Links for 2010-08-25

  • "[While a post-doc in Amsterdam] I would take the bus to the rink from my apartment, and every day would travel down Maxwellstraat and past Lorentzlaan, but it didn't occur to me until near the end of my time in The Netherlands that these streets are named after the physicists James Clerk Maxwell and Hendrik Antoon Lorentz!

    In fact, all streets in the neighborhood of Watergraafsmeer are named after famous scientists and mathematicians, which is really a joy for a physicist like me. So after skating at the last day of the season at the Jaap Eden Ijsbanen, I decided to wander the neighborhood and hunt down the streets of those physicists whose work in the optical sciences has been a great influence on my own life's work, combining physics & travel blogging!"

  • "Let's consider again the objection of deficit spending. The so-called deficit hawks object to repairing structurally deficient bridges because they say the government cannot afford to borrow money to do so -- even at the low, low rates at which the government can now borrow it. Maintenance on these bridges must therefore, in the name of "fiscal responsibility," be deferred indefinitely. This is nonsense -- a dishonest trick that pretends to balance budgets by pretending that the cost of maintenance can be ignored, and that the cost of ignoring it can further be ignored, and so on. It's a gimmick, a scam, a lie.

    Deferred maintenance on these bridges is a liability, an expense that must be accounted for. It means we owe money to the infrastructure we are allowing to languish in disrepair -- with interest on that debt ballooning the longer we put it off. Actually fixing the bridges pays that debt."

  • Surprisingly, this does not include any of the many rugby songs I know that originated as drunken-sailor tunes. Probably for the best, though, as there are women and children on the Internet...
  • "LEGO Certified Professionals is a community-based program made up of adult LEGO hobbyists who have turned their passion for building and creating with LEGO bricks into a full-time or part-time profession." How did nobody tell me that this was a career option?
  • "Physically, these crazy shots are possible. Time of flight in the video is comparable to a numerical model. But, the question is: how difficult are these shots? Are these one in a million? Are they easy? Are they essentially impossible? One way to answer this is to get some estimate of the variation in the angles and speed of a shot basketball. Oh yes, here comes the data.

    How do you know the variation in throwing a ball? You throw a ball. So, that is what I did. I didn't want to use basketballs because that would be harder to setup. Instead I throw some wiffle balls in the hallway. My goal was to aim at a small target about 1.5 meters away and see where the balls landed and how fast (and at what angle) I threw them."


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