Thursday, May 31, 2012

At the Bay of Bengal

Despite the burning heat of the sun beating down my back, my eyes remain fixed on the silver sea. It is as if all the steel in the world was melted and poured into a sandy basin, just so waves of liquid metal can dance at my feet.

Getting Nerdy on the Beach

I went to Puri, Orissa for a few days, and played on the beach.  After fiddling with sand for a while, I realized with horror that I'm even nerdier than I thought I was.  Behold!

The Great Serpent from the Wheel of Time:

A weirwood tree from A Song of Ice and Fire:

I wonder if the Old Gods of Westeros are hanging their heads in shame.  Especially since these 'sculptures' are pitiful.

I also wonder whether this post I made about Orissa and the famous Konark Sun Temple adds to or takes away from my nerdiness. Nerdome.  Nerdity?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

QS - Illusions and Therapy

I came across this "floating star" on New Scientist.  It's an illusion that was created by Kaia Nao, and works because of something called 'peripheral drift', much the same way as the famous rotating snakes illusion.

The star and snakes appear to move when you don't look at them directly, i.e., when they lie in the periphery of your vision, because of the colour gradients in the images.  The movement is usually from dark to light colours.

There's a bit of a debate over what exactly causes this perception of motion.  It was previously thought that slow drifting eye movements interpret signals differently, depending on the luminance (intensity of light), thereby tricking the motion perception system into thinking that the image is moving.  That is, it was thought that the eyes interpret dark and light colours in different manners as the eyes slowly drift around an image. Recently, an article in the Journal of Neuroscience suggested that it's not the slow movement of the eyes, but rapid eye movements called 'saccades' that are involved.  But it still remains unclear as to why we can so easily trick our brains into perceiving something that doesn't exist.

Following this line of thought, I wondered if illusions could somehow be used to 'trick' the mind in terms of therapy.  Google pointed me to the Oxford Journal of Rheumatology, where I found a couple of abstracts on illusions being used to treat chronic pain.  I haven't had a chance to go through any of the papers, yet, but I am definitely intrigued.  Studying illusions is an interesting insight into how our brains work. And potentially using them for therapy?  Pretty darn cool.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

SS - White Birch Trees

I picked up my current wallpaper from the National Geographic album Patterns in Nature: Landscapes.  It caters to both my weakness for patterns as well as my recent preference for backgrounds with subtle colours.

National Geographic's collection of wallpapers is amazing. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

SS - Rand's Women

As a huge Wheel of Time fan, I often look at various artists' renditions of characters and book scenes.  Most of the time I'm not too impressed, but I recently came across the artwork done by Ariel Burgess and love it!

A painting of Rand al'Thor's three women:

They match with what I picture in my head almost exactly, especially Min (the one on the left).  Ariel's also working on an official Wheel of Time poker deck. A few I really like are Egwene, Birgitte and Mat:

Really, really looking forward to the release of the poker deck!  Anyone want to gift it to me, pretty please?  I will shower you with cookies and sparkles if you do.

Ariel's deviantART profile.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

TCT - Wearing Milk

Did you know that cloth can be made from milk? I certainly didn’t.  When I happened to spot an article that claimed milk could be used to make clothes, I thought it was some sort of joke.  Of course, I’m a sad little ignorant.  
Apparently milk fiber can be spun into yarn to make fabric that is soft, silky, and shiny.  Not only that, it’s anti-bacterial as well -- something that made the little OCD-clean hand-sanitizer-obsessed nutter inside of me squee.  
Though this sounds relatively new, it isn’t.  Milk fiber was invented in Italy and America in the 1930’s, and called “milk casein”.  It snaked its way into a lot of household products and garments.  Then, last year, a microbiologist and designer from Germany, Anke Domaske, invented an environmentally friendly, antiallergic organic textile called Qmilch -- a combination of ‘quality’ and the German word for milk.  He reduced sour milk to a protein powder, then heated it and spun it into a fabric.  Google images spit out a number of interesting looking Qmilch garments when asked:

...and now I want one.  Got milk?

Images from: