Category: WTF


Quantum mechanics for dummies

So I’ve been reading Alan Turing’s biography by Andrew Hodges and find myself glued to the pages. Sadly, I suck balls at math (no pun intended). I truly do. It’s the subject that ruined my otherwise perfect GPA in high school. I’ve been trying to grasp some of the concepts mentioned in the book, and quantum mechanics is one of them. This is fascinating! I never saw that before. I mean I heard the words thrown around but I never understood what it meant. I guess I still don’t. I would love to go back to school and start all over and actually pay attention in physics, maths and chemistry. Anyway, there’s this thing on reddit, ‘explain it to me like I’m five years old’, and anyone who has ever done this properly will probably scream in protest, but it’s ok to dumb it down a bit to get across the idea to non-pros (hey, Stephen Hawking agrees!).

There seem to be a lot of people responding who overestimate the vocabulary of a five-year-old. Here’s my best shot at speaking to a kindergartner.

Physics is how we try to figure out what happens when we throw a rock at another rock. It’s pretty easy to see that throwing a small rock at a big rock is different from throwing a big rock at a small rock. One day, somebody got tired of playing around with big rocks and started using the smallest rocks he could find and throwing them at each other. These rocks were so small that you can’t see them with your eyes, you have to use other tools to know what they’re doing, kind of like when an ant bites you or a bee stings you, you can’t see what they did but you know they did something because it made your arm hurt. Even though they couldn’t see the rocks, they knew what was happening because the tools they made showed them, just like your arm tells you when you get stung/bitten.

So the next thing this guy did with his very tiny rocks was to launch them through a very thin hole at a sheet and see what happened when they came out of the other side. Most people would probably guess that tiny rocks that are shot through a tiny opening will make a tiny hole in the sheet. But that’s not what happened. The tiny rocks spread out once they went through the tiny hole and they wanted to go through the sheet more easily in some places than others. But this only happens when you use small enough pieces of rock. The big pieces of rock don’t act like that. We’re still trying to figure out why.

Some also posted this link to a video of the double slit experiment (which I found very helpful since I’m a visual learner):

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Robert Yang makes weird games (or are they?)

You are a man alone in a fitsness studio shower. Two guys walk in, talking, ignoring you. You just stand under the spray wondering what the hell it is this game is all about. Then with a great flourish enters this naked dude with sunglasses, walking up to you, asking you to give him a hand… washing his back. By this time, I have giggled and flushed a bit. Is this some kind of sex sim? You do as well as you can, and then he’s just like “Well, ‘ta for that, see you next time.” The game tells you that you have to wait for a few hours until you can have a go at it again… What the hell just happened?

You just had a game experience created by Robert Yang. It’s called Rinse and repeat. He has made all these other short weird indie games that make profound statements about sex, BDSM and denial like Cobra Club, Hurt me plenty and Stick Shift.

Each is an intricately crafted work full of deliberate detail. Each has a meaning deeper (yet entirely dependent on) its surface, in-your-face interactions. Each packs more significance into its five or so minutes of playing than you will find spread across many an eighty-hour blockbuster game and, taken together, the games present a fascinating oeuvre (a word video game critics rarely have an opportunity to use).

(Brenden Keogh from reverseshot.org)

It questions your expectations as a gamer, influenced by instant gratification the internet has to offer, and you end up weirded out by yourself more than by the actual game. I haven’t looked at all the other games yet (though they sound pretty great:Intimate, Infinite: literary murder / chess / garden simulator!) but if I find myself with five minutes downtime before the Fallout 4 frenzy starts, I’ll definitely check them out.

Same procedure as every year. Our annual 2015 Tetris contest was a bit chaotic this time: Few players, unrecorded games, winners vanishing and so on. But fun nonetheless. And I won 2nd place. Whoo!

Here are the highlights. Enjoy!

This list has been on my wall for a year and a half. It’s almost finished.

2015-07-20 21.45.24

I’m sort of embarrassed about it. But since I went through all the trouble I might as well share the results. I’m not even sure what my rating is based on here. Some works I still enjoyed even if they were a little rough around the edges, like “The last enemy” or “Wreckers”. Some were better productions but offended me nonetheless (“The fifth Estate”, blech). So here it is: The best and worst of Cumberbatch, rated by me.* Your mileage may, of course, vary.

Best

1. Parade’s End

Episode 5. Scenes 618

(Pre-)WWI love triangle drama. That was a moving role, sufficient drama for me. Poor Tietjens. If you’re looking for a Downton Abbey replacement, this might be your thing!

2. Star Trek: Into Darkness

khan

Science fiction with a twist. The new Star Trek movies work for me, and Khan kicks ass.

3. Atonement

atonement-bite

Romance/drama. Creepy as hell, plays a rapist. Moustache! Good movie based on a great novel.

Fun fact: This is the performance that got him the (only) audition for ‘Sherlock’ with Moffat and Vertue.

4. August Osage County

august

Oklahoma family drama. What a production, there is major acting mojo here. Feels like a theatre stage the whole time, intense performances. Kind of an unusual role for him (shy guy).

5. To the ends of the Earth

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Based on a Golding novel, it’s a coming of age story. Period piece, on a ship, with sexy times. Need I say more? Mildly funny at times!

6. The last enemy

TheLastEnemyLogo

Total surveillance London middle east love triangle thingie. This could have been a decent series. But it’s still rough around the edges, plot jumps and whatnot. And why does TIA have an accent? It’s a computer. Overall okay! Anyway, you shouldn’t skip this one, because nudity.

7. Wreckers

WRECKERS

Dark British countryside drama. Sort of a bland movie, but interesting atmosphere and actors. Wasn’t too bad!

8. Third Star

third star

James has cancer and his last wish is to visit a particular beach. Bring tissues. Lots of tissues. Erm, for tears.

9. The Imitation Game

imitation game

Alan Turing biopic. Why has this movie not achieved a better ranking with me? All the components are there! I have ambiguous feelings about this movie, kind of like ‘The Fifth Estate’ because I know too much about Turing to sit back and enjoy the ride. But the performance is heartbreaking nonetheless.

10. Starter for 10

Starter-For-10-benedict-cumberbatch-15390979-640-352

Romcom feel good stuff with quizzes. Cute nerdy role!

Still noteworthy for reasons

Stuart: A Life backwards

Journalist writes homeless person’s story. Predictable tear jerker, but again, cute nerdy role. Also, Tom Hardy kills.

alexander-and-stuart-2

Dr. Slippery / Fortysomething

Awkward off-key British comedy. But you get Dr House, the Doctor and Cumberbatch for your troubles. And he looks so young.

latest

Worst (in order of awfulness)

1. The Fifth Estate

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Supposedly biographical drama of Julian Assange and Wikileaks. I couldn’t watch it to the end because it sucked so much. I’m too well informed about Assange to be able to watch this without going “grr noo” all the time. Sorry.

2. Warhorse

benny-with-mustache

Boy meets horse, horse goes to war, many people die, boy meets horse again. It’s so tacky. Relatively short appearance. Do not recommend unless you’re into soppy Spielberg. Ridiculous moustache.

3. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker-Tailor-Soldier-Spy-image-7-600x399

I’ve tried to watch this twice and I still don’t get it. It’s not a bad movie, in fact it may be quite the opposite, but maybe I’m just too stupid or I have to read the novel by John le Carré first. I’ll probably do that and try again sometime. Also, hair.

Update:

It is now 2016 and I have read the 400-page novel. Let me tell you this: Easily accessible is something else. It’s a highly intricate story and le Carré is not being kind to his readers. You have to possess certain spy skillsets  to grasp what’s going on. Spreadsheets for jargon in the “Circus” (MI6) are highly advised.  It’s very subtle.

After I read the book I could appreciate the film more insofar as I could understand what the heck was going on and who was who. But without that, you are lost in the movie. I liked this adaptation insofar as it tries to convey things in a similar style to the book: hardly ever stating anything obvious, and the big reveal is very understated, the waiting and the watching is what it’s all about.

Cumberbatch’s character Peter Guillam stealing the files from the archives was one of my favorite scenes in the book and they adapted it well to the movie. It’s really hard to portray a character screaming internally while trying to act all smooth and cool to the outside. A lot of feelings and fears aren’t explicitly stated but conveyed through internal monologue in the book; so in the movie, there is a lot of silence. Having read the book, I could fill in those gaps and appreciate the (also very much understated) acting. But I stand by my point: As a viewer who has no clue what’s going on, you’re probably not going to enjoy this very much, all these blokes in trench coats staring at each other.

Interesting side fact: In the book, Guillam is hung up on his flute-playing girlfriend Camilla and gets more and more suspicious of her cheating on him, as he gets suspicious of everything he believed in at the Circus potentially being compromised. In the movie, they made him gay. When Smiley tells him that he should assume he is being watched, he breaks up with his S.O. pre-emptively, possibly to protect him? Anyway, it’s heartbreaking.

Spoiler! The secret star of the book is a homosexual love affair between two spies. The ending is not quite so subtle in the movie, though: I thought they could have done without the dramatic gesture of P. shooting H., but hey, what do I know.

___________________

I’m still missing some big ones like ‘Hawking’, ’12 years a slave’ or  ‘Amazing Grace’. If I like them I might change the ranking accordingly. I’ve definitely gone out of my comfort zone and watched movies I would not have watched otherwise. It’s been a fun ride despite cringing through really awkward movies like ‘Four Lions’ or that horrible ‘Van Gogh’ documentary (jeez, I mean, blimey).

I hope this helps with prioritizing!

____

*’Sherlock’ is non-competitive. Obviously.

Creatures from El

Check out these surreal sculptures by Canadian artist Ellen Jewett, found on deviantart.

Japanese Monster Art

Looking through old bookmarks, I just rediscovered this beautiful flickr set  by user modern_fred named kaiju eiga.

I especially enjoy these weird anatomical drawings. Have fun with the set!

 

Begin Japanology – Vending Machines

Recently, a friend recommended NHK’s program “Begin Japanology”. The show has been running for years. It points out different and sometimes entirely weird aspects of Japanese everday culture. I think it’s very soothing to watch. Though at times it’s rather capitalist propaganda, like hey, everything we do is awesome, never mind the environment and the poor people… But it’s NHK after all.

Anyway, here is the episode about vending machines. Camera recognition for choosing drinks and such is a bit creepy!

You can also watch other episodes for free. Check out the one on toilets!

Here are just a few talks I went to and found memorable. Have a look at the other talks here. This one in particluar was nicely delivered and funny in a creepy way. I’d say all of the people giving lectures at CCC have mastered the art of “delivering bad news in a good way”.

RFID Treehouse of Horror -Hacking City-Wide Access Control Systems

In this lecture, we present a black-box analysis of an electronic contact-less system that has been steadily replacing a conventional mechanical key on multi-party houses in a big European city. So far, there are est. 10.000 installations of the electronic system. The mechanical key has been introduced about 40 years ago to allow mail delivery services to access multi-party houses but has since then aggregated many additional users, such as garbage collection, police, fire brigade and other emergency services. Over 92% of residential buildings in this city are equipped with such a solution.

 

Trant and Eddy, who is a moderator at the infamous video game show Game One, star in a brand new cooking show “Baking Bad”. Milchschnitte  is a German spongey sweet with cream enclosed by to chocolate cakes. Its texture is not unlike a Twinkie.

Anyway, these two rascals decided to “bake” a cake out of Milchschnitte, and since they are also international star cooks, they moderate in “English”. Well, if you want to see two German nerds baking something (anything but the pie), you can watch it here. Milchschnitten Torte estimated calories: Over 9000!

Thias described it: “It’s like a car accident in slow motion!” Be warned, there are three parts… And you’d probably die if you ate it.

PS. Do you know cakewrecks.com? I once got stuck there for over an hour..

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Steven from RocketNews24.com traveled to some godforsaken desert in Tunisia to visit the remnants of the set of Mos Espa. Eery ghost town pictures, but also someone ‘occupied’ the space (perhaps with a start-up falconry?). Even though I don’t approve the new movies, this still looks pretty far-out.

From Steven’s article:

Four of the Star Wars movies were partially filmed in southern Tunisia and many of the sets and landscapes are still preserved today.

We recently visited Tunisia where we booked a landspeeder (rented a car), Jedi mind-tricked our way out of security (paid the locals to show us around) and made our way to (the set of) Tatooine, the iconic homeplanet of Luke and Anakin Skywalker.

If you do want to try making it on your own, the easiest way to get in is by renting a quad or 4WD car in Tozeur, which is about 40km away, and driving out early in the morning to escape the heat and crowds.

In addition to Mos Espa, there are many other Star Wars set pieces scattered around Tunisia. In Tatouine, the town where George Lucas got the inspiration for his fictional planet’s name, you can find some of the background for the slave quarters shots in Episode 1. Travel to Medenine and you can find Anakin Skywalker’s home and in Matmata you can actually walk around and sleep in Luke Skywalker’s home.

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