Sunday, February 26, 2012

Let's Play Detective and Write the Report

The case:

At around 9 AM Sunday morning, I lost my book, a hard copy of my final project which I had written before I graduated from college. (Case: missing item.)

Moments later, I found the book, standing awkwardly on the floor, in the small, dark gap between the bed and the wall. As I picked it up, apparently it was completely drenched, soggy, and completely ruined. (Case: missing item--found. New case: suspicious cause of destruction of an item of mine.)

The victim: A book, hard copy of my final project.










The crime scene: My brothers' room.

*Note: Photos taken NOT at the crime scene.

The question: I needed to know what had caused this. But most importantly, I needed to know if the water that wet my book came falling down from above the book, or slowly crept from the book's bottom to the top due to capillary action.

(Instead of hypothesis...) The conjectures:

Possibility number one: I know for a fact that the air conditioner in my brothers' room was broken, so it leaked a lot of water. My conjecture is that the water dropped from the AC and ran through the floor, slowly reaching my book which had been on the floor for some time. Because of capillarity, the book soaked up the water slowly, transporting the water to the whole area of the book, from bottom to the top, until it is ruined completely.

Possibility number two: Same as possibility number one, the book had been on the floor for some time. And then someone spilled a lot of water, or knocked over a bottle of water while he was in the bed, causing the book which was located in the small gap between the bed and the wall to be drenched. This made a possible conclusion that the water came from above.

The investigation:

-Observation of the crime scene (With flashlight, and a camera.)
-Observation of the victim (Touching, without gloves... Oops...)
-Event reconstruction (By conducting a scientific experiment.)
-Interrogation of suspects (The main suspects were my brothers.)

The experiment:

As an attempt to reconstruct the victim's cause of destruction by water, I tested both of my conjectures that I had come up with, to see whether it was "possibility number one" or "possibility number two" that would have a similar result with the victim's condition.

In this experiment, two sets of papers with 6 sheets of paper in each set were placed in two different locations and given different treatment. Both came into contact with water, only the method of how the water got to them was different.

Test number one, a set of papers was put in a standing position on the floor, while water was squirted in a certain way so that it touched only the bottom part of the set of papers. And then I expected to see some capillary action.

Test number two, a set of papers was put in a standing position on the floor, while water was splashed from above. And I also poured water down the set of papers. This was done to imitate "possibility number two" where water fell down from above the papers.

One test had the water moving from bottom to top, and the other test had the water moving from top to bottom.

The results of experiment:


Picture 1: Result of capillary action


Picture 2: Another look at capillarity


Picture 3: Result of water being poured down


Picture 4: Another look at water-poured papers


The analysis:

From "Picture 1" and "Picture 2", we can see that capillary action indeed had happened to a set of papers in "test number one". Notice how capillarity formed weird squiggly lines that separated wet and dry area. We could see that line in "Picture 1" and "Picture 2", and we could see that line in the documentation of the victim as well.

Judging by the physical similarity between "test number one" and the victim, I thought it was save to say that the water that wet my book crept up from the bottom to the top due to capillary action.

But I wasn't entirely sure when I saw the yellow stain in the edge of the paper from "test number two" in "Picture 3", which was similar to that of the victim as well.

In other words, the results from both "test number one" and "test number two" shared similarity with the victim's condition, so at this point I could not conclusively and definitively state which one of the methods tested before was the method by which the book got destroyed.

However, since crime investigation gathers information from many sources (not only from scientific experiment but also from interrogation, or witness, or confidential informants), I decided to take another information into consideration.

During the interrogation of one of my brothers, he stated that indeed, there was leakage from air conditioner, and that it streamed a great deal of water. That statement supported my initial conjecture, where I had suspected AC had something to do with the book's destruction. And considering the amount of water there was, it made it possible for the book to be greatly damaged since it soaked up a great deal of water.

The verdict:

Considering the results from the experiment, where it was proven that capillary action could cause such damage, and combined with the additional information gathered from interrogation, I hereby declare that the
water that destroyed my book came from air conditioner. My first conjecture which I referred to as "possibility number one" is proven right.


P.S.: Red sentences indicate that this so-called detective still needs training.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Do I hate being mainstream that bad?

When my friend and I had this little, hot argument over something, she shot me with this question: "Is being a mainstream that bad for you?"

KABOOM!

It kinda got me thinking,

"Do people see me as an anti-mainstream person? Do I come across as someone who hates being mainstream that bad?"

I don't know about the answers to that questions, but, I'm trying to explain here, my side of story.

First off, it's not my friend's fault that she thinks I'm an anti-mainstream; it's probably me who happened to often show that particular side of me--that side of me with the "I don't like that", "I don't do that" confident smug attitude.

But it doesn't mean that I am anti-mainstream.

Just to show you something, here's my capture of my last.fm profile, it shows what music I listen to.




It has Backstreet Boys, among others, on the "top tracks" I listen to. How is that not mainstream? I enjoy Twilight and fangirling over the male characters on Twilight. How is that not mainstream? I enjoy mainstream things too.

Granted, I:
-choose to show certain sides of me in front of people. I prefer to show the cool side of me, "Hey people, I listen to Spiritualized here, check me out..." rather than the soft side of me, "Hey people, I'm listening to Joy Enriquez's How Can I Not Love You 'cause I'm suffering heartbreak right now." Na'ah.

And that kinda stuff is probably why I came across as not mainstream in front of people.

I am anti-eating burnt or charred food. I am anti-violence. But I don't claim myself as anti-mainstream. I'm not trying to go against what people like, or fight what most people do or like. It's just that sometimes, I don't like it, so I leave it alone, and I just need to find a way for me, I need to find what it is that I like. And it just so happened that it often be different than the popular choices.

Granted, I:
-sometimes make fun of mainstream things too, instead of just leaving it alone. Mostly because I was jealous of it. (Coldplay was one of my victims.)

But I am not anti-mainstream; if anything, I am a non-conformist. I do what I like, and I don't do what I don't like. That's the general idea of it.

If people see me doing unusual things, most probably I do it because I consider it as fun, not because I'm trying to un-mainstream myself. And whether I look impressive or weird in front of their eyes, that's just side effect--not the main point.

So, then, "Is being a mainstream that bad for you?"

Hahahaha... The way it was asked, like it's some kind of a disease.


Dedicated to my friend and her most epic question.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Inventors Project - Plus, Stories of Rise and Fall

Lately I've been busy with several projects, and some of them I have finished, and one of them is this. I've finished compiling data of inventors from around the world and make a table out of it. The main source of data was originally from this Wikipedia page that contains list of inventors.

Now... That Wiki page is quite informative already, but the thing is, the data there is not in the form of table, it is not in Microsoft Excel format (I'm a Windows user)--which makes me unable to sort them, based on the era of invention, or based on the country of origin. So I decided to compile them, categorize and organize, so that I can sort them based on the era of invention, country of origin, or even their names alphabetically.


Screenshot of the table I made.


The reason I'm doing this is actually because I was curious to know which countries in this world bring the most number of inventors. I need to know so that I can direct the future of my grad school studies in the right direction. I'm aiming to take innovation management as my master's degree, but I've been wondering in which country I should study it. (So tell me this is the right move. Innovation and invention, they're close, right?)

Anyway, besides serving as a means to fulfill my personal interest, this table also serves as a simple, vast source of general knowledge, like, who invented what, during which era, and so on. And now that it is sortable, we can use the table to analyze even deeper and find out answers to questions such as "What sort of invention invented around the birth of Common Era?", and "What are the five most prolific countries, in terms of producing inventors?", since this table can sort the era of inventions and their country of origins.

In the search of finding out some missing and incomplete data, I did some research on some inventors which were not as famous as, say, Alexander Graham Bell. In spite of that, their life stories still gave me valuable lessons.

Here's a story of Corliss Orville Burandt, an American inventor who did something about car engine successfully, yet, he is financially unsuccessful. His invention was some sort of method that they call "variable valve timing", automotive dudes probably understand this. Mr. Burandt was so successful that he patented a dozen of his inventions. As he gave his patents to venture capital firm in return for bigger, future profit, consequently he no longer owned the patents. Unfortunately, no one expected that due to turn of events, the venture capital firm he trusted ended up disappointing him.

Mr. Burandt's venture capitalists apparently went bankrupt, and so his patents that were under the company's possession were not paid. Not being paid for their maintenance fee, the patents simply went to public domain. They became free stuffs, and Mr. Burandt became so... broke. So broke that at one point in his life he had to choose between preserving his last remaining patent, or a cheese burger for something to eat.

What I learned from that story is this: I used to think that if one day I become an inventor, I wouldn't really think or care about how much money I could harvest from my invention, as long as people gave me credit for my invention. But after reading Mr. Burandt's story, I think I'm gonna need both the credit people gave me, and the money. Of course...! The credit is for my personal satisfaction, and the money is for my living expenses.

Another valuable story came from the Serrurier family. You guys that are movie buffs, especially those of you who aspire to be a prominent film editor probably ever heard of Mark Serrurier and Iwan Serrurier. Iwan invented Moviola which is used in film editing, and years later, Iwan's son, Mark, who by the way also invented something on his own, continued his father's work and commercialized the Moviola.

In 1940's, the Serrurier's Moviola was the leading brand for film editing in the industry. Even so, Mark who led the company during that time remained kind and generous towards customers. If there were a lot of customer's orders that weren't available due to amount of orders lining up, Mark offered a solution to their customers who were in need of Moviola: while they were waiting for their Moviola to be made, Mark rented one of his own at a reasonable price so that customers can use it until their Moviola was ready.

Moreover, his generosity was shown in how he cut some slack to those who had no money. A young and poor film editor who lived during that time wouldn't have to worry about getting a film editing device, as they could come to Mark and order his Moviola even though they had no money. In terms of how they were going to pay it, Mark allowed them to pay whenever they can. With the popularity and the quality of Moviola, Mark probably could've monopolized the market or been a "tyrant" if he wanted to, but he did the opposite. As stated by Mark's son, Steve, "My father knew he was the only game in town, but he never took advantage or used it over people." Awww... I like that.

So anyway, that's about it, a little story of some inventors I read lately and the lessons I could garner from them. As for my compiled data of inventors, I already make it available for you to download at MediaFire:

Sortable 2012.xslx (size 58.13 KB)

Little tips on handling the file:
-You can always use "ctrl+f" to find what you're looking for.
-Right click a column and choose "sort" if you want to do the sorting.
-Use Excel formulas (if you dare) for deeper analysis of data.

Lastly, I, as a compiler of the data would like to apologize for the lack of fact or data in some part of the list. And my gratitude goes to Wikipedia, Microsoft Excel, and other sites that I cannot mention one by one for helping me accomplish this project.