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"Sprinkle manned the console for years, although today, the organ can be played by simply activating an automated system similar to that which operates a child's music box."

Automated organs are direct ancestors of modern computers. The punch cards which stored digital information right up through the 1970s descend, via the Hollerith census tabulator, from the cards which controlled the Jacquard loom. Joseph Marie Jacquard was one of those lucky schmucks who got all the credit by adding the last piece: while today his name covers the entire concept of automated weaving, his real contribution was to take a loom first invented by Basile Bouchon (and improved by Jacques Vaucanson) and combine it with the punch cards invented by Jean Falcon. The Bouchon and Vaucanson designs used holes punched in paper, which was easy to tear and feed in the wrong way; cards were more durable and easier to position.

And where did Basile Bouchon get the idea of putting holes in paper to store information? From his father, the organ-builder. Automated organs of the period used large rotating cylinders with pegs stuck in them; as the cylinder turned, the pegs tripped levers controlling the valves on the organ pipes. (When I was much younger, I had a music box which played "The Yellow Rose of Texas". Inside it, you could see a metal cylinder with little teeth, operating on the same principle.) The organ-builders told the carpenters where to put the pegs by giving them a roll of paper punched with holes.

"apparently a murder, not a terrorist attack"

I lived in DC during the sniper scare, and I remember one morning the police were reporting that a shooting in the District the night before was "just part of the normal urban crime, and not part of the new pattern." For some reason I wasn't comforted...

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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.