I think the weather this summer has inspired Mélanie…
I think the weather this summer has inspired Mélanie…
Everybody in this photo is a journalist.
I just finished covering the Detroit Auto Show as a journalist for Discovery. Here are a few things that I learned:
Care for a foot rub?
1) What works in a 5 seconds TV clip doesn’t always work as well in person. The pretty girls standing next to exotic supercars (Ferraris, Lamborghinis) that you usually only see briefly, well, they look a bit more awkward when you see them standing there all day. I almost felt like going up there and asking: “You want me to bring you a chair?”
2) Old experienced journalists, especially those with white hair and pirate mustaches, are experts at cutting in front of you during a one-on-one, and they’ll ask 3-4 questions and then say: “One more question”.
And then they’ll ask 10 more. As soon as the interviewee is done answering, they say something like “Now…” or “Ok, but…” and then take a few seconds to think of a follow up question. These words are just placeholders so that nobody cuts in.
3) Even if you meet the people you really want to meet, you might not actually be able to have a conversation with them. I was looking forward to meeting Elon Musk of SpaceX, Tesla Motors, SolarCity, etc.
I actually got to talk to him a bit, but it was only while photographers were asking him to pose in front of various things (the electric Roadster, the car frame and powertrain, etc).
He was laughing at the situation a bit, and I said: “Maybe you should’ve brought a piece of Falcon 9.” He said: “Yeah, but it wouldn’t fit in here. It’s 180 feet tall,” and I said: “I hear it’s all assembled now,” and he said that it was, and something about testing next summer, but then the press conference had to start rolling.
Compared to most other CEOs who gave speeches at press conferences, Elon wasn’t very smooth, but I’m kind of glad he’s not some smooth-talking manager-type. He rose to the top because of his brains, not his silver tongue. Not that you can’t have both, but if I had to choose…
After the announcements were done, he was surrounded by a horde of TV cameras and I never could get close to him again.
All photos by Michael Graham Richard.
If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to my RSS feed. Thanks.
Melanie wants to give some homemade cookies to her friends for xmas. Here are the results of our teamwork (pajamas and all).
Went to see some ducks today and took the new camera along (Nikon D60 with 18-200mm Nikkor lens). Don’t miss the exhibitionist squirrel at the end.
I thought that 7 peppers at once was a pretty good harvest. Boy, was I wrong. Above is a photo I just took of the very same plant. It now lives in my parents’ garden and it looks like it’s about to collapse from the sheer weight of all those chili peppers. Incredible.
It features a new approach to protein prediction. Instead of using a more or less brute-force approach, with a CPU trying lots and lots of possibilities and calculating which ones give the best results, the game uses the human brain’s pattern recognition abilities (with help from a few automated tools) to try to find the lowest-energy folded state of a protein.
It has the potential to be on the cutting edge of a new generation of scientific games that are fun to play, teach you things, and can actually help researchers.
Words are inadequate to describe it, so please watch the two videos below to get an idea.
Last November, I bought Molecular Biology of the Cell by Alberts (5th edition). I’m a few chapters in, and so far it’s an excellent textbook, I recommend it.
But there’s something that has been intriguing me for months: Once every few pages, seemingly at random, there are groups of 4 red letters inside pointy brackets. At first, I thought it was probably formatting meta-data, some kind of printing accident. But the second time the red letter popped up in a weird place, I noticed that the letters were all DNA letters (T,A,G,C).
Could this be a puzzle? Is this some kind of clever biological joke by the authors?
If it is, what do these code for? Some well-known protein?
It’s a mystery so far.
Update: Unless this is a well-known joke among biologists (it’s a common textbook, after all) and someone tells me about it in the comments or via email, I’ll probably compile a sequence of nucleotide letters long enough for it to be unique and then Google it. I had my “duh” moment and realized there’s no need to go through the whole 1000-page book and compile all of red letters…
I’m excited about it because computational protein/enzyme/RNA design has the potential to move biotech forward a great deal and cure many terrible diseases, help with bioremediation and clean fuel production, and increase our understanding of biology in general.
So I was surprised when I looked at Rosetta@home’s Top Computers list and saw that my new Mac Pro ranks #4. That probably won’t last forever since the project has almost 200,000 users and is still growing at a good pace, so I took a screenshot for posterity (above).
Technology Review recently published a piece about Dr. Baker’s work (the head of Rosetta@home and of the Baker Lab at Washington University) and what they call “a major step forward for computational protein design”. Check it out, and if you aren’t already crunching, I strongly encourage you to join a project.
Idle CPUs are sad little unproductive things, wasting their potential. Give yours something interesting to work on.
From the preface of Roger Penrose’s The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe:
Considering the current state of my math skills, I expect to look like the third drawing most of the time.
Last November, I posted some pictures of chili peppers I was growing. Here’s a whole new batch: I pollinated the flowers by hand and 7 of them turned into peppers. Some are still green, so they’re harder to see.
This is a picture of the CPU that has been in my desktop computer for the past 4 years. It is an AMD Athlon 64 3000+. One “Windsor” 90nm core running at 1.8 GHz, fitting on socket 939 with dual channel memory.
There’s no problem with it. It’s still working, and has always been dependable, running cooly even when I pushed it to 100% usage with distributed computing projects. But I’ve replaced it with an Athlon 64 X2 3600+ (2 cores running at 2 GHz). These are so cheap now, and I figured it would be a good way to do more data crunching inexpensively. I know that my computer will keep being used for a few years – if not by me, but my parents or someone else – so more than doubling the amount of scientific work it can do makes a difference.
I don’t get sentimental about objects. I don’t collect stuff. But holding that CPU in my hand made me realize how fantastic our technology is, and how many great things it allows us to do. Had I been born in a non-networked world without inexpensive computers, there is so much things I wouldn’t know, so many people I never would have connected with, so many books unread, so much music unheard. I wouldn’t have the job I have now, and you wouldn’t be reading this.
I certainly wouldn’t be the same person…
So this is my homage to my CPU.
After watching this video of New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman, I decided to try his pasta sauce myself. The video isn’t really about the sauce, rather it’s about the concept of changing the pasta/sauce ratio, something that I think makes lots of sense. But the sauce looked really good and easy to do…
Here are the results (high resolution pics here):
It was delicious!
For someone that spends his days and many of his evenings on a computer, I’ve had relatively few computers. I tend to keep my PCs for a very long time, all the while obsessing about potential upgrades (and never actually pulling the trigger — there’s always something better coming soon).
Well, I finally did it. I’ve wanted a Mac for 4-5 years, and now it’s here: