Adventures in Everyday

Artwork 1 – Surviving WW3 Logo
May 29, 2008, 8:06 pm
Filed under: artwork | Tags:

Ever think about what it would be like to survive a nuclear holocaust? Of course you do. Who doesn’t?Final version of my WW3 logo. I use it as my avatar all over the place. Who wouldn't?

Too bad it’s pretty much impossible. Everyone would die. Honestly, it’s fun to plan for it and even more fun to imagine the resulting Mad Max wasteland of adventure and intrigue… but I expect to die. Continue reading


The Smile Factory
May 28, 2008, 11:53 pm
Filed under: academic, personal, psychology | Tags:

Inspired by a true story and a truly beautiful girl

Kissing quietly in my car behind her apartment building, it became increasingly obvious that the darkness outside posed no threat to my girlfriend’s luminous charm. She’s beautiful. A moment earlier, I had been trying to describe to her what I thought and felt each time I tell her that she’s pretty. I believe that statements like “you look pretty tonight” should be announced to one’s girlfriend somewhat sparingly, in order to prevent the compliment from losing its luster. Unfortunately, I find myself telling her how pretty she is every time I see her. Each time I say it I remind myself that maybe, just maybe, she won’t appear quite so exquisite the next time I see her, and, maybe, I’ll feel comfortable enough to keep my compliments to myself.

That never happens. Continue reading

Training Animals to Butcher Themselves?
March 27, 2008, 11:32 am
Filed under: academic, biology, dystopious, psychology, science

Fish Being Trained to Catch Themselves

Recently, scientists at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory have trained a particularly delicious fish species to swim into nets after hearing an underwater tone – Pavlovian style. Their goal is to train whole populations of fish and then release them into the open ocean to feed and grow. Before long, however, the same underwater tone will be emitted by commercial operations evoking a “return home” response in the hapless fish.

Mmm. Tastes like animal psychology.

What next?

Another example of useful animal psychology is the use of conditioned taste aversion in training wild wolves not to eat domestic sheep.

Continue reading

Cave Exploring and Europa-Drilling
March 20, 2008, 3:30 pm
Filed under: science

The Unreal Underground

For those of you who have not had the breathtaking pleasure of watching part 4 of BBC’s Planet Earth documentary, Caves, here is a music video featuring some of its content [edit: link corrected]. By the way, Caves is the only part of Planet Earth that shows any human beings at all.

Caves is one of the most amazing documentaries I have ever seen, so when Bill Stone, cave-explorer and robot designer extraordinaire, showed up in a TED Talk about exploring the depths of Europa‘s extraterrestrial ocean, I got excited.

Continue reading

What? Multiple Origins of Life?
March 19, 2008, 2:16 pm
Filed under: biology, science

Questions I want answered about the origin of life:

  • Why is “the origin of life” usually described only as a singular event?
  • Why must we assume that once life on Earth appeared, it was invincible and never went extinct?

Deep sea vents

For the last several years, scientists have gradually become cozier with the idea that life on Earth first originated near deep sea hydrothermal vents. It’s an interesting concept too, because the primary producers in these areas don’t use photosynthesis at all (how could they – it’s pitch black down there). Rather, primary producers, such as the giant blood-red tube worms more than 2 meters in length (taking well over 100 years or more to grow), house symbiotic chemoautotrophic bacteria that function analogously to chloroplasts in plants.

→ Watch a great National Geographic video about hydrothermal vents here

But if these deep sea vents have been around for many billions of years, and if the general scientific consensus is that abiogenesis occurred as early as 4.4 billion years ago, why do we think that life could have emerged only once?

Continue reading

Clockwork Politics
March 13, 2008, 3:10 pm
Filed under: biology, dystopious, politics, science

US Congressional Control

I don’t want to look like the sort of citizen who knows more about American politics than those of my own country, but a recent study on party control in the U.S. Congress is quite interesting. Check out the graph of seat shares below.


According to a Discovery Channel news article, a mathematician analyzed House and Senate seats with some of the same tools used in sunspot research. As the graph above shows, party power seems to have shifted very regularly every 12 to 15 years, since 1854.

Proportion of Democratic Seats = (6.67 x 10-4) x year. Continue reading

Cannibals, Force-Fields, and Natural Selection
March 13, 2008, 12:20 pm
Filed under: internet, personal, science


I am a Black Hole for Information

I am subscribed to many more electronic newsletters and rss feeds than is good for me. I get email updates from:

On top of that, I have rss feeds from:

So when any one of these web services delivers a thought provoking item, I tend to bookmark or make a tab for it so that I can blog about it later. To the right you will see the tabs that are open in my browser at this very moment.

This is not a good system.

I so rarely get around to writing anything down! Perhaps it’s because every time I start writing something I end up doing research, listing sources and using APA format; or perhaps it’s because at any given time I have at least 20 things that I want to blog about.

Starting now

Continue reading