Welcome to this week's Max's Cool Beans column, in which we pause for a moment to take a deep breath (hold it... hold it... now exhale), slow down, relax, and start winding down in preparation for the weekend. As part of this exercise, I've gathered a few choice diversions for your delectation, delight, pondering, and rumination. This week's humble offerings are as follows.
Max's Cool Beans (Max is the has-bean on the right).
No. 1: OK, we start with a tale so heartwarming that it has been known to make grizzled old engineers break down and cry. It's a video of a true story about a little boy called Caine from a poor family in Los Angeles. He was lonely and wanted to make friends, so he constructed an arcade out of cardboard boxes. Someone took a video that went viral after being posted on the Internet. As a result, families from around the world are visiting this arcade. And Caine now has a $250,000 college fund.
No. 2: OMG, have you ever tried to solve a Rubik's Cube? If so, you know it's not easy. So can you imagine how difficult it would be to solve three simultaneously while juggling them?
No. 3: My grandfather used to tell me, "Stranger things happen at sea." And he should know, because he was a sailor. In fact, he was on the HMS Prince of Wales when it and the HMS Hood attacked the German battleship Bismarck. But I bet even my grandfather never saw anything quite as bizarre as this chicken dance involving live chickens.
No. 4: Speaking of dancing, someone at the Technion Institute (Israel's premier university) pointed me to this video by engineering students showing robots performing hip-hop dance routines. The students even roped in a couple of professors for the stunt.
No. 5: Speaking of robots (don't you love the way I slide from one topic to the next?), did you ever read the classic short science fiction story "They're Made Out of Meat" by Terry Bisson? A scout vessel crewed by machine intelligences has discovered Earth and is reporting back to home base. I love the part where one robot says to the other, "You are asking me to believe in sentient meat?" Someone created an animation of this to help illustrate the point.
No. 6: Speaking of the Higgs boson (I bet you glanced back to check if we had, in fact, been speaking of this subatomic particle), it's very difficult for a physicist to explain exactly what this is to laymen. In a nutshell, the Higgs field is thought to give mass to other subatomic particles, while Higgs bosons are best described as wibbles in the Higgs field. What? You still don't understand? In 1993, the British Ministry of Science challenged physicists to come up with an explanation the rest of us could wrap our brains around. Someone created a simple animation to complement the winning entry.
As usual, if you know of any interesting sites you'd care to share, please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for possible inclusion in a future Cool Beans column.