Monday, October 09, 2006 Vampire Domestication

I have to hand it to Eliezer, he really can find the oddest things on the internet. Above links to perhaps the most grounded and interesting attempt to rekindle a fantasy monster of the highest order. Click it when you have fifteen minutes and some headphones/speakers.

In other news, I'm back on the scene here in LA. I had a nice time in Salt Lake City, saw my family and girlfriend, and other good things.

My reading backlog is getting extreme and I'll be powering through some of it to get back to a more stable situation.

And the random thought for today is: Gyroscopes. Seriously, how weird are they? Everybody has seen how they do crazy things, but they rarely introspect on how deeply odd the behavior of dynamic objects are compared to the intuitive stable at-rest things we are used to. Simple gyroscopes are easy once you play and see them a bit, but the larger issue (called spinning tops in some papers I have read) of rotating volumes is fiendish in the vectorization of forces.
solid objects with concealed rotating masses inside (called gyrostats) are worse yet, imagine pushing on a box and not knowing whether it would stay stationary, rotate, or simply slide.

I've tried to find good introductory material on the subject, but the best I've found is a very old book called Gyrodynamics by Arnold. In theory, rotating objects obey all the intuitive inertial behavior you would expect, but in practice predicting the behavior of one can be very counter-intuitive. Anybody work with them, or know a book?

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