We don't get much snow here, but I thought I might archive this for future reference, just because it's cool.
1. Set microscope slides, coverslips and superglue outside when itâ€™s 20Â°F or colder to chill them. Catch flakes on the slides or pick them up with cold tweezers.
2. Place a drop of superglue on the snowflake. Note: Gel glue doesnâ€™t work. Find a brand thatâ€™s thin and runny.
3. Drop a coverslip over the glue. Donâ€™t press down hard or the flake could tear or melt from the heat of your finger.
4. Leave the slide in a freezer for one or two weeks and donâ€™t touch it with warm hands. The glue must completely harden before the snowflake warms up.
Well, Carmen and I haven't gotten out to see many first run movies lately, but tonight Pixar's Monday Film series stumbed on an old favorite: Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead (1981). Back when this film was made, Raimi was a mere 21 years old. In some ways, this shows: the movie has a fairly slim plot involving five young people heading off to the woods to relax on a brief vacation, only to find that the house they are staying at was once the retreat of a professor delving into the occult. When they play back some recordings of his they find in the basement, demons are summoned, and mayhem commences.
The movie stars a very young Bruce Campbell in one of his first roles, and begins a long association with Sam Raimi. As I said, it's a pretty thin plot, but what sets it apart is Raimi's visual style. It features buckets of blood and gore, demon possession, dismemberment, shredding flesh, a girl is molested by trees and vines, and general strange crap like you've never seen. I remember seeing this as a teenager, and have seen it at least once since on DVD, but it was great to see it in a real theater on 35mm film stock once again. The print was great, and despite showing a bunch of badly composited full moons over footage of a dilapidated mountain cabin, it holds up pretty well. It shows remarkable creativity in its use of lighting, cameras, fog, and camera position to give a strange, creepy feel to what could have been a merely pedestrian movie experience.
Raimi has made better films (such as one of my personal favorites) but it's great to see this early work from a popular director. If IMDB is correct, Raimi has begun production on a revisit to this story, and it will be interesting to see what a budget and twenty five years of directorial experience will bring to the show.
You might have noticed if you are a long time reader of this blog that I'm fascinated by codes and ciphers, particularly the kind that were developed before computers really came on the scene.Â Â That's why I'm finding the M4 Message Breaking Project interesting: they are attempting to break
three two as yet unbroken code intercepts that presumably use the Nazi 4-Rotor Naval Enigma machine.
Years ago when Simon Singh's The Code Book came out, he ran a cipher challenge that invited readers to compete for a $10,000 prize by being the first to break 10 codes. Â I broke 7 out of the 10 (all the ones I thought I had a shot) including a 3 rotor Enigma encrypt. Â Breaking the 4 rotor variant with a much shorter message is a significant challenge, and they've managed to break one of the three already.
I've got their distributed client running on my machine. Â We shall see how it goes. 🙂
I laughed out loud. Scoble didn't think it was funny, and just said "Ouch". Of course all that is truly funny is true.Â This is what you reap when your product development is all about filling out long checklists of features and signing partnership deals with third parties.
Phil Plait's blog is the first mention I've read that actor Darren McGavin had passed away. Phil and I must have been watching the same TV shows as kids, because I loved Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and have recently found through the miracle of TIVO that the episodes still hold up fairly well, which can hardly be said of most of the television produced in the 1970s.
The thing that I found most remarkable about the show is just how unheroic Kolchak really was. He wasn't Clark Kent, secretly fighting crime with superpowers at night. He was just an average, middle age reporter, whose only talent seemed the ability to irritate everyone he came into contact with. It was a great character, and a great set of performances by McGavin. Lots of fun, and well worth watching on DVD.
It looks like I'll be attending the Maker's Faire in San Mateo coming up on April 22nd and 23rd. My proposal to show my Atari 2600 Enigma Machine was accepted, so I guess I get to setup a little table display and yack at people about writing programs for the old Atari 2600. If I get all my prep done, I'll be demonstrating how you can assemble code using P65, the perl assembler, run it with the Stella emulator, and then burn it onto an EEPROM for execution in the real machine.
More details as it gets closer, but if you read my blog and are in the neighborhood, I'd be thrilled if you stopped in to say hi.
Addendum: Â Bonus link to an Atari 2600 inspired music video.Â Found it with Technorati.Â Â Rockin'!
Okay, a total fluff link.Â How lame is it that actor Daniel Craig, poised to replace Pierce Brosnan as the latest James Bond, can't drive a stick?Â Â It's bad enough that he wears a life jacket while in a boat.
I'm not expecting good things.
Apparently the peakcock mantis shrimp packs a mighty wallop, which can even shatter the glass of aquariums. They also are responsible for the introduction of a new word to my vocabulary: "shrimpoluminescence". Catch the linked video below.
The speed of the strike (up to 50 mph, or 23 m/s) creates cavitation bubbles between the shrimp's hammer-like heel and the struck snail. The bubbles collapse, and generate heat, light, and sound. The shell shatters with a flash too-fast-to-see, and a bang. Watch the flash (called shrimpoluminescence for another species) in the video, slowed by a factor of 900. (Courtesy of Sheila Patek, Wyatt Korff and Roy Caldwell/UC Berkeley) Though the mantis shrimp's tough heel is impregnated with hard minerals, still she must shed the pitted, damaged surface every few months, and grow new heel armor.
Addendum: Link to a bonus cartoon that only makes sense if you are as geeky as me, or read the above links.