Monthly Archives: November 2005

Holographic Discs

A company formed by Maxell and Hitachi is promoting a new holographic disc which can hold 60 times the data on a current DVD. InPhase Technologies demonstrated their holographic technology last week in Tokyo, and hopes to start production of the discs in 2006.

Each disc can hold 300 gigabytes of data on a platter 13 centimeters across and a little thicker than conventional DVDs. In addition to the massive data capacity of the holographic disc, the data can be written much faster. “Unlike other technologies, that record one data bit at a time, holography allows a million bits of data to be written and read in parallel with a single flash of light,” says Liz Murphy, of InPhase Technologies. “This enables transfer rates significantly higher than current optical storage devices.”

Holiday Trains

One fun thing about the Christmas season are the holiday train sets that pop up all over the place. Here on Guam we have an annual holiday train at the Hilton which raises funds for the Make a Wish foundation. Back in St. Louis, the Missouri Botanical Garden features the Gardenland Express train and flower show. The Shaw’s Garden crew put up pictures of their exhibit’s construction which is pretty cool. But the Hilton train features a webcam and that’s a great idea – except it only works with Internet Explorer and Windows? Hello? Hello? This is 2005, not 1995 people…


Prime number spiralI still haven’t seen that tv show with the mathematician solving crimes, Numb3rs. Anybody seen it? What night is it on? Now that I can actually see network television again, I’d like to check it out. Anything with that Rob Morrow in it has to be good. Oh no wait, that’s Bob Wagner (sorry inside joke with myself).

In the meantime, take a look at the abstract beauty and underlying symmetry that is laid bare at The curves visualized here are just the first 49,000 prime numbers. Notice how they tend to fall along certain curves emanating from the center? Intriguing. Check out the whole site.

Crochet Lorenz ManifoldAnd while we’re looking at these pleasing renditions of numbers, let’s also check out this Lorenz manifold crocheted together by mathematicians. The 25,511 stitch creation is a representation of chaotic systems, such as flowing water or the weather. Dr. Hinke Osinga explains, “Imagine a leaf floating in a turbulent river and consider how it passes either to the left or to the right around a rock somewhere downstream. Those special leaves that end up clinging to the rock must have followed a very unique path in the water. Each stitch in the crochet pattern represents a single point (a leaf) that ends up at the rock.”

Both these links come from information aesthetics, a very interesting weblog I highly recommend.

It’s a Gas Gas Gas

Le Petomane
Boy, a little surfing based on my Toulouse Latrec post yesterday led me down paths unexpected, and turned up this wondrous poster, along with some associated stories on Le Petomane, Joseph Pujol. He was an extremely popular act at the Moulin Rouge during the fin de siecle, enjoying a flatulent career up until 1914. He played music, smoked cigarettes and did imitations, all with his ass. How he was able to sustain his act for 25+ years is beyond me, but it must have been a hell of show.

She Blinded Me With Science

I’ve got a couple cool science links this morning.

  • Darwin – The website for the exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. While you’re there, be sure to check out Voices from South of the Clouds, that photo exhibit I mentioned a couple weeks ago. Oh and if you have Tiger installed, check out the AMNH anthro widget, which displays a different item from the anthropology collection every day.
  • Linus Pauling and the Race for DNA – Writing about Darwin makes me think of evolution’s great also-ran, Alfred Wallace. Wallace also deduced the idea of evolution via natural selection, on a similar voyage of discovery through an island chain, but he made the mistake of sending his findings to Darwin, who panicked and hastily published his own long delayed treatise, On the Origin of Species, when he realized somebody else might trump his discovery. What’s this got to do with the 20th century’s greatest chemist, Linus Pauling? Well, Pauling came tantalizingly close to deducing the structure and function of DNA in 1953, losing out to Watson and Crick when he focused on nuclear proteins instead of nucleic acids. He came so close, and might have made the connection if he had seen Rosalind Franklin’s x-ray crystallography of DNA at a conference in England in 1952. However the US State Department, caught up in the red scare of McCarthyism, withheld his passport because of his leftist politics and he could not attend.

Random Neurons

Well, I’m heading home and I don’t think I’ll come into the office tomorrow. In fact, I’m pretty sure I won’t do anything tomorrow but read a book or two and relax. Oh yeah, and sleep late. Maybe post a couple things to the old weblog, take a walk along the beach in the afternoon. Decompress.

I might even make a move or two on It’s Your Turn. I was a bit overwhelmed for a while; I joined too many tournaments at once and suddenly I was faced with over a hundred moves a day. It went from being a pleasant past time to an onerous death march through an unending litany of games every day. I broke down and started forfeiting games, something I am usually loathe to do.

Right now however, I am smarting after my brother laid down ‘havior‘ on a triple word (and double letter) score, leaving me in his dust – again. At least I can take solace in the fact that more famous men than he have strained credulity with their Scrabble words. Havior – a perfectly cromulent word if there ever was one.

Online Map Creation

That post about the volcano in the South Sandwich Isles sparked off a little link exploration that led me to these two very cool resources for online map creation. Yes, you can create maps online in a web browser and save them to your hard drive.

  • Online Map Creation – This website provides a web form interface for the Generic Mapping Tools collection, an open source mapping package. It makes cool maps, which can be downloaded as a web graphic or a PostScript file, but the interface could be a bit off-putting to the casual user.
  • planiglobe – this upgraded site seems to work a little faster, and it has a user friendly interface. Again the output can be either a web friendly graphic or a high resolution PostScript file.

Let’s just say both sites offer me hours of web-surfin’, time-wastin’ fun. This map of my home island was created using the planiglobe website. I just outputted the map as a PNG file and stuck it up here.
Guam - map by under a creative commons license

Antarctic Volcano

An island near Antarctica is growing in size thanks to a fast moving river of lava erupting from a volcano beneath an ice sheets.

Montagu Island, situated in the South Sandwich Islands, is deep in the South Atlantic, near South Georgia Island, normally ice covered, the island now features a blazing river of molten lava 90 meters across. The volcanic activity has increased the size of the island by 50 acres.

Check out this amazing satellite photo of the island, emblazoned with a ribbon of red lava flowing down to the sea.

Montagu Island