The sound of western medicine working

Antibiotics are a pretty amazing thing.

But in my life, I’ve never seen it work, only read about it in books such as All Creatures Great and Small or heard stories about how the amazing things that happened when my grandfather was a pediatrician.

It’s now more of a preventative, or to make our cattle a little bit bigger, or keep our chickens from dying in their horrible living conditions. But every so often you’re reminded…

Being sick

Being sick

I’ve been sick off and on pretty much continuously since June. This time, it was really unusually bad. A fever brought back the cold symptoms. But the fever was a clue, that maybe, this time, it might be a bacteria also. So when I finally got well enough that I could make it out of my apartment without dying (three days), I scheduled an appointment and got my meds again—the same antibiotic as last time. It wasn’t hard when you have a hundred degree fever plus the same symptoms as before.

On the MUNI ride back, I opened the package, looked at the first two caplets. “My little, red tactical nukes,” I sighed to myself, and popped them into my mouth. By the time I got home, I was so tired from the exertion I fell straight asleep.

Three hours later I woke to noises: a rumbling, a ratatatat, then a whale sound in my stomach. What the fuck? As consciousness returned, this was followed by assorted burping and farting and all manner of disgusting symphony.

I took my temperature: 98.6, spot on. I hadn’t had that temperature in over a week.

So that’s the sound of western medicine working, I nodded appreciatively.

I still have the cold to deal with, but now was the time to eat as my appetite finally came back…and to think, with a small regret, I could’ve really gotten some payback on my brother, some of my housemates, and assorted guy friends.

And this made me think back to a phone conversation I had over a decade ago.

[more sounds, after the jump]Continue reading

Collapsing the female wave-function

The solution to the greatest paradoxes of the twentieth century physics is the realization that the observer cannot be separated from the experimental design.

  • General Relativity? The observer can’t tell the difference between gravity and an accelerating reference frame.
  • Maxwell’s Demon? Even the observer’s computation cannot be separated from the physical system that implements it.
  • Quantum Mechanics? Observation collapses probabilistic wave-functions.

There is a simple irony in the above.

A 21st century paradox, shared among my friends and with constant teasing, is how someone like me could both emphatically claim and successfully test as a heavy introvert.

The solution to this slightly less prestigious paradox is: I carry a camera.

Like quantum mechanics, my data collection device changes the experimental design.

[How a camera collapses the social wave function after the jump]Continue reading

Brain error


19th century German neurophysiologists successfully map out the brain after a transcontinental flight

Researching my last article was amusing, but doing so made me realize an error in something I said last month.

I didn’t recognize someone I should have because I was jetlagged and hungry. She was non-plussed with my behavior and threatened to “take me off her Facebook.” Now, if I were Scoble, I’d be just happy to have room to add a different friend. But I’m not, so I value every person I’ve managed convince into accepting a friend request. This led to this apology-cum-excuse:

“I’m sure you know how it is: visions of chocolate after a transcontinental plane ride will take over the entire parietal lobe of your neocortex—temporary prosopagnosia is an unwanted side effect. It’s a survival thing.”

Since you’ve read the last blog entry, you see the obvious error in my excuse. Clearly the fusiform gyrus is located in the temporal lobe, not the parietal. Doh!

Still, since she hasn’t unfriended me yet, I’d have to say, that it amounts to as good an excuse as any: when in doubt, blame the chocolate.

[Chocolate blogging and another nitpick after the jump]Continue reading

Happy Sputnik Day!

Happy Sputnik Day

Text reads:
Dear person-with-vaguely-Russian-sounding-name,

Fifty years ago today, the Soviet Union threw a beeping metal sphere into low earth orbit scaring the be-jesus out of every American and touching off the Space Race which gave us 100+ TV channels, GPS tracking, orbital mind control lasers, Google Earth, and Tangall of which, by some coincidence, scare the be-jesus out of me.

How are you going to celebrate this greatest day in history?

—Terensandr Mydadovich Chayarov

I was thinking the other day how White Russians may be my favorite ethnic group named after a decent cocktail and it is a shame that they don’t have a cool day like the Irish do—you know to show off their heritage and give the rest of us an excuse to imbibe way too much alcohol.

That is, until Cindy pointed out that today is International Sputnik Day—the 50th anniversary!

[Tell us how you plan on celebrating the possibly greatest day in history of artificially-flavored orange juice after the jump]Continue reading

Our real selves

Twitter has all of the sleaziness of stalking with none of the messy work of having to actually leave my desk. But I found a dark underside to it: it makes stalking way too easy. Sometimes I get caught in my laziness:

Out in the real world, a girl comes up to me. “Hey!”

Me: “Hi. I’m Terry Chay.” Hello, very pretty asian girl I don’t recognize.

“I know that! 😀 It’s me.”

Me: “I’m sorry, we met at a Lunch 2.0?” Oh shit! I must know her. Good thing I’m a banana—I can drop the “All of us yellow people look alike” joke if things get bad.

“It’s me, C—.”

Me: “Oh! You’ve got a new haircut. It looks nice on you, by the way.” Shit, how could I forget you—I totally twitter stalk you! Hope this dodge works.

“I had the same haircut at CNET.”

Me: “Oh, I was so busy there, you know how it is.” Please ignore the fact that I do nothing at Lunch 2.0 other than eat people’s lunch and claim credit for their work.

“Yeah, I do.”

Whew! That was close.

Now somewhere in the conversation, she mentioned that she would have never thought me a physicst until I mentioned it in my blog. On one hand, I’m thinking Whoo hoo! nine readers! On the other hand, I’m now thinking After she reads the above, I’ll be back down to eight.

But the thing is, I could never really picture myself not majoring in physics. Every choice I’ve made, even the f—d up one as majoring in physics, is part of who I am.

Cal wrote:

In other cases, blogs like my friend, Terry Chay, support the character that he is building up around himself. In both cases, with wildly different styles, the same results are achieved, a deeper understanding of the blogger.

But really, is this blog a character I’m building up, or is it my real self?

[A little bit strange after the jump.]Continue reading

Dihydrogen Monoxide

I open wide our refrigerator door and start the stare, “Hmm, what to have today?” Okay, what’s the worst thing to be having at 8 in the morning?

“I usually get the Talking Rain. It’s the only thing in there good for you.”

“It’s all bad for you. Haven’t heard of dihydrogen monoxide?”

“What’s that?”

Wait for it.

“Is that H2O2?”

*double take*

“I don’t remember my chemistry.”

“Look it up. You’ll like it.”

[Another tiny story after the jump]Continue reading

Not stating the obvious

Digg pointed out this article which states:

A committee of experts looked at all the possible excuses — biological differences in ability, hormonal influences, childrearing demands, and even differences in ambition — and found no good explanation for why women are being locked out [of science].

Umm, what about sexism? Or is that too obvious?

[Short biographies of three famous physicists after the jump]Continue reading

A series of tubes

DJ Ted Stevens and a “Series of Tubes”

Ted Stevens gives us his “wisdom” on the issue of network neutrality:

“They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck.

It’s a series of tubes.

And if you don’t understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material…

Ten movies streaming across that internet and what happens to your own personal internet? I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?
—Senator Ted Stevens (R. AK) describing the internet in support of ISP content segmentation

Continue reading