January 26, 2007

Six Degrees of Wikipedia

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 4:38 PM

I assume that someone somewhere has done this before, but in lab today we were inspired to play this game by a recent xkcd comic. The rules:

  1. Go to Wikipedia.
  2. Click the random article link in the sidebar.
  3. Open a second random article in another tab.
  4. Try to find a chain of links (as short as possible) starting from the first article that leads to the second.

I drew Eastern Region of British Railways and Packed bed, which I connected through:
  1. Eastern Region of British Railways
  2. British Rail
  3. History of rail transport in Great Britain
  4. Steam locomotive
  5. Fire-tube boiler
  6. Smokestack
  7. Flue gas desulfurization (this article mentions packed beds but doesn't link to the page)
  8. Wet scrubbing
  9. Packed bed absorber

If you try it, post any interesting results in the comments!

January 25, 2007

Contact the patent office!

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 6:34 PM

Over coffee I and another grad student had a brilliant innovation: an electric guitar with SQUID pickups! Due to the high sensitivity and low noise of the SQUID, we expect the sound quality to be extremely good. Of course, the guitar will have to be filled with liquid nitrogen (we're assuming high-Tc SQUIDs here) or equipped with a cryocooler. The LN2-filled guitar would have the advantage of producing plumes of fog on demand, and would be especially spectacular when smashed against the stage at the end of the show.

January 23, 2007

How's their frequent-flyer program?

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 3:55 PM

AirTran is my new favorite airline.

Toddler's temper ousts family from plane

ORLANDO, Fla. - AirTran Airways on Tuesday defended its decision to remove a Massachusetts couple from a flight after their crying 3-year-old daughter refused to take her seat before takeoff.

AirTran officials said they followed Federal Aviation Administration rules that children age 2 and above must have their own seat and be wearing a seat belt upon takeoff.

"The flight was already delayed 15 minutes and in fairness to the other 112 passengers on the plane, the crew made an operational decision to remove the family," AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver said.

(Via Steinn.) AirTran should publicize this, there is a market for airlines that have low tolerance for obnoxious kids. Bonus reason to fly AirTran: "The father said his family would never fly AirTran again."

Permalink | Tags: Travel

January 22, 2007

Coachella lineup

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 2:40 PM

Saw the major Coachella news last night, but today the full lineup has been posted. Not only is Rage Against the Machine reuniting for the festival, so is Jesus and Mary Chain.

If I go for just one day it'll probably be Saturday, which has several of my favorite bands. If two days, Friday and Saturday.

January 10, 2007

Essential '80s Albums

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 3:31 PM

Last year I embarked on a project to fill out my collection of '90s music, with the help of your recommendations. This was quite successful, and I will post my list of favorites eventually. But recently I have posted a lot of top music lists, and am a bit burned out, so I'm going to put it off. Instead, I will move on to this year's project, which is to fill out my collection of '80s music.

So: what are the essential albums of 1980-1989? Essential either as a consensus classic or a personal favorite; all genres are open. Here are a few I hear mentioned a lot, just to get things started (inclusion in this list does not constitute endorsement):

  • Michael Jackson, Thriller (1982)
  • Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska (1982)
  • New Order, Power, Corruption, & Lies (1983)
  • The Police, Syncronicity (1983)
  • Prince & The Revolution, Purple Rain (1984)
  • Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense (1984)
  • The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead (1986)
  • Guns N' Roses, Appetite for Destruction (1987)
  • R.E.M., Document (1987)
  • U2, The Joshua Tree (1987)
  • Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation (1988)
  • The Cure, Disintegration (1989)
  • Pixies, Doolittle (1989)

Permalink | Tags: Lists, Music

January 8, 2007

Black Mirror

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 10:18 AM

The Arcade Fire have posted the first single from their upcoming album, and I give it a thumbs up. Go here, click on "Win", then click on "Win's Scrapbook", then click the album art to start it playing. (Sadly it's just a stream and not an mp3.)

Permalink | Tags: Music

January 7, 2007

Caltech basketball breaks with tradition

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 10:16 PM

And in another Caltech link from Steinn, the basketball team breaks their 207-game streak.

January 5, 2007

How to get to Caltech

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 10:52 AM

Steinn's story of his arrival at Caltech is pretty entertaining. All you Techers should go read it.

Permalink | Tags: Caltech

January 4, 2007

RSS bankruptcy

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 11:57 AM

With uncounted hundreds of unread posts stacked up in Google Reader after my vacation, I am declaring RSS bankruptcy. After catching up on a few essential blogs, I just clicked "Mark all as read" and started fresh. If there's something brilliant I might have missed, let me know.

365 photo project is underway

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 10:14 AM

Observers of my Flickr page will have already noticed that I started Project 365 on schedule three days ago. This is where I take (at least) one photo every day for a year and post the series online. I'm putting these photos in my Project 365 photoset (and also tagging them project365). I think this URL will produce an RSS feed of just these photos (there's also one for all of my photos). Finally, a thumbnail of the latest one will appear on the sidebar of this blog's main page.

A few photos from my vacation should also go up at some point (grouped separately).

Permalink | Tags: Photos

January 2, 2007

2007 Open Thread

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at 11:44 PM

A new year calls for a new divination from the iPod oracle. Last year's reading predicted the encouraging outcome of The Futureheads' "Decent Days And Nights", which is a reasonably accurate description of 2006 (and the rest of the lyrics arguably apply, but they're pretty vague).

Of course, I meant to do this on New Year's Day as I did last year, but didn't get to it until now. Nevertheless, it's worth doing it three days late to see what's in store for the remaining 362 days. As usual, the key is here.

  1. The Covering: Feist, "One Evening"
  2. The Crossing: Lindstrøm, "There's A Drink In My Bedroom And I Need A Hot Lady"
  3. The Crown: Zero 7, "Warm Sound"
  4. The Root: Spiritualized, "Stay With Me"
  5. The Past: I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, "According To Plan"
  6. The Future: The Hold Steady, "Crucifixion Cruise"
  7. The Questioner: Sufjan Stevens, "The Seer's Tower"
  8. The House: Zero 7, "In Time"
  9. The Inside: Ladytron, "Seventeen"
  10. The Outcome: Islands, "Rough Gem"

The Crossing is funny, but makes me wonder if my iPod is not being synced properly. The Outcome, in addition to being the best song on the list, starts out talking about worker exploitation in diamond mines, so I'm going to assume this is a prediction that I will take a postdoc job by the end of the year.