I gave a TEDx talk (and so did Nina)

Last week Nina and I both gave separate TEDx talks in Maastricht, Netherlands. Maastricht is very nice! Lots of bicycles, very few cars. If you've seen my Molecules book tour talk you won't see much new in this video, but if not, it's a concise 18-minute summary of my views on natural vs. synthetic chemicals (hint, I'm in favor of them).

Nina talked about how copyright is brain damage:

Nina's movie (that isn't her fault) is out!

A few of you may know that the only reason I got into making periodic table quilts (and molecule quilts and Pi quilts) and other such nonsense is that my girlfriend Nina bought a giant quilt-making robot. And the main reason she bought that machine was that she needed to invest some otherwise taxable income from a Hollywood movie gig. It was kind of a question of beating blood money into quilts, or something like that.

Well, that movie is finally out! It's called The Prophet, produced by Salma Hayek and directed by Roger Allers (The Lion King). Here's the official trailer on YouTube.

The movie has received mixed reviews, but you can't blame Nina for that, because it was produced as a collaboration in which half a dozen well-known animators each contributed segments in their own unique styles (with glue in between that makes them all hang together).

Her segment is, of course, fabulous, and if you don't believe me, this is what the Village Voice has to say:

Of the film’s team of idiosyncratic but somewhat timid animators, only Nina Paley (writer-director of Sita Sings the Blues) delivers a segment — traditional shadow puppets are plunged into a vortex of psychedelic abstract shapes — that is viscerally engrossing enough to bring Gibran’s writing to life. Paley’s segment proves that The Prophet is more of a missed opportunity than an ambitious folly.

The Prophet has a 69% Rotten Tomatoes score, while Nina's own movie Site Sings the Blues has a 100% score, proving, as if any further proof were necessary, that 100% Nina is much better than merely fractional Nina.

Apple Celebrates Five Years of Touchpress

Ooo, such a tingly feeling to be on the front page of the App Store!

Today (and for the next week most likely, as these things generally turn over every Thursday) Apple has put up a whole row of icons on the home page of the US and UK App Stores (and possibly others) featuring a selection of Touchpress Apps, plus a special icon that takes you to a page all about our storied line of apps.

The occasion is our fifth anniversary as an app publishing company. Here's what the lovely, lovely page looks like. (Also, all these apps are on sale half price, so now's your chance. They're really quite good.)

And here's what the front page of the App Store looks like (scrolled down a bit, because, no, it's not the TOP line of icons, it's just one whole great big juicy line of icons, part way down)

Molecule Quilts Now For Sale!

After several months in stealth mode, I've decided that, in honor of C&EN (Chemical and Engineering News) doing an article about them, I should really start selling molecule quilts.

The basic idea here is that I've written Mathematica code to automatically create a quilting pattern from any MOL file. (Actually I did that last year, but am only now getting around to commercializing the idea.) I've come up with some dumb and/or funny ideas for molecules you could put on a quilt, but really I can do any sensible molecule just as easily: The code is entirely automated.

I have a page that tells you everything you need to know about molecule quilts, and their very reasonable pricing.

I thermalled a crazy person in the surf!

I was at Ventura beach with my kids yesterday (one of whom just graduated from an online high school, so we had to fly to California). The water was very cold. Like, scream-when-it-hits-your-toes cold. So I was delighted to see that there were a couple of crazy people about to throw themselves into the sea. Naturally I got out the trusty Seek Thermal camera I keep in my pocket at all times!

I think it's really interesting that you can see a reflection of their heat output in the water below them. I guess it's not surprising, given that radiant heat is just light, same as any other kind of light. (Water is opaque to thermal energy in this range of wavelengths, so very sadly one could not see any dolphins or seals swimming underwater. But it is able to reflect a much wider range of wavelengths than it can transmit.)

Another curious thing is that the foam on the crashing waves appears much warmer than the water around it. I'm guessing that the foam is reflecting heat from the land, while the smooth water is reflecting the deep cold of the sky. But there might also be some frictional heating of the water by the crashing action. There is, after all, quite a lot of energy being released by this process, and it's all got to end up as heat.