Aug 26, 2012

What I'm Willing to Bet About the iPhone 5

There have been literally thousands of rumors and photos of "leaked parts" of Apple's new iPhone (which should all be taken with a bug pinch of salt), slated to be released as soon as September. 

I've listed the things that I think are accurate about Apple's much-rumored iPhone 5 and how much I'm willinh to bet on it. (let's make $100 the highest bet) Of course, I'm not gonna really put my money at stake, but just think of it as a measure to see how plausible the rumor is. 

 $100 The new iPhone will have a much smaller connector jack. 
The stories about this are everywhere. It makes a lot of sense that Apple will get rid of the 30-pin dock connector that's been on their products for more than a decade. 

 $60 The iPhone 5 will have a dual-core processor. 
It looks like people are wishing for quad-core chips, but in my opinion dual-core should be fast enough for a smartphone. Also, more cores mean more power to run the chip, and having a quad-core would have a huge impact on battery life. (unless Apple does some fancy programming to make it all work)

 $70 It will have 4G capabilities
It's pretty obvious, looking at how the new iPad has the capability. 

 $40 It will have the same screen aspect ratio as the current iPhone 4S
Some say it will have a taller screen, but it looks quite- unidealistic to me. The elongatated body doesn't look as cool, and also developers will have to update their apps to fit the new ratio if that happens. So, I'd say it will have the same 3:2 aspect ratio. Can't say anything about the screen getting larger, though. Maybe. 

 $70 The camera will be on the right side of the phone (when seen from the back)
I don't think a lot of people have thought about it, but a feature that lets you take photos by pressing the "volume up button" was added in iOS 5, but you realize it's a little awkward taking photos like that in landscape. 

Normal cameras should have both the shutter button and the lens on the top part of the phone, but you can't do that with the current models. The button is on the right side of the phone, and the camera on the left(again, when viewed from the back). Either the button or the camera has to come to the bottom.
If the lens on the iPhone 5 is placed closer to the button, we'll be able to take pictures, more like a normal digital camera. 

 $100 The iPhone 5 won't be called the iPhone 5. 
My guess is, it will be called "the new iPhone", just like the new iPad launched a few months back.
Even if it's not called the new iPhone, it probably won't be called the iPhone 5 because, it actually is a 6th generation iPhone. (the iPhone 4S was the 5th.) So I guess it will be called the iPhone 6 if it's not "the new iPhone", but I'll be betting on "the new iPhone" if I had to. 

Words to Neil Armstrong, the First Man on Another World

Neil Armstrong. The first man on the moon.
He left us with perhaps the most famous quote ever, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind".

I found out about his death through Facebook.
I was dumbfounded. It's true I worried a bit about his health, since the news that he went through heart surgery a few weeks ago.

But I never figured it had to be so soon.
Neil Armstrong is the white figure in the reflection of the helmet visor. Only Neil Armstrong had a camera, so he couldn't take one of himself.

But now, let's celebrate his greatest achievement, stepping foot on another world for the first time.

It still outstands me how makind was able to go to the moon just a decade after it went to space for the first time.
Let's not forget his (and everyone involved in the space program's) achievements.

The sky is no longer the limit.

Aug 24, 2012

Honda Doesn't Want You to See Asimo Broken

I went to this Honda showroom a few days ago, and there was a demo of Asimo, the humanoid robot that's the car manufacturer, Honda's pride.

I noticed that the model was a little outdated. But I didn't predict the show would be cut off short by "mechanical troubles".

Right after I took the photo of Asimo being carried away(the one on the lower right) the staff announced "please do not take pictures of the robot at this moment. Also, for your safety, please do not come close to the robot.(as if it might start running around knocking people down :D ) Thank you."
Well yeah, it was a little awkward moment when I took the pic, I guess. I'm sure it's because Honda doesn't want photos of their robots malfunctioning on the Internet. But here it is, anyway.

Aug 22, 2012

The Curiosity Rover on Mars won't Recognize Life if it was Right Under its Nose

I know it's a really long title for a blog post, but I wanted to make something clear.
The Curiosity rover is NOT looking for living organisms, alive or dead. I know a lot of people are hoping Curiosity is gonna find traces of life on Mars, but in fact it's not.

Instead, here's what it's looking for.

"The Mars Science Laboratory is going to take Curiosity with its set of instruments, to figure out if Mars could ever have supported microbial life."
So instead of looking for life itself, they're trying to look at the environment of Mars and see if it was capable of supporting life.

Why aren't they looking for life when finding one on Mars could be a ground-shaking(which is an understatement) discovery?

In the 1970s, the Viking landers were launched to the red planet by NASA. One of Viking's mission goals clearly stated, "search for evidence of life on Mars". It actually did have instruments to detect life there, if it existed.

But the results were negative (though raising some arguments), and seeing there was probably no life on Mars, the public attention was turned elsewhere.

It was a long time before a lander was able to go back to Mars after the Viking missions(in 1997 with the Mars Pathfinder). So the space agency couldn't afford to look for life again in its Curiosity mission and fail again, which would lead to budget cuts for Mars programs.

So, long story short, we are not going to find any Martians this time.
But it's a heck of a cool mission still!

Aug 19, 2012

What We Can Find in Japan's Infamous "Suicide Forest"

Maybe it's not a very appropriate topic to talk about (especially since this is my first post in a while), but I was really inspired by this one video about a "suicide forest" in Japan and I couldn't wait to share it.

I was bewildered when I found this video, because it came to the top of the results when I searched "Japan" on Youtube. Why the heck is this video doing at the top of the list? Is this what Youtube ranked as being the most related to Japan? Surely Japan has things that are less darker than "suicide forests". But results are results, and I  decided I should better watch this video since it was supposed to be so closely linked to my country. (or at least Youtube thinks so)

Honestly, I was just thinking it was some kind of video to give you the chills, one of the typical horror clips on Youtube. But i realized that wasn't the case at all once I got a few minutes into the video.

You gotta see the video to truly understand what I am going to talk about, but for people in a rush, here's a summary-

It is a documentary of the Aokigahara forest near the foot of Mt. Fuji where a lot of people come (around 100 per year) to commit suicide. It's a jungle of trees, so you can get lost easily. In fact, it's considered to be the most "popular" suicide destination in Japan. People come here from all over the country to commit suicide!!
This video follows a geologist who studies plantations and such in the forest, but he does often find bodies, some decomposing and some already skeletons, as he's researching.

It really made sad that so many people end up slowly decomposing in the forest just because they were unable to fit into the society. Of course there are many reasons for their commiting suicides, but it's just sad nontheless.
But what surprised me was his story about the time he actually encountered a man who already had his neck through the noose.
The geologist stopped him, and convinced the man to reconsider. He said that just a simple conversation seemed to cheer him up, and he was able to make the man realize thst he wasn't alone in this world, and they walked out of the forest together.
This should sound like a happy story, but what it really means is that most of the suicides that happen here (well, also anywhere else actually) can be stopped or prevented once they know they still have a chance.

I know I'm not an expert at all about these things so I have to be careful when I say it, but I do think these kinds of suicides are preventable with proper counseling.

So it's really depressing to know that people who still should have a chance to recuperate and take a second go at the society, still choose to take their lives in places like this forest with no one to stop them.

Aug 17, 2012

The Summer Fun has Just Begun

Okay, I'll be honest and tell you that I just chose the title because it rhymes, nothing really fun's gonna begin.

I've also gotta tell you that I've been neglecting this blog for months now, since the post about the North Korean rocket last April. That was a really long time ago.

Sort of weird when you think the biggest about NK recently isn't the FAIL rocket but more about the fake Mickey Mouse that co-starred with Kim Jong Un. (google it if you don't know what I'm talking about, it's hilarious.)

Anyway, so why didn't I blog for so long?

I guess the biggest reason is because I figured I was too young an age to blog about my opinions and share geeky space stuff. I should consume more information than I send, I thought.
I was also pretty busy, too. (we'll get to that later)

That being said, I still thought I can re-start my blog, just with fewer updates which won't be much of a burden.
I've always posted stuff about either of these things; cosmic stuff and Apple stuff.

Also, I thought I should get to know stuff in a wide variety of subjects, so there will be probably more things about other miscellaneous topics that interested me, and less geeky stuff(I hope).

Now, why was I busy this summer? (as I mentioned a few lines above)
I have been to this program called the Student Global Leadership Institute, for 2 weeks from the end of July to the beginning of August.

It's basically a 2-week camp at the Punahou school in Hawaii (where Obama went to a long time ago) that invites students from the world to nurture leadership along a particular topic, which this year was "health".

Translation: I was on a 2 week trip to Hawaii, baby!!

But honestly, it really was an eye-opening experience that let me experience different cultures and perspectives, and I made a LOT of new friends from all over the world. (btw there were students from the US, Japan, China, Singapore, UK, Sweden and Jordan)
I could really go on writing this for forever, but I'll do that on a different post later on.

So to sum up what I wrote;

  • I'm gonna start blogging again
  • with more things about miscellaneous stuff
  • I was on a 2 week camp in Hawaii that stimulated, inspired, awakened, and changed me in a lot of ways.

Apr 13, 2012

North Korea's rocket is flawed, embarrassing and not even a rocket

North Korea has launched its "rocket" today, and perhaps unsurprisingly it has blown up one minute after launch. I'm pretty sure this will be the beginning of the end of the Kim dynasty of North Korea.
Jon-un must be so upset, if it had succeeded it would have been another one of the "dear leader's genius achievement".
But let's not talk on the political side of this blunder; this is a science blog, after all.
This rocket was 30 m tall. I don't think that's anything small for a rocket;
It's taller than the 25.4m-tall lOMercury-Redstone rocket that carried the first American, Alan Shepard into space. The Soyuz rocket is 46 meters tall. The space shuttle is 56 meters tall.
So it's not a midget when you compare it with other rockets, and it would have been a big win for NK had it been successful, but that wasn't the case. The experts are looking at the first stage rocket as the guilty component, because it blew up relatively quickly at 1 minute into flight, and the first stage should have been on at that time.

But don't laugh at the secretive nation's big blunder; in 2009 they launched a rocket(missile) that flew 2300 miles out into the ocean. The national media of NK claimed the rocket had in fact reached orbit and was "sending down a song praising the dear leader", but it was pretty clear it had failed as a rocket.
And about the argument that this was in fact a missile test…
Rockets and missiles are practically the same thing. They look the same and does almost the same thing. (though of course one of them is used for a sinful objective-you can guess which. ) So if it was really a rocket, it would be easy for them to convert the technology for ballistic missiles. (and vice versa)
But in my opinion I think it's more of a missile. They showed off the "satellite" they had built to put into the rocket just a few days before the launch, and that is really unusual. Satellites are usually placed in the nose faring of the rocket more than a week before launch, and so this behavior is very suspicious.

Anyway, let's conclude by saying North Korea's missile technology is a threat, but it is unlikely for them to do another launch soon, because of this "rocket" 's embarrassing blunder.
And I sincerely hope space exploration will continue to be used for peace. Space exploration is there to quench the human curiosity, and never for Kim Jon-un's political success.

Apr 9, 2012

How Windows Vista might make us more sociable

I sometimes wonder if technology is making us crankier. I have experienced it. Talking to people sometimes frustrates me, after I've used my ipad for a while. Please don't think that I am an unsociable person. I'm sure you have felt something like what I said, once or twice. It is not a serious problem yet, but I have a theory for explaining this.

After we've used our iPhones and iPads(or any other digital device), we get used to the quick responsiveness of the touchscreen, the simpleness of the controls, and the swiftness of the user interface, among other things that make great gadgets great.

Then we go back to the analog world, where people often misinterpret you and do stuff you didn't expect they'd do at all. The difference makes you wonder why people are not as intelligent as machines. (well that's a bit of an over-exaggeration, but you know what I'm talking about)
So what can we do? Here it goes back to the title. If we used very slow and unresponsive machines or software(like windows Vista), we'll actually be pleased at how people understand you so much, after hours of being frustrated by said machine or software. (like Vista)

Well, I'm just joking about using slow and I'm efficient gadgets. But I would be happy if you kept this in mind as you use your devices, or when you're talking to people.

Apr 6, 2012

This Presentation Sums Up the Issues With Twitter

If you've never heard of TED talks, it's a great opportunity to learn about it. It's basically a collection of speeches that inspire us and makes us think. Sound boring? Well go and check out their site or their podcast. You'll be amazed at how all the presenters grab the audience's attention in their speeches. I've heard it being likened to potato chips, you never get bored with it. 
I've recently subscribed to TED's podcast, and it's great. I watched this one episode that made me really think, and here it is. It's a bit long, but I'm pretty sure you'll not be looking back at the 19 minutes thinking it wasn't worth the time.
(if you're on a smartphone and can't look at it, try searching "Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?" on the web or on the iTunes store)
Well, what did you think? I think I'm not much of a Twitter addict, but I still spend way too much time on the Net. Now that I've listened to her speech, I want to find ways to make time on the Internet worthwhile.

I think of all those people on the trains, tapping out on their smartphones, and I usually bet they're on Twitter, and most of the time I'm right. (FB isn't that popular yet in Japan.) They're afraid of being isolated from their "friends" who they probably have never even met, and so they want to know what they're doing, up to the milliseconds. 
It sounds extremely unhealthy, and I bet it is too. 

If you or your friends fit some of her description of a "connectivity addict", @mention the link to them- on Twitter, where else?

Apr 3, 2012

Why Do the Planets Spin Counter-Clockwise Around the Sun??

All the planets in our solar system rotate around the sun counter-clockwise. No single planet goes against this rule. But why? Is some mysterious force working on the planets to make them move like that?
First, rotating directions aside,  let's look at why they're rotating in the same direction. When you think about how the solar system was formed, the whole thing was just a cloud of interstellar gas. The particles began to cluster around by their own gravity, and started to rotate as it gathered. A lot of matter gathered near the center of the rotating "cloud", forming a body which we now call the sun.
Then after a while the dust around the sun began to gather into smaller counterparts of planets, which collided with each other forming planets.

When you think about it, it becomes pretty obvious why they are revolving in the same direction; it's because the particles were swirling in the same direction around the sun, and the planets were formed from the particles.

And for the question "then why are they rotating counter-clockwise?", I have to say it's a dumb question when you think it through. The concept of "counter-clockwise" is very self-centered; it depends on where you look at the solar system from. Because we usually look at the system from the "north" side of Earth, we tend to be led to believe the planets revolve counter-clockwise. But look at it from the other side, and- the planets rotate clockwise!! It's just like how space doesn't have up and down, it just depends on your perspective. So it can be said that it is pointless to say "the planets in the solar system revolves counter-clockwise around the sun."

note: it's all right if you say where you're looking at it from, i.e. "When seen from the direction of the Polaris(the northern pole star, the planets in the solar system revolves counter-clockwise around the sun."

Apr 1, 2012

James Cameron's Dive; Science or Publicity?

I was amazed at movie director James Cameron's dive into the Mariana's trench. I thought going into the Titanic was enough for him, but looks like it didn't satisfy his love for exploration.
But is it really? I am wondering if this was some sort of publicity stunt, to get more attention to his new Blue Man Group movie that's based in Pandora's ocean.
Of course, we can't really determine if that was the case or not. But we can say that this dive will affect science for the better, whether it was a stunt or not. Just think about what can be happening 10.9 km below sea level! I wonder if the creatures there might even give us clues to what aliens might look like.

But don't think I don't like James Cameron- I've watched Avatar and Titanic, and I think they're both great. And when you think about it, those are the two top-grossing movies of all time. He's really talented, and not just at moviemaking too.
I've already mentioned him as a deep-sea diver, but he's participated in the designing of it too. So don't go off thinking he just paid the money to go down there. Wikipedia also lists him as an inventor and environmentalist,  and the list just goes on and on.

I hope he'll share the stuff he took with his 3D cameras miles below the sea, and that he'll make the sequel to Avatar quickly, too.

Mar 31, 2012

Photos: Kanazawa, a treasure trove of Japan's history

I've been to Kanazawa on  a trip a week ago with my family, and I'll post some photos of it here. You won't be disappointed.t (I think.) Clicking on the photos will enlarge them, and you can navigate through the larger photos too, so I recommend doing that to get the best quality.
The new state-of-the-art bullet train; has a top speed of 320 kph.

argghh!!! I lemme out of this pool!
(no worries, it's just a work of art in a museum
that has a glass ceiling with water on it) 

The peaceful shrine near Yamasiro Onsen.
("onesen" means hot springs, btw)

Feb 12, 2012

How Electrons Were Found (It took 2 millenniums)

Some hard-to-understand principles of physics feel easier to understand once you know the history of how it was discovered. Electrons are a good example-it actually took 2 millennia to go from faint recognition of it to a complete understanding.
It started in ancient Greece- By 600 BC, it was already "discovered" that amber (you know, the rock that has bugs trapped inside it, like in Jurassic Park?), when rubbed with cloth, attracted bits of pieces of feather and dust.

But they didn't know how- so it earned the title "magic rock".

In the 16th century, William Gilbert of Britain found out that the mysterious force could be transferred to other objects. When you placed scrubbed amber close to an unscrubbed one, the latter amber acquires the former's properties, which is to attract bits of dust and stuff.

Jan 28, 2012

The Very Sentimental Side of Astronomy

earth seen from a distance
(click to enlarge)
There is one photo that continues to awe me every time I look at it. It's the "family portrait" of the Solar System, taken by Voyager 1 on its interstellar journey. You can see a lot of the planets in our system here, and that includes our planet too.
It's just a tiny dot that you can't even see unless you enlarge it, and you might never even find it, had you been not told about it.

But to us, the dot is everything. It's the one place where all of us are born, and the place where most of us (except for a lucky few who became astronauts, but even they can only go so far. ) live our whole lives on. But from deep space, that is"everything"turns into just a few pixels of grayish-white drowning in a black backdrop/ .

It just makes us realize how tiny and powerless we are.

It feels even weirder to think, that always above our heads, an infinite amount of space stretches across. It makes everyday life seem mediocre when you think about it.

Just try it; it will make you think that flopping last week's exam was not a big deal at all. Or it might make Mondays more bearable, since your reluctance to go to work or school is nothing, nothing at all in this picture.

It will change your attitude forever.

Jan 23, 2012

What did Da Vinci, Einstein and Newton Have in Common? They Were All Left-Handed

There is one thing I started doing last year- sometimes trying writing with my left hand, just for fun.
I'm a rightie, so the first letters I wrote with my left hand was a near-illegible mess. But as I practiced for a few weeks, my left-hand handwriting actually started to look a lot like what I used to write with my right hand.

Here's some trivia: It's not your hand that's making your handwriting look the way it looks, it's your brain. I've heard of a guy who was paralyzed and unable to use his hands, so he had to write with a pen in his mouth!! Believe it or not, his mouth-writings (as compared to handwritings) became similar to what he used to write with with his now-lost right hand!

Anyway, what I found out later was the fact that's also the title of this post. You might have heard that the right part of your brain is responsible for imagination, and the left for logic. But using your right hand stimulates your left brain, and vice versa. So, theoretically, being a rightie makes you a logical thinker, and a leftie a imaginative person.

So to improve on both imagination and logic, the solution might be as close as changing the hand you normally write with.

Jan 21, 2012

(digital) World War 3 has begun?

I'm part kidding about the title, but what else should I call it? I'm pretty sure  war, web services like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Wikipedia + Anonymous VS. the government and the entertainment business like Time Warner.
a CNN article about it

By the way, the definition of "war" by Google is this;
A state of armed conflict between different nations or states or different groups within a nation or state.
Well, it's a state of digitally armed conflict between  different groups. But it's not just within a nation, it's across the globe.
But the thing is, if you named this a war, would be that we really can't decide which is evil and good.

 I do think it's a good thing to block websites distributing copyright material, but I'm afraid of the consequences- maybe it might lead to censorship so no one can say bad stuff about the government ect.
But when web services protest against the bill with a very good reason (to stop potential censorship), they are also encouraging online piracy
- which is good?
Well,it's up to you.

Jan 18, 2012

How to See Our Planet's Shadow

The answer is simple; a lunar eclipse.
Lunar eclipses occur when the moon passes through Earth's shadow, so to us it looks like this.

This diagram is how it would look like, if you just happened to be abducted by aliens and as you were looking at your home planet become smaller and smaller and saying goodbye, and at the same moment there was a lunar eclipse going on. (I don't know what made me write that.)
To put it simple, the sun, the earth and the moon line up in a straight line. (like the opening of "2001; a space odyssey", right?)

Jan 8, 2012

The Ghost Particle

Neutrinos are one of the elementary particles(think of it as "basic ingredients for atoms") and also one of the least understood of them. They don't carry electric charge-they're electrically neutral, so it doesn't get attracted to electromagnetic forces. It's also very light(less than one-10,000,000 the weight of an electron), though we don't know the exact weight yet. These properties make the neutrino pass long distances close to light speed, without being affected by the environment around it. In fact, they can easily pass through objects- millions of neutrons, mostly from the sun, are zapping right through your body even as I type this and as you read this.

If it's night where you live right now, then the neutrinos that pass through you have already passed through the Earth itself. But you don't feel any pain from it, thank god.
That proves how "ghostly" neutrinos are.