Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday Links!

The end of your productivity begins now.

There's a fascinating story over at the BBC about a stunning new technique for recovering the images on ancient texts. Many of these documents are damaged or so brittle that scientists haven't even unrolled them, but this new process should enable passive scanning and retrieval of the contents. Here's a description:
The team now plans to use the Diamond synchrotron's powerful X-ray source to penetrate many layers of parchment.

The synchrotron, which covers the area of five football pitches, generates light beams that can probe matter down to the molecular and atomic scale.

Professor Wess explained: "The letters have got iron in them, so you shine a band of X-rays through, and you end up with an absorption image, rather like your bones would absorb on an X-ray.

"This is something we can take forward with Diamond, to try to unravel the secrets inside documents that we're too scared to try to open, or that are beyond the point of conservation."

That reference to iron refers to iron gall ink, made of oak apples, which was used beginning in the 12th century. It's quite a story, and you can read it here.

Google is funding a thirty-million dollar contest--for moon rovers. Here's a description:
The new prize calls upon teams to create autonomous rovers that could land on the moon, travel at least three-tenths of a mile (500 meters) and send video, images and data back to Earth.

Read about it here.

Thanks to Geoff Engelstein and Andrew Shih, who both sent in a link to an article about research being done on memory density technology at I.B.M. Called "racetrack" memory, it could increase store 10-100x as much data in the same amount of space. It's an amazing idea, and you can read about it here.

John Catania sends in a link to a bizarre scientific discovery about salt water. Apparently, when exposed to certain RF fields, the chemical bond between sodium chloride, hydrogen and oxygen are weakened, and hydrogen is released. If the hydrogen is ignited, it continues to burn as long as it is exposed to the RF field. The story of how this is discovered (as in many scientific discoveries, it was an accident) is very interesting, and you can read about it here.

From Kadunta, a link to a story in the New York Times about sequencing the human genome. Even though the 2003 announcement that the sequencing had been "completed" drew a huge amount of publicity. However:
The consortium’s genome comprised just half the DNA contained in a normal cell, and the DNA used in the project came from a group of people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Now, another genome has been announced, and it appears to be far more complete. Read about it here.

"Lummox JR" (that's a great handle) sent in a link to a story about pyrite (Fool's Gold), which is being considered as a possible catalyst for certain chemical reactions that are fundamental to the creation of life. It's a remarkable possibility, and the story is here.

From Jesse Leimkuehler, a link to a story about "the Titanic of Lake Superior," otherwise known as The Cyprus. A 420-foot long ore carrier, it sank on only its second voyage. It sank on October 11, 1907, and after nearly a century, the wreck has been discovered. Read about it here.

From Sirius, a link to the discovery that some moray eels have a second set of jaws. Here's a description of how they work:
Instead of sucking, one of these eels bites its prey with its primary set of teeth. It then draws the second set of teeth into its mouth by contracting long muscles. The secondary jaws clamp down on the prey, allowing the eel to move its primary jaws forward in a gulping motion to take in more of the prey. The two sets of jaws take turns until the whole animal has been swallowed.

Yikes. See the article (and an AWESOME video) here.

Let's finish with a few funny links.

From Franklin Brown, a link to one of the best WOW videos I've ever seen, combining in-game footage with Weird Al Yankovic's "Hardware Store." Watch it here.

From N'Gai Croal's Level Up blog, a link to 10 of the funniest reasons given by the MPAA for a movie's rating. Here's the description for Twister:
Twister (1996)“PG-13 for intense depiction of very bad weather”

Read them all here.

Here's a link to a very funny article from CNN titled "Funky Fries And Other Foods That Flopped." I'd heard of some of these (even tried the blue french fries once), but others are undiscovered classics. Read about them here.

Site Meter