Posted inMusic / News / On The Web / WTF?

S.O.S. – Save Our Streams!

SaveTheStreams banner 1 Pandora is a very interesting service… It is an online music site that asks about your favorite artists and dynamically constructs a custom radio station just for you. In addition to songs from the artists you selected, the site will analyze your choices and deliver tunes from different artists that (hopefully) also fit your taste. You can further guide the playlist by clicking thumbs up or thumbs down for songs you feel strongly about. If you’re an impulse shopper, links are available to iTunes and Amazon to buy the current song or album then and there. Nice.

Unfortunately, Pandora and other online radio stations like it might not be available for our listening (and shopping) pleasure very much longer. The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) has recently released a revised fee schedule for internet radio. For most Webcasters, this new royalty rate represents more than 100% of their total revenues. Left unchanged, these rates will force most independent internet radio sites to shut down. The RIAA has effectively convinced this federal committee to establish rates that make online radio a non-viable business.

A site called has been created to provide information on this issue and what we might be able to do to reverse this decision. An online petition is available, as well as links to snail and e-mail addresses for your local representatives in Congress.

Maybe together we can prevent big business from limiting our soundscape.

Posted inScience

What’s the Matter?

Herbertsmithite - A new form of matter?If you answered “a string-net liquid” you might just be right. (And you are a much bigger geek than me! ;-))

New Scientist is reporting that researchers may have discovered a new form of matter. They call it a “string-net liquid” and even have speculated that the vacuum of the whole universe may be made from it.

Herbertsmithite (pictured) was found by geologists in the mountains of Chile in 1972.

It is unusual because its electrons are arranged in a triangular lattice. Electrons normally line up so that their spins are in the opposite direction to that of their immediate neighbors, which is impossible in a triangular configuration. The scientists’ new model shows that such a system would be a string-net liquid, so-called because the electrons in this material appear random like in a liquid, but they also move in well-defined (“entangled”) steps.

They were able to create and test a pure version of the herbertsmithite (originally named after a famed geologist) in the lab. Simulations of this new state of matter produced consistent predictions for the behavior of elementary particles like electrons, quarks, gluons, and the W and Z bosons. The scientists also found something even more surprising. As the net of strings vibrated, it produced a wave that behaved according to a very familiar set of laws – Maxwell’s equations, which describe the behavior of light. This has lead the researchers to speculate that the universe might be modeled in a similar way as the string-net liquid, where these “elementary” particles are a result of the deeper structure of the non-empty vacuum of space-time.

Are we getting close to the mythical Theory of Everything? Probably not, but it’s an interesting topic to consider late at night under a starry sky.

Of course, it probably still won’t answer the question of what happens when you are driving in a car at the speed of light and you turn your headlights on. :-O

Posted inMovies / Television

Springfield Showdown

The SimpsonsThe AP reports (via Yahoo) that the sixteen Springfields across the country are in competition to host the world premier of The Simpsons Movie this July.

How cool would that be?!?

Each Springfield is supposed to submit a short film “showcasing their community’s positive aspects and links to the Simpsons.” Fox will select the winner from these entries. I haven’t seen anything locally yet, but I hope that Springfield, Illinois puts their best foot forward.

Maybe it’ll turn out to be kinda yellowish-colored with four chubby toes. ;-)