Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pictures of Earth, Pictures of Mars

This is a stock photo. It is Earth in a drop of liquid.

If you zoomed in, and then zoomed in some more, and then kept zooming and zooming and zooming and zooming and zooming... you might see something like this:

or this: 

or this:

or this.

This is Mars. It's a photo from NASA.

If you zoomed in, and then zoomed in some more, and kept zooming and zooming and zooming and zooming and zooming... you might see this (which would make any geologist very excited):

or this:

or this:

or this.

Just think: in the next 50 years, we'll be there. Some how, some way, we'll be there. 
The future isn't that far off.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fish... or Alien?

Last week I went to the Boston Aquarium. It was amazing. Giant fish. Lobsters. Jellyfish. Sting rays. Turtles. Frogs. PENGUINS. Dragon fish. Sharks. Luckily, they were all safely contained, so I didn't get eaten. I did, however, get to touch a sting ray.

While I was there, I couldn't help but think about aliens. "Why?" you ask. 
Well, if you've ever been to an aquarium, you shouldn't have to ask why.

For starters, look at this fish

It's an Angler Fish.

Now look at this fish:

It's a Mexican Walking Fish. I found the name by Googling "creepy pink fish".

Now what do you get if you add together the Angler and the Mexican Walking Fish? This:

In real life it's a giant Isopod. In unreal life...

You wake up one morning and check the news. It won't work. You have no electricity. Your phone didn't charge and neither did your computer. So you do the next best thing: go find a living person. As you step outside, you notice that the sky is a strange pink, and it is darkening slowly into a blood red. Your neighbor sees you and begins to gesture frantically. You run over. He is watching a news report on the remaining battery life of his computer.

A giant cocoon, larger than any space ship or animal on earth, is plummeting through the sky. It lands gently in the Mojave desert where it is greeted by a team of UN special forces. The ship opens slowly and out crawl giant bugs, the size of elephants, with glowing white eyes and thick, pink crustacean shells...

All of a sudden, a swarm of tiny, thick-shelled bugs land outside your apartment. Apparently, they can fly. Flying fish. Oh good. Just what you always wanted.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Awesome Advertisements from the 20th Century

I was browsing through the Creative Commons on Flikr, and I came across a wonderful set of old advertisements. I picked out a few of my favourites. You can see the rest of the images here. These are either from between 1910 and 1920, the 1940s, or the 1970s.

I wish fruit cost 5 cents. Or 1 cent.

This... is a life preserver. Also known as "Water Wings".

What? A circus is coming to town? On April 23? Where do you see that?

Ah hah! I found them! Healthier cigarettes!

This sign is powered by my car battery.

Pharmacle, like a Popsicle, but better.
(It actually says Pharmacie.)

It's not raining rain, you know. It's raining Kilowatts.
Conserve energy!

 No more South Beach Diet: time to try a fruit diet!

"Study your Health!!! The leading doctors and scientists of the world advocate a fruit diet. We specialise in fruit luncheons and suppers, daintily served during the day and after theatre... Our tea rooms are the cosiest in the city!
Messenger Bros!
Located right across the street from the theatre where the trams stop!"


Kidneys: the new currency.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Internal Metamorphosis of the Doctor

I am working on a project about values* and the implementation thereof in day-to-day life. So, I thought to myself, I wonder what Doctor Who would consider his primary values? What is it that motivates his actions (besides the constant need to save the Earth/his friends/wherever he happens to be/whomever he happens to be with from impending doom, that is)?

Now, the personality of the Doctor has evolved, for sure. I haven't seen every Doctor yet (still working on it), but I'm going to take a stab at guessing the values of the ones I have.

1: Kindness, wisdom, curiosity
3: Intelligence, perseverance, knowledge, exploration
4. Humor, curiosity, exploration
5. Curiosity, intelligence, open-mindedness

That's all I've seen of the first bunch. Now, looking at the three newest Doctors, it is clear that his attitude and intentions have been changing gradually. He started out (as Christopher Eccleston) pissed at everyone and everything, probably because he had just blown up his planet and killed his entire species. David Tennant was a bit irritable in the beginning, but Rose had chilled him out a lot, and he cooled off majorly through the next three seasons. He became more open and willing to acknowledge his feelings (to a point), as opposed to constantly running away from his feelings. Then, when Matt Smith arrived, the Doctor began to work through his feelings of guilt over what happened to Rose and Donna, then Amy and Rory; he goes through extreme bouts of wishing he would never hurt anyone ever again. So, through out the most recent six seasons, I would say the prioritization of his values changes quite a lot.+

9: Problem-solving, resilience, strength, intelligence, assertiveness, conviction, daring, cunning, ferocity, shrewdness

10: Optimism, passion, playfulness, curiosity, intelligence, exploration, discovery, teamwork, persistence, victory

11: Inquisitiveness, perceptiveness, persuasiveness, self-control, watchfulness, adaptability, appreciation, relationships, giving back, patience

Then, of course, is the whole issue of how his companions' values influence, negate, or keep in check the Doctor's... but that's like a whole book's worth of material.

Thoughts? Agreements? Disagreements? Please, share in the comments below.

Following image found here.

*Here is a list of potential values that anyone might have.
+To clarify: I think that his values remain relatively consistent, but which ones have the most influence on his behavior at any given time change radically throughout the series.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Future of Wikipedia: Will It Ever Be A Reliable, Citable Source?

Yesterday, as I was working on a research paper about Ethics, I turned to my office mate and said emphatically,"I wish Wikipedia was a reliable source!"

"Actually," he said, "I have a hope that one day Wikipedia is the requirement for all internet reliable sources: in order to be a reliable source, you must have in some way contributed to the repository of all knowledge. If you are an expert on something and you don't care if the information that non-experts are reading is reliable, then you don't deserve to be called an expert." 

An interesting idea. I think to myself in my head. So what then? Everyone who is an expert on something must have written an article in Wikipedia? No, that doesn't make sense. Many different people are experts on the same thing. And the point is not necessarily to add more articles to Wikipedia, but to expand those which are already there. In addition, how do we prevent people from claiming to be experts, when they are not?

How could this work? We can't ask people to contribute to the "repository of all knowledge" without some sort accountability or association.

It could work like this:
1. Wikipedia creates a logo or a little moving image or something you can't just screenshot and take.
2. When an expert wants to validate their expertise, they contact Wikipedia and provide their credentials.
3. They offer to read, edit, or provide information on X # of articles on X topics.
4. When they have completed the work, they receive a "registration logo" which expires after a certain period of time. If I click on that logo on said expert's website, it takes me directly the page/pages that he/she is associated with.
5. Upon expiration, they must complete the process again (potentially with the same articles and information) unless they have evidence that they have continued to monitor their associated articles over that period of time.

On the other hand, this method has its drawbacks. For example: what about experts whose expertise is restricted for legal or confidential reasons? What about people who have restricted access to the internet? Or who don't have academic credentials? Academia doesn't own the truth. In addition, the individuals would need to be able to cite sources other than their own experience, which might make it difficult to motivate them to join the group. What about press releases? Those often contain a large amount of useful and reliable information, but no one who writes a press release is going to want to be forced to contribute to Wikipedia, just so that their press release can be considered a reliable source. 

It seems that there are a few possibilities, but the internet is changing and morphing rapidly everyday. Here are Wikipedia's five pillars. How do the ideas above relate or disagree with Wikipedia's values?

What do you think? What is the future for Wikipedia as a source of information?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Nerd Blog Frog: Steampunking Dr. Seuss

Nerd Frog is feeling quite chipper today. He says that the rain always makes him want to go play outdoors. He especially likes to play hopping games on the long stretches of warm black rock that appear in random places, although he did have one friend who never came back after that. 

Nerd Frog's Nerd Blog of the day is Nancy's Nerd Blog called Dressmaker's Muse! She writes about costume design: making dresses from the early 1900s, building sweet hats, and steampunking! Steampunk is awesome. If you want to see Nancy's steampunk, you can visit this post, Steampunking Dr. Seuss, where she explains how she uses steampunk to enhance Seussical the Musical! If you would like to go see the show, click this link to find out dates, times, and location.

If you are a nerd, you are likely interested in Steampunk (or you think it's dumb)! If you don't know about steampunk, you can visit the Wikipedia Page, or read Girl Genius, the steampunk webcomic!

Look at this hat. This is Nancy's Steampunk Hat, for the character Maizie in Seussical the Musical.

To visit Nancy's Blog, go to
Now, I Nerd Frog, am going outside to play.