Sunday, December 10, 2006

dalsim shaping up

why do things just look better on a mac? here is a screenshot of the latest incarnation of dalsim... this is mainly for the benefit of rob and craig. version 1 is round the corner.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

here comes the rain again

it's raining, so we have constructed a playlist by searching for all songs in my library with rain in the title... we have 10 songs to depress us on this wet december day.

Monday, December 04, 2006

a powerful enemy

swiftly taking advantage of opportunity pays dividends in this game. live by the sword, die by the sword. earlier on, i became the owner of a nintendo famicom - the prize of responding quickly to my email.

i was quickly vilified my my peers, and informed that i had made some powerful enemies. one fellow astronomer seems particularly upset - despite my assurances that this device would be shared, with the prospect of some nights in with the boys, playing the console long into the night. after all, where's the fun in playing with yourself?

apparently this did not suffice... i note here in clear view of the world that i will be the bigger man and relinquish said device, should the parties concerned wish it. that's all i have to say on the matter.

thanks, sherlock

what is it with the bbc lately? Psychopaths' brains 'different'

Friday, December 01, 2006

great, but where's my flying car and hoverboard you promised?

straight from the horse's mouth:

"Researchers for at least two decades have used acoustic levitation to suspend light materials without a container. Wenjun Xie, a materials physicist at Northwestern Polytechnical University in China, has previously used ultrasound fields to levitate globs of iridium and mercury, very heavy materials. Now the scientist has performed the feat with live animals. From the story: 'Xie and his colleagues employed an ultrasound emitter and reflector that generated a sound pressure field between them. The emitter produced roughly 20-millimeter-wavelength sounds, meaning it could in theory levitate objects half that wavelength or less.' Apparently the ants, spiders and ladybugs endured the trick just fine, but the fish didn't do so well due to lack of water."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

YALS (yet another lovely sandwich)

when i came back from my trip, i was shocked to see that the baker's oven had transmogrified into a greggs. panic set in as i realised i may never see one of my beloved mango chicken sandwiches again.

all is not lost, today i saw a lone 'roll' in their cabinet - some sort of christmas themed filling: turkey, stuffing and cranberry. that final touch is a stroke of genius -- cutting through what might otherwise be quite a stodgy mixture. i love a good stuffing, and you can't go wrong with some moist turkey. i snapped it up in a hurry, and wasn't disappointed... absolutely delicious. my only worry? this is a seasonal sandwich, and not likely to be around in a few months. get it while you can.

late edit -- joy of joys, there is also crispy bacon in here. does life get any better than this?

Monday, November 20, 2006

stranger in a strange land

dear all,

firstly, apologies for my lack of activity. i've had a busy couple of days. i'll explain what i've been up to of late.

we left hilo last thursday, made the short hop to honolulu, and then ian and i went our separate ways. i flew in to LAX early friday morning and got a shuttle to pasadena, about 40 minutes away. i'm staying in a theological seminary, which is really very nice... unfortunately i arrived quite early, so my room wasn't ready. tired from having no proper sleep for a long while, i decided to find caltech. the receptionist drew me a quick map and i set off. it wasn't 8am yet, and already pretty hot. jeans were a mistake.

i quickly learnt two things:
  1. there are no bends in the US
  2. they give you a very short amount of time to cross roads
the first thing i learnt was to my advantage - it is pretty hard to get lost. the second took some getting used to. i eventually found the campus, and took a little wander round... very nice. i'll take some pictures tomorrow so i can show you. when i got to the astro dept, found an office to sit in, and got online. by this time i was pretty knackered, and in desperate need of sleep.

so i headed back to the seminary, and this time had more success checking in. my room is fantastic - a little kitchen, en suite, nice bed, tv. then again, i'm easily pleased. i had a little rest before having a shower (took me a while to figure out how that worked - plus i'm too tall for it), then it was time to head back to the dept for journal club and beers afterwards in the courtyard (can we start doing that here?). had a mexican in the evening, and slept soundly until 11am.

the next day i had a wander round pasadena... again, sweltering heat. i was recommended the huntington gardens to take a look at, so i took a walk down there - a pleasant cultural experience all round. nice gardens and some art galleries... again, i have some pictures. i walked back as the sun went down on california boulevard, casting long shadows of the palm trees, and catching the light in the ubiquitous sprinklers irrigating immaculate lawns.

once more i slept soundly. i will tell you more about the trip tomorrow, but right now i have to write a bit more of my talk... yikes!

oh yeah, here are a few tv highlights i have taken note of:
  • william shatner presents some sort of quiz show along the lines of deal or no deal. the tag lines are hilarious: "shat-tastic!" , ad infinitum
  • OJ Simpson outrage: he has written a book called "If I did it...", basically outlining how he would have done it 'if' he did it
  • every advert is about medication, or some sort of exercise equipment
  • things seem to be repeated even more than in the UK
as i say, more tomorrow. speak to you soon. j.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

traditional astronomy

went outside with the night vision scope tonight, and caught site of some pretty cool stuff. by crudely pointing my camera through it, i got a few shots. here is one of orion. i have even labeled the stars and nebulae. the thin line you can see at the top is the freakin' laser beam from keck... it is very impressive to see it in action. will post some more photos soon.

here is the laser coming from keck, apologies for the crap shot: