Saturday, September 29, 2007

Song of the Week (29/09/2007) Frank Zappa - Peaches en Regalia

I've been playing DS a lot lately :D. If someone could send me an Umbreon via WFC, I'd be very happy. Well cough back to reality.

So much music in the world, it's always hard to choose. Well anyway the track for this week is from Frank Zappa. En epic guitar player for a lot of people in the rock world, a mentor for some, master for many. I don't particularly like his style, but I did like his solo instrumental album Hot Rats, among others. His lyrics are witty, his songs have a nice style, but sometimes the solos on his long songs go way out of hand, in my opinion. It does work pretty well on altered states of consciousness too.

This short 3 min track features jazzy brass and keyboards with a rock base (I wonder...). It is a nice example of Zappa's compositions. Check it out :p

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Saturday, September 8, 2007

Song of the Week 9/8/2007 Supertramp - The Logical Song

Studying medicine can be pretty time consuming some days. Well anyway, this was a choice between two songs again. Oh and someone still owes me a song of the week.

Supertramp is supposedly a "progressive rock" band from about thirty years ago. Suffering many lineup changes in their later life as a band, their earlier material seems more solid and brought them stardom for a while.

It's a bit different from many traditional progressive pieces: there are no crazy solos in this song, only a catchy keyboard tune. The song is brilliant musically and lyrically. The keyboard tune syncs up to the heavily rhymed lyrics. The song does turn into progressive instrumentality after the first 3 minutes, but it only gets a bit conceptual and no crazy instrumentation is involved.

Supertramp nailed a chart hit with this song, with reflexive lyrics and nice melodic background. I'll try to land on the lyrics with a correct interpretation.

Supertramp - The Logical Song (and my interpretation)

When I was young,
it seemed that life was so wonderful,
a miracle,
oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees well they'd be singing so happily,
oh joyfully, playfully, watching me.
But then they sent me away and teach me how to be sensible,
oh responsible, practical.
And then they show me a world where I could be so dependable,
oh clinical, oh intellectual, cynical.

This part is about how we can't appreciate life and beauty as children. All it's magic, and there's nothing to hold us back, and most of our parents took care of protecting us from all the crap in the world. However, when we get to schooling age, they send us away. They teach us how to be sensible, standardizing our point of view in beauty, art. They teach us how to be logical, and not emotional, responsible so we can work for the rest of our lives, and practical so we can get rid of all the unappreciated things in life: beauty, emotions. We then turn into being dependable of our world, thinking rationally, and most of the times we tend to act cynically towards our world.

There are times when all the world's asleep,
the questions run too deep for such a simple man.
Won't you please, please tell me what you've learned,
I know it sounds absurd,
please tell me who I am.

Pretty straightforward as well, when our identities from childhood and adulthood clash, we find ourselves stuck and not knowing who we are.

I say, now watch what you say,
or they'll be calling you a radical,
a liberal,
oh fanatical,
Won't you sign up your name,
we'd like to feel you're acceptable,
oh presentable,
a vegetable.

Now that we are grown up beings, we must watch what we say or we could get in trouble. Freedom of speech is mostly an idea, not a practice, and people can use our words against us.
We become beings dependent of our name, we need fame in order to be trustworthy. And we become slaves of the social system, respectable, presentable, and as irrelevant as a simple vegetable. The song is all about not losing all the beautiful parts of humanity we lose while growing.

I think I'm getting good at transcribing lyrics, hopefully, no one from those misheard lyrics sites will come and attack me:P

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Saturday, September 1, 2007

Nanomachine of the Week 01/09/08 Chiral Molecular Scissors

As you can probably guess from what Sooki wrote about me, nanomachines are a big influence in my life. So the idea of this is to post the nanomachine that I was most surprised to hear about this week. This week's prize is for the Chiral Molecular Scissors developed by Takuzo Aida and his colleagues at the University of Tokyo.

The Chiral Molecular Scissors are composed of three parts: a pivot, the blades and the handles. The pivot part is molecule called chiral ferrocene which consists of an iron atom and two carbon plates which can freely rotate around the iron atom. The pivot works the same way as the pivot on your every-day scissors work.

The blades are organometallic units called zinc porphyin. The zinc atom binds to a molecule that contains nitrogen such as the DNA molecule). The actual cutting works by attaching each blade to a part of the molecule being cut, and since the zinc porphyin maintains a firm grip on the guest molecule, when the blades open and close the guest molecule is twisted back and forth, which ends with the guest molecule being split into two.

The handles are probably the most interesting part of the nano-scissors. The key molecule here is called azobenzene which comes in two isomeric forms, one of them longer than the other. When exposed to visible light, the short form of azobenzene is converted into the long form. Conversely, when exposed to UV light, the long form is converted into the short form. The result is that when the molecule is exposed to visible and UV light interchangeably the azobenzene molecule expands and contracts, opening and closing the blades

The Chiral Molecular Scissors could provide scientists in many fields with a simpler way of working with molecules. Dr. Takuzo Aida and his colleges are now working on a larger scissor molecule that can be manipulated remotely. So you can probably expect them to be back for another nanomachine of the week.

You can read more about the Chiral Molecular Scissors here and here.

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