Sunday, September 01, 2013

I can't believe it's September

Did summer happen while I wasn't looking? Have I done a Rip van Winkle and been asleep for a couple of months? The temperatures have been in the low 20's here for about the whole month of August (that's the low 70's for my Yank readers). We did get a bit warmer the past few days, but because the nights are so cool, the water temperature is starting to get "brisk" (George Costanza and 'shrinkage' comes to mind!). I try to keep my lake at 75° but the heating bills are enormous!

Fall colours are appearing here and there. We're 4 weeks away from the PEAK colours in Algonquin Park (if you got my newsletter about the Photowalk, time to register! If you didn't, shame on you. Click the "newsletter" button at upper right).

Someone left a book out in the rain

I don't think that I can read it
It'll take so long to dry it
I may have to go and buy that book again...
Oh no! Oh noooh.

Oops. I forgot it outside in the pouring rain. I figure it'll take a month to dry, if it ever does! 

I was reading outside on the deck with lunch and forgot my book when I came in. Then the skies opened up. As I write this, two days later, the book is a soggy mass. Maybe if I leave it in the sun for a month...

Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist who had a hand in the development of Superstring theory. I first came across him when I read his book, "Physics of the Future" where he describes where we might be headed in the next 100 years.

Although it has technical content, Kaku writes it in an easy fashion, so it's very readable. He is an incredibly erudite author and makes well thought out predictions based on where we are today. I'm impressed with how broad this man's knowledge base is. Amazing how many of the predictions of Star Trek have come true or are on the horizon (and which two are not...). Read it. You won't be sorry. You can get it here.

He went a little further in his book, Hyperspace. This is his field of study and he attempts to explain quantum theory without the mathematics. I'm not sure that you can. I was on the chapter about why it's self-consistent in 10 dimensions and 26 dimensions (they add two, and I don't get why. It's really 8 and 24 dimensions which makes more sense...). I haven't gotten to the chapter where Steven Hawking proposes an infinite number of universes. It might be a good thing that the book got wet!

OK, I have very little idea what he's talking about. Most of the developments discussed were after I left school, but more importantly, the last time I heard the phrase "tensor calculus" was when I actually studied that stuff in the late 60's (ah, Quantum Mechanics with Dr. Lee, whose accent was so strong nobody could understand him in English or in Chinese!). There's an old story that could have been about Dr. Lee...

The quantum physics lecturer  said, "...and obviously we come to this final conclusion, E=MC²". A student raised his hand and said, "but sir, that's not really obvious to me". The professor went to the blackboard and filled it with equations and calculations in his tiny precise handwriting. 90 minutes later, he turned to the class and said, "yes, it's obvious".

You had to be there. Actually, I was!

Dr. Sheldon Cooper is more my speed now! I'm waiting with anticipation for the start of the new Big Bang Theory season. Two interchanges stick with me as my favourites:

Penny: "... a monkey"
Sheldon: "when does a monkey have a trunk?"
Penny: "when a suitcase just won't do".


Stephanie: "how was your day?"
Leonard: "...I'm a physicist. You know, I thought about stuff."
Stephanie: "that's it?"
Leonard: "well I wrote some of it down..."

In a previous chapter, discussing the Big Bang and the origins of the universe, Kaku mentions some of the arguments concerning the existence of God. In the 9th Century, someone postulated, "If God exists, where was He before Creation"? "Does God have a Mother?"

Sometimes I think about stuff...

NEWSFLASH: I got an email from Topaz Labs that they're putting Topaz Adjust 5 on sale for 50% off ($24.99) from September 9 to September 30th. It's very rarely on sale, so mark your calendars and jump on it next week! Topaz Adjust 5 is my go-to plugin in Photoshop and in Lightroom, it's absolutely my favourite. Go to this link, and enter the promo code "septadjust" (without the quote marks) when ordering.


How can anyone NOT instantly fall in love with a 9-week old Golden Retriever puppy?

Words are superfluous. His name is "Finnigan". Belongs to a neighbour, wish he was mine! 
Vegging out

Ever feel in a vegetative state? Fatigued? It's an effort even to get out of your chair? That's me right now. I can't say why, I'm sure it will pass, but in honour of vegging out, here's a bunch of vegetation pictures (OK, flowers). Fall is coming, I thought I'd better get some now before they're gone. It was raining, or I would have set up some backgrounds, and some external flash and reflector fills... maybe next time. Click a picture to blow them up.

Could be worse, I almost put up a bunch of ducks!

Why I live here

In closing, here are a couple of star shots from Saturday night. I stopped on my way home from my friend's place, and  I found a spot with less light pollution than my back yard. There was still some, though.

The coloured glow is from the town of Carnarvon, a few km away. The Milky Way is a bit further. The light on my car is from the stars only, there was no other light. This is a 30 second exposure, f/2.8, ISO 2500.

The Earth is rotating as it should. This is a 30 minute exposure, at f/2.8, ISO 100, from about the same spot. Both images were shot at 17mm on the full frame D600. 

So for my students and readers of my Weekender column, remember when I said you need a tripod? Get one.


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