Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Here they come, walkin' down the street

Hey, hey, Slovakia - your future is bright.

To recap your Olympic "triumph", finishing fourth in Olympic hockey isn't that bad.  You played with heart and put your stake in the ground.  You are going to be back, hungrier than ever, in 2014.

Not knowing much about hockey, I can tell you I enjoyed your style on the ice more than Finland. I also like the fact you checked out the Budding Ventriloquist Winter Olympic Coverage (TM), something the Fins decided just wasn't all that important to them.

In fact, I feel so snubbed, I'm telling my favorite Fin joke just to poke them:
Question: Two Fins are talking. How can you tell which one is the extrovert and which one is the introvert?

Answer:  The extrovert is the one looking at the other guy's shoes.
(Sorry, my Slovakian friends. Didn't mean to cut in on your blogtime with a rant about the Fins. But I'm sure you agree they deserve it.)

The Slovakians are not only athletes, but scientists, too.  Professor Norbert Kopco, Department of Cybernetics and Artificial Intelligence, Technical University of Koice, Slovakia, (and his gang) recently published "Reference Frame of the Ventriloquism Aftereffect" in The Journal of Neuroscience.  This a fascinating illustration of how ventriloquism is important not only to art but to science as well.

Cutting though the technical mumbo-jumbo, the study was about how quickly the brain can determine where sound is coming from if the source of the sound is not what your eyes tell you it is. If you prefer, we're talking "mismatched visual stimuli on auditory localization."  There, now you get it better?

This study was done on both humans and monkeys, which leads to the obvious next step to which I offer Professor Kopce my assistance.  What if the sound was audibly coming from a man, but visually coming out of a monkey? What would the results be on humans? On monkeys?

Max and I stand by, ready to help. (So there's no misunderstanding, we'll need to cut into the grant money for the trip.  Unless we happen to be some place near by - like Slovenia.)

Finally, sports, science, and pure entertainment are a triple threat.  And that pure entertainmment comes from Slovakian magician and ventriloquist Jaroslav Seman.  Here's Jaro entertaining children. The charm of the children's laughter goes to show how kids are so willing to suspend disbelief, and clearly Jaro's skill has them convinced that silly rabbit talks. Of course they know it's a puppet, but it a magical one.

Okay, Okay. I hear you. Stop the phone calls. Save your stamps, hold the hate mail. The logo for the Ventriloquist in Space Program (VISP) that was on yesterday's post needs some work. And I'm working on it.

I will tell you, there's a market for astronaut and ventriloquist clip art. There's a surprisingly huge absence of it right now.  I know that will change once VISP is successful, but right now it's all scratch work.

Pioneering isn't all tea, crumpets, and grand pianos, ya know.

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