Saturday, 24 October 2009
As you may be aware - if I've ever spoken to you, or you've sat less than 10m away from me and someone unfortunate enough to be within the receiving proximity of one of my daily rants/conversations, I LOVE CATS. Like, I love cats, I love cats, sang in the style of RHCP 'i like dirt'..giggle.
Anyway, to do this, I will need to explain some advanced classical mechanics. That's a hefty ACP-bomb on yo bunker-ass. Considering ACP was one of the worst exams ever, as most 4th year Physicists at Imperial will tell you, this will be no easy task.
However, have faith! I still managed to reverse-rape this exam, scoring a nice 70%. - thats like, someone using a boomerrang to do the shafting, thus ending up being shafted themselves but from the front..which for a man, must be worse.
I'm in Uni right now like a total billy-no-mates, and will be getting some ACP books to help me, so expect maybe 2 or 3 posts this week leading up to the most awesome of awesome posts - the science of CAT TOSSING.
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
So these lover-eels are snaking around (we physicists like to call that shape a 'sine or cos' wave function), you can imagine it as the up and down humping action. Now imagine another eel-couple collide with our lovers, causing some horrific slimy mess - this is the interference pattern.
Whether not the humping rhythms of these two couples match determines what the interference pattern looks like: (in the following image you'll have to think of the squigly line as the movement of both eels stuck together, even though they themselves are very much squiggly around each other too, ooh ar.)
So on the left - this is constructive interference, the 2 couples end up basically having a massive orgy and their impetuous humping motions sum up into one big (would use a broom handle to complain about) noise. On the right, the ups and downs are opposite each other, cancelling each other out and effectively ending all fun for all eels involved. This is destructive interference.
Images (right -Lia, left - from spie.org)
The set up of the Mach Zehnder is illustrated on the left - just to clarify: a beamsplitter splits a wave into two equal waves (50/50 split) one which transmits through, the other is reflected. The mirror purely reflects (shouldbe 100% reflected). We end up with 2 paths - one anticlockwise, the other clockwise (I guess you could call them the left and right branches) which get recombined at the beamsplitter on the bottom right, into YOUR EYE! Well, hopefully not your eye - especially after today when we were rocking Gavin, the class 3 laser (I've deemed him a Gavin). OUR EPIC FAIL! If you look closely, all the mirrors and beamsplitters are supposed to be leaning the same way, 45 degree slant like. But one is basically 90 degrees out. Bums.In theory each path is the same distance so you should get a nice pure constructive interference at the output. Little changes, tweaking of the mirrors etc, will change one of the path lengths and add some destructive interference - or in our case, fringes. Fringes are basically lines of black and white - black = destructive interference and vice versa.
Image from Wikipedia commons - sorry science God.
Here is a very beautiful example of the fringes I am yapping on about. Here are 2 circular beams (what we like to call Gaussian shaped) which are brought closer and closer (from right to left images) together until they overlap (the far left image).
Wherever the two beams cross there is destructive and constructive intereference. A special case is when they are directly on top of each other - a circular fringe (left) is produced. This can be achieved in the Mach Zehnder when the mirrors are exactly at right angles to the movement of the light waves.
So..here are some images from today's Mach Zehnder experiment - we used a Class 3 laser, it's invisible to the eye (emits in the Infra-Red) but we had a nice camera to use.
The first image is one beam (the nice Gaussian shaped one)
The second image is when the two beams interfere but the mirrors in the Mach Zehnder are not aligned perfectly.
The last image is the best we could get of perfect two-beam overlap. It's nearly a nice circle if it wasn't for his little bean shaped friend next to him.
Monday, 19 October 2009
We are currently knee deep in safety training - you know, to prevent the burning of retina's (although one does wonder what smell that would give off..) and general keeping-together of limbs...for neatness.
However, here is a crumpet of excitement!
Last week we set up a Mach Zehnder interferometer - here are some photos- spot the FAIL.
In the next post I will reveal our ultimate FAIL and then explain how this wonderous beauty works to produce this:
Images: (top) by Lia, (bottom) from http://www.lec.csic.es/sts95/expA.h27.jpg
Stephen Gately was my first crush. When I was 7 I met a girl named Aisha who introduced Boyzone to me. They were a concoction of pre-pubescent dreaminess, tied together with harmony and sporting white t-shirts and denim overalls. Before N-sync strutted in with their dirrrty bubblegum pop and poor-grade CGI futuredome videos, there was Boyzone. Before Simon Cowell decided to show his potato-sculpted face on screen, revealing, like some fantastic magician, the audition process for merry-band-making which was previously hidden behind pages of The Stage, 5 Irish lads were selected to be Boyzone. Before the Internet there was Boyzone. Before Barack Obama there was Boyzone. And they rocked my little world.
The first ever live show I ever didst see was a Boyzone one. It was in Cardiff Arena. Aisha, me and her mum took a train from Bristol to the welcoming arms of a sold out 2000 capacity dream-sanctuary where I was to come face to face, separated by 100meters or so, with my hero. He was almost angelic, perhaps due to the overwhelming use of white polyester, or the overkill of 100W bulb usage (oh the good old days when it was legal to mimic the almighty power of the sun). I look back and realise how wrong it was, for me, as a child, to count how old Stephen would be when I turned 18, just to make sure he could have his wild marriage way with me yet still not be old-man-creepy and get sent to prison. Ok, so what if I didn’t know the legal age for ‘love’ was 16, in those days sex was still the icky with the finger going into the hoop made out of the other hands’ fingers. But at least I was willing to wait; young girls these days would scratch each other’s eyes out with a good size cactus, or hedgehog, to get the 2-finger-deal with Robert Pattinson, of Twilight (lets spend 2 hrs gazing into eyes intensely) fame, or one of the Jonas brothers (not the one who is now married although well done him..with that face...). In my day, it was a little bit more innocent. As we sat on that train to Cardiff, painting our nails, although in hindsight, what a retarded idea that was; strong fumes in a confined space, we literally counted down the seconds until we would see our beloved Boyzone. There was a moment when I swear Stephen caught my eye and yes, hear these words and laugh; it...was...like...he...was...singing...only...to...me. Golly. I don’t remember much else, not even my favourite song or how long the set was. Only that me and Aisha brought matching Boyzone dogtags and thought this was awesome-gee-wiz-cool.
I also remember that the only copy of a Boyzone album I had was a tape, with two sides and everything; they were called side A and side B dontchaknow and it was totally pirated and sold to my Dad at Easton market. I always did feel the shame of my non-legit copy. The printing was a fail on both paper gsm and ink and there wasn’t even any lyrics printed, lyrics as classic as ‘love me for a reason, let that reason be love’.
I grew up and at the age of 13 rejected all my Boyzone love to turn grunge... then slightly goth, then a bit new-age 80’s finally ending my teenage years as very much 50’s. I denounced ever liking pop music; the trout of the fish-aisle, and never did the story of my first gig escape my lips. It was only after the last dreads of Fresher-mentality escaped my being that I truly appreciated my childhood and all the god-awful music that came with it; N-sync, Britney Spears, the Spice Girls (although for some reason Steps will always lurk below appreciation, much like everything that ‘H’ stood for...seriously, it’s like Cluedo with the card in the middle stuck on your opponent’s head, gaping at you...H...H...H...stands for...??? During the time it took me to grow up, Boyzone split up, Ronan declared that life is a rollercoaster and Stephen became Prince Charming in musical theatre. He also came out of closest, shocking girls everywhere and making me question how much tail he got in his Boyzone years, if any, before he decided to bat for the other team. People named him as a hero for gay rights although in my opinion being smoked out of the closest makes you more a hero for battling career-blackmail; an epidemic in our times. Since then, Stephen kept to himself, only releasing singles in sporadic periods of his life, but faithfully did not parade himself in celebrity big brother-stuck-in-a-jungle-cootie-love-island . Ok, so he did go on Celebrity Ice Skating, but that travesty was on ITV which is practically like broadcasting in a desert.
It was only until last week when his name even crossed my mind, and for all the wrong reasons. As I did my daily breakfast routine of a cigarette and reading Sky news on my mobile phone it was announced that Stephen Gately had tragically died on holiday. There were no suspicious causes and an underlying heart condition was suspected. Even though his death has shocked and saddened me, I firmly believe that it was accidental. However I cannot believe that Jan Moir of the Daily Mail managed to squeeze out of her column (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1220756/A-strange-lonely-troubling-death--.html) a large turd of conspiracy theory about drugs, sexual deviance and full on gay-bashing. I shan’t say anymore than what Charlie Brooker has very eloquently put in his comment (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/oct/16/stephen-gately-jan-moir ) except Jan, get back into the kitchen. And I don’t mean that in an anti-feminist way, but in a ‘you’re a friggin cookery writer’ way (for example here is an excerpt of her faboosh writing; ‘incidentally, a Scottish muffin is very different from an English muffin, while the one Americans call and English muffin is what the Scots call a crumpet....Perhaps this baked goods confusion is what lady Gaga is referring to in her song Poker Face, when she sings about ‘bluffin with my muffin’)...well done Jan, well done. (To read the whole of that riveting article about different muff’s – head to Jan’s page in the link above).
Underground Railroad are supporting some Australian band tonight. I forget the name because I was late to the gig but did manage to secure the all important 2 song rule (give any band two songs and that’s enough to make up your mind about how ear-rapingly shite they are). The place is full of very jolly south of the equator Australians much like a Friday night at Walkabout in Fulham and it’s hard to guess why Underground Railroad are supporting a band which sounds like Bon Jovi had a tongue-jacuzzi with ZZ Top (with the non-bearded one with the beard in his name sat on the side, juzzing himself out). Me and Kate make our way backstage, uttering the classic ‘OOOOOH GIGGLE GIGGLE backstage!’ like we are about to chug some Motley Crue spunk, and thrust our laminated backstage passes at any passer-by. Ha, two pass words in one sentence, whatdyathunkit.
Underground Railroad certainly play a spectacular show; not afraid to put themselves literally on the stage, they exude energy and an old skool punk attitude. Playing in London is hardly daunting for these guys anymore, they claim to be practically Londoners after re-locating 3 years ago, and have firmly embraced the classic Londoner compass-divide; declaring their love for the East because it’s too expensive to go anywhere on the tube and they love hanging out in Shoreditch and Brick Lane. The subject of Brick Lane Salt Beef Bagels comes up, most likely instigated by me because it literally is the perfect sandwich with meat:carbohydrate ratio (fyi: 2:1), and we have a mini-circle-time-bonding-sess by agreeing that out of the two bagel shops, it’s the first one as you turn into Brick Lane that totally pwns over the other. They’ve had a wealth of shows in London too, all over the shop; Koko, White Heat, Luminare, Cargo and Buffalo bar, just to name a few (these venues sound like Wicca Anime characters… except Cargo, maybe he can be the Mr T of the group, non?). But do they miss France? It’s very different Marion remarks, but there are more bands in London. ‘It’s boiling here, with so much activity; everyone seems to be in a band. There’s competition in France too but we know everyone so you can build a scene really quickly. In London there are still lots of bands we like but we haven’t met yet’.
Their new album Sticks and Stones was produced by John Goodmanson, of Death Cab and Cutie fame, and delivers on some noisey impact. Obvious bumming of Jesus Mary Chain and Velvet Underground, although anything with a bit of avant-garde noise will normally invoke those references like a sharte gone right. But I am pleased to report some pop! Yes! Pop! Jingly jangly catchy swiftly monkey verses! Good fashioned good music.On why the lyrics are in English, the band delve into the ins and outs of the French dialect, commenting on the fact that the ‘hu-urgh’ sound one makes is not as suited to rock music than say, rap. There is a brief spell of the teaching of French culture as they tell us that they call what I assume we know as scat singing, ‘yoghurt’. Creamy and full of wonderful and full of bifidis regularis? Hmm. But English or French, the sound of the album does little to offend the ears, which explains why they gelled so nicely into the European Nada Surf tour. As they recall, despite the differences between the bands, the fans just ‘got it’. They aspire to support bands in different genres, with the names Goldfrapp, The Liars and Deerhoof mentioned in passing.
For a band who have been together 5 years, growing up in a small suburb in Paris, and meeting in what they seem to describe as the only studio in town (because it was cheap at 100 Euros a year), they all seem so fresh and not at all living the stagnant band life so many fall into. Yes, the beginning was hard and they certainly took moving to London, ‘we didn’t know anyone in London and were living in Whitechapel and took the 1st room we could get, sending demos to clubs, promoters, anyone’ but they’ve done well for themselves, and as they describe it, London is a platform which has brought them immense opportunities here and abroad.