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December 2009

A Little Bit of Whimsy

Speaking of things festive, here’s the world’s smallest snowman. At just 0.01 mm across, he’s slimmer than a human hair. Strictly speaking, he’s also made of tin.

The eyes and smile were milled using a focused ion beam, and the nose, which is under 1 µm wide (or 0.001 mm), is ion beam deposited platinum.

The object was built by Dr David Cox of the National Physical Laboratory’s Quantum Detection Group. The video below should give you some idea of just how small the snowman is.

Faithful in sentiment, if not materials or size.

Quote of the Day (3)

I began my work at a time when invisibility was not fashionable at all.

Physicist Ulf Leonhardt, quoted here, in a piece noting how research into cloaking technologies has become popular and very nearly respectable. Needless to say, there are still one or two problems.

It’s difficult to find anybody in the know who expects there will ever be a device that hides itself and its contents at all wavelengths - if you can’t see it in visible light, then perhaps radar, infrared, ultraviolet or X-rays would reveal it. But optimism for practical uses is growing.

And there’s an issue I don’t recall being acknowledged in Star Trek

If a cloak were to make an object fully invisible to the outside world, then the outside world would be invisible to the object within the cloak. A thing (or person) inside a perfect cloak is not only invisible. It is blind.

Friday Ephemera

Underwater time-lapse. // Vespa rocking horse. // Roller coasters and chess. It’s a thing, apparently. // TV series intros. // “Teachers of the future, this is what you will think.” // Science fiction blueprints. // Magnetic heat shield test. // Atmosphere. // Smoking booths. // Smoking may void your computer warranty. (h/t, The Thin Man) // Marijuana harvest. // Hunting albinos for body parts. // Vodka pills. // Pork grown in the lab. “So far scientists haven’t tasted it.” // When playhouses go too far. // A valley of tyres. // The Veritas RS III. // The trendiest of dentists. // And, via The Thin Man, it’s Mr Wilfred Josephs

Touch at a Distance

The video below is by Robert Hodgin, whose digital animations I’ve mentioned briefly here and over at Eye. Hodgin is one of the artists featured in the V&A Museum showcase Decode: Digital Design Sensations. The soundtrack is from WNYC’s Radiolab broadcast Touch at a Distance. A real-time audio responsive version will appear at Decode, which opens on December 8th.

 Via Pixelsumo.

Impertinent Demands

Ken Habarta has a collection of notes written by unarmed bank robbers. They range from the polite and apologetic,

Please place all the money on the counter. No (dye) packs or tricks. I am armed. Thank you! I’m sorry!

To the blunt,

I have a bomb, put all your money on the counter.

And grandiose,

You have 15 seconds to put at least $9,000 in $100s & $50s in front of me. Alarms, dye packs, bait money, tracking devices, or follow me out, will equal death. My briefcase will inflict a deadly wrath on all of you in this bank if you follow me. Time starts now!

Others attempt emotional blackmail,  

Give me money or I will blow up a school.

This example, written by Mr Kevin Pinto, may seem unremarkable,  

This is a holdup. Give me 100s, 50s, 20s. Hurry up.

However, the “hurry up” has an almost comedic aspect given that Mr Pinto, who robbed ten banks over a period of six years, committed each robbery during his lunch break. Pinto was employed as a financial compliance officer by the investment firm Paradigm Capital. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

Ken Habarta’s book Bank Notes may also be of interest. Apparently Tuesday and Thursday mornings are popular robbery times. Via Coudal.