October 29th, 2003

pencil

bits & pieces

I was going to try trick-or-treating again with some other people from my friends list, but apparently it was far too popular of a meme, and the person had to take it down. That's ok, I don't really need any more empty candy wrappers.

Over to Redmond last night to visit Mom, she's making fair progress in the unpacking. I reprogrammed her phone with all of us kid's phone numbers and fixed the connection problem that was making the speaker burble; Ted unpacked the encyclopedias and moved boxes. Not surprisingly, she is still finding things she'd prefer not to have brought - but even if she'd been as ultra-organized as her ideal, I'm sure that would have happened simply because what you think you'll need in a new place, and what you actually need, let alone have room for, are often different. So every time we stop by, we end up coming back with various things - my haul included a kitchen scale and a little food processor - which is ironic because I'd asked about the processor before and she'd especially wanted to keep it. But storage is such in the new place that she decided she'd rather just have a/the blender, so she packed the processor off with me. I told her if it turns out later she wants it back, that's fine with me too.

Latest stupid spam subject line: Saw you in church, blah blah blah. You've got a long memory if that's the case. *shakes head* Besides, what are they expecting me to think, that God gave them my email address? How else would they have gotten it, let alone associated it with me? Twits.

When they did the remodel of the exercise room here in the building, they re-floored the pool. Apparently they also installed floodlights in it - I noticed last night there was an unearthly green glow outside my window when I got home from Redmond. Turns out it's the light from the pool, which is just outside and down from my apartment. It's bright enough to provide a fair amount of ambient light, even. Aliens! no, just the water they're supposed to be after, or allergic to, or whatever this week's story is.
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the music of the spheres

The High and Low Notes of the Universe
The Cornell nano-guitar, first built in 1997 but only now played for the first time, twangs at a frequency of 40 megahertz, some 17 octaves (or a factor of 130,000) higher than a normal guitar (see figure at http://www.aip.org/mgr/png/2003/205.htm ). Researchers at Cornell University used laser light to set the delicate silicon "strings" (actually slender planks of silicon) of the 10-micron-long guitar in motion (see figure at http://www.aip.org/mgr/png ). There is no practical microphone available for picking up the guitar sounds, but the reflected laser light could be computer processed to provide an equivalent acoustic trace at a much lower frequency. The laser light could excite more than one string, creating megahertz "chords." The playing of the nano-guitar will be described by Lidija Sekaric (now at IBM) at the AVS meeting (paper MM-WeM1; lidija@us.ibm.com, 914-945-1802; http://www.avs.org/symposium/baltimore/default.asp ).

If the nano-guitar's natural tones are among the most high-pitched sounds in the universe, some of the lowest pitched are to be found in the vicinity of the black hole in the Perseus galaxy cluster. The Chandra x-ray telescope recently saw concentric circles in the inter-galactic gas cloud surrounding the cluster core; some astronomers interpret the ripples as being sound waves (with a frequency some 57 octaves below human hearing, and possibly "the deepest note ever detected from an object in the universe") caused by jets from the black hole shooting outwards into the nearby matter. (http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/03_releases/press_090903.html )

From Physics News UpdateThe American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News
Number 659 October 28, 2003 by Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein, and
James Riordon