In Which Our Hero Gets His Brain Scanned

This morning, tired from last evening's gales of laughter, I stumbled into my office at 9:30. Upon checking my email, I found a reminder of a Social Sciences Experimental Lab experiment that I was to take part in today. It told me to report to the MRI center at 10:15.

So I remov'd the earrings and dropped off my iPod and walked on over to the Broad Center (the MRI center is located therein). Down the elevator and to the appointed mustering point I went.

When I arrived, I was briefly interviewed and asked to fill out some documentation. Since I'm free of internal metal parts and in reasonable health, I was determined to be a suitable subject.

The experimenter had me get up on the little conveyor-thing and gave me earplugs, headphones, and a little goggle-display. Then she gave me this little keypad (for the experiment) and a pneumatic panic button. Presently, my head was strapped in snugly, and I was advanced into the scanner.

As I moved in, I thought I felt a little rotation about my nose- the high magnetic field can disorient people when they move through it- but it may have been my imagination. Surprisingly, I was mostly comfortable, despite the fact that I ended up in there for about an hour, prone, and unable to move (for the most part). I think that my interest in what was going on overcame my fidgetyness.

The experiment was a gambling experiment, where I had to guess beforehand if the second of two cards flashed would be higher or lower than the first. Then I had to indicate if I'd guessed correctly. (It's not ESP, I had to push a button for higher/lower, and correct/incorrect) There were 3 sessions of 30 trials, each.

The first run through I didn't realize there was a time-limit, and so I missed a couple of trials. I started with $25 and ended up with $23 ($1 automatic bet, $.25 for indicating right(wrong) when wrong(right)). The second time, I ended with $28. The third, I ended with $38.

Unfortunately, my winnings were determined randomly from those three values- and I got the least of them. Dang! Still, the experimenter was impressed with my winning ways and so was I. I came out with $28 ($5 for showing up), and the promise of a JPEG version of one of my scans in the near future.

'Twas fun, interesting.

Yep, this seems about right.


S.E. Hinton has written a new book. I hope the movie version of this one doesn't suck so much.
Heard on KPCC (local NPR affiliate):
What do you think is the pimp effect on this?
Alvin has a past.

So this is how things work at my school, in my option (we have divisions where others have schools and options where other people have departments; it is an odd place).

For the vast majority of people, the first year is about coursework and trying to find an advisor. The second year is about starting to do research and finish classes, and theoretically, taking the candidacy exam. However, since there are essentially no rules that must be followed here, many people wait for their 3rd or 4th year to take their candidacy exam (if not later).

That is, there is no fast rule about when to take this exam. In our group, there is something of a tradition in doing it winter of the 3rd year.

The candidacy exam in my option is an oral exam in front of >= 4 professors. It consists of a ~30 minute talk on your research, plus questions, and, at the discretion of the examiners, questioning on your coursework.

Currently, I am working on some research. Another dude in my group, my office-mate Matt, is starting his 4th year. We're working as a team, busting down all kinds of world records. We're opening up a lot of ground, so much so that there's too much work for the two of us to do. We are, nonetheless, gonna do every bit as much as we can. That entails a good deal of research, explaining my lack of summer break.

I'm busting my rear these days, and it sucks because I terribly need a break. Still, things are going pretty well. I'm trying to get a pretty significant body of work prepared for that exam, and that takes time.


Some people have too much time on their hands. Or too much taco sauce lying around the house.

So this weekend we watched two movies (well, at least that many- these are just the two I remember). Matchstick Men, and The In-Laws. You can't imagine two more dissimilar movies.

Matchstick Men caught me unawares. It looked cutsey, and I expected such. For the most part, I wasn't disappointed. I didn't expect the twist in the end, though, so it was pretty well done...

It got dark in a damn hurry, though- sorta killed the good mood that all the good-natured conning created for me.

The In-Laws, a farce, starring Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks, was quite farcical. I can suggest it to you- on the condition you really don't care if it's good or bad.


Twenty Underused Yoga Positions
In the true spirit of British "customer service"...
Michael Phelps is a Choke Artist Who I Could Totally Beat at Everything.

So we have this high intensity UV lamp in one of our labs. Kartik says that it's pretty much the same kind his dentist uses for setting composite fillings. I read somewhere that some whitening treatments utilize just such a lamp...

I'm thinking we should get a dentist's chair and some o' this goo (though we have peroxide, and I reckon I could come up with a gelling agent), and start an underground tooth-whitening ring.

We'd call it White Club. And rule number one about White Club is?

You don't talk about White Club.
Wow- Fafblog is really putting out: Here. And here.
Wow- when The Sims start playing The Sims, that's creepy.


Hmm, who's the flip-flopper now? Granted this article's source may bear consideration due to his tendency toward hyperbole, but it's an interesting timeline nonetheless.


Mmmmm. The sweet smell of safety.


Funny sendup of Burning Man.
Oh, dat rascally Ali G...


So I see via Pandagon that Yasser Hamdi is to be released and sent off to Saudi Arabia. He's the guy that the government kept in solitary confinement without real contact with an attorney for two years. He will not be charged with anything.

Wonder if Bush can think of any mistakes, now

Inventive invention located at Geekpress. Very nifty.
Life's Universal Scaling Laws, III.

A consequnce of the shrew being very near the intersection of in vivo and in vitro metabolic rates (the latter of which corresponds to the maximum metabloic rate of that particular kind of cell), is that shrews have cells that are pretty much working as hard as they possibly can. So it isn't all that amazing that shrews live such short lives.

Similarly, whales and the like have cells that are running sssllllooooooowwwwllly, and have life spans that are quite long.


Fealess leader is so devoted to the promotion of democracy that I can just taste the steely resolve.
Life's Universal Scaling Laws, II.

Another place where those scaling laws show up is in metabolic rate. It turns out that if you plot the metabolic rate of cells from mammals of varying masses in culture vs. the mass of those mammals, and superimpose on top of it the metabolic rate of the same kinds of cells in the mammals vs. the mass of those mammals, the lines will intersect at the theoretical minimum mass of mammals... This intersection occurs at just about the mass of the shrew.

The last two days, it's been fall-like, here. Very fine.
Finally, a stinky, fly-eating robot.


Damn- I think that this is a violation of medical ethics. Letting a person come to harm by inaction is, I believe, a direct violation of the standards of their profession... and if it isn't, it should be.
Life's Universal Scaling Laws, I.

I read a fascinating article in Physics Today during lunch. About power laws in biological systems. It was so interesting, and so unavailable at the Physics Today website, that I'm gonna blog it for you all. A bit at a time, so I can do work, too ;)

Among mammals, average resting heart rate goes rougly like: Beats per minute = A* Mass^(-1/4), while life span goes roughly like Minutes per lifetime = B*Mass^(1/4), so that the total number of heart beats over a lifetime is roughly Beats per minute*minutes per lifetime = Beats per lifetime = A*Mass^(-1/4) *B*Mass^(1/4) = A*B, roughly constant!

Pretty cool, and this kind of thing pops up all over the place in biology. More on this, later. Back to the grind I go.

Anybody want some fr** music?
(Link courtesy neil5280)
Bake 'er away, toys!
Thank you sir! May I have another?!


It's about damn time that we Protect our corpses. After all, corpses are people, too!


Apparently you can't buy honesty on eBay, though you can sell it.



The Washington Post, all the news fit to print:
According to a London auction house, Heidi Klum's legs are worth $1.96 million. Phillips, de Pury and Co. made the assessment based on length, shape, rarity and commercial value. The German company Braun plans to insure the supermodel's legs as it features her in an ad campaign for a new electric shaver . . .
Funny stuff over at Fafblog, the world's only source a Fafblog.
Wow... just... wow. And eugh. (shudder)
Band name: Evil One and the Jesus Babies
Wow- CNN sure can spell!
Seige suspect: We wanted to start a war
Fantastic :)


The cult of Ken Jennings...old, but funny.


This here is pretty sweet. I'd like to see one based on, say, the average/median/peak values of occupation during 10^6 games of Risk: The Game of World Conquest, or something.
Now, I don't wish any ill will towards Big Bill, but wouldn't it steal the thunder from the RNC if he kicked the bucket in the hospital? Talk about taking one for the team!


Marginal Revolution blogged something cool this morning. Check it out.