October 22, 2003

You Asked, Daniel Answers

In the extended entry you will find an excellent interview of Daniel. He inspired a lot of questions on a wide range of topics...from nanotechnology to his, ahem, shoe size.

Please click through and read for yourself...Daniel did a terrific job.

Do you always have fantasies about cute guys in tight pants? Or just ones named after pipe cleaners?

Fantasies about cute guys in tight pants? Pipe cleaners? Did I miss something?

[Ed. note: Jake Plummer. Fantasy football. Let's move on.]

Have you ever publicly or privately worn a baseball cap backwards? If so, can I smack you?

This is something that I have done several times, but it was always only for a few seconds and only to make fun of other fraternity brothers. If I had done it as a serious fashion statement, however, you would be more than welcome to do much more than smack me.

What kind of shampoo do you use?

Wait, one second. Okay, I had to run to the bathroom to check that out. I use Pert Plus (the two in one thing). I also remember having used Head & Shoulders, Herbal Essence, and a couple of other ones. I knew some one once who used that Horse head shampoo.

Grapefruit: white or red?

Red, definitely. When I actually do eat grapefruit. Which isn’t so often. Sorry.

What's your shoe size?

21.5. No, just kidding. I wear a size 10 – about.

Would you ever date and/or marry an older woman? Like, say, Demi Moore or Susie?

Not Demi Moore, but is Susie really offering? Because then…

The biggest age difference I’ve ever had has been around 16 months. That seemed to work fine. When I was last traveling with my brother and my cousin, we met a couple of guys around 40 or so and they assured me that I should date at least one older woman in my life. Though they weren’t the most reliable of sources in the world (or the most moral for that matter), I think that it might be good advice. So I would definitely consider dating and, by default, marrying an older woman. Age isn’t really that much of an issue for me.

Would you consider dating a member of the Alliance?

The last three questions all seem related. Again, is Susie offering?

I would have to think long and hard about this one. I mean, the alliance?! They’re like the heart of all evil. The destroyers of all good. The usurpers of all that is naughty. But… is Susie offering?? Because that might change everything.

Where do you want to be in 5 years? What and who do you want to be doing?

Whoa, what a question. So, in five years I will have finished graduate school by a couple years and if I decide to do a post-doc than that would have finished already also. So I’d be out in the “real world”. The current thinking right now is that I’ll work in a government lab, military research, or an industry lab if research is the way I decide to go or as a science/technology consult if I decide to go that way. I’m also working on several projects that could possibly turn into enough to start a business out of (with several other people) and that would be really exciting – but extremely risky. I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to go directly into academia, as I will still be young enough to be able to take risks with my life.

In personal life, I don’t know. I’m not going to limit myself to the possibilities out there. Especially if Susie is offering…

Who do you think will rule the blogosphere when the dust settles?

I’m not sure the dust will settle. I don’t think that it should. I that already too many people get their links only from Instapundit. The whole point of blogging is that there are so many opinions and views out there. Yes they will get filtered as people tire of blogging and having no one read or as they just get beaten to death by more powerful bloggers. This is a pretty swift evolutionary process. I remember when the web first started kicking and everyone had their own small little web pages that had meaningless “here’s my picture of Bart Simpson’s head on Margaret Thatcher’s body” type picture – wait, that sill happens…

That being said. I will rule the blogosphere. No question about it. I’m just building my base here. Join up now or be the first against the wall.

Which bloggers, if any, influence you?

That’s a tough question. I came a little late in my life to blogging to have too many people that influence my thoughts that much, so the influence tends to be stylistic.

When I first started blogging, the style of arguments that the Volokh Conspiracy presented really impressed me. They do such a great job of arguing in a purely legalistic manner and not participating in the dialogue of partisan politics on a regular basis (except maybe Sasha). Their biases come out over the long run, but even when you know what they are and disagree with them, you have to respect their arguments. They also have a way of making you interested in something that you didn’t know you were interested in. More recently, I’ve been reading Discourse.net (Prof. Froomkin’s site) a lot and he usually provides a very good argument from the other side. In this mainly conservative blogosphere, I think that it is important to read more than one take on issues. He also gets interested in geek things, so that’s always good. Eliana over at YaleDiva.com does a wonderful job of mixing her fashion sense with a good, quick wit in politics. And has a great site design. There are plenty of other ones and I’m sorry that I’ve left some out. Often times I’m inspired by a single subject or some witty saying or something like that. These were just the ones I remembered off the top of my head.

All of the Munuvians influence me. And not just by blogosphere proximity. They provide a lot of levity in the blogging world and have such great fun doing it. Thanks so much to Pixy Misa for giving us all a home here. And Jen for bringing me here.

What's your preferred method of handling comment trolls - starving or beating?

Definitely beating. Very brutally. And then cutting their hearts out. With a wooden spoon. Because it is very blunt and it will probably splinter on the way in. And on the way out.

Is an Instalanche worth all of the trouble?

Well, this question was obviously submitted in the last couple of days. Uh… in short, yes with a strong but. There were 30 some-odd comments left on my site, several hundred extra visitors, and about 40 emails regarding the subject. The commentary has been interesting and at times stimulating. I got to email and discuss philosophical issues with some pretty talented thinkers and the fact that I held my own against the BBA (Big Blogger Alliance) makes me feel pretty good about myself and my writing. I think a few of those who came to my site because of Professor Reynolds will come back every so often, which is cool. That being said, there are some bad sides. Some of the responses weren’t very nice and it can be stressful wanting to respond to comments and emails. After I had made the initial post and stated my positions, I felt responsible for defending them. This, too, can be stressful. I think it’s pretty much over (thanks the the TNR editors), but it was all in all a good thing definitely worth the trouble. Just make sure that you can defend what ever it is you submit to Pro. Reynolds.

And nobody should ever ever join the Alliance of StupidFree Blogs (or whatever they are called).

If you could meet and have a dinner conversation with five people from history, who would they be?

1. Richard Feynman – because he is one of the most brilliant physicists ever and he could get interested in anything. He would have some great stories to tell.

2. Thomas Paine – doesn’t get anywhere near the credit he deserves for changing the entire world with “Age of Reason” and “Common Sense”

3. Alexander the Great – because he started the entire world on Hellenistic culture

4. The leaders of all the Three Kingdoms of China – I know, it’s three, but I always think of those as one.

5. Pythagoras of Samos – the man was an amazing mathematician and he had a cult built around him. That’s just cool.

6. Can I get a cameo appearance from both Wittgenstein and Popper? Just to find out what actually happened during their famous argument. Or maybe Bertrand Russell… shoot – why does it have to be just five?

Have you read "Prey"? Where did Crichton go from possible to impossible in that story?

I have read “Prey” and I thought that it was really good. I currently work in the field of nanotechnology and I have worked in the past with both emergent behavior and Genetic Algorithms (Evolutionary Algorithms), so this book combined three of my favorite subjects. The main place that it went impossible is that no researchers would ever be so careless with what they created as to not have some sort of shut down or destruction command on something so obviously needing of control. Also, there’s no way the things could have evolved abilities so outside the limits of their initial coding and hardware. If I write a evolutionary search algorithm, it isn’t possible for it to evolve to the point that it starts writing Shakespeare. Other than that, I thought it was a really good book. Lawmakers overreact when they read things, but I look forward to the movie.

How did you wind up studying in Georgia?

Everybody should wind up studying in Georgia. The basic story is that Georgia Tech had the best program in the best city with the best professor. Those three things are the most important things about graduate school. Essentially the choice for me, when picking grad school, came down to did I want to live in Atlanta or L.A. Every thing that I had read and every thing that I had been told by other grad students was that the city that you live in is the most important factor in happiness in graduate school. Atlanta is amazing. And the professor that I work with is one of the best in the field and he is very supportive of all of his students.

What's your proudest moment personally?

When I hit the home run that won the title at State. Just kidding. That never happened. My proudest moment personally? That’s tough. I held my own against one of my professors at U of C several times over the issue of moral relativism. After class, we were talking and he said “Very impressive, Daniel”. After that, he would often seek my opinion on things in class. We still keep in touch. But that might be a scholastic moment.

What's your proudest moment professionally/scholastically?

Oh, I have two. The first is when I first appeared on an academic paper/journal both at Chicago and here at Tech. And the second is graduating from the University of Chicago. The ceremony is amazing and full of tradition, with bagpipes playing and they give you the actual diploma when you walk across the stage. It was amazing.

Extrapolate nanotechnology 20 years. What will we be seeing?

Pixy thinks we’ll be at picotechnology. I’m not so sure. The most dangerous thing that we can do when talking about nanotechnology is overhype it. Too much of this has been done already and I don’t want to contribute more to it. That being said – It will change everything. It just might take about 20-25 years, not the 5-10 that some people talk about. We’ve already seen some changes. We have new pants that are stain and wrinkle resistant. We have better sunscreen. In 20 years, we will have unbelievably fast computing devices based not on silicon, but on nanomaterials. The design of spaceships into lighter, more efficient machines, Carbon nanotubes to strengthen steel, nanobelts as gas and liquid sensors, biomedical imaging systems, drug delivery systems, etc. The list just goes on and on and on. Twenty years is enough time, given proper public support, to have many of the initial promises of nanotechnology come true. I just hope I’m still at the forefront.

I am interested to know about alternative medication delivery systems you want to develop...have you done any work on this yet?

Yes, I have done work on this. I can describe the basic idea and if whoever asked this would like to know more, feel free. Here’s the idea. Currently, when you take a pill or drink some medicine, the delivery system is that is travels throughout your entire body and some of it gets to where it is effective and the rest of it goes to the rest of the body – causing side effects and other stuff. But, what if we could tag each antibody or virus killer that we sent in to the body so that it would only attach to diseased or damaged cells? Then we could lower the dosage, increase the effectiveness, and destroy an illness a lot quicker and with much less side effects. This is one of the projects that I’m working on. We’re looking to target Cancer cells and detect cancer when there are only a couple hundred cells. Current technology can only detect when there are millions of cells. So then we can precisely locate the cells and deliver the chemotherapy only to the cancerous part of the body. Then the cure wouldn’t be so dangerous.

One of the great logical exercises of our time involves the question of a dropped object hitting or not hitting the ground. The argument goes: when an object falls, it falls half of the distance to the ground, then half of the remaining distance, then half of that, and so on ad infinitum. Obviously, the object does hit the ground (or your foot), but is it because there are a finite number of halves, or is there some mystical force at play? Second, since an object never hits the ground, Moises Alou could've obviously caught that ball, fan interference or no. Should we still beat the crap outta 3rd Baseline Guy if he should ever cross our path?

Yeah, so Zeno’s paradox. Except it forgets some things. We have to abide by the laws of physics here, not just mathematics. The smallest measurement of length with any meaning is defined by something known as the Planck length. It’s something around 1.6 x 10^-35 meters. There is also a Planck time, which is similar, and is 10^-43 seconds. Since we can’t continually divide the distance in half, the paradox fails and there are a finite (although very large) number of halves. The ball will most definitely hit the ground. Moises could have caught the ball. But then again, so could have Alex Gonzalez. The pitch could have not been wild. Kerry Wood could have not given up seven runs. Dusty Baker could have taken Wood out earlier. And so on ad infinitum. That being said, 3rd Baseline Guy, I’m sure, has already beaten the crap out of himself.

The Big Bang theory essentially states that the Universe came into being out of nothing. Can an effect without cause be a scientific conclusion?

Actually the answer to the question is sort of. Quantum effects predict really strange circumstances where the effect can precede the cause. So the Universe could be some big effect before the cause. But recent findings (put Nature article here) show that Relativity, as usual, may trump Quantum Mechanics (this seems to always happen). So the question of effect and cause is as of yet unsolved.

The Universe might not have “come from nothing”. There are theories that the last big bang happened from a former big crunch. I don’t quite believe that one because this universe doesn’t seem to be heading for a crunch. Other theories are that the universe was created out of another universe, we’re just another membrane in the multiverse, and so on and so on. I have to recommend the book “The Last Three Minutes” if you are more interested in this.

If you had to choose between the life of your own child and the lives of two strangers, which would you choose and why?

Easy one. I would pick my child. Surely there is a number of strangers that I could save that would be worth more than my child (because I know that I would save 6 billion strangers before my child), but two is not even close to that number. I’m even not sure that 1000 is.

I did an internet search on this and came several discussion boards on this where people either claim that there is a time constraint in picking and they would act on instinct or they feel like they have to apologize for their selfish behavior in this matter… weird.

If you could safely clone yourself and raise him as your son, what would you try most to change about "yourself" (the clone)?

Nothing. I’m perfect of course. No, just kidding. I guess I would make my self more extroverted. And more tolerance of brainless people or at least the ability to hide my intolerance of them more. I’m very bad at hiding when I think people are dim-witted. (By the way, Office 2003 rocks!)

If you could be Michael Moore for one day, how would you kill yourself?

1. Get a LOT of explosives. The more the better.

2. Hook up a detonator to an altimeter. Set it for 100-200 feet. That will give me good dispersion.

3. Mix Vaseline and gasoline in a bucket.

4. Find a really tall building that's in a sufficiently crowded area to generate the proper sized crowd.

5. Get an extra large trench coat, ski mask, duct tape and a lighter.

6. Bring your materials to the top of building. Liberally apply the Vaseline-gasoline mixture to entire body. Duct tape the explosives around legs, arms, head and torso. The more the better. Attach the altimeter to the explosives.

7. Put on the trench coat and mask so that the explosives are not visible.

8. Start ranting and throwing things so that you are sure to attract notice. As Michael Moore, I do this naturally. Drag this part out as long as possible. Say anything that comes to mind but try to stay away from real problems. Truth does not make good sound bites. Ask for news cameras from the major networks. Pace around a lot while waving my arms.

9. DO NOT let on that I have explosives on my body. The police will clear the area and I definitely don't want that.

10. When I’ve gotten the crowd to a fevered pitch, when the helicopters are hovering like vultures, whip off the jacket and set myself on fire.

11. Wait until I’m completely engulfed in flame then jump.

12. Try to steer yourself towards the crowd. That way flaming falling body parts will pelt the fleeing onlookers when you explode.

I got this from another website and then made small edits. I think it fits, though.

Posted by Jennifer at October 22, 2003 12:01 AM


A few points need to be clarified.

First, mu.nu will rule the Blogosphere, though Daniel is of course welcome among the Munuvian elite.

Second, the Big Bang Theory doesn't actually say that the Universe appeared from nothing. It doesn't say anything about where the Universe came from. Just that at a certain point in time, about 12 billion years ago, it was all in one place, and went bang (as you would expect if you crammed everything in the Universe into a single infinitesimally small volume). What might have happened before that (if the term "before" can even be used in this context) is the subject of much wild-ass speculation.

Finally, on the subject of Picotechnology: I have lately become dissatisfied with Nanotech and have been conducting experiments of my own in a far more promising area. Since Nanotechnology already works down near the atomic scale, the first thing I need for this to work is smaller atoms. I currently create these by replacing the electrons in the outer electron shells with muons. These are much heavier than electrons, and orbit much closer to the nucleus, making for much smaller atoms. Tauons are even better, but my supplier is currently out of stock.

Although I have had limited success with my Picotech devices, including a device that disassembles lead nuclei and reassembles them as gold, I have run into certain serious roadblocks.

First, the devices are so small and dense that they will sometimes slip through the spaces between atoms in so-called "solid" matter and get lost.

Second, the nuclei are so close together that they require relatively little additional energy to actually collide - and, where applicable, fuse. One of my best laboratories was destroyed this way. Not to worry, I have others...

Third, the muon has a lifespan of only a few microseconds, so I have to work really fast. I find Jolt Cola helpful here. I am trying to source long-life muons, but so far have had little success.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at October 21, 2003 11:28 PM

Oh. Kay. Sure you're only drinking Jolt?

Posted by: Jennifer at October 22, 2003 04:32 AM

Yyyyyeesss, jjjjuuusssttt JJjjjoollltt!!!

Posted by: Pixy Misa at October 22, 2003 04:49 AM

Hmm... maybe I should sign up for this picotech stuff. It might be a bit ahead of its time, but hey, isn't that how all the greats do it?

Posted by: Daniel at October 22, 2003 06:46 AM

the first thing I need for this to work is smaller atoms.

good thing I had finished my coffee.

Posted by: Victor at October 22, 2003 08:43 AM

Great job! Thanks Daniel and Jen.

Posted by: Ted at October 22, 2003 09:00 AM

Dan - Wow. That's an incredible interview. No wonder Susie's madly in love with you.

Posted by: Harvey Olson at October 22, 2003 10:41 AM

Oh...most excellent ending! Michael Moore will always get it in the end.

Posted by: Kin at October 22, 2003 10:44 AM

Thanks Harvey (I can't wait for yours) and Kin. Now you guys should submit questions to me for Jen to answer.

Posted by: Daniel at October 22, 2003 11:36 AM

By the way, Pixy, when mu.nu rules the Blogosphere, I will definitely be a part of the elite - Anyone notice I updated my tagline :)

Posted by: Daniel at October 22, 2003 02:52 PM

For everyone still curious about cause and effect - a new report in Nature talks about it: http://www.nature.com/nsu/031013/031013-10.html

Posted by: Daniel at October 23, 2003 06:33 AM

hola daniel en realidad siempre e sido tu admiradora me gusta mucho con la realidad que actuas me encantaria conoserte en persona muchos vesos y hasta pronto

Posted by: at April 15, 2004 05:59 PM