complex surface

(A table of contents is available. This series will remain open for additional posts and the table of contents up-to-date as new posts are added.)

Part Seven: Don’t Neglect Action

Since dialogue is one of our main tools for passing information between characters about what’s happening not only in the plot but also in terms of character arcs and development, our stories can start to feel as though the action scenes are just cushions between talking scenes. I myself have felt sometimes as though I’m just hopping from conversation to conversation. It can be difficult to know when you’re striking the right balance between action and dialogue.

Know your focus.

Generally a scene will have a purpose to perform within the story as a whole. Maybe it’s to have a certain event take place or to showcase a character’s change in perspective. Think about what your goal with a scene is–and more often than not, a scene will have more than one! Depending on what the main point of the it is, a scene will tend one way or the other naturally, born out of that purpose.

Not every big developmental moment is built out of a dramatic conversation. The temptation toward melodramatic lines like in TV shows and movies is huge, but it can be just as powerful to keep something in just glances and actions your characters take. Conversely, not every moment comes out of a visual reveal. Don’t feel like you have to change the focus, but do consider new and interesting ways to serve that focus and whether its natural tendency toward narration or dialogue is the best option for it this time.

If it feels like your story is suffering a little from too many scenes of one or the other, try finding another way to convey the information that is the focus of the scene whether that’s switching a conversation to something more focused on your characters doing something or the other way around, toying with the trope may reveal a new way of doing things you hadn’t considered previously.

Stay aware of your flow.

It’s hard to do while writing, but luckily, first drafts aren’t meant to be carved in stone, so during your re-reads and re-drafts, make sure you’re concentrating on and conscious of the scenes that are built mostly of dialogue or action. It seems so tempting to alternate them, but creating that kind of rhythm can become wearing and predictable for the reader, and it really will start to feel as though you’re just hopping from conversation to conversation with pillows of action between (or the other way around). Instead, find ways to blend the flow together by finding scenes where action can happen at the same time as a conversation. Often, two scenes can be combined and their dual goals achieved simultaneously. It’s not the first idea that comes to us, but in much the same way that two side characters can be combined to the same functions, scenes may work better in your story by working together. Give it a try when you feel like the flow of a story is stunted by a split focus.

Dialogue and action work together.

Perhaps the most obvious of advice is simply the reminder that these two techniques–narration and speech–work together. While it’s certainly an option to have a scene exist completely as dialogue, or an entire scene solely be narration of action, “best practices” for writing say that you should try to mix the two into each of your scenes. The focus of your scene isn’t the only thing in there–there’s also the wind up to the focus and the transition out of that moment and into the next scene. Find ways to interweave actions with your conversations and the other way around so that things still continue to happen. The last thing we want is for our stories to come to a dead stop so two characters can talk.

Think about how you can give action to your characters. Not just any action, however, but action that progresses the story. Can you still describe the environment while they talk? Can you still give tidbits of backstory while they discuss? Can you observe mannerisms and culture and speech habits while they argue? Can they continue their banter while continuing to work? Blending narration with your dialogue will help you avoid the use of things like emphasis formatting and overuse of ellipses. Instead of relying on those tricks, your narration will provide the pause in beat that the ellipses represents. You’ll build your action and your characters in scenes together.

Distance matters.

Narration interspersed with dialogue can provide a unique challenge in that you’re asking your audience to pay attention to two threads at once: what’s being said, and what’s being done. It doesn’t seem too complex, and on the surface, it’s not, however it’s important to keep in mind with dialogue that the phrases being said by people are meant to be in response to each other (most times). Spreading the responses too far apart from each other with description and action can lead to confusion; readers may have to step back and reread the dialogue from before in order to see how the responses are related. That’s no good; it pulls your reader right out of the immersive experience you’ve built for them.

Ideally, narration in amongst your dialogue lines should be kept short: a couple of sentences, a minimal paragraph at most. If you do have to separate the lines substantially, try to recall what’s been said previously within the character’s response. Maybe they repeat part of the question, maybe they ask for clarification, maybe they’re sarcastic, who knows. Keep your audience connected with the conversation as best you can. Yes, you want it to feel like a natural conversation, but if your characters take the time to do something or observe something that takes more than a couple of paragraphs before getting back to what they were talking about, probably not even they are going to remember exactly where they left off. Help a reader out.

Next up: Remainder sentences!

sweatertwins  asked:

so i saw that you mentioned that you don't like the shattered medallion too much as a game. how come??

i actually just recently replayed this game so this is a wonderful time for me to talk about this!

  • this is one of those games that i believe was churned out a little too fast to meet a deadline. this plot has so many loose threads and unanswered questions in it and UNTAPPED POTENTIAL that it genuinely upsets me that it didn’t turn out as nicely as i wanted it to.
  • the entire reality show game aspect is so unnecessary, and honestly takes away from the true plot of this game: sonny and his grandfather’s quest. shattered medallion could EASILY have just been about that, and then we could’ve devoted more time to actually understanding the details of jin’s mission and the history of the relics. we have a lot of build up here that leads to a very unsatisfactory ending. is sonny satisfied with what happened with that relic in the cave? what exactly did the relic in the cave represent or do anyway? what does any of this mean for sonny?
  • as a matter of fact, this game is so sparse with giving us information about the main crux of this plot that half of the explanation is given to us via a huge exposition-dump from jamila. this is not exactly subtle or all that well done.
  • incorporating pacific run into this game created stress that honestly didn’t have to be there. the first time i played this game, i genuinely thought we were up against a clock and that the game wasn’t fixed; this caused me to practically run through the game trying to get the tasks done as quickly as possible in order to get those medallion pieces. and never mind the fact that patrick and leena were really leading the pack there in terms of points up until suddenly, it’s sudden death between nancy & bess and kiri. okay?
  • the soundtrack lacked a bit for me. kind of a small issue, but an issue nonetheless since the music plays a big part in creating atmosphere.
  • the culprit in this game is virtually nonexistent. kiri decides to play the role of Evil Reality Show Staple halfway through and sees this through to the end for some weird reason, and decides to go as far as killing us by trapping us in that cave for yet again some weird reason. why? i haven’t the faintest idea.
  • pacific run is such a cheap rip-off from amazing race that i kind of want to cry.
  • those random things falling around us, like that boulder at doubtful sound or the giant cube in the puzzle palace—was that kiri trying to take us out or was that just the dangers of new zealand? i have no clue, because nancy never comments on any of it.
  • speaking of nancy not commenting on things, it seems to be a universal frustration among people here that nancy never mentions recognizing sonny to sonny. 
  • in what world would a reality show like this have a “non-participating teammate.” what purpose would that even serve. how would that be interesting for the viewers. following that vein of thought, why would george choose sitting around researching on a tablet versus actually getting involved in the action? (at least, up until the rope bridge. up until that point, she was clearly the non-participating teammate until suddenly—oop.)
  • here’s my most nit-picky problem: the water animation is seriously lacking here. it is rarely ever moving when it should be moving (ie: the water under the bridge, the water in the cave after patrick jumps in, the way it then drains after patrick finds a way to unplug the whole thing) and that’s the sort of graphic work i would’ve expected from her maybe ten games ago.

in my opinion, the only shining light in this game are the characters. they’re all interesting, and bess especially gets a gold medal here for complexity and going below surface level. meeting sonny was also a serious plus, and after games and games of build-up, he lived up to my expectations of him. SHAME THAT THIS GAME DIDN’T


Comparative anatomy, regarding digestion.

Facial Muscles
CARNIVORE: Reduced to allow wide mouth gape
HERBIVORE: Well-developed
HUMAN: Well-developed

Jaw Type
CARNIVORE: Angle not expanded
OMNIVORE: Angle not expanded
HERBIVORE: Expanded angle
HUMAN: Expanded angle

Jaw Joint Location
CARNIVORE: On same plane as molar teeth
OMNIVORE: On same plane as molar teeth
HERBIVORE: Above the plane of the molars
HUMAN: Above the plane of the molars

Jaw Motion
CARNIVORE: Shearing; minimal side-to-side motion
OMNIVORE: Shearing; minimal side-to-side
HERBIVORE: No shear; good side-to-side, front-to-back
HUMAN: No shear; good side-to-side, front-to-back

Major Jaw Muscles
CARNIVORE: Temporalis
OMNIVORE: Temporalis
HERBIVORE: Masseter and pterygoids
HUMAN: Masseter and pterygoids

Mouth Opening vs. Head Size
HUMAN: Small

Teeth: Incisors
CARNIVORE: Short and pointed
OMNIVORE: Short and pointed
HERBIVORE: Broad, flattened and spade shaped
HUMAN: Broad, flattened and spade shaped

Teeth: Canines
CARNIVORE: Long, sharp and curved
OMNIVORE: Long, sharp and curved
HERBIVORE: Dull and short or long (for defense), or none
HUMAN: Short and blunted

Teeth: Molars
CARNIVORE: Sharp, jagged and blade shaped
OMNIVORE: Sharp blades and/or flattened
HERBIVORE: Flattened with cusps vs complex surface
HUMAN: Flattened with nodular cusps

CARNIVORE: None; swallows food whole
OMNIVORE: Swallows food whole and/or simple crushing
HERBIVORE: Extensive chewing necessary
HUMAN: Extensive chewing necessary

CARNIVORE: No digestive enzymes
OMNIVORE: No digestive enzymes
HERBIVORE: Carbohydrate digesting enzymes
HUMAN: Carbohydrate digesting enzymes

Stomach Type
HERBIVORE: Simple or multiple chambers
HUMAN: Simple

Stomach Acidity
CARNIVORE: Less than or equal to pH 1 with food in stomach
OMNIVORE: Less than or equal to pH 1 with food in stomach
HERBIVORE: pH 4 to 5 with food in stomach
HUMAN: pH 4 to 5 with food in stomach

Stomach Capacity
CARNIVORE: 60% to 70% of total volume of digestive tract
OMNIVORE: 60% to 70% of total volume of digestive tract
HERBIVORE: Less than 30% of total volume of digestive tract
HUMAN: 21% to 27% of total volume of digestive tract

Length of Small Intestine
CARNIVORE: 3 to 6 times body length
OMNIVORE: 4 to 6 times body length
HERBIVORE: 10 to more than 12 times body length
HUMAN: 10 to 11 times body length

CARNIVORE: Simple, short and smooth
OMNIVORE: Simple, short and smooth
HERBIVORE: Long, complex; may be sacculated
HUMAN: Long, sacculated

CARNIVORE: Can detoxify vitamin A
OMNIVORE: Can detoxify vitamin A
HERBIVORE: Cannot detoxify vitamin A
HUMAN: Cannot detoxify vitamin A

CARNIVORE: Extremely concentrated urine
OMNIVORE: Extremely concentrated urine
HERBIVORE: Moderately concentrated urine
HUMAN: Moderately concentrated urine

CARNIVORE: Sharp claws
OMNIVORE: Sharp claws
HERBIVORE: Flattened nails or blunt hooves
HUMAN: Flattened nails

Thankyou Evette Carter for this awesome info.

I get really grossed out when I think about the fact that there are some people in the Potter fandom that think that “Ron isn’t good enough for Hermione” or “she deserves better.”

It completely goes against the foundational themes of the book (love is the most important thing, people are more complex, friendship rocks, surface judgments can only go so far, etc.) and honestly reduces a thoroughly GOOD character to… well, nothing, while also exalting an imperfect character onto a pedestal.

So sorry, I’m not here for your Ron-shaming, but I am most definitely here for the fact that in every timeline in Cursed Child, they are still in love with each other, and we see how their relationship impacts BOTH of them.


You definitely haven’t seen a pocket knife quite like this one. Discommon has teamed up with the James Brand to create a special edition of its signature Chapter knife. They’ve taken the handle and updated it with an incredibly complex surface of machined aluminum scales that mimic an ocean wave, hence the name, the Swell. Not only is it beautiful, but the scales double as a grippy, tactile surface to secure the knife in your hand. It’s definitely one of the finest examples of form and function to cross our desks in recent memory.
3d Tutorial | Twisted Knot Spiral | 3dsMax
* Watch In HD 1080p! Follow me on Twitter: Facebook: Find all of my available models for downl...

In this tutorial, we obtain a complex non-orientable surface from a simple orientable mesh using the default topological modeling tools in 3dsMax, like Extrude On Spline. While the techniques in this video depend on specific features in 3dsMax, the strategies used can be reproduced in other software with similar capabilities.


Physicists Manipulate Waves To Make Tractor Beam

Scientists studying how floating particles move on the surface of water have come up with a way to pull them in, push them away or make them stay still. They can now precisely control objects by generating waves with specified frequency and amplitude.

The work by Australian National University researchers might find use in cleaning up oil spills. It could also lead to a better understanding of how moving water develops into rip currents.

“We have figured out a way of creating waves that can force a floating object to move against the direction of the wave,” said physicist Horst Punzmann, who led the research. "No one could have guessed this result.“

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anonymous asked:

as someone who hasn't shipped vmin since the beginning of time could I request like a "guide to vmin" or "reasons to ship vmin" or something along those lines? maybe posts like that already exist (I'm good if you want to just provide some links), otherwise if you have the time maybe you could consider doing up something? c:

okAY please get ready *cracks knuckles* maybe eventually i will make one of those powerpoint posts because i honestly should and they’re beautiful and maybe me and the other admin will next weekend

putting this under the read more because its going to be long

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50 Followers, I Feel the Love :) . Thank you all for the Support.

Hey there Inter World, as of today 50 of you guys are following me and I’m so happy about this. I recently started an new blog called M’Leigh Likes and you guys are finding me there to, I love it. So here is a little something special for you guys on this Sunday morning to let you know just how much I feel the love, and that you guys are loved back, please enjoy. This is a double post of a poem and a short story, I hope you like it and it moves you in a creative fashion, Much Love.

 The Abstract Picture

Look one way, but really it’s the opposite; you are a hidden puzzle under a plain surface.

Complex, deep, thinking and feeling all that is around from change to change.

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I want to share something that I think only you people on tumblr understand and that is that:
I am deeply and profoundly in love with Will and Hannibal. Something about their connection just touches me in a way that is almost too much to verbalize. I believe that Hannibal - by the use of symbolism - tells a much more complex story than the surface reveals. Hannibal is a cannibal and murderer on the show - but what series REALLY portrays is a man who decides, for the first time in his life, to show his darkest parts to someone else. And doing so actually is the boldest thing in the world. To be ,seen’ in all your most shameful and destructive flaws and to still be loved and accepted. I guess that’s the deepest wish we all share. I don’t know if I have ever seen anything more beautiful in my life - even though on the surface we see a sick, twisted relationship and two people fighting each other in agony. But what we see too is the true level of grief that comes with abandonment..and the sadness that can linger for years. We also see acts of vulnerability that are the only way to real intimacy - on both sides. The reality behind it is true connection and belonging and I don’t think I will ever find the words to describe what Hannibal has done to my soul. How it has enriched me, every part of me and taken a hold on my entire being. I love this show. I love the characters so so much. Yes I find it sexy and special and extremely desireful that they are portrayed by two men. But that is not the major point. The most important thing about Hannibal is that it has showed me again, that good storytelling can transcent real life - can be even more meaningful or powerful than a rel life experience and that in the very end it can even change the world by changing individual people. I thank the actors, the writers and the showrunner for this amazing gift. And I think at least some of you here will know what I mean and understand…

Robert Morris, ‘Untitled’, 1965

Morris’s Minimalist sculptures of the mid-1960s consist of rigorously pared down geometric forms. He typically arranged these into ‘situations’ where ‘one is aware of one’s own body at the same time that one is aware of the piece’. This work demonstrates the principle. As the viewer walks around the four cubes, their mirrored surfaces produce complex and shifting interactions between gallery and spectator. 


Paintings by Samantha Keely Smith

The work is painted and partially destroyed many times before completion, resulting in a complex surface that is informed by the limits of the materials themselves.


Upside down at present whilst still being constructed, the base is coming along nicely and had its first coat of primer now half the parts have been put together and sculpted in place.  Will need other main paint coats/finishes before adding more parts to the form, same as before with gold structure. Given the complexity of surfaces its best to construct and touch up as you fabricate this piece. Also, the second half of the gold back structure is mid being glitter coated but so nearly done. #winning  


Coating Makes Steel Tougher, Keeps Microbes From Sticking

More and more objects are getting superhydrophobic coatings that make liquids bounce right off. Surfaces with complex nanoscopic structures that prevent wetting will soon be deployed on wind turbine blades and aircraft wings to prevent ice from sticking, and even concrete is being doped with superhydrophobic compounds to help it last decades longer.

Much still needs to be done, though, to strengthen these coatings because any damage can remove the ability to repel liquids. Such an advance is hugely important since there are potentially life-saving healthcare applications if this hurdle could be overcome with a stable, nontoxic coating for steel. Just imagine if implants, scalpels and other tools used on patients had a surface impossible for infection-causing microbes to cling to.

Now, Joanna Aizenberg and her colleagues at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have demonstrated a possible solution. They’ve been able to coat stainless steel with nanoporous tungsten oxide, which repels all liquids. What’s more, the surface is extremely tough, maintaining superhydrophobicity even after being scratched with sharp steel objects and diamond.

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Delphic Maxims: Maxim #19

“Do not use an oath” This is a complex maxim, on it’s surface it is a command to not swear to anything nor make promises. But why? What is it you are meant to take away from this? I see this as not just “do not promise to do something” but really as “just do the thing you need to do.” Don’t promise to help your friend to move on friday, just do it. Don’t tell yourself you’ll ask out that hot barista, just do it. Don’t swear an oath to the Gods to be faithful always, just do it. Action over inaction.

Next-Gen Accessories: An Ear Cuff That Reads Your Mind

by Michael Keller

Futurist fashionistas take note: A new type of accessory that ornaments your ears in golden, fractal patterns isn’t meant to be jewelry; it’s built to read your thoughts. It could one day replace the mouse, keyboard and touchscreen with brain waves as the way to interact with computers.

In a study released today in the journal PNAS, materials scientists and engineers report they’ve developed soft electrodes that can be stuck on and behind the ear to detect electrical activity in the brain. The epidermal electronics are designed to be worn for at least two weeks at a stretch and have shown effectiveness as a brain-computer interface. Test subjects sporting the system were able to spell out words on a computer screen using only their thoughts.

The team of U.S. and South Korean scientists built what amounts to a miniaturized electroencephalogram (EEG), which is typically used to read brain activity for signs of epilepsy or other brain disorders. Researchers shrunk the rigid metal EEG electrodes that are normally stuck to the scalp by crafting them out of thin gold wire sealed in skin-compatible polymers. These sensors were then affixed to the outer part of the ear, called the auricle, and to the skull bone just behind the ear that is called the mastoid process.

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CEB Reas
TI installation at the BANK Art Gallery, Los Angeles, 2004–05
© CEB Reas, courtesy of Bitforms Gallery, New York

“Nineteen white discs hover above the floor, each containing a projected, kinetic image of expansion and decay. Aggregate layers of abstraction remove every trace of systemic complexity, revealing a living surface. Structured form emerges from the results of thousands of local interactions between autonomous elements.” – Architectural Design Magazine,

Programming Cultures

anonymous asked:

Actually Sasuke has been shown to display jealousy once before in regards to Sakura. After the Sand attack at the Chuunin exams when Sakura is thanking Sasuke for saving her, he tells her it was actually Naruto. Then she thanks Naruto and Sasuke gets kinda bent out of shape after that, which is a sign of jealousy/feelings of inferiority. Being good looking has nothing to do with self-esteem or jealousy tbh. It's not like Sasuke walks around like he knows he's hot shit and girls love him.

Firstly, I didn’t say that Sasuke walks around like he’s hot shit. I said that because he’s no stranger to female attention, he wouldn’t feel insecure due to doubts regarding his attractiveness in comparison to Sakura.

Secondly, I’ve touched upon this plenty of times before, but I said that a romantically jealous Sasuke doesn’t exist in canon, and the scene you’re referring to doesn’t indicate otherwise. Sasuke feeling jealous of Sakura smiling towards Naruto wasn’t what that scene was about. Sasuke was irritated that Sakura was now yet another person who was acknowledging Naruto’s strength and growth, and this made him feel as though his own progress had stagnated.

That time Sakura smiled at Naruto was only there to worsen Sasuke’s inferiority complex. Sasuke was jealous of Naruto, but it was only because while saving Sakura, Naruto managed to display several incredible feats of skill that only made Sasuke feel worse about himself; that he was weak. It had nothing to do with Sasuke feeling possessive over Sakura or her smile; he wasn’t jealous in a romantic sense, that’s what I said.

After he told her that Naruto was the one who saved her, his irritation builds:

Why? Because it was yet another example of Naruto getting stronger while leaving him behind. The very next few panels illustrate what Sasuke was thinking at that very moment. So what was going through Sasuke’s head as he was watching her smile? He wasn’t thinking some juvenile thoughts such as how upset he was that Sakura was smiling at Naruto instead of him, nor was he thinking that it was somehow his responsibility to protect Sakura and Naruto got the better of him in that regard.

No, he was thinking about When Naruto demonstrated his powerful techniques, and he asked himself how much more he needed to grow in order to keep up with him:

He was thinking about how inferior he felt, and he also thought about when Naruto displayed his “thunderous power”, such as when he summoned Gamabunta, and found it hard to believe since he never demonstrated such potential in their academy days:

He was thinking about how Naruto’s “incredible power” essentially came out of nowhere, and how it even sometimes emanated an aura of fear:

And he was thinking about how envious he was of Naruto’s power, and wondered how he could obtain an equivalent level of strength:

That’s what was going through Sasuke’s head as he was watching Sakura’s smile; His head was full of thoughts about how strong Naruto had become and how envious he was because he was the one meant to be obtaining power in order to defeat Itachi. Yet, Itachi manhandled him and was showing a lot of interest in Naruto because he acknowledged his strength, (just like Jiraiya and now Sakura as well).

He wasn’t actually thinking about Sakura’s smile, nor was he upset that she directed it at someone other than him. That’s creating a SS moment out of nothing. Both of the scenes in chapters 144 and 173 respectively are about the same thing; Sasuke’s inferiority complex beginning to surface due to Naruto’s growth, everyone acknowledging said growth, and his utter defeat by Itachi plaguing his mind.

Ever since that confrontation with Itachi, his lack of progress had been eating away at him, because Sasuke really thought that he had gained significant strength since the Uchiha massacre. However, he was manhandled:

Itachi made it clear that Sasuke was still weak, and this tore him up internally, because he made it seem as though Sasuke’s progress had ceased. This, coupled with the fact that many prestigious figures seemed to have an interest in Naruto, made Sasuke feel progressively more worthless.

Itachi had a strong interest in Naruto, whereas he just brushed Sasuke aside:

And Jiraiya took an interest in Naruto as well:

To Sasuke, their interest stemmed from Naruto’s power, his potential, and it made him feel small. And now that Sakura was acknowledging Naruto’s strength too, it only added to his sense of inferiority, and his frustration that he had apparently not closed the gap in strength between himself and Itachi at all.

Sasuke was irritated at the fact that Naruto had managed to do something that he couldn’t, by “Unleashing a power [they’ve] never seen before”. This further added to Sasuke’s inferiority complex, because there Naruto was, learning all these powerful jutsus, while he was doing nothing:

I know several people in the fandom like to think that a sizable portion of Sasuke’s annoyance was directed at Sakura’s smile towards Naruto, but that’s the case at all. The entire scene concerned Sasuke’s feelings of inferiority due to everyone being interested in and praising Naruto, along with the fact that Naruto demonstrated unprecedented levels of skill, whereas Sasuke was being left behind, and his ambition to kill Itachi was getting further and further away from him because as Itachi said, he was still too weak:

And you can see in the images above, that Sasuke was once again thinking of all the times Naruto demonstrated those incredible feats of skill and power, such as when he used the Mass Shadow Clone jutsu to subdue Mini-Shukaku Gaara, or when he summoned Gamabunta, one of the most powerful summons in existence. That’s what Sasuke was irritated about; he felt that Naruto was just getting stronger and stronger, a fact which was acknowledged by Itachi, Jiraiya and now Sakura, while he felt he wasn’t getting anywhere, nor was he getting any closer to defeating Itachi.

Thus, he challenged Naruto to a fight, so he could really determine where he was in comparison to Naruto, and if he really had stagnated for all this time:

That’s what the scene was about. Sasuke getting irritated that Sakura was smiling at Naruto wasn’t the point. It was the reason she was smiling at him, that’s what annoyed Sasuke. Because she was acknowledging Naruto’s strength, something which everyone around Sasuke seemed to have been doing, and it was worsening his inferiority complex due to feelings of stagnation on his part. So allow me to reiterate this - a romantically jealous Sasuke doesn’t exist in canon.


Bending Toward the Sun

It’s the most ancient of treks. The sun comes up in the east, travels across the daytime sky and sets in the west. In the mid-northern latitudes, where much of North America, Europe, Asia and North Africa are situated, our star’s daily arc across the sky changes based on the time of year from our vantage point. The arc is further south in the winter months and moves northward as summer approaches. 

All this movement in the celestial sphere complicates matters when you’re trying to generate electricity from the sun. Stationary solar panels can miss as much as 40 percent of the energy they could capture by not keeping perpendicular to the sun’s rays. Motorized units can keep solar panels positioned optimally throughout the day, but these can be bulky, heavy and difficult to install on the pitched roofs of homes where panels are often installed and on other complex surfaces.

“Optical tracking is often combined with conventional flat panel solar cells to maximize electrical power generation over the course of a day,” write the authors of a paper appearing this week in the journal Nature Communications. “However, conventional trackers are complex and often require costly and cumbersome structural components to support system weight.”

Now University of Michigan engineers think they may have a next-generation solution to keeping photovoltaics out of the shade. Their idea comes thanks to the ancient Japanese paper-cutting craft of kirigami. 

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