Alas, paradise lost…

Oh despair, despair! My tenure here in New York is nearly over. I return to Cambridge on Thursday, after what has probably been the most enjoyable month of my life.

On the positive side of things, with all the added free time on my hands I’ll be able to recount some of the mad tales I’ve encountered in the city. I feel bad about not writing more, but when you’re in the moment of experience, it’s hard to find the time to reflect.

Dancing and Physics

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about dance music. I’ve been a DJ for 5 years now, and dancing for longer, but I’ve never taken a step back to ask exactly what it is about music that makes people want to bounce, shake, jiggle, or do whatever they do when a groovy tune comes on.

If my memory serves me correct, physics tells us that all objects have a natural frequency at which they resonate. My mind has been occupied with this phenomenon lately while in the club environment: is dancing merely the resonance of the human body? And if so, what is the natural frequency of the human body?

There are a plethora of dance music styles, with new genres popping up every day. Regardless of the style, most dance music tends to fall into a few natural modes: hip hop and downtempo tends to fall in the range of 60-80 BPM while techno and house are typically 120-140 BPM. Are these related to the natural frequency of the human body, or just stylistic constraints? I want to know.

One has to be careful though. If there is a unique frequency that makes most people bounce wildly, and this number were to fall into the wrong hands, the fate of dancers could be the same as some classic bridges and buildings. Yes, what I’m talking about is a dance track that resonates so much it causes all dancers to shake wildly until their arms and legs are ripped away from their torsos. As soon as I learn the magic frequency, the dance track of destruction will be mine I tell you, MINE! And all ravers will be subject to my control!

Making more of meetings

This year’s installment of SIGGRAPH (the ACM Significant Interest Group on Graphics) is set to commence this weekend in San Antonio. During these few days every year one can witness digital tumbleweeds rolling through the halls of the Media Lab. Alas, this year too I will not be joining them.

While browsing around the site today, I was struck by a new invention (at least to me):
a personal SIGGRAPH schedule maker. This is the natural evolution of the conference; as a meeting grows beyond all comprehensible scale, a single proceedings and schedule for all attendees becomes inefficient (especially when the proceedings exceeds 50 lbs.). This way the conference also has some data regarding the interests of attendees, and the ability to provide follow-up information about projects and presentations. Conference organizers take note: the schedule builder is the wave of the future.

Knock off artists

Often while flipping through a record bin I come across a record that is somewhat reminicent. Something about the cover art isn’t quite right, but it is nonetheless recognizable. In many cases, I’ve been duped by another record art ripoff. Either in homage to, or in hopes that someone will mistake it for the original, this new band has created their record in the image of another. The knockoff project documents this ongoing process of imitation and parody in amazing completeness. Most ripped off band? The Beatles, of course. (link: muxway)

Homeward bound

I’m returning to the homeland this weekend (Cambridge), my first return since adopting a NYC hipster lifestyle (I’m not sure if the yokels will be able to handle my fresh new flava) If you’re in town, you should stop by Ye Appliance of Science featuring a guest performance by the robotic mastermind, DJ I, Robot. With platters spinning at 800 RPM, it’s the first fully analog, random-access robot dj, touted to be replacing human counterparts within 5 years.

Tiny bovine

You thought ferrets were the hipster pet.. not anymore! Move over squirmy rat, and make room for pet-sized cows! Thanks to the wonderful technology of selective breeding, these little bovines will be hitting local pet stores as fast as you can say “chew your cud.” In the words of their manufacturer, The American Sundog Miniature Cattle Company,

They’re American.. they’re unique.. please be “patient” the pictures on this page were taken at a high resolution and take a while to load.


I’m still recovering from what may have been the most intensely social weekend of my life. And in New York, being social comes with serious side-effects:

  • bleeding money
  • circadian arrhythmia
  • distance misjudgements (blocks that mysteriously turn into miles)

In other words, I’m broke, tired and sore. If these symptoms persist, I think I’m going to have to discontinue my New York City social life.