Tuesday, 17 May 2022

metameres

Renowned physicist, engineer and mathematician who could elucidate our understanding of electromagnetic radiation and demonstrated that light, magnetic attraction and electric conduction were manifestations of the same phenomenon, James Clerk Maxwell, also shared an interest with most other fellow scientists at the time in optics and colour theory (see also) and presented on this day in 1861 the first durable colour photograph. Reasoning that as Sir Isaac Newton demonstrated the deconstruction of white light into its constituent parts with a prism, Maxwell proposed that a series of monochromatic images taken through red, green and blue filters and projected on a screen would be perceived by the human eye as a faithful reproduction of the colour of the original object. Despite the lack of pigmentation of any type and only subtle differences preserved as information on the refractive qualities in black-and-white, the crucial and pleasant outcome realized before a lecture before the Royal Institute with a swath of tartan ribbon photographed by Thomas Sutton—inventor of the panoramic and single reflex camera.

Monday, 16 May 2022

ac/dc

Three years to the date after Nikola Tesla delivered a famous lecture to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers outlining the efficient production of electricity from a centralized location and transmitting the power generated over long-distances using alternating current, the International Electrotechnical Exhibition opened at Frankfurt’s Westbahnhof and demonstrated the first such inductive feat, the power generated from a hydroelectric source some one hundred and seventy five kilometres south from a waterfall at Lauffen am Neckar. The Post Office helped erect the transmission lines, a considerable amount of copper wire—the three phase arrangement (3ฯ†) that is used for most modern grids to this day trebling or rather thirding voltage across three wires each with the current offset by one hundred twenty degrees—that retained about three-quarters of the output over the distance, the experiment proving that generation in situ, with direct current, was not ideal in most domestic and industrial applications, confirmed and adopted by the United States and favouring rival George Westinghouse (Tesla’s employer) over Thomas Edison in the War of the Currents at the Columbian Exposition in 1893.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

land of fire and ice

Architect Arnhildur Palmadottรญr revealed a monumental lavaforming proposal that would harness and redirect volcanic eruptions in order to create durable and sustainable buildings and pavements. While there are scaling and technical hurdles—plus ensuring that these controlled eruptions don’t release more carbon into the atmosphere than they save and sequester, this radical reassessment of geothermal potential as something bold and innovative, engineering a closed system, like a reverse Dyson Sphere.

Thursday, 5 May 2022

gรฉodรฉsie

Celebrated astronomer and geologist Jean Baptiste Joseph Delambre on this day in 1792 undertook his commission to precisely define the metre, a universal measure defined as one ten-millionth of the distance from the North Pole to the equator, organising an expedition to measure the length of the meridian arc (distance—the two cities being on the same line of longitude) between Dunkirk and Rodez, by Toulouse in the south of France, mathematically extrapolating from that value, and then from Rodez to Barcelona’s Fortress of Montjuรฏc. The survey mission took six years beset by technical set-backs, bouts of yellow fever and the French Revolution, including several unfortunate incarcerations by Royalist elements. Precise measurements were taken with a device called a repeating circle ( cercle rรฉpรฉtiteur ), invented by machinist Etienne Lenoir originally for Jean-Charles de Borda and improved for Delambre and team. Finally in 1799, the metre was formally defined as 0.514074 Parisien toise (from the Latin tender—that is the span of the outstretched arms, six feet) or three feet and eleven lignes—a historical unit that was approximately one twelfth of an inch and still used by watchmakers to size casings and in button-manufacturing.

Sunday, 10 April 2022

7x7

improper fraction arena: Via friend of the blog Nag on the Lake’s superb Sunday Links and the depths of Wikipedia comes a list of articles submitted and ultimately rejected by dint of insanity  

possible to express in words: a useful term with a surprisingly sparse corpora 

reprise: another look at Davie Bowie’s 1973 The 1980 Floor Show through some raw footage—see previously 

a moveable feast: a look at the mode, median and mean dates for Easter and the method of computus  

a kitty bobo show: Kevin Kaliher’s pilot that went ungreen-lit in favour of Kids Next Door  

micromachines: researchers developing tiny molecular motors that could be deployed en masse to suck carbon from the air, supplement our own organs—via Slashdot  

did you know: from the depths to the Main Page

Saturday, 26 March 2022

7x7

the hay-bailer, that chain-maker: an assortment of highly satisfying precision industrial machines at work

mars & beyond: a 1957 Disney film narrated by Paul Frees about extraterrestrial life

pelagic zone: the highly specialised eyes of the strawberry squid (see previously)  

nymphรฉas: often dismissed as victim of his own popularity and over-exposure, Claude Monet’s Water Lilies series was far from a tame variation on a theme but rather a memorial to lives lost in the Great War  

aerial photo explorer: historic birds-eye-view images of England—see previously—via Things Magazine  

tired vs wired: a Twitter bot that generates aphoristic comparisons between Web 2.0 and the Web 3.0 to come, via Web Curios  

vertical parking: towering garages to remedy congestion

Saturday, 19 March 2022

infringement

Via the always engaging Things Magazine, we are acquainted with the press portal Plagiarism Today that not only reports on cases of academic dishonesty, cheating and failure to attribute or credit but also the broader, related phenomena of patent trolls, walled-gardens, rentier economics, ransom and extortion and what resources we have to combat instances of kidnapping—as the literal Latin has come to denote. Imitation maybe the greatest form of flattery and the internet may be built on the foundation of counterfeit and copycats, the reprise and retake is something reprehensible if there’s no appeal to the source.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

the shape of things to come

Via our faithful chronicler, we are informed that on this day in 1936, the adaptation of the H.G. Wells’ dialectical novel Things to Come had its cinematic debut, outlining the social and political predictions set forth by his 1933 work from the perspective of a twenty-second century diplomat examining the consequences of a nascent second world war continuing well into the 1960s with belligerents having well forgotten what’s at stake and what they are fighting for. With civilisation exhausted and entering a new Dark Age (with zombie plague included, a generational feud of the Passworthys versus the Cabals), a technocracy of fighter pilots struggle to preserve and advance human knowledge, leaving the confines of this globe for the wider Cosmos.

a boring project

Granted a patent in the US in September of 1972—with the strong intimation that the Soviets built and tested a prototype well before that, the proposal from a team of scientists at Los Alamos Laboratories that a controlled occurrence of the China Syndrome could be used for drilling tunnels under the Earth’s surface, displacing the molten materials through adjacent cracks and forming a vitreous lining in the process, like an insulating glass coating that would also support structural integrity, with a bit powered by a mobile nuclear reactor. Still on the drawing board, the subterrene, as its sci-fi models were called, was a contender for the Chunnel linking Dover and Calais as well as touted as a more efficient mining scout. For colonisation of the lunar surface, a subselene was suggested. More at Weird Universe at the link above.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

xmodem

Emerging from the disruption and necessary respite, downtime afforded by the Great Blizzard of 1978 that blanketed much of the US Midwest, computer hobbyists Ward Christensen and Randy Suess of Chicago created the programme and platform to host the world’s first Computerised Bulletin Board System (see also) on this day of the same year, inventing much of the accepted protocol and terminology for messages, threads and forums.

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

>>>

Though antecedents exist especially with opening captioning on the BBC and PBS for episodes of The French Chef, closed-captioning technology that would become commercially available by the end of the decade was first demonstrated on this day in 1972 to students a Gallaudet College (the day before the anniversary of the prestigious school for the deaf and hard-of-hearing’s founding in 1864 in Washington, DC). A unit separate from the television set interpreted and displayed the embedded code for an episode of the ABC police procedural drama The Mod Squad.

Monday, 31 January 2022

1958-0001a

As part of the US participation in the International Geophysical Year, NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory launched its first successful satellite, Explorer I following the Soviet Union’s Sputnik I and Sputnik II, into orbit and beginning the Space Race with America’s entry-on this day in 1958. Remaining aloft and functional for some one hundred and eleven days, the payload consisted of various sensors and detectors to measure cosmic radiation and micrometeor impact and was instrumentation array was designed and installed under the direction of astrophysics professor James Van Allen of the University of Iowa. Explorer I discovered the zone of energetic particles enveloping the Earth that forms as a result of solar wind caught and shaped by the planet’s magentosphere and Van Allen’s namesake belts which protect the atmosphere from obliteration by solar flares.

Sunday, 30 January 2022

man-from-mars radio hat

Via the always outstanding Sunday Links from Nag on the Lake, we are introduced to the predecessor to the Walkman and the earbud in the dual tube radio fitted into a pith helmet debuted in March 1949 by inventor Victor Hoeflich—most of whose work consisted of novelty items and making the Hawai’ian lei more ubiquitous through his machine that churned out paper versions of the traditional wreath. Aggressively advertised and memorable, the mobile device did not sustain sales nor attract and retain early adopters with the marketing campaign winding down the following year. With the development of the transistor, pocket radios would become possible some five years later. Much more at the links above.

Friday, 21 January 2022

project lyra

Shortly after the passage of the interstellar interloper called ‘Oumuamua (previously) in the fall of 2017, the scientific consortium known as the Institute for Interstellar Studies began a drawing up plans to develop a probe to rendezvous with the mysterious object. Researchers demonstrated that by means of advanced propulsion technology and a complex, theoretical gravitational assist, a slingshot or powered flyby called a Jupiter Oberth manoeuvre, the craft, if launched by 2028, could eventually catch up with and better study ‘Oumuamua. In parallel, the institute is also working on Breakthrough Starshot, to propel a solar sail to the next nearest star system with an ETA of under two decades. More from Universe Today at the link up top.

Sunday, 9 January 2022

think different

Developed in great secrecy under code name Project Purple, the first generation of the iPhone—given the retronym 2G to establish its place in the lineage among some thirty-three different models made, Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs introduces the public to the concept of the revolutionary, universal smart mobile phone on this day in 2007 during a keynote address during the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Models would go on sale at the end of June, on the anniversary of the first trials of the Apple I by Steve Wozniak back in 1975.

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

mmxxi

As this calendar draws to a close and we look forward to 2022, we again take time to reflect on a selection of some of the things and events that took place in 2021. Thanks as always for visiting. We’ve made it through another wild year together and we’ll see this next one through together as well.

 january: In the US state of Georgia’s run-off election, Democrat candidates prevail and thus switch the Senate’s controlling majority. The joint session of Congress to certify the votes of the Electoral College in favour of the Biden-Harris ticket is interrupted by a violent insurrection on the Capitol incited by Donald

Trump, yet the proceedings are resumed undeterred. For his gross incompetence and treasonous actions, the US House of Representatives impeaches Trump for a second time. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are inaugurated president and vice-president of the United States of America in a socially-distanced ceremony held on the same portico where the violent coup attempt occured two weeks prior. Across Russia, thousands protest the arrest and detention of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.  English filmmaker Michael Apted (*1941), entertainer Siegfried Fischbacher (*1939, see also last May) and baseball players Tommy Lasorda (*1927) and Hank Aaron (*1941), actress Cloris Leachman (*1926) as well as accomplished star of stage and screen Cicely Tyson (*1924) pass away.  

february: A military uprising in Myanmar wrests power from the government of Aung San Suu Kyi.  Actor Hal Holbrook (*1925) and veteran become fund-raiser who raised millions for the National Health

Service Sir Captain Thomas Moore (*1920) himself succumbed to COVID-19.   French screen-writer and director Jean-Claude Carriรจre (*1931) passed away, and so veteran actor Christopher Plummer (*1929). The US Senate again convenes as jury to vote on whether to acquit or prosecute Donald Trump’s impeachment.  Larry Flynt (*1942), publisher, pornographer and self-styled anti-censorship champion, passed away, as did jazz virtuoso and twenty-three-time Grammy Award winner Chick Corea (*1941).  The US Senate votes not to acquit Donald Trump a second time after his second impeachment.  A polar vortex brings severe winter storms to Texas and Mexico, leaving millions without heat and electricity has the power grid is overwhelmed.  Talk radio provocateur Rush Limbaugh (*1951)  dies after a year-long struggle with lung cancer.  Poet and activist Lawrence Ferlinghetti passes away, aged 101. Martian probe Perseverance touched down on the Red Planet to begin a search for signs of past life. The US rejoins the Paris Climate Agreement.  

march: Oprah Winfrey interviews the estranged, self-exiled Sussexes about Meghan Markle’s treatment

by the Royal Family, causing consternation and many to question the institution of the monarchyPhantom Tollbooth author Norton Juster (*1929) passed away aged ninety-one.  A container ship gets lodged in the Suez Canal, hindering global trade and could potentially be stuck for weeks.  Legislators in the American state of Georgia pass selectively restrictive laws to disenfranchise Black voters.   Children’s book author Beverly Cleary (*1916) writer of the Ramona Quimby series passed away, aged 104.  The usurping military forces in Myanmar gun down dozens of pro-democracy protesters.  Islamic rebels besiege the city of Palma in Mozambique.  Undercover operative whose missteps brought the Watergate scandal to the press and public, G. Gordon Liddy (*1930) died, aged 90, as did author Larry McMurtry (*1936) who penned Lonesome Dove, The Last Picture Show and Terms of Endearment.

april: Prince Phillip passes away, aged 99.  As tensions escalate between Russia and NATO with a troop

build-up along the border with Ukraine, US President Joe Biden proposes to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to normalise relations and restore diplomatic ties.  The police officer who murdered George Floyd is found guilty on all charges.  Walter Mondale (*1928), former vice president under Jimmy Carter, and presidential candidate with running-mate Geraldine Ferraro passed away, aged ninety-three.  Astronaut Michael Collins (*1930) who orbited the Moon while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin explored the lunar surface passed away, aged ninety.

may: Accomplished actor Olympia Dukakis (*1931) passed away, aged eighty-nine.  Architect Helmut Jahn (*1940) behind the Messeturm in Frankfurt and the Post tower in Bonn died in a bicycle accident.  Dozens of rebel priests across German defy the Catholic church and offer benedictions to same-sex couple.  Israel airstrikes in Gaza escalate.  Actor, author, televangelist and TV’s Captain Merrill Stubing Gavin MacLeod (*1931) after suffering a long bout of ill-health.  

june: G7 leaders meet in Cornwall, in person.  A coalition government in Israel unseats Netanyahu after a

dozen years as prime minister.  The US government establishes Juneteenth as a new federal holiday though new laws to disenfranchise Black voters continues apace in many Republican controlled polities.  The space station Tiangong receives its first crew.  Software and computer security pioneer John McAfee (*1945) found dead in a Spanish jail cell awaiting extradition to the US over charges of tax evasion.  Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, was disbarred for peddling the lie that that the election was stolen from his former client.  The US government issues a declassified report to congress regarding unidentified aerial phenomenon.  A twelve storey condominium complex near Miami, Florida collapses with dozens injured and unaccounted for.  

july: Outrage as more mass-graves of indigenous pupils found at historic Canadian residential schools.  Hundreds perish from record heatwaves and wildfires along the Pacific coast of North America.  Angela Merkel makes her last official visit to the United Kingdom, addressing the Houses of Parliament, the last

foreign leader to do so since Bill Clinton in 1997.   Richard Donner (*1930), film director behind The Goonies, Superman and the Lethal Weapon franchise passed away.  England plans to fully reopen with no COVID-19 restrictions late in the month despite a resurgence in cases and the rapidly spreading Delta variant.  Jovenel Moรฏse, the Haitian president, was assassinated.  Continual and torrential rains exacerbated by the climate emergency caused severe flooding in western Germany and the Henan region in China.  The Special Committee on the January 6th Capitol Insurrection heard opening testimony from law enforcement on the scene of the terror attack.  Inventor and infomercial pitchman Ron Popeil (*1935) passed away.

august: The UN Panel on Climate Change issues a stark, bleak forecast for the planet’s future as a suitable place for life as we know it.  Wildfires rage throughout the Mediterranean, Siberia and the North American west coast.  As coalition forces depart, the resurgent Taliban takes several regional capitals in weeks with Kabul poised to soon collapse as authorities flee and embassies are evacuated.  A massive earthquake strikes Haiti.  Tragically, most Afghani government officials flee the country and the capital falls as the Taliban retakes power and restores the emirate after nearly two decades of warfare.  US army installations in Germany assist with Operation Allied Refuge (OAR) as thousands of Afghans are airlifted from the country.  Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts (*1941) passes away. 
Just days ahead of the deadline imposed to complete evacuation missions out of the Hamid Karzai international airport, an Islamic State affiliate and sworn enemy of the Taliban for being too Westernised, lax, undisciplined detonated twin suicide bombs outside the gates, killing dozens.  Veteran actor and advocate Ed Asner (*1929) passed away as did Jamaican musical giant Lee “Scratch” Perry (*1936).  On the sixteenth anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina, a destructive storm called Ida makes landfall.  The Taliban celebrates with fireworks and firing rifles in the air the departure of the last US flight from the Kabul airport, declaring victory.

september: The legislature of the state of Texas passes a tranche of new laws curtailing voting access, restricting teaching of America’s racist past and present, mandating the national anthem at sporting events, permitting universal carry laws for firearms and doing away with licensure or training requirements and

essentially banning abortion by placing a bounty on abettors and deputising neighbours to litigate the ban against neighbours.  New Wave actor Jean-Paul Belmondo (*1933), whose roles defined the genre and called the French counterpart of Marlon Brando, James Dean and Humphrey Bogart, passed away.  El Salvador becomes first country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender.  “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie” singer Marรญa Mendiola (*1952) of Baccara passed away in Madrid.  An effort to recall and replace Democrat governor of California fails and Gavin Newsome retains his place, though the balloting and counter-campaigns cost taxpayers of the state in excess of a quarter of a billion dollars.  The first commercial, all-amateur space tourism mission safely splashes down after three days in orbit.  Entrepreneur, inventor and computing pioneer behind the ZX Spectrum, Clive Sinclair passed away, aged 81 (*1940).  Justin Trudeau’s party retains power following national elections.  After three years under house arrest in Canada and fighting extradition to America on charges of espionage and circumventing sanctions against Iran, business executive Meng Wangzhou, daughter of the head of Chinese communications giant Huawei, is released. 

october:  US president Biden’s agenda is derailed, diminished by moderate voices in his party.  A vaccine for malaria is trialled in Africa.  Amid a growing corruption scandal, Austrian leader Sebastian Kurz

tenders his resignation, though choosing to remain leader of his political party and will retain his seat in parliament.  William Shatner, aged ninety, as a space tourist becomes the oldest human to enter the Earth’s orbit.  Attending an open-advice surgery for his constituents from Leigh-on-Sea, long-time MP David Amess was murdered by an attacker with a knife.  Former US Joint-Chief-of-Staff and Secretary of State, Colin Powell (*1937) dies from complications arising from COVID-19.  President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, under pressure from elements of his own party, is rather austerely pared back, dropping proposed benefits like universal college tuition and paid family-leave.  Garbage social media network rebrands its parent company as Meta as it prepares to build and embrace its concept of the metaverse.  A military coup in Somali plunges the country into chaos with no signs of peaceful resolution.

november: A powerful storm-flood in western Canada cuts off Vancouver from the rest of British Columbia.  Weaponised refugees massed at the EU frontier by a provoking Belarus at enormous personal

cost are slowly being repatriated to the lands they fled.  After exonerated in a gross miscarriage of justice, Republicans acclaim a teenage, white supremacist murderer as their new hero.  Award winning Broadway songwriter Stephen Sondheim passes away, aged ninety-one in the same week as Schoolhouse Rock! lyricist Dave Frishberg (*1933).  The COVID-19 Omicron-variant, first detected in South Africa, is causing major concerns as convention cases rage resurgent in Europe, poised to be more widespread and deadly than the same time a year ago.  Inflation and supply-chain issues threaten global economic recovery.  On the anniversary of its independence from the UK in 1966, Barbados becomes the world's newest republic, with Sandra Mason as the island’s president. 

december: Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows releases Power Point slide-deck that outlined options for Trump to hold on to the presidency in the chaos of the 6. January insurrection to the commission investigating the attempted coup.  Monkees singer Mike Nesmith (*1942) passes away.  An unseasonal tornado rips through western Kentucky, leaving over a hundred dead.   Gothic novelist Anne Rice (*1941 as Howard Allen Francis O’Brien) passed away.  Tensions continue to mount at the Russo-Ukraine border with Russia putting forward a litany of demands for NATO to avoid invasion.   Journalist and author Joan Didion (*1934) passed away due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.   Borders close and travel-restrictions re-imposed over truly exponential spread of the the Omicron variant; preliminary findings suggest although less lethal, hospitals and other essential services could be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and vulnerable populations still need protection.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu (*1931), anti-apartheid hero and moral-centre, passes away aged ninety.  Sadly veteran blogger Jonco, behind Bits & Pieces, passed away quite suddenly, leaving the blogosverse a dimmer place.  On the last day of the year and just weeks short of planned celebrations for her one-hundredth birthday, beloved talent and treasure with a career spanning over eight decades, Betty White (*1922) passed away.

 



Monday, 27 December 2021

machine of the year

The franchise quite the subject of speculation and a holiday dinner topic of discussion not reserved just for those in business of superlative journalism, annuals or even necessarily consumer electronics, TIME magazine—breaking with a tradition stretching back to 1927, for the first time on this day announced that to a computer would go the distinction on this day in 1982, ahead of the publication of its 5 January 1983 edition. Introducing the special issue’s theme, the publishers wrote that “several human candidates might have represented the year,” with reportedly Steve Jobs quite upset he didn’t receive the honour, but the panel decided that the hardware would be best viewed by history as limning the times and marking the beginning of an era and way of life once the exclusive domain of hobbyist into something more accessible (see also) and mainstream. Though perhaps not as pervasive nor fully articulated, the kernel of most things we do with computers—the Cloud called mainframes back then and algorithms less opaque. Articles for the magazine that uniquely covered the only human-made object to be awarded the honour were composed on typewriters and layout done by hand, though in that coming year, the departments would begin to use word-processors.

Saturday, 25 December 2021

next generation

The culmination of three decades of research and engineering expected to be transformational to science, the James Webb Space Telescope (see previously) launches from the spaceport of French Guiana carried aloft by an ESA Ariane rocket.  The array of mirrors folded and slowly unfurling during (a Korsch telescope—that is, a triple-mirror anti-stigmat) its month-long trip, unlike its predecessor the Hubble which orbited the Earth and made good at an operating temperature of a balmy twenty celsius, the JWST will seek out the second Lagrange point from our planet (one of four foci with gravitation equilibrium) with the flare—the noise and light pollution of the Earth and Sun to its back to see clearer and further in the cold of space, better able to discern non-luminous objects that are more visible along infrared bands. In addition to peering back in time and charting our stellar origins, the unimpeded should allow researchers to glean the chemical composition of the atmospheres of exoplanets and search for biomarkers. The countdown itself is already a white-knuckled event and it will be months before the JWST goes on-line and relays its first images, but it will give us a new perspective on the Cosmos and our place in it.

Thursday, 23 December 2021

stillgelegt

On this day in 1986, the Zeche (Coal Mine Industrial Complex) Zollverein in the city of Essen ceased operations, workers leaving for Christmas break not to return, due to dwindling output that did not justify the high maintenance costs, among the last mining and coking facilities in operation in the Ruhrgebiet. The campus, built in the New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit) style, is considered an architectural and engineering masterwork and the conserved landmark, Shaft 12, was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage registry in 2001.

Thursday, 16 December 2021

it’s not rocket surgery

Via Miss Cellania, a meta-study of cognition in cohorts of doctors specialising in neurology and aerospace engineers suggest that these rarified experts, not to diminish the value and utility of applied learning and experience, only showed respectively a quicker problem solving response time and the ability to mentally map objects from different angles in comparison to the general population. This narrowing expertise that some might accord a higher prestige does not undermine trust in science but rather that other professions might be deserving of similar esteem.