Monday, June 29, 2009

Glazed fountain spouts

My friends John and Chris Gray at Clayworks glazed and fired the spouts I built last week. They look very nice. Next step is to mortar them in to place -- which is going to be a pain because it is now 103 degrees outside!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Edge Detector Paper

The genetic edge detector paper just came out in Cell! Congratulations to Jeff and everyone else who worked on this paper. This is a project that we hatched about 3 or 4 years ago and it is finally out after a lot of hard work by everyone involved except me :-).

The project engineered bacteria to act as a communal signal processor implementing an "edge detector". You can think of the engineered bacteria as being like very simple computers, each running the following program: "Am I in the light? If so, shout to my neighbors. Otherwise, if I'm in the dark and I hear my neighbors shouting then raise my hand." Those that are in the dark and hear a neighbor must be near an edge. The "shout" is implemented by having the cells produce a small molecule which diffuses to their neighbors to be "heard" (actually, "smelled" is a better description). The "raise my hand" is implemented by having the cells produce a dark sugar which is visible to the naked eye when you look at the plate.

Interestingly, natural cells implement this edge-detection algorithm: the retina -- the first stages of image processing in the eye is to extract edges by a similar algorithm. The Nobel prize was awarded in 1967 to Hartline for this discovery in the retinas of the horseshoe crab.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fountain spouts

Today I sculpted the spouts for the fountain on my back porch. The white boards under each are scaffolds supporting them until the dry at which time I will remove, glaze, and fire them. The firing should cause them to shrink so then I will be able to mortar them back into position.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bed stain

Stained the bed today (not what you're thinking!). Almost done with this project! It's taken way too long.

Monday, June 8, 2009


I haven't been posting house progress for a while. My night-time project for the last week has been construction of a bed with a little bit of a floating cloud theme. I laminated four 4x8 sheets of maple plywood together and then cut out circles of various radii.

After Alex's sanding for many hours...

Here's the rough-cut end table before I cut out the circles...