Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round 3: Bouguereau v. Kahlo

Adolphe William Bouguereau
1825 - 1905
  • Finished Second in Phase 1, Flight 2 of the Play-In Tournament with a voting score of .733.
  • Finished First in Phase 2, Flight 2 of the Play-In Tournament with a voting score of .455.
  • Walloped Domenico Beccafumi in the Main Tournament First Round.
  • Walloped Gwen John in Round 2.

Frida Kahlo
1907 - 1954

Crushed Donald Judd in Round 1.
Snuck by Dutch master Jacob Jordaens in Round 2.

Vote for the artist of your choice in the comments, or any other way that works for you. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Wednesday Post

Casper Now!
There's still a ridgeline in the distance which we find out what's happening these days at the sites of last week's boring postcards!

First National Bank Building 

The First National Bank Building is still there.  There have been plenty of changes since back in the day.  But it's still there!

1124 - East Second Street and Business District, Casper, Wyoming

East Second Street and Business District are still there.  It took some hunting, but most of the more visible buildings on the right-hand side of the postcard are still recognizable. 

1136  Center Street, Looking South, Casper, Wyoming, Showing Hotels and Business District

This one had me flummoxed, until I realized that "1136" is the postcard's number, not a street address.  However, Center Street is still there.  The Hotel Townsend, on the left side of the street in the postcard, has been remodeled and expanded, and is now offices and a courthouse for Natrona County.  You can see a ghost, or "wall dog" as they are called, of the old Court Hotel sign in the modern photo.  And there's still a ridgeline in the distance.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round 3: Hopper v. Ingres

Edward Hopper
1882 - 1967

Took out French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon in Round 1.
Knocked out Raoul Dufy in Round 2.

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
1790 - 1867

Beat Victorian painter William Holman Hunt by a two-vote swing in Round 1. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
Crushed Alexander Ivanov in Round 2.

Vote for the artist of your choice in the comments, or any other way that works for you. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Free Box Tapes #8: "The Amazing Joan Armatrading"

The eighth Free Box Tape is a bottomfeeder-cheap commercial tape inside a blank-tape box.  

The Amazing Joan Armatrading (1974, possibly)

Sixty-Four Words: Joan Armatrading has a great name and a cult following in the U.S., although she’s a bigger deal in the U.K. and presumably huge in her native St. Kitts and Nevis. This is apparently an opportunistic re-release of her debut album with an extra song tacked on. I don’t know about “amazing,” but it’s pretty good stuff. Smoky music for people who don’t smoke.

Disposition: I'll keep it around for rainy afternoons.

Meanwhile, in Wyoming...

The running Avatar passed through Glenrock, Wyoming this weekend.

He eschewed the chance for delicious meals and dreamy beds, however, and continued eastward on Highway 26.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round One: Adams v. Constable!

Ansel Adams
1902 - 1994

Tied for First place in Phase 1, Flight 4, with a voting score of .733.
Tied for Second in Phase 2, Flight 1 of the Play-In Tournament with a voting score of .417.
Survived the Phase 2 Tiebreaker.

John Constable
1776 - 1837

Tied with Thomas Cole in his initial Round 1 outing, in September 2012.

Vote for the artist of your choice in the comments, or any other way that works for you. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Element of the Month: Hassium!

August's Element of the Month:


Atomic Mass: 269ish amu
Melting Point: Who knows?  But maybe it's a solid at room temperature?
Boiling Point: "Boiling" kind of loses it's meaning at a certain level of elemental fakiness.

The name "Hassium" seems like it would belong to some respectable, conservative silvery metal somewhere in the middle of the periodic table. But no. Hassium is Element 108, and like all three-digit elements it is extremely fakey. We're high enough up the fakiness ladder, in fact, that even its most basic characteristics -- shininess, metal-ness, melting point, whether the the cyclopentadienyl rings of a hassocene compound would or would not be in an eclipsed conformation -- are all strictly conjectural. There's never been enough of the stuff around to get a good look at it, and with half-lives ranging from microseconds to seconds depending on the isotope, it doesn't exactly invite leisurely study. Well, Hassium-277 might have a half-life of 11 minutes under certain circumstances. But that's conjectural too.

Bizarrely, physicists have spent a fair amount of energy studying whether there might be naturally occurring Hassium. These guys clearly haven't been reading Element of the Month, because they don't understand "half-life" very well. Let's do the math again! No, really, let's!

The world has, at a rough-and-ready level of approximation, something like 1.33 x 1050 atoms. Let's say that at the moment of creation, or whatever, all of those atoms were all super-durable 11-minute Hassium-277 atoms. (You would want to stand well back while conducting this experiment.) After 11 minutes, half of it would be gone, and you'd have but 6.65 x 1049 atoms, n'est ce pas? The minutes wear on, and by the end of an hour, the Earth is only 2% Hassium. THAT'S STILL A LOT OF HASSIUM! But the trend is definitely downward.

I have applied the most powerful tool in the human arsenal to this question -- I mean of course a spreadsheet -- and find that if the whole world started as conjectural extra long-lasting Hassium, we would be down to a single atom in about thirty and a half hours. This makes the prospect of finding naturally occurring terrestrial Hassium more than a little silly -- and I'm looking at you all, A. Marinov, S. Gelberg, D. Kolb, R. Brandt, and A. Pape. If there ever was natural Hassium on Earth, it was gone long before the Battle of Hastings.

[sidebar: if instead of an 11 minute half-life, we plug in the median half-life of the Hassium isotopes, .4 seconds, our planet of Hassium is down to a single atom in a minute and seven seconds.  Again, stand well back if you try this experiment.]

The Centerfold!

Hassium is too fleeting, and made in too small of batches, to be photographable.
So instead, here is, if I'm not mistaken, some fan art from the surprisingly
robust online "My Little Pony" community.  This Little Pony's name is
"Hoodies and (Not Heartstrings) or Hassium," and it was designed by
one "Parclytaxel" in 2013.

Let's get back to that name, which might be the most interesting thing about Hassium for a layperson such as yourself. It was much argued about during the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, as was the question of who produced the stuff first. There were seven or eight fakey Elements in the same situation, and it was considered a Big Deal not only because it was the kind of decision that could literally affect tenure, but also because the name could imply that credit for the scientific achievement belonged to the liberal democracies of the west, or to the Soviets and their communist allies.

When the mess got sorted out -- in 1994, after the fall of the Soviet Union -- the implied win went to the (West) German team working at the Institute for Heavy Ion Research, or as they like to call it locally, the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung. That's in the town of Darmstadt, which is now famous as the birthplace of Element 110, Darmstadtium. Hassium, though, is named for Hesse, the Bundesland in which Darmstadt is located. It is much like how Berkelium and Californium both got their names back when the University of California Golden Bears were the team to beat in fakey Element synthesis.

And that's what I have to say about Hassium. Don't confuse it with Hafnium. That would be bad.

There seems to be a real dearth of Hassium-themed art.  Infinite Art Tournament will entertain requests for funding of up to US$20 to be used in the production of an original piece of Hassium-themed or -inspired art, an image of which would appear on this post and on possible future posts of this blog.  Send proposals with subject line "Hassium Art" to infinitearttournament /at/

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Infinite Art Tournament Second-Round Elimination: van der Goes v. Gontcharova!

As Vincent van Gogh piled up votes in his opening rounds, he beat up on Hugo van der Goes in Round 1 and Natalia Gontcharova in Round 2. Both of them have stayed alive so far in the left-hand side, but only one can emerge from this contest to meet the long thin man: Giacometti.

Leaving the tournament this week are Jan van Goyen (1-2, 16 vf, 24 va)
and Paul Gauguin (1-2-2, 33 vf, 34 va).  Gauguin is probably one of the best-known artists to have been voted out of the Tournament to date.

Hugo van der Goes
1440 - 1482

Natalia Gontcharova
Russian; worked in France

Vote for the artist of your choice in the comments, or any other way that works for you. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting, but likely much longer.