Thursday, December 18, 2014

movies: Guardians of the Galaxy

Since we're talking about Marvel, have you seen this movie?

I have heard a lot of good things about this movie when it came out in the theaters, but when I saw the trailer, both my husband and I had our doubts. I don't know what it is about talking animals; it just didn't appeal to me. (I'll watch talking animals with my kiddos, but that's it, haha!) Although when it came out on video and the fact that it might lead into the next, next Avengers movie, we decided, why not.

After seeing the movie, we're glad that we saw it. It was a total hoot!! The movie was fast paced, nothing deep or thought provoking (unless you're thinking about how everyone fits in, in the grand scheme of the Marvel universe), and just hilarious. For those that have seen the movie, "I am Groot." This is the tree character; he totally stole the show.

The talking raccoon didn't turn out to be that bad after all and was actually pretty funny. As for Chris Pratt, the actor who plays Peter on the show, he was entertaining and carried the show through his various interactions with all the different characters. Even though he's a big movie star now, I'll always remember him on the TV show Everwood. Anyone remember this show?

Anyways, the Guardians of the Galaxy is a funny and entertaining movie. If you're a fan of Marvel, you might like this. It was worth the approximate two hours of my life ;)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What's recording on my Tivo

Aside from the usual "Sesame Street", "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood", and "Caillou", my Tivo is also set to record some of momma's favorite shows. I love watching T.V., especially with a bag of potato chips, preferably sour cream flavor, or some nachos please :)  None of the shows are too deep or serious, just entertaining and short enough to help me wind down at the end of the day.

I've been watching Castle for several seasons now, and I thought once Beckett and Castle got married, it'll probably jump the shark (you know how that goes). So far it hasn't, I was really impressed with the writing. The plot continued to be interesting and the dialogue witty. A lot of my favorite series have ended like House and Fringe, so I'm glad that this one is still hanging around.


I've mentioned this show before; I'm a huge fan of Marvel comics when I was younger (thanks to this one class in middle school where the teacher was hardly ever there and the guy sitting next to me with his stack of comics). This season where Coulson is taking over for Fury is actually pretty good. I just wasn't sure about Coulson at first; he's not exactly the kick-a** kind of guy like Fury, but they really developed his character, and it's getting interesting. He's still not a kick-a** kind of guy like Fury, but he's managing his team okay. I can't wait come 2015 to see what happens.


I've been following the Mentalist on and off. The you-know-who plot was getting a little bit tired, so I was glad that they wrapped that up and mixed up the team. No only did the original team get split up, it got moved to Austin, and Jane and Lisbon hooked up. Now is that crazy or what?! I'm still waiting to see if the relationship between these two is going to cause the show to jump the shark. We shall see. This one is one of those shows that I watch when I have nothing else left to watch. It's good just not as good as the others.


This is a new show that I discovered by accident. I don't even remembered how. I just started watching it, and now it's on my list of shows to record. It's about this guy that's immortal. Nothing new about that, but the cases that they solve in every episode have been entertaining each week.


What have you been watching, or what do you do to help you wind down at the end of the day?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Lights and the Discovery of the Blue LED

We went to see some Christmas lights recently. As we were admiring all the beautiful lights and decorations, I couldn't help but think about the technical innovations behind some of these lights. Some of these lights were LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) and some weren't, but LEDs wouldn't be as popular as they are now if it weren't for the discovery of the blue LED.


For the longest time, LEDs were only in red, yellow, and green, and even though they're the staples of electrical engineering geeks like me, they just weren't as popular as they're now. This is most likely because it's usually very dim and the colors weren't that vibrant. Originally, the ever elusive blue LED wasn't possible due to the material. People have tried and tried for many years using various substrates and doping methods to achieve the blue color, but it wasn't until Shuji Nakamura (One of the winners of this year's Nobel Prize in Physics) who made the discovery in 1994 that made the blue LED possible. In case you're curious about what's been keeping the rest of us from making this discovery for all this time, he experimented with different materials that weren't the traditional silicon-based methodology, in this case it was InGaN (IndiumGalliumNitride).

via Wikipedia

InGaN materials are from the III-V groups of the periodic table and are best used for these applications which emit photons because they have direct band-gaps. There are a lot of materials from these groups, therefore the combinations are numerous. Also, silicon-based and gallium arsenide-based methodologies have already been established, such that veering from these traditional methods required a tremendous amount of work, resources, and understanding of material science. Many of these materials needed to be prepared and grown, so this is why Nakamura's discovery is so remarkable. For more about this discovery, has a good article on it here.

Shuji Nakamura (via

You're probably thinking, "Okay whatever? So who cares if he discovered the blue LED!?" Well, it was the discovery of the blue LED that quickly led to the eventual invention of the white LED. When all the primary colors are combined, it becomes white. This is significant because it is the first time that the LED has become bright enough to actually be useful in so many different applications. How useful? Think about the LED based billboards, the flat-screen displays, car headlights, Christmas lights, flashlights, etc. The list goes on and on, and that was just from the top of my head. LEDs have slowly dominated the market because not only is it bright enough now, it is light-weight and energy efficient.

via Wikipedia

As an aside, I love to hear backstories, so you might be interested too. According to my professor, the potential of Nakamura's discovery wasn't fully appreciated by the company that he was working for at the time. They just thought that it was a blue LED, something novel, that's it. Boy were they wrong. Nakamura is now a professor at UCSB (University of California at Santa Barbara).

Next time you see a bright display powered by LEDs, just think, it all started with the blue LED :)

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