relevant. Even though I pointed out that a #11 seed has been in the final four (LSU in 1986), my suggestion was to avoid that pick because it was so improbable. Trust the data, but the interpretation is up to you. (meaning: I take no responsibility for your use of my analysis.)

The above chart shows the frequency distribution of seeds to make it to the final four. Can you see the #11 at one chance in 84? A #11 has never won the championship in the past 21 years, as shown in the chart below.

In spite of all of this impressive charting and number crunching I have no possible chance of winning my March Madness pool, but this year that is just like everyone else out there.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Copyright protection for fashion designers?

As if there isn't enough rampant intellectual property protection in this country - Slate writes that The Council of Fashion Designers of America(CFDA warning flash) are lobbying Congress to gather support for a bill to offer copyrightlike protection to clothing designs.

From the article:
The open and accepted practice of fashion designers "paying homage" to the designs of others isn't seen as unpunished piracy, but rather as part of the normal creative flow upon which design itself thrives. And, although it is less exalted, the practice of mass retailers such as H&M and Zara selling knockoffs of high-style designs is seen as an accepted and important part of the fashion business.
Courts have traditionally insisted on seeing clothing as a "useful article" unprotected by copyright, at least in part out of fear that to do otherwise would be to create style "monopolies" that would chill creativity and increase prices.
The CFDA wants to change that. They want to piggyback off of a 1998 law that is used to copyright boat hull designs. I am sure a dress shaped like a boat hull would certainly be haute couture, or would it be boat couture?

Just tell him what the Matrix is!

The Matrix is on television right now (as it is always somewhere in cableland) and Morpheus is (not) telling Neo what the matrix is, because as Morpheus says:
"Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself."
After watching this movie for the millionth time and having it seep into every bit of our culture, it is actually vaguely annoying after a while. For instance, some quotes from Morpheus showing his inability to actually describe the Matrix:
"There'’s nothing I can say that can explain it for you. Come, see for yourself."
or this description:
"The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work... when you go to church... when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth."
How about these quotes I just came up with, you just have to do it in threes - "The Matrix is the kleenex you blow your nose with, it is the paint you are watching dry, the watched pot that never boils." or this one "The Matrix is the dog doo on your shoe, the smell of your ruined carpet and the cleaning bill you must pay." You know, I have finally figured it out, and I volunteer this description to help out Morpheus.

"Hey Neo, the world you live in is really a virtual reality created by machines."

How simple is that?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Very Cool Solar Eclipse - live blogging the live webcast

The live webcast of the solar eclipse from Side, Turkey is very exciting (thanks to the Exploratorium). As I said last night, I wish I was there.

Everyone watching the sun in the video reminds me of the Transit of Venus trip that we took to Sharm-el-Sheikh (at the tip of the Sinai peninsula in Egypt) in June of 2004. The webcasters have shown their video setup with cameras with several different filters, plain white light, hydrogen alpha - which looks red and lets you see the flares and prominences, and calcium K - which looks blue and sees a different layer of the sun. A typical visual filter is metallized Mylar and looks a potato chip bag, because it needs to block a lot of light.

Through the variety of cameras they are showing the moon move to covering the sun completely, but also pointing out sunspots in both visual light ( they look dark) and hydrogen alpha (they look white). There aren't many because we are at solar minimum. They are also using extremely low tech solar cardboard viewers to watch the eclipse approach totality. Even the mayor of Side, Turkey has been on to host the group.

We are at totality and there is a beautiful corona of a quiet sun. (~5:55am EDST)

Start planning now for the total solar eclipse that will cross the United States - August 21st, 2017.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Solar Eclipse on March 29th - live webcast

There is a total solar eclipse tomorrow starting in South America, tracking across North Africa and into western Asia. I had hoped to be on an eclipse tour on a cruise in the Mediterranean and on the Libyan/Chad border to see it but visa issues and the fact that the United States isn't the most popular country in the Arab world right now would have left a high probability of a canceled trip, so we didn't try.

As a second chance to see the solar eclipse I will try to watch the live webcast from Turkey supplied by San Francisco's Exploratorium. The coverage starts at 5 am Wilmington, DE time and the eclipse begins at 5:53am and lasts for about 3 minutes and 40 seconds. I hope the coverage is good.

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Update on the 59% Electricity Rate increase in Delaware on May 1st

Electricity deregulation started in 1999 in Delaware is set to finally bear its rotten fruit on May 1st. Unless the legislature does something to prevent or delay the 59% increase in electricity rates, Delmarva Power residential customers are going to have heftier bills just as summer air conditioning begins to slurp up the juice.

Tina Farr must have received the same letter (click to the left to see) as all Delmarva power customers and I did. She points out in a letter to the editor that the rate increase only affects the supply part of your electric bill and not the delivery. Tina calls Delmarva Power to task for their obfuscation of the real increase. She calculates that the delivery portion will actually increase 75% in the summer and 104% in the winter, but that when averaged with the unchanged delivery portion averages to 59%. That is the increase we will see in our bills. In the Delmarva Power letter I received:
The new SOS supply and transmission charges set to take effect May 1st are:
  • Summer- $0.110382 per kWh;
  • Winter - $0.122175 per kWh for the first 500kWh and $0.104943 per kWh for winter usage over 500 kWh.
The current winter rate from my bill is $.052372 per kWh for the first 500kWh so you can see why the above is a whopping increase. Don't bother looking for the rates (or tariffs) on the Delmarva power website, they point you to useless 114 page .pdf documents.

Delmarva has proposed phasing in the increase to the legislature and the public utility commission, but they better work fast if they are to avert the increase in time. All of those crazy proposals suggested a few months ago seem to have disappeared in light of this one. I wonder if they can lower prices without permission, but need permission to raise them. The proposal is quoted below:
"Delmarva Power has proposed a three step phase-in of the higher rates for residential customers, with one third of the increase effective May 1,2006. Another one third would take effect January 1, 2007, and, assuming no further increases in wholesale prices, the final third would take effect June 1,2007."
They do include a chart showing where we will stand with respect to other electricity suppliers in the region. I have taken the data and replotted it here.

The red bar represents the estimated $144.03 monthly bill for a typical 1000kWh month vs. a low of $102.78 from the Delaware Electric Co-Op to a high of $167.84 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Let me point out again that commercial customers do have choices and hence there is competition and better rates for that market. Competition failed to materialize in the residential market in Delaware, thus there is one source for us Delmarva customers, and one price. This increase just makes me want to get solar panels for electricity and hot water generation even faster. Definitely for the next house.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Storming the Guardhouse at Colonial Williamsburg

We visited Colonial Williamsburg this past weekend. The Magazine and Guardhouse there is protected by a wall and a large ring of wooden spikes to prevent anyone from attacking it and capturing the gunpowder and weapons. This was much more important around 1775 or so.

As you can see from my failed attempt to storm the guardhouse, those spikes are very effective.


Friday, March 24, 2006

Jack Booted thugs crack down on public drunkenness

From the government knows better that you do files: Local police in Texas went into bars and arrested people for public intoxication. They were not wearing jack boots, but undercover agents were watching people for public intoxication. On the Today show I saw that they even arrested people drinking in the hotel bar that they were staying in! Also arrested was the bartender for serving drinks to someone who was intoxicated. In my opinion, that is not too far from drinking in your own house; think of the hotel as your rented house and the bar as your rented living room.
For those law and order and benefit of society types out there I will point out that I am not so blind as not to realize that society has a vested interest in preventing drunk driving and accidents due to drunkenness and so on. But there needs to be a balance between individual liberties and the needs of society. Unchecked government power is a bad thing. I am sure that many people would agree that this action is a little heavy handed (of course the Texas constabulary would disagree).

Others find this amusing as well, Consumerist quips "I won't quit you, Jim Bean". For advice about the dangers of drinking, I leave you with a pointer to one of my recent favorite songs and bands - 8-bit knows all about drinking too much as put to music with their hit "Drunk". You can find an mp3 download of it at their myspace account.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

World probably safe

Just in case you were wondering, everything is fine if the button below is green.

Current Earth-Destruction Status

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Probability Analysis of March Madness Upsets - or what I should have picked.

The fun of participating in a sport pool isn't just the chance of winning, it is the thrill of the mathematical analysis. It is apocryphal that all statisticians are gamblers, it gives them plenty of good examples for their lectures.

It is March so the sports pool in question must be March Madness, the NCAA men's basketball tournament pool. The one I am participating has an extra wrinkle. Normally a pool gives a point for each win in the first round (round of 64), 2 points for the round of 32, and so on up to 32 points for picking the winner of the championship. The pool I am in is different because it rewards upsets. The pool points are the round points times the seed of the winner of the matchup. Thus a #1 seed yields 1 point, but a #8 yields 8 points, all multiplied the points for the round (1,2,4,8,16 or 32). This setup really changes how you pick. Without rewarding upsets, you wouldn't bother picking an upset, here the seed multiplier tempts you to try to pick the upset because it could be many more points (For instance, #8 beating #1 or #15 beating #2).

So in a pool with upsets, how should you pick your winners? Like any good statistician I resort to looking at the historical data. 1985 was the first year in which 64 teams played in the tournament so we will restrict our analysis to that. The data comes from Wikipedia and shrpsports.

Just how often do upsets occur in the first round of 64 teams? The chart below shows the upset probability for each of the matchups, compiled from 672 first round matchups over 21 years (since 1985). An upset is when the lower ranked team wins the game. The chart shows that a #16 team has never beaten a #1 team, while upsets happen more than half the time for #8 vs #9 matchups, so pick those #9's. Even #5 beats #12 almost one out of every three tries. If you want the points you better pick some upsets in the first round.

The round of 32 is slightly more difficult to analyze because there is correspondingly less data, only 336 matchups over 21 years, and they are dependent on the results of the first round and the way the brackets are structured. Still, we can draw some conclusions. Surprisingly #10's beat #2's almost half the time, and #12's are almost as successful against #4's. The data reveal that a significant number of upsets occur in the round of 32 as well.

Other information you might use in your bracket would be that the worst seed to win the tournament was #8 and this happened once. The worst seed to make it to the Final Four was ranked #11, which also only happened once. Since these are highly improbably events your bracket should have avoided them.

There is one final issue with the analysis. Certainly the data shows that in the round of 64 and 32 that upsets will happen. On any given day any team can beat any other team. The key to winning is picking which upsets will happen and that takes some knowledge of the teams. Right now at the Sweet 16 round I am not in last place in the pool, but I'm close. I also don't have too much hope for further points compared to the rest of the pool. Please take that into account when taking any advice from here. Trust the data, what you do with it is up to you.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

YES GOD and JESUS license plates in Delaware.

Saw this in Delaware the other day. Apparently the way to answer a question from God now is to put it on your license plate - "YES GOD". Do they have another car with "NO GOD" on it?

I did see a JESUS license plate earlier in the week but I was unable to get a clear picture of it. I am still hope to see that one again. I will add it to my list of interesting personalized plates I have seen in the wild.

Forgetfulness and interior design

In my haste to gather my stuff and pack to go home from a recent business trip, I accidentally grabbed the arm chain cover from the chair of the lovely Victorian B&B that I stayed at. While I think the arm chair cover adds a class to my workspace and deskchair that it previously lacked (why couldn't I have gotten two!), I will be sure to send the cover back to the rightful owners. Interior decorating by unintentional kleptomania only hurts everyone involved.

Bibliomania and the Long Tail

This picture from the Delaware Art Museum by Howard Pyle is entitled "Caxton at His Press" and is from a book called "The Bibliomania or Book-Madness, History, Symptoms, and Cure of This Disease" by Thomas Frognall Dibdin (note: the museum has Frogall, but wikipedia and the internet seem to suggest Frognall). It is a suitable photo for a bibliomaniac such as myself.

BoingBoing (via Smart Patrol) points to the OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) list of the top 1000 books in OCLC member libraries. The Bible tops the list at #1 with about 800,000 library holdings (actual books). That is out of the 874 million holdings catalogued by the OCLC. This top 1000 list is about 10.5 million books and represents only 1.2% of all of the holdings. Surprisingly the 2000 Census is at #2 with 460,000 holdings.

I took the list and performed a log-log plot of library holdings vs. the book rank so that I could see the full range of the holdings (they go from 800,000 at the top of the list to about 5000 at #1000), and to do some simple analysis. The Bible and the 2000 Census definitely stand out out of all proportion to the other books on the list. The log-log slope of -1/2 is the kind of power law distribution expected for a popularity list like this one and reflects the effect of The Long Tail (see also the blog The Long Tail). The popular books are popular but there is a long tail of books that libraries still stock because someone somewhere wants to read them. For example, the power law means that for every 4 times greater ranking (#10 to #40) there are about half the number of books at that rank(39,000 to 23,000), but this means you still have 5000 holdings down at rank #1000.

The other books at the top of the list tend to be the classics, "The Divine Comedy", The Odyssey, The Iliad, and Hamlet. There are also children's books, Mother Goose, Huckleberry Finn, Alice in Wonderland, and the Lord of the Rings.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

Space plane may be fantasy

Earlier, when I was waxing enthusiatic about space and our prospects for reaching it, I mentioned a secret government space plane (the articles refer to it as Blackstar). I was relieved that a secret space plane might actually exist, even as the Space Shuttle program seems to be winding down this decade. Speculation about this space plane was picked up by BoingBoing and appears to be debunked in the Space Review.

In summary: The secret pace plane that I didn't believe our government would have as a backup to the Space Shuttle program might have actually existed, but now even that speculation is debunked. To get to space as civilians, this leaves us depending on private companies and their race to space, and maybe the space elevator after all.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb

The high wind warnings inspired me to go fly a kite today, unfortunately just as the wind warnings expired. I did get a few flights of my really cool rocket ship kite with big exhaust streamer before the wind died down.

It is about 14 feet long and I only had a few Charlie Brown moments when the kite dove toward me to try to kill me. You just have to show them who's boss. It's a shame when the kite tries to bite the hand that flies it.

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Happy Pi day today 3.14

Today, March 14th is Pi day (for obvious reasons). Some fun things you should do today:

As I have done many times in the past, recite the CIT cheer (Carnegie Institue of Technology, now part of Carnegie Mellon University)

Ye Olde CIT Cheer

E to the X, dy dx, e to the y, dy,
tangent, secant, cosine, sine,
square root, cube root, log of e
watercooled slipstick, CIT!

Search for your phone number or other interesting string of digits in the first 200 million digits of Pi.

Eat Pi. (I mean pie). I prefer lemon merengue, although apple pie is very traditional.

I am not going to watch the movie because it is really creepy and involves drills to my delicate head.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Space enthusiasm undimmed

The movie Armageddon was on this weekend (as it always is somewhere in cable space). I am amused that, given the current state of the Space Shuttle program, in the movie they pull out a super Shuttle that the Air Force has supposedly built in secret. This same idea was also used in a recent West Wing episode. I've often wished that there was some secret program producing a better Space shuttle so that we would have some hope of maintaining our space faring capability, and because I have a higher chance of flying in a space plane to space than a rocket. Aviation Week reports that not only does such a clandestine program exist but that it has already been canceled. The article is shrouded in rumor and innuendo, but it would be great if someone would suddenly reveal a finished space plane.

Another way into space is a space elevator. This is a very common theme in science fiction, I was recently reminded of it having just completed "Old Man's War" by John Scalzi in which the characters are lifted from earth to space using a space elevator. There is an article in IEEE Spectrum on the feasibility of building a space elevator. There is the obligatory requirement of using carbon nanotube fibers for the cable because no known material would be light enough to withstand the stresses required for an elevator from Earth's surface to geostationary orbit and beyond. The author of the article presents a reasonable estimate of the cost of the elevator and the feasibility of building one using current or soon to be available technologies. A $10 billion space elevator could take the cost of putting a kilogram into orbit from $20,000 down to $200 and eventually to $10.

The construction of the space elevator involves putting a satellite in geostationary orbit and then paying out elevator fiber down toward the earth and out to space in such a way as to keep the center of mass in the same orbit. Eventually the fiber reaches the ground anchor. (Larry Niven grows his elevator in "Rainbow Mars") More fiber can be added for a bigger elevator using this first fiber as an elevator. The article also states that the first elevator is the expensive one, subsequent elevators can use the cheap lifting power of the first one, as well as lessons learned to make construction of a second or third one much less expensive. I can't wait to ride one of these to orbit.

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

The cutest porcupine you ever saw.

This South American prehensile tail porcupine was so intensely eating its South American prehensile tail porcupine chow. It was the cutest thing. He remained unperturbed by the crowds, the picture taking, or even the flowers.

This year the Philadelphia Flower Show added animal presentations, even more selling booths, and most importantly - bars, in the middle of the convention hall. I guess attendance must be dropping year to year.

I don't know if I will go next year, I think it's getting too commercial. It used to be all about the flowers, and I am afraid they've lost that.

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You are welcome (to stay off the grass)

It may say welcome but they don't really mean that. I would have been thrown out of the place if I stepped on those "stones".

The Philadelphia Flower Show has elaborate displays that tower over the visitors with flowers, plants and even trees used in every aspect of the design.

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Carnivorous Plants in Philadelphia

- A perfect specimen of Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula) captured up close at the Philadelphia Flower Show. I am glad these things don't get as big as Triffids, nor did the owner name it Audrey II. These were only about an inch across.

The great thing about the Philadelphia Flower Show is that in the individual judging they have the archetype of that particular plant or flower that wins the competition. These plants are so perfect that God himself comes to look at them as a reference when he needs to make another one. The expertise of the owners of these plants is in stark contrast to the plant torture chamber that my house is. Plants rarely thrive or last a long time when I am responsible for them.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

College shenanigans and bad judgement

I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the failure of college kids to understand the consequences of their actions, but shouldn't we at least be teaching these kids to do a cost benefit analysis or something? Here are two relatively local examples of these kids throwing their college opportunities away in stunning displays of bad judgment.

The president of the class of 2008 at Lehigh University was arrested for robbing a bank back in December. Look how rosy cheeked and full of potential he is. How could this happen? There are the usual "best friend since high school couldn't believe he could do this" stories. Did these friends not know of his $5000 in gambling debts? His lawyer is playing up the gambling addiction angle, but I am not sure if he is playing up the "addicted to robbing banks" angle. Those college kids and their pranks.

Then there are the three University of Delaware Football players arrested for robbing another player of cocaine, marijuana and steroids. There are currently suspended from the team. Not only have they thrown away their football scholarships and college careers if they are found guilty, but they did it for drugs. Maybe there should be a course in not doing stupid things to lose your scholarship and chance at a good education. I am sure coach Keeler is very proud of these recruits, for which he must find replacements.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Getting worse before you get better.

Often when a professional golfer changes his or her golf swing they get worse before they get better. I heard it described chiastically this way today:

When they are struggling they are -

"Great to play against because they are terrible"

but eventually they become

"Terrible to play against because they are great."
The same applies to teaching card games, scrabble, or chess. You win at the beginning, but eventually your student becomes the master.

(we played with chiasmus ealier with one about Icarus)

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

More cone snail excitement

Careful readers know that I am a big fan of both cowrie shells and the math abilities of cone snails.

Thus you can understand my obvious dismay about a cowrie killing tapeworm described in a recent Science News article. The tapeworm wraps itself around the cowrie shell, poisons it with a deadly neurotoxin, and then slurps up the contents. The discoverer of this behavior found it by accident when he placed a cowrie shell in with the flatworm while collecting specimens. When he looked in later, there was a fat flatworm and no cowrie in the shell, oops.

Science, in their NetWatch section, points Conusophiles to the Burke Museum site with information about the 3000 or so catalogued Conus species. Someone loves these little mollusks. Here is an example of the many type specimen pictures chosen, of course, for its name. (Conus richardbinghami) Go and pick your favorite.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Cool Hunting

I just finished reading "So Yesterday" by Scott Westerfield. He writes smart books for young adults. This one is about a cool hunter that finds the coolest shoes in the world. The shoes and his employer go missing and this leads him on a merry chase to find the kidnappers, or is it to find the maker of the shoes. The Westerfield books tend to be a fast read for me, but I enjoy them because he certainly doesn't talk down to his young adult reader. I might even say that he talks up. As an example, every so often Scott Westerfield puts in an aside as a short chapter with some facts that are both interesting and help to move the story along. These asides have caused me to do more research on the subjects of the book, I can't imagine a young reader incurious enough that they don't do the same.

The cool hunting in the book reminds me of "Bellwether" by Connie Willis about a corporate researcher that combines research on finding the bellwether, the person that the crowd follows, and chaos theory. The bellwether is the head sheep the other sheep follow, which tells you something of the humor and the tone that Connie Willis intends for the book. Willis peppers her novel with a lot of facts in a similar fashion (it's all about fashion, right?) to Scott Westerfield above. Connie Willis' supposition is that it is impossible to pinpoint the beginning of a fad, while Scott Westerfield has corporate America trying to drive the fads for their own purposes. Both authors feature the originators of the fads themselves, though Scott Westerfield has more respect for his "innovators" than Willis has for her "bellwether".

"Pattern Recognition" by William Gibson
also follows a cool hunter. The protagonist is actually allergic to fashionable things and valuable brands and uses this skill to pick the next big hit for her clients. She of course gets embroiled in a search for the creators of the "coolest" trend around - a film referred to only as the "footage". Gibson seems to imply the consumer culture, and art and marketing are all so interrelated as to be one in the same sometimes.

The whole concept of cool hunting has interested me for a while so I have collected an assortment of links to blogs that purport to do that very thing. Some are actually called Cool Hunting or The Cool Hunter, and there are others that I tend to group into the design, art and gadget categories. In no particular order: design*sponge, we make money not art, productdose, guerrilla innovation, mocoloco, inhabit, popgadget, and the can't-miss engadget.

Modern culture, consumerism, and marketing eventually dissolve into a frenzy of cool hunting and trend guessing whether it is clothes, houses, gadgets, or art, film or song. I like to try keep up.

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Radiation detection for fun and profit

Portable radiation detectors used to detect radioactive materials in trucks were sensitive enough to catch a woman on the way home from a medical procedure. The woman had just had a stress test which required the injection of radioactive material and was driving down the highway after the procedure when she was detected by inspectors in a parked vehicle. (from FARK)

I can sympathize with this woman's experience. Way back in graduate school I used an experimental technique called neutron scattering. One takes a nuclear reactor with a tiny opening that allows neutrons through. Slow the neutrons down, collimate them and filter them to one wavelength. The neutrons pass through a sample and the scattering pattern they produce contains information about the microstructure of the sample. It is one of the coolest techniques I know of in science and was a lot of fun to use in my research.

As you might imagine, there are many important radiation safety rules. You must pass through radiation detectors to enter and leave the room where the experiments are performed to make sure that no radioactive material leaves the room for safety reasons. The detectors start by stepping in them or when they detect any radiation, this last property was the source of the fun.

During one of our trips to NIST, where the experiments were performed, one of the group had just undergone a medical test similar to the one of the woman above that involved injecting a radioactive tracer. The sensitivity of the radiation detectors at NIST was so high that this newly radioactive group member could set them off from 40 feet away. His residual radioactivity was so high that he could make you fail the test (proclaimed with loud alarms and flashing lights) while you were in the machine and he was far away. It was great (if a bit geeky) fun.

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Ventriloquism for Dummies

There really is such a book. How funny is that!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Trivia heroes win again

Tonight another intrepid band of trivia wizards, some veterans some rookies, bested 17 other teams at the St. Ann's Trivia Night in a display of supreme intellectual pugilism the likes of which Wilmington has rarely seen. Careful readers will recall the jubilant news from last November, the first trivia contest win of this team. Well we did it again - the first team ever to repeat a winning performance. The questions seemed harder, there are ten rounds of ten questions each, but our score was higher than the last time and was the highest of the night. Soon the thinker trophy will return for more adventures.

As part of our intimidation strategy we created a T-shirt for the team. The team name, "Seven Smart People and Paul", served as the inspiration. The back of the T-shirt has seven smart people (and Paul) on it. See if you can think (without clicking on the links) of the claim to fame of the people on the list, remember they are all smart.

Clockwise from the top: , , , , , , and .

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

What are you giving up for Lent?

With apologies to the Irish. Please read this with an Irish accent for full effect (for example, 'tis like t'e singin of t'e angles t'emselves.)
A Irishman comes into a bar and orders four beers all at once. The bartender is a little shocked and not sure if he is allowed to serve them all, so he tells the guy that he doesn't have to take them all at once. The Irishman, Patty, explains himself, "I'm one of four brothers from County Cork in Ireland. The oldest is Seamus, and he stayed back in the old country to take care of Da and Ma. Sean went down under to Australia to make his fortune, Francis is traveling Europe, and I came to America to live with my cousins. Back at home we always went down to the pub together, so we made a pact that wherever we were, we would lift a pint to the others health, in the hopes of being together again someday." The bartender was touched and of course serves Patty all his drinks.

As time goes by, the bartender gets used to Patty coming in and ordering his four beers all at once, til one day Patty shows up and only orders three beers. The bartender doesn't know what to think so he goes up to Patty and asks what's the matter. He asks, "your oldest brother Seamus hasn't passed away has he?" "No", Patty replies. Out of concern the bartender presses, "was it Francis or Sean?' Patty says, "Me brothers are fine, why are you asking?" The bartender points out that Patty only ordered three pints this time instead of the usual four for himself and his brothers.

Patty answers, "Don't worry, my brothers are doing well, I'm just giving up drinking for Lent."
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