Absolute Zero

\"AbsoluteMy interest in science was rekindled by Absolute Zero, a documentary from BBC. Back in high school days, I really love Chemistry experiments. Physics is not my favorite Science but Physics experiments are very interactive so I liked it a lot, too. Physics deals a lot with the principle of matter and energy when you are dealing with elements and atoms so it influences Chemistry experiments, too.

The most interesting part of this two-part documentary is the race to reach absolute zero. In The Conquest of Cold (first part), the invention of refrigerator shows how the use of ice influenced the industry and world economy at large. In The Race for Absolute Zero (second part), the documentary reviewed the details on how great scientists raced in reaching the illusive zero Kelvin, and how they competed to create the first Bose-Einstein Condensate.

Scientists have not reached zero Kelvin yet but they are very darn close to achieving it and they are still experimenting on how to get there. The lowest so far is at 100 pK achieved at Helsinki University of Technology, Finland. That might be outdated because there must be on-going experiments now that have achieved even lower temperature.

I am not a scientist but I always keep an inquiring mind about the mysteries of nature and the universe.

Absolute Zero BBC documentary is based on Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold book written by Tom Shachtman.

Link: BBC Four Documentaries: Absolute Zero

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Fight Science

\"FightSince we only had cable TV in less than 1 year it\’s understandable that I have not seen this documentary in 2006. It\’s National Geographic: Fight Science. It\’s great that Nat Geo played a replay of this documentary.

What interested me is not how they compared the martial arts. In fact, the documentary hardly compared which martial art is the best. It only distinguished what are the qualities of the best martial art and what techniques delivers the most damage. They also proved that legendary techniques are true such as the legendary death punch. The goal is to separate fighting fact from martial myth.

The engineers used a $150,000 Hybrid III biofidelic crash test dummy filled with sensors. It can determine the strength of the impact and the damage to the tissue relative to the blow. In weapon testing, they used human torso made of a material that mimics the density of human flesh. They also used motion capture to simulate the action in full 3D.

Martial arts featured: boxing, tae kwon do, kung fu, karate, muay thai & jiu-jitsu. Weapons featured: kali (Arnis), bo staff, nunchaku, three-section staff, bow & arrow, shuriken (throwing star), dao (Chinese broadsword), jian (Chinese straight sword) and katana.

Link: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/fightscience

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Retrospectives @ Gametrailers.com

For the lighter side of my blog, let\’s talk about videos. I know that YouTube needs no introduction and I won\’t believe that you have not seen a YouTube video yet. Now, if you are a gamer you\’ve probably watched videos that gamers have recorded and encoded, splitting to multi-part videos on how they beat an entire game from start to end. Honestly, would you watch a game instead of playing it? If you are too eager to watch game videos then watch from the real source of game video entertainment.

There is only one website I know that exhibits game franchise history with deep details and trivia that game enthusiasts would love to watch — Gametrailers.com. You can even download the videos from the website in different formats such as .mov, .wmv or iPod-ready mp4.

These retrospective easily sets apart Gametrailers.com from any other game websites I know. There are game reviews and even previews in Gametrailers.com but these retrospectives do not only review games — each retrospective takes a good look on the influences of the game during its time and often describes how a game developed from one simple franchise to one of the most prolific one.

\"FinalTo give an example, let me introduce the Final Fantasy retrospective. It is the longest retrospective in Gametrailers.com right now, spanning 13 episodes. It\’s not even finished yet so I\’m looking forward to how these guys are going to end it. There are a lot of information in each episode. If you have not played any of the games prior to FF VII, then you\’ll need to watch these videos to appreciate the older FFs. Be prepared to watch some spoilers but rest assured, spoilers are kept to the minimum. Sometimes even game reviews cannot prevent spilling some spoilers to let the editors explain the game plot easier.

\"ZeldaNow, I\’m not really a Zelda fan but I appreciate adventure RPGs as well. I\’ve played Zelda once in Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) but I didn\’t finish it. Watching the retrospective videos not only gives me the overview of the series but it also enrich my understanding of the game history. I wanted to play the series from the beginning but it\’s going to be troublesome finding old Nintendo hardwares and classic games like Zelda.

I\’m sure you\’ll think twice in watching game videos in YouTube again. I encourage you to visit Gametrailers.com and watch more videos!

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The War of the Lions!

Sword in hand, a warrior clutches stone to breast.
In sword etched he his fading memories.
In stone, his tempered skill;
By sword attested, by stone revealed.
Their tale can now be told.

\"Final

It is already out in US since October 9, and just recently Play-Asia is already shipping this game! I want to play Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions but I don\’t own a PSP. I\’m in a tight budget recently so purchasing PSP would just put my financial planning in disaster again.

I have already finished this game in PS1 but this PSP port offers new anime-style cinematics, new jobs, multiplayer feature and brand new English translation! The new English translation alone warrants a purchase because when I played this game, I only understood half the story due to inconsistent name spellings and bad grammar. Its half-baked translation didn\’t stop me enjoying the game though.

If you are reading this and feels generous on buying me a copy of the game (including PSP) — you can contact me privately regarding this matter. :D

Oh… just a side note. If you notice the logo of FFT:TWOTL, you\’ll find that a Lancer (Dragoon) is jumping high and is dominating the center of the logo. It\’s one of my favorite job in the game and certainly helpful in tough boss battles. I easily defeated the final boss by using \”jump\” ability.

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NFS Carbon

\"NeedNeed for Speed: Carbon is the recent installment of the popular Need for Speed game franchise. This year\’s NFS Carbon mixed different features found in the previous Need for Speed games with some cool new additions, giving this arcade racing game a thrill that I have never experienced in Underground 1 and 2, and Most Wanted.

Most of the Need for Speed games are quite similar to each other but varies subtly with the game features. Carbon is not revolutionary kick-ass game at all. It\’s very generic if you have played NFS games for at least 3 years. The cars do not receive realistic damage. You can turn on \”cosmetic damage\” but your car will still function perfectly. There are FMV cut-scenes and the story begins with your character starting from scratch and then you slowly build your reputation by winning races.

The new stuffs here are more exciting because the game feels like a combination of Underground and Most Wanted. The city is back to darker atmosphere, glimmering city lights and shady downtown. The police do not function the way they do in Most Wanted. You don\’t have to beat the police or set retraction records. They just chase you when you \”heat up\” and becomes their target on streets. Even during race, you\’ll end up having a police chase together with the other racers. What\’s even more fun is the return of drifting! I love drifting and I\’m just relieved that draft racing is removed. I don\’t really like drafting in Most Wanted. During boss races, you have to race in the Carbon Canyon. It\’s the special feature in NFS Carbon, hence the name Carbon. Canyon races are two-leg race. At first you act like a police and your goal is to tail as close as possible to your opponent. Score is determined by how approximate you are with your opponent in the entire course. Then, the second half of the race, your opponent will act as the police and you have to be as distant as possible so that he won\’t earn higher points than you. At the end of the race, the points are compared and whoever earned higher points wins. You can also win by overtaking the car during the first half or speeding ahead during the second half for a period of 10 seconds.

You can build your own crew in NFS Carbon and they are quite fun to have. Blockers, Drafters and Scouts — these are the types of crew members you can recruit. I find Blockers the most useful crew in circuit races while Scouts in sprint races. Blocking off your opponents gives you a leading advantage while finding shortcut is very helpful to overtake your leading opponents. Drafters are useless IMHO because I get pass them easily so their drafting-effect are futile, at least in my experience.

Modifying cars using Autosculpt™ is very innovative because you are not limited to the pre-built aftermarket gears and visual upgrades. However, it turned out that you have fewer options in tuning your car\’s performance in NFS Carbon. Well, at least the visual customization compensates for this. Layering vinyls is back and there are more types of car paints now. Am I missing neon lights? Yes, I think so.

The collection of cars in NFS Carbon is probably the best in the series because there are wider array of car models included in the car selections. Cars are classified to three different types – muscle, tuner and exotic. Each type is divided to three tiers. Tier 3 models are the best. I personally like exotic cars because they are well balanced. I choose tuners for drifting and muscle cars for circuit. Handling is very distinct in each type of car, muscle cars being the worst. Tuners are generally the slower type of car in Carbon but they handle curves very tightly. Control and speed is moderate in exotic cars. Since you have control on fine-tuning your car, the player can decide on which car he prefers. Each car types behave differently on the road so they require different skills to drive them effectively.

I give this game 4.5 out of 5 stars. Why not perfect? Firstly, I don\’t like some of the sounds. Sound effects are really good but some of the songs are terrible. I prefer those rock songs found in Underground 1 & 2. Secondly, there are only 4 bosses in this game. That\’s too few compared to 15 bosses in Most Wanted. Thirdly, there are way too much cut-scenes and the character intros are over-done. I like this game very much but I believe EA could still deliver better sequels. Still, this is a wicked racing game. :)

Official website:
http://www.ea.com/nfs/carbon/us/home.jsp

NFS, Need+for+Speed, Carbon

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A Monster Without a Name

A long, long time ago in a land far away,
There was a monster without a name.
The monster wanted a name so badly.
So the monster left to go on a journey to find a name.
But the world was so large that he split into two to make his journey.
One went to the west and the other went towards the east.
The monster who went to the east found a village.
\"\"
At the entrance of the village there was a blacksmith.
\”Mr. Blacksmith, please give me your name,\” said the monster.
\”You can\’t give away your name,\” the blacksmith replied.
\”If you give me your name, I\’ll enter you and give you strength.\”
\”Really? If you can make me stronger, then I\’ll give you my name.\”
The monster entered the blacksmith.
The monster became Otto the Blacksmith
Otto the Blacksmith became the strongest man in the village.
But one day he said,
\”Look at me. Look at me. Look at how large the monster inside me has become.\”
Crunch Crunch! Munch Munch! Chomp Chomp! Gulp!
The hungry monster ate Otto from the inside out.
The monster returned to being a nameless monster.
Even when he entered Hans the Shoemaker…
Crunch Crunch! Munch Munch! Chomp Chomp! Gulp!
He returned to being a nameless monster.
When he entered Thomas the Hunter…
Crunch Crunch! Munch Munch! Chomp Chomp! Gulp!
He once again returned to being a nameless monster.
\"\"
The monster came to a castle looking for a wonderful name.
In the castle, there was a sick boy.
\”If you give me your name, I\’ll give you strength.\”
\”If you can cure this illness and make me strong, I\’ll give you my name.\”
The monster entered the boy.
The boy became well.
The king was so pleased! \”The prince is well! The prince is well!\”
The monster liked the boy\’s name.
He also liked living in the castle.
So even though he was hungry, he endured.
Every day his stomach growled, but he endured it.
However, he was so hungry that one day he said,
\”Look at me. Look at me. Look at how large the monster inside me has become.\”
The boy ate the king and even his servents.
Crunch Crunch! Munch Munch! Chomp Chomp! Gulp!
Since there was no one there anymore, the boy went on a journey.
He kept on walking for days and days.
\"\"
One day, the boy met the monster who traveled to the west.
\”I have a name. It\’s a wonderful name, too.\”
The monster who went to the west said,
\”I don\’t need a name. I\’m happy even without a name.\”
We just have to accept that we are monsters without a name.
The boy ate the monster who went to the west.
\"\"
The monster finally had a name,
But all the people who could call him by that name have disappeared.
And Johan was such a wonderful name, too.
-END-

This is an excerpt of the picture book from the manga and animé Monster. :D I don\’t even know if this book really exists. It\’s probably fictional. You may want to watch the video clip. You think it is weird? Scary? Monster has one of the best mature story and plot I have watched in an animé, like it\’s a real drama. The animé follows the manga closely and the flow of story is well preserved. It\’s very dark and mysterious. It\’s not for faint of heart.

Credit goes to Anime-Keep for the translation.

Links:
Wikipedia: Monster (manga)
YouTube: A Monster Without a Name
monster, anime, johan, johann

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Transformers Teaser

\"Autobots\"As a youngster, I watched a lot of Transformers cartoons (the original series) and I collected some toys too (LOL). It was still popular in the early 90\’s. I was still a kid back then so I\’m one of those young boys who believed that cars could turn into walking robots. :D

Things are different now. At least 12 years had passed since I watched the cartoon series and I was skeptical when I read last year that a Transformer movie is actually being produced — not a cartoon but a hollywood movie filled with CGI and real action. It\’s real. Who would have guess we\’ll get a movie based on toys and cartoons of the 1980s? The boyish part of me tells me to get excited yet I can\’t anticipate that much because I might be dissapointed. I could not remember many details about Transformers so I\’m very interested to see the first teaser online.

Interested? Then, watch the teaser here.

Link:
Transfromer movie website: http://www.transformersmovie.com

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