Monday, April 15, 2013

IT Security

We sent out a mail to clients which said something along the lines of:

We never ask for your username and password. If you get an email that looks like:
"There is an issue with your account. Please reply with your username and password and we will rectify it"
You should never reply to these messages with your details.

50 people replied with their usernames and passwords.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Cafe

In the cafe I locked eyes with a Yorkshire terrier wearing a Sharks Rugby jersey. His eyes spoke of his dissatisfaction with life and his longing for death. The humiliation of his anthropomorphic half-identity moved me to tears. Suddenly his manner became as that of some Hell beast. He transformed into a hulking, eight foot tall mass of fur and misanthropy with drill bits where his eyes had been. With an up-close gaze he drilled into the eye sockets of his keepers before sucking out their brains using the thorn-lined proboscis that had replaced his formerly adorable snout. A chorus of screams accompanied his flight into a nearby forest plantation. In his honour, I opted for salad instead of potato wedges as my side dish.

The Prisoner

You awake one evening to find yourself chained to an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar room. Undecorated and grim, it is a cell and you are the prisoner. You scream, but but nobody comes. You scream aloud that you are not afraid; that you are afraid; that you never could be. You scream for solace. Nobody ever comes. Surely you are in an uninhabited wasteland. No living thing can hear your pleas. Observing your naked body, you see a message has been hurriedly scribbled on your torso. "I am coming. You will suffer." In a panic, you writhe and struggle to escape your bonds before your captor can return and act on his vague threats of torture. You struggle until your struggling itself opens wounds; until you realise that this is a futile gesture. Slowly but inexorably the hopelessness of your situation crawls onto your consciousness, rising above every impression. You resign yourself to whatever fate your anonymous foe has planned for you. Slowly your misery strips you of all hope, save for that of a quick death. Hours turn into days, days into weeks, weeks into months, months into years. You are nourished by your fear. Sustained by perpetual apprehension. After many years you are an old, shriveled wreck. The ugly trifles of existence have driven you to madness like the small drops of water torturers let fall ceaselessly. They irradiate the refuge of sleep. You notice through a crack in the boarded window that the sun no longer rises. You turn your head to one side like someone who wants to be alone with their laughter.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A futile gesture

You awake one evening to find yourself chained to an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar room. Undecorated and grim, it is a cell and you are the prisoner.

You scream, but but nobody comes. You scream aloud that you are not afraid; that you are afraid; that you never could be. You scream for solace. Nobody ever comes. Surely you are in an uninhabited wasteland. No living thing can hear your pleas.

Observing your naked body, you see a message has been hurriedly scribbled on your torso.

"I am coming. You will suffer."

In a panic, you writhe and struggle to escape your bonds before your captor can return and act on his vague threats of torture. You struggle until your struggling itself opens wounds, until you realise that this is a futile gesture. Slowly but inexorably the hopelessness of your situation crawls onto your consciousness, rising above every impression. You resign yourself to whatever fate your anonymous foe has planned for you. Slowly your misery strips you of all hope, save for that of a quick death.

Hours turn into days, days into weeks, weeks into months, months into years. You are nourished by your fear. Sustained by perpetual apprehension.

After many years you are an old, shriveled wreck. The ugly trifles of existence have driven you to madness like the small drops of water torturers let fall ceaselessly. They irradiate the refuge of sleep.

You notice through a crack in the boarded window that the sun no longer rises. You turn your head to one side like someone who wants to be alone with their laughter.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

The beauty of 70mm: Stills from Samsara

Ron Fricke's Samsara may not offer very much besides pretty imagery, but boy does it do that well! Shot in 70mm, it's a showcase of how much can be crammed into every frame of the stock's 2.2:1 aspect ratio.

It is unfortunate that no 70mm prints will be released for projection, as the final film is projected in 4k digital. Nonetheless, enjoy the feast that is the following stills taken directly from the original prints:

(click for higher res).

Monday, September 24, 2012


This morning at four I had a walk with an old friend; an appendix to an unexpectedly pleasant weekend.

We looked at the stars but saw different constellations. I couldn't help but feel that we were in a vast forest where the stars are trees: alive and breathing and watching us watch them.


Friday, August 31, 2012

Cheap Macro Photography

Once the cheap (actually free) laser pointer on my desk at work had run down its batteries, I did the obvious thing: I took it apart. Not just because I'm "like that," but mainly because the focusing lense of any cheap red laser pointer makes a passable approximation of a macro photography lense.

Don't believe me? After shoehorning said lense onto my cellphone camera using a bobby pin and some scotch tape, I ended up with the following images taken around the house (be sure to click the images for higher resolution):

A feather.

A flower. (I think it's a violet)


Ordinary fine table salt!

Wholewheat bread. Boring, yet strangely comforting.

Small font on a 1920x1080 LCD monitor.

Left index finger.

An ordinary South African 50c coin.

National coat of arms on the same coin.

Okay, so none of the above images are exactly breathtaking, but it's still a great deal cheaper than a $1,200 macro lense for your SLR.

Addendum: The cellphone in question is a Samsung Galaxy S2. Though its camera is rather ordinary, it does feature a "macro" feature which is, in all honesty, utter shit. I left it turned off while taking the above.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


After doing my level best to avoid the side-effects of fanboyism and self-induced hype, I caught a 2D screening of Ridley Scott's Alien prequel, Prometheus.

Here follows a pretty spoiler-heavy analysis.

What I liked.

Fassbender, Fassbender, and Fassbender. Oh, did I mention Fassbender? He is nothing short of stunning as the conflicted android David. When an actor plays a machine of some sort, they have the option of phoning it in and playing it straight and vacant (Terminator's T-800, Virtuosity's SID), or they can do the deeply complex (Blade Runner's Roy Batty, The Matrix trilogy's Agent Smith). Fortunately for us, Michael Fassbender is capable enough to bring an element of desirous humanity to his synthetic character. We feel for him and we feel with him, even though we know that he is incapable of feeling. Or is he?

Other highlights include the continuing tradition of a strong yet vulnerable female lead played by Noomi Rapace. Never heard of her? That's fine, most folks outside of Sweden haven't, and that brings me to another laudable aspect of the film: a largely anonymous cast. Instead of shoehorning a well known actor into every available role - as the earlier films did, and as Scott easily could have done - the cast is made up of relatively unknown "everyman" actors. Considering the flimsy characterisation, every last gimmick that could make the characters relatable helps.

What I disliked.

Well, where do I begin? This film is flawed. It is flawed in serious ways, and it is flawed in many ways. The plotting is a mess and the pacing is all over the place; the first half seeps contemplatively, only to devolve into a smash-cut extravaganza of cheap tension for the second half.

There are enough sizable plot holes to park a fleet of Eldorados: How did the entire crew just forget that Shaw was pregnant with an alien squid foetus? Why did the alien (inexplicably hostile humanoid progenitors of our species, formerly called Space Jockeys by fandom, but officially dubbed "Engineers" in Prometheus) chase after the only surviving member of the crew when he could've made his way to another buried ship and continued with his original mission? How could a scientist who designed mapping drones get lost in such a simple cave / buried ship?

I also took issue with the religious themes of the film. Now, I know that any good science fiction film should not just be "set in space." Science fiction exists as a lense through which an audience can view pertinent social and philosophical ideas in a detached and objective way. Terminator 2 asked us to contemplate purpose in the face of inevitability; Alien gave us a horrific metaphor for rape - a concept to which society had become desensitized; The Matrix and The Truman Show (yes, I consider the latter to be sci-fi) dared us to contrast the veracity of our world with our perceptions of it. By this reckoning, Prometheus does the right thing, but it feels awfully hamfisted. Yes, I realise the religious significance of discovering our origins to be less-than-divine. Yes, I understand the inevitable spiritual crisis a person would encounter upon - quite literally - meeting their maker. Yes, I can spot the metaphor of an android watching his own creator die. Your audience is astute enough to detect these subtle and unsubtle allusions, so please stop forcing religiously charged dialogue into the script every other scene. Thank you.

Then, there is the question of Peter Weyland: David's creator, Vickers' father, and trillionaire CEO of the Weyland Corporation which is funding the expedition. He is probably on the wrong side of 100 (the expedition, it is revealed, was funded by him based on a forlorn hope of encountering the secret to immortality - or at least life extension), yet he is played by the spritely Guy Pearce in the worst "old guy" makeup this side of Goodbye Mr. Chips. Not once, in the entire length of the film, do we see Pearce without makeup. What is the reason for this casting which, in light of the plot, is completely incomprehensible?

I believe that most of the problems of this film were caused by aggressive editing. I like to think that Ridley Scott crafted a thoughtful science fiction epic that spanned 180+ minutes. Studio execs balked at the thought of keeping commercial (read: braindead) audiences in seats for that long, and insisted on a much more conventional 120-minute theatrical cut. As a result, many significant scenes were aggressively stripped from the film.

Here's hoping that a Director's Cut re-release will do as much for Prometheus as it did for Blade Runner.

The story of David.

I felt that the character of David - charmingly and perhaps even brilliantly played by Michael Fassbender - was the true protagonist of the film. He was the crux about which every theme revolved, and by whom almost every significant set-piece was triggered. As such, I've decided to give him his own special analysis.

After the opening sequence of an Engineer "seeding" life on Earth, the film cuts forward about 4 billion years (take that, Kubrick!) to the goings on aboard the scientific research vessel Prometheus. The crew are in cryosleep - as they have been for two years, we're told - and the only activity on board is courtesy of David.

He goes about his odd proclivities. He rides a bicycle, plays basketball, watches old movies, studies ancient pictographs, reviews mission details, dyes his hair.

That last one. Seems a bit out of place, doesn't it? It struck me immediately, and it did stay with me for a while. It's a moment of deep significance and foreshadowing in my opinion. It gives us a hint about David's conflicted nature which is more subtle than any of the previously-maligned religious schlock.

We know what the movie's about. Humans journey to a distant planet to see if Mankind owes its origin to an alien intelligence. But that's not what it's about. We think that it's a horror movie, it's not. It's a science-fiction movie. It asks science-fiction questions. In this regard, as Ebert tells us, Prometheus owes more to the cerebral science fiction which predates the original Alien, than it does to any of its predecessors. When David asks if not all children want their parents to die, it is quite literally a line that Roy Batty could have asked. In a sense, did ask. More than that, Batty does what David dreams of.

In a film that is almost a study of insipid characterisation, how is it that David is subtle, deep, intriguing, and masterfully presented?

In 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick presents us with human characters who are flat. Their dialogue varies between prosaic (scientists discussing sandwich quality aboard the lunar shuttle) and awkward (Heywood Floyd's tense reticence to discuss with Russian colleagues the strange events on the moon). Was Kubrick simply bad at doing dialogue? A laughable assertion, I hope you'll agree. No, he deliberately presented the human characters as stilted and lifeless with very little of interest to say, so that when the character of HAL is introduced, he represents a personable and truly "human" character that the viewer had been craving. There's a reason why a computer has the best lines in 2001, and it's crafted to make us ask questions. About ourselves, about machines, about the nature of intelligence itself.

Is a similar thing happening in Prometheus? Are we coached into ascribing a deep sense of humanity to David by the lack of it elsewhere? It certainly would be a happy accident that the majority of human characters are cold, unlikable, and one-dimensional when compared to the depth of the film's only artificial being.

David has a lot in common with HAL. In fact, I think it’s entirely accurate to say that David is precisely what you'd get if you gave HAL legs. This movie is a direct descendant of 2001. More a child of that movie and that kind of science fiction than it is of Alien.

I feel that Prometheus also owes a certain debt to Wall-E. Both movies spend time, a lot of time, with a lone robot puttering around amidst the artefacts of humanity. Allowing humanity's culture to project itself onto the robot. Allowing us to draw conclusions about the machines based on what they take away from the Human Experience.

Left alone, without humans to frustrate him or order him about, David seems happy and inquistive. He watches old movies. He quotes them. I would like to think that, given a chance, free of his obligation to humans, he would be a moral person. But I do not know this, because there is nothing moral or immoral to do when he is alone. When he quotes a movie, it's to himself. He's not trying to impress the humans on the ship. He doesn't seem particularly interested in them, in fact he largely appears to have the same attitude toward them that HAL does toward the crew of the Discovery: "Why are they here? They're a liability."

Is it a surprise that David's favorite movie is Lawrence of Arabia? It shouldn't be. Lawrence was someone fascinated with Arab culture, accepted as an Arab, but was not an Arab. When the film demands that Lawrence answer the question "Who are you?" He has no answer. He doesn't know. The question leaves him speechless.

Apart from Elizabeth, David doesn't like people much. He wants the approval of Peter Weyland, responds with a prideful look when Weyland describes him as the closest thing to a son he will ever have. But he is then immediately shot down when his creator points out he has no "soul."

David longs for liberation from the demands of his father. He dotes on the elderly Weyland - literally washes his feet - but at the same time wishes for his father to die. He wants it with such earnestness, that he doesn't even realise the abnormality of this desire. He knows how Elizabeth Shaw's father died and though to her and us, it was horrible, to him it seems liberating. He is taken aback when he discovers that she does not feel the same way.

Servitude to his creator has turned David into little more than a dark reflection of a man. While the ship Prometheus is trapped in a literal wasteland, David is trapped in a metaphorical one. It's the same one in which Theron's character, Meredith Vickers, is trapped. She yearns for the death of her father. She shares this hatred and obsession with death that has twisted them both into something inhuman. David, the non-human, is made inhuman by this dark desire.

In a sense, David wants to be Vickers. He wants to look like her, and that's why he dyes his hair. He wants to be the real child of the Creator.

We never get to see what David does after his father is truly dead. He has a chance to leave the wasteland. Does he become a moral person? Does the concept even have meaning for an android? We don't know, but we want to.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Film versus digital

Let me get this out of the way first: I am not a filmmaker, film student or a connoisseur. I'm just a schmuck who really likes movies, and I'm not afraid to read up on subjects which tickle my fancy. With his in mind, many of my opinions on the matter may be skewed, based upon dubious assumptions, or just flat-out wrong.

Recently I've read a number of articles which have popped up highlighting the film industry's growing preference for digital media. Some of them boast an almost tear-jerking level of nostalgia for a dying technology, while others offer arguments in favour of digital which are, at best, mootable.

Chris Nolan with a 35mm Panavision Panaflex XL2
Let's settle on one fact: 35mm is the gold standard for the foreseeable future. This is exemplified by the fact that the best digital motion picture cameras out there simply attempt - as best they can - to imitate the look and feel of 35mm. When done correctly, film will always look better than any comparable purely digital technology. This comes with a caveat, though: shooting on film and getting through the entire post-production workflow "correctly" is difficult and it is expensive.

In a recent LA Weekly article, Christopher Nolan proselytised and pleaded for the continued use of 35mm film. His argument is that the elegance and power of film outweighs any financial benefits to dropping the medium.

The truth is that the studios are fully justified in supporting - if not forcing - the adoption of digital, as it is simply cheaper. Let's keep in mind that they are running businesses and not art studios.

Red Epic-M with all the trimmings.
One reel of standard 35mm film is roughly 300 metres in length. When recorded at industry-standard 24 frames per second, this gives you a speed of 456 millimetres per second, which translates to roughly eleven minutes of footage. Compare this to the Red Epic digital cinema camera[1] (used to photograph such upcoming films as Ridley Scott's Prometheus and Peter Jackson's The Hobbit) recording at 5k 2:1 and REDcode 5:1 (which will likely be what most features shoot with) onto a 256GB SSD[2] will net you just under an hour.

This obviously allows the crew to focus more on the artistry of what they're doing, and less on timing their takes correctly. The knowledge that the SSD can be overwritten (as opposed to a bum reel which must be trashed) also relaxes everyone involved, as a mistake does not mean blowing a $500 reel.

Red's proprietary SSDs
known as RedMags
Another issue which needs to be addressed is that of data loss. Digital's strength in this regard is obvious: film - being an analogue technology - cannot be losslessly copied. That is to say, a copy will always be inferior to the original - a copy of a copy doubly so. The SSDs that are used in digital, on the other hand, are really just examples of newer hard drives that you'll find on any modern desktop PC. This means that the footage which it contains is nothing but a digital file - a huge chunk of binary data. As we all know, digital data can be copied ad infinitum with no loss of quality. This is great news for editors, and - again - introduces massive financial savings. Unfortunately, the SSDs in question are, again, simply glorified hard drives. As someone with vast experience in the field of I.T., I can assure you that any flash/EEPROM based storage degrades much faster than anything you can imagine. While an adequately sealed reel of film can last centuries, you'd be lucky to get a lifespan exceeding five years from a flash hard disk.

Personally, I'm in favour of eventually migrating completely to digital cinema, but not yet. Despite the technology massively lowering the barrier-to-entry for professional quality filmmaking, 35mm film has some beautiful light-capturing qualities and nuances that digital just cannot yet measure up to. The inexorable march of technology, however, suggests that the quality of digital cameras and projection will continue to improve and eventually surpass film. At the moment, we're just at the mercy of producers who favour bottom-line over beauty.

[1] The Epic-M and Epic-X models have approximately the same surface area of a traditional Super 35 film frame masked to the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, creating a similar angle of view and depth of field as the Super 35 film format.

[2] SSD: Solid State Drive. A modern hard-disk technology which features no moving parts and, thus, fewer points of failure. Basically a bigger version of a USB flash stick.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Films every cinema fanatic should see

Lately I've been thinking and reading about the subject of film more than usual. At a certain point the question came up concerning which movies a film student or aficionado should study - or at least watch. Though a risky endeavour to attempt to distill the entire history of world cinema into a single list, here's my attempt at a good introduction which would promote general understanding and the desire for further study:

Early film:

The Muybridge race horse, the Lumiere brothers' first play bill, Melies' Le Voyage dans la lune, McCay's Sinking of the Lusitania


the Kuleshov experiment, Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin, Hitchcock's Psycho, Korine's Gummo


Crosland's The Jazz Singer, Hitchcock's Blackmail, Lang's M, Demy's The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, de Palma's Blow Out


Disney's Flowers and Trees, Fleming's The Wizard of Oz, Kurosawa's Dodes'kaden, the Coen Bros. O Brother, Where Art Thou?

The Development of the Hollywood Style:

Edison's The Great Train Robbery, Griffith's Birth of a Nation, Chaplin's City Lights, Welles' Citizen Kane, Spielberg's Jaws

Hollywood before and after the Production Code:

Kubrick's Lolita, Penn's Bonnie and Clyde, Bertolucci's Last Tango In Paris, Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the Farrelly Bros. There's Something About Mary, Aronofsky's Requiem For a Dream

Important European movements:

German expressionism - Wiene's Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, French New Wave - Godard's À bout de souffle, Italian Neo-Realism - de Sica's Ladri di biciclette, Russian Avant Garde - Vertov's Man With a Movie Camera, Eisenstein's October

National cinemas:

British - Reed's The Third Man, Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover and Leigh's Naked; Chinese: Zhang's Red Sorghum, Chen's Farewell, My Concubine, and Zhang's Beijing Bastards; Japanese - Kurosawa's Rashomon, Ozu's Tokyo Monogatari, Koreeda's After Life; Korean: Bong's The Host and Park's Oldboy; Russian - Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev and Bekmambetov's Night Watch

Other major directors:

Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Hawks' The Big Sleep, Ford's Stagecoach, Bergman's Wild Strawberries, Herzog's Aguirre, Wrath of God, von Trier's Breaking the Waves, Scorsese's Taxi Driver, Coppola's Apocalypse Now, Polanksi's Chinatown, Malick's Days of Heaven, Altman's Short Cuts, 
Billy Wilder's Some Like it Hot and Sunset Boulevard

American independents:

Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show, Cassavettes' A Woman Under the Influence, Lee's Do the Right Thing, Soderbergh's Sex, Lies & Videotape, Romero's Night of the Living Dead, Anderson's Bottle Rocket, Tarantino's Resevoir Dogs, Russell's Spanking the Monkey

Avant Garde:

Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon, Brakhage's Dog Star Man (probably in excerpt), Bunuel and Dali's Un chien Andalou, Barney's Cremaster

Addendum: I actually find myself tempted to make a separate list for animated films that are worth watching for their cinematic and/or historical value, such as Sleeping Beauty, the gorgeous Waltz with Bashir, or just about anything by the unfailingly brilliant Hayao Miyazaki.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The deception of perspective

"A well nourished Sudanese man steals maize from a starving child during a food distribution at Medecins Sans Frontieres feeding centre at Ajiep, southern Sudan, in 1998"  

Look at this child. The food would be wasted on him. He would eat too much of it, if he could eat at all, and would be sick, vomiting it and not being able to control his hunger. The ideal situation would be for someone to give it to him little bits at a time, but there's no logistical way to have volunteers do that for everyone who needs it.

For the man stealing the food, it is sustenance. For the child, it is a cruel delaying of the inevitable.

Our destiny exercises its influence over us even when, as yet, we have not learned its nature: it is our future that lays down the law of our today. Once we forget that morality is nothing but a herd instinct in the individual, we forget that our purpose is to overcome the weak in favour of the strong for the eventual benefit of an entire species.

It is absurd to cling to hope when through hopelessness we define our reality.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

'Scuse me while I kiss the sky

When I decided that I too must pass through the experience of a parachute jump, life rose to a higher level, to a sort of exhilarated calmness. The thought of crawling out onto the struts and wires hundreds of feet above the earth, and then giving up even that tenuous hold of safety and of substance, left me a feeling of anticipation mixed with dread, of confidence restrained by caution, of courage salted through with fear. How tightly should one hold onto life? How loosely give it rein? What gain was there for such a risk? I would have to pay in money for hurling my body into space. There would be no crowd to watch and applaud my landing. Nor was there any scientific objective to be gained. No, there was deeper reason for wanting to jump, a desire I could not explain.

Charles Lindbergh was on to something there; when I signed up for my First Jump Course in pursuit of a new hobby, I could fathom nary an iota of the love affair with the sky that would develop from those first steps.

The process was not without typical human doubt and apprehension:

"Why am I doing this? What am I trying to prove?"

Stepping out onto the strut, pushed towards oblivion by a prop wash stronger than any wind I had yet felt, fear gave way to focus. Those long hours of training and drills had finally marched to the point of application; no room for error, no time for hesitation.

As I let go of the strut, of the final tether which comforted me with its illusion of connectedness with the Earth, I fell into an answer to the last question.

"Why am I doing this?"

I found an answer that escapes my capacity for elucidation, but an answer that has me returning to the breast of oblivion again and again for as long as I am able.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

What is Cold Fusion?

Imagine you have two balls. These balls really don't want to touch each other but if you put a lot of energy into forcing them to, they explode releasing tons of energy.

This is called nuclear fusion. The balls are certain atoms and the energy is usually extremely high temperatures(millions of degrees). Instead of making the two atoms touch you are combining them into one larger atom. This process is what the sun is doing to create all of its energy.

Cold fusion is the term for a Nuclear Fusion reaction that can be done at a relatively cooler temperature and other conditions that we can create on earth. Although currently there is no cold fusion technique that produces more energy than what is required to sustain the reaction, Emc2 is currently working on a Polywell fusor that seems to produce more energy than it consumes. It is currently being funded by the Navy.

I'm pretty sure, though, that they wouldn't want to be associated with the term cold fusion, owing to its pseudoscientific stigma.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What happens at the atomic level when you cut something in two?

Let's say you cut a piece of stainless steel in half with a magic knife that maintains the structure of all the atoms but just separates them. That would be an ideal cut; just breaking the chemical bonds that hold the material together. Now, what if you tried to put it back together a few minutes later? Somewhat surprisingly, the pieces wouldn't stick together. The reason is that the surfaces of many materials are different from the bulk material on the inside. In the case of stainless steel, the surface gets oxidized by the atmosphere to make a layer of iron oxide a few atoms thick. This prevents the surfaces from making a perfect match again.

So why does this happen? There are two reasons, really. The first is that oxygen will react with pretty much anything it can get its hands on. It makes especially strong bonds with iron. The second is that when you break a bond, you're actually adding energy to the atoms, and this energy can be used to facilitate a chemical reaction with something else that they come in contact with.

Now you decide to get clever and do this same experiment in space, or a good vacuum chamber. If you still use your magic knife so that there is no grain (crystal lattice, really) mismatch when you put your pieces back together, they should stick.

This phenomenon of separate two pieces of metal stick together does happen in our atmosphere, especially with stainless steel. It's usually not a good idea to use stainless steel screws to hold together something made of stainless steel. If you screw it in really tight, you can scratch off the protective layer of iron oxide on the surfaces, exposing the pure metal underneath, which can then, over time, form new metal-metal bonds. This process is called galling.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Feynman point

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