Heroes are made, not born
(from Runaways, Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughn, Adrian Alphona, Craig Yeung + Christina Strain)
— Attachments, Rainbow Rowell (via ha-n)
"I know you were hoping for a senile man playing with his toys, but I’m putting together a donation for Housing Works."
Today’s post continues my retrospective on mind-boggling fluid dynamics in honor of FYFD’s birthday. This video on the Kaye effect was one of the earliest submissions I ever received—if you’re reading this, thanks, Belisle!—and it completely amazed me. Judging from the frequency with which it appears in my inbox, it’s delighted a lot of you guys as well. The Kaye effect is observed in shear-thinning, non-Newtonian fluids, like shampoo or dish soap, where viscosity decreases as the fluid is deformed. Like many viscous liquids, a falling stream of these fluids creates a heap. But, when a dimple forms on the heap, a drop in the local viscosity can cause the incoming fluid jet to slip off the heap and rebound upward. As demonstrated in the video, it’s even possible to create a stable Kaye effect cascade down an incline. (Video credit: D. Lohse et al.)
I have just finished two novels on the Kindle in quick succession. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P by Adelle Waldman and Friendship by Emily Gould. Some thoughts follow, roughly separated in two:
The device’s motivations are mysterious. In a number of ways it seems to go out of its way to distance you from the material you are reading. A newly purchased ebook opens on the first page of text; not the cover, not the chapter listing. A contextless page of text.
I don’t understand why the reader’s screensaver is not the cover of the book currently being read. Instead we get a selection of bland stock imagery in an era when bland stock imagery is almost mainstream in its unpopularity. And the device, whenever it is sitting on your coffee table or drawn from your bag, is displaying these meaningless, artless images. They are not incidental or occasional, but the primary visual identity of the object at rest. A real book is a visual placeholder in your life as you read it, a cover and content that become entwined as you go. For all its unread hours of the day it announces itself from your bedside table, from your couch. Its presence is a mental bookmark, its individuality a mental trigger. The Kindle is a ten minute coding job away from replicating this relationship, but it simply doesn’t want to. I’m not sure why. Are we meant to love the device, rather than the books it contains? Is that too obvious a suspicion?
The reading experience is not unpleasant. Within fifty pages I had mostly gotten used to the flicker of the page turn. Its most practical benefit (besides letting me buy English books in a non-English speaking city), is that I can read it completely silently in a dark room without disturbing Helene.
But it still feels, having consumed two novels, that I am reading a facsimile of the true book. In some way a connection to the material is missing. The content feels temporary and light, like a blog article. It’s difficult write about this without straying into the cliché of a vinyl enthusiast. I’m fairly confident this feeling would fade in time, or alter the reading experience to the point that it doesn’t feel like it matters.
About midway through the novel I began to encounter highlighted passages like the one pictured. At first I thought I was accidentally doing something—the screen’s lag often produced confusing results when I touched the screen in the wrong place—but eventually it became obvious that these were passages that other readers had highlighted. Anonymous strangers. It seemed so antithetical to the novel reading experience that it was a while before I conceded that it was really happening. Like a parody of what a tin-eared technology company might do to reading.
The popular passages tended toward the most trite sentimentalities or gender observations, as though the novel could be gutted and boned and served up as a series of Tumblr-ready quotes. As though anything that this character thought or said was not filtered through layers of irony, self-delusion, proto-development, authorial mockery. But reading on, repeatedly having these particular types of sentences highlighted began to affect my perception of the novel. Maybe I got it wrong? Maybe this novel really was about dating, and how to do it, and how to generalise differences between the desires of men and women?
The feature (turnable offable) was a jarring reminder of the file as a social, shared, rented document rather than a book that I owned. Like above, the Kindle seems almost to go out of its way to make you feel like it is not yours, that the things it contains are not yours. In a sense this is true; the novel is an open expression, something that can be shared and dissected and discussed in public forums. No one can make any absolute claim of ownership, not even the author. That said, the experience of reading is an intensely personal one. The book in your hand is a room in which you lock yourself. That intimate exchange between the novel and the reader now feels mediated, metricised, oddly public.
Red Lantern Corps: Rage
White Lantern Corps: Life
Blue Lantern Corps: Hope
Black Lantern Corps: Death
Green Lantern Corps: Willpower
Indigo Lantern Corps: Compassion
Yellow Lantern Corps: Fear
Violet Lantern Corps: Love
Orange Lantern Corps: Greed
i was like ‘hmm where’s tony… oh LOLOL’
you put a lot of effort in to that
green hulk? hmm
not sure aboot tnat one
The hummingbird has long been admired for its ability to hover in flight. The key to this behavior is the bird’s capability to produce lift on both its downstroke and its upstroke. The animation above shows a simulation of hovering hummingbird. The kinematics of the bird’s flapping—the figure-8 motion and the twist of the wings through each cycle—are based on high-speed video of actual hummingbirds. These data were then used to construct a digital model of a hummingbird, about which scientists simulated airflow. About 70% of the lift each cycle is generated by the downstroke, much of it coming from the leading-edge vortex that develops on the wing. The remainder of the lift is creating during the upstroke as the bird pulls its wings back. During this part of the cycle, the flexible hummingbird twists its wings to a very high angle of attack, which is necessary to generate and maintain a leading-edge vortex on the upstroke. The full-scale animation is here. (Image credit: J. Song et al.; via Wired; submitted by averagegrdy)