An Apology

I'd like to appologize for my lack of blogging of late. Since I can't blame myself, I would like to blame the makers of World of Warcraft and also the guy that founded Netflix. If it weren't for Warcraft and Netflix, I'd spend much less time on my bum playing computer games or watching movies, and more time on my bum writing random thoughts for the world to see. I do think that when my interest in Warcraft wanes you will be hearing more from me.

The Qual is Coming

I am taking some time off from working in the lab to prepare for my qualifying exam which will be on September 2. This is an exam which basically covers all the material we learned in the first year of grad school, which is why physics students typically take several weeks off to study for it.

In the meantime, though, I am sure I will pick up some of my favorite procrastination hobbies, such as blogging. Also, coming soon is my Layman's Guide to Quantum Computing which should offer a gentle introduction to my field of study for those of you that are interested.

The Grand Finale

A number of things struck me last night while watching the 4th of July fireworks display in Excelsior Bay on Lake Minnetonka. First of all, depth perception is almost non-existent when viewing fireworks. The fireworks explode symmetrically from one point, but somehow the streaks of light always look like they are coming toward you. I really had to force my eyes to try to see some streaks of light as going away from me.

I also starting thinking about what must go into planning a fireworks show. Can you imagine even knowing what to order? I mean, how are these things even labeled in a catalogue? If the names of the fireworks products in stores are any indicator, it must be a major challenge just to create your own translation catalogue of "green dragon = outer green ring with red center and extended sparkle streaks" or whatever...

The show last night had a very nice grand finale. Since, by this point, I was already thinking about what goes into planning a fireworks display, something struck me about what makes a good grand finale: if you want to get people excited, turn up the volume! And the show last night did exactly that: there was a constant stream of small fireworks whose main purpose seemed to be to add an almost continuous bang while the larger fireworks went off up above. This may seem quite obvious, but I guess what I realized for the first time is that a fireworks show is not just about the flashes of pretty lights, but the explosions also provide a soundtrack to the display. And, an effective grand finale increases the intensity of both the visual and the aural experience.

My inner european is... irish?

Sammy's been posting the results of a couple fun quizes found here. According to that quiz, my inner european is Irish! Phyllis should be amused by that.

Finangling

What am I still doing awake at this hour? I really need to go to sleep. Too bad that problem with the MD5 module kept me up this long...

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