The story of the week: a French twist story

Extremely simple, utterly believable, and with an unexpected twist at the end, this story of Guy de Maupassant will delight you. I think it's a good way to end 2012 and bring in the new year.

Clean dogs say "Happy New Year!"
Enjoy, as usual, after the break.

Works of art done by lightning

When a lightning falls, it heats its surroundings amazingly hot and amazingly fast. Hot and fast enough to melt sand and rocks and turn them into something beautiful: fulgurites.

Behold a cool example - what Nature can do with one tenth of a second:

(Note: no Virgin-Mary-shapes were created in this exercise)

I love this type of infographies

Today: the Sun.

I don't have too much to add to this one - only that it amazes me how bloody big the Sun is (and how tiny it is compared to other giants like WV Cephei, for instance. But that is for another infography).

Click for original size (or you can go here).

The song of the weekend: finishing the year in style

I've always loved this piece of music. And I have a weakness for this movie, about the life of its creator, Ludwig van. The way in which they show his suffering, his deafness, his aloofness, and the way this EPIC piece of music was received, even back then, brings tears to my eyes each time I watch it. It's a scene to watch with the volume at 11. (What happens at the end of the scene is a true story, by the way - he was as deaf as a doornail then, so it figures).

(Spoiler alert: it is a KEY scene of the movie. If you haven't seen it yet, SEE it, and then come and watch it).

Did you like it?

VERY interesting physics puzzle

Why does the mirror reflect from left to right? Why doesn't it show things upside down? In other words, what is so special about the horizontal transform?

This is a question physics majors often ask the new students... quite a perplexing one at first. It turns out the solution is quite easy, and what better than having Richard Feynman explain it to us in his easy style?

Read his autobiography, by the way. Spectacular.

The 10 best Google parodies

Spectacular list of Google mock-sites, parodies, or for me the best when you want to annoy someone: (Let Me Google That For You). If someone asks and obvious question on the Internet, you can get a link from this site and then send it to the annoying person.

Go on, click here, for example. You know you want it.

Special Xmas post I

I'll just leave this here.

Why, you ask? Bill Maher explains it better:

Happy holiday season to all!

EDITORIAL: Victoria Casanova

One of my favourite news sources, The Onion ran a classic story the other day: “[Victoria’s Secret]
Runway Show Major Hit With Men Who Don’t Know Porn Exists”. It goes on to list the demographic that
might be interested in such an event:
37% - People unaware of the internet
37% - 12 ½ year old boys
18% - Religious husbands whose wives are out of the house
4% - Those who are legitimately interested in Underwear fashion / Pageantry
3% - Victoria’s Secret employees
1% - Ascetics
This article brought to my mind a conversation with my friend, well into the 6 th round of gin & tonic at some random bar in Hong Kong. Even while inebriated, we are both acutely aware of the importance of setting the stage, normally with some out of place, megalomaniac or seemingly illogical statement: his was "by the time I was 20 I had seen more ass than Cassanova and Don Giovanni did in all their lives".
"May god preserve your self esteem!" I thought. Not entirely repulsive, my friend is clearly no Adonis either so I had trouble imagining him in the same league as the top Italian lovers of all time.

Viral video: appetizer baby

Ok, so this video went viral. It is a fake, but it's so well done that it looks 100% real. The filmmakers decided that the eagle thought of the baby as a good entreé (after all, it was in Canada). (Wait for the slo-mo repeat, it's amazingly done).

Things happen so fast nowadays - a viral video becomes a hit and the truth about it comes out almost immediately. I long for the times when we had time for the story to grow!

The song of the weekend: sticky, unforgettable, funny.

These are the 3 adjectives I would adscribe to this otherwise irritating and annoying piece of music: I Pulcino Pio, a song which has over 45 million visits in YouTube and has been translated to several languages (but which I here post in its original Italian).

Warning!: If you hear this song, it'll stick to your brain like a leech. You are warned.

I pulcino piiio / i pulcino pio...

Economy + art = fantastic

The artist Blake Fall-Conroy created this fantastic machine to represent the state of the economy in the US right now. When you turn the lever, it delivers a one-pence coin every 4.97 seconds. This equates to the minimum salary of $7.25 an hour (current minimum salary in the US).

I like that it's not judgmental or doesn't have a "message" - it's just factual. That's why probably it will be liked more by the engineering types (like moi).

Did you like it?

The M (for mortality) function

For some time now I have had this idea in my mind, and now I find it's the right time to let it loose into the world. It's a rather useless concoction, but I believe interesting to describe and an idea of which to find properties.

Disclaimer (in small font, as is common use): I don't know if this idea has been described before - I know for sure of certain professions (eg actuaries) which may use this on a daily basis. If so, please disregard as another isolated nutty guy's idea.

It's called the M curve. M for mortality (and, of course, for Massa). It is...

Mix of Aww and Oh no!

This video is one of a series of something new CNN is trying called "CNN Distraction" (aka - it's not news!).

Herewith find an endearing (and terrifying) 80 seconds of an ordeal which would be complicated for a family of humans... let alone a family of cute, little duckies.

There were a couple of moments when I really thought some had become duck pancakes...

The story of the week: a classic in another language

This week I go back to one of my favourite authors (if not THE author for me): Jorge Luis Borges. The particular incentive to read this story is that it has been translated to English. Borges himself used to write a lot (a LOT) about the translation efforts and how they changed the work itself - he even toyed with the concept in stories like "Pierre Menard". I must admit I get a certain guilty pleasure when re-reading stories I acquired in Spanish, in their anglo-saxon version, such as this one.

Let me know what you think, after the break.

(STICKY) New language, new name, new header... new beginning!

I have been working for the past hour or so to move the blog to its new address:, a name which sounds good in English and Spanish, and which was free on Twitter (nice) and will be, from now on, the address of the blog.

IMPORTANT: Please renew the blog feed (if you read me through blog readers) by adding it via the new address ( should redirect to this address.
Our new emails are (for example massa @, etc).
I've also created a Facebook and Google+ pages.

Hope you like the new look!

EDITORIAL: The Globalisation conspiracy

(N of E: we are very happy here to receive a brand-new collaboration from our friend Sergio, this time in English. Hopefully we'll get many more in the language of Shakespeare).

On my way back from a drinking rampage last night -there is no other way to drink in Sydney it seems- I was driven by this most curious character: a heavily accented Jewish Russian émigré, convinced about having worked out most of the mysteries of life on Earth and very ready to spread his knowledge, one taxi passenger at a time.
He begun by explaining to me the differences between the various Asian cultures and the complications that arise in conducting business across them. Having lived in Tokyo for five years I was fully onboard with his conclusions in regards to the Japanese.

I asked him about his many travels to Japan – do you also speak Japanese? Turns out he’s never left Australia since his parents brought him in as a child and that the only Japanese he ever talked to was a karate master he once met in the course of a one day martial arts seminar. His conclusion came from his ‘rearches’ [sic].
After at least half a dozen gin & tonics and various other intoxicating spirits, the above seemed perfectly reasonable to me, and we carried on happily chatting.

How tall can a Lego tower get?

There are people who take the time to do this kind of calculations (awesome, isn't it?).

Of course, this article talks about a theoretical Lego tower - if you actually build one, the tallest you can get is 4m before the kinks in its construction make it fall.

But... if you assume that the tower is perfectly built, it would take the grand total of 375,000 bricks before the bottom one literally melted (not broke, melted).

This is equivalent to a 2.17-mile-high tower. So now you know.

The song of the weekend: Nirvana x cellos x 2

Have I ever told you about 2Cellos? No? They are one of my favourite discoveries of late. I love the way they can give lyricism to the most animal of songs, like in this example of the Nirvana classic.

In their YouTube channel you can see many more. Amazing way to start the weekend, don't you think?

Google + reality game = Legen... wait for it...

Google has launched Ingress, a reality game that happens in real life in the streets of your city (only if you live in the US for now). Its intro video looks quite epic, I must admit:

Would you play it if it arrives in your town? I would be very frightened it would take over 100% of my non-work, non-sleep hours... how about you?

PS: ...dary!

Want to make money from your friends?

Admittedly this works only when they are slightly inebriated, but these bets will guarantee you'll leave the bar with more money in your pocket that you came in with:

(By the way, couldn't resist to publish this post at 12:12 on the 12/12/12 - tomorrow posts go back to their normal published hour).

For those days when you are feeling blue... this post to see it again then. Because no matter how bad you feel, some of the people in this list are even worse than you.
Also for when you are sad... baby hedgehogs... Awww!
Personally, for me the only obviously "fake" one is #5. I had to cut & paste #7 below because it's A-MAZING (after the break):

The story of the week: here's where Stephen King "inspired" himself

You may know Roald Dahl by his story "Fantastic Mr Fox", which has been taken to the screen and it is a fantastic story.

Boggis and Bunce and Bean
One fat, one short, one lean
Those horrible crooks
So different in looks
Were nonetheless equally mean

That verse stuck with me. Anyway, this short story of the week has nothing to do with a fox, but all to do with old Roald. He wrote it some decades ago, surely earlier than Mr King, who did a very similar story if I'm not mistaken. I wonder if he ever acknowledged his debt to Mr Dahl?

Anyway, after the break, the story. Short, sweet and fantastically suspenseful. Enjoy.

Look for extraterrestrial life from the comfort of your desk

Well, not look, not really, but "look"... as in, give part of the horsepower of your PC to the good guys at SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), going to this page and following the instructions.

Will he phone home?
Essentially, you download a little program that, when the PC is idle, uses the unused CPU power to collaborate with the central servers of the University of Berkely to find ETs.

And there you thought that you couldn't be at the forefront of extraterrestrial investigation. You're welcome.

Anamorphic illusions

It's my first post in English, after 700+ posts in Spanish, so bear with me. We start easy, with a fantastic short video which explores the power of the mind in a surprising way.

Did you like it?

La canción para empezar el finde: ¿las Corrs son rolingas?

Pregunta tendenciosa como pocas, pero creo que merece una contestación: sí. Sí lo son, su señoría. Y como prueba. traigo este video (Live in Dublin, 2002) en el que interpretan uno de los temas más lindos de los Cantos Rodados: Martes Rubí. The prosecution rests.

Que disfruten. ¡Es viernes, che!

Tenemos un nuevo bajista en la banda...

... que es medio duro para tocar, algunos dirían casi mecánico. Eso sí, toca como un relojito.

"La máquina" le dicen los amigos.

I take your "no more flu" and raise you with "no more viruses"

Estaba leyendo este artículo, acerca de que es posible que pronto se descubra una vacuna definitiva contra la gripe (que apunte contra el ARN que genera las proteínas del virus de la gripe, en vez de atacar las proteínas mismas), y me entero por este otro artículo, que ya hay un proyecto, llamado DRACO, para generar una vacuna que elimine TODOS los virus, atacando la doble hélice del ARN.

Después de leer estos artículos, me parece que hemos llegado 50 años temprano a este mundo. Pero qué interesante, chaquelotiró!

La evolución de los browsers

Interesante gráfico (después del corte) que muestra la evolución de la participación de mercado de los browsers de Internet. No hay sorpresa en la caída del Explorer (aunque todavía muchos lo usan) - lo que quizá es sorprendente es quién ganó dramáticamente en estos años - y la evolución del "Zorro de Fuego", que no anduvo tan bien como yo pensaba.

Relevant: así eran las computadoras en el 2004
¿Cuál navegador usan? Yo Chrome.

El cuento para empezar la semana. Hoy: ay, si Gabo escribiera siempre tan conciso...

...debo confesar que no leí Cien Años de Soledad; y, aún peor, que intenté leer El Amor en los Tiempos del Cólera y tuve que abandonar a las pocas páginas. No me atrapó.

Pero este cuentito que escribió hace mucho, me pareció simple, interesante y, sobre todo, bastante directo. ¿Coinciden conmigo?

Como siempre, después del break. Comenten, ahijuna.

(STICKY) Pregunta a los lectores / Question to readers

(English below)

Estoy pensando seriamente en cambiar el lenguaje del blog a inglés. A fin de cuentas, la mayor cantidad de source material es en inglés, y creo que muchos (si no todos) los que me leen, lo entienden. ¿Qué opinan?  (Por supuesto que se podría seguir comentando en español!)

I am seriously considering changing the language of the blog to English. After all, most of my "source material" is in English, and I believe most (if not all) of my readers, understand the language. What's your view? (Of course, Spanish comments would still be very much welcome!)

Opinen, che.
Give your opinion, plz.

El problema de las 3 puertas... resuelto

Sos finalista de un show de TV en el cual hay 3 puertas. Detrás de una de ellas hay un auto, y detrás de las otras dos... una cabra. Elegís una, al azar. El locutor mira las puertas, y abre otra de las dos, mostrando una cabra... y te pregunta: ¿querés cambiar a la otra que está cerrada, o querés quedarte con tu actual elección?

Este video muestra cómo la respuesta correcta es anti-intuitiva: cambiar la puerta te da mejores chances: un 67% de ganar, contra el 33% de quedarte con tu elección primera.

¿Lo sabían? ¡Buen domingo!

40 frases para decir antes de morir

Una lista que vale la pena recorrer, por las frases y su explicación, pero también por los grafiquitos (en forma de funciones o diagramas de Venn) que son bastante copados.

¿Cuál de todas las frases te gustó más?