Smithsonian: Listening to the Big Bang.
“Now, not only do we know the universe is expanding, not only do we have a credible proposal for what ignited the expansion, we’re detecting the imprint of quantum processes that tickled space during that fiery first fraction of a second.” More backstory and info within.
Dazed: Chile’s student Robin Hood burns $500m of loan documents.
BBC: Scans bring new insights into lives of Egyptian mummies
“Never before has anyone seen mummy hair, muscles and bone at such fine resolution. It is enabling scientists for the first time to tell their age of the mummies, what they ate, the diseases they suffered from, and how they died.” There’s a video to go with it, but I’ll put an ‘overzealous music accompaniment’ warning on the video. Seriously. Watch your eardrums.
Aeon: Beauty is truth? There’s a false equation.
“What generally brings a work of art alive is not its inevitability so much as the decisions that the artist made. We gasp not because the words, the notes, the brushstrokes are ‘right’, but because they are revelatory: they show us not a deterministic process but a sensitive mind making surprising and delightful choices. In fact, pure mathematicians often say that it is precisely this quality that delights them in a great proof: not that it is correct but that it shows a personal, tangibly human genius taking steps in a direction we’d never have guessed.”
The Nation: University Presses Under Fire.
IMHO, the mistake is expecting university presses to pay their way. There are many things that *need* to be published, that will never make more than two nickels to rub together. When they lay off their professional editing staff (people who know their narrow niches almost as well as the authors) and start using generalist freelancers, it’s the end of good scholarly works. UP’s are a mere shadow of their former glory, and this fact hurts us all, one way or another.
ArtDaily: Young people could be struggling to engage with the classics.
We’re so distant in chronological time, almost all context is gone. The details of prior centuries’ culture are no longer perpetuated. Downton Abbey doesn’t count; it’s not enough.
Past Horizons: Climate episode likely cause of Akkadian Empire collapse.
Guardian.UK: Divers stage emergency excavation of historic Thames shipwreck.
“The Thames has got so much silt. That’s why everything is in such good nick.” But not for long. Climate change is ushering in warmer waters which put the wreck and its treasures at risk of disintegration.
Wired: Awesomely Gross Medical Illustrations From the 19th Century.
Gross, yes, but also incredibly educational.
Archaeology: Searching for the Comanche Empire [In the Rio Grande Gorge near Taos!]
Read it all. Fascinating!
Planet Princeton: Princeton High Makes U.S. News and World Report’s 2014 Top 10 List.
“Princeton High is one of only three schools on the New Jersey Top 10 list that are open-enrollment schools. The remaining schools are charter, technical or magnet schools with a selective admission policy.” That’s my high school. Good for them!
Guardian.UK: Sun’s activity triggers lightning strikes.
“Activity on the sun significantly increases the rate of lightning strikes on Earth, say researchers, making it feasible to predict when lightning strikes will become more frequent.” Some of what we consider ‘nature’ is … supernatural?
Metropolitan Museum of Art: List of Rulers of Ancient Egypt and Nubia.
That’s a lot of Pharaohs.
ScienceMag: What Caused a 1300-Year Deep Freeze?
“The team argues that when the quality and accuracy of the dating — which was based on radiocarbon and other techniques — is examined closely, only three of the 29 sites actually fall within the time frame of the Younger Dryas onset, about 12,800 years ago; the rest were probably either earlier or later by hundreds (and in one case, thousands) of years.” Don’t most dating techniques give you a range, rather than a specific date? I imagine theory-making based on flexible timelines is rather dicey; “one shouldn’t be too sure about anything.”
Serendipita: On Richard Feynman.
Wired: The Mystery of Go, the Ancient Game That Computers Still Can’t Win.
“To understand this, think about Go in relation to chess. At the beginning of a chess game, White has twenty possible moves. After that, Black also has twenty possible moves. Once both sides have played, there are 400 possible board positions. Go, by contrast, begins with an empty board, where Black has 361 possible opening moves, one at every intersection of the 19 by 19 grid. White can follow with 360 moves. That makes for 129,960 possible board positions after just the first round of moves.” My italic emphasis. Perhaps strategists should dump chess as being too limited and simplistic.
The Archaeology News Network: New study sheds light on survivors of the Black Death.
“A new study suggests that people who survived the medieval mass-killing plague known as the Black Death lived significantly longer and were healthier than people who lived before the epidemic struck in 1347.”
ArtWatch.UK: Connoisseurship + the Making, Appraising, Replicating and Undoing of Art’s Images.
“Appreciation and discrimination may be of the theoretical essence in connoisseurship, but taken alone, without knowledge of and engagement with art’s practices, they leave the practioners susceptible to the traditional charge of being pretentious poseurs.”
CNet: Mysterious writing in rare 16th-century Homer identified.
“Working with colleague Giulia Accetta, who is proficient in contemporary Italian stenography and fluent in French, Metilli identified the script as a form of shorthand invented by shorthand author Jean Coulon de Thévénot in the late 18th century. The shorthand notes in the text are mostly French translations of Greek phrases from the Odyssey.”
The Archaeology News Network: Long-standing climate paradox resolved.
“Based on this relationship of the variations in the earth’s orbit and Nevada’s climate, Lachniet and his team suggest that the region won’t see the re-appearance of these pluvial lakes for at least another 55,000 years. They also see evidence that the Great Basin climate has been warming for the past 1,600 years, which may indicate a human-control of regional climate because it departs from the orbital climate control …” Read the whole thing.
AhramOnline: Pre-dynastic tomb uncovered in Egypt’s Edfu.
PastHorizons: Songs from the Caves.
“The project ‘Songs from the Caves’ explores the acoustics of prehistoric painted caves in Northern Spain, to establish whether a secure relationship can be found internally between the positioning of motifs and sonic effects. Sound has the potential to provide information that is not available by only studying visual or material properties.” Audio files within. I don’t know about you, but if I was trying to draw something, I’d kick the noisemakers out.
CNet: Hawking - AI could be the ‘worst thing ever for humanity’.
“Humanity has a tendency to fall in love with its own cleverness and somehow never consider that something might go wrong.” Amen. One look at history ...
PastHorizons: Blood preserved in gourd did not belong to King Louis XVI.
I wonder … the blood of Danton, Robespierre, Saint-Just or Couthon?
Archaeology News Network: ‘Mummy Lake’ used for ancient rituals, not water storage.
“Benson and his colleagues propose Mummy Lake is an unroofed ceremonial structure, not unlike the ancient kivas and plazas elsewhere in the Southwest. They noted that the structure is similar in size to a great kiva found at a Pueblo historical site near Zuni, N.M. It also resembles a ball court and amphitheater at the Puebloan village of Wupatki in Arizona — interestingly, Fewkes also thought these two structures were reservoirs.” Turns out a ‘ditch’ can also be a well-worn walkway.