Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Links!

Friday productivity ends here. There are enough links to keep you busy for several hours, at least.

I linked to an article a few months ago about Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee sprinter who has run incredible times in the 400 meters. The International Olympic Committe commissioned a test of his artificial limbs (called "Cheetah" blades) to determine if he would be allowed to compete in the Olympics if he met the qualifying standards. Here's an excerpt about the study's findings:
Brueggemann found that Pistorius was able to run at the same speed as able bodied runners on about a quarter less energy. He found that once the runners hit a certain stride, athletes with artificial limbs needed less additional energy than other athletes.

The professor found that the returned energy ''from the prosthetic blade is close to three times higher than with the human ankle joint in maximum sprinting.''

Not surprisingly, based on these results, the committee vote went against Pistorius, although he's appealing the decision. Take a look at the full article, and thanks to Geoff Engelstein for the link.

Here's a fantastic link from Steven Kreuch to Real Life Sea Monsters-24 Bizarre Creatures of the Deep. The pictures are nothing short of incredible.

From Edwin Garcia, a link to a photography exhibit titled Living in Three Centuries: The Face of Age. There are some absolutely remarkable photographs in this collection.

Another link from Edwin, this one to a video titled Look Around You Maths.

And the hat trick, with a link to 5 Unbelievably Cool Research Facilities. The photographs alone are worth the click.

Liz Watson let me know that the chemical reaction I linked to last week (a solution that cycled through a series of colors) has a name: the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction. She also included a video link here, and that reaction is happening in real time.

Here's a tantalizing research result (thanks Sirius): the lifespan of yeast was increased tenfold by DNA modification and caloric restriction.

Hey, I've been telling yeast that for years. Lay off the cheese, mix in a salad, and who knows how many years you can ferment?

Nate Carpenter sent me a link to a wonderful short film titled People In Order. It's people from ages one to one hundred, in sequence, hitting a drum.

It's back. The ageless, endless subtitled clip from a Hitler movie is back again, and this time, Hitler is in charge of HD-DVD. Some NSFW subtitles (although no one will know unless they're standing over your shoulder). See it here and thanks to Mark Lahren for the link.

From Bethanne Larson, another link with a bit of NSFW content in text, but it's a beauty: The Battle of Pelennor Fields--recreated with candy.

From Anthony Salter, a link to a multi-part article titled What's Noka Worth? Noka, in case you're wondering, is the most expensive chocolate in the world. If you're wondering what that means, try over $300 per pound, and in some cases, over $1,000 a pound. This article investigates why it costs so much and whether it does have some kind of special value over other premium chocolates. This article is a very good read, and it gets more and more interesting the deeper you get.

From Juan Font, a link to a video of a contest in a Korean Freestyle Slalom Rollerblading competition.The contestant is a young girl, and her grace is spectacular. It's definitely channeling Monty Python, at least mildly.

Here's a bizarre story: a nature writer finds that some of her work on meerkats has been plagiarized--by a pulpy romance novel.

From Jesse Leimkuehler, a link to a story about the source of antimatter.

From Steven Davis, a link to a story about the Hubble telescope finding double Einstein rings. Here's an excerpt:
The phenomenon, called gravitational lensing, occurs when a massive galaxy in the foreground bends the light rays from a distant galaxy behind it, in much the same way as a magnifying glass would.

When both galaxies are exactly lined up, the light forms a circle, called an “Einstein ring”, around the foreground galaxy.

If another more distant galaxy lies precisely on the same sightline, a second, larger ring will appear. The odds of seeing such a special alignment are so small that Tommaso says that they “hit the jackpot” with this discovery.

“Such stunning cosmic coincidences reveal so much about nature. Dark matter is not hidden to lensing,” added Leonidas Moustakas of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, USA. “The elegance of this lens is trumped only by the secrets of nature that it reveals.”

From The Economist, a story titled Charts--worth a thousand words. This story includes Charles Joseph Minard's chart of Napoleon's Russia campaign of 1812. It's been cited as the best graphic display of information ever (by Edward Tufte, in particular), and here's an excerpt that explains why:

Minard's chart shows six types of information: geography, time, temperature, the course and direction of the army's movement, and the number of troops remaining. The widths of the gold (outward) and black (returning) paths represent the size of the force, one millimetre to 10,000 men. Geographical features and major battles are marked and named, and plummeting temperatures on the return journey are shown along the bottom.

If you've never seen this chart before, you can easily spend half an hour or more absorbing its detail.

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