Thursday, July 12, 2007

Science and Technology # 4

There is something amazingly satisfying about this cutting-edge, brass-alloy, white-enameled sextant, made by Cassens and Plath.

Improvements in efficiency in solar panels based on organic solar cells is good news. Keep up the good work, I guess.

In chemical engineering news: some guys at Rutgers have developed a method of spontaneously segregating two sets of mechanically identical sand-grains.

This sort of spontaneous organization is based on electrical charges. Another sort of spontaneous organisation is the Brazil nut effect. This is where, to quote Wikipedia: "the largest particles end up on the surface when a granular material containing a mixture of objects of different sizes is shaken".

It's a weird little corner of physics: it's fairly straightforward-seeming and simply, but gets more complicated the more you consider it.

I indulged in a little Web 2.0 goodness by downloading There are various irritations: like not being able to pause on songs you like, but most of my current irritations are based on ignorance.

It's fun to play but I can already feel myself feeling underwhelmed by the current state of the technology. It's always worth bearing in mind how hard it is to make anything work on a computer.

For me Web 2.o is the gradual removal of the distinction between "my" computer and "my" mobile and the embrace of a mode of existence where you access all your personal data anywhere and in any place.

Ideally, everything should be intuitive and porous: drag and drop, grab and alter etc. I suppose we still have a long way to go until this Platonic ideal is achieved.

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