Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Mythical Crysticals" or "Why Crystals are So Awesome"

This past summer, after finishing graduate school I went on a victory lap around the world and stopped by Berlin for some hot eats (döner kebab):

and cool treats (spaghetti eis):

I also stopped by the natural history museum (museum für naturkunde) to check out dinosaurs and stuff:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Solar Beat

File this post under my constant quest to rise above the constraints of my perception of time and space.  The people at made this awesome little animation thing of the eight "classical planets" plus the "pluton" (formerly known as a planet) pluto and the "dwarf planet" (formerly known as an asteroid) ceres orbiting around the sun.  You can speed them up and slow them down and listen to their 10 unique tones.  I seriously spaced out for 10 solid minutes while watching this thing, I encourage you to do the same.

via via Krulwich wonders
Isn't it cool how the innermost planets move soooooooo much faster than the outermost planets?  Makes me think of how a penny circles faster and faster around the central axis of one of those spiral wishing wells as it gets closer to the center.  Conceptually identical.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Rise and Fall of William "Aluminum" Frishmuth

A man named William Frishmuth, a close acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln, was once the only person in the united states capable of producing the metal aluminum.  Perhaps the height of his metallic prestige came when Frishmuth was commissioned in 1884 to forge an aluminum pyramid to be placed on top of the Washington monument.  At the time, it was the largest chunk of pure aluminum ever cast.  Here is what it looks like:

But why aluminum?  Why would the US government honor its first leader by making this pyramid out of the metal in which I wrap my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?  The answer