Archive for: December, 2006

Strategy is different when playing with a five-year-old.

Dec 29 2006 Published by under Kids and science, Mathematics

The elder Free-Ride offspring has lately gotten into playing "poison", a nim-type game for two players. You start with a pile of twelve items that are the same and one item that is different (the poison). Each turn, players can remove either one or two items from the pile. The object of the game is to leave your opponent with no option but to take the poison.
In theory, it is possible to win the game every single time if your turn is second. (Thanks to MarkP for straightening me out on this one.) What the elder Free-Ride offspring has discovered in playing with the younger Free-Ride offspring, however, is that there are circumstances in which a five-year-old will find it psychologically impossible to exercise a winning strategy even when given the second turn.

Continue Reading »

Comments are off for this post

Friday Sprog Blogging: Air and Space highlights.

Dec 29 2006 Published by under Kids and science

Younger offspring: (climbing on a bed) Let's launch a mission to space!
Dr. Free-Ride: OK.
Younger offspring: (using a blanket and a pillow to fashion a helmet) I'm going to put on a space-suit.
Dr. Free-Ride: Are you planning a space-walk on this mission?
Younger offspring: Yep. If astronauts need to pee in the middle of a space-walk, they can go right in their space-suits. But we're just playing, so I won't do that.
Dr. Free-Ride: Imagine my relief.

Continue Reading »

Comments are off for this post

Cover-up at Air and Space!

Dec 28 2006 Published by under Doing science for the government

We (and 90% of everyone else in the vicinity of Washington, D.C.) went to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum yesterday. The crowds notwithstanding, it was a pretty good time. But a close inspection of the Apollo program exhibit yielded evidence of shocking obfuscation.

Space-ready foodstuffs, as every kid can tell you, are a staple of museum displays about space programs. (They're right up there with the useful post-prandial capacities of old-timey space suits.) So naturally, the food-in-tubes would be part of the display for the Apollo/Soyuz Test Project exhibit. As you'll recall, in 1975, the Apollo capsule and the Soyuz capsule docked in space, allowing for the mingling of American and Soviet crews for a couple days of experiments, photo-ops, and hanging out.

Continue Reading »

Comments are off for this post

Mini ScienceBloggers meet-up.

Dec 27 2006 Published by under Personal

In the midst of a hectic holiday season (at 3 a.m. on 25 December: "Can we go downstairs and start opening presents?"), I was lucky enough to catch up with SiBlings Evil Monkey and Tara C. Smith for a drink, some traditional (unamplified!) Irish music, and some delightfully nerdy conversation.
May your holidays be similarly rich!

Comments are off for this post

Holiday thoughts.

Dec 23 2006 Published by under Linkfest, Passing thoughts, Personal

If you're grabbing some quick blog-reading amongst your other goings on, I have a few posts to recommend.

Continue Reading »

Comments are off for this post

Friday Sprog Blogging: cross-country travel and kid circadian rhythms.

Dec 22 2006 Published by under Kids and science, Personal

The Free-Ride family was only delayed by about 8 hours in getting from California to Maryland. This was no thanks to the very unhelpful America West/US Airways ticket agent at San Francisco, who, after we waited in the line to get to the podium for nearly 4 hours, thought to put our luggage on the red-eye from Las Vegas but had to be pressed to put us on standby for the same flight rather than offering as our only option the connection-you're-about-to-miss-but-24-hour-later flight. Luckily, Las Vegas Customer Service Guy Patrick C. got us the relevant flight information that the evil-SFO-agent did not, and we managed to make it onto the red eye, or we'd be taking off just about now rather than settling in for our first night at Super Sally's house.
Anyway.
So, there's a kids and science related angle to this tale of woe, in which I seek information from the scientifically educated hive-mind:

Continue Reading »

Comments are off for this post

Catch you in the (near) future: another meme before getting on a plane.

Dec 21 2006 Published by under Passing thoughts, Personal

Today the Free-Ride family schleps to the airport (with what seem to be crates of warm layers) to fly East. Assuming Super Sally's wireless internet allows it, I'll have a Friday Sprog Blog up sometime Friday.
I guess that also assumes that there are no missed connections or flight cancellations. Let's hope.
Anyway, Dave Munger tagged me with another meme, so I'm posting my response before I officially become a Holiday Traveler.
The question:

What one sentence would you tell the future if your area of expertise was about to expire? For example, Richard Feynman, the physicist, said, "The world is made of atoms."

Continue Reading »

Comments are off for this post

Holiday meme the second: Christmas.

Dec 20 2006 Published by under Passing thoughts, Personal

On the heels of the Hanukah meme, here's the Christmas meme, as seen at Musings of a Distractable Mind:

Continue Reading »

Comments are off for this post

Holiday meme the first: Hanukah.

Dec 20 2006 Published by under Passing thoughts, Personal

On a post where I mentioned the eight-nights'-worth-of-gifts challenge, Liz left a comment that kind of tagged me with Flea's Hanukah meme.
Since the Free-Ride household celebrates both Hanukah and Christmas, the Christmas meme will be up next.
Hold onto your kippah -- here we go!

Continue Reading »

Comments are off for this post

The busy blogger's year in review.

Dec 20 2006 Published by under Passing thoughts, Personal

David posted his holiday letter, but I didn't feel up to composing one of those. So instead, I'm going to do this "year in review" meme I saw at Geeky Mom's pad. (She got it from Trillwing.)
The rule: post the first sentence of the first post for each month.*

Continue Reading »

Comments are off for this post

Older posts »