Almost everything Spirit Young Performers Company puts out is fantastic, but I’ve found myself rewatching this one in particular at least once a month since it came out:
Meanwhile, in Sweden:
Anyone else feeling particularly shameful about both music and engineering development in the United States now?
I fell in love with this video showing handmade scissors:
I immediately splurged on a £36 pair of desk scissors, which are easily the most spectacular scissors I’ve ever seen.
Using the iOS app WeightBot I’ve tracked my weight every day (with some gaps) since 2008. I started out overweight, and you can see in about May of 2009 I decided to do something about it. I made an effort to control my portion sizes (mostly by saying “no fries” when ordering burgers at UGrill). It worked, a little:
I hovered around the “overweight” line for a few months before shooting back up over the summer of 2010. Oops. I also stopped recording my weight quite so consistently for the rest of the year.
And then… WeightWatchers!
Done! I reached my goal in about four months, and then stayed there for the past two years. I took these screenshots from WeightBot after I reached my initial goal, but then 2012 and 2013 look about the same.
The secret? There isn’t one, really. WeightWatchers just asks you to keep track of what you’re eating and not have too much of it. For us, the trick was making healthier choices all day. We buy 1% milk instead of 2% now. We substituted turkey hot dogs for beef. If we go out for a big meal, we balance that with lighter meals earlier in the day, or additional exercise.
Not every substitution was a success. Sugar-free maple syrup is terrible; I’d rather have the full-calorie kind and then go for a run. Most of the time, though, we were just as happy with the lighter alternative. And by constantly making healthier choices, it’s a habit now. Even a full week in Vegas, eating whatever we wanted whenever we wanted it, we each gained only about 1.5 pounds.
It doesn’t feel very impressive to pickup a bag of low-fat shredded cheese, but it sure looks impressive on a graph!
Surely the exact opposite of Minute Physics is the Richard Feynman’s hours-long (and entirely engaging) talks given for the Messenger Lectures at Cornell. Here’s the first hour:
The whole series isn’t available from a single source, but it all seems to be available (following YouTube’s “related videos”, or just searching for “The Character of Physical Law”).
Possibly my favorite thing anybody’s ever said comes in the seventh part, Seeking New Laws:
Now I’m going to discuss how we would look for a new law. In general, we look for a new law by the following process:
First, we guess it. Then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what (if this law that we guessed is right) it would imply. Then we compare the computation results to nature — or we say compare to experiment or experience.
If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong.
In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn’t make a difference how beautiful your guess is, how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is. If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.
He goes on to talk about how once we had confidence in the law of gravitation we were able to derive new laws (and calculate for the first time the speed of light), and in that way describes how each new discovery in science leads to exponentially more new discoveries in turn. Another gem: “We’re trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible because only in that way do we find progress.”
I’ve always been particularly drawn to excellent student performances, like this one from The Treble Makers (later called Kaleidoscope):
When expectations for a student concert necessarily start lower than for a professional performer, it’s all the more impressive to see a group so entirely excel. I also like Mr. Sandman by the same quartet. I sang in my high school’s choir, and I’m absolutely certain I never attained anywhere near this level of musicality.
This campaign poster for biological evolution by natural selection turned up recently:
But it’s not quite right! Someone quickly whipped up a fix:
This is closer… but still not correct! Here’s the ultimate version:
I imagine this is exactly the sort of science early pioneers of the Internet envisioned.
This comes from Gala Darling from two years ago. I also belatedly like her December Activity Guide giving something to do every day of “the month of Christmas”. Most of the suggestions could be just as applicable in January: “Carry chocolate coins in your purse & give them to people who make you smile” and “decide to do Twelve Dates of Christmas”, for example.
If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of the world. If you have money in the bank, your wallet, and some spare change you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy. If you woke up this morning with more health than illness you are more blessed than the million people who will not survive this week. if you have never experienced the danger of battle, the agony of improimprosimprisonment or torture, or the horrible pangs of starvation you are luckier than 500 million people alive and suffering. If you can read this message you are more fortunate than 3 billion people in the world who cannot read it at all.