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Garth Sundem is a Science, Math and general Geek Culture writer, TED speaker, and author of books including Brain Trust: 93 Top Scientists Dish the Lab-Tested Secrets of Surfing, Dating, Dieting... Read More »

Okay, my last blog was a list of Spam haikus. I offer this post as self-flagellation before the scientific community at large.

Traditionally, the crux of teleportation has been its seeming contradiction of the Uncertainty Principle, which states that you can never measure and thus know all the information contained within an atom (the more you measure, the more you disturb, until the thing no longer looks like what you started with). Without knowing the make-up of the original object, how could you replicate it across space?
The art of haiku poetry originated in Japan, with roots stretching back to the ninth-century or earlier. According to the US Census of 2000, people of pure Japanese descent make up 16.7% of the population of Hawaii. Residents of Hawaii annually consume nearly seven million cans of SPAM, or about six cans per capita.

If you do the math, it leads you inevitably to the work of Keola Beamer, the Hawaiian slack-key guitar player and leading advocate of SPAM haiku, who graciously contributed the following, deeply moving verses:

Silent, former pig
One communal awareness
Myriad pink bricks   

Twist, pull the sharp lid
Jerks and cuts me deeply but
Spam, aaah, my poultice

In mud you frolicked
To ring traditional church bells, a team of human operators pulls ropes that spin the giant bells (some in the multiple tons) and the mechanics of the system impose strict rules on what can be played. Gone entirely is melody, replaced by the idiomatically frenetic and somewhat cacophonous sound of cascading tones played for maximum note density.

Within the two seconds it takes a bell to rotate, the tones are slightly offset so that each rings before any bell sounds twice.

In honor of my daughter's first birthday, today I thought I'd write about ray weaponry.

With only a quick stop at your local box store, you can be ready to pop a conventional cap in someone’s ass; however, charring said ass to a crisp using a laser or other ray weapon is not so easy. This is because—despite many decades of government promises—laser weapons do not currently exist (despite the ubiquity of industrial cutting lasers and promises by high school tech ed teachers that one false move with a pointer will render your lab partner a cyclops).
Eggs and rabbits were common fertility symbols of the ancient world. Today come the spring equinox, we continue to worship the pagan, egg-laying bunny (with a massive display of consumerism).

Saint Nicolas of Myra presented three impoverished girls with dowries so they would not have to become prostitutes. His modern incarnation was created and popularized by the 18th century cartoonist Thomas Nast. Come winter solstice, it’s time to worship the jolly old elf (with a massive display of consumerism).
As an ethical hedonist, the 18th-19th-century English utilitarian philosopher and proto-bleeding-heart-liberal Jeremy Bentham, believed that right and wrong could be determined by weighing the “pleasures” and “pains” of any given action, with an action that produced more pleasure than pain being morally right.

While this would be great by itself (in a geeky kind of way), what makes it truly spectacular is the fact that Bentham actually created an algorithm to define exactly how much pleasure and pain an action would cause. (His application of algebra to life decisions is echoed by at least one complete whack-job modern author…)