Of course this is a Japanese television program, and is an uneasy mix of cruel, touching, and funny all at once. It’s your birthday party, chimp, and all your guests are human, and you are the center of attention and lone source of amusement for all the humans.
It is amazing to watch this young chimpanzee, she reacts very much like a human child, except she is more attentive and affectionate, constantly kissing both the magician and the owner or handler. Surprise and wonder show in her eyes and actions. If anything this video demonstrates how well she understands how things usually work. It seems unfair how much her trusted companion is in on the tricks. Without his adding to the her confusion she would have busted the magician’s tricks a couple of times, for sure. And the owner’s lame attempt at a death rattle during the sword in his neck bit, was a too cruel addition. Her relief when it is revealed he is safe was palpable. But then, after these mind-fucks she does get to eat the watermelon she won earlier.
Without the cheesy music, sound effects and crazy cutting and zooming, it could be a video featured on Nova. In an episode like the ones featuring they crazy psych experiments of scientists now dead, gone and discredited. But those episodes were in black and white and the chimps had wires coming out of their heads.
I think they call her Pongo in the video, and it seems the word ‘miracle’ works in Japanese. I have no idea if Pongo is a boy or a girl. But I can tell that she is still too young to tear your arm out by the socket.
The latest version of Phun is due out today. It is now called Algodoo Phun. I had the pleasure of being asked to participate in the beta testing. The feature you will notice most is that you are now able to apply textures (png image files) to the objects. Aside from these textures this virtual puppet could have been made in the old version. But Phun5.25, has a lot of new features including attraction and repulsion, and celestial gravity. The drawing tools are greatly improved you can now have hollow or “holy” shapes. There is a cut tool a gear tool, and you are able to add and subtract shapes. Also improved are your selection option. Everything now has a context menu, which is pretty slick once you get used to it.
I use Camstudio a free open source video screen capture app. The results are pretty pixelated, and both programs require a lot of RAM, resulting in the Phun simulation playing sluggishly on my computer, while it is being recorded. So this robot dancer looks a lot better in Phun than it does in this YouTube clip. The frame rate is much higher and the vector graphics are really sharp. Plus the puppet really can dance, it’s scary how alive it seems when you have the right beat behind it.
Get Agodoo Phun at phunland.com. (they are having server problems, but will probably be fixed soon)
Most of the sun’s energy on earth is absorbed by water and the movement of water. Michael Bernitsas, professor of naval architecture, has been fighting the destructive effects of vortexes on underwater structures for years. These vortexes are similar to the wind effect that destroyed the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. His devices can produce energy at a much lower flow rate than is required by turbines, and because of their slower movement, they are not likely to harm fish as turbines do. Also, as the devices can be put far below the surface, and will not be an eyesore or interfere with recreation or navigation. “Small vortexes are created when currents flow over a cylinder. This motion causes vibrations which means that there is a lot of energy waiting to be harnessed.” A pilot project will be installed in the Detroit River.
The full Moon of June 18th is a “solstice moon”, coming only two days before the beginning of northern summer. This week’s high solstice sun gives us a low, horizon-hugging Moon and a strong Moon Illusion. Low-hanging moons look unnaturally big. At first, astronomers thought the atmosphere must be magnifying the Moon near the horizon, but cameras showed that is not the case. Moons on film are the same size regardless of elevation: example. Apparently, only human beings see giant moons.
The above is according to NASA. To my human eyes tonight’s moon, the night before full, was not that impressive, but it might have been more so if I’d been in a position to see it really low on the horizon.
These images were generated on an Amstrad PC in the early to mid 90′s. I wrote the program in Basic (Basic came bundled with the computer) to play with the idea of generating whole images similar to the way movement is generated in cellular automata, like John Conway’s Game of Life. Even though the only thing I knew of Conway’s Life was what I’d seen on a Nova science program. What this program allowed me to do was to create a grid of approximately 80 x 50 squares that could be filled with gray scale values from 0 – 9. I started off with randomly placed black and white squares and the program took over from there. The program looked at the value of the surrounding squares and the value of the four squares two places away at cardinal points, and then replaced the original square with a value computed from the weighted values of the surrounding squares. The more proximate the square the more weight it was given. Running the program without putting in the symmetry generates images very much like looking at a sky full of fluffy cumulus clouds. Add the symmetry and faces etc. magically appear. Our simian brain has trained over millions of years to quickly recognize the symetrical eyes of predators. Not all the images are as striking as many of these are, I edited them down from about twice the number. I recorded them off the crt display with my video camera, thus the degraded quality of the images.
I’ve often wondered what such a program running on a current day PC at a much higher resolution would produce. When I got my first PC running Windows 95 I was disappointed to find no Basic there. I’ve not done programming other than some simple stuff in Flash ever since.
Cellular Automata models in Java
If the player above is not working try this link.
Cinematographer, Alan Teitel likes to shoot things at high frame rates. Here’s his Ultraslo channel on YouTube. Don’t adjust your volume, they are silent.
I’m using the Video Embedder plugin for WordPress by Kristoffer Forsgren, and finding it very useful. It allows me to simply embed YouTube and Google videos in this blog without breaking validation (HTML that might display poorly). Before this plugin, I had to disable the visual editor, as it screwed with the embed code used by YouTube etc. That was very annoying. The current version (1.4) supports embedding for numerous sites as well as Quicktime and Windows Media movies.
Rockets of the type that first sent US astronauts into space, outside the NY Hall of Science in Queens, an original Atlas booster with a replica Mercury capsule (on the right) and an original Titan II booster with a replica two-man Gemini capsule.
Futuristic sculpture left over from the 1964 World’s Fair
These leaf-cutter ants live under plexiglas, and their leaf delivery guy didn’t come the day I was there. A steady stream of hopeful ants came through the plexi tube into the bin, where the leaves usually are. They left disappointed, one escaped.
Costa Rican leaf-cutter ants doing what they like to do best.
Graphic/John Stembridge, University of Michigan
An impoverished surfer has drawn up a new theory of the universe, seen by some as the Holy Grail of physics, which has received rave reviews from scientists.
Garrett Lisi, 39, has a doctorate but no university affiliation and spends most of the year surfing in Hawaii, where he has also been a hiking guide and bridge builder (when he slept in a jungle yurt).
In winter, he heads to the mountains near Lake Tahoe, Nevada, where he snowboards. "Being poor sucks," Lisi says. "It’s hard to figure out the secrets of the universe when you’re trying to figure out where you and your girlfriend are going to sleep next month."
Despite this unusual career path, his proposal is remarkable because, by the arcane standards of particle physics, it does not require highly complex mathematics.
Even better, it does not require more than one dimension of time and three of space, when some rival theories need ten or even more spatial dimensions and other bizarre concepts. And it may even be possible to test his theory, which predicts a host of new particles, perhaps even using the new Large Hadron Collider atom smasher that will go into action near Geneva next year.
Lisi’s inspiration lies in the most elegant and intricate shape known to mathematics, called E8 – a complex, eight-dimensional mathematical pattern with 248 points first found in 1887, but only fully understood by mathematicians this year after workings, that, if written out in tiny print, would cover an area the size of Manhattan.
E8 encapsulates the symmetries of a geometric object that is 57-dimensional and is itself is 248-dimensional. Lisi says “I think our universe is this beautiful shape.”
An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything – A. Garrett Lisi
I don’t know, it looks pretty complicated to me, but what is really interesting is how the graphics are like old alchemical symbols, it does not require more dimensions than the vanilla varieties we are used to, and the new Large Hadron Collider set to come online next spring will be able to test his theory.