WT2010 – JAPAN – Day 3 – Odaiba & Shibuya

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on March 12, 2010

WT2010 – JAPAN
Day 3 – Odaiba & Shibuya
[On the iPOD] Be Your Own Pet

SLEEEEEEEEEEEEEP IN. No, get up! What to do today! It was time to venture out of Shinjuku, my newly found comfort zone. I decided to jump straight in the deep end, try and make my way to Odaiba which is the bay area of Tokyo about 25min train ride south of Shinjuku, but not without a transfer or something. A friend said you need to catch the monorail. What monorail!? Well with a useless map and no real idea I decided to leg it. Thankfully a JR info attendant spoke broken english, said I needed to go to Osaki and use a machine outside to get my ticket.

Stared blankly at said machine for 2minutes pondering how I would translate it, oh wait the other one over there has an ENGLISH button. WIN! JR Ticket select. What are all these numbers? I stared blankly and then looked around, a sign had corresponding numbers on a map of the railway layout. I figured the they were fares linking to the stations but the stations weren’t in english. A women noticed me staring bemused so she asked in broken english ‘Where would you like to go?’ I said Osaki, she looked it up and bam I had a ticket.

My main goal in Odaiba was Toyota MEGA WEB. From what I knew; a display centre with cool car related stuff. I get off in Osaki, my map is again useless and doesnt even list the bay area as existing. The trip from Shinjuku to Tokyo Teleport Station in Odaiba is supposed to take 25minutes. Osaki was only 10minutes. I was guessing transfer time and I was right, back up to buy another ticket to extend the fair. This time I showed that ticket machine whose boss and was off to the platform in no time. 15minutes later and Im where I need to be.

I knew two things about Odaiba; They used to host a D1 (Local Drift Competition) in the carpark here and it’s home to this Toyota thing. Upon getting off the train theres a huge sign listing all these places to visit and their distance. A museum or two, A shopping centre called “palette town” and a whole lot more. The toyota showroom and design centre was ok. The highlight was you could book this ‘eco ride’ they have a track that runs directly through the building and swerves and goes up a storey or two and then outside and it’s totally automated, you don’t drive the car drives! Apparently this technology and display has been around for years… as I would later find out first hand later on.

I then made my way to the last part of the Toyota MEGA WEB the ‘history garage’. If you like Toyotas or oldschool cars or cars in general bring a change of undies. What would you do if you had 50million dollars? buy a bunch of cool cars? Yeah great. How about build your own ‘town’ (inside?) with decore matching the cars you place inside. A ferrari 256 GTS? Place it in little Italy ofcourse surrounded by roman pillars and streetcarts filled with fresh produce. Into Mustangs and Cadilacs? place them in a western 50’s American bar / mockup petrol station of course!

Like AE86’s? Place them outside Takumi’s Tofu shop! All 4 of them! Including an ex D1 drift coup. The cars sitting around? A Nissan 240z, the original batmobile, Toyota 2000gt, deloreon, porches, blah blah blah on the list goes. I walked further on to find the back section was a store filled floor to roof with service manuals and diecast models of the highest quality of all types of cars. 1000’s of them. Old school memorabilia like tin-pressed car illustraions to used numberplates from the past. This was all utterly mind blowing. It was like being 10yrs old and dreaming up a garage and being in it.

And then I walked downstairs! More diecast toys as well as; Toyota’s actual F1 car, A GT500 car, A LE MANS racer. The Celica GT4 that won the WRC a heap of times. Some of these cars were parked inside the cafe whilst the others were parked outside which I then noticed was themed like an Italian villa in Sicily. It was an outdoor courtyard with a huge fountain in the middle and a driveway that looped it. Brilliant! It’s as if some exec at Toyota decided to build his boyhood dream garage.

I’ve forgotten to mention the rest of Palette town, it continues the ‘villa’ theme indoors (with fake blue sky and all) It was kind of like the DFO in Sydney except 1000x classier and with better stores and about twice as big at least. Fountains inside etc. Some of the stores were generic but others blew my mind!

Theres a huge ferris wheel right there outside the complex also. Walking to the bay-side I noticed the Sceince Museum was a bit of a hike. I noticed what appeared to be a monorail on the map so I walked to find it. Got tickets and got on to find NO DRIVER. Standing at the front of this thing was rather discerning. It runs automatically (just like the cars in the Toyota facility) It’s interesting to note that the station has glass barriers and sliding doors on the actual platform yet the train stops dead perfect (so its doors lineup with the platform doors) every single time.

The Emerging Science building was okay, It has a cool thing on robotics and some hands on life-science stuff it was interactive with displays and speakers (only good for Japanese speakers to listen to though) The simple and nerdy highlight for me was a little simple experiment setup on display. It was apparently alcohol vapour setup on a clear tub somehow. It’s purpose was to highlight radiation. People, especially new age hippies talk about radiation like it was invented by mad scientists; especially when talking microwaved food. The reality is we’re surrounded by radiation every day, we even emit it ourselves. So this display actually CAUGHT the alpha, beta and gamma radiation and made it visible in an eerie smokey way, simple yet cool.

Was getting to 4pm now So I decided to head back with a stop at Shibuya. Theres a statue in the square of the famous station square called Hachiko sqaure. It’s also where that ‘famous’ Intersection is in Shibuya when the lights go green you get a huge displacement of people in all directions. The Hachiko statue is a dog. The story goes; In the 1920’s a professor who taught at Tokyo University kept a small Akita dog called Hachiko, the dog followed his master to the station every morning whilst he went to work. Hachiko would actually return in the afternoon to wait for the professor to come home every day without fail. In 1925 the professor died of a stroke yet little Hachiko would return to the meeting spot every afternoon for 10years until it’s own death. The story touched the locals who built the statue in the little dogs honour. It’s now a popular meeting spot in Shibuya!

I wandered around a bit with the aim of finding a record store called disc union. I instead found one called recofan which I’ve heard is amazing. On the elevator everyone got out on a floor that looked like a book store so I got out too, it was manga/anime/toy haven of course. Robot toys galore! I ALMOST went a little crazy buying some buy refrained and headed to the music store. I was in there for 2hours! They had a used Beatles vinyl section and vinyl in general was a bargain. At record fares in Australia if your after ‘rare’ Japanese pressings of The Beatles LP’s (with Apple label stickers) your looking at like $50 an LP. Here was a wall in front of me, starting from $10 a pop! Oh noes!

9800yen later and I walked out pretty happy. All japanese pressings of everything from The Beatles, The Damned, Gang of Four, Blondie, The Cure and and and and A MINT Japanese pressing of The Smiths strangeways album with stickers for fricken $14! Wow. That’d be like $70 back home I’m going to go broke in this town. They also give you brand new plastic sleeves for free! Got some Ramen on the way home and took some more snaps of the Shibuya Intersection at night. Dead tired!

Note to self; 80shots left on my 4GB photocard! (shooting in L format) geees time to buy another.




The Science News Cycle!

Posted in Random, Science by jukeboxparables on May 26, 2009

Brilliant comic from PHD Comics which create a bunch of cool Science related online comics. This one is oh so true!

Tagged with: ,

The Milky Way Time-Lapse!

Posted in Photography, Science by jukeboxparables on May 19, 2009

You have to watch this! An amazing Time-Lapse photo blend of our Galaxy passing through the field of view of our night sky. Amazing stuff. Clicky below!

Galactic Center of Milky Way Rises over Texas Star Party from William Castleman on Vimeo.

Swine Flu.

Posted in Science by jukeboxparables on May 12, 2009

I’ve been waiting to post this report from New Scientist. It’s the real facts minus mainstream media wire-crossing.

Tagged with: , ,

Messages to ET & SETI musings.

Posted in Science by jukeboxparables on April 24, 2009


NewScientist is running a story with the lead; “Why we shouldn’t hide our problems from ET”. In summary director of interstellar message composition at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. Douglas Vakoch; states that prospective messages to the stars should point out we aren’t perfect, that such messages should also contain our shortcomings and frailties as well as conveying hope and generally just saying “Hi”.

I agree that in the unlikely case of a dialogue being opened between us and another civilization that the Issues facing Earth should not be hidden and the problems we face should be transparent. But this is one step removed from broadcasting them across the galaxy in a one-way advert. Various media of war, poverty, atrocities, crime and hate aren’t exactly good conversation starters with strangers.

Imagine placing an advert on a friendship/dating site along the lines of “Hi, I’m 4.5 billion years old. I enjoy; moonlit strolls along the beach while children starve to death, Croquet and genocide, Hiking whilst destroying natural habitats, Watersports while Nuclear testing. I’m looking for something long-term, someone I can really talk to… about exciting new technologies for military application so as to gain a subversive upper hand on my fellow human beings.” Does that sound like an Ad you’d answer?

My point is, In getting to know someone (or something else) we should strive to apply our unspoken Human tradition of; small steps and common ground first. Because a traditional human greeting is all we’re capable of after all.

I don’t agree with Douglas in that “If we continue to dodge controversy, we risk sending messages that are both brief and boring” I just don’t see how receiving a message from across the vastness of space could be boring.

Though I suppose this is all one big moot point; Basically we’ve been sending signals into space since TV has begun broadcasting. That’s right, everything from news to sports to random television sitcoms are right now beaming across the blackness of space. Something like 60 years of television has created an imaginary ‘globe’ of radiowaves emitting from the earth, light years in diameter passing through countless solar systems.

Of course the further such radiowaves get, the less power they carry. But there has been concentrated broadcasts purposely directed for space.

In February 2008. NASA aimed its eye towards the North Star, 431 light years away. And began playing The Beatles – Across the Universe. Yes, apt indeed.

Besides broadcasts though, us Earthlings do have another presence in Space. Pioneer 10 & 11 and Voyager 1 & 2 carry information (symbolic, mathematical, cultural) physically on the spacecraft themselves. And every second they’re hurtling through space, further and further from home (more on them sometime soon)

If you could have chosen one song to beam into space, what would it be and why? Or what about your thoughts on a default Earth greeting?

You can submit your greeting ideas to SETI because they’re opening their doors and accepting greeting ideas from around the world very soon. The greetings won’t be broadcast (as yet) It seems they’re just testing the waters, gathering data, listening for input.

It’s good that such an initiative has been taken, Perhaps before NASA go attaching Golden Records to things they should conduct some type of Music pole to see what Sounds best represent Earth. But more on that another time.

Bonnie Bassler on bacterial communication.

Posted in Science by jukeboxparables on April 12, 2009

I bet you didn’t know bacteria communicate? Check out this rather inspired talk by Princeton molecular biologist Bonnie Bassler about her lab’s recent discoveries on bacterial communication.

“The discovery shows how cell populations use chemical powwows to stage attacks, evade immune systems and forge slimy defenses called biofilms. For that, she’s won a MacArthur “genius” grant — and is giving new hope to frustrated pharmacos seeking new weapons against drug-resistant superbugs.”

The talk is from the 2009 TED conference. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.

Basically TED currently hosts a collection of Inspired leaders in various fields of Design, Tech, Science, Entertainment (including Music) and Global Issues. Check out other such talks over at their website. TED

I’ll probably be linking a few of their more interesting videos soon.

Coincidence; explained.

Posted in Random, Science by jukeboxparables on April 6, 2009

This video is a good breakdown of coincidence and the chance of certain events occurring. If you find yourself wondering about fate or saying things like “That can’t just be a coincidence” then this is a healthy slap-reality check.

Tagged with: , ,

Notable Quotables; Issue #1

Posted in Notable Quotables, Science by jukeboxparables on March 11, 2009

2 random quotes for today;

Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.

–Richard Feynmann. From the lecture “What is and What Should be the Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Society”, given at the Galileo Symposium in Italy, 1964.

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.

–Carl Sagan. From his book “Cosmos” published 1980.

Blackholes and Revelations!

Posted in Science by jukeboxparables on March 8, 2009

WARNING: This post is not about Muse.

Now that we’ve cleared that up. Ever wondered about the makeup of matter/space/timetravel/theuniverse/blackholes and so on? Physicists are a bit, you know over the top with maths and the like. Have you ever browsed through Stephen Hawking’s; A Brief History Of Time? I struggled with the blurb hence why my Science ramblings never stray much over to the dark-side; Theoretical Physics is pretty hard to understand and don’t get me started on Quantum Theory. Well the basics are fairly simple at least conceptually but In reality It’s a bit of a brain drain.

In fact Nobel Prize Laureate and American physicist Richard Feynman has been credited as saying “If you think you understand Quantum Theory, You don’t understand Quantum Theory”. And that coming from someone who worked on The Manhattan Project.

Anyway Hawking and Feynman aside I’ve more than a few times looked at Sir Roger Penrose’s “The Road to Reality” but as yet haven’t bought it because I’m busy enough with my head in Microbiology text-books without venturing into an 1100+ page book about the laws of the universe.

Anyway, This is going somewhere I promise. I’m an avid listener of Triple J’s Science Mornings with Dr. Karl. And on a show back in 2007 Dr Karl kindly abducted Sir Roger Penrose from a physics convention being held at the time along with an American theoretical physicist Dr Kip Thorne whose made contributions in gravitation physics as well as astrophysics he’s also written a back on blackholes. These guys are the ‘real heavy hitters’ as Dr Karl so eloquently puts it.

It’s not often you get a talk-show scenario with a chance to quiz great minds about the nature of reality amongst other cool things like time travel, black holes and the large hadron collider. Anyway you can download and listen to the podcast of the show for download right here.

Nothing moves faster than the speed of light right? Wrong! Listen to the podcast.


“Music/Books that make you dumb”

Posted in Books/Comics/Manga, Music by jukeboxparables on March 8, 2009


A friend linked me to a recent beatcrave article about a statistical data compilation which has correlated Musical taste with SAT scores in the USA. For all those unawares the SAT is the standard college admission test in the United Sates. Anyway I thought It was possibly a bit of a joke however It’s actually been done quite professionally by a Phd. student at Caltech Virgil Griffith.

Basically the author compiled 133 of the most popular inputs of ‘favourite music’ using facebook (manually). Then correlated this with student SAT data. As is pointed out correlation is not causation so the title is perhaps misleading. But you can’t ignore the trends.

A large statistical sample was also used, SAT data was obtained from 1,352 schools.

So whilst browsing the graph outputs which you can view here: http://musicthatmakesyoudumb.virgil.gr/ I also noticed the author had previously done the same thing with books! You can view that here

So what’s the ‘verdict’? Indie/Alternative kids come out on-top whilst lovers of Beethoven reign supreme. Wow, I just had this strange mental image of a certain dystopian novel/movie character named Alex yelping “Not the 5th!”

Highest SAT scorers were lovers of Beethoven, Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens, Ben Folds Five and Guster. whilst the lowest scores fell to (Sorry hip-hop/rap fans) Lil’ Wayne, Beyonce and T.I

I am surprised however that a band like Counting Crows scored so high. The Author explains this away however; “When UPenn Princeton, Duke, Williams, and Upenn make up ~20% of the weight you’d expect a high score.” No doubt some localized quip about the general makeup of attendees of that school that us International folks don’t understand. I’ll have to agree with the fact that Nickelback are near-bottom only outdone by Aerosmith, Haven’t we all suspected this all along!? Muse and David Bowie also registered slightly above average scores. Does this mean my SAT’s would rate somewhere between those two artists? haha hopefully.

In the other plot about Books; Catch 22, Lolita, 100 years of solitude scored highly whilst; Zane, The Colour Purple and The Holy Bible scored fairly low.

Note; this is all pretty tongue-in-cheek! Correlation doesn’t mean its some type of proven fact. Hence the use of inverted commas in the title.



Space Oddity; Asteroid 2009 DD45

Posted in Science by jukeboxparables on March 5, 2009

Perhaps I should be making a Steve Tyler inspired Aerosmith/Armageddon reference instead of Bowie, but meh.

I’m not sure why this wasn’t all over the news (or perhaps I missed it) But at 5:44am Pacific time on March 2nd an Asteroid believed to be between 21 and 47 meters in diameter[1] missed our Earth by 70,000km. This puts it firmly in the NEO category (Near Earth Object) This distance sounds pretty far but It’s only about twice the distance at which geosynchronous satellites orbit. In other words… as close as it gets.

If it did hit, It would’ve landed in the Pacific Ocean near Tahiti[1] What’s the harm? Well It’s being compared in size to the object that leveled Tunguska in 1908. This can’t be exactly accurate since the exact size of that Asteroid is unknown though that object did level over 2,100 square km of forest[2]. That’s about 1/6th of the greater Sydney area. But of course this thing was slated to land in the Ocean. So I suppose I should be talking big big waves instead!

In the movies we get a few months warning so the government can build special shelters, or NASA can send Bruce Willis up in a modified Space-shuttle to avert disaster but in reality; There is no well funded government program actively searching for Asteroids and it was Rob McNaught at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia who discovered this thing when it was a dim speck about 1.5 million kilometers away[1]. A mere 2 days before it whizzed by. Scary ehh?, perhaps Mr Willis had something to do with it after all..

And before you ask. A meteor is the trail a meteoroid leaves in the sky when entering our atmosphere (those things we call shooting stars) theyre only hand to boulder sized rocks. Asteroids are designated as anything bigger than that (but smaller than planetoids)

View Larger Map

[1] Space Rock Swoops by Earth. (2009) Planetary News 2009. The Planetary Society. (accessed 05/03/09) http://planetary.org/news/2009/0302_Space_Rock_Swoops_by_Earth.html
[2] Wikipedia. (accessed 05/03/09) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunguska_event

Tagged with: , , ,