I feel like someone poisoned me. Stop poisoning me! Amber and I used to say nuclear warhead to each other for no reason. Like if I wanted to say something threatening to her, I would make my hand into a fist and be like ‘nuclear warhead.’ It doesn’t make much sense, but it made sense to us. Also, we poisoned brine shrimp with acetic acid to simulate the affects of acid rain on their environment. Many of them died, as expected. That was not a very good experiment. At first we wanted to try and do an experiment where one of us would stay awake for weeks and see how impaired our cognitive abilities became. But then neither of us wanted to stay awake for that long so we decided on brine shrimp.
Ancient humans from Asia may have entered the Americas following an ocean highway made of dense kelp.
I wish there were still highways of kelp. The best we get these days is kelp forests. Which are pretty awesome. Giant kelp (genus Macrocystis) can grow 30-60 centimeters a day! For you Americans, that is 1 or 2 feet! I am imagining a highway of dense kelp. It is very slippery. In elementary school we studied kelp a lot. This is because Palo Alto is very close to the Pacific Coast, where some of the largest Giant kelp forests grow. We dissected giant kelp pneumatocysts. Pneumatocysts look like ovoid air bubbles made out of seaweed. They are like blimps attached to the kelp so that it can stay upright and not flop over. One of the reasons it needs to stay upright is so that its blades (strong, broad, long leaves) can be exposed to the sun and photosynthesize enough to support such a crazy growth pattern. Kelp forests are also very interesting because they represent an incredibly lush ecosystem. I love kelp.
A leading theory on the derivation of the word nerd is that Dr. Seuss created the word for his story, “If I Ran the Zoo, in 1950.” In it is a creature known as a Nerd from the land of Ka-Troo. Others claim the word began as “knurd” (before arriving at its current spelling) by researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the late 1940s. Students who partied, and rarely studied were called “drunks,” while the opposite – students who never partied and always studied – were “knurds” (“drunk” spelled backwards).
I wouldn’t be surprised if the term nerd were invented by researchers at RPI. Those people are pretty big geeks. It is my impression also that it is really cold at RPI. I think it is somewhere farther north than any human being should live. That is probably why there are so many geeks there. Because if you are truly an ubergeek in the original supercomputer sense of the word, you want to be somewhere cold so that your cpu doesn’t get overheated. Of course, you could have your computers all in a cold room or use a customized water cooling system, but these are all a lot more expensive than just living in a very cold place. A counterexample to this argument is the prevalence of ubergeektitude in the San Francisco Bay Area. I think I can incorporate this counterclaim by saying that RPI and other cold places are more likely to have vestiges of geekiness from 40 years ago since back in the day it was more important and more difficult to cool large computers. The Silicon Valley, on the other hand, is responsible for the progression of software that used large computers more efficiently, which eventually decreased the need for them (and increased the need for smaller computers), and hence extremely cold temperatures were no longer necessary in the geek world.
I think this is a good example of chaos theory as applied to something in our everyday world. To be straight with you, what follows is all the poop of a male cow, because chaos theory only applies to nonlinear dynamic systems. Anyways, the idea is that things that exhibit chaos appear to be random, even though they are really well defined and contain nothing random (no random parameters) at all. It seems totally random that a CD holds 74 minutes of music, right? Like why would it be such an odd number? 74 is really an even number, but it is odd in the sense that its greatest factor (and only factor other than 1, itself, and 2) is a prime number. So if somebody was like, hey, how many minutes are on a CD, you would probably guess a number like 60, 80, or perhaps 90. Then they would be like, no, actually there are 74 minutes. And you would be like what? that is so random! And then the person would explain to you, that although it appears random, it is entirely deterministic, i.e. there is a very explicit and rational reason for it holding 74 minutes, and there was no randomness at all in the choice to make the CD 74 minutes. Somebody just thought Beethoven’s 9th was a good benchmark.