Internals of a Music Box

Labmate shared this with me today when I showed him my Music Box kit. The beginning is pretty basic but then it goes onto some cool details on how the comb is cut and the inner workings of the wind-up mechanism. Cool stuff. =]

Chicken/Pigeon Heads and Stabilization

Sitting at a train station today I watched a pigeon walk about bobbing its head. Why does this happen? According to leading theories, it has to do with the need to stabilize their visual surroundings when they move. In contrast, we depend on our eyeballs not our heads to move and stabilize our view. I found this interesting link that explains it a bit with more references linked. This isn’t a new fact to me; a classmate actually told me about this last year.

But here are some fun examples of it in ads!

An LG camera parody:

A Mercedes-Benz car commercials:

Spiders in High Rises

It’s been a couple months short of a year since I’ve last posted here. Yikes. Well, here’s to the first post here at Stay Curious for 2014.

This summer I have the awesome opportunity to work in Chicago. And for a brief week, my company paid for me to live in a high rise, which was really cool. I know full well that nice high rise and recent college graduate don’t go together. But while I was there, I noticed a bunch of spiders on my balcony. I wondered about them: do these spiders just crawl up to the 25th floor for giggles? What’s their deal?


It turns out skyscrapers, which Chicago has no shortage of, act sort of like mountains and create upward drafts that blow all sorts of insects to the upper walls of the high rises. This abundance of bugs create a sort of haven for the spiders: plenty of food and less predators. So spiders gravitate there. Some spiders, especially the baby ones, even create balloon like webs out of their silk to take advantage of the same drafts that suck their natural preys to the upper echelon of Chicago. Nature!


Harvard FootBridge/Monsters University Bridge

One of the first things I said to my sisters after I saw Pixar’s Monsters University was that the bridge in it looks very much like the Harvard footbridge. This week, I got a chance to take a photo of the Harvard footbridge.

Here’s the Comparison:

Havard Footbridge

Harvard Footbridge taken with my Canon eos M

Pixar’s Monsters University Bridge by Pixar, provided by Business Insider who shares the same opinions as me. Click on the image to view their article.

Looks pretty similar to me: red and white with three arches and circle crests in-between. It’s not as similar as the Earth Kingdom Royal Palace (from Avatar the Last Airbender) and the Meridian Gate (Forbidden City Gate) in Beijing but it’s pretty close!

Scallion Pancakes

Scallion Pancakes

Have you ever wondered how to make Scallion Pancakes? Well, here’s a recipe (^click above). I’m heading to the market now, and will make them, when I get back. I’ll update this post with how it goes when I finish. =]

Update: It went ok. The batter came out a little thick. And when the pancakes were cooked, they weren’t as crispy as I had hoped. But they were edible. So I am okay with it. Next time, I’ll try harder.

Time Delay Story

Many, many, many years ago, there was a man who claimed he could turn off stars. Poof, just like that, the starlight would be off. It was a drastic claim, and not many people believed him. The king of the land was one such person. He thought the man was incredibly foolish and he wanted to rid his land of tomfools. So one night, he summoned the man to his lofty terrance, pointed at a star, and asked the man if he was able to turn off that star.

The man nodded, “of course,” he said, “but it is a long and tedious process, and I do not wish to do it.”

“But I am king,” the king replied, “you must do as I want, or face punishment.”

Back in those days, there was only one type of punishment, and it usually involved the victim no longer breathing the next day. So the man decided he would turn off the star. It was indeed a tedious process that involved lots of  mixing of colorful liquids, clanging of metals, and jumping and flailing around in rainbow colored garb while chanting meaningless sounds. But finally, at long last, when nearly every creature in the land was asleep, the man exclaimed to the king, “the star is off, your highness.”

The king was weary and cranky by this time. He had stayed awake the entire time watching the man prance about and tinker with his odd equipment. But despite how bleary eyed the king was, he could still clearly see the star in sky. It was unmistakable that the star still shone brightly, because on the man’s face was a look of confusion and disappointment and fear. The king dismissed the man to his guards, and told them to prepare the man’s punishment.

But here’s the punch line, the star the king had asked the man to turn off can no longer be seen today. This is because the man did in fact turn off the star. But because the star is so far away, and it takes light a considerably long time to travel across space, the starlight emitting from the star that the king saw after the man had turn off the star was from before the star was turned off. It wasn’t until much later that the effects of the man turning off the star could be observed in the night sky. Poor man, he was not foolish at all.

I heard this story, above, from my Logic Design professor. And I thought I’d share it, paraphrased, of course. My professor told us this story so we would be mindful to make our designs react quickly. But take from it what you whatever you please.

Barbed Wired Fences

Quick sketch of the barbed wired fences that I’m talking about. (I’ve decided knowing how to story board is a good skill, so I’m going to attempt to sketch more.)

Four days a week, all summer, I’ve been taking the train into Boston. And almost always, I look out the window. One of the things I see looking out the windows is barbed wired fences. Barbed wired fences make sense because obviously you want to discourage pedestrians from entering the railroad tracks and accompanying high voltage areas. However, I’ve noticed that along the railroad, sometimes the “arms” of the barbed wire face inward, and other times they face outward. So which way is it supposed to face to discourage intruders?

A little secret: I’ve personally have climbed a barbed wired fence. And the gist of it is that barbed wired fences only discourage people from crossing. Crossing is still possible. But logically, it is harder to climb barbed wired fences when the arms are facing toward you. Your body would have to hang diagonally, and it is very hard to get your legs over it, without touching the barbed wire. So in the picture above, it is harder to climb from right to left. Wikipedia agrees with me: “On some chain link fences these strands are attached to a bracket tilted 45 degrees towards the intruder, further increasing the difficulty [of climbing over].” And a picture of the “correct” way from wikipedia: Note how the arms are facing away from the property to keep intruders out.

So why then, do the barbed wired fences along the railroad sometimes face inward instead of outward? I’ve found this article that gives a couple reasons. But frankly, I think the people in charge of putting up the barbed wired fences along the tracks didn’t stop to think which way discouraged intruders most. Plus putting them up facing inwards does appear at a quick glance more protective, since it is kind of wrapping itself around the property, creating kind of a bubble illusion. But I could be wrong, and there may be a perfect reason for why barbed wired fences faces the direction it does.

But yeah . . . I notice these kind of things.