Saturday, 30 June 2012

10 stories and links I found educative, interesting or simply weird.

I know I’m late. I have an excuse! I was at a picnic – with a lot of librarians. It was fun.

Andromeda on Collision Course with the Milky Way
via 3quarksdaily by Robin Varghese
It’s headed straight for us: Ron Cowen in Nature
Read the full story and, incidentally, see a stunning impression of the collision.
No need to duck – it’ll not happen for about 4 billion years.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate>
Poe is often regarded with at least a hint of condescension. So here goes: He is the worst writer ever to have a claim to greatness... more

Are Prisons Better than Nursing Homes for the Poor & Elderly?
via Big Think by Orion Jones
For individuals with no assets and no family, the possibility of being committed to a Federal prison may be more promising than landing in a government-funded nursing home. Prison, after all, is not without certain benefits: “Prison is cheap (if not free), provides a steady supply of food, a relatively high level of healthcare, and some social interaction.”
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TNT Zombies
via How-To Geek by Asian Angel
In this game the zombie apocalypse has come to pass and it is up to a lone construction worker armed with dynamite to stop it. Are you up to the task of eliminating the zombies or will you be their next meal?
Fortunately it is only a game so you are not going to be eaten for real. However, to avoid being eaten in some alternative reality you should, perhaps, read Asian Angel’s walk-through here or if you’re feeling confident then go straight to the game here.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Freud and friends. The Vienna Psychoanalytic Society was a fraternity - albeit a dysfunctional one, which reeked like a cult... more

A practical use for volcanic lightning (besides metal album covers)
via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Here’s a story that combines two favourite bits of volcano news into one interesting discovery. You know those great, freaky photos of volcanic lightning? (In case you don’t, I've got one posted above.) Remember how the Icelandic volcanic eruptions totally screwed up everybody’s airplane travel plans?
Apparently, studying volcanic lightning could lead to better eruption detection systems that could make it easier to predict how big a plume of ash off that volcano will be – knowledge that can help airlines and travellers be better prepared. At Nature, Richard Monastersky reports:
The researchers found that the amount of lightning correlated with the height of the plume, something they could not test using more limited data collected during an eruption at Alaska’s Mount St Augustine in 2006. This observation is important, says Behnke, because systems to monitor lightning could provide an estimate for the size of an eruption, which is not always easy to assess for remote volcanoes.
During a previous eruption at Mount Redoubt in 1989 and 1990, for example, the size of the plume wasn’t known and a plane nearly crashed after passing through the ash cloud and temporarily losing all power from its engines. Behnke and her colleagues suggest that VHF stations similar to the ones they installed at Mount Redoubt could be used to monitor volcanoes to give early warning of an eruption and an estimate of its size.
Read the rest at
Via Graham Farmelo
Image: Oliver Spalt via CC

Lift That Bale: 1910
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive - Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Lift That Bale: 1910
Memphis, Tennessee, circa 1910. “Unloading cotton. Sternwheeler City St. Joseph”
8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company.
See larger view and comments here
I don't know about lifting that bale when it takes three strong men to roll one!

Museums were once tangible manifestations of idealism. But creeping professionalism and a bottom-line sensibility have taken a toll. What remains? A cafe with art... more Web. Blog, Twitter feed, open-source code: gone. It’s called infosuicide... more

Attacking the Human Genome: Biological-Based Crimes
via Big Think by Marc Goodman
The successful decoding of the human genome was a phenomenal scientific achievement. For the first time in the world’s history, the entire genetic code of the human species was fully available to scientific researchers. The fantastic accomplishment will provide untold advances in medicine and and holds the potential to vastly decrease human suffering and illness.
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Alphabets Heaven beat music and “Private Life of Plants”
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz

Gorgeous, choppy beat music ambience from Alphabets Heaven. The track is “Deartentonine” from their new EP “Boosh”, available on King Deluxe.
The video is cut from David Attenborough’s documentary “The Private Life of Plants”
“Boosh” by Alphabets Heaven [to preview and/or purchase].
Two comments:
a) “grogeous” is not the description that I would have used to describe this music but each to his own. Life would be very dull if we all liked the same things.
b) the embed code in vimeo was missing its closing angle bracket, a good thing I can read HTML.

Tomato: Common-Law Vegetable via Credo Reference Blog
The Featured Topic Page for 10th May was Tomato
On May 10, 1893, the US Supreme Court ruled in Nex v. Hedden that a tomato was classified as a vegetable for the purposes of the Tariff Act 1883, which taxed vegetables, but not fruits.
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