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Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

Pearls Before Breakfast

In Listen, Read, Shop, Watch on June 30, 2010 at 7:04 am

Gene Weingarten wrote this story for the Washington Post three years ago.  Violinist Joshua Bell spent almost an hour playing in the Washington D.C. subway:

A onetime child prodigy, at 39 Joshua Bell has arrived as an internationally acclaimed virtuoso. Three days before he appeared at the Metro station, Bell had filled the house at Boston’s stately Symphony Hall, where merely pretty good seats went for $100. Two weeks later, at the Music Center at Strathmore, in North Bethesda, he would play to a standing-room-only audience so respectful of his artistry that they stifled their coughs until the silence between movements. But on that Friday in January, Joshua Bell was just another mendicant, competing for the attention of busy people on their way to work.

Click through for the read, and videos of the Metro performance.

I haven’t found a separate Bell recording of Bach’s “Chaconne” but here’s Itzhak Perlman (in two parts):

“On one stave, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.” – Johannes Brahms, writing to Clara Schumann about the Chaconne

Here’s Gidon Kremer performing Bach’s entire Partita for Violin Solo No. 2 in D Minor (including “Chaconne”):

Amazon album download

Fake lightning, fake capillaries

In Read on June 29, 2010 at 7:55 am

Researchers at Texas A&M are working toward a better way to grow artificial organs:

An electrically charged block of plastic gives way to a series of tunnel-carving lightning bolts when a nail is driven into it.

Adding human blood vessel cells to the tunnels could create a template upon which an artificial organ could grow.

Lightning bolts in a plastic block

Lightning bolts in a plastic block

Khan Academy

In Read, Watch on June 28, 2010 at 10:54 am

Sal Khan has taped over 1,500 mini-lectures available for free on YouTube.  The lectures are heavy on math and science, and he’s posting new ones all the time.  PhysOrg asked Khan about his motivation:

Valedictorian of his high school class, with a perfect math SAT score, he always regretted the way educators failed to show the beauty of what they taught.

Khan Academy

Eminem – Not Afraid

In Listen, Shop, Watch on June 25, 2010 at 7:24 am

Eminem’s new album Recovery came out last week.  This is the first single that is all over town right now:

“I guess I had to go to that place to get to this one.”

The video is great and all (click through for the HD version), but think back 10 years ago and try to imagine Eminem going sober.

“Not Afraid” Amazon MP3 download
Not Afraid – Recovery (Deluxe Edition)

Recovery Amazon album download
Recovery (Deluxe Edition) – Eminem

Better solar technology

In Read, Watch on June 24, 2010 at 10:48 am

Bill Gross runs IdeaLab, which is an umbrella company for hundreds of projects and companies he has started.   eSolar is one of these companies, and they have been working on refining an alternative method of using solar power to generate electricity:

A system of 24,000 mirrors moving slowly to capture blazing sun rays is produced efficiently with robot-made fabricated parts rather than customized components that brings down costs significantly. And, since eSolar requires intense sunlight, its power plants are built in underutilized, arid areas that are generally deserted.

The crux is that they are using solar thermal technology rather than photovoltaic cells.

Watch Henry Blodget interview Gross at the Business Insider page linked above.  The video is long, but worth it (30+ minutes including discussion of entrepreneurial lessons learned at IdeaLab).  He talks about the guts of the eSolar project from 1:26 – 4:53.

Google’s image is dated, so you can’t see the arrays for now, but here’s the satellite view of the Sierra SunTower site in Lancaster, CA:

Ron Ron gets a ring

In Read, Watch on June 18, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Ron Artest has been one of the more colorful characters in the NBA over the past 11 years.  Since 2004 his storyline has included the Pacers/Pistons incident in Auburn Hills, but he’s also now been a critical part of a championship team.  Andrew Sharp at SB Nation tells two stories:

“One is a firsthand account of a night that happened two-and-a-half years ago, and the other, a story I heard through a family friend. But both help explain why, even amid a hundred different storylines emerging from Thursday night’s Lakers’ victory, there’s just nothing better than “Ron Artest, NBA Champion.” My first story begins in Boston, back in late-2007…”

HT:  NKG

**UPDATE:  Here’s footage of his post-game presser.  “I got WHEATIES!”

HT:  JDS

3D without glasses

In Read on June 15, 2010 at 10:06 am

Microsoft has developed a new type of lens that can send light separately to each of your eyeballs:

Microsoft’s prototype display can deliver 3D video to two viewers at the same time by presenting different images to their left and right eyes (one video for each), regardless of where they are. It can also show ordinary 2D video for up to four people simultaneously (one video for each person).

So glasses-less 3D for two, or the whole family can sit on the same couch and each watch a different 2D show.  That seems like the real application here.

She’s Always a Woman

In Listen, Shop, Watch on June 14, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Fyfe Dangerfield covers Billy Joel’s classic “She’s Always a Woman”:

Music Ramen tells you where to get the album stateside, and has the UK commercial that put this version of the song on the map.

Billy Joel original:
Amazon MP3
iTunes

Massive Afghanistan mineral deposits

In Read on June 14, 2010 at 7:17 am

U.S. geologists have identified massive mineral deposits in Afghanistan.  We’re talking maybe $1 trillion, which would be a fundamental game-changer for the Afghan economy (currently consists of growing opium and trafficking drugs).  The New York Times reports:

“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said in an interview on Saturday. “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

“This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines.

There seems to be a long road ahead, and many potential pitfalls, but at its heart this is huge for the Afghan people.

Sharks smell in stereo

In Read on June 11, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Researchers at the University of South Florida are reporting the discovery that sharks smell in stereo.  From MSNBC Science:

“A shark notes the precise time the scent of a potential meal reaches each of its two nostrils. If there is a small lag between the two, the shark knows to turn toward the side that caught the first whiff.”

The full paper is available at the Current Biology website (subscription required).

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