August 21, 2004
Quote of the Moment
There's an interesting effect here that I've noticed over the years -- smart people don't make the same mistake twice while REALLY SMART people don't make the same mistake three times. Since they tend to make fewer mistakes to start with, really smart people tend to repeat the mistakes they do make because they are initially convinced that the outcome was someone else's fault or perhaps because of cosmic rays.
--I, Cringley on the recent Google public offering.
Clutter of the Moment
--A photo studio in my office park was having a garage sale for all these old props. I swear, I am trying to reduce the amount of clutter in my life, but how can I resist two high quality cloth fake bananas for 50 cents?
Geek Ramble of the Moment
So, I had a bit of a revelation yesterday, about my mental model for radio signals...maybe some of the other geeks here can tell me if I'm on base. Since they're both forms of EMF, don't radio waves and visible light act roughly the same? Or, the same if most everything around me was made of glass...(since there are many materials which block light but let radio signals through without too much hassle.)
I think my previous mental model for radio waves comes from those diagrams of slowly moving circles propogating out from a central antenna. (Which is just a shade better than the mental model I got from that old RKO tower logo, big sparks jumping to radios everywhere.) But really, aren't radio waves a lot like visible light? Shining everywhere, passing through some things, reflecting off other things, getting shadows casted by some objects, but still generally scattering and reflecting and what not?
This new idea came to me when I noticed A. radio reception inside my company's parking garage is poor and B. it's dark and C. these two facts are kind of related. I know it's a bit of an oversimplification, and in particular, eyes (taking in a big spectrum of colors at once) don't easily map to radio receivers (tuning in one frequency at a time, and using...signal strength (AM radio) or flicker speed (FM radio) to imitate sound wave patterns.) Still...am I on base with this, or is this all crazy talk?
If I am right about this, it creates some interesting mental images...radio transmitters as these giant torches on towers, and a world with tons of glass trees and buildings, since wood and other building materials often let radio through. (Of course, it also brings up those kind of disturbing idea of all these radio signals passing though us like all the time...)
In a similar note, natural forces and all that, our favorite models of how gravity works may be offbase as well...