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Monday, March 30, 2015

Carmen's first NBA game, in numbers

Today I took my daughter Carmen, 5, to her first professional basketball game: Nets v. Lakers, in Brooklyn. It almost didn't happen due to minor family emergencies and the Startup Weekend NYCEDU hackathon, where I helped build wemakemakers.co.

The story, in numbers, with apologies to Harper's Index:

Number of crazy daddy daughter dances: 45

Number of foolish cameramen who just left the camera pointing in the same direction when world class talent was just out of his field of vision: 1

Players Carmen slapped five: Brook Lopez, Mason Plumlee, Bojan Bogdanovich

Whether Bojan Bogdanovich plays basketball better than Peter Bogdanovich: unclear

Team Carmen rooted for: Lakers

Reason: "I do like the Brooklyn Nets, but black and white? Come on, boring! Purple and gold? Hello! Besides, just because everyone says we like one thing, doesn't mean you have to like it too. You have to decide for yourself. That's why I like the... what are they called again?"

Team Carmen wants to see next: New York Liberty

Sport Carmen days she wants to play in high school: basketball

Number of pieces of candy from the mix and match store consumed by Carmen: 20

by Ben: approx. 30

First person to wince and complain that "you gave me too much candy": Carmen

Second person: Ben

Whether there is such a thing as too much candy, according to Carmen and Ben on later reflection: no way

Candy saved for Nina: gummy ice cream cones

Only candy in mix that Carmen didn't like: gummy ice cream cones

Stat line of the game: rookie Markel Brown, SG: 36 mins, 6 for 11, 17-4-4-2.

Number of people you could hear in the stadium at any point this season screaming appreciation of Markel Brown: 1

That person: me

Level of insanity of that verbal appreciation, on a scale of Ben Cassorla to Howard Dean scream: Zasa Pachulia

Number of other fans who ever shout anything audible about the game that players and officials can hear: 1, my friend Tokumbo

Number of times this season Alan Anderson has expressed appreciation for my cheering him: 2

What he said today: "THANK you, man!"

Date on which I anticipate Billy King will trade Markel Brown, Alan Anderson and two draft picks for Thabo Sefalosha: July 1

Number of players on the Lakers who got minutes that I had ever heard of before today: 1 (Jordan Hill)

Whether it's a good idea or a bad idea that the Nets are paying Joe Johnson and Deron Williams a combined $45 million next year: bad idea

Amount of flack I got for skipping out on the last few hours of the hackathon I was at all weekend: a lot

Whether it was worth it: no question

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Monday, March 23, 2015

How does water pressure manifest itself on the molecular level?

I've been confused about this point of physics forever. Finally wrote it up and posted it to stack overflow stack exchange:

does water density relate to, or cause, water pressure? Everyone I talk to dismisses the idea that water density substantially affects pressure, and emphasizes that water is nearly completely incompressible.
But I wonder if that "nearly" is a small percentage, but a big deal.
Here's my scenario: we have a hundred-gallon cylindrical water tank, and we poke three holes into it at different heights, stick tubes in the holes, and watch as the water comes pouring out of each tube, with the highest tube producing barely a trickle, and the lowest providing a hard spray. So far, so good, this is a standard grade school experiment.
But lets say we cap each tube from the outside. Lets assume, further, that the tubes are made of incredibly strong and incompressible material, and very narrow, so we can consider only the horizontal pressures and ignore vertical pressures inside of the tube. Now the water pressure will build up inside each tube, ready to spray when we remove the cap.
I'm wondering about the physical state of the molecules closest to the caps. When you remove the caps, those molecules that are now exposed to air are identical within each tube, in terms of velocity and momentum. And they are nearly identical, though not absolutely, in terms of density, which means the next layer of water molecules next to them are essentially the same distance away in each of the tubes.
And yet, once the caps come off, these outermost water molecules will begin to accelerate at very different speeds. The reason, as I understand it, is that there is greater force being applied to all of the nearby water molecules because of the distributed force of gravity on the water higher up in the tank.
So my questions are:
a) if you capped the tubes on the inside before uncapping than on the outside, would the water still spray at different velocities?
b) does the greater density under higher pressure have any effect on the pressure force that nearby molecules feel?
c) how does force transfer from one molecule to an adjacent one? Through nuclear proximity, which engages the weak nuclear forces? Or electromagnetic forces? Or some other force that doesn't want atoms to get too close to each other?
d) if b) is false but c) is true because if proximity, how can greater density NOT affect pressure?
e) Isn't the whole reason that water is difficult to compress that when you bring water molecules into such close proximity, your kinetic energy is converted into potential energy, which is stored in the greater resistance on the atomic level?
f) is water pressure a local phenomenon, like the way gases exhibit pressure by colliding more often, or is it a macro phenomenon, exhibited in the readiness of so many water molecules to for into a space?
g) how can a massive collection of molecules, like in a thin, tall cylinder of water, all be subject to a force applied from above, if not through some observable physical transition like an increase in density? Is there a time consuming process, like a shock wave, by which a newly applied force is effectively communicated to all of the matter which is subject to it?
h) a way of restating g) is to assume that at the same moment that we uncap the tubes in the original example, we add another hundred gallons of water to the tank, by removing a separator at the top of the original tank. How, and when, will the acceleration of the water in the tubes reflect this new gravitational pressure? Surely not immediately, or we've just discovered faster-than-light communication. So then presumably, some information or physical change must spread through the water which triggers a shift in behavior to reflect the greater pressure. Won't this correlate neatly with an increase in density, even if that is inconsequential? What form does this meaningful transition take, if not an increase in density? 

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Creative amorphousness

In the course of working on children's picture book ideas with Joshua Keay, my partner in tech crime (Alice, you're my partner in non-denominational crime!), he made this observation:
"I feel like i'm grasping at a big puffy balloon that's trying to get away from me when I try to pin it down."
What an apt metaphor!

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Trans-Pacific Partnership, a step towards Trusted Computing?

There's a lot to be said for diversity of copyright regime, and whether we'll have an ios App Store future -- aka "trusted computing", where a distant corporation approves the behavior of our machines -- or a Oneplus One future, where our machines are less reliable but harder for entrenched powers to restrict.

In a simple sense, at least, TPP is a step towards the trusted computing future.

Cory Doctorow warns that TPP seeks to jail people for accessing content, like TV shows that are already broadcast to us for free, if we access it through unapproved channels like BitTorrent.

Cory has a great story that touches on these issues, where Eurasia outcompetes the US over time because we're so obsessed with protecting IP. It's called "I, Robot", in a deliberate dig at the Ray Bradbury estate, which prosecutes uses of the term "Fahrenheit 451" if they don't pay up.

This post was originally an email to a friend or colleague, and was adapted to blog form as part of my experiment in saving what I write.

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Saving what I write

New experiment:

When I email a friend or colleague about politics or tech, I often develop my own ideas in the process.

But those words are shut up in private email, not available for me to link to easily or have other people find via search.

I should be saving what I write!

So I'm going to try re-posting emails here, even if the context is a bit obscure and the posts make shallow observations I don't usually think deserve being on the blog.

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