Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Some Videos compiled from the UC Davis Event

 I was compelled by the depth of emotions this incident brought out in people, both for those involved, and for those who have observed it.  I have compiled a few videos here to get a more comprehensive, contextual view of the event than just the pepper spraying itself.  I have also done this to encourage discussion in the comments section.  Who is at fault?  Is anybody at fault?  What does this say about police?  What does this say about the occupy movement?                                                                                                                 

Monday, August 8, 2011

New Hardware Frontiers

     At right, is an in-development technology that could make current hard drives obsolete within ten years, and will undoubtedly outmode Blu-Ray as the disc of choice for home movie buyers.  What you see is the TeraDisc, a transparent plastic disc that can hold 800GB of data, with current developments easily pushing that number to 1TB in the near future.  Just for reference, the standard Blu-Ray disc can hold 50GB, and the standard DVD can hold 5GB.  That's over 16 times the storage capacity of Blu-Ray! 
     Incredibly, the disc is written and read using the same red laser that DVD's use!  What this means that current media hardware doesn't need a complete re-config in order to play the disc.  So, if the magic isn't in the laser, then where is it?  The answer comes from the world of material science.
     The disc's incredible capacity has to do with what its made of, and not so much how the data is written to it.  You see, the data writing and reading concept for this disc is essentially the same as its been since the release of the Laserdisc in 1978 (if you don't know what that is, it basically looks like a ridiculously large DVD.  Look it it up).  Data writing is accomplished by changing the refractive property of certain parts of the disc material so that the changed and unchanged parts together represent 1's and 0's. So, binary disc writing remains the same as its always been.  The critical difference with this disc has to do with how the refractive property of the disc is changed.
     At right, is a diagram showing how each of the current media discs are written to.  Each disc is 1.2 mm thick, but the laser is focused so that data is written to one specific plane within the thickness of the disc (where the transparent pyramids come to a point).  This data is represented as lines of tiny divets that are literally burned out of the plastic in the disc.  To read the data, a low power laser is sent through the disc, it reflects off of an aluminum backing, and it comes back up to the reader lens, being refracted by the divets.  A light sensor can see the difference between refracted and non refracted light, and this information is interpreted by the computer.  Unfortunately, this method of writing data has severe limitations because it only allows for writing to a realistic maximum of about 4 planes within the thickness of the disc.  The reason for this is that the divets in each plane will interfere too much with the reading laser.  What then is the solution?   

     Enter the TeraDisc (insert victorious music here...say, the theme to Superman)!!  As you can see at left, the TeraDisc utilizes a laser that shines straight through the disc rather than one that is reflected.  Using this method, the TeraDisc is able to have up to 200 planar layers of data (like 200 pancakes on top of each other.....only a LOT smaller).This is possible because instead of actually burning large scale geometric divets into the disc, a specially tuned, lower-power laser is used to change the molecular structure of the specially-engineered polymer, leaving each layer completely transparent to the laser.  If that's true, how then is the changed molecular structure able to be read by the laser?  Here's where we start really digging back into your chemistry knowledge from high school.
     Remember (vaguely?) all that stuff about electron energy levels?  Well, that comes into play here.  So, most atoms of a high enough atomic number (remember, that's it's number on the periodic table) will have multiple layers of electrons spinning around each other (imagine each layer, or "shell" as they are called, as layers of a jawbreaker).  Each electron layer contains a specific amount of energy, with layers increasing in energy as you go out from the nucleus.  What this means is that if you sufficiently increased the energy of the outside layer, the electrons would get kicked up to a higher energy shell layer.  Since this higher energy state is forced, and unnatural, the electrons will spit out the extra energy and immediately "fall" back down to their natural energy state, much like when a roller coaster is forced up a hill and is then let go.  The extra energy is then released from the atom as light.       
     Now, you may know that light is composed of photons.  Photons, as it turns out can act as a replacement for electrons when shot directly into an atom.  The trick with the TeraDisc is that its re-structured molecules require the insertion of two photons in order to kick up the electrons to a higher energy state, and to release said photons upon returning to its normal state.  This means that the laser has to be of sufficient intensity (or, for you more sciency types, of sufficient photon density) in order to activate this energy absorption and release.
     If you look at the above picture, you will see that the laser (it looks like an orange hour-glass) is focused on one point.  This is the point where the laser is most intense, and therefore the only point which will activate the energy absorption-and-release of the surrounding molecules.  The disc reader sees the photons (light) released from these molecules in the changed sections, and is therefore able to successfully interpret the data on the disc for each of the 200 layers.
  And so, using the latest and greatest in material science technology, media storage is set to once again make a giant leap forward in capacity.  The possibilities that this technology holds are exciting to say the least.  We could see things like holographic movies, HD at astronomical resolutions, and the ability to hold your current computer's hard drive on one disc.  This is something to keep your eye on in the near future. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cartoon Mayhem

I was perusing teh internets recently and found this video. All I can say it its hilarious and incredible.  I think I hit the replay button about 5 or 6 times to fully be able to grasp the awesomeness. Check it out!

Also, apparently the people behind the graphical work for this video have done music videos for many big musicians, and have done lots of commercials and promo material.  Check out their website here: http://www.machinemolle.com/.

Sweet Video

I found this pretty sweet video  floating around the internet. Check it out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmppC9_IcwI&feature=player_embedded

Another Famous Person Has Died

Apparently Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcette, Billy Mays, and Ed McMahon weren't the only celebrities to die recently. Check it out.

Southwest Goes WiFi

That's right folks, at right, your looking at the latest and greatest in mobile internet technology. Southwest has launched the first ever satellite-fed WiFi for commercial airliners. What you see in the picture is an antenna that Aerosat Corporation developed. The antenna is able to track and hold a WiFi satellite signal as the airplane pitches, rolls, and yaws (as a satellite antenna has to be pointed exactly at the satellite in order to get the signal properly). It's able to accomplish this using a complex computer tracking program, which was developed over an 18 month period of testing. On a test flight, one of the technicians reported getting 54 Mbps connection speed! Regular broadband gets about 2.1Mbps. Check out this podcast at Southwest for an up-close perspective on the technology!

Double Stack!

This past fall, a friend and I would regularly stop at a McDonalds every Tuesday on the way to visit some friends. The biggest attraction to eating there was McDonalds' 99 cent cheeseburgers. They were cheap, and good for a late night snack. Unfortunately, whatever appeal these supposed morsels had was utterly and totally destroyed in our minds after we repeatedly received salty and bitter excuses for food called cheeseburgers. It was time for a change. Change, it seems, came in the form of an off-hand, split second decision, that changed the course of our lives forever. That decision was Wendy's.

We saw it across the traffic circle, that seemingly equal fast food place to McDonalds. Casually, we pulled up to the drive though and discovered that Wendy's offered a similar menu item to the McDonalds 99 cent cheeseburger: the Double Stack. We decided, "Why not," and ordered a couple. With money exchanged, and Double Stack's in our laps, we both opened the wrappings. It was love at fist bite.

Naught is there a burger in existence that radiates such potent flavor. Naught does any other burger rivet the entirety of you attention with one bite. It's so simple, but so elegant. Its just two delicious hamburgers, a few fresh onions, some crispy pickles, a slice of melted cheese, and two buns all topped off by richly flavored ketsup and mustard.

We then began to regularly order four or more each. One time, my friend had seven double stacks in one night. Suffice it to say, we never went back to that McDonalds again. Now, if ever I'm out, and there's a question of what to eat on the fly, I default to Double Stack. In fact, it's now one of my prerogatives in life to open others' eyes to the grandness of the Double Stack. If only people knew, if only people tasted, maybe the giant, McDonalds, would fall. Maybe people wouldn't settle for worst, never mind second best. Maybe people might smile more often.

Please, please try a Double Stack, then tell everyone you know about the experience. It is truly an under-appreciated delicacy. Here's to the Double Stack!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Enter District 9

Once upon a time, a once unknown Neill Blomkamp, was contacted by a very well known Peter Jackson. Pete wanted Neill to work on a little film based on avery well known video game franchise. It 's a franchise involving missile launchers, Warthogs, space rings, and exoskeleton battle armor. You guessed it, its Halo. Then, Pete got ambitious and decided to have both Universal Studios and 20th Century Fox back the project. Unfortunately for him, the studios didn't want to play nice and share profits with Microsoft(because Microsoft owns the rights). As a result, the studios decided to back out of the project. Besides, they didn't trust Niell, the new guy on the block. And everyone lived happily ever after...

Wait, what? We all know that can't be the end of the story, after all, the protagonist didn't get to direct his movie. Indeed it is not the end.

Niell Blomkamp was a short film and advertisement director before Jackson contacted him. One of the short films he directed was called Alive in Joburg. When the Halo movie fell through the cracks, Jackson decided to give Niell a whack at making Alive into a feature length picture.

Enter District 9.

District 9, or D9, which is the feature length extension of Alive, is about an excluded demographic in South Africa which is confined to a certain area in Johannesburg called district 9. The catch is, the demographic is not human. Detailing an alternate present day, D9 chronicles humanity's attempt to coexist with space aliens who have come to earth seeking energy and refuge. The above picture is of one of the main characters who has been infected with alien bio-technology, hence his eye. (image retrieved from Slashfilm.com)

This is looking as though it's going to make a very interesting movie. Besides the concept being intriguing, Neill has a very visceral and edgy style of directing. As further example of this, one of his other short films is Tetra Vaal, which is a fictional promo video for a sort-of robocop for third-world countries. Additionally, some of his advertisement efforts include: two Citroen ad's featuring a transformer of the car dancing and ice skating, two Nike ads called Evolution andCrab, and a Gatorade Rain commercial.

I am certainly looking forward to this film, as this style has not really been explored in a big-budget sense. Simply put, this is a film to look out for.

For more information about the film, and to see it's official trailer, go to          www.d-9.com

1st! : The First Post

Hey everyone!  I decided to start this blog because I'm basically an information-phile.  I'm always learning little tidbits about everything and anything, and sometimes it feels like my brain is bursting at the seams.  Therefore, this is a place for all that excess information to burst to.  Just a note: The next 5 posts are archive posts from my old blog re-posted here. Enjoy!