Monday, January 29, 2007

Looking at things Cockeyed

I just was over at, and wound up writing the following letter:
I was just reading your page about the crosswalk button sign that you made up, and I remembered something that I'd seen here (Yes, Walter Lewin is the man.) The effect is the same thing as a "halo" or "glory" generated by water droplets, so if you can simulate that, you can get reflective paint. Simple solution: wait until your latex paint is just tacky then throw sandblasting sand (little glass spheres) at it. Dry, and coat with a clear urethane coating. Viola! A wonderful reflective sign... and all for the cost of some sandblasting sand and urethane (which I'm certain you can find somewhere for less-than-cheap).
Best of luck in pulling off some awesome warning signs with this!


Hope someone can use this advice... eventually.

And eventually I'll put up pics. In the meantime, look at Lewin's end-of-term video about rainbows. It's amazing!

Monday, January 22, 2007


The "Truth" about Splenda
The Truth about Splenda
What's the difference? Well, the top site is run by and industry group that could use some... help getting consumer letters straightened out before becoming liable for their content. The second one is a pretty trusty wikipedia article. My contribution to the former? This:
"First of all, good work with creating this website. As a scientist myself, I usually require proof to regard something as true. This website gives a goodly bit of proof. Further information on splenda and sucralose at, which is where I found a link to this site.
Another thing that I must do as a scientist is to educate. First of all, yes, sucralose contains three atoms of chlorine, but remember that regular table salt is half chlorine, and you can't live without it. The thing is that the chlorine in sucralose is bonded covalently rather than ionically (therefore more strongly). This means that it's not able to get into your body as the dissolved chlorine ions that we all need to survive. Furthermore, since sucralose is a different molecular "shape" than sucrose, or any other sugar, not only does your tongue sense certain resonances which make it percieve it as sweeter than sucrose, but sucralose cannot be absorbed or processed as sugar can. This means that the various bacteria in your digestive system, not to mention the filtering tissues of your liver and kidneys, will be overworked to try to deal with this unfamiliar contaminant.
Remember also that anything that your body is unfamiliar with which has some effect on it is classed as a toxin, and that a certain sub-class of toxins which don't kill you in small doses are referred to as drugs.
So, what have we learned? From many sources, we find that sucralose can build up in the body due to inefficient removal from the bloodstream. We already know that many other artificial sweeteners have detrimental effects, yet are still on the market: aspartame contributes to brain tumors and lesions and lymphoma, and can break down into such toxins as formaldehyde (now considered to dangerous to even be used as it once was, in embalming); acelsulfame potassium is a known carcinogen; cyclamates cause bladder cancer, as does sodium saccharine, and the other saccharides.
However, consider also that bleached sugars contain trace amounts of sucralose due to the processing methods used in their manufacture.
Overall, sucralose may be the best of the horrible options which are artificial sweeteners, but personally, due if nothing else to the disgusting aftertaste, I'll stick with honey, maple syrup, and brown or unbleached sugars, thank you."

Oh, and what is "Chorine"?

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Well, it turns out that northern NJ and southern NY have a heck of a bunch of flooded abandoned iron mines. I want to know what's down there, but I don't feel like taking a confined space SCUBA course to do it. So, I've recruited a team, and we're going to build an ROV to see what's down there. More on the design as it comes together.

Monday, January 08, 2007


I made a clock! Apparently A. C. Moore carries clock hands and slate rounds. So, with drill and masonry bits in hand, I took the old clock movement and made something new. Now I can chalk up my own times!



Caesar Salad

Roasted Stuffed Tomatoes

- 1 pint baby bella mushrooms

- 1 pint white mushrooms

- 3 cloves garlic

- 3 small onions

- 4 sun-dried tomatoes

- 4 large beefsteak tomatoes

- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

- 3/4 cups water

- 2 tsp. olive oil

- 1 cup grated mozzarella

- 1/2 cup bread crumbs

Dry mushrooms in broiler. Chop mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes into a bowl with the vinegar and water. Mush together by hand. Put some of the liquid from this into a small frying pan and add the garlic, onions, and olive oil. Sauté. Pour contents of pan into bowl, along with bread crumbs. Load contents of bowl into a food processor, usually in two batches: one will be chopped, the other puree. In the meantime, cut the tops off of the beefsteak tomatoes and empty them. Salt them, and them place on a grate over the kitchen sink to drain for 15 mins. After this, stuff the tomatoes, and place them in the oven at 450°F for 4-7 mins. When removed, they should not be wilting. Remove and top with mozzarella.

Tuna Steaks

- 3.5 lbs. Tuna loin

- 1 cup sesame seeds

- 1/2 bottle natural soy sauce

- 1 cup maple syrup

- 2 sun-dried tomatoes

Roast about 2 tablespoons of the sesame seeds in a frying pan. Chop the sun-dried In a large tupperware or other plastic sealable container, combine these with the maple syrup and soy sauce. Marinate tuna for 2-3 hours, and then broil for about 5 mins per side. Reduce marinade to a sauce for dipping.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

New Blog

Check out my new daily over at The Informed Physics Student.
I've always said that there should be a manual for handling academia, so I'm putting one together, one day at a time.