Showing posts from 2017

Mjolnir: making the famous hammer of the gods

I made a replica of Mjolnir according to the classic descriptions (as opposed to the well known comic book version).  Unfortunately, Tony and I were both concerned that it might be too brittle for casual use during a party, so he used an alternative, but I was generally happy with the look and it has a great heft.  I'm definitely going to use plaster like this again in the future. Mjolnir, crafted in the classic Norse style

Loki, Thor, and Heimdall at a gathering of the gods

Last weekend, we went to a truly amazing party.  In celebration of the solstice, everyone was asked to come in the guise of one of the ancient deities.  Upon arriving, we were each given three coins labeled with the powers conferred by our characters, and told that we could not use the powers, but were able to trade them and use the ones we received.  We were also each given personalized win conditions.  I attended as Loki, the god of mischief.  Tony attended as the mighty Thor.  Jack came as Heimdall, the watchman.  And we had a blast.  The Egyptian gods, Greek gods, and Aztec gods were present, but the Norse gods clearly owned the night. At the party, I arrived in the guise of Sif, Thor's wife and goddess of the Earth.  Heimdall was given instructions to reveal me, so I spent the beginning of the party trying to evade discovery.  Eventually, after several thwarted attempts to uncover me, Odin and the rest of the Norse gods used some in-game spell to force me to appear.  This

RMI Halloween Costume Contest '17

Voldemort mask: start-to-finish how to

Timelapse video of a 3D Printer Being Assembled

Here is a timelapse of the 3D printer I built for work:

Building a 3D Printer, Burying Your Father-in-law, and Other Ways to Spend the Summer

This summer has been pretty nuts. Work In June, our department encouraged participants to pitch an idea in 5 minutes that could be funded with $3,000.  I suggested that we buy a 3D printer and won.  This meant that I got to buy a 3D printer for our department and establish guidelines for its use.  It also kicked off my boss' long-held interest in 3D bio printing.  Regular 3D printing binds plastic into complex shapes in order to make 3D objects out of plastic.  Bioprinting is a very experimental process in which cells are arranged in 3D instead of bits of plastic in order to create 3D objects made of of cells.  So we bought a kit and now I'm building a 3D bioprinter in addition to the regular 3D printer that I'm having a lot of fun with. On the right is our department's first printer.  On the left is our lab's new experimental bioprinter. Recreation I've been working (so... so... slooowwly) on my underwater robot.  It's been one 'learni

Things have gotten (even more) interesting at work

Things have been very busy for the last few weeks.  I've had too much going on to maintain a blog responsibly, so I'll try to compromise by maintaining a blog irresponsibly.  Here is a poorly composed report of what I've been up to. Work:  Work has gotten very stimulating.  As the lab manager of a stem cell research lab, I've found my work to be fulfilling for the entire time I've been working at Cedars-Sinai.  We study diseases by collecting blood from patients with a disorder, then modifying the blood cells so they revert back into the stem cells we all grow out of.  It's the same person's cells, but now we've deaged them to 9 months before the person was born.  We can then try to grow them into cells like the ones in the person today: heart cells, brain cells, kidney cells, whatever.  Which has several big applications. 1) Cloning a part of a person could let us make rejection-free replacement organs.  Not DONOR organs, but a factory-fresh re

Monogrammed Laser-cut book display stand

Another small project.  I made a book display stand for my stepfather. Laser cut book display stand link 

An Apparently Controversial Opinion About Cancer

Tomorrow is my 31st birthday, and I'm blessed with incredible health.  Which makes this a fitting time to make a statement that I feel needs to be said about my mortality.  I believe that it is most likely that when I die, it will be due to cancer.  And furthermore, I don't consider this a bad thing. I went to a doctor for a general checkup last week, and asked to get my genome screened or sequenced in order to assess what hereditary diseases I'm at elevated risk for.  The doctor told me I was about five years early and that it wasn't an affordable or covered service yet, so I guess I'll just have to wait.  When I mentioned that I was fairly confident I'd die of cancer, she was taken aback.  "Why would you say that?" she asked.  Her tone was respectfully professional but without an effort to hide her disapproval that I would prognosticate my own cause of death.  Did she think I was being disrespectful to people with cancer?  Did she think I was being

The Fox Hunt

Three weeks ago, Julie and I went camping.  Twice each year, our friend Ann organizes a game in the forest called the Fox Hunt.  It's a bit like hide-and-seek.  Foxes are given a twenty minute head start to go hide in the woods, after which the hunters pursue them.  The foxes attempt to make it back to the base they left from without being tagged, however their trails are marked with surveying flags. The dogs have gotten really good at camping The result is surprisingly tense.  Both sides have huge advantages and disadvantages.  The foxes simply have to go into the woods and come back without running right into someone, which seems easy, however the woods we use lie in a valley carved by a stream, which funnels people back towards the middle and makes it hard to circle wide.  Eventually, you've got to come down from the sides to come back.  The hunters, meanwhile, just need to follow a brightly lit trail.  In practice, though, it isn't hard to make the flags deceiv


Because I've been asked what I might like for my birthday, I made the following list of ROV parts which would make reasonable presents: If you purchase anything, please mark it in the sheet as purchased to avoid redundant purchases.

Here are the Brave Leaders Resisting the March to War

Sadly, as Glenn Greenwald points out, "...nothing unites people behind the leader more quickly, reflexively or reliably than war."   Unfortunately, most Republicans as well as many Democrats -- including Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and House minority leader Nanci Pelosi -- have stated their support of Trump starting a war with a country allied with another nuclear superpower.  According to's Perry Bacon, "Most Senators Support Trump's Syria Airstrike" .  He provides a list, stating that only six senators have come out vocally against Trump's strike.  His list is very incomplete, but it's a good place to start.  Here are the leaders who actually learned something from our disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Please lend your support to these individuals and message me we with any I'm missing at Senators Kirstin Gillibrand - Senator of New York "The chemical attacks by the Assad

DIY: A Chess set for Jack

I made a new Instructable post.  It's a chess set I made for Jack for Hannukah. Instructable link: "Tabletop-to-vertical Convertible Chessboard" Tabletop / Vertical Convertible Chessboard

Movie Review of "The Great Wall": Not that bad

I recently saw The Great Wall.  It's honestly an interesting movie, because it is such a specific cultural artifact.  The movie is made to try and impress Americans with the resourcefulness and capability of the Chinese.  The result is meta.  The movie isn't really great, but it shows that Chinese producers, directors, actors, and special effects teams can produce mindless big-budget spectacle just like Hollywood.  And it's impressive in a purely technical way.  Additionally, the film itself is literally about a team of Chinese warriors engaging in a cultural exchange with a greedy European thief searching for treasure in the medieval orient.  Every shot is the fulfillment of stereotypes, both loving and hoke.  The Chinese general explains how her army is strong because of their selflessness and their discipline.  The American brags of his self reliance. Overall, it's fun.

ROV Update #2: The Thrusters

This will be a quick one. For a few weeks I've been working on the general plan for the ROV, and demoing various strategies for collecting video and temperature data, and sending signals to it from a computer.  Recently, I though, I moved on to working on the thrusters.  These are ducted propellers which propel the ROV through the water. This kind of design is pretty complicated.  The shape of a propeller isn't easy to calculate or just guess, and propellers aren't easy to build either.  Fortunately, there has been a lot of open-source development on other projects, which will likely be the topic of my next ROV update. Based on what others have found, I purchased the following propeller: I also bought a motor to drive it.  The next step is to buy an electronic speed controller (ESC) that will deliver power to the motor as commanded by and arduino micro controller.  Before I buy the ESC, though, I need to make some decisions about what kind of battery this is

ROV update #1: I'm building an ROV

I first started planning to build an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) around two years ago, shortly after leaving grad school.  Oceanography had scratched an itch for the adventure of exploration. Earth scientists travel to the inhospitable places.  They sail across oceans and climb mountains.  They go to Antarctica.  And using probes, they also send their presence even further.  Into the abyssal ocean, into volcanoes, even onto alien planets. I didn't want to lose that excitement, and designing and building a submersible ROV was a way of continuing that exploration without the need of wider logistics out financing. For over a year, this was purely an intention. Late in 2016, though I finally began to work on it seriously, although gradually. I have some limited familiarity in the process of designing hardware to penetrate inaccessible places.  I was in a satellite design club in college. Designing a mission to search for life is a common project in certain classe

Obama has been reading my blog

The evidence is clear.  This week, outgoing President Barack Obama published an opinion peice in the journal Science titled, " The irreversible momentum of clean energy ".  The arguments he lays down are quite similar to the ones I made last month on this blog. Mr. President, if you're reading this, I'm flattered, sir.

Wedding Photos

I finally got around to uploading wedding photos.