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Thursday, June 21, 2007

PacMan's Skull

Somebody scalped Pacman!!!

Remember your youth

listen to L'isola del tesoro, interpreted by Lino Toffolo.

Italian theme song of the japanese animated series "The Treasure Island" - L'Isola del Tesoro.

Calda e' / fredda e' / differenza c'e'.

Remember Ranma 1/2? During my university year it was one of my favorite comic books. here's the italian version of the anime opening theme.

So, why is this post tagged as science? Well, cause I was listening to Nature Podcast from 07/06/07 and heard that some scientist elucidated the reason why menthol tastes 'cold'. Long story short, it (presumably binds and) activates a Na/Ca ion channel, present in our tongue but also in other sensory terminations (see menthol shower-gels), which is normally active only at temperatures below 28 degrees. Hence, the 'cold' sensation. Cool, ain't it?

Why Ranma as title holder? well, cause for this character those termination were pretty important, since a bucket of cold water would transform him into a her (just like the song says). Now imagine if he had known this. May be now we would be able to cure his/her curse?

PS: the title says: Is it warm? Is it cold? It makes a difference! (from the italian theme song)

PPS: Incidentally, I've also worked on ion channels, during my previous year (expressed in the heart, though, not in the tongue) and will present my in silico models at Lille, France, this first week of july. See you there may be ;-)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What makes a GOOD mentor?

Nature has an interesting five-minutes in their latest podcast, on what makes a good mentor for young student, either at the PhD level or below (ehr, that would be me).

If I were to score my own mentor, I'd probably conclude that, with the exception of the last one, all of my official mentors did fail in one field or another. Still, I am not going to blame my own lack of success on them. It is, definitely, almost completely my fault. After all, they've worked hard to get where they are and it's up to me now to show my muscles. Outside of the gym, though.

Still, the single most important thing I need from a mentor is bouncing ideas back and forth, and a safe weekly (or fortnighly, or monthly) meeting to make myself accountable for what I have done in the intervening time. I know it's like admitting that I do not know how to prioritise my time and don't put the right importance to the various parts of my life but ehy, isn't this the reason while I am writing a blog post which will most likely be read by no-one?

So, in conclusion, I think I better press the goddamn button and start reading the paper. And not come back after five minutes to check how many hits I got. It's not that I am lazy, more that I am easily distracted. Gawrsh!

Space Carrier Blue Noah Vs Space Battleship Yamato

One of the step stones of my childhood.

I just happened to listen to its theme song on my shiny new MP3 Player - courtesy of the company, for winning the internal safety contest - in fact I did not deserve it, since during the drill I did ignore the fire alarm thinking that it was just a test of bells and whistles...

Well never mind.

Anyway, I did like this series, although I felt as if it was a rip off of Space Battleship Yamato, certainly more iconic - Matsumoto's style is unmissable.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Next weeks off-blogging

Some more time off blogging, next weeks.

I'll be in Oxford between the 22nd and the 29th for a training/workshop on various computational chemistry techniques. Then, will enjoy two free days in London. As soon as I am back to Beerse, I will have to leave again for Lille, France, where I will present my CV work in a meeting.

It'll be busy, yes.

Galaxy Dust

The stars like dust was one of Asimov's (worst) novel in the future history going from the robot's civilisations (I, Robot - The Naked Sun...) and the Foundation Cycle. In fact the Galactic Empire Cycle did suck, exception made for Pebble in The Sky (Paria dei Cieli), who told the story of a twentieth century man time-dislocated to this far-future where the galactic Empire is in full swing but planet Earth is barren with radioactive zones and only few survivors live in it as Pariahs.

But even Asimov could not imagine a dust made of... galaxies!!! The two big ones merging in front are quite known, although the name escapes me at the moment. Something like Tadpole's Galaxies.

- update: the one above being an artist rendering, and a crap one at that, I am posting below a real picture taken by Hubble:

click on it to get the full resolution: JPEG - 4.48 MB(2476 x 1669 pixels)

read more | digg story

Monday, June 18, 2007

Can you imagine Tom and Jerry wearing these?

Exoform artist Jeff de Boer's cat and mouse warfare equipment in gladiator, medieval, samurai, and Persian styles. And yes, he has tried to put one of his cats inside one of his suits of armor (and has the scars to prove it)

read more | digg story


I've listened to the whole of BBC's Hitch Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy, yesterday.

thenm, I went to look for it on the wikipedia. Well, not exactly like this but I ended up on the wikipedia page related to number 42.

quite a lot of unsuspected info, indeed. Makes you think that may be Adams had some insight after all.

t is a composite number; its factorization makes it the second sphenic number and also the second of the form {2.3.r}. As with all sphenic numbers of this form the aliquot sum is abundant by 12. 42 is also the second sphenic number to be bracketed by twin primes; 30 also rests between two primes. 42 has a 14 member aliquot sequence 42, 54, 66, 78, 90, 144, 259, 45, 33, 15, 9, 4, 3, 1, 0 and is itself part of the aliquot sequence commencing with the first sphenic number 30. Further, 42 is the 10th member of the 3-aliquot tree.

42 is the product of the first three terms of Sylvester's sequence; like the first four such numbers it is also a primary pseudoperfect number.

It is the sum of the totient function for the first eleven integers.

It is the third 15-gonal number.

It is a Catalan number.

It is a pronic number.

It is the twenty-eighth square-free integer.

It is the reciprocal of a Bernoulli number. It is conjectured to be the "third moment of the Riemann zeta function". That means that when

{1 \over T}\int_0^T \left| \zeta\left({1 \over 2} + it\right) \right|^6\,dt
is expanded as in powers of log(T), the leading coefficient—that of the 9th-degree term—is 42.

It is a meandric number and an open meandric number.

42 is a perfect score on the USA Math Olympiad (USAMO) and International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).

In base 10, this number is a Harshad number and a self number, while it is a repdigit in base 4 (as 222).

The eight digits of pi beginning from 242,422 places after the decimal point are 42424242.

The first digit (4) taken to the power of the second digit (2) is equal to the second digit (2) taken to the power of the first digit (4): 42 = 24 = 16. It follows clearly that 24 exhibits the same characteristic, and in fact 24 is the only other two-digit non-repdigit number that does. (All two-digit repdigit numbers exhibit this characteristic.)

In Science

  • The atomic number of molybdenum. The element following molybdenum with atomic number 43 (technetium) has no stable isotopes.
  • The number of teeth wolves and dogs (canines) have.
  • 42° is the critical angle of refraction by water - it is the angle between a rainbow and the antisolar point.
  • The light leaving a rainbow is spread over a wide angle, with a maximum intensity around 42°
  • The number of minutes it would take a theoretical "gravity train" to travel to any point on earth.
  • In one Grand Unified Theory, the Georgi-Glashow model, the inverse of the coupling constant is approximately 42.
  • 10! (10 factorial) seconds is exactly 42 days.
  • On page 7-10 of Volume 1 of "The Feynmann Lectures on Physics" is a marginal figure that illustrates the strength ratio of gravitation attraction and electrical repulsion between two electrons as 1/4.17 x 10^42. The denominator is also written out by hand as a long, snaking 4,170,... followed by 39 more zeros. Feymann mentions the unified field theory, the similarity of the inverse square laws, the disparity of the relative strengths, and asks "Where could such a large number come from? ... it involves something deep in nature."

[edit] Astronomy

[edit] In Religion

  • The number of months the Beast will hold dominion over the Earth (Revelation 13:5).
  • The number (in the Babylonian Talmud, compiled 375 AD to 499 AD) of the "Forty-Two Lettered Name" ascribed to God. Rab (or Rabhs), a 3rd century source in the Talmud stated "The Forty-Two Lettered Name is entrusted only to him who is pious, meek, middle-aged, free from bad temper, sober, and not insistent on his rights". [Source: Talmud Kidduschin 71a, Translated by Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein]. Maimonides felt that the original Talmudic Forty-Two Lettered Name was perhaps composed of several combined divine names [Maimonides "Moreh"]. The apparently unpronouncable Tetragrammaton provides the backdrop from the Twelve-Lettered Name and the Forty-Two Lettered Name of the Talmud.
  • In the ancient Chinese text the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu, chapter 42 is an explanation of the universe.
  • The number of men of Beth-azmaveth in the census of men of Israel upon return from exile (Ezra 2:24).
  • The number of Jewish captive exiles who returned from Babylon is 42,360. This figure appears in two identical verses: Ezra 2:64 and Nehemiah 7:66. The number 360 is the number of days in the Jewish year, which further isolates the number 42,000. Perhaps the number 42,360 is both literal and symbolic similtaneously.
  • God sends bears to maul 42 of the youths who mock Elisha for his baldness (2 Kings 2:23).
  • There are 42 principles of Ma'at, the Ancient Egyptian personification of physical and moral law, order, and truth.
  • In the Kabbalah, the system of cosmology explained the significance of the various divine names and added other divine names. The most significant name is that of the En Sof (also known as "Ein Sof", "Infinite" or "Endless"), who is above the Sefirot (sometimes spelled "Sephirot"). The Forty-Two-Lettered Name contains four combined names which are spelled in Hebrew letters (spelled in letters = 42 letters), which is the name of Azilut (or "Atziluth" "Animation"). While there are obvious links between the Forty-Two Lettered Name of the Babylonian Talmud (see further up this page) and the Kabbalah's Forty-Two Lettered Name, they are probably not identical due to the Kabbalah's emphasis on numbers. The Kabbalah also contains a Forty-Five Lettered Name and a Seventy-Two Lettered Name.

The Old world isn't that old...

The Economist has an interesting piece regarding Europe's recent demographics - lots of numbers and statistics, broken down when possible by ethnics and other big dividers.

It's in the eye of the statistician, though, so don't expect human cases or pondering on the difficult double role of the woman in the modern society.

But it seems tobvious to me that the main conclusion is: western women feel the traditional social pressure to set up a family; at the same time they want to be successful in the new way, i.e. having a career and so on. So, they settle for the minimums-size family, mom-dad-child. Once the shop is set up and they feel ready to have more, it's too late.

Immigrant women, who respond only to the traditional pressure, set up family very quickly and get 2.5 children on average.

Pity I didn't see Belgian (indigenous) girls cited, 'cause from what I can see here most of them are constantly pregnant. Well not exactly, but they certainly seems to have at least 2 children each.

Sunny sunday in Mechelen

Been resting from the previous day wedding party, fiddling with the furniture location in the living room, then off to a walk in the city centre with my lady - slideshow here: