Monthly Archives: October 2009

Photo: Life is Glorious at MIT

This is a photo I took of one of my favorite moments in recent memory, this term at MIT:

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It’s 3 or 4 in the morning.  My pockets are stuffed with relays for switching 120V which I expect to promptly use to further electrify my room.  My head is full of ideas for nifty gadgets to build, and I’m riding my incredible pink chopper (smallbike), the USS Sakura “cult of girl” Hime around, with freshly installed front basket.

In the basket are two excellent books — ARRL’s UHF/Microwave experimenter’s manual, Forrest Mim’s Getting Started With Electronics, and in the black case, a state of the art a vacuum tube tester (classic dial reads “Good” “Dubious” and “Bad”).  In my left hand is a classic “200 in One Electronics Projects Lab” kit.  All of these delightful gifts via the outstanding Scott Morrison.

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Shout out to the Woman Geek Knowledge Cloud

Hey!  I’m pretty excited to write that my blog has been added to FOSS/Hacker Women’s blog aggregator!

I really like how this works — a whole lot of people are out there writing really cool things, but it’s not generally possible to access what a community is buzzing about, without finding, becoming aware of, and participating in or understanding the community dynamics, yourself.

Until now!  Thanks to high-level information manipulation, you can get a good sense of what FOSS/Hacker women are all writing about, just by reading the posts/feed at http://planeteria.org/wfs/.  Nifty!

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Helping out Humanity

I’m currently working on an MIT IDEAS[1] competition team, working to solve some women’s health issues in the developing world — namely, to help with community education and surgeon training involved with repairing birth complication-related fistula — and I realize that one of the biggest differences between the general populace in developed nations vs. the developing world, is equal access to information.

This particular problem (obstetric fistula) typically occurs when a girl or woman experiences birth complications from an underdeveloped pelvis — generally by being either too young, or malnourished.  Poor access to healthcare usually results in the stillbirth of her baby and a host of health problems for her, including unwanted connections between previously separate compartments of the abdominal cavity — the vagina and the intestines, or bladder, for example, resulting usually not only in incontinence but in ostracism as well.

Fortunately, fistula can generally be repaired with a moderately non-invasive surgery, if only there were more doctors available who could perform the operations — the West no longer trains our own doctors to operate on fistula, as it’s no longer a problem in the developed world.  And that’s why we’re working to solve surgeon training.

However, I’ve been reading a number of articles and interviews on the subject, and I’m realizing, that one of the original sources of the problem is this problem with fistula is that there are still women who don’t realize the connection between sex and pregnancy. That’s infuriating!  How can this equal distribution of information be approached and solved? [2]

[1]http://web.mit.edu/ideas/www/index.htm
[2]http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/140349.php — the fistula reference that sparked this blog post

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Cuttlefish are Just Amazing

So, I’ve been checking out cuttlefish to find out what exactly is up with their ability to mimic any environment, by producing any set of colors imaginable on their skin with reasonable accuracy.  Being able to generate active camouflage like that would be pretty incredible, right?

I learned that not only are cuttlefish really completely amazing in this regard (see wikipedia and read about chromatophores), but that cuttlefish-language is color-pattern based!  AWESOME.

Additionally, cuttlefish have a W-shaped pupil — yes, a W-shaped pupil — that’s sensitive to light polarization!  Try to imagine the world as you see it, plus the ability to see — and speak — polarization.

There’s no end to how cool and amazing this universe is!

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Incredibly Delightful Short Film: “Validation”

I can’t stop smiling.  I just watched this incredibly delightful 16min short film, “Validation”.  Watch the first 2 minutes if you don’t have time for the whole thing:

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