Saturday, August 20, 2011

Smart kid builds efficient solar panals

I read this article at about a 13-year-old boy who designed new, super-efficient way to organize solar panels.

Aiden Dwyer was walking in the forest in the winter time and noticed a pattern in the tree branches. After studying them for a while, he realized that they grew in a spirals. He found that they were organized in the Fibonacci sequence (1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,etc.).

This is the picture he drew.
He realized this has probably something to do with photosynthesis and how efficient the tree was, and so he built a model tree and placed little solar panels on the branches in accordance to the pattern he saw in nature. He then compared the output of his tree model to the traditional set up of the solar panels.

Here is his model next to the traditional version
It turns out that his tree model outperformed the traditional model by 50% in the winter solstice days. This design won Aiden the 2011 Young Naturalist Award. He has applied for a patent and is continuing on perfecting his model by studying other tree species.

You can read his essay that he wrote here. Pretty cool for a 13-year-old to figure out!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Amazing picture

Untitled by joeribosma
Untitled, a photo by joeribosma on Flickr.
I'm not sure why I like this picture so much. At first I thought it was Photoshopped in some way, but I don't think it is. I love how his wet shirt lines up with the horizon.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Which color is different?

Can you tell?

There actually is a different one, and most Westerners can't tell which green is slightly off. Even though I know which one is different, I'm having a hard time noticing it. You can click here if you want to see the RBG values to see which one it is.

There is a tribe of of people in northern Namibia that can easily point out which green is different. That is because they have different words for those shades of green. They do have a hard time telling blue and a certain type of green apart because those are the same words. Some researchers believe this is because learning the names of colors and the perceptions of colors are linked.

This is the video that is associated with this image. It's kind of long, but really interesting. I would watch at 2:10 to get the explanation of the Himba color words.

Oh yeah, the green square they point out in the video as the different one is wrong. Or maybe it is a different chart. But just to make sure that the chart above is correct, I uploaded the image in Photoshop and double-checked the RGB values with the eyedropper tool and the linked image is right. 

Updated: Sorry, I thought I included a link to the original post that I saw on Boing Boing. Here it is! It's really interesting. Man, I love that blog so much.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

World's Largest Gummy Bear

I found this a while ago and have thought about it every time I see gummy bears.

And it's only $29.95!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The emotional stages of drawing

I've been drawing a lot more lately. It's a lot of fun but also makes me sweat some bullets too. It started a few weeks ago when I decided that I wanted to try to sell some portraits of people in an Etsy shop. I needed some more pictures to build some sort of portfolio, so I did a few pictures for free. This is basically how my emotional levels progressed throughout the drawing process:

1. Super happy! Someone wants me to draw a picture for them!

2. A little anxious. The shadows and facial expression look kind of hard.

3. UTTERLY DEVASTATED! The picture looks horrible! It looks like a monstrous hybrid between Chucky and an evil clown. 

4. Slightly sedated. OK, this might be salvageable. It still looks weird, though.

5. Super happy! Yay, it's not ruined! (Yes, I do grow freckles in step 5.)
The exhausting thing is that I go through those five steps every single time. This last picture I did I almost erased the whole thing once I hit stage three. But I pulled through. I think the trick is to keep sitting at the desk and drawing and drawing until you get it right.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pica Pic

You know those old handheld games that we used to play when we were little?

I found a website that has a collection of 26 or 27 different games you can play right on your computer. It's pretty sweet; you should try it!

The website is

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I like teaching primary

Katie and I were given the calling of teaching the 5 and 6 year olds in primary, and we absolutely love this calling. Primary is way more fun than Sunday School and Priesthood and Relief Society. Here are reasons why I love primary so much:
  • We sing at least 5 songs within a 30 minute period
  • The kids are really excited to tell you things that have happened to them, like that they played a board game with their brother, or that their school teacher had a sunburn.
  • They have crazy imaginations. For instance, we were teaching a lesson on faith last week, and for an object lesson we hid something under a cloth and asked them how they knew something was underneath it. After that, we had them guess what the object was. One kid thought it was an ostrich with a suitcase--I have no idea why.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Brain freeze

I was bad today. I sneaked some ice cream while Katie was at work and Olivia was in the living room reading her favorite Busy Town book. It was really yummy. I was eating it really fast because I didn't want Olivia to see me eating it and want some herself. The problem with scarfing it down is that it dramatically increases the likelihood of a brain freeze.

This one was absolutely devastating. It hit really hard and made the whole right side of my face seize up in pain. My eyes were watering and I fell to the ground and crawled over to the rug and laid there for a little bit. Olivia kind of laughed and walked over to me and said "Daddy fall down!" Then she proceeded to use me as a jungle gym.

Once my headache went away (two whole minutes later) I thought I would look up how they work. The ice cream cools and constricts the blood vessels on the roof of the mouth. This change in blood vessel size stimulates the trigeminal nerve that goes over the mouth (you know what I'm talking about, Alison...right?) The nerve sends the signal to the brain, and the brain misinterprets the signal for a pain signal from the forehead, face, etc.

I just found a cure for a brain freeze! The trick is to warm that area of your mouth as fast as you can to make the blood capilaries expand again. You can do this by pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth or drinking some warm water.

I can tell you that I'm definitely planning on trying that the next time I get another headache.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Slap hat

I saw this lovely item and thought it was one of the dumbest weapons ever.

It took me a while to figure out how it worked. I thought it was just a normal baseball hat that you can slap people with. It turns out that there is a heavy 2 pound beanbag on the back of the head that is full of "impact material that is 100% the density of lead."

I'm not really sure what it means when it says it is 100% the density of lead. Is it lead then? Or just some cornstarch or something? Maybe it's full of plastic toys. I know it hurt really bad when I was hit on the head by Cookie Monster's plastic eyeballs. 

I think everyone has been hit on the head by those eyeballs.  He may look cute and innocent, but I'm pretty sure he hides blades in those eyes. [Link]