Monthly Archives: December 2012

Rat as Jellyfish

Janna Narwoth, advised by Kit Parker at Harvard, created a jellyfish mimic from the cardiac muscle cells of a rat. (Video after the jump.) Copying the structure of Moon Jellies, the cardiac muscle cells were grown so that they were aligned into ring shape on a sheet of polydimethylsiloxane. When electricity is applied, the muscle cells contract, deforming the ring into a bell shape. When the electricity us removed, the cells relax, and the natural elastic properties of the substrate reflatten the disk. Examining the fluid dynamics, the mock jelly not only propels itself, but also creates a counter vortex that drives particles up and into the center of the bell, just like real jellyfish. The researchers hope to apply this technology as a tested for examining the effectiveness of certain cardiac drugs.

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Ron Jeremy’s Phone Book

I just finished watching Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy. It’s a perfectly fine documentary, but didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know. Yes, Ron Jeremy is perhaps the most famous porn star. Yes, he doesn’t look like a porn star. Yes, he wants to be a mainstream actor. Yes, he’s beloved. All of this has been covered before. The one thing I did find interesting was Ron Jeremy’s “phone book.”

He carries with him a binder of loose leaf paper that is haphazardly covered with names and phone numbers. It’s organized by location of the person recorded. In the film, he reveals that some of the pages are dedicated to:

  • New York City
  • Los Angeles
  • Other US locations
  • International
  • Radio Stations

Now a guy keeping all of his phone numbers scribbled on pages in a binder isn’t that interesting, but what I did find interesting was that he linked various people in the together into a social graph. Different numbers are annotated with labeled arrows form one number to another. He uses this information to place the name and number in context. Now that is something I haven’t really seen before. Yes, Apple &endash; and presumably others &endash; has the ability to to add fields like “spouse”, “friend”, and “child”, but these aren’t links, just additional text fields. It seems like allowing a user to to crawl their personal social graph might be a useful feature for address books. Even if it isn’t used often, it doesn’t necessarily add a lot of UI overhead.

Koi Pond 2

On advice of a coworker, I downloaded “Koi Pond” to my iPhone. Gloria said that it was popular with her three year old daughter.

The “game” is just what it says &endash; it’s a koi pond. There is what’re that you can interact with (the main attraction for her daughter and Maximilian), fish to watch swim about, lily pads to place. You can spend real money to buy more fish and ponds, but there really isn’t a point to do that. There are no goals. No achievements. Just you and the pond.

Contrast this with “Koi Pond 2” where I can’t open it without facing a pond full of dead fish because I haven’t logged in and cleaned a fish filter. All the advantages of having a koi pond: watching the fish, the sense of calm, are gone and replaced with the grind of maintaining a pond, and all the guilt and the daily grind of a tamagotchi. All the traps / trappings of contemporary casual gaming are there: daily play rewards, a store that takes real money, unlockables. Far from feeling rejuvenated, I feel like my soul has been sucked dry every time I open it.