fluid lenses

Today's words are "electrowetting" and "meniscus".

I thought I had posted about this a year or two ago, but if, so I can't find it now. Anyway, I think this article has more technical detail than whatever I read back then. This is really cool stuff: it means that there is some hope of having a small camera that can approach the quality of an SLR.

Through a Lens Sharply:

Our FluidFocus lens uses electrostatic forces to alter the shape of a drop of slightly salty water inside a glass cylinder 3 millimeters in diameter and 2.2 mm long. The lens exploits surface-tension characteristics of fluids.

The optical power of our lens, with its inner cylinder diameter of 3 mm, can vary over a range of 150 diopters. This is accomplished by changing the meniscus between hemispherical (its radius equal to half the diameter of the cylinder) and concave (its radius approximately equal to the diameter of the cylinder). If it were the same size as a human lens, its optical power range would be about 50 diopters -- 12 times as large as the optical power of the human eye, which has a range of about 4 diopters. [...]

We built a digital camera just 5.5 mm high and 4 mm across [...] By changing the voltage on the electrode of the liquid lens, we were able to focus on objects at distances anywhere from 2 centimeters up to infinity. [...]

Optical zooming requires at least two lenses -- one to change the magnification, the other to refocus the image. In principle, changing the magnification by moving the lens throws the image out of focus. Conventional cameras keep the image in focus through a system of rods that connect the separate lenses.

We are presently designing a zoom lens system that uses two liquid lenses in series. This lens will work by changing the shapes, and therefore the optical power, of the two lenses, rather than by changing their locations. Compared with conventional zoom lenses, liquid lenses will have two advantages: no moving parts and a very small size at, potentially, a very low cost.

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dnalounge update

DNA Lounge update, wherein facefuls of alien spunk are deployed.
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faith

Entertaining rant on "faith" vs. science:
I am sorry if my column offended you, but please understand: I am deeply offended by the notion that myths invented in the Bronze Age by superstitious desert nomads should be given exactly the same credence as the work of people like Darwin and Einstein and Euclid and Hawking and Newton. Our world is being driven further and further into irrationality by people who cannot reconcile their faith with reality, and therefore decide that it is reality which is lacking.

[...] It is considered perfectly okay for you to mock my perfectly rational ideas about evolution, but if I point out that your position depends upon the notion of a magic superhero in the sky, you'll probably take offense. Why? Why are irrational beliefs somehow less subject to scrutiny and dissection than rational ones? Why can't we simply point out in school that some people believe that God made the world in seven days, and that's fine, but there's no actual evidence to support that, other than some poorly translated writings that were cribbed from oral traditions that were already hundreds of years old before the first written copy of Genesis ever appeared?

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you might need that some day

Shim Jae-cheol of U&I Impression said the firm had gold-plated about 80 to 100 umbilical cords a month since starting business in August, with prices ranging from $76 to $96. It also offers mail order. "The company got the idea from mothers just storing umbilical cords and navels in an album or what-not," said Suk Tae-jin of Agamo.
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When Trip Toys Attack

Exploding lava lamp kills Kent man:
A 24-year-old man who placed a lava lamp on a hot stovetop was killed when it exploded and sent a shard of glass into his heart, police said. "Why on earth he was heating a lava lamp on the stove, we don't know," Kent Police spokesman Paul Petersen said Monday.

Phillip Quinn's parents found his body in his Kent trailer home at about 8 p.m. Sunday. They went to check on him after his girlfriend reported that she couldn't get in touch with him.

The King County Medical Examiner's office estimated the time of his death at 2 p.m. Sunday. After the lamp exploded, Quinn apparently stumbled into his bedroom, where he died, Petersen said.

Police found no evidence of drug or alcohol use. [... except the lava lamp. ]

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bring that beat back

How to play rock and roll.
Scene missing! A video that used to be embedded in this post has disappeared. If you know of a copy of this video that is still accessible, please mail me so that I can update the link.
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Incoming!

If you are Extremely Old, I'm sure you remember seeing this the first time around -- someone ripped and posted the "Turkey Drop" segment from WKRP in Cincinnati: "Oh, the humanity." (10.3MB)
Scene missing! A video that used to be embedded in this post has disappeared. If you know of a copy of this video that is still accessible, please mail me so that I can update the link.
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why it is acceptable to kill and eat turkeys

They would destroy us all if they could:

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The Riddler Makes an Announcement

"So why am I hanging up the big question mark?
Oh, I could dance around my reasons, dropping a few hints in the process and let you piece it together yourselves. But that would be both unfair and in direct violation of our company regulations against self-riddling."
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