September 17, 2006

science is hard

Almost a year ago I had an idea for increasing the power output of fuel cells. It was pretty simple, so I did a quick literature search to see if anyone had tried the same thing before: Evidently, they hadn't. Because it would take me some time to try the idea out, I went ahead and filed a "preliminary patent application" or PPA, which protects such an idea for one year while you experiment and refine the idea, and then you must file a full patent application or lose your rights.

After filing the PPA I assembled the equipment to try the idea, and after about two months of failing to get it to work, I put it aside in frustration. Then, about a month ago, I realized that the one year deadline was fast approaching. I decided I'd better give it one more shot before abandoning the idea.

I had a few new ideas for variations to try, and I tried all of them as best I could. No luck (although I did get to entertain some guests at our studio with wacky noises). At this point I always feel a little foolish, like, why do I bother trying these things? Who am I to think I know anything about this technology, or that my ideas are better than those of the folks who work on the same problems every day in a lab somewhere?

Still, I can't help it. I occasionally feel compelled to tackle a problem such as this with all my faculties, and I've failed repeatedly. But I enjoy the process and the idea that, perhaps, one of these days I'll make a real contribution.

Posted by todd at 04:26 PM

September 09, 2006

time lapses in entropy's wake

Lately I've been fascinated by these time lapse movies that have been popping up all over the web, now that taking digital pictures of things is so much easier for so many people. First, there's the guy who set up his Aibo robot dog to take pictures of interesting things several times a day. I want to tell this guy: take your robot dog for a walk, already! Then there are the Boring Time Lapse People, e.g.: or the Dramatic Life Change People, e.g.: What's fun is watching out for what doesn't change.
Posted by todd at 06:38 AM

September 04, 2006

MT-vox crosspost test

Please do ignore. If you can. If you dare!
Posted by todd at 08:12 AM

Go rent "Best of Youth"

If you haven't heard of this Italian miniseries already, let me be the first to tell you that you must get the Best of Youth DVDs and watch them immediately. Preferably on a long Sunday afternoon with a bottle of wine. And chocolate.
Briefly, the series follows the lives of two Italian brothers as they mature from rowdy students in the 60s to grey-haired family guys in the 00s. The story delivers scene after scene of brilliant comedy, romance, drama, and great storytelling. There are a few scenes that are so touching and poignant it hurts.
The two discs are six hours altogether, though honestly I wanted more at the end. Definitely time well spent.
Posted by todd at 06:59 AM