Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Links

For your time-wasting pleasure.

William Barnes sent in a link to an archive of the first 100 issues of Computer Gaming World, now scanned and viewable. The covers are also all viewable on one page--just looking at them brings back a ton of memories (and probably for you as well). The link is here.

Nate Carpenter sent me a link to a video about a man who is building a life-size replica of Stonehenge--by himself. What's really fascinating in this video are the very simple methods he uses to move gigantic pieces of concrete--methods that could have been used by the builders of the real Stonehenge as well. The video is here.

Jim Riegel sent me a link to an outstanding article about elephant behavior and how it appears to be changing for the worse:
All across Africa, India and parts of Southeast Asia, from within and around whatever patches and corridors of their natural habitat remain, elephants have been striking out, destroying villages and crops, attacking and killing human beings. In fact, these attacks have become so commonplace that a new statistical category, known as Human-Elephant Conflict, or H.E.C., was created by elephant researchers in the mid-1990’s to monitor the problem. is not only the increasing number of these incidents that is causing alarm but also the singular perversity — for want of a less anthropocentric term — of recent elephant aggression. Since the early 1990’s, for example, young male elephants in Pilanesberg National Park and the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve in South Africa have been raping and killing rhinoceroses; this abnormal behavior, according to a 2001 study in the journal Pachyderm, has been reported in ‘‘a number of reserves’’ in the region. In July of last year, officials in Pilanesberg shot three young male elephants who were responsible for the killings of 63 rhinos, as well as attacks on people in safari vehicles. In Addo Elephant National Park, also in South Africa, up to 90 percent of male elephant deaths are now attributable to other male elephants, compared with a rate of 6 percent in more stable elephant communities.

This is one of the most interesting articles I've read in a long time, and you can read it here.

From Brian Witte, a link to a mind-blowing article about cell differentiation. Here's an excerpt:
WASHINGTON (AFP) - A team of scientists from five countries examining fossil embryos that are more than 550 million years old have found evidence of cell differentiation, a study released this week found.

...They said in Science that they examined "162 relatively pristine envelope-bound and spheroidal embryos in which recurrent biological structures and cleavage patterns could be distinguished from inorganic artifacts."

"We digitally extracted each cell from the embryos and then looked inside the cells," said another member of the research team, Shuhai Xiao of Virginia Tech.

"We found some kidney shaped structures within the cells which could be nuclei or other subcellular structures. It is amazing that such delicate biological structures can be preserved in such an ancient deposit."

In some four-cell embryos, each cell had two kidney shaped subcellular structures, "so they were caught in the process of splitting during cell division," Xiao added.

Amazing story, and you can read it here.

Future Nobel Prize Winner Brian Pilnick sent in a link to a story about the "Antikythera mechanism," a complex astrological device constructed in ancient Greece. Here's an excerpt:
The Antikythera mechanism, as it is now known, was originally housed in a wooden box about the size of a shoebox, with dials on the outside and a complex assembly of bronze gear wheels within. X-ray photographs of the fragments, in which around 30 separate gears can be distinguished, led the late Derek Price, a science historian at Yale University, to conclude that the device was an astronomical computer capable of predicting the positions of the sun and moon in the zodiac on any given date. A new analysis, though, suggests that the device was cleverer than Price thought, and reinforces the evidence for his theory of an ancient Greek tradition of complex mechanical technology.

...the mechanism was strongly suggestive of an ancient Greek tradition of complex mechanical technology which, transmitted via the Arab world, formed the basis of European clockmaking techniques. This fits with another, smaller device that was acquired in 1983 by the Science Museum, which models the motions of the sun and moon. Dating from the sixth century AD, it provides a previously missing link between the Antikythera mechanism and later Islamic calendar computers, such as the 13th century example at the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford. That device, in turn, uses techniques described in a manuscript written by al-Biruni, an Arab astronomer, around 1000AD.

The origins of much modern technology, from railway engines to robots, can be traced back to the elaborate mechanical toys, or automata, that flourished in the 18th century. Those toys, in turn, grew out of the craft of clockmaking. And that craft, like so many other aspects of the modern world, seems to have roots that can be traced right back to ancient Greece.

It's an interestinging story, and here's the link.

Site Meter