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In "Phone Calls from Beyond the Grave" you mentioned that some funeral homes will sell you extra batteries. That's nice of them, but unless they'll also sell you a strong bi-directional ampliphier and a long antenna, you are out of luck since radio frequencies are pretty well 100% attenuated by the time they've gone through six feet of dirt.


Thank you for both lightening and enlightening my Saturn's day. Light humour, wealth & breadth of knowledge, highly attractive forces. The strongest(?)
PS - To make the most of any slump you need to remember to sell when high. I had a Lybian friend sold his home for a £1million, put the money in a bank at high interest moved into rented mansion, rent paid by interest from bank - and three years later when the slump came bought home for £750k. I think it's called "riding the crest of the wave."

Alas, no, not me. I'm a penniless surfer, who lost his surf boatd in a storm, who hasn't got a car either, although got lots of parking space(s)... lol!

That nautical analogy for the Casimir effect is genius. I don't know whether Boersma's work is correct or not, but you could certainly see how it might be, if the distance between the ships affected the wavelength of the swells between them. Although I suspect that it would work to push them apart, as that would increase the wavelengths and lower the energies. (The plates in the real Casimir effect have absorbing boundary conditions [they're supposed to be perfect conductors], while boats have something more like reflecting boundary conditions.) And it certainly wouldn't work in a calm sea -- the ocean does not have appreciable vacuum fluctuations! Okay, I've talked myself out of it. Still, the idea is intriguing.

Hi Sean, I think in the 'doldrums' in 'absolute' calm, the yachts do drift closer. Of course in harbour there are always ripples so you get the toing & froing - and in combat, well a broadside has its own reactions ... lol!

Ah, Matt, it's quite true about the radio signal being way too attenuated from beyond the grave, but you're assuming these people are rational and/or scientifically literate to begin with... :) Apparently in other regions, people ask to be buried with their cell phones for "status" reasons -- kind of like the Egyptian pharoahs buried with all their belongings (not to mention staffers -- I'd ask for bonus, or hazard pay.)

As for the Casimir effect nautical analogy, yes, the original analogy proposed by Boersma focused on the wavelengths of the swells between the two ships, whereas Caussee's book specifically talks about calm seas -- there's the rub. My own feeling is that, nitpicking aside, it's proven useful since it was proposed to help neophytes visualize something that can be quite difficult to grasp. Hopefully someone will figure out a worthy modification someday.

I'm liking the myth and fairy tale overlap here, even if it is fragmentary. It serves to remind that both fiction and science are stories we tell each other about our world and that they tend to slop over into one another all the time. I had to go look up the Casimir Effect too (which is obviously the point of your blog, isn't it?), and learned something new. And like most people who love the water, I've observed that weird, boat attraction thing myself. I always thought it was just due to the fact that water is never really completely still, though it may look it on the surface. That's one of the features of liquids: the molecules are always in motion, like gases (though obviously not as much), and there are currents, and other critters moving through and on it, and evaporation--though why any of that should attract two large floating bodies to each other I don't know. I guess I thought it was something like Brownian motion. Obviously I hadn't thought this through entirely. But the observation seems a little faulty if Caussee was assuming a truly perfect calm.

Of course these people are irrational, but nothing points that out better to me than poking at the small impossibilities of a plan when the larger ones are, well... huge. Like the idea of making phone calls when you're, you know, dead.

Death really is the great equalizer, because when you're taking a dirt nap, there are always enough open lines, and everyone's got great coverage. Hey, perhaps I need to sell posthumous cell service -- I could promise 100% customer satisfaction based upon the rate of complaints, and the phones could be very, very small. My advertising campaign to sell Planck-length phones is sure to make a killing!

Thank you very much, I'll be here all week.

If Matt starts his posthumous cell phone business, count me in as an investor: "Trust me, the cell phone is in there -- it's just way too tiny to see!"

What's that Matt, make a 'killing' selling Plank-length phones, and 100% customer satisfaction, when you are taking a dirt nap. They do say America is the land of opportunity.

It's still more honest than cryogenics, where for thousands of dollars a year rent they'll keep you refrigerated (or bury you in the Artic?) with the promise to bring you back to life later. What they don't tell you is you just turn to a mushy mess when they defrost you.

Scandinavians are more ecological, they fast freeze you when you are dead, then smash you to smitherings with the hammer of Thor. Atoms & moleculess can then be used as 'organic' fertilizer pellets. Proper recycling job. Back to basics, back to Nature.

Okay, I'll start signing people up. Jennifer and Quasar can be my first salespeople. Jennifer, you can start on writing up the ad copy and Quasar, you can start signing up the gullible cryogenic customers.

Here in Chicago there is an oxygen bar, and people are already buying bottled water and bagged topsoil (in the Midwest no less). If Americans will pay for air, dirt and water, it's hard to imagine we can't find a good business model.

Well Matt, having just watched the Star Trek Voyager episode "Gravity" - where one of the shuttles is pulled into a blackhole singularity by gravity, the singularity in the middle of the blackhole for the benefit of hollywood actors turns out to be a planet with an atmosphere, where nutritious chunky spiders provide food & liquid for 'survival'
But the best bit is there is a time differential between the starship outside the blackhole, and the shuttlecrew inside the blackhole, so it takes a little while to find the right wavelength to establish communications because of the different time 'scales' between between starship & shuttle. But no problem I think its origin with 'dolphin' comes to the aid, communications are established and the crew are safely teleported back aboard the starship befire the Navu race seal (close) the rift (blackhole) with graviton beams.

So the mobile phone technology appears to be possible (aslmost), the difficulty is trying to get kids to call home when they go to Uni, nevermind remember to call their grandparents and 'beyond' ie generations they are happy to have forgotten, and have no time for with their busy to keep in touch with while they are 'here' nevermind when they are no longer 'here'.

Of course if the sales pitch is "when you are dead stay in touch with you 'deceasead' friends," you could really be onto a winner. The mobile phone market among the 3rd age (do they still have blue rinses) has hardly been tapped into, and it is a dead ringer for the the bottled kabbalah water market. After all if someone sells you a mobile, or blessed water, you must be able to contact someone and you must live longer, right?

However it does clash with my 'parallel' business incinerating people - and then compressing the remains into a diamond, your relatives can 'wear'

Wonderful and interesting stuff!

Aw! There's (potentially) oodles of stuff to wriet about soapstone and cooking. Admittedly, more appropriate to a "cooking blog" rather than a "science blog". One variant I have seen in restaurants is to serve a plate of raw beef, sliced thinly, and assorted veg and sauces, with a solid chuck of pre-heated soapstone (it keeps the head for a good while and is the recommended rock to fill up the rock basket in a sauna) to cook your beef&veg on.

Hm. Well. I'm sure there's more.

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    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.