Science

Can the Moon ever appear as a frownie in the night sky?

Frownie MoonThe Moon scenes in the picture are from two popular Hollywood movies. The lower one is from the movie “Joe Versus the Volcano” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and the second one is from the classic “Lawrence of Arabia”.

My OCD with geometry and astronomy made me unable to ignore the fact that the Moon was “frowning” in both scenes. When shooting movies, it is usually easier to add a Moon into a starry night scene rather than to wait for it to come out and align itself perfectly for the screenshot. It made me think about how careful the CGI team were (or not) with their implementation of the positioning of the Moon when the producers asked them to provide them with a night scene and the crescent Moon in it. Is it possible the CGI team would have just placed the Moon in the shot without thinking about which way it would be facing? I think they very likely they did.

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Can we perfectly understand our imperfect senses?

Spectrum1 SoundHave you ever met someone who has a perfect pitch? It is pretty cool. I once asked a friend who had perfect pitch if he could tell me what note a street building ventilation system was producing. He listened for a minute and said: “Just below Bb.” I loaded my tuner app to check and sure enough he was spot on.

In reality, most people can’t do this. Instead, they have relative pitch, which means that when they hear a certain note they can then determine other notes relative to that one. One can develop this relative pitch more through practice and listening, yet even then, if you play someone a note and ask what note it is, they will still at most make a rough guess whether it is in the bass, mid or treble range.

Throughout the years I myself have learned to hear how certain note intervals, chords and chord progressions sound and how notes relate to each other, but if you played me a note I still wouldn’t know what note it actually is. In fact, I perceive music more visually than through hearing which makes it even harder for me to “hear it”. I visualize scales and calculate and count relationships between notes.

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Walk this way, Work this way!

Treadmill Standing Work StationI first heard about the work-desk treadmill back in 2008 from John Medina’s “Brain Rules” book. In a nutshell, moving and exercise improves the way our brain works and we get better work done if we are physically moving while we are working. It has been six months since I’ve actually made this idea a reality. A good friend had emailed me at the beginning of the year saying that he was planning on putting this together himself.

I suddenly realized that I didn’t want to wait another five years knowing about this amazing vision and not implement it. So I organized myself, planned it and built it. Since then, I have been walking at least five miles a day while working alone. In the past, I would have gone for exercise between work, now I sit to rest in between doing work! This has been hands down, one of the best investments I have ever made. And it doesn’t have to be a large investment at all if you are a bit resourceful. Believe it or not, this set-up cost me less than $150 in total!

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A belief is all you have, so how do you get it as close to reality?

Beliefs and SleepA friend sent me a link about a research where people camped in nature for a week and discovered that their sleep patterns synched with the rising and setting of the Sun. Having accepted myself as a natural night owl, I promptly dismissed this research in my mind and didn’t finish reading the article.  I’d read research in the past about chronotypes and other articles, talks and books (Medina – Brain Rules) that explained that small percentage of people are natural night owls and I had accepted this belief.

Regardless of whether this new article would in reality conflict with my previous beliefs, I was so glad have caught myself dismissing this new info purely because it didn’t “resonate with me”. This happens all the time to all of us. And most of the time we are not even aware of it and we end up going along with some belief that is not only incorrect, but can sometimes even be harmful to us. Yet we take ourselves seriously about what we know. Here’s the thing: all humans have are beliefs. It’s just a matter of how close our beliefs and understandings come to what is really going on out there. Surrounded by an ocean of online information and “popularity contests” through social networks, we are bombarded with information. Most people  barely have time in their busy lives to finish reading a blog like this, let alone put the time into the subject matter and check out in detail any reference links. Even if they did, would they know how to tell apart a trusting source from an untrusting one or to discern well framed reasonings from ones that are flooded with hard to spot logical fallacies?

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