A Kilometer Zero Production
Author Archives: Adrian Hornsby
Lab rats contemplating alternately Fermi’s Paradox and the Pauli Exclusion Principle (click images to enlarge)
Fermi’s Paradox: Given the vast size and age of the universe (the sheer number of stars, amount of matter, and how long it’s all been swooshing around), probabilistically you’d expect life to be cropping up all over the place. You’d also expect, unless the earth is very atypical, that some life would be much less advanced than us, and some much more. It follows that the more advanced life forms should really be out there, travelling around and colonising the galaxy. But — we haven’t seen anyone much. Hence the paradox.
The Pauli Exclusion Principle: This states that no two electrons can share the same space (or more precisely, the same quantum numbers). As a result of the exclusion principle, electrons are prevented from all bunching up in the lowest energy tier next to the nucleus, and as a result — the need for different energy tiers, the structure of the atom, the shape of the periodic table, all of chemistry, and the reasons for how almost everything in the universe looks, sounds, feels and behaves.
Rats drawings by Hannah Marcus
Concepts for the possible volume The Secret Life of the Lab Rat: C is for Cheese
A team of geneticists at the Broad Institute in Cambridge Massachusetts is investigating how DNA differs among human genomes from around the world. Over the course of human history, naturally, different mutations have sprung up in different regions, and became prevalent or not depending on local conditions. Having identified region-specific pieces of DNA, the interesting part is then trying to figure out what those pieces of DNA do.
An example under current investigation is the EDAR370A gene, which is found in Asian people, and is thought to have arisen in China 30,000 years ago. To determine EDAR370A’s thing, the experimenters snipped it out, pasted it into mouse embryos, and waited to see how the mice turned out. They grew up to have Continue reading
Q: What did the up quark say to the down quark after the charm quark dumped her?
A: Awh honey, you just gotta muon!
Q: What did the strange quark say to the W boson?
A: Fishfish wibble — I am a teapot!
Bottom quark pulls the gag from his mouth and says to top quark, ‘Ok, but before we get into this whole BDSM collision, what’s the safeword?’ Continue reading
“Could I possibly trouble you for another cigarette?”
“Sure. You need all the elements?”
“Um … am I in my element? In my — hm, let me see …”
“Nono, do you need all the elements? Filters and papers and so on?”
“Oh — oh I see. Yes, thank you very much. Whoops! Ooh, don’t want to bump heads. Thanks. Am I in my element? Mm. D’you know, I’m not sure I really am in my element. Parties. Mm. Are you in your element?”
“No. I wouldn’t say so. But then, when are you in your element?”
“When am I in my element? When am I in my element? Mmm. Probably … probably in a ski resort. [Smiles] Probably at the top of a ski run, with some really good friends, tips pointing straight, and about to go down way too fast — heurghh heurgh-heugh! Haha. Mhmm. Yes.”
“How about you, eh? When are you in your element?”
“I don’t know. Maybe … maybe when I’m in the kitchen, alone, at about 4am, drunk out of my mind and gripping a big kitchen knife, and making ecstatic stabbing gestures into the dark, and giggling.”
Eats a peanut sandwich
A man with a severe peanut allergy
It was a kiss of death.
And subsequently kisses him
Is careful to avoid peanuts
click to see poem pre-cut-up-text
A festive video for your holiday delight why not?
written and directed by Hannah Marie Marcus
performed by The Holiday Recording Party House Band (Hannah Marie Marcus, voice, keys; Meg Reichardt, guitar; Kurt Hoffman, clarinet; Paul Watson, trumpet; Ray Parker, upright bass; Michael Hearst, washboard; Rick Moody, voice)
special appearance by Raymond the dog
camera by Adrian Hornsby
Jason Bogdaneris’ moody movie of Hannah Marcus’ shadowy song, Ain’t No Way To Love Me
This is a graph showing global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels over the years 1990-2011 (published in last week’s New Scientist). The curve shows a meandering upwards over the course of the ’90s, gathering in force and momentum along the way, and really carving a groove up through the last decade. Around 2008 there was a small hiccup following the financial crisis, but otherwise, the story is largely one of not only rising emissions, but of rising rates of rising emissions. Which is funny, because all this time, the talk — and in ever increasing volumes — has been about Continue reading
Speech delivered at the House of Lords, London, 16 October 2012, for Vision
The trouble is, cities don’t whisper to each other about liking each other’s moves. Quite the opposite — they complain incessantly about congestion. They complain about how blocked up they are, how they need to cut traffic, how difficult transport is to manage, how expensive transport infrastructure is to build, how expensive it is to maintain, how it’s crumbling everywhere …. Once on a roll, they berate themselves further for being massively expensive on all fronts really, as well as being shot through with poverty, riddled with crime, racked by sickness, socially isolating and alienating, and often dirty to boot. The apparently endemic nature of all of these problems inevitably drags on the question, ‘Why build cities at all?’ Certainly governments for the most part have neither liked nor wanted them, and historically have tended to push for the development of towns and smaller cities over larger urban agglomerations. Yet in spite this, and all the costs and problems, big cities continue to mushroom. Why? Continue reading
This is a news story, but of the kind the world lets fall every now and then, that read like parables of indeterminable meaning. Here’s the story.
A bird — a parakeet — is found perching on the shoulder of a man in Tokyo. The man is a hotel guest. The bird is not. Or the bird perhaps is — ? The man doesn’t know. He pets the bird. It chirrups. Unsure what to do next, the man walks — bird on shoulder — to reception. Within a hotel, reception is like the government. They set the rules. They know how behaviour is supposed to happen. Within the context of a hotel. The bird is taken to reception, where Continue reading