Archive for the 'physics' Category

Topics for Friday Night Party Line for June 2, 2006.

May 31, 2006

Here are the topics for Friday Night Party Line, June 2, 2006.  Some of these are from last week because we didn’t get to them.

Imagine yourself being 10 years old again.  Would your 10 year old self find you to be cool today?

I wonder if what one really enjoys in life can be distilled to one day. Can you describe your ultimate day? Can you think of how you would take the things you enjoy in life and put them all into one day, assuming you could do anything you want?

People are putting up videos of their children being born on YouTube.  I'm all for childbirth and all that, but do we really need to see the live event??   Would you do that?  Have people send such video links to you?  Have you seen these things?

There is a new friend making service called  It's not a dating site.  It gives you a new friend every 4 days without regard to gender, age, etc.  You communicate with this person back and forth and decide if you want to keep them as a friend.  Would you try such a site?

There is another website that just came out called  From the website:  “You type in the name of a friend and it will run searches on MySpace, Friendster, Facebook and more. Create profiles on your friends and save them to your "buddy list", then you can just click their name and see all their profiles later on! The buddy list also shows you who's online by checking their IM statuses.”

Have you ever written a complaint to a company about something?  Do you do it often?  Have you ever gone further and filed a complaint with the company’s regulator?  How did it work out for you?

At the University of Florida, the police there have become a fan of the fiction of a certain graduate student.  After reading his horror fiction on Live Journal, they've asked him to submit fingerprints and DNA.  What are your thoughts on this?

In the life imitates art category of the day, there are a group of computer geeks in Silicon Valley that have started their own fight club, like the movie “Fight Club.”  There are videos on the web that show these guys beating the crap out of each other.  Would you ever do such a thing?  Do you know anyone who has done this?

There was a big blow to the Space Elevator this week when it was discovered that carbon nanotubes might not be able to handle the job.  What do you think about the Space Elevator concept?  Will it ever get off the ground?

Henrik Ibsen is getting popular again and a number of items have been in the news about him recently.  Have you ever read or seen one of his plays?  Do you think he's worthy of all this new attention?

Memory and personal relevance.

February 27, 2006

Big cities with serious population density can create a feeling of frenetic energy just with all of the activity taking place. I’m not sure if it is simply all the people just moving around each one with its own purposes or if it is the volume of people or both.

Normally, I don’t notice this sort of thing. I live near a city, but what I’m experiencing on my current trip never happens in my local city.

Since I’m a visitor, I have the time to walk right the through the throng and get coffee with more leisure than those around me (at least those around me with jobs). This time also probably means more to me than most people going through their normal routines.

Human memory of moments are sorted by relevance and importance. But it is a personal relevance. It is the most personal of all relevance. My moment in the strange city will stick with me longer because it is out of my normal routine. I remember, for example, the homeless guy sleeping in the Starbucks, his head back and mouth open in his chair, snoring. Most of the other people getting coffee probably won’t retain that memory or it is a different familiar memory that is one of many memories of the commonplace scene.

I think of memories as node points in my mind tagged with a time and date and sorted and retained by relevance. It is proof positive to me, though that most of life is irrelevant as I retain very little. It reminds me of the story of what lawyers used to do centuries ago when no one knew how to read and write. When someone sold a piece of property, they would take a kid out the closing and smack the crap out of him with a stick. The kid then remembered the incident and remembered the transaction because he remembered the pain. It was a time node in his life of high relevance and he became a human deed. He would remember the parties to the transaction along with the pain.

In a way, it’s ok that most of life is irrelevant. If every moment were earth shaking, we would lose our perspective. We would focus more and more on minutia trying to get some handle on a way to organize our minds and separate one moment from the next. So thank god for those boring days. They let us retain what’s important.