Sunday, June 19, 2011

An "Arty Weekend"

In the inner depths of suburban New Jersey, a group of friends gathered last night to take part in an old-fashioned salon. The inspiration for this came from Kingsley Amis's novel "Lucky Jim", where the drunken protagonist destroys his career prospects during a weekend gathering intended to exhibit the amateur artistic talents of his colleagues. In contrast, we gathered for only one evening, and no one was (noticeably) drunk. And the amateur artistic talents were impressive indeed. We were treated to Chopin's "Raindrop Prelude"; a Debussy Arabesque; a vocal performance of a Schubert lied and an old show tune; a delicious dinner; a violin and piano duet of an adagio from a Bach sonata; an entertaining and poignant Moth-style story; Philip Glass's Metamorphosis 4 for piano; and finally, a delicious desert. Most of the performers had rarely played in front of an audience and were understandably terrified. But the audience seemed happy to simply be entertained even if a performance was a little muddled part way through. All in all, a pleasant way to spend an evening, despite the short periods of terror.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Science Fair

Pierce's science fair project this year: "Are electricity and magnetism related?". After performing 5 simple experiments with a simple electrical circuit and a compass, the answer was a resounding "yes"! Surprising to me was that we were even able to infer the shape of the magnetic field surrounding the circuit's wire. Click on the picture to enlarge. Click twice to really enlarge!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wallace School Field Day 2011

Amazingly this our 5th Wallace School Field Day and just as much fun as the first when Pierce started kindergarten which seems like a million years ago. Where does the time go? Click on the pix to enlarge.

Wading in the Hudson

I joined Pierce's Grade 4 class for a terrific field trip to a Hudson River estuary at the nearby Liberty State Park. Along with two interpretative guides, from the Liberty State Interpretative Center Estuary Explorer program, the students took turns gathering or seining fish, shrimp and crabs in nets most of which were returned to the water- a few hardier fish were brought back to the interpretative center. It was a beautiful day with the Statue of Liberty in the background. The highlight was a live female horseshoe crab, a living fossil, who was quite determined to hang onto her clam lunch. We've been interested in horseshoe crabs since watching the fascinating PBS Nature documentary, Crash, and Pierce has a horseshoe crab in his unusual plush collection. Click on the pix to enlarge.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Trevor and Amy's Wedding: The Video!

Here's the video of Trevor and Amy's wedding, as edited by Trevor. As you might expect, it's not your usual wedding video....

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Universe as a Hologram

I attended, along with two nerdy friends of mine, a great panel at the World Science Festival. The panel was made up of four distinguished theoretical physicists, including a Nobel prize winner. They discussed the latest big thing in physics, which they were calling a new principle: the holographic principle. This being New York, the Skirball Center at NYU was packed full for the occasion.

New principles in physics don't come along very often and there was a sense of excitement amongst the speakers as they described how this was just the tip of an iceberg of new insights into gravity and quantum mechanics. In a nutshell, the principle says that the amount of information contained within a three dimensional space can be represented by its projection onto a two dimensional surface enclosing the space.

It's a rare opportunity indeed to be able to listen to such knowledgable people talk about how they arrived at their conclusions and what their implications may be. Thanks to the World Science Festival for organizing this great event.