Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Learn something new every day

Two completely unrelated, but rivaling in coolness pieces of information:

1.  Brainless slime mold makes decisions exactly like humans do.

It makes decisions by evaluating its options comparatively, rather than absolutely.  In other words, when presented with a $5 bottle of wine and a $25 bottle of wine, the mold chooses the cheaper one.  However, when a choice of $500 bottle of wine is added, the mold goes for the $25 one as it looks like a relative bargain. Except, in the case of mold, wine = oatmeal culture.  For humans, the wine story holds exactly as told.  :)

Economists refer to this as 'irrational behavior', and behavioral economics is the hot new field figuring out why humans do the things they do with their money.  It turns out that the older 'rational agent' economic theory is bust.  It also turns out that we are not unique in our irrationality - or, even more profoundly, it turns out that biological systems are irrational.  I mean, the mold doesn't even have a brain.

Read the entire article on Not Exactly Rocket Science. 

2.  A Tilt-Shift Tutorial!

Have you wondered how to take pictures of real, large, everyday objects in a way that makes them look miniature? The technique is called tilt-shift, and basically involves changing the focus and the perspective simultaneously to create an illusion of smallness.  Specialized lenses to do this can be very expensive, but there is a DIY Guide to creating one.  And, the same site also has an excellent explanation of How Tilt Shift Works.  Awesome.

I posted a NYC Tilt Shift video a while ago, and now there is also a San Francisco one.  Funny, the miniature versions of these cities are more like I remember them than the real pictures.  

Plungercammed: Tiny Fishermans Wharf from Bhautik Joshi on Vimeo.


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