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About a month ago I have heard about Windows Vista’s release and I wanted to see the new look that people have been talking about in most reviews I came across, not to mention the ads of course. Then, I stumbled upon one of the videos showing its new features while I am roaming the YouTube world, and I also got to use it about 2 weeks ago (I know it was released a few days ago or so but apparently the computer lab I was in had it beforehand) , and …

It is unbelievably ridiculous. Microsoft has definitely done it this time. They have exactly COPIED most of the cool differences between their Windows and Mac OS 10.4 Tiger and are selling it as their new Windows Vista. It even comes complete with all your favorite OS X color schemes set as Vista’s defaults. Microsoft should use this latter as their marketing tagline. It took them a long time to figure out how Tiger and its predecessors were made. If you haven’t seen Vista’s “new” features, you haven’t missed much since they are all already in Tiger. This is definitely a case of the amazing becoming the obvious and the standard of the industry and no thanks to the Windows Vista’s “creation” team (read copy machines). Even though Vista does indeed boast a few changes from Tiger, I found them not useful and actually sometimes annoying.

Apple’s reaction to Vista tells it all. My friend Ayman told me that Microsoft has been copying ideas of everybody since a long time ago, so I can imagine that Apple have at least done this kind of make-fun-of-Microsoft video a few times before. I have to get it to them though, they are still creative doing it.

There is a lot of such videos on YouTube showing how Vista is really Tiger. A good one is where a Windows Vista speaker listing its new features is showcased step-by-step on a Mac OS Tiger.

Mac fans, I am sure, will be much happier when Mac OS 10.5 Leopard is released, hopefully by late March this year!

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Yesterday, I went to our physics department’s weekly colloquium. The speaker was James Overduin from The Gravity Probe B project at Standford. (His introducer kept on calling it the Gravity Probe B “effort” not project. No idea why? I guess this is what you do when a project lasts for more than two generations.) In the picture is the Probe following orbits around the Earth.

Anyway, he gave a highly non-technical introduction about ideas of gravity, as if none of the audience had wrote theses on General Relativity (GR). Then he gave a quick and dirty overview of what Gravity Probe B is about. They mainly wanted to test a consequence of Einstein theory of GR, and they will do this by watching the spin of a ball in orbit around the Earth. They did many amazing things to have their experimental errors very small so they can see the tiny effects of GR on this ball. I will just give an example that caught my attention. He said they have made the most perfect spheres to date; if their ball was the size of the Earth, the tallest mountain or deepest valley in it would be only 8 meters high or deep. They had to do all kind of amazing things like this.

In his introduction, he talked about a principle called Mach’s Principle. Each GR expert has her own definitions of what the principle is, and as usual Mach himself never stated it. Einstein was the first name it and use his own version of it. Later, he deemed it useless and said that one should never talk about Mach’s Principle. But still, people like it. My one sentence version: Only the stuff objects are made of and their relative motion affect their motion. One cool question that couldn’t be answered for a long time is this: We know the earth is squished on the poles because of its spin around its own axis, so it doesn’t look perfectly spherical. Would it still be squished if you fix the Earth and make the rest of the universe? It is a pretty tough experiment to set up :) Big debate before Mach, but in relativity it turns out the answer is Yes! it would be squished. Somebody actually did the calculation and I believe others actually tried to do the experiment, but on a smaller scale; they tried to spin something the size of a room around itself and sees if things inside gets squished. But turns out the calculation says the squishing in such a small setup will be about the size of an atom. They couldn’t measure that at the time. Read the rest of this entry »

I think it is a good idea for a first blog to be not so specific. But still, I expect that I will be blogging about a bunch of stuff more than others. For the most part it will be about interesting conversations I get into on physics, philosophy, politics, or religion. I absolutely love a good conversation on any of these topics and when I come across one of those, I will definitely make sure you know all the fun details. I must say though that I sometimes wander with only a compass in hand.

Oh yeah and school has started for me but I will try to keep up with a promise of at least two posts a week!

Let me end this with something interesting. The header photo of this blog is a cropped version of Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Country Road at Dusk”. It is part of “Turkey Cinemascope” his latest fine art photographs exhibition. You can find some of the exhibition here. He is a famous Turkish director (actually his movies are kind of his photos: gloomy and distant yet feels so close). Anyway, this collection has already been exhibited in Greece Nov. 2006, and also as his website says it runs “from Monday 22nd January to Saturday 3rd March 2007 at the prestigous National Theatre of London in the South Bank.” He was only famous for directing, but I guess he is making in photography now as well. What really attracted me to his photos is his panoramic style. I felt like there is so much landscape to travel within but no will to go anywhere. There is this heaviness in it. It weighs me down a little. I don’t know why or how it does it. (I haven’t seen something like it before; if you know of anything similar, please let me know).

Damn it. You are still here even after this long first piece. I guess I must try harder on the next posts. :)