Monday 26 February 2024

7x7 (11. 383)

bacile calmette-guรฉrin: a century-old variolation against bovine tuberculosis technique might present a treatment route for dementia  

endangered language alliance: a survey of the rare forms of communication in communities in New York City  

marketable skill: Nvidia executive says kids shouldn’t learn to code 

icc: renewed calls to make ecocide the fifth international crime and within the scope of the UN’s court—via tmn  

kรผrschรกk’s tile: a visual proof a complex geometric tessellation  

project ceti: how, powered by AI, a first contact could play out between humans and whales—see previously, see also 

goldplate: research suggest that a treatment with nanoparticles of the element might be a cure for neurodegenerative diseases

Wednesday 21 February 2024

vielecke u. vielflache (11. 368)

This 1900 study of polyhedra by geometer Johannes Max Brรผckner, who taught at a Gymnasium (a secondary, preparatory school) in Bautzen after earning a degree in mathematics and physics from the Universities of Leipzig and Heidelberg and earned his teaching credentials for constructing many models of stellated shapes, compounds of the Platonic solids projected outward until the result in a new uniform and congruent three dimensional figure (see also), is not only noted for its aesthetic and inspirational value (M C Escher’s work was largely informed by exposure to this publication) but is considered among the foundational proofs of the field, documenting all the then known possibilities. In 1930, Brรผckner’s collection of models were donated to the institution in Baden-Wรผrttemberg, which in turn awarded him with another honorary degree. More at Present /&/ Correct at the link up top.

Friday 19 January 2024

kฤla (11. 280)

Via ibฤซdem, we enjoyed contemplating this display that shows the passage of different units of time side-by-side advancing relative to the observer. Named for the Jain concept of that which brings forth change (also meaning death), the second is the smallest practical measurement, made up of countless and indivisible samaya—like Planck time though the zeptosecond or one sextillionth of a second is the smallest fragment of time that can be reliably calibrated—and itself representing about forty-eight seconds and the kลŸaแน‡a about forty-eight minutes. Aside from the more familiar units and the Hindu-Sanskrit tradition of describing the cosmological cycle, from microseconds to trillions of years, there’s also the milliday, invented by the Swatch company as one-thousandth part of a day or a .beat, the lustrum to mark the five-year interval between Roman censuses, the indiction for the fifteen-year requirement for tax assessments in the Empire, a ghurry, the time it took a water-clock to empty, gauged to divide the day into sixty intervals or rather twenty-four minutes and the chelek (ื—ืœืง) one eighteenth of minute from the Babylonian for one degree of celestial rotation and a momentum, a medieval reckoning of the hours by the sun-dial, about forty moments for each twelve-hour solar day—as well as more informal but countable units.

Friday 12 January 2024

erfundene mittelalter (11. 262)

Via Strange Company, we find ourselves directed to a real rabbit-hole of a conspiracy theory wrapped in the guise—possibly earnest and wholly without cause (like the counterfeit Donation of Constantine)—of scholarship articulated by academician Heribert Illig in 1991 known as the Phantom Time Theory, positing that events occurring in a three-century span from 614 to 911 were fabricated, advancing the Anno Domino dating system ahead in order to place the rule of either Pope Sylvester II, Holy Roman Emperor Otto III (plus legitimising his claim to the throne) or Byzantine emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus in power during the millennial of the death of Christ and ruling at the moment of the return of Jesus. Otto and the Pope made it but not Eastern emperor.  The fact that many manuscripts from the time are acknowledged copies of lost originals and including forgeries (see also), the preponderance of Romanesque architecture present after the influence should have abated and the introduction of the Gregorian calendar, adopted in phases, did not mathematically correct its predecessor (the reform was never intent on correcting and revising the the length of the year back all the way to its inception in 45 BC but rather to its state during the Council of Nicaea—covering this supposed three century discrepancy—when tying the date of Easter to the vernal equinox) and a fact that an alliance between the above three rulers, each preserving his magesteria, was likely, led Illig to conclude that personages and events like Charlemagne and his dynasty (for whom Otto had specious claim as no Caroligian, Frankish heir) led Illig to conclude that this period of history was an elaborate fraud, with retrograde, retroactive chronicles created and a populace willing as well to spring forward in time to be present for the Second Coming, though later the loss of a couple of weeks (or an hour) was seen to draw popular ire.  The alliance amongst these three potentates was strong enough, the theory suggests, to collaborate to create a revised timeline, though the idea is refuted as pseudoscience by medievalists, archaeological evidence, dendrochronology and of course recorded histories outside of western Europe.

Sunday 7 January 2024

nine times nine to dispel the cold (11. 252)

In northern parts of China, where the winter months can seem particularly long and bleak, a folk-reckoning of the time until spring’s arrival emerged in ancient times called “Counting the Nine” (shujiu, ๆ•ธไน) and is still observed. Beginning on the solstice, the season is divided into nine intervals of nine days each, this form of almanac or Advent calendar (the number nine chosen as a seasonally accurate number and concept of renewal or reset as it the last digit before leaping to a new exponent) was not only important to farmers and herders for anticipating the planting season and return of growth, they also were a welcome distraction (eighty-one days is a long time) that taught numeracy and literacy—families devising activity posters, like with plum blossoms, mnemonics or other early indicators in the environment, to countdown the days.

Saturday 30 December 2023

gromatici (11. 228)

A committed flaneur and a bit obsessed with getting my steps in myself, we were pleased to learn of the bematist-set—those specialist ฮฒฮทฮผฮฑฯ„ฮนฯƒฯ„ฮฑฮฏ employed in Ancient Egypt and Greece—whom for one assignment at least proved to have accurately measured the distances crossed by the army of Alexander the Great—with such precision, it was said that they gauged their paces with an early odometer, suggested by Pliny the Elder and Hero of Alexandria, though no direct evidence exists. Later on the philosopher and polymath, with the assistance of a bematist, Eratosthenes pretty closely calculated the circumference of the Earth around 240 BCE. The first application—the above title—of this skill however augmented, was in land surveyors and tax assessors, possibly also with instrumentation aid and a professional class endorsed by attendant religious officers.

Saturday 16 December 2023

8x8 (11. 190)

a portrait of justice: the iconography of Ruth Bader-Ginsburg’s judicial collars—see previously 

kreuz am bichl: a uniquely divided church in Carinthia  

oh little town of bethlehem: this year’s creche and other required reading—see more

location scouting: historical movies and filming sites mapped  

modern day umarell: Defector contributor unravels a construction mystery with the help amateur experts—see previously  

18¢ piece: making change, the Greedy Algorithm and the Shallit system of optimal coins  

penguin drama: two aquaria in Japan meticulously update a flow chart to document the changing relationships of their residents  

free mickeys: Disney’s flagship character (see previously) to enter the public domain following a US Supreme court ruling that copyrights cannot be extended with trademarks


one year ago: Kurt Cobain’s Unplugged session (1993), assorted links to revisit plus OpenAI authors Hallmark holiday specials

two years ago: a triple album from George Harrison plus the mental acumen of rarefied genius

three years ago: awards recognising the best of Quarantine Culture, the great apes, St Adelaide plus a classic spy story from John le Carrรฉ

four years ago: the seasonal designs of Jen Nollaig

five years ago: redundant acronym syndrome, Queen Medb plus the Moon on flags (and flags on the Moon)

Wednesday 13 December 2023

life is omniperiodic (11. 185)

Via Good Internet, we are directed towards a research paper that posits that in Conway’s Game of Life, the cellular automata within a defined framework of an environment demonstrates periodicity over a vast amount of generations and this repeating pattern is called an oscillator. Complex behaviour emerging from simple rules on a grid, oscillation (the hunt for these stable organisms, a wandering jam or mould pictured, beginning in the 1970s with such taxonomy as pulsar, tumbler, pinwheel, glider gun, queen bee shuttle, dirty splitters, toad hasslers) over all periods of the game. The full cycle of only two catalysts remained elusive until just recently with the final two being cribbage and 204P41, another reflector loop that looks like a circuit of marching insects.

one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting, a Christmas Number One plus a collection of seasonal drinks
three years ago: St Odile plus a Christmassy version of Hamilton
four years ago: the Feast of St Lucy plus a Ford concept truck
five years ago: young pioneers, more links to enjoy, Brutalist Brussels plus isogloss maps

Thursday 23 November 2023

q* (11. 132)

Though unable to independently verify the existence of the supposed memo circulated to the staff and board of OpenAI, sources suggest that the catalyst for the abrupt ousting and re-hiring of founder and CEO Sam Altman was a potential breakthrough towards artificial general intelligence, gauged not by simply stringing words together in a convincing way but rather by solving maths problems, albeit rudimentary ones but exercises that are transparent and comprehensible enough for human minds to know that the answer was correct and not merely persuasive and betraying a real understanding of the task the computer was given. The organisation has been forthcoming with the research project (pronounced Q-Star) and its aims to apply it to scientific application (fields where only one, non-trivial answers exist) but reports suggest that the board was harbouring reservations about releasing the new application. The next day the board fired Altman.


one year ago: the Festival of the Five Grains plus Bohemian Rhapsody (1975)

two years ago: artist Agnolo Cosimo

three years ago: your daily demon: Crocel, St Felicity of Rome, the invention of acting (534 BCE) plus Project Cybersyn

four years ago: a foundation document for press freedom, The Bounty Hunter’s Tale, Simpsons’ memes of the 2019 box office plus Disney streaming options

five years ago: assorted links to revisit, the eight-hour work day plus the premiere of Dr Who (1963)

Tuesday 21 November 2023

7x7 (11. 129)

last mile-problem: 2003 ad from a defunct automotive line lampooning the absurdity of cars—especially redesigning cities around them 

broken record: the cover of the UN’s Environmental Programme Emissions Gap Report  

whistle-blower: ufologist who testified before the US Congress urges declassification of documents on alien technology for America to get ahead of the coming, catastrophic leak  

whole heap of zing: new studies may have found the culprit in the phenomenon of the red wine headache  

oculi mundi: a gorgeous and interactive collection of antique and ancient depictions of the world to peruse—via Maps Mania  

keith number: seemingly recreational, rare and hard to find repetitive Fiboncci-like digits whose sum are a whole of its parts 

the marshmallow test: famous experiments in psychology recreated in LEGO


one year ago: an early exercise craze

two years ago: assorted links worth revisiting

three years ago: the Nurnberg Trials (1945), more links to enjoy, artist Magritte plus cardboard cat shrines

four years ago: more Words of the Year, a Trump appointee turns, Martha Gellhorn plus reforming Ukrainian exonyms

five years ago: the Mayflower Compact, more links to enjoy, a ram registry plus the backstory of an IKEA poster

Sunday 22 October 2023

11x11 (11. 070)

post-amazon era: monopsonic retailer’s workers’ are writing about the dystopian company to fight back—via Slashdot  

sublet: tech startups are relinquishing office space office space back to their landlords  

stop making sense: negative manifestos, rule-breaking and by defined by what one is not  

deci-lon 10: an outstanding collection of slide rules curated by the analogue computer’s appreciation society—named after their seventeenth century inventor, William Oughtred of Cambridge—via Web Curios  

dancing delicacies: 3-D printed plate and nano technologies promise interactive meals  

primer simposium tecno: a 1981 electronic music concert in Madrid  

piramida: updated plans for the restoration of Tirana’s Brutalist landmark  

destroilet: an automatic combustion plumbing solution popular in the 1960s and 70s 

down in the underground: agencies of the subsurface 

fiver: a new adaptation of Watership Down as a graphic novel 

proposition m: San Francisco passes a punitive tax of vacant housing speculation  

the faanmg index: the blush has worn off Amazon’s rose—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lot’s more to explore there)


one year ago:  brittle egos bristling at Karen’s Garden plus modern sundials

two years ago: the International Meridian Conference of 1884, The Last Picture Show plus an early alternative currency

three years ago: the father of psychophysics, red food dye, another failed doomsday prophecy plus the Humument series

five years ago: the US Gun Control Act of 1968, the WWII bombing of Kassel, the spread of disinformation, anticipatory libraries for other worlds plus RIP to the inventor of the Little Library

Tuesday 26 September 2023

all objects and some questions (11. 026)

Via Kottke, we are referred to this rather elegant two-dimensional plot that at the core of a presentation that surveys the thermodynamic history of the Cosmos, for the dense and energetic Big Bang to the cold, lonely Heat Death of the Universe, with time as a function of density and gravity as a governing factor. Some assumptions are made and I can’t pretend to comprehend it all but one can view the entire slide deck with notes and see if you reach the same conclusion posited the the Universe is a black hole.

Friday 1 September 2023

num8er5 (10. 974)

Via Web Curios (much more to explore on the weekly roundup), we are directed towards an list of the first ten-thousand digits as indexed by Erich Friedman with a distinguishing fact for each that makes the number special. Among the new and revisited concepts we learned about our favourites were seventeen possible wallpaper groupings that can cover a plane with an indefinitely repeating motif—patterns often found in textiles and tessellations, Mersenne Primes, the weird sequence in the eight thousand nine hundred and seventies that all equal 8 + 9⁴ + 7⁴ + n and Narcissistic Numbers, like 153 (=1³+5³+3³) which may be amusing for amateurs and in puzzles (see also) but hold no mathematical significance.


one year ago: Tina Turner’s What’s Love Got to Do With It? (1984) plus Gothic scribal styles and the push for greater legibility 

two years ago: AI-driven music mashups, the Carrington Event (1859), the Cod Wars (1958), assorted links to revisit plus re-train as a swan

three years ago: a lifeboat sponsored by Banksy,  an oath against modernism plus the several saints named Hyacinth

four years ago: more problematic upscaling plus a return to Mont Saint Michel

five years ago: more from the OED’s Weekly Word Watch, the West German Grundgesetz drafted (1948), the Village Voice folds plus a parchment iPad

Sunday 20 August 2023

9x9 (10. 954)

cucumber castle: a star-studded promotional film for the Bee-Gee’s medieval-themed, chivalrous 1970 album  

as big as a football pitch: the vague rulers of informal metrology 

good(bye) design: a tribute to the aesthetic of vintage consumer tech by Miki Nemcek with a special focus on Braun  

grand master: World Chess Federation places restrictions on trans competitors  

1:25: a tour inside the scale model of St Paul’s, hidden in a chamber in the attic 

 : like Zuckerburg explored before—in violation of app store policies—Elon Musk is threatening to remove Twitter’s block feature  

magalog: combination magazine-catalogue that was successful print model in the 1970s  

langue รฉtrangรจre: faced with budget-shortfalls, US public university cutting foreign language from its ciriculum 

elephant in the room: the imprint of favourite songs of our formative years and what that says about our capacity for new things

Sunday 2 July 2023

8x8 (10. 849)

: JWST captures outstanding images of the ringed planet, completing a family portrait of the gas giants  

dining al fresco: excavations in Pompeii uncover a a still life featuring a proto-pizza—see also  

ษš: rare phonemes and how to pronounce them  

gas, food, lodging: one hundred twenty pump filling station, the world’s largest, opens in Tennessee as a tourist attraction—via Marginal Revolution 

ripples in a pond: astrophysicists detect new class of gravitational waves rolling through the Cosmos

abacusynth: a unique electronic musical instrument from Elias Jarzobek 

liquid television: MTV’s first animated series, Stevie and Zoya—see previously  

euclid and roman: a joint NASA, ESA mission to survey the skies for signs of dark matter and dark energy


one year ago: assorted links to revisit

two years ago: your daily demon: Morax, the influence of 70s Japanese soft rock on Nintendo music, mid-point of the year, Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car, a trip to Oberwaldbehrungen plus the punishments of Pompeii

three years ago: assorted links to revisit, Airplane (1980) plus the Civil Rights Act (1964)

four years ago: disruptive cake icing to evade IP infringement plus the time that Pepsi (sort of) had the second largest naval fleet in the world

five years ago: holidaying on Lake Garda

six years ago: playable Wikipedia,  a preview of the G20 in Hamburg plus words only said once

Sunday 18 June 2023

human computer (10. 817)

Despite a posthumous and four-decade late official acknowledgement by the world records authority, Shakuntala Devi (เฒถเฒ•ುಂเฒคเฒฒಾ เฒฆೇเฒตಿ), nonetheless a celebrated author, mental calculator, political opponent to Indira Ganhdi in parliamentary elections after her prime-ministership and astrologer—without any formal education (though born into the Brahmin caste her father was a circus performer, a trapeze artist and lion tamer before taking his prodigious daughter on tour), achieved her record setting calculation on this day in 1980 at Imperial College, London, multiplying two randomly-generated thirteen digit numbers in under half-a-minute, rivalling the processing times of contemporary computers. In addition to authoring several books on arithmetic to teach people some of her methods for simplifying and intuiting solutions, including Figuring: The Joy of Numbers, Devi also wrote several cookbooks, crime novels and a rather controversial though suppressed and not widely and first study on homosexuality in India (which possibly delayed recognition by Guinness), written in order to understand her gay husband and to better understand the community.

Saturday 27 May 2023

platonic solids (10. 769)

Via tmn, we are directed to a 1974 installation by collector, curator and conceptual artist Sol LeWitt’s serial exploration of negative and positive space, both flat and realised in three-dimensions, in his one hundred-twenty-two permutations of how a cube could be not closed space. This matrix of deconstruction invites one to reexamine the fundamentals of geometry and perspective that we otherwise might take for granted. More at the links above including a tour of the gallery space hosting these open cubes.

Friday 12 May 2023

beflix (10. 736)

Via Waxy, we a directed to this thoroughgoing study of early computer art of the 1950s and 1960s by Amy Goodchild, beginning with the moment of inception with Babbage and Lovelace speculating on the creative potential of their difference engine to the realisation of mathematician Ben Laposky using sine functions and oscilloscopy to produce “electrical compositions” and one of the earliest interactive applications called MusiColor that generated patterns and light mapped from audio inputs. There are profiles of the pioneers in this field with images and video presentations of various pivotal works and installations as well as the above programming language for computer animation—from Bell Flicks—made for educational and engineering applications 1970 to explore, which are really remarkable considering the time and labour put into each project and makes one reflect how pace and patience temper the creative process in an age of instant iteration.

Sunday 16 April 2023

penta-vigesimal (10. 678)

Whilst mathematics is universal, there is no monopoly on notation and alternative numbering systems certainly do yield insight on cognition, computation and reckoning parallels. The Western hemisphere’s first new notational system in over a century was developed in the early 1990s, we learn via Clive Thompson’s Linkfest (previously), by a small class of middle school and high school students as part of maths enrichment project in Katovik, Alaska, noting that they didn’t have the numbers to represent all the numbers in Iรฑupiaq in Arabic-Hindi numerals alone for their base-twenty counting, scores used in Danish, French and for some other Inuit family languages), devising and refining a method of arithmetically representing all the native values reckoned on all one’s fingers and toes, with positional correspondence derived from native terms—for example, tallimat (5) coming from taliq (arm) for all of one’s five digits, iรฑuiรฑรฑaq (20) meaning a whole person or the glyph for zero or null a gesture of negation. A marked increase in scores on standardised mathematics tests for indigenous communities using notational systems that more closely match their ethnographic heritage not only helps with student achievement but demonstrates for all involved that numeracy is embedded within their culture and not something imparted by western hegemony. Learn more at the links above.

Tuesday 21 March 2023

8x8 (10. 627)

everthing everywhere all at once: chaotic “Foketoken,” informed by “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” was inspiration for the screenwriter  

a most maddening canvas: Moby Dick (previously) and AI  

ipcc: UN climate committee issues dire warning, with steps to take immediately  

aperiodic monotiles: a non-repeating shape to cover a flat surface has possibly been discovered—see also  

sky critters: a 1978 book that proposes UFOs are biological organisms evolving parallel to humans virtually unnoticed  

la vรฉitable histoire d’amรฉlie poulain: a short film finally revealing the true story of ostensible 2001 romcom  

bardolatry: Google’s AI chatbot released to the public in the UK and US 

hotdog hands: outtakes from the Academy Award winning film—via Miss Cellania