Jan 18 2010

Boy Scouts of America Requirements for Merit Badge in Zen

    Make without changing
    List without counting
    Work in the field without leaving the home;

    Collect without having
    Discern without knowing
    Label the finds without reference to names;

    Hike without striding
       The golden path to the Zen badge.

    Give it no space on the sash of your life.
    Sew it without any thread.

Sep 22 2009

Chi-square tests of GameScience dice

Summary: almost all the GameScience dice I looked at passed chi-square testing fine, with one exception: the “D16 Transparent Ice Blue Gamescience Gem Die”, which failed miserably.

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Jun 23 2009

Job’s Liver

Naked I came out of my mother’s womb
Caused blind hopes to live in the hearts of men
Therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes
According to the fourth everyone grew weary of the meaningless affair

(With apologies to Aeschylus, Kafka, and YHVH.)

May 17 2009

Wolfram Alpha chooses side in age-old debate

(What I was trying to do was find out if the code was familiar with ratios. I started with “Ratio of women to men in San Francisco”; it suggested, as a “Related inputs to try”, the phrase “women to men in San”. When I tried that, it then suggested “women to men”.)

May 8 2009

Algorithm used to produce “Swine Flu Hemagglutinin”

The algorithm used to produce “Swine Flu Hemagglutinin” (PDF, 16K)

Apr 28 2009

“Swine Flu Hemagglutinin”: amino acid sequence as ambient music

Swine flu has been sequenced.  More out of curiosity than anything else, I wrote code to translate a key gene into a piece of ambient music:

“Swine Flu Hemagglutinin” (MP3)

The algorithm I used is a bit complicated, but just in case you’re curious: since the gene is expressed as a surface protein antibodies can sense, it’s considered as a string of amino acids.  Each beat corresponds to one amino acid, and the piece is in 3/4 time, so each six measures would correspond to five turns around the alpha structure.  (I’m weaseling because I haven’t the foggiest idea how the protein actually gets folded.)  Amino acids with side chains that are neither aromatic not aliphatic control the piano and organ: the nine non-hydrophobics the piano, and the four hydrophobics the organ. The three amino acids with aliphatic side chains control the low synthesizer, while the four with aromatics control the percussion.  


Update 2009-04-30: For folks coming in from the cnn.com article Making music out of swine flu and wondering about the line, “Zielinski saw it as a form of highly organized information that a human did not design.”: Yes, that phrasing raises the question of who or what I think DID design it. (God? Aliens?) In reality, self-organizing systems evince great complexity without need for a conscious designer. Swine flu was not designed at all– it evolved.

Strictly speaking, this is a version of swine flu hemagglutinin, FJ966952. The actual amino acid sequence:


Maggie Koerth-Baker’s excellent article from 2009 April 28, “Swine Flu Q&A”, is available here:
Maggie Koerth-Baker, “Swine Flu Q&A”, at boingboing.net

Feb 23 2009

Long Alerts 2009-02-23

Having need of a few long (5-20 second) unambiguous alert sounds, I created some.

Three simple ones: BA BC B5

Two more elaborate ones: BB B4W

One strident one: PS

And one happy one: AC

Released under terms of
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

If you want to redistribute any of this stuff, please include the file “stephanZielinski_longAlerts_2009-02-23_README.txt” from the .zip below.

If you end up using any of this stuff for anything cool, I’d enjoy hearing about it.

Archive including everything:
All seven Stephan Zielinski Long Alerts 2009-02-23 mp3 files (.zip archive, 908K)

Feb 6 2009

Write this

I’m trying to get some folks I know to write some fiction.  Many of them are particularly good at puns– so just to make it hard, I’ve also included required lines that are to be followed by a play on words.  

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Jul 19 2008

Design concept for electric cars

(Originally entitled “Design concept for electric cars: short range car, extend range with rented towed trailer only on days when it’s necessary.”)

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Jan 7 2008

Proposal for T-shirt text

I like my coffee the way I like my feminists: steaming and in my face.

(I hearby put the above sentence under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. If anyone ends up doing anything fun with it, please send me a link…)

ADDENDUM: Tory Hoke created these visualizations:
Feminist Coffee (from Victoria Hoke’s blog The Tory Party .)

Essay question: two phrasings. How do the meanings differ?