Musical Piece composed of silence

The musical piece known as 4’33” (pronounced 4 minutes, 33 second) is a three-movement piece composed by John Cage in 1952.  It piece consists of 4 minutes and 33 second of silence. The first movement was 30 seconds long (of silence). The second movement was the longest at two minutes and twenty-three seconds (also of total silence). And other third movement took the remaining one minute and forty seconds.

This piece was first performed by on piano by David Tudor on August 29, 1952 at Woodstock, New York. Although the piece was composed for any instrument or combination of any group of instruments.

Tudor closed the lid of the piano to indicate the start of the movement. He opened the lid to mark the end of the movement. And he did that for the three movements. He timed the piece by counting the notes mentally and turned the pages of the sheet music accordingly.

Learn more about the piece on Wikipedia. And hear the radio episode “Quite Please” on To The Best Of Our Knowledge, in which they played a part of the piece at the end of the episode.


We do not have free will

We do not have free will.  Our mental construct of our self makes us think we do.  At least that is what neuroscientist Julian Keenan says when he talked with Ann Strainchamps on the radio episode titled “You and Your Brain” on NPR’s To The Best Of Our Knowledge.

You can listen to this enlightening episode in the above link.

Experiments showed that when you reach for a cup, you hand moves before your brain is aware.  When the brain catches up, it then comes up with the reason as to why it “decided” to move the hand.

Another experiment used electromagnets to bias a subject’s decision one way or the other.  But the subject will come up with a “rational” explanation of why he/she decided that way when in fact the magnet biased the subjects decision.  And the subject will not believe that the decision was influenced by anything else beside self.

Charlie Rose Interviews Marissa Mayer

Charlie Rose interviewed Marissa Mayor in March 2009 about her and her role at Google. Marissa Mayor had been with Google for about 10 years at the time of the interview when she was currently Vice President of Search Product and User Experience. New product ideas goes through her before it gets presented to Google’s founders Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page.

In July 2012, Mayer was appointed CEO of Yahoo. And is expecting a son in 2012 with husband Zachary Bogue.

Marissa joined Google in 1999 as their first female engineer and was the first 20 employees. Like Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Marissa also went to Stanford University. She graduated with honors and received her bachelor’s degree in symbolic systems and received her master’s degree in computer science from Stanford University.

The full video and transcript of the interview can be found on

She initially wanted to become a doctor, but found it to contain too much memorization and then went into computer science where it developed her critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

She says that she has one of the best jobs in the world because she works with great people and on products that touches many people’s lives. She feels that people is an important asset of a technology company. The two characteristics that Google looks for is one who is “smart” and “gets things done”. If you have one without the other, then it wouldn’t work either. They determine whether a candidate has those two characteristics primarily through the interview and references. They found that a candidate’s background and references was one of the best predictor of success.

She says her day starts at 9 and is usually in meetings till 7. Then she does email at night.

She usually don’t read fiction, but reads magazines like “The Economist” and “Newsweek” plus fashion magazines as well. She does a lot of reading through Google News — which she believe make people read more news and be aware for new news sources.

Google also embrace the concept of “dog-fooding” (a concept started by Microsoft) whereby the employees of a company uses (and therefore tests) the products that the company produces.

Marissa, in her own words, is a “search addict”. Of all the questions that pops in the head everyday, she searches for answers for about 20% of those. The rests either they were not important enough to search on or she was on the road can not perform the search. That is why mobile searching is important. But there are challenges due to the smaller screen.

She thinks the next big thing would be applications that involved GPS-enabled cell phones so you can know where your friends are, etc.

She mentions that “advertising-subsidized search” is Google’s business model.

The interview also touched on topics such as Google’s social network Orkut (which is not big in the United States, but big in Brazil and India), Google’s cell phone Android, and Google’s browser Chrome.

Tetris Addict Almost Broke World Record

This video was found on, which is a great name for a video site about science.   Although the video here does not show James Clewett attempting the world record, it does have an good interview of James Clewett’s interesting story.

He also created a Tetris-like game called Concentricity (available for the iPhone). And is trying to write his PhD thesis in physics.

Photos of Trolls in Norway

Trolls are creature of Nordic mythology and Scandinavian folklore.  Hence trolls are quite popular in those countries.  Here are some photos of trolls in Norway.  You usually find them standing outside shops.















Photos of Real and Art Reindeers

This is a real reindeer seen at Santa’s Workshop Village in Rovaniemi Finland.

Reindeer at Santa's Workshop Village
Reindeer at Santa's Workshop Village

The northern part of Finland probably has more reindeer than people.  So it is not so unusual to see reindeers outside a hotel in Saariselka Finland.

Reindeers outside hotel
Reindeers outside hotel


Here is a couple of reindeers in Sami Park in Norway…

reindeers Sami Park Norway
reindeers Sami Park Norway


Sometimes you see a herd of them crossing the road…

reindeer herd
reindeer herd


Rovaniemi Finland is where Santa Claus is registered.  So that city is keen on reindeer art such as these …

Reindeer Art
Reindeer Art
Reindeer Art
Reindeer Art
Reindeer Art
Reindeer Art

Then there are some people who like to make reindeers out of twigs …

reindeer art
reindeer art
reindeer art
reindeer art

Some Great Quotes

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” – Seth Godin [reference]

“Common sense is not so common” [Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique (1764)]

“I wait for death and journalists.” – Jeanne Calment [reference] (as of 2012, she was oldest person ever lived who died at 122)

When asked what she like best about being 102 years old, Jeanne Calment answered “Well, there’s no peer pressure.” [reference]

The very purpose of spirituality is self-discipline. Rather than criticizing others, we should evaluate and criticize ourselves. Ask yourself, what am I doing about my anger, my attachment, my pride, my jealousy? These are the things we should check in our day to day lives.” [quote from the Dalai Lama on Facebook]

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
– by Confucius [source]

I sometime worry about my short attention span, but not for very long
– by Herb Caen, San Francisco Chronical, 2/10/74 [source]

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” – by Audrey Hepburn [source]

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything, all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure. These things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.” – by Steve Jobs from Stanford University commencement speech 2005.

More great quotes regarding retirement and aging here.

Butter in Coffee

Butter in coffee can be a good idea for healthy individuals without cholesterol problems and who are not afraid of saturated fats.

Dave Asprey explains how he takes his coffee with butter and MCT oils.  MCT oil is medium chain triglyceride oils such as coconut oil.   He also consumes 50% of his calories as fats.

Coconut oil and butter and coffee are all healthy foods.  So his coffee recipe is not bad.