Hello World

I co-organized a hackerspace at RIT. There, I invented a new means of making x-rays, and have left college upon the receiving a 100k fellowship to found an imaging science company in California. http://aperture.systems When I’m not building something, I’m either out hiking or reading. This is my blog. Enjoy! “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” Sadly, such truths are often obscured ಠ_ಠ You are what you believe This summer, I recognized that my quiet personality and avoidant social habits were limiting my progress and continued happiness in life. That needed to change. If you believe you’re an extrovert, you are an extrovert. Are you lonely? Are you miserable? If you’re hauled up in your room or office and you complain that you have no one to talk to, take a look at yourself from a third-person perspective. If you have made little to no effort in communicating with others, how the hell can you complain in good faith that you have no friends? Recognize that “I am shy” is an excuse to maintain your old ways, and that, the only keeping you locked up in your social prison is yourself. “My attempts at making friends have failed” Congratulations, you talked to crappy people. Keep trying. “Other people bore me” Congratulations, you’re a pompous ass. Just because someone does not share every interest that you have does not mean they are not worth talking to, and in fact, if you take time to get to know them you might discover that they’re actually quite fun to talk to. “Other people are mean” Congratulations, you are paranoid and/or neurotic. The majority of people in this world are intrinsically good and act in good faith. Mind you, what is good faith to them does not necessarily always align with your situation, but recognize that no one is out to get you. “All other excuses” Shot down in the same fashion. Be outgoing. Go out. Meet people. Make it your mission to meet a new person every day, and if you’re persistent, you may eventually find someone really cool. If it’s unfeasible for you to constantly move your person, then have a look at your facebook friends. It’s likely you have hundreds of them, but, how many have you actually talked to? Ping ‘em. To remove any sense of confusion in the other party, simply be frank. “Hello! I’ve made it my mission to talk to one random person every day, and the dice has landed on you. How goes it?” Keep this attitude up, and you might find someone willing to invite you over to do something. If you’re afraid to look people in the eye, FORCE YOURSELF. Maintaining eye contact in conversation establishes a sense of dominance, and people are more likely to take your words seriously as you peer into their soul. Even if you are telling an absolute truth, shifty demenaours and body language imply to the other party dishonesty and you’re likely to leave a poor impression, and at the very minimum not have your words heard. Recognize that, it is incredibly, incredibly rare for someone to be able to stare you in the eye with confidence and tell a lie. Many humans for this reason, suck at poker. Understand who your true friends are. Most people I meet, I would classify as acquaintances. This is so because, • Friends don’t talk ill behind each other’s back. • Friends don’t lie to each other, and are people you can trust to always give an honest opinion. • Friends care for each other’s well being, and will help you when you are down on your luck. • Friends are around until death. A friend is the type of person you call if you’re locked up in vegas and need someone to drive 300 miles to come write you a bail bond. A friend is someone you can invite over for “no purpose” and they’ll be happy to come. Friends are people you love, and it’s very rare to have more than 10. Listen. Recognize that no one actually gives a hoot about what you have to say. Instead of blathering on and on about your past and your political stances, shut up and listen to another’s speech. You’ll find that; • You’ll learn new things. • You’ll begin to understand how people work. • If you’re interesting, people will ask you to talk. In which case, you’re able to maintain delightful conversation, as you’ve discovered what other party truly is interested in. Be agreeable. Be agreeable, even if you disagree. If another party has views which vastly conflict with yours, chances are there’s nothing you can say that’ll sway them to the contrary so don’t even try. Making the attempt, unless you are already a god of persuasion, is unlikely to make another person like you, and may in fact leave them with a negative opinion of your existence. Charisma is everything. People from all walks of life admire confidence and charisma. Be excited about the ideas you present, and be excitable when someone replies with words that resonate with you. Project your voice and speak with confidence and dignity, and never pity yourself. Body language matters. Turn your torso toward someone while speaking to them. Hold your back straight, keep your posture erect, and walk like you mean it. You’ll be surprised how far these simple adjustments will take you. Be Yourself. Often, I wear a pair of 550-300nm laser glasses on my head. This sounds like a strange thing to do, but quite frankly it’s no different in my mind from your200 pair of  ray-bans (which, were made from \$5 worth of crap). If anyone criticizes your use of jewelry, clothing or even hair dye, simply say, “I do this because I am confident in who I am”, and they’ll have no meaningful rebuttal to give.

A nice poem should surmise this thought well;

There once was a man named Adam.

He made it his mission in life to only keep around people who found him cool, and told all the others to politely go to hell.

He thus was a simple man; someone he knew and understood.

And he never had to deal with pessimistic opinion.

The end. You can’t please everyone, so don’t try.

Baby steps.

Don’t think you can change your personality in one day, because you can’t. Further, if you make that attempt you’ll look like a doofus.

If it is really your mission to become someone everyone loves, take time to change incrementally. In doing so, you’ll easily recognize when you are beginning to slip back into your old ways, and can take proper navigational maneuvers to rectify your bearing. Once the intended change becomes natural [that is, it requires no active thought], then focus on a new incremental improvement.

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

Natasha Bedingfield – “Unwritten”

How to win at life

Whenever you fuck something up, rise like a phoenix from the ashes of your own burns and carry on.

Luldlum Model 12 Restoration

Recently I’ve been restoring a Ludlum Model 12 rate meter. What is that you might ask?

The best ratemeter on this side of Si Valley, that’s what!

I say this, because it’s one of those rare instruments built with “user serviceable” in mind, much like old tektronix oscilloscopes. Along with its bare, “don’t touch this lest you get shocked” circuit board, it contains trim potentiometers and for nearly everything one could wish to adjust; the high voltage power supply, the pulse discriminator, the integrator dividers, as well as a switch to change the integration speed and to reset the integrator entirely. But those are just big words for people who don’t know what the hell a survey meter is!

What is a rate meter / survey meter?

A survey meter is a radiation measurement device; something that provides for a measurement probe;

• A high voltage power supply. Most radiation detectors (eg, geiger-muller tubes) require a high operating voltage, typically on the order of 700 to 2,500VDC.  Geiger-muller tubes typically require a potential of 400-700V, photomultiplier tubes a potential of 900 to 1500V, and proportional counters a potential of 1200 to 2500V.
• A pulse discriminator. During a count events, an electrical pulse is formed across the radiation detector. On some detectors, such as neutron proportional counters, this magnitude of this pulse is co-relates to the detected particle’s energy. The discriminator is a circuit capacitvely coupled to the probe’s high voltage power supply which monitors these pulses, and triggers a count event if the pulse exceeds some magnitude. By adjusting the reference voltage, one can discriminate between say, a neutron, and a gamma ray.
• An integrator. This is just some display mechanism that integrates the pulses, to give a “counts/minute” measurement. The accuracy of the integrator is of course, highly dependent on the length of time which it is active.
• A speaker. Click-click. Click-click-click-click.

Naturally, being able to adjust all of these things means you can use a Ludlum-12 with any probe you wish!

My rate meter

Ludlum-12’s in working condition are notoriously hard to find, as they’re highly coveted instruments, and no one lets go of a working one easily! As such, I bought mine semi-broken and much beat-up. The meter I acquired had lost its voice at some point in its life, and was in much need of a face-lift.

In all her pride and glory

Analog dreams

By “losing its voice”, I mean that my meter had no ability to make sound. This is rather unfortunate, because while it might seem like only a minor inconvenience, those clicks could be the alarm one needs to learn whether or no one is in a radiation field!

The Ludlum-12 is an entirely analog instrument. Nowhere on its board exists any form of proprietary turing machine, which is rather fortunate as this makes it quite repairable. So where was the damage? Here!

Ludlum-12 Audio Circuit, courtesy Andrew Seltzman

The audio circuit in this machine is rather simple. An astable multivibrator (CD4098) is triggered by the pulse discriminator (not labeled), which creates a few-kHz audio tone that’s fed out of Q2 into a NAND gate (CD4093). This NAND gate, being of the schmitt trigger type, squares-up the signal a bit, where it’s then further buffered by a second NAND gate and sent into a piezoelectric speaker. The audio “mute” switch is simply an SPDT toggle that holds the multivibrator’s RES2 (reset) pin low. These are the two ICs that somehow failed in this meter; likely due to some sort of electrostatic event given that they’re old and of fragile design. Interestingly, the multivibrator failed in such a way that pulses were able to make it out of Q2, but not periodic square waves. Weird. Replacing these ICs fixed the issue.

The Facelift

Whilst fixing this meter I was convinced by a fellow artist to make it snazzy.

Get Funky

The above was done with rust-oleum enamel, masking tape, and a razor blade.

Testing

Though I will eventually use this as a scintillation meter, I needed a probe for testing purposes. Not having one on hand, I decided to use a Navy surplus GM-tube that had been collecting dust for some years. Since the Geiger tube runs at a high potential (700VDC, in this case) it’s required that the tube be insulated lest I shock myself while using it. My solution, given a lack of tools was a composite tube built from paper, epoxy, and vinyl tape. Given a small coat of polyurethane for strength, it’s just about as good as one made from aluminum!

A DIY Composite Tube

Fits my Geiger tube snugly

And hosts a nice BNC connector

To make one sexy probe

The Video

No sir I don’t want spicy Mexican; I want hot. Add a dash of Radium Chloride please. ∎

The Bass Cannon

Every once in a while I build something ridiculous, and this would be one of those whiles.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the internet, I present to you what I understand to be the world’s first Bass Cannon.

What is a “Bass Cannon” you might ask?

It’s a weapon of mass destruction. A party on your shoulders. Something to frizz your hair with. Something to peeve your neighbors.

It’s when you get when you take

• An AirZooka
• A pair of voice coils
• Epoxy
• Miscellaneous analog parts
• A class D amplifier
• A lithium-polymer battery
• Birch plywood
• A physicist with too much time on his hands

And put them all together in a room with a soldering iron, and a laser cutter.

I’m not going to try to flaunt, nor will I make a step-by-step guide on how to construct one of these contraptions. That said, if you’d like to make a portable party for yourself, the above photos, and the below schematic should be enough to get you started!

In truth there’s not a whole lot of fancy engineering that went into this project. It’s a mono audio system with a pair of x-pass filters, a power amplifier and suitable drivers. It has no battery management or protection circuitry, though, that’s a simple thing to add if you do feel it to be absolutely necessary (hint; use a relay, a BJT, a zener diode, three 1% tolerance resistors and a comparator).

Two potentiometers set the channel gains for the the pair of first order filters; one high-pass for the midrange driver, and one low-pass for the woofer. A PYLE “PLPW8D” voice coil conveniently seats snugly within the case of the AirZooka, leaving just enough room for a mid-range driver to be placed in front of it with threaded rod as a support structure.

Initially I had concern as to whether or not this assembly would shake itself to bits upon use, but fortunately that was not the case.

Instead, it shakes the windows. ∎

-18dBm of cats

I moved California. More about that on another post.

Since then, I’ve (well, we’ve) had wifi problems, specifically ones emergent of what I consider to be some terrible MIMO radios. Periodically, our router [Netgear WNDR3700] would dump everyone on the 5GHz band, and disable the radio for some 20 minutes. This turned out to not be a software issue, as openWRT did not solve the problem.

This was my solution; I figured it was worth sharing.

Don’t tell the FCC, but our house now has a 1W wireless N connection. ∎

Engineering Bootcamp

“Rhythm, you either have it or you don’t; that’s a fallacy”.
Every tile below is a link to a wikipedia article on the subject.

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principal: The actual content of quantum theoretical kinematics and mechanics

Preface:

Upon reading chapter four of my assigned physics textbook [Modern Physics, Krane], I grew both tired and annoyed with the generalizations, or “leaps of faith” which author continually made. I soon found it more useful instead, to spend time reading the papers upon which these principals have been derived. Astonishingly however, I failed to find a modern, usable English translation of Werner Heisenberg’s landmark paper! More unfortunately even, the closest I did come on the hunt for such a translation was the discovery of a broken-english, NASA OCR script from 1988 hosted on the web archive. That won’t do.

Thus utilizing a day’s time, Google translate, MathJax and my personal skills at reading broken-english datasheets, I below have provided a modern translation of W. Heisenberg’s paper. For convenience of the reader, I have replaced some original variables used in the paper to more represent those found in common texts today. New notations such as euclidean norms (i.e, $$|f(x)|$$) have been instated, as well.

Dr. Heisenberg’s various justifications alone make for an interesting (and perhaps, very useful!) read, but for those short on time I have prepared also, a “too long, didn’t read” summary immediately preceding.

TLDR Summary

If we are to derive a model that quantizes space, perhaps to cells with lengths some finite dimension $$h$$, then we are left with in the space $$\mathbb{Q}^2$$ for example, a 2-dimensional grid of possible positions. Objects in this grid then, may be given some arbitrarily-defined co-ordinate, $$q$$.

q of course, is a function of $$(x,y)$$ inside $$\mathbb{Q}^2$$. $$x$$, and $$y$$ may only be integer multiples of h, or specifically:

$$q = \left \{ \forall (x, y)*h\in\mathbb{Q}^2 \right \}$$

(don’t be scared, I’m just having fun with LaTeX!)

Now, if $$q$$ is a function of yet another quantized variable, $$t$$, then $$q(x,y)$$ may be broken into $$q(x(t),y(t))$$.

Thus if it’s fair to say “$$q$$ can move as time advances integer multiples of h”, then it is possible to define some distance $$q_x$$, that $$q$$ has moved in that elapsed time $$\Delta t$$. We may thus define a 1-dimensional “velocity” $$v_x = \frac{\Delta q_x}{\Delta t}$$.

$$q$$ however, is not a continuous function in this space, as it may only take on discrete values, themselves integer multiples of $$h$$. Therefore it is useless to define “the velocity at a point”. More generally, $$q$$‘s average velocity for any time interval, $$\Delta t$$, smaller than $$h$$, is not definable.

Restated, only values of $$q_x$$, or $$v_x$$, can satisfy the below statement;

If time advances as $$(integers) * h$$, then $$\Delta q_x \geq h$$ if our definition of “velocity” is to make any sense.

By extension, momentum in this direction, which is defined as $$m v_x$$ must satisfy $$p_x \geq h$$, if $$m$$ can be no smaller than $$h$$ as well.

Now consider the thought:

What if we were to look at the object $$q$$, with absolute precision? That is, $$q_x$$ is exactly defined, and $$\Delta q_x = 0$$.

Then, if $$v_x$$ is a function of $$\Delta q_x$$ then as $$\Delta q_x(t \rightarrow 0)$$, or “the change in $$q_x$$” approaches zero, then the function $$v_x(\Delta q_x(t \rightarrow 0))$$ becomes indeterminate. This relation works on the converse as well, such that the relation:

$$\Delta q_x * m \Delta v_x \geq h$$ is justified!

In our 3 dimensional world $$\mathbb{Q}^3$$, this equation becomes the familiar Heisenberg uncertainty principal:

$$\Delta q_x\;\Delta p_x \geq \frac{h}{2 \pi}$$

The factor of $$2 \pi$$ is a geometric normalization.

The origins of this relation’s elegance are plain to see: it is one derived from simple principals! Below, Heisenberg purports similar arguments exist for an energy-time relationship, and proves both relations are just as true for wave-functions as they are for discrete, “particle” functions. I’ll leave that lesson to be a test of your reading comprehension skills, however.

Über den inhalt der quantentheoretischen anschaulichen the kinematik und mechanik (or, the actual content of quantum theoretical kinematics and mechanics)

W. Heisenberg, a modern translation by Adam Munich