Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Geek Break II - Music of the Spheres

Ahh ... summer reading ... something easy on the eyes at the beach ... For me, it's Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos.

Hey, some people consider Jackie Collins light reading!!

I read (actually re-read) the two books and something was annoying me about some of the concepts. Greene uses characters in his books like George, Gracie, etc. to make a point and to inject some humor into the narrative. I decided to send the author an email:

Dear Dr. Greene:

I read your book, The Elegant Universe, and I enjoyed it very much. However, there was one gravity item that you had covered in string theory which has been on my mind and has been like an itch you cannot reach.

I am writing to you in the hopes that you can satisfy my curiosity. I'd like to illustrate with an analogy:

George, in addition to being a well-seasoned space traveler, also has perfect pitch and superlative hearing. His hobby while not jetting about the cosmos is to listen to and identify every powered garden tool by its sound. By looking at schematics and specifics about the engine, he claims he can identify any make and model lawnmower by sound alone.

Milton, his best friend, scoffs at George's boasts."Okay smarty, I'll bet you a steak dinner that you can't pick out lawnmowers!" George, seeing an easy way to a fine meal, agrees. He asks George for the schematics and engine diagrams of the equipment in question.

Milton (who happens to be the groundskeeper at the local football stadium) brings George to the playing field and blindfolds him. He motions to one of his assistants to start one of the machines and motions him to move it past George.

"That's a Briggs and Stratton Model X15", George declares. Milton is dumbstruck. George correctly identified the lawnmower. "Want to try again?" George taunts.

Milton agrees.

Milton motions to another one of his assistants who starts another machine and runs it past our star traveler.

"Hmmm. That's a Lawnboy Model AR3," is George's smug reply. Again, Milton is incredulous. How is he doing this? "I can just taste that steak now", George says. Milton is turning red as a beet. "One more time, okay?" he asks.

"Okay." Says George.

Milton now motions for both of his assistants to run the mowers past George.

"Milton, are you trying to trick me?", George laughs. "You just ran the X15 and the AR3 by me again and you added a Honda Weed-Whacker Model 33 to the mix."

"Aha!" says Milton. "You owe me dinner! Take off your blindfold!"

Now it is George's turn to be surprised. With both lawnmowers turned on, the harmonics sound just like the Honda. "Boy, do I have egg on my face. I never thought of that!"

Sorry to be a bit long-winded, but can you see where I'm coming from?

While string theory defines the specific vibrational pattern of gravity, we don't appear to find or feel gravity except in the presence of mass vibratory patterns. Could gravity's specific vibrational pattern be the result of interference or harmonics amongst the matter-based vibrations? Could gravity be an embedded quality of the universe, rather than a property unto itself?

If we use the lawnmower example again, the effects of gravity (or the sound of the weed-whacker) would be smaller (quieter) over long distances since the harmonics themselves interact less forcefully.

My issue is that strings not only vibrate, but in order to recognize the vibration is occurring (and to observe the specific properties that that vibration produces), they must affect their surroundings - namely the 11-dimensional space in which they are embedded. The vibration could have components in the lower 4-dimensional space, the higher 7-dimensional space, or some combination of both. Mass vibrations could produce a harmonic in the upper dimensional space which manifests itself as gravity in the lower dimensional space.

The gravitational feeling experienced during acceleration, then, could also be explained by the matter vibrational pattern being distorted and perhaps this "doppler howl" produces a similar harmonic. The same way that 2+2 and 3+1 yield identical results, so too could gravity and acceleration be explained by different harmonic interactions that yield a similar "tone".

Are there any Calabi-Yau shapes which explain the physical properties of the universe but only define the gravity vibrational pattern in the upper 7 dimensions?

Thank you for reading this, and I hope to hear from you soon.

What I'm finding absolutely hilarious at this point is that here I am, Ithilien Ranger, Gondorian Prince, descendant of Numenorean Sea-Kings, sword and bow wielder, discussing trans-dimensional geometry with a theoretical physicist ...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Dateline: 480 BC (BCE for the politically correct ...)

I just got an email from Andrea - my cloak is complete! It looks incredible with the brooch pin from JJ and the harness from David - I should be receiving it early next week.

I've got the following items all done:

  • cloak
  • cloak brooch
  • shoulder harness
  • speedo
  • sandals
  • falcata sword (arrived on July 2!)

and I'm waiting for:

  • the helmet
  • vambraces
  • greaves
  • aspis shield
  • spear
  • the "Mede killer" medallion from Russ

JJ did the brooch pin earlier since it was a small job he could slide into his queue without any big interruptions - my commissions will be starting in July - woo-hoo!

  • Spartan shield
  • Boromir shield
  • Faramir sword and scabbard
  • Ithilien Ranger sword and scabbard
  • Spartan armor

Once I get some stuff taken care of next week, I'm ready to put together my packet of correspondence regarding Kathy Pillsbury to the LAPD.

I'm going to give her a call - "Hi - just to let you know ... Since you've refused to refund my deposit after a 10-month wait, I'm filing a complaint with the LAPD. Buh-bye."

This is going to be one incredibly satisfying phonecall for me!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Fantasy Cast - The Downfall of Númenor

Working Title: Númenor: Downfall
Director: Peter Jackson (who else?)

Cast (so far):

SauronHrithik Roshan
ElrosEric Etabari
AmandilClive Owen
Elendil The TallGerard Butler
IsildurEric Bana
AnarionChristian Bale
Tar-PalantirThomas Jane
Ar-PharazonDaniel Craig
MirielLena Headey
Gil-GaladAlec Newman/
Dougray Scott

I wasn't 100% certain about Alec Newman as Gil-Galad, since he might be considered too rough-looking, (or too short - at 5'9") given the fact that he's supposed to be a Noldorin elf. A good friend suggested Dougray Scott, which after taking a good, hard look - I agreed wholeheartedly. If you take a look at him in Ever After, he does possess a bit of an ethereal quality to his features.

Ralph Fiennes has also been suggested for Sauron and Hermione Norris for Miriel opposite Daniel Craig.

Here's a link to the cast photos, courtesy of Picasa.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The First Age - and why it won't get a screenplay...

I just finished reading The Children of Húrin - the new book from Christopher Tolkien. This tome is an elaboration of one of the tales contained in the Silmarillion. Túrin, next to Beren and Earendil, is perhaps one of the most developed and three-dimensional figures Tolkien created in the First Age. While incredibly heroic and dramatic, the whole of the First Age is so tragic and heart-breaking that it makes Russian melodramas look like Broadway musicals.

For starters, Morgoth is the Tolkien equivalent of Lucifer - a prideful, fallen Demiurge. Sauron is his sidekick. (And for those of you that thought Sauron was the original bad guy - hang your head in shame!!!!) In short - Húrin is captured by Morgoth and refuses to aid him in destroying the elves. Enraged, Morgoth curses Húrin and his line. Túrin (his son) grows up among the elves, but Morgoth's doom follows him and he eventually betrays everyone he loves, murders his best friend by mistake and unwittingly marries his sister (who eventually kills herself and their child). Túrin then falls on his sword and dies.

It's a classically tragic tale of doom and hubris. Great reading, but definitely a major downer for theater-goers.

The Silmarillion is basically the King James version of the Bible for Middle Earth. The Silmarillion comprises five parts:

  1. Ainulindalë ("The Music of the Ainur") – the creation of Eä, the world
  2. Valaquenta ("Account of the Valar") – a description of the Valar and Maiar, the supernatural powers in Eä
  3. Quenta Silmarillion ("The History of the Silmarils") - the history of the events before and during the First Age, which forms the bulk of the collection - the creation and theft of the Feanorian gems and subsequent sorrows of the elves from the crime - homicide, fraticide, regicide, kinslaying, betrayal - you name it, it happens ...
  4. Akallabêth ("The Downfall of Númenor") – the history of the Downfall of Númenor/Atalante and its people (Men), which takes place in the Second Age
  5. Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age – a brief account of the circumstances which led to and were presented in The Lord of the Rings
The elves, being immortal, have a lot of time on their hands for a lot of suffering - and they do it in spades. And being immortal, it's heart-wrenching to see how many die of sorrow. By the time you get to the Fifth book, "Of the Rings of Power", you understand the reasoning why the three Elven rings were forged - to heal and preserve. After many thousands upon thousands of years, these folks are looking for a breather!

I think the best bet for another movie would be the Downfall of Númenor - from an action point of view - murder, betrayal, fighting, sea-battles, disasters, etc and from a romance point of view - we can definitely find some romantic back stories (a la Pearl Harbor) and arrival in Middle Earth. We've got the three great Sea-Kings of Old - Elendil, Isildur and Anarion - for starters. We have Sauron being drowned and his spirit returning to his old evil digs - Mordor - in Middle-Earth. This could be great! Maybe even a follow-on mini-series!!

I'm going to put together a fantasy cast for this epic - of course, I'm going to solicit as much help as I can get!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

How Apropos ...

Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o' nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.
Julius Caesar - Act I Scene 2

I don't know about you, but I seem to be finding more and more that the nastiest, most inconsiderable people I meet on a regular basis are either a) grossly overweight or b) use one of those motorized scooters.

I'm beginning to believe that in these cases, causality has been turned on its ear - these people are afflicted because of how nasty they are, not they are nasty because of their affliction.

Here's an example: I was walking down the street and in front of me are two morbidly obese girls in hip huggers. Each one was easily 350 pounds. Both of them have tattoos right above their butts. This is the stuff of night terrors. Since they took up the width of the sidewalk, someone said, "Excuse me" and tried to pass. The girls screamed at the poor tourist, who fled across the street.

First off, if you're often mistaken for "Bimba, whale of the Nile", do not wear hip-huggers (in fact whoever manufactured hip huggers in that size should be taken out and shot). Contact Omar the tent-maker for something much looser and a lot less revealing. I do not need to see something that looks like a lifesize black seagull or a Fell Beast flapping on your lower back and upper butt. If I want to lose my lunch, I will stick several fingers down my throat. Secondly, my health insurance premiums are paying for treatment of your diabetes, COPD, asthma, high-blood pressure and other weight-related diseases, along with all the meds you need to take. If the purpose of your midday waddle is, "I know that candy store is around here..." then you'd be better served by a gastric bypass, or having your mammoth jaws wired shut. Lastly, if you know that you are that wide, don't block the sidewalk - and if you act like you were brought up in a barn, then you should put yourself there and strap on a feedbag.

Okay - rant over.

I happened to check James Lileks' site today and lo and behold, there was something that brought a smile to my lips and a good, deep, cleansing laugh:

Nice call, Supe – don’t use your special powers to pry apart the booth ever so gently so Lana can ease her stout patoot out the door; don’t use your special lube-beams to grease her up so she can extract herself with dignity. No, pick her up and fly her around town with her ass hanging out.

Why would he care if Lana knew he had become FAT as well? Wouldn’t this actually be a comfort? Obviously some sort of evil enfattening ray has been trained on Smallville, and everyone looks like they just spent a fortnight at Chili’s restaurant drinking from the deep-fryer grease trap.

Superboy’s costume, being Super, easily absorbed the added demands; Lana, however, should have split that dress wide open, providing all the subscribers with the I-see-London-I-see-France moment they wanted. How many redhead fetishes Lana left in her wake, we'll never know, but she gets short shrift in the great debates over fictional women. Everyone's always going on about Betty or Veronica; the Lois-vs.-Lana issue never comes up.

Ahhhhh - just what I needed to get my perspective back - Thanks James!!!!

Monday, June 4, 2007

On Target

Practice really does make perfect.

I find I really enjoy using the longbow I got for my Faramir outfit. It's got a 40 lb draw weight, and I find I'm fairly accurate to about 30-40 yards. When I go out to a practice range, I definitely get second (and third) looks - it's not every day that you see an ornate leather quiver over one's shoulder and a 72" wood bow - normally it's a fiberglass bow or compound bow with a hip quiver.

I wanted to see how far I could go with this concept. I normally use an archery glove when I'm shooting, but on one weekend, I wore my pair of archer's bracers from Eeldrytch Armorie. The pair I have looks exactly like this, except there are no finger coverings. These are made of a very soft leather and provide an amazing amount of support.

I did get some double- and triple-takes which generally satisfied my quirky sense of humor. The surprising thing was that I had a couple of guys (Gerry and Sal - two guys I met that shoot recurve bows) that were really interested in the bracers and wanted to know more about them. "Want to try them on?" I asked. I bought a pair, but they can be ordered separately. Gerry is left-handed and Sal is right-handed, so I took them off and laced one bracer on each of them. They really enjoyed the way it wrapped around the arm and remarked at how much more cushioned the wrist felt. I think I made some sales without even trying! I did warn them that Eeldrytch is notoriously bad on email followup - they need to get dates and make phone calls to keep these folks on track.

So far, so good. Next thing I tried was boots. I have a pair of boots that Reg made for me. These were a combination of East German police boots, tooled leather buckets on top and some simple bootstraps across the top of the foot and under the heel. As I've said previously, when you have a good pair of boots, they are more comfortable than sneakers and these are really, really, good! I've worn these for 8-10 hours straight and my feet are never tired.

So there I am - dark green polo shirt, black jeans, black bucket boots, vambraces, quiver and a pair of Black Ice Gargoyle 85s. Not too many glances until I'm walking off of the field - then I get noticed! The quiver and vambraces attract the most notice, followed by the bow (I sling the bow over the other shoulder) which draws people's eyes down to the boots. The partially silvered hitman black glasses don't hurt either!!

I don't know what I'll try next - the leather pants? The thigh dagger? Perhaps with a bit of practice at home, I'll do the full Ithilien Ranger or Faramir costume!

(By the way, Gerry and Sal ordered pairs of vambraces - Sal has a black-on-black set and Gerry wears a cognac/palomino pair - I think I've started a trend ...)

It would be so much easier if I could wear this stuff to work!