Tuesday, 30 August 2022

7x7 (10. 098)

nerva i: scrapped space programme with nuclear rockets aimed at a crewed Mars mission  

der anschlag: Anglophone retitling of foreign films—see previously  

xenobots: reframing how we think of epigenetics and gene maps–see also

superposition: a handwashing guide posted in a physics laboratory lavatory–see previously

extended orthography: facilitating digital communication in First Nations’ syllabics—see also  

yฤntรกi delenda est: more Chinglish roundups  

artemis i: the inaugural mission to return the Moon—previously

Monday, 1 August 2022

tree of life (10. 030)

Via Maps Mania, we quite enjoyed this taxonomical exploration of the known species of biological life on Earth in LifeGate2022 presented by Martin Freiberg, curator of the botanical gardens at the University of Leipzig—visually and zoomable and arranged phylogenetically.

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

7x7 (10. 021)

from zero to five thousand: the exponential growth in the discovery of exoplanets since 1991 until the present


verdissement d’image: newly ascribed French vocabulary on climate demonstrates the language’s malleability

thebandwashere: decade‘s plus project by photographer Steven Burnbaum to overlay musicians and venues

necroborics: scientists exploit the hydraulic limbs of dead spiders 

test kitchen: thousands of emoji mash-up permutations—via Waxy 

the odaae: Oxford press publishes a dictionary of African American English  
 
recolte se fรฉr: raging wild fires across Europe setting off unexploded ordinances from World War I

Friday, 17 June 2022

now do tuvix

The animation studio Gazelle Automations is really doing yeoman’s work by recasting later iterations of the franchise in the style of the 1970s Filmation Star Trek: The Animated Series (previously) and its latest offering, an adaptation of the infamously bad Voyager Season Two episode, “Threshhold,” wherein Chief Helmsman Tom Paris is a space shuttle test pilot fuelled with a more potent form of dilithium crystals and postulated to be able to break the Warp Ten barrier. Returning from his first flight altered body and soul for having experienced everything all at once, Paris becomes agitated and abducts Captain Janeway and takes off in the shuttlecraft again, rocketing through space at speeds to drive them to evolve into salamanders and have offspring. The Voyager crew find the swamp planet where they fled and manage to restore Paris and Janeway, devolving their genetic structure and abandon their lizard babies on that world.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

apicius

We quite enjoyed revisiting the topic of a mysterious, most-favoured herb of Antiquity called silphium (previously)—considered a gift from Apollo and used as condiment, perfume, aphrodisiac, and seasoning and with medicinal uses ranging from anti-haemorrhoidal to contraceptive, imported into the Greek and Roman world from a narrow, microclimate in Syria that was resistant to transplantation. Over-harvesting and over-grazing coupled with climate change curried its abrupt disappearance from cupboards and medicine cabinets two millennia hence and serves as a warning best heeded about our own culinary staples and how familiar and enriching flavours and seasoning might meet the same fate. Much more at the links above.

Thursday, 7 April 2022

extremophile

Appearing a bit like the Microsoft start button, this remarkable halophilic (salt-loving) microorganism classified as Haloquadratum walsbyi was discovered in the 1980 in briny pools on the Sinai peninsula. The single-celled creatures are virtually flat and nearly perfectly square and often form colonies of “sheets” visible to the unaided eye in order to maximise solar reception and contain tiny gas vesicles, which look like crystals, that help the cell remain buoyant and near the surface of the salty water they inhabit.

Friday, 1 April 2022

cosmic call

First spotted by Damn Interesting’s Curated Links, Scientific American reports that as the fiftieth anniversary of the Arecibo Message approaches researchers at the FAST radio telescope and affiliates at SETI and METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence because no one wants to answer their phone apparently) have devised a new bit-mapped series of missives to put out to the Cosmos. The sample image illustrates prime numbers and binary and decimal notation and is one of several (whilst debate continues if it is wise to advertise our presence and level of technologic competence) to be bundled along with the components of DNA, particle physics and human physiology, like this iconic message in a bottle.

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

7x7

hopeful seals: the Cinderella stamp art of Nina Dzulkska 

rock, paper, scissors: the colour-coded courtship of male side-blotched lizards  

unrest: the harp jazz of Brandee Younger  

sessho-seki: a volcanic rock on Mount Nasu said to contain a malevolent spirit has split open  

heardle: a Name That Tune style game—via Kottke’s Quick Links 

ten times incalculable: The Atlantic correspondent Ed Yong speaks to our collective numbing to the news  

potemkin stairs: the Odessa Opera in 1942 and today

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

7x7

desert fox: play-through for a complex, WWII-themed board game, The Campaign for North Africa, that requires over fifteen hundred hours to complete  

hill house: a giant drying-box that preserves an Art Deco marvel by Charles Rennie Mackintosh—via Things Magazine 

the greatest thing since sliced bread: a satisfying video showing the steps in production in an industrial bakery in South Korea  

lightsaber flavour: alternative designations from young people that far surpass their proper names—via Miss Cellania’s Links 

rip: a celebration of the life and vision of Douglas Trumbull, special effects artist behind Silent Running, Close Encounters, 2001 and many others

multiple arcade machine emulator: after a quarter of a century, the MAME project is still releasing monthly new additions for home play—via Waxy  

ltee: the E. coli long-term evolution experiment has been running since 1988 and monitoring the mutations in twelve original strains over tens of thousands of generations

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

magnus manske day

As the precursor software platform to MediaWiki (see previously), on this day in 2002 Wikipedia upgraded to “Phase II,” developed by the titular programmer who had previously gifted to the research community open-source applications for molecular biology and genetics and was among the most active contributors to Nupedia and would author the first article for the German-version of Wikipedia—on polymerase chain reactions.

Monday, 13 December 2021

pearls before swine

An investigation into sudden-onset meat allergies comes full-circle with the recognition of a particular sugar called Alpha GAL that can cause intolerance for some and results in in an expansion of organ-donor base for others raises some thorny philosophical questions for us, cheerleaders, the lonely survivor and commodifying dissenters alike airing our objections over the brashest of enthusiasm for progress.

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

7x7

dress rehearsal: for a quarter of a century, an individual attended his own funeral  

dominical letters: how the artificial unit of the week came to govern our lives—see also  

carceral publications: a collection of US prison newspapers  

yes or no questions: celebrate the conclusion of Futility Closet’s eight plus year run with a final episode of lateral thinking puzzles  

hvorugkynsnafnorรฐ: despite progress in the choices for human naming conventions, the Icelandic governing body for horses is still highly gendered  

regenerative medicine: researchers develop “xenobots” capable of biological self-replication—via Waxy  

amigone: aptly named mortuary services—via Super Punch

Monday, 4 October 2021

the final programme

Adapted from the eponymous Michael Moorcock novel and premiering in UK cinemas on this day in 1973, the Robert Fuest sci-fi, action production (thanks to the introduction from The Flop House), the plot centring around the quest for post-humanism beings—perfect and self-propagating—is a post-modern Prometheus story that shares a lot of energy and aesthetics with the roughly contemporary Abominable Doctor Phibes. Bent on carrying out the taboo and contro-versial plan of a recently deceased mad scientist and bring human kind into a new age and out of an existence condemned to near post-apocalyptic wasteland, Miss Brunner—a sado-masochistic techno-magician—instigates the epiphanical sequence, causing her to merge with the protagonist, a suave playboy physicist and son of the man scientist called Jerry Cornelius and dispatching with the henchman named Dmitri who had helped bring their plot to fruition—briefly manifesting as some sort of messianic figure to herald a new age before devolving into a caveman (see also). The creature, as it escapes the secret lair, observes that it is indeed “a very tasty world.”

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

6x6

moo-loo: calves are being toilet-trained to mitigate some of the greenhouse gasses the livestock produce

รผber die bestimmung des weibes zur hรถheren geistesbildung: a look at philosopher Amalia Holst, whose 1802 work is comparable to Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman  

ferryman: an interesting look at legally-mandated river-crossings in Manchester  

the colour of money: a mesmerising video to accompany the Blake Mills song  

microcosmos: outstanding photographs of the world not visible to the naked eye  

charismatic megafauna: a biotech firm is raising funds to de-extinct the woolly mammoth—see previously

Thursday, 8 July 2021

cheveux incoiffables

Though familiar with the rather unkempt cautionary tale of Struwwelpeter—Shock-headed Peter, we did not know that such laments and portrayals were rooted in what’s described as UHS (Uncombable Hair Syndrome, Syndrom der unkรคmmbaren Haare). A genetic, structural disorder, those affected generally grow out of this state of wiry hair by early adolescence with their scalp becoming much more manageable.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

a modest proposal

Via the ever-engaging Weird Universe, we are directed to a 1983 edition of OMNI magazine and the ponderings of the doctoral theoretical biologist, literary critic and prolific science-fiction author Thomas A. Easton (Mood Wendigo, Wallflower, Alien Resonance, Micro Macho) proffering essentially the thesis of the 2017 film Downsizing through selective breeding, shrinking the average human stature to curb our unsustainable appetite for range and resources. As of yet undeveloped technologies could accelerate the process across all populations by introducing desirable genetic traits through a viral delivery system with this atavistic twist netting health benefits as well. Though indubitably bad stewards of the environment, the popular 1970s and 1980s trope of over-population was somewhat of a red-herring and the argument could be twisted in rather nefarious ways. More to explore at the link above.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

hgp

Formally launched in 1990 with sequencing, mostly sponsored by governmental research grants taking place in over twenty university laboratories in the UK, Germany, China, Japan, France, the US and Spain the massive, global collaboration to map the genes of human DNA from a structural and functional stance was declared complete with 99% sequenced of a composite sample to an accuracy rate of 99.99% on this day in 2003. Published in May of the following year, the approximately three million base pairs of any individual can now be mapped and analysed within a matter of minutes.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

listen to me coppertop—we don’t have time for twenty questions

Going into general release in US theatres on this day in 1999, though the tropes and themes have been to an extent ironically co-opted by more right leaning and extremist elements, The Matrix (previously) written and directed by the siblings Wachowski, whom years after their movie debuted came out as transgender women, acknowledged some subtle allegory in the plot and dialogue:“an error in the Matrix,” that sense that something is fundamental wrong—“like a splinter in your mind” suggests body dysphoria and the red pill that for some in the above-mentioned circles has become representative for throwing down the gauntlet for seeking truth inside conspiracy did for others draw comparisons to red oestrogen pills that transitioning individuals might take. In the original script, the character of Switch (quoted above) was to be portrayed as male in the real world and as female in the Matrix but that idea was dropped during filming.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

8x8

zaouli: a traditional dance of the of the Guro people of central Cรดte d’Ivoire 

line-dry only: experimental living apparel sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and produces oxygen  

everydays—the first five-thousand days: the digital artist better known as Beeple sold an artwork as a non-fungible token (previously) for nearly seventy million dollars at auction, more here  

: Lou Ottens, the inventor of the cassette, passes away, aged ninety-four 

 upward mobility: theory that Flintstones and Jetsons take place simultaneously with an elite technocracy and a post-apocalyptic underclass—see also  

ikebana: a vintage guide to the art of Japanese flower arranging, previously  

life finds a way: using parallel processing and stochastic algorithms, one programmer generates Mona Lisa from John Horton Conway’s game  

personรฆ: short documentary Beyond Noh filters through thousands of colourful and evocative ceremonial masks from cultures around the world

Monday, 1 March 2021

casanea dentata

Previously we’ve written about the consequences of blight and efforts to reintroduce the American chestnut tree with generic engineering but failed to appreciate the devastating magnitude that the loss of a keystone species had for industry and ecosystem until acquainting ourselves with this extensive Sierra Club article, excerpted by Super Punch. Crucial as building and construction material, the westward expanse of Old World settlers would not have been possible with log cabins and later railroad ties made out of the durable, rot-resistant wood, to say nothing of its sheltering branches and bark, the food-chain of fauna it supported or its pharmacological merits. Cutting or coppicing the tree didn’t kill it and rather it re-sprouted and was ready again to be harvested in a couple of decades, leading to the strangest, tortured Promethean twist in this study: as the blight only damaged the surface part of the tree, extensive root systems still exist, an estimated half a billion individuals and every once and a while grow new saplings, though these too succumb to the fungal disease within a few years.