— Carl sagan
Finally! Here are the final 3 images that will be going up in the Spirit Level exhibit. It will be showing simultaneously in the U.S., France, and Norway, from 4/1/2013-4/26/2013. (I’ll post more info once I have the details.)
Spirit Level is a series of photography workshops run by photographer Arno Minkkinen (my professor while I was at UMass). Once every couple of years he gathers a select group of students from all over the world, and brings them together for a couple of weeks to photograph, study, and cause all sorts of mischief together!
This installment of the trip involved cramming 6 American, 6 French, and 6 Norwegian students into 3 vans, and driving from Lowell, Massachusetts, down to Virginia to visit photographer Sally Mann on her ranch. It was an incredible adventure. Not just meeting Sally and seeing the cabin where she shot her family photos, but also making so many new friends. It’s been a long time since the days of hostelling through Europe, and I had forgotten what a rush it is to travel like that, saying so many heartfelt ‘hello’s and ‘goodbye’s in such a short period of time. If only I could find a way to channel that into the every day. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, by Jack London:
“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”
How to shrinkify an Arduino sketch onto an attiny13 chip
We needed a tree topper for the xmas tree, so I figured it was a good time to fire up the Makerbot and print one out. I found this star tree topper on Thingiverse that has space for an LED to be mounted inside: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:14485.
But why just mount a plain old boring LED when instead I could make the light fade in and out! I had an attiny13a AVR chip laying around, and I had read that it was possible to load a simple arduino sketch onto it. It sounded simple enough, but of course nothing ever is. Most of the instructions I found were for use with different chips, like the attiny45 or attiny85.
I mostly used these two sites to get the basics of how to “shrinkify” (load an arduino sketch onto an AVR chip). But there were a few major compatibility problems for the attiny13, and it took me quite a few hours of googling and testing to figure them out. (Disclaimer: I hate Google’s privacy policies, so I actually run Google searches through startpage.com, which does not collect your IP or search history.) So here’s the basic rundown of my steps to get everything to function with the attiny13a:
- Download this package for attiny microcontroller support with the Arduino (per the instructions on the MIT site above)
- Unzip it, open the boards.txt file, and add this text to the end of the boards.txt file (this will put the attiny13 as an option in your tools > board menu):
attiny13.name=ATtiny13 (internal 9.6 MHz clock)
(Note: If later on you find that your LED is blinking way faster or slower than you programmed it to do, you could adjust the number in the line “attiny13.build.f_cpu=9600000L”, which controls the clock frequency.)
- Add the entire /attiny directory to the /hardware directory in your Arduino directory (where all your sketches are stored). Directory structure and naming matters, so make sure looks exactly like this: Arduino/hardware/attiny/
And inside the /attiny directory will be your boards.txt file and a /variants directory.
- Go to your Applications directory, right click on Arduino.app, and choose “Show package contents”. Navigate to hardware/arduino/cores/arduino/wiring.c. Find this text:
#if defined(__AVR_ATtiny24__) || defined(__AVR_ATtiny44__) || defined(__AVR_ATtiny84__)
and add a part for the attiny13, so it looks like this:
#if defined(__AVR_ATtiny24__) || defined(__AVR_ATtiny44__) || defined(__AVR_ATtiny84__) || (__AVR_ATtiny13__)
- Plug your Arduino board into the computer, and start the Arduino software. Choose your board in the Arduino board menu (mine is an Uno).
- Run file > examples > ArduinoISP
- Close the Arduino app, and connect your attiny13 to your Arduino per the instructions at here and here.
- Once that’s done, start the Arduino app, and choose attiny13 in the Tools > Board menu. Run Tools > Burn Bootloader (it’s okay if you get a couple of errors. It should have still worked.)
- Open the blink sketch (File > Examples > Basics > Blink), and change the pin number to the one your LED is hooked up to.
- Select Tools > Programmer > Arduino as ISP, and then upload the sketch to the chip by running File > Upload Using Programmer
Now you should see your LED start to blink. Yay!
The illusion of purpose and design is perhaps the most pervasive illusion about nature that science has to confront on a daily basis. Everywhere we look, it appears that the world was designed so that we could flourish….
I am painfully aware that our illusions nonetheless reflect a deep human need to assume that the existence of the Earth, of life and of the universe and the laws that govern it require something more profound. For many, to live in a universe that may have no purpose, and no creator, is unthinkable.
But science has taught us to think the unthinkable. Because when nature is the guide — rather than a priori prejudices, hopes, fears or desires — we are forced out of our comfort zone. One by one, pillars of classical logic have fallen by the wayside as science progressed in the 20th century, from Einstein’s realization that measurements of space and time were not absolute but observer-dependent, to quantum mechanics, which not only put fundamental limits on what we can empirically know but also demonstrated that elementary particles and the atoms they form are doing a million seemingly impossible things at once….
Even our idea of nothingness has been altered.
We now know that most of the energy in the observable universe can be found not within galaxies but outside them, in otherwise empty space, which, for reasons we still cannot fathom, “weighs” something. But the use of the word “weight” is perhaps misleading because the energy of empty space is gravitationally repulsive. It pushes distant galaxies away from us at an ever-faster rate. Eventually they will recede faster than light and will be unobservable.
This has changed our vision of the future, which is now far bleaker. The longer we wait, the less of the universe we will be able to see. In hundreds of billions of years astronomers on some distant planet circling a distant star (Earth and our sun will be long gone) will observe the cosmos and find it much like our flawed vision at the turn of the last century: a single galaxy immersed in a seemingly endless dark, empty, static universe."
— Lawrence M. Krauss, Pondering a Universe without Purpose, http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/01/opinion/la-oe-krauss-cosmology-design-universe-20120401