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This is the TBTF Log, the place where I report important breaking news in the most timely way possible.

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2001-06-24

9:32:27 PM
  • A new Siliconium.

    In the current atmosphere of dot bust, we aren't seeing new Siliconia popping up at the rate they once did. Silicon Valley looks a good deal less like someplace whose success other regions want to emulate. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Rob Morse has come up with a Siliconium appropriate to the tenor of the times. Read about it here.



2001-06-06

10:59:48 AM corpse flower blooming
  • The StinkyFlowerCam. This flower, Amorphophallus titanum, also called Titan Arum or the corpse flower, is native to the equatorial rainforests of central Sumatra. It is a relative of the calla lily and the jack-in-the-pulpit. The species was discovered in 1878 and first bloomed in cultivation in 1889, at England's Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. The blooming now underway at the University of Wisconsin -- watched over by its very own refreshing Web cam -- is only the twelfth observed in the U.S. since 1937, when a huge specimen stunk up the New York Botanical Garden.

    Titan Arum is not only the largest known flower, it is also the smelliest. This description is taken from a page at the UWM's Department of Botany:

    The fully open inflorescence emits a repulsive, "rotting-fish-with-burnt-sugar" scent. The odor, strongest at night, is to attract pollinators, which in Titan's Sumatran home are mainly carrion beetles and flesh flies. Most fly- and beetle-pollinated "carrion" flowers are similarly colored and perfumed.

    Thanks to Kate McDonnell for the tip.



2001-06-01

7:08:48 PM
  • Directing the strokes of Ockham's razor. On a private mailing list, someone posted a couple of links about recent progress towards the development of a quantum computer, with the comment: Quantum computers provide irresistible evidence that the multiverse is real. I replied to the list:

    J.W.Burton will correct me if I'm wrong, I'm sure. Quantum computers do nothing of the kind. They provide yet another experimental proof (and exploitation of) complementarity and non-locality. Whether the nature of the universe that underlies these characteristics -- the quantum reality -- is as described by Bohr (the moon is really not there when no-one's looking at it) or by Bohm (a new universe branches from every quantum choice), or none of the above, is an open question.

    The authority invoked in the first sentence is Joshua W. Burton, itinerant professional physicist and one of the more cogent voices on that list, or any other for that matter. Dr. Burton rose to my troll, as I had hoped he would, with this essay. It's the most compelling summary that one could desire of the current state of thinking about quantum reality, and it is 100% guaranteed to make your head hurt. It is published on the TBTF archive by permission.


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