July 27, 2009

no, there wasn't a "mr inner geek moment"

for some reason in that epic car ride back from wildwood the dvorak keyboard came up.
rein's deli ->
rachel's grandmother being an amazing jewish baker ->
her also being a typist in a typing farm back in her day ->
typing words per minute ->
is that even possible with old typewriters ->
this whole trace led me to think about a quote from arunas, one of the instructors at the YSP. if you were to look back far enough, the young scholar's program at uofc was one of the most influential forces in my life. in terms of a) nurturing my inner geek, b) introducing me to ultimate frisbee, c) made me decide to go to chicago for undergrad. and honestly most of my IGMs are a reference or anecdote to my time there.

one summer in 9-10, arunas is talking about the chinese remainder theorem and deadpan-ly credits it to "mr chinese remainder." it's really subtle and only a few people actually pick up on the joke. he's poking fun at how lots of theorems in math are just named after the person who discovered it (or made the conclusion famous.) think about people like fermat's last theorem, euler's theorem, stuff like that.

either way, when QWERTY and DVORAK came up, people wondered if maybe the dvorak keyboard was named because the top six letters were actually d-v-o-r-a-k or not. i was convinced that it was in fact mr dvorak.

to go a step further than one would normally in their right mind, i am starting to wonder how many other things that are now common place items are actually just the name of the person that invented or popularized them.
i'm having trouble finding others, but imagine if there was a "mr douchebag" that actually caused the term, or if bacon was because of mr bacon!

so how do you correctly boil an IGM?

spent the weekend on the jersey shore playing ultimate. had a great time at the tournament, very laid back, great weather, close to the ocean. not much more you could ask for, except a shorter drive maybe. although the drive was great, highlighted with us throwing a donut into another car at ~65mph. on our drive home (which takes ~7hours or so + stops) i remembered a whole section from the 'scientific visualization' class i took at chicago.

an ancient proverb or something asks the question "what is the correct way to boil a frog," knowing that if you put the frog into already boiling water, it would just jump out. barring clever usage of a lid or something, you want to put the frog into luke warm water, and then proceed to boil the water. the thinking is that the rate of change of the water's temperature is low enough that the frog doesn't notice that it's in a pot of boiling water. presto!

that assertion is the basis of this IGM. it had to do with rate of change thresholds of our senses at which they register as a noticeable change. this thought process was triggered by driving from the mid-afternoon, through dusk and into night. anyone else that has done that also probably experiences this phenomena when it 'feels' like it's still pretty light outside and then it's quickly night time and you wonder how the hell that happened.

a quick googling has failed to give me the actual numbers, but i remember some hand-waved number that our mind doesn't really register a change in light brightness that are < 10% over some period of time. your eyes detect the change, that's not the problem, but your mind doesn't go 'oh man where the hell did all the brightness go!' what that happens. instead that happens when you finally ~reset your mental light brightness gauge and then look back at the sky.

anyone know of any other similar sensory/non-sensory rate of change threshold type of scenarios? the other one that i recalled was in the IGM laden movie Sneakers. the motion detector ignored anything that moved slower than like 2in/s or something ridiculous like that. temperature is also an obvious one, if anyone has taken a bath and the water suddenly becomes really cold, not noticing that it has been cooling off the whole time.

a possible opposite is "what things have slow enough sampling rates that you can sneak in a whole bunch of change and not fire quickly enough to save you?" i'm thinking about someone that stuffs themselves really quickly with food before their belly hits the stretch/fullness threshold and tells them that they should stop eating.

July 08, 2009

drafting a draft about drafting

so i have been watching a lot of tour de france, and the thing that really amazes me is the reported 30% energy savings for a rider that is drafting. i totally can understand the physics behind this. i remember the vortex/drafting concept from my animal locomotion class at chicago. what i begin to wonder, is what non-sport related activities do people draft in? i guess to find the correct analogy, when do we take advantage of the wake left behind our "competitors?"

other "real world" opportunities to draft:
  • settlers of catan - you always want to be second place, have everyone gang up on the other dude and then slyly steal longest road and win!
  • having pregnant/married siblings or cousins - way to dodge that parental pressure
  • getting through crowded areas - a la Die Hard 3 (w/the ambulance and taxicab) or walking through a state fair or something.
any more?

July 07, 2009

a call for moments

hey there everyone.

i apologize for my lack of moments this past month or so, work and sports have ramped up quite a bit. this has a) reduced the number of environments in which i have the opportunity to have an inner geek moment, b) tired me out so that i have less energy to catalog and write out such moments, c) made me think about whether or not the ambitious goals that i had when originally starting this blog were realistic.

so i think that this might be an appropriate juncture to ask anyone else that feels like they have inner geek moments. i know people (hey julia!) started to allude to IGMs in other fields/topics/genres as well as being interested in contributing/sharing your own ideas here.

let me know if you are interested and i can set you up as an author on the blog, or just send me the text via email/carrier pidgeon (only those two methods of delivery accepted!) and i'll put it up!