Iranian fortune teller? / An Iranian wizard cooks up a “mushroom surprise” (for Halloween)


Iranian fortune teller? An Iranian wizard cooks up a  "mushroom surprise" for Halloween

In response to the question:

“What I don’t understand is the need to control Iran. How does one control a sovereign country without going to war? Both parties are of the mind that they will go to war rather than let Iran have a nuke. If so, then I guess they have both agreed to go to war with Iran because all the sanctions in the world will not stop them.”

I would offer this reply:
The situation brings to mind the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, which occurred exactly 50 years ago. The USA used a combination of diplomacy and a blockade to persuade the Soviet Union to remove its nuclear missiles from Cuba. The USA was successful in its negotiations with the Soviet Union because of what it offered in return for the removal of the missles from Cuba. The Soviet Union was able to use its missiles in Cuba as a bargaining chip to get the USA to remove its missiles from Turkey and a promise never to invade Cuba. The Iranians perhaps could use their purported nuclear weapons program as a bargaining chip. But for what? The Iranians could agree to abandon their nuclear program in exchange for assurances that the USA and its allies won’t intervene in Syria, nor attack Iran.

“Reasoning Together” on Graffiti Alley, Howard St, Baltimore

"Reasoning Together" on Graffiti Alley, Howard St, Baltimore
As Senate majority leader, Lyndon Johnson became the most effective legislative leader of his time. Johnson believed that finding the middle ground was the essence of legislative leadership. Referring to one of his father’s favorite passages from the Bible, he would say to a Senator, “Come now, let us reason together. . . .” which is an excerpt from the Bible verse Isaiah 1:18.
After he became president, Johnson continued to use his skills as a master legislator. One of the most important laws he pushed through Congress was the Voting Rights Act of 1965. President Obama’s election in 2008 was really the culmination of a push that had its origins in that Voting Rights Act.
The full verse from the Bible is: “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
It’s ironic that Lyndon Johnson, who was such a successful politician in domestic affairs, became so vilified by liberals because of his foreign policy decisions in Vietnam. Being successful in politics is as much a matter of instinct as anything else, and Lyndon Johnson’s instincts failed him 🙁

A visual interpretation of the current state of the Republican Party

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appears to be on the same side as fellow Republican Mike Huckabee, who had this to say about the Republican Party :

“I think that there is just such a toxic atmosphere right now, specifically in the Republican party. I would love to say that it’s going to be all about ideas and solutions, but unfortunately a lot of it is about just being able to say, ‘I’m more angry at the Obama administration than somebody else.’ That’s not what motivates me politically or governmentally. I believe it ought to be about solutions.” –Mike Huckabee, former Gov of Arkansas

The situation with the Republican party could be depicted as a tent plagued with a toxic atmosphere. In the depiction below, the Republican tent is being protected by guards in black wearing gas masks to protect them from the toxic fumes.

And here’s a clothing mannequin depicting a photojournalist about to enter the Republican tent, wearing a gas mask so as not to be overcome by the fumes of the ” toxic atmosphere”

mannequin in clothing store window

How to boil water without bubbles (research report)

Interesting article appeared recently:
How to boil water without bubbles
What in particular caught my attention was the last paragraph in the article:

The next step, says Patankar, is to try to get the vapour layer to form at temperatures much lower than the boiling point of water. Water can exist as either liquid or vapour at room temperature, but it requires energy to stay in the vapour state. Patankar thinks that a surface could be designed that would make the vapour state more stable. A coating could then be used to form a vapour layer round a ship’s hull to reduce drag or discourage organisms such as algae or barnacles from attaching themselves to the ship, he suggests. “It will be mind-blowing,” says Patankar. “Who thinks of getting a vapour without heating?”

What this research might lead to are ways to make submarines more “stealthy” i.e less detectable when the sub is submerged. Also I wouldn’t be surprised if this research produced quieter more stealthy submarine propellers. Another possibility is that the military already has done classified work in this area, and these researchers are rediscovering what the Navy already knows about.
Here is a neat video from the article:player

The Problem Solving ability of a Garden Slug (short video)

“So do you think that it is safe to assume that the lens of an eye could have first appeared just as a result of a completely random mutation and in fact was not a lens at all. For example it could be just a kind of a protection screen made of transparent cells which allow the light in but don’t allow in any ‘rubbish’? And after millions of iterations with natural selection applied this protection evolved to become a lens.
Do you think it sounds reasonable?”

Above quote is from the discussion thread A question about evolution

It sounds reasonable. I’d point out that many creatures get by just fine with primitive light sensors that lack lenses. The animal that I have in mind is the garden slug. It possesses simple light sensors at the end of two stalks. More sophisticated light sensors would be of little use to a creature like this unless it also had a brain sophisticated enough to process the visual information, and a means of locomotion quick enough so that it could then act upon the information. Here is a short video I made showing the movements of a garden slug, illustrating  the connection between its problem solving abilities, locomotion, and sensory equipment.

Remembrance of Physics Experiments Past…

A heavy camera to hold...

The human mind is certainly remarkable in its ability to retain long term dormant memories.
I've been reading the book "For the love of Physics" which is the autobiography of the physicist Walter Lewin. (cover shown at left)  I've also been watching several videos of him delivering lectures on physics to undergraduate students at MIT. I majored in physics in college, so there was an element of faint recollection watching him explain the basic principles of mechanics, especially the motion of a pendulum.
I recently purchased an old Polaroid camera at a thrift shop (see image at right). Fooling around with the camera brought back memories of a physics experiment that I did in college where I documented the movement of a double pendulum by making time lapse exposures with a Polaroid camera. What startled me was being able to recall this activity from 45 years ago that I had not thought about in 45 years! It's like this memory had remained dormant for 45 years, awaiting only the proper stimulus (reading Dr. Lewin’s book and fooling about with the camera) to return it to my conscious thinking.

Visualizing “rainbows” in ice on the surface of a pond.

This image was created by photographing the ice on the surface of a pond. The patterns displayed here are not visible to the naked eye. They become visible when the camera’s lens is equipped with a polarizing filter that only allows light to reach the film that was reflected by the ice at one particular angle of polarization. To enhance the color contrasts of the polarized light, air was injected under the surface of the ice. This air layer, besides adding to the aesthetic interest of the images,causes more of the light incident on the ice layer to be reflected back to the surface, rather then being transmitted through the ice layer into the water underneath. Other images created using this same technique can be viewed here
Abstract Ice composition

A interesting issue in ant communication


I created a video that shows ants fighting. (above) It appears that a large number of ants from two different colonies were drawn together in combat on the sidewalk. One wonders how the ants sounded the alarm summoning their colleagues into combat? Also, I noticed that the ants kept touching each other with their antennae while they fought. What were they sensing?