I’ve created a new page that collates all the custom header images I’ve created for various posts and pages here on halfblog.net, for your viewing pleasure.
Up Goer Five is one of Randall Munroe’s more famous recent xkcd infographics in which he attempts to describe the workings of a Saturn V rocket using only most commonly used 1,000 words in the English language. Here’s just a part of it:
Inspired by this, The Up-Goer Five Text Editor is a fun tool (created by Theo Sanderson) that restricts the user to just the same 1,000 words. Anything not in that tiny dictionary will be given familiar squiggly red underlines.
Scientists have been trying to explain the work they do using only this reduced language. Here’s the work of a paleontologist summarised:
I study tracks, trails, places where animals make homes, and shit, both new and old, and figure out how animals do these things.
Tony Martin, paleontologist
Some of these passages come across as quite patronising (“We burn dead black stuff so that we can build things, power our houses and make our cars go.”), but some of the better ones are quite poetic. io9 has a beautiful description of Saturn:
There is a world that goes around the sun, ten times farther away from the sun than the world we live on. This world is really big – about ten times as wide as our world – and most of it is thick air pulled tight together. It has big beautiful rings around it, made of many pieces of ice.
A loving upgoerfive intro to Saturn and some of its moons, by Rachel Klippenstein
Dr. Carmella’s Guide to the Introverted is a very astute webcomic by Schroeder Veidt.
Below the comic I’ve also embedded a TED talk by Susan Cain who talks about how extrovert behaviour has come to be considered the norm and how introverts can (often unknowingly) make self-negating choices in an effort to fit into society better.
Whenever I read one of these Tory stories — which seems to be about every week — I’m always reminded of Buckminster Fuller, who had this to say about the ‘value’ of hard work:
We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.
— Buckminster Fuller, New York Magazine, 1930
A man well ahead of his time, and ours.
Watch this in fullscreen!
A time-lapse made from photographs taken from aboard the ISS. Could use a little stabilisation in some shots, but still — pretty incredible.
On August 6, 2012 the Curiosity rover will attempt a completely automated landing in Gale Crater on Mars. Curiosity is about five times larger than Spirit or Opportunity, so it can’t just deploy a huge beach-ball and bounce to safety — instead it needs to pull off a much more precise (and dramatic!) landing.
Team members at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory share the challenges of the Curiosity Mars rover’s final minutes to landing on the surface of Mars.
That video is all the more impressive when you have a mental image of exactly how large the Mars Science Laboratory is:
Talk about stunning!
Expedition 31 Flight Engineer Don Pettit relayed some information about photographic techniques used to achieve the images: “My star trail images are made by taking a time exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes. However, with modern digital cameras, 30 seconds is about the longest exposure possible, due to electronic detector noise effectively snowing out the image. To achieve the longer exposures I do what many amateur astronomers do. I take multiple 30-second exposures, then ‘stack’ them using imaging software, thus producing the longer exposure.”
I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.
I made this stylised miniature football pitch a while ago to be used in an iOS game, but I ended up not being involved in that. Shame really, as I had a lot of neat ideas for different directions the game could have gone.
I was quite happy with how it came out though, especially the textures. Continue reading
They built a house together in the digital world and have been inseparable ever since, both in the game and in real life. Matt even proposed to Asia up on stage at MineCon with the help of the game’s creators. So it was no surprise that Matt and Asia would plan a Minecraft themed wedding, and wow, did they ever.
Tardigrades (commonly known as water bears or moss piglets) may reach a length of 1.5 millimetres. The name water bear comes from the way they walk, reminiscent of a bear’s gait. They can be found across the world, from the highest peaks to the deepest oceans, and scientists now think they may even be able to survive interplanetary space travel:
Researchers in 2007 launched anhydrobiotic adults into orbit above Earth to see if they would survive. Those animals endured naked exposure to space for 10 days, and a few even made it through an excessive dose of ultraviolet radiation while back on Earth.
Other laboratory experiments show that adult tardigrades can survive cold near absolute zero (-459 degrees Fahrenheit), heat exceeding 300 degrees Fahrenheit, pressures dozens of times greater than at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, and intense blasts of radiation.
Guy English has some suggestions for Apple. If Apple aren’t working on fixing film and TV distribution, I hope someone else is working to make this vision a reality:
[…] If I watched the first season of Community via Netflix streaming and now want to rewatch it on my TV as fed from an Apple TV? Make it work. I don’t care how. If you want to pop up a dialog thats asks if you’ll charge me $4.99 to $9.99 for the privilege, I’d pay. Let me pick what I want to watch, regardless of the source, and let me watch it. I have very little allegiance to the network that funded the show — I want the content. Figure out how to make that work.
If you can’t figure out how to make that direct connection to the creatives then you’ll always be stuck with a middleman that doesn’t have to be there. If there’s a syndication avenue you can explore then do so.
Fans want to watch their shows. They’ll pay to make that happen. Everything else is mired in entrenched interests. Find a way to make that happen and we’ll all agree that Firefly jumped the shark during its seventh season.
Films and TV shows need to be apps and websites, primarily. I’m never going to buy another cable package and pay for hundreds of channels I don’t care about to get the few shows I want, with adverts, weeks or months after they have already been broadcast elsewhere.
I just want to watch my show.
Monmouth is now a “Wikipedia town,” which means it’s riddled with QR codes that bring information to smartphone users with the click of a button. Monmouth, birthplace of King Henry V, is the first town to play host to project, hence the title, “Monmouthpedia.”
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said he was excited about the project. “Bringing a whole town to life on Wikipedia is something new and is a testament to the forward-thinking people of Monmouth,” raved Wales.
The QR codes are printed on long-lasting plaques to ensure they’ll be around for a while. Wikipedia will be using QRpedia, a mobile Web based system that uses QR codes to deliver Wikipedia articles to users. As articles can be instantly edited and updated, some believe this will be a good replacement for tour guides and maps.
Previously on Halfblog.net
There’s some lovely, crisp imagery in this short NASA documentary.
If you liked this, you may also enjoy two novels that provided inspiration for it: Jim Monroe’s Everyone in Silico, where I first found the idea of a corporate-sponsored afterlife; Rudy Rucker’s trippy Postsingular, which introduced me to the horrifying idea of consciousness slums.
Lawyers and marketers, I’d say. I can totally see this happening.
Apple has been prompting me to add some additional security to my account for a while now, and I’ve actually put off some purchases simply to avoid answering these questions…
Yesterday Valve updated Portal 2 to add the Perpetual Testing Initiative. As the video above suggests, the PeTI is an easy-to-use level editor and a place to share the levels you create and play, rate and comment on levels by others. IGN has a great video tutorial that’ll get you started.