It used to be that if you happened to see a spectacular little short film on a random TV channel late at night you might be happy and inspired but you would also have to live with the sad, certain knowledge that you would never see that film again, ever. Thanks to our advanced technological society this is is no longer the case, and so I give you This Guy Is Falling.
Malkovich Malkovich, Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich, Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich. Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich! Malkovich Malkovich, Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich -- Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich. Malkovich.
The "incredibly dangerous X-ray star" I alluded to yesterday is the so-called Pistol Star, which is located near the center of the Milky Way and is believed to be over one hundred times the mass of the Sun. It probably started out with closer to two hundred times the Sun's mass but is currently shedding material in a series of huge explosions, creating a blazing cloud of gas and debris that's wider across than the distance from here to Alpha Centauri. Wear protective goggles and don't look directly at it, is my recommendation.
For an apocalypse closer to home, you can peruse this theoretical description of a Warhol Worm, so-called because it would potentially be able to infect every vulnerable machine on the Internet within fifteen minutes. Imagine what would happen with the Internet in ruins! No web-surfing, no email, no online multiplayer games -- our nation's productivity would go through the roof. Ba-dump-bum.
Five days after that big, obvious hint and not one single marriage proposal. What's wrong with you people? Don't you appreciate science?! For example, supposing one of these incredibly dangerous X-ray stars were to go off: it's science that tells us down to the tenth decimal place just how screwed we'd be. Tell me that doesn't get your blood flowing!! Hah! Fools! You may mock me now, but once I've built my Supernova Gun and released my demands you'll all bow down before me! BOW DOWN! BWA HA HA HA HA!!
See, this is why I like science. I want to marry somebody who feels the same way.
So in case you wondered if you were living in the future, here's your personal helicopter, your flying car and your floating city. I'm not actually convinced that last one is going to get anywhere, but it does seem to be Objectivism-free, which is a promising start.
O the shame! O the mortification! I played Dead or Alive 3 and liked it. What's wrong with me? Okay, anyway, on the computer graphics theme you'll definitely enjoy this lovely Work in Progress -- a computer-animated short from Lucasfilm. Unless you're some kind of Communist, of course.
Here's a page full of opt-out links for many major WWW advertising systems.
It's current events day! First Cosmo the dog interviews President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, and next here's a quick update on the brutal Afghan winter that even now has trapped our soldiers in a hideous quagmire of frostbitten defeat. I note that, at least as of right now, the ten-day forecast for Kabul is almost identical to the ten-day forecast for Monmouth, Illinois. No wonder everyone was so scared.
If you're me, you will be positively fascinated by this chapter of the comp.compression FAQ. It includes a truly elegant proof of why the perfect compression algorithm is as unattainable as the perpetual motion machine, and describes a few of the cranks and charlatans who have insisted otherwise. I don't know why I'm enthralled by some of these things, honestly.
Awright, I'm back, and I'd like to point out that it's been commented you can trace every major breakthrough in computer graphics over the past few decades simply by watching all of Pixar's short films in chronological order. So go on, then.
Malcolm Gladwell is an essayist who specializes in change, both cultural and technological, and its effects on society, not unlike the more well-known John McPhee. Many of his essays are online, on topics ranging from risk theory to disposable diapers to how six degrees of separation rules the world.
The process of cleaning up the ruins of the World Trade Center has apparently gone much faster than anyone expected.
Extrasolar Planets Dept.: A brown dwarf, some sixty-five times larger than Jupiter, has been directly photographed orbiting a nearby star at planetary distances. Brown dwarf "stars" have similar compositions to normal stars, but are too small to support the self-sustaining nuclear fusion reaction that powers those normal stars. This is the closest and smallest object that has ever been photographed orbiting another star, but it's surely not going to be the last.
I'm off on a well-deserved (no smart remarks, now) vacation this week, so One Small Small Step will resume service the week of January 6, 2002. Until then, why not try some of the delicious links to the left? You won't regret it. Have a safe New Year.