angiosperms are hot

From a ScienceNow article (subscription required):

The fossil record is chock-full of angiosperms, a testament to the extraordinary explosion of flowering plants that began around 140 million years ago. Today, angiosperms boast a diversity of 250,000 to 300,000 species, compared to 10,000 kinds of ferns… Most major lineages of polypod ferns, which comprise more than 80% of today’s fern species, arose and diversified a mere 100 million years ago, after the major riot of flowering plants… “The idea that the polypods took advantage of the angiosperms– that’s hot!” says David Barrington of the University of Vermont in Burlington.

In fact, one might call it the hotness if one were into California slang… scientists are fun and funny folk.


bathroom tiles

On the way to the library today I stopped in the bathroom in O’Brien, one of the not-so-recently renovated engineering buildings. The style reminded me of the men’s room in 14N at MIT. Although much of the floor had been pasted over with a faux-tile laminate, there was still a patch of the old square-tile and grout floor that must have come with the original design. The original monochrome (blue in this case) pattern of speckled tile looked random to me because of the small patch, whereas the laminate I knew came in huge patterned sheets. I wonder if the workers who put in the original floor got to put in the design themselves, or if the patter was pre-specified by the architect.

Nowadays a tile floor like that would be fabricated off-site and just installed, the deisgn having been specifically chosen by the architect to change the way in which we interact with the bathroom floor or to provide a pleasing visual experience to the lavatory users. I imagine someone putting a Magic Eye stereogram in tiles on the floor so that when you’re sitting on the can and zoning out a 3D roll of toilet paper will pop up in your visual field. The idea is about as egregious as the furniture design for the Stata Center at MIT that Rodin rightfully abhors. I rather like the idea of someone taking the time to put in the floor by hand, tile after tile, and perhaps “misplacing” a blue square here and there to mix it up. It would be like writing a comment on the architecture. I’m sure there are all sorts of theoretical implications, but they’d take too much space to sort out.

the robustness of uncoded transmission

Tooling like a madman is not at all like riding a bike — you do forget over time. And much to my dismay, tooling on my research does not take the same form as tooling on the Mystery Hunt. I have one crucial ingredient : coffee. Now add a dash of techno, one chalkboard (whiteboard will do in a pinch), and garnish with some zest of fresh madness. A dish best served cold, to harden one’s resolve.