Photos of your mom

My aunt started an e-mail thread in my family. I’ll include excerpts here periodically.

I am cleaning the house of more pictures — so many. In the album Grandma Omma left, I found some pictures your mom. I will send another email of your mom and dad’s wedding that you probably have seen already.

Teresa so young

My mom, like her father before her, loved science. She started in physical chemistry like her father but her heart condition caused by rheumatic fever led her to work in biophysics studying the neural network of the heart and heart arrhythmias.

Continue reading about and seeing more photos after the jump

Camera testing bias

Ken Rockwell goes on a tear with his new camera, a medium format digital.

As his habit, Ken Rockwell exhibits a bad case of selection bias. For example, let’s take this quote from the first article:

All the 35mm rangefinders and DSLRs look pretty much the same, and the point-and-shoot is the worst.

I’ve also shown the fallacy of falling for claims of 12-bit, 16-bit or 24-bit image processing in-camera.

As those of us who have done this for a living since the 1980s know, the noise level of any of these sensors is much larger than even 12-bit processing. Throwing more real bits at the ADC only serves to quantize the noise more accurately; there isn’t any meaningful image data needing that precision.

Well anyone can see from his sample the 35mm cameras are not the same: the Nikon D3 exhibits tonality better than the Canon 5D Mk II and the Leica M9, as it should. And those aren’t even the right 35mm cameras to be testing against—I will bet you’ll get nearly the same result as the Mamiya DM33 in the Nikon D3X (with a Zeiss ZF optic on it). He does similar manipulations of outcome bias in order to get the result he is wants to get before hand in his high ISO test.

Continue reading about Ken Rockwell after the jump


Something strange I ran across reading a book last night: Details Men's Style Manual: The Ultimate Guide for Making Your Clothes Work for You: Daniel Peres, the editors of Details magazine: Books

Tom Fink was my roommate in college. He got me in trouble with the instructor when he got caught with my lab notebooks in physics lab. I’ll always remember him as the guy who didn’t know the difference between EGA and VGA. 🙂

BTW, this is the book that the above refers to. I see he’s written this book also. You have to gone to school with him to understand why we’re tickled pink to see this. The Man's Book: The Essential Guide for the Modern Man: Thomas Fink: Books

Or is that tickled Fink?


The Wired cover article this month is worth a read but brings me on a big rant. The article covers how people trained in theoretical physicists migrated into Wall Street over the last 30 years and created the math that lead the financial bubble bursting.

I was trained as a condensed matter theoretical physicist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My advisor created the company that built software similar to the ones that powered this disaster when I was there (mid 90’s). Half of my advisor’s students ended up “quants” on Wall Street.

You’re. In. My. House.

And I have only one anecdote to relate.

Continue reading about Non-equilibrium physics after the jump

San Diego at Pittsburgh (and the coin-flip)

On the flight from my old home (San Diego) to my new one (San Francisco), the captain announced that the San Diego Chargers had beaten the Indianapolis Colts in overtime to set up a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. John Cole reminds me that it’s been 14 years since their last infamous playoff matchup.

Here is a story from that time.

Continue reading about About “Three More Yards” and the overtime coin-toss after the jump

The Truth

Robert noticed that I had the Bible Verse app installed on Facebook. I installed it when Jia mentioned it, but haven’t touched it since the first verse that came up was…

Bible Verse of the Day

John 8:32: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The motto of my alma mater is: “The truth shall make you free.”

Back when I went there, you could get a shirt that looked just like the ones sold in the Caltech bookstore: With the torch logo and the true motto of that Institute: “The truth shall rape you over.”

Thank you, Caltech, for taking my entire last year there to secretly indict me for an honor code violation which you only resolved seven days before my graduation. (Tip: if you call in 20% of the student body as KGB informants on me, it isn’t going to be a secret.)

The truth…


The truth will rape you over.

Making a contribution

In condensed matter physics, there is an area called turbulence that has wide practical application: weather, golfing, navigation, bridges, building subs, boats, and planes.

(Most of you know turbulence from those random unexplained dips you get when your plane is in flight.)

But for theoreticians, turbulence is different.

In 1941, some Russian guy wrote a theory for the dissipation of vortices in highly turbulent flows:

Kolmogorov’s Theory on the disipation of vortices

Since then…nothing. Any significant contribution to turbulence has been beyond smartest minds in theoretical physics, despite the describing equations discovered by 19th century classical physics.

In physics, we like to say:

Turbulence is the graveyard of great physicists.

Continue reading about What are you afraid of? after the jump.

The purpose of pr0n

In the early 90’s, random dot stereograms made really popular geek posters.

I haven’t a clue what this really looks like. click here to view larger. You can view more and get other stereogram paraphernalia here.

To view them, you had to unfocus your eyes a bit and then stare at infinity. I could never do this so I never saw the fucking giraffes, giraffes fucking, or whatever that others claimed they saw. This caused me to develop quite an elaborate conspiracy theory around the Magic Eye corporation.

When I walk to work, I have this insanely long internal monolog. During a twelve minute walk, I create at least one blog entry I’ll never write and come up with three clever turns of phrases of which maybe I’ll remember one of them in the future and someone will say, “I’ll quote you on that”—but they won’t and we’ll forget it together forever.

However, if you stuck one of those posters in front of me right then, my eyes are so unfocused, I’d probably be able to see the fucking giraffe fucking and finally dispel a conspiracy theory of my youth.

[The Blog Post Who Lived. After the jump.]Continue reading