About That New "Theory" of Yours . . .

Outsider Science

To merit their attention, professionals say, an outsider would have to show that he’s done his homework. Serious contenders have to understand the language of physics and get their math right. Most importantly, any new theory must agree with past experiments.
Frustrated amateurs can be aggressive, clamoring to have their ideas heard. Not surprisingly, physicists are more receptive to polite questions than to lengthy treatises accompanied by angry rants, and if the science is solid, they may listen.

To this I would add, you have to make sure it’s science to begin with.

via physics and physicists

That's Going to Leave a Mark

Pat Metheny on Kenny G

I first heard him a number of years ago playing as a sideman with Jeff Lorber when they opened a concert for my band. My impression was that he was someone who had spent a fair amount of time listening to the more pop oriented sax players of that time, like Grover Washington or David Sanborn, but was not really an advanced player, even in that style. He had major rhythmic problems and his harmonic and melodic vocabulary was extremely limited, mostly to pentatonic based and blues-lick derived patterns, and he basically exhibited only a rudimentary understanding of how to function as a professional soloist in an ensemble – Lorber was basically playing him off the bandstand in terms of actual music.

But he did show a knack for connecting to the basest impulses of the large crowd by deploying his two or three most effective licks (holding long notes and playing fast runs – never mind that there were lots of harmonic clams in them) at the key moments to elicit a powerful crowd reaction (over and over again). The other main thing I noticed was that he also, as he does to this day, played horribly out of tune – consistently sharp.

That’s just the warmup.

Hitchcock Goes To Mars

NASA preps for ‘7 minutes of terror’ on Mars

[T]hey have to get the lander on the ground, and that’s where the worry comes in. In fact, they have a name for it in the Mars exploration community: “seven minutes of terror.”

Seven minutes is all it takes for a spacecraft travelling neary 13,000 miles per hour to hit the Martian atmosphere, slam on the brakes and reach the ground.

And then there’s this tidbit, with the resulting obligatory snark:

Historically, 55 percent of Mars missions have ended in failure.

I’ll bet the odds go up when you don’t mix up metric and English units.


Good luck to them.

UPDATE: SUCCESS! Animation of the landing and some subsequent operations

I Feeeel Good

I knew that I would.

[T]he placebo theory of suffering is one window through which to view blogging. As social creatures, humans have a range of pain-related behaviors, such as complaining, which acts as a “placebo for getting satisfied,” Flaherty says. Blogging about stressful experiences might work similarly.
Located mainly in the midbrain, the limbic system controls our drives, whether they are related to food, sex, appetite, or problem solving. “You know that drives are involved [in blogging] because a lot of people do it compulsively,” Flaherty notes. Also, blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to stimulants like music, running and looking at art.

Hmmm. Blogging = bitching = placebo

And what of those who blog while listening to music, looking at art and running, all at the same time? Bring on that dopamine!

Heh. So much for blogging being bad

via EvolutionBlog

It's a Guy Thing

The song of the humpback

Only the males sing, which has led many scientists to theorize that they croon to attract females. The hole in this argument, though, is that no one has ever seen a female whale show any interest in a male’s song.

Just because women show no interest doesn’t mean a guy isn’t doing it in the hopes of getting laid*. We just assume they’re playing hard-to-get.

*according to the Michael-from-The-Big-Chill hypothesis

Vive La Difference

Electrons and photons in a Mach-Zehnder interferometer show differences in their behavior

The output signal hit a minimum every time the two electron waves cancelled and a maximum when the waves maximally reinforced one another. But as they increased the current, the interference pattern waxed and waned in amplitude in an unexpected way, disappearing altogether at certain points. Researchers in France found similar results the following year.

That Would Be the Rhodium Card

(Rhodium being a very expensive metal)

Nigerian phishing email

This is to officialy inform you that we have verified your CONTRACT/INHERITANCE payment of US$450,000,00and we the Senate committee on appropriation and finance have arranged your payment to be paid with an atm card in regard to an order from MR. President Alhaja Musa Yara’dua (GCFR) Federan Republic of Nigeria, an ATM card which you will use to withdraw your money from any ATM Machine in any part of the world have been approved for you. to receive your ATM card of $450,000,00 us dollars contact Mr.Famous Itsemhe on this email: [blah, blah, blah]

An ATM card to withdraw 450 thousand smackers? Yeah, right. I can fantasize (ubergeek fantasy, admittedly) that there’s a phishing database that measures the gullibility coefficient, and phishologists meticulously changing one variable at a time and measuring the response rates, with confidence intervals from their population sampling statistics. Because if it wasn’t for the ATM bit, I was ready to believe.

Besides, at $300 a day, it’ll take more than four years to get all the money. I want it now!