Brian Bunton and the Thrill of Discovery

March 26, 2011

A first step toward becoming a celebrity physicist by one of our own… After he deals with the thrill of discovery we can only presume that the Chamber of Secrets is next.

Whatever you are… own it?

May 7, 2010

A tennis player recently sued for defamation when a London newspaper labeled him the world’s worst professional tennis player. Proving a tennis court and a court of law aren’t so different after all, the pro lost: the judge ruled that the newspaper’s assertion was supported by the facts.

Details here.

Reminds me of when Duke backed out of a football game with Louisville by arguing, in essence, that they could not be competitive. If I remember correctly, they replaced UL with a I AA opponent, whom they beat, but ended up missing out on bowl eligibility by one game. Though they had the requisite number of wins, wins against lower division opponents do not count towards eligibility.

Fat tails

June 10, 2009

There’s a recent article up at Slate spin-off DoubleX that does a nice job explaining some practical consequences of statistics in the real world.

Seems several major retailers have recently stopped carrying women’s plus sizes. At first blush it sounds odd at best — we don’t want your business, ladies. But it’s actually an economically motivated decision, due to the fact that 1) fabric represents the greatest part of production costs and 2) the probability distribution of women’s weights has a fat tail, meaning there are many different plus sizes. The plus market is spread out over lots of sizes, each of which is expensive to make and, compared to smaller sizes, relatively unpopulated — even though the total plus market may be sizeable.

Rye humor

May 18, 2009

I just learned that Dutch drug culture goes way back.

Dammit, I’m Mad

February 21, 2009

Not really, but Demetri Martin sure is:

“Dammit I’m Mad”


Demetri Martin

Dammit I’m mad.
Evil is a deed as I live.
God, am I reviled? I rise, my bed on a sun, I melt.
To be not one man emanating is sad. I piss.
Alas, it is so late. Who stops to help?
Man, it is hot. I’m in it. I tell.
I am not a devil. I level “Mad Dog”.
Ah, say burning is, as a deified gulp,
In my halo of a mired rum tin.
I erase many men. Oh, to be man, a sin.
Is evil in a clam? In a trap?
No. It is open. On it I was stuck.
Rats peed on hope. Elsewhere dips a web.
Be still if I fill its ebb.
Ew, a spider… eh?
We sleep. Oh no!
Deep, stark cuts saw it in one position.
Part animal, can I live? Sin is a name.
Both, one… my names are in it.
Murder? I’m a fool.
A hymn I plug, deified as a sign in ruby ash,
A Goddam level I lived at.
On mail let it in. I’m it.
Oh, sit in ample hot spots. Oh wet!
A loss it is alas (sip). I’d assign it a name.
Name not one bottle minus an ode by me:
“Sir, I deliver. I’m a dog”
Evil is a deed as I live.
Dammit I’m mad.

In for a Penny

October 2, 2008

I remember a lunchtime trip to Quizno’s on MLK near Gated Community Brad’s old apartment where the main topic of discussion was taxes. I paid about $5 for my chicken carbonara, and an extra 30 cents in taxes. A wealthy CEO would have paid the same, as well as a homeless, jobless single mother of three. What got us on the subject of taxes was the recent (to us, at least) proposition of the FairTax.

It was one of the most thoughtful and informative conversations I can remember we had that wasn’t about physics. But this post isn’t about the FairTax, at least not directly. The main result I remember from that lunch was my strengthened opinion that the sales tax without rebate is the most regressive, unfair sources of income for a government. To hit all people, regardless of economic status, the same for essential needs is just wrong to me.

Read the rest of this entry »

3D Tomography

July 3, 2008

For those of you who have always wondered, “How do they make 3D measurements in a chemical system?”, your questions have finally been answered in detail. When the previous postdoc left the group he put together a nice example for us and my boss has decided this was clean enough to share with the world.

The technique is generic to any system where you can take transmission images at many angles around the system. You can read about it detail at the Steinbock group website. There is also a matlab example there (complete with sample data, it does require the function IRADON from the image processing toolbox).  Or you can just look at the pretty pictures.