Saturday, 27 August 2022

8x8 (10. 091)

catenary curve: the relationship between arches and chains  

astrochickens: another one of Freeman Dyson’s theoretical constructs—albeit less famous than his spheres   

numeracy: a selection of books bringing maths to the masses 

click-wheel: design your next custom iPhone—add a headphone jack, handle, home button, etc. from Neal Agarwal (previously)  

safe neighbourhood: Madonna’s punk phase 

late-stage thatcherism: the UK under Tory leadership is in omnishambles 

chakumelo: a celebration of nostalgic words culled from Japanese dictionaries due to declining usage  

hรฌtรซkw: an AI redesigns the tennis racket, named after Lenape word for tree due to its root-like design

Friday, 26 August 2022

time in a bottle (10. 087)

A favourite topic here at PfRC being the subject of time and time-keeping and having previously covered topics of Roman hours, the French Revolutionary Decimal Calendar, Time Zones, Knocker-Uppers and Daylight Savings Time, we quite enjoyed this latest instalment of You’re Dead to Me—the comedy podcast that takes history seriously, that explores both the want to escape the tyranny of clock and how in its measurement of time, our horizons are broadened beyond the immediate to the eminent. Following one tradition that informs the generally agreed upon standard, it was the Roman conquest of Greek Sicily and bringing back the sundial of Syracuse as a war trophy and putting it on public display (despite being calibrated for Sicily-time) was the beginning of regimented time-keeping with the fabulist Titus Maccius Plautus lamented of this new installation in the forum during the Punic Wars, duplicated all over the empire, “May the gods damn the man who first discovered the hours—when I was a boy, my stomach was the only sundial, but now what there is isn’t eaten lest the sun say so.” Much more to explore at the links above.

Saturday, 6 August 2022

6x6 (10. 043)

blue plaque special: a curation of the City of London’s Blue Plaque scheme—via Nag on the Lake (see also)  

harry potter and the chamber of narcissism: McMansion Hell (previously) show a yassified property in the Atlanta suburbs  

warwolf: a closer look at Edward I’s siege machine—via Strange Company 

i² = -1: the fundamental realness of imaginary numbers 

pferd is the word: some AI-generated horse-hybrids from Janelle Shane (previously)  

delft on a shelf: a house on Fournier Street with some animated tiles

Friday, 15 July 2022

psy and the family stone

Released on this day in 2012 as the lead single off South Korea rapper eponymous sixth studio album, “Gangnam Style” (๊ฐ•๋‚จ์Šคํƒ€์ผ, previously) refers to the class and sophistication associated with the posh district of the city of Seoul—flag pictured. The K-Pop song and video started going viral by the following month, charting in more than thirty countries and the most “liked” video on the internet, reaching a billion views by year’s end. Holding the title of most viewed Youtube clip, it was overtaken in July 2017 by Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again.” The refrain “Oppan Gangnam style” (in a lyrical eggcorn admission, I always heard it as Rope ’Em) means Big Brother is tragically hip, insinuating that the genuinely fashionable would never need to proclaim it and is poking fun at posers. During the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the song was temporarily restricted from being play in a gymnasium setting due to its beats per minute exceeding the one-twenty BPM ceiling health authorities introduced to discourage people from becoming too energzed by the music and breath and more intensely. Once it surpassed two billion one hundred forty seven million four hundred eighty three thousand six hundred forty-seven (231-1, a Mersenne prime number whereas Mn = 2n-1) views, Youtube realised it needed to upgrade to sixty-four bit integers to store those counts.

Wednesday, 13 July 2022

summer school

Sponsored and proposed by mathematics professor John McCarthy, Marvin Minsky (co-founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Nathaniel Rochester (computer engineer who designed IBM’s first commercial mainframe) and Claude Shannon, the extended brainstorming called the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence began on this day (or possibly 10 July) in 1956 and lasted eight weeks and was the foundational event that formed the field. The undirected group project, interspersed with lectures, broached the topics of computing, natural language processing, cognition, abstract concepts and neural networks and entertained various frameworks for testing their ideas—including playing chess against a machine. AI@50 was held at the same venue with half of the original delegates and attendees in 2006 to look back and reassess the challenges encountered and to better temper their understanding of the future.

Monday, 11 July 2022

avogadro’s number

First outlined in his treatise on the molecular content of gases published on this day in 1811, Lorenzo Romano Amedeo Carlo Avogadro, Count of Quaregna and Cerreto, posited that the volume of a gas—at a given temperature and pressure—is proportional to the number of atoms or molecules in that volume whatever the kind of gas. The law or value named in his honour was first presented in a public forum by fellow scientist Stanislao Cannizzaro at the Karlsruhe Congress on Atomic Weights, four years after Avogadro’s death—with later developments and refinements from Josef Loschimdt and Jean Baptiste Jean Perrin. Defined initially as the number of molecules in sixteen grams of oxygen (the molar mass, SI unit the Mole from the German Molekรผl as a measure of substance, a count of particles), corresponding to the inverse of its relative atomic mass, and derives the constant N = 6,022 140 76 × 1023. This led to insights in fluid dynamics, ideal gases and the concept of absolute zero in terms of temperature and atomic excitement.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

cosmic call

The latter of two sets of interstellar radio missives were beamed out to the Cosmos on this day in 2003 from the RT-70 (Radio Telescope with an aerial antenna with a seventy metre diameter and former Soviet Centre for Deep Space Communications) located in Yevpatoria, Crimea. This iteration and the first message sent in 1999 follow the same bitmap structure and include the Dutil-Dumas primer about mathematics, universal constants, chemical elements and physics plus the Arecibo Messages, the Braastad Message (to illustrate concepts of family and procreation, similar to the plaque on Pioneer) and contributions from the staff and public. Transmitted at four hundred bits per second, the message was beamed out over the span of eleven hours and targeted five diverse stars with known exoplanets, with the first arrival date of April 2036 at Gliese 49 ฮฒ, a superearth orbiting a red dwarf star.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

orbital mechanics

Enunciated for the first time the following year after some concerted fact-checking and re-taking measurements since the outcome seemed to elegant to be true, Johannes Kepler discovered the last of his three laws of planetary motion on this day in 1618, capturing the relationship between the distance of a astronomical body from its host star and the time it takes to complete a trip around it: that is, the value of the cube of the semi-major axis divided by the square of a planet’s orbital period is a constant—for our solar system. The publication was also delayed due to rather laborious attempts to reconcile his formula with the theory of the music of the spheres (see here and also above), thus making this third discovery known as the harmonic law.

Friday, 13 May 2022

unvollstรคndigkeitssatz

Futility Closet relates an anecdote from the live of mathematician Kurt Gรถdel in residence at Princeton University Institute for Advanced Studies and his friendship with fellow resident scholars physicists Albert Einstein (previously) John von Neumann and economist Oskar Morgenstern, whom felt obliged to make sure their younger charge’s tendency for over-thinking remained an asset and not his undoing and monitored Gรถdel’s preparation for the US citizenship exam in 1947, Einstein himself naturalised seven years earlier. The prodigal and influential logistician widely settled the impossibility of formulating a self-consistent and complete set of rules governing all of mathematics at the tender age of twenty-five, Gรถdel assayed the project of his examination with signature tenacity and revealed to his wardens that in his research, he had uncovered a fatal-flaw in the American constitution that could led to dictatorship, the corruption and consequence of totalitarian democracy. Einstein and company implored him not to share this discovery and the test was actually a much simpler affair, though basic civics and recent history might have suggested otherwise. The proctor for the citizenship test inquired of Gรถdel his state of origin and its form of government—to which Gรถdel replied Austria and a republic, but owed that “the constitution was such that it soon become a dictatorship.” Despite the examiner’s insistence that the same could not happen in the USA and Gรถdel’s refutation with the offer of proof, the panel stuck to the business at hand and conducted the test. No mention was made in their collective memoirs what that finding might have been and we suppose won’t know it until it’s happened.

Monday, 9 May 2022

orbital resonance

Though the Octave of Easter refers to a specific eight-day celebration in connect to the Paschaltide, our

word week itself (via the German Woche) derives from the same root as octave and that one out-of-cycle unit of time—that is, seemingly the sequence repeated for countless generations not determined by the motion of the Heavens or our perception of them but nonetheless in most Western and Eastern traditions named for the astronomical objects visible to the unaided eye. The ordering does not accord with the classical model of the Cosmos—the “Chaldean order” that describes the apparent overtaking and retrograde motion relative to the Earth—nor hierarchy of the pantheon, however, but rather the seven strings of the Mesopotamian lyre with which the celestial spheres were thought to harmonise: (4) Sunday ☉, (1) Monday ☽, (5) Tuesday ♂ (Mardi in French), (2) Wednesday ☿ (Mercoledรฌ), (6) Thursday ♃ (Donnerstag), (3) Friday ♀ (Venres) and (7) Saturday ♄. Vexed somewhat by the onerous and complicated Roman subdivision of the days and the planetary officer appointed to each hours, the order of the weekdays seemingly recapitulates musical theory and progression through the major scale. More at the links above and in this video adaptation below from Sara de Rose.

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.

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Via Boing Boing, we are directed towards a mysterious, little used symbol on the Miscellaneous Technical block of Unicode known variously as Right Angle Downward Zig-Zag Arrow or by the name of an apocryphal (not on our demonic calendar but nonetheless can be summoned with an & into HTML) infernal earl called Angzarr, and going down this rabbit hole to find out more about the character (see previously) reveals a lot about the origins of typesetting, coding and what artefacts and skeuomorphs get preserved. No definitive answer is yielded up yet the value is all in the journey and of course one can—like with a suite of emoji—assign it a meaning. To me the sigil looks like a representation of three-dimensional axes and an easy way to convey depth. What do you think?

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

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

stanze della segnatura

Born on this day (or possibly 28 March) in 1483 (†1520—on the same day), the artist mononymously known as Raphael—Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino—would go on to become one of the trinity of Italian High Renaissance art alongside Leonardo and Michelangelo, prolific despite his relatively early death, working in Umbria, Florence and finally in Rome under the patronage of two popes, the majority of his creations on display in the Vatican. Reflecting his Neoplatonic ideals, arguably his best known, commercially duplicated work is The School of Athens (Sculoa di Atene, complemented by The Parnassus and the Disputa on opposite walls), a suite of frescos commissioned between 1509 and 1511 to decorate the rooms of the papal palace with a celebration and revival of the arts and sciences and cameos of philosophers portrayed by contemporaries.

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.

Friday, 18 March 2022

howdy neighbour

Albeit from a distance of a million kilometres and assuming quite different orbital paths, the team of astronomers directing the Gaia stellar charting mission (see previously) to map the galaxy by plotting the paths of a billion stars was able to greet a fellow spacecraft, the James Webb Space Telescope once it arrived at the second Lagrangian Point, where Gaia has been stationed since 2014. The yellow curves representing Gaia’s periodic path through space is called a Lissajous figure, describing a rather complex, three-dimensional harmonic knot—the kind of shape found on an oscilloscope, whereas the JWST takes a halo orbit.

Monday, 14 March 2022

7x7

be kind, rewind: the miniature dioramas of Marina Totino—via Waxy  

doobly doo: recreating a Hallstatt period hair-style  

wck: more on Josรฉ Andrรฉs’ World Central Kitchen (previously) and its work in Ukraine  

it is better to conquer our grief than to deceive it: solace from the Stoics and other timeless words of wisdom—via Messy Nessy Chic  

blogoversary: Kottke turns twenty-four  

the wife of ฯ€: a Pi Day (previously) round-up—plus this one  

family pictures: artist Martha Naranjo Sandoval reanimates antique stereoscopic photos

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

6x6


serenade
: French illustrator Gaspard portrays musicians harmonising with feathered friends in lush settings  

bon temps roulez, mes amis: New Orleans celebrates its first full-scale Marti Gras in two years  

donzig: a rather clever mashup of Donna Summers and Danzig’s cover of The Doors’ Mother  

complications: a clock face engineered to make telling the time a challenge—see also  

displaced persons: a historical pamphlet on the situation in Ukraine following World War II 

 aux in: a superlative collection of boom-boxes from Japan

Sunday, 27 February 2022

8x8

glass menagerie: more microbiological models from Luke Jerram—see previously 

instant city: a 1971, tented utopian experiment on the northern coast of Ibiza  

dearc sgiathanach: superlative winged pterosaur found on the Island of Skye 

kye marn: incredible papier mรขchรฉ Carnival masks from Jacmel, Haiti 

the wags, jubilee plus christmas gambols: nautical song composer Charles Dibdin, forgotten eighteenth century superstar—via Strange Company 

a strange game—the only winning move is not to play: the rise of gamification in all systems and how to avoid getting caught up in it unawares  

ัะฝะต, ะฑะตะฝะต, ั€ะตั: a Russian counting rhyme, like yan, tan, tethera  

angiogenic properties: materials scientists development bioactive glass (also used to repair broken bones) that repels virtually all germs

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

6x6

putting the fun in fungible: NFTs appraised on Antiques Roadshow, via Messy Nessy Chic  

anagrams everywhere: the intrusive, obsessive thoughts of a Scrabble enthusiast—via Kottke’s Quick Linkssee also  

maths hysteria: a celebration of vintage calculator manuals  

dishes for luck and prosperity: traditional Lunar New Year cuisine laden with word-play and symbolism  

old brown ears is back: a cover album from under-appreciated Muppet character, Rowlf the Dog  

nasm: Smithsonian Air & Space museum accepts donation from a tech billionaire—notably absent a “morals clause” which would allow the institution to disassociate itself with their benefactor should their values become misaligned