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Akano's Blog



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*Slow clap*

Posted by Akano , Oct 27 2014 · 233 views
Blindeye, Old Man McGucket and 2 more...
Well done, Alex Hirsch. Well done.

The latest Gravity Falls episode was excellent. Totally squashed theories about the author of the journal and, while answering some questions, raised even more. Can't wait for the next episode...

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Gravity Falls is an awesome show

Posted by Akano , in Life Oct 03 2014 · 192 views
Sup doods, Waddles, Journals and 2 more...
Yet again, my brothers suggested I do something that they've done. This time it was "watch Gravity Falls," a show which I knew of but didn't know much about. I have now finished the first season, and I must say it's a brilliant, funny show. In no particular order, what makes it stand out is
  • The humor - By and far an important aspect of any comedy, the humor of Gravity Falls resonates very well, from the lamest pun to the brilliant stuff they get past the censors (and, wow, do they get a lot past the censors. This is a Disney show, right?). Expertly crafted and leaving me wanting more in the best way possible.
  • The story - while not the most story-heavy series (a lot of the episodes are very standalone and can be watched without missing much of previous episodes), the story that is ongoing is very engaging. Gravity Falls, OR is a place where weird, paranormal stuff happens. Our main characters want to know why, thus we want to know why, and their curiosity becomes ours in a genuine, unforced way.
  • The relationships are believable - Dipper and Mabel, the two main protagonists, are twin siblings who are sent to their great uncle (or, you guessed it, Grunkle) Stan's tourist trap, the Mystery Shack, for the summer. And they have a relationship that is completely believable (and as a twin, I can fully attest to it). Even when they have a scuffle or conflict, at the end of they day they can hug it out and not hate each other, which is very refreshing in a kids show. Also, the characters are not just defined by single character traits; for instance, Mabel has a fantastically overactive imagination and looks at the world from a very different angle than most of the other characters, but she's never called stupid or foolish by the others. Soos, the Mystery Shack's general repair and groundskeeper guy, who is overweight and sometimes dull-witted, is not defined by these traits, nor is he mocked for them; everyone treats him as they do everyone else, which is also really refreshing to see in a kids show. As for romantic relationships,
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This show has provided me with a lot of laughs and a fun world of mystery, and I look forward to what else it has in store.

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My latest video gaming conquests

Posted by Akano , in Life, Video Games Sep 15 2014 · 295 views
Mega Man X, FireEmblemAwakening and 2 more...
I have been up to lots of stuffs recently. Mostly of the electronic gaming variety.

First off, I played Mega Man X for the first time courtesy of the Wii U Virtual Console (prompted by a fantastic video by Egoraptor). Fantastic game; the more I play SNES games, the more I regret not owning a SNES in childhood.

After playing Fire Emblem (Rekka no Ken) and Sacred Stones, I finally caved into my roommate's demands that I play Awakening; OMG SO MUCH AWESOME! Probably one of my favorite games of all time, and definitely looking forward to playing it again.

Right after completing Awakening, I received Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney in the mail. Another fantastic game; Layton puzzles and story combined with Phoenix Wright courtroom shenanigans made for an awesome crossover. I just wish Maya hadn't been given a valley girl accent. :/

And, finally, my roommate got some 3DS Smash Bros codes, one of which he shared with me. I'm loving Mega Man so far; will definitely be playing as him once the Wii U version comes out (not getting the 3DS version; I'd like to spare my buttons of a painful death). I really wish the demo included Robin as a playable character, though; of the new roster, I'm looking forward to playing as him the most.

On a more academic note, this Thursday is my Ph.D. preliminary exam oral defense, so that'll be fun. I've already worked through the problems that I will be asked about, and I think I've solved all of them. Hopefully all will go well. ^_^

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I am still very much alive

Posted by Akano , in Life Aug 25 2014 · 307 views
Haldo!, Im Mendelev! and 1 more...
Haldo, BZPeople!

As you may have noticed, this summer the blogs were highly accented with my extreme absence since I took a trip to the northern UK. The reason for this absence is simple: I was studying for, and subsequently started taking, my preliminary examinations for continuation to my Ph.D. in physics. Last week for me was filled with three four-hour exams: one on Monday (Quantum Mechanics), one on Wednesday (Electromagnetism), and one on Friday (Classical, Special Relativity, and Statistical Mechanics grab bag). I am happy to say that I survived the initial onslaught of my prelims and am now in phase two: a twelve-hour take-home exam to be done over seventy-two hours (10 a.m. today to 10 a.m. Thursday). I have glanced at the problems but not worked on them yet, but I feel pretty good about the quantum section. :)

In other news, the new school year is set to start in a week, but I have a class starting this Thursday. That'll be quite fun. 8D

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Scotland: Days 5 – 7

Posted by Akano , in Life Jun 22 2014 · 207 views

While days 2-4 were relatively uneventful (mostly collaborating days, doing research) my last three days in Edinburgh were pretty cool.

Day 5: I climbed Arthur's Seat for a second time; it was sunny, so the view was even better than on Sunday when my advisor and I climbed it together. I also got proof That I made it to the summit. 8D

Day 6: I went to Edinburgh Castle and walked around the former residence of the Scottish royal family. There were a few museums that were mainly dedicated to the history of Scottish military. I also saw the Scottish crown jewels, but was not allowed to take photos (and didn't realize I wasn't allowed until a lady yelled at me for taking out my phone).

Day 7: I journeyed to Pencaitland, which is about 12 miles outside of Edinburgh, for a tour of the Glenkinchie distillery. However, I was late for my booked tour, as the bus didn't take me the whole way to the distillery, and it was a 2 mile walk to the distillery from the bus stop. I literally was walking, in the middle of Scottish farmland, following signs that I hoped were telling me the truth and leading me in the right direction. I eventually got there, however, unharmed but late. The lady at the front desk was very accommodating, though, and fit me into the next tour. It was quite lovely, and we got to see all the steps of brewing whiskey followed by a tasting session. After tasting, I picked up a bottle for my dad and a smaller bottle for me (if they sold 50 cl bottles, they would have been the same size, but, alas, they only had them in 20 and 70 cl sizes). I tried to get on the distillery's shuttle back to Edinburgh, but unfortunately I had asked to join it after it had left; they told me not to worry, though, as there was a local barman who would come and pick me up with two other women who also took the bus and take us to his pub, which was a few seconds' walk from the bus stop. The three of us had a drink at his pub (his only request in exchange for picking us up, which was completely fair in my opinion) and we got to talking. The one lady was around my age and still in college, while the older woman was her aunt and was retired. We got to talking about math and science, since the aunt had studied nutrition science for her job and enjoyed talking about science. We also discussed beer, the tour, and previous and future travels we were planning to take. All in all, it was a lovely afternoon, and we sat together on the bus back to Edinburgh and talked some more. Once we were back in the city, we said our goodbyes and were very glad to have met each other.

Then, this morning, I boarded my flight back to the states, and now I am quite tired, as it is (as I'm typing this) around 1:30 a.m. back in Edinburgh, and my body wants to be very well asleep. I am happy to say, though, that it was a fruitful trip, both for research and fun, as now my code that I've been working on for nearly a year finally works and has reproduced the results of the paper we modeled it off of! Now, we get to push it into new parameter space to aid us in our spectroscopic analysis. :)

Well, that's all for now. I'm going to go eat some cookies with my friends. :)

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I'm in Scotland

Posted by Akano , in Life Jun 16 2014 · 243 views

So, I'm currently in Edinburgh, UK for official Hogwarts business doing research with a collaborator at the local university. Things I have done include
  • Vaguely losing consciousness on the plane ride over the Atlantic to adjust to new time zone. Would not qualify it as sleeping.
  • Instead of checking into the hotel (which didn't allow checkins until 2 p.m. local time), climbing Arthur's Seat to the summit with my advisor like a boss.
  • Enjoyed a Guinness. (Not Scottish, I know, but arguably fresher than those sold in the US.)
Things I have not yet done include
  • Tossing a caber.
  • Wearing a kilt.
  • Playing bagpipes.
  • Trying haggis. (Will probably do this at breakfast tomorrow, though.)
So far so fun. Also I've done research. Totally why I'm here. :P

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Updates on Life, the Universe, and Everything

Posted by Akano , in Life May 28 2014 · 229 views
Douglas Adams, 42
It's been a while since I posted something, eh?

Last week I went home to visit my family for a couple of weeks. It's been pretty low key so far; visited some friends over the weekend, mowed the lawn (so lovely), and tried to get things a bit cleaner around the house. I also ate way too much food at various gatherings.

This weekend my dad and I pick up KK from grad school (he successfully defended his Master's!) and will enjoy two long, arduous, 10 hour-long trips. Then, I fly to Wisconsin for a conference, so that should be fun.

I also got the Back to the Future DeLorean LEGO set, and I must say it's a very nice representation. Also, Doc Brown's "Great Scott!" face is perfect.

I really want to make the purple skateboard in that set an actual hoverboard using magnets and a superconductor. One of these days...

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Finals Week and Philly BrickFest

Posted by Akano , in LEGO, Life May 06 2014 · 224 views

It's finals week at my grad school, but since I didn't take any classes this semester, I have no exams to study for (except my prelims, which are at the end of the summer :P). I am, however, holding office hours for my students before they take their exams, so I'm not without stuff to do.

I also went to Philly BrickFest two weekends ago, but I was only there for a couple hours since I had to leave for choir rehearsal. I did snap some pics, which will hopefully end up on my Brickshelf at some point. Maybe.

In other news, I'm still obsessed with quantum mechanics and have been playing around with various mathematical things associated with it, like deriving the ladder operators and matrix elements for the quantum harmonic oscillator, deriving formulas for coherent states, and trying to find out what a true Hufflepuff is, anyway deriving coordinate transformations to the center of mass frame of two particles. Fun fun. ^_^

(This is the part where you all look at me like I'm mad, and I reply with an expression like this: 8D)

So, not too much going on with me right now, but I can't complain.

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Equation of the Day #12: Mass

Posted by Akano , in Math/Physics Apr 15 2014 · 212 views
Equation of the Day
Today I want to talk about mass. Sometimes you'll hear it defined loosely as "the amount of stuff in an object." There are, however, two separate definitions of mass in classical physics. The first definition comes from Newton's second law.


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This mass is known as the inertial mass. The larger an object's inertial mass, the more it resists being accelerated by a given force. The second definition of mass also comes from Newton, but it is instead determined by his law of gravitation.

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The mass here determines how much two massive objects attract one another; this is known as the gravitational mass. But here's the interesting thing about these two masses: there is no law of physics that says these masses are one and the same. Such a notion is known in physics as the equivalence principle. The weak equivalence principle was discovered by Galileo; he noticed that objects with different masses fall at the same rate. Einstein came up with the strong equivalence principle, which discusses how a uniform force and a gravitational field are indistinguishable when you look at a small enough portion of spacetime. The only reason we believe these two masses are equivalent is because experiments show that they are equal to within the precision of the instruments with which we measure them, and there are ongoing experiments trying to narrow down that precision to determine if there is any difference between the two.

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Equation of the Day #11: The Uncertainty Principle

Posted by Akano , in Math/Physics Apr 11 2014 · 239 views
Equation of the Day, Uncertainty
You've probably heard of the Uncertainty Principle before. In words, it says "you cannot simultaneously measure the position and the momentum of a particle to arbitrary accuracy." In equation form, it looks like this:

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What this says is that the product of the uncertainty of a measurement of a particle's position multiplied by the uncertainty of a measurement of a particle's momentum has to be greater than a constant (given by the reduced Planck constant, h over τ = 2π). This has nothing to do with the tools with which we measure particle; this is a fundamental statement about the way our universe behaves. Fortunately, this uncertainty product is very small, since ħ is around 1.05457 × 10-34 J s. The real question to ask is, "Why do particles have this uncertainty associated with them in the first place? Where does it come from?" Interestingly, it comes from wave theory.


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Take the two waves above. The one on top is very localized, meaning its position is well-defined. But what is its wavelength? For photons, wavelength determines momentum, so here we see a localized wave doesn't really have a well-defined wavelength, thus an ill-defined momentum. In fact, the wavelength of this pulse is smeared over a continuous spectrum of momenta (much like how the "color" of white light is smeared over the colors of the rainbow). The second wave has a pretty well-defined wavelength, but where is it? It's not really localized, so you could say it lies smeared over a set of points, but it isn't really in one place. This is the heart of the uncertainty principle. Because waves exhibit this phenomenon – and quantum particles behave like waves – quantum particles also have an uncertainty principle associated with them.

However, this is arguably not the most bizarre thing about the uncertainty principle. There is another facet of the uncertainty principle that says that the shorter the lifetime of a particle (how long the particle exists before it decays), the less you can know about its energy. Since mass and energy are equivalent via Einstein's
E = mc2, this means that particles that "live" for very short times don't have a well-defined mass. It also means that, if you pulse a laser over a short enough time, the light that comes out will not have a well-defined energy, which means that it will have a spread of colors (our eyes can't see this spread, of course, but it means a big deal when you want to use very precise wavelengths of light in your experiment and short pulses at the same time). In my lab, we use this so-called "energy-time" uncertainty to determine whether certain configurations of the hydrogen molecule, H2, are long-lived or short lived; the longer-lived states have thinner spectral lines, and the short-lived states have wider spectral lines.


So while we can't simultaneously measure the position and momentum of a particle to arbitrary certainty, we can definitely still use it to glean information about the world of the very, very small.

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About Me

Akano Toa of Electricity
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Name: Akano
Real Name: Forever Shrouded in Mystery :P
Age: 27
Gender: Male
Likes: Science, Math, LEGO, Bionicle, Ponies, Comics, Yellow, Voice Acting
Notable Facts: One of the few Comic Veterans still around
Has been a LEGO fan since ~1996
Bionicle fan from the beginning
Misses the 90's. A lot.
Twitter: @akanotoe

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