The Antikythera shipwreck — source of the famous ancient clockwork Antikythera Mechanism — has remained shockingly unexplored in the 100 years or so that we've known about it. In fact, other than a visit by Jacques Cousteau in 1970s, there hadn't been any official, scientific excavations until last year. Turns out, there's a lot of stuff left to find at the site
, from a ship's anchor and storage jars to a collection of bronze fragments — which could either turn out to be something mundane, like nails from the boat, or more clues to the Mechanism. According to The Guardian's Jo Marchant, "little bronze fragments" describes what the gears of the Antikythera Mechanism looked like before they were detached from rock and cleaned of rust. — Maggie
A wonderful site called "Grandma Got STEM" profiles grandmothers who have accomplished marvellous feats of technology, and aims to drive a stake through the heart of stupid, thoughtless phrases like "How would you explain that to your grandmother?" or "So simple my grandma could do it."
Shown above, Helen Quinn, "particle physicist, PhD from Stanford in 1967, and grandmother of three young girls."
I've never understood why geeks hold their grandmothers in such contempt.
Perhaps you are tired of hearing people say 'how would you explain that to your grandmother?' when they probably mean something like 'How would you explain the idea in a clear, compelling way so that people without a technical background can understand you?'
Here's a similar saying you may have heard: 'That's so easy, my grandmother could understand it.'
Grandma got STEM counters the implication that grannies (gender + maternity + age) might not easily pick up on technical/theoretical ideas by sharing pictures and remembrances from/of Grandmothers who have made contributions in STEM-related fields.
Grandma Got STEM
Whether you think Tesla > Edison or Edison > Tesla, perhaps you’re missing something important. In reality, technology isn’t shaped by one guy who had one great idea and changed the world. Instead, it’s a messy process, full of flat-out failures and not-quite-successes, and populated by many great minds who build off of and are inspired by each other’s work.
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Time was, we used to recycle old cathode ray tubes from TVs and computer monitors into new ones. Obviously, though, there's no longer a demand for new CRTs — or the specialized leaded glass they're made of. As a result, the last generation of CRTs is piling up into a "glass tsunami"
, filling storage units and swiftly becoming a liability to the recyclers who used to make money off them. — Maggie
In April 1988, the LA Times Magazine published a cover article predicting what the spring of 2013 would look like for the typical Angeleno family. In a story that is bound to give you disconcerting flashbacks to Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains"
, a family of four (and their automated house full of whirring robots) goes about a full day — from mandatory staggered work times beginning at 5:15 am, to 11:00 pm, when the lady of the house sits down with her laser disc of The Collected Works of Jackie Collins
. (Creepily, the story ends with the house catching fire. I'm not kidding about the Bradbury shout-outs.) Not all the predictions were totally off base
, but, as a whole, it's definitely a neat example of how hard it is to look at current technology trends and correctly extrapolate them out to the future. — Maggie
Useless machines are home-built devices that turn themselves off as soon as you turn them on
— and that's it. That's all the they do. The more elaborate and gimmicky the method by which they accomplish this job, the better. As a hobby, useless machines have been around since the 1950s, but Abigail Pesta of the Wall Street Journal says they're making a comeback. — Maggie
When Veronique Greenwood went to college in 2004, she took a laptop with her ... and a videophone. In an engaging essay at Aeon Magazine, Greenwood writes about what it was like to grow up with a Futurist for a mom
, particularly a futurist who, in retrospect, seemed to be more interested in premature technologies than in the sleek, widely adopted versions that eventually succeeded in the marketplace. Greenwood's mother loved the videophone. When Skype came along, free of dedicated hardware, she lost interest. — Maggie
There are existing solutions to our the energy crises facing us today, but they all suffer from being frustratingly imperfect, complicated, and not particularly easy to implement (at least not quickly). Some even require us to change our behaviors. And, most likely, we'd have have to use lots of these solutions all at once, further adding to the complication involved. It's no wonder then that, in our heart of hearts, most of us are holding out for a miracle — some new technology that could provide all the power we want, with few drawbacks, and few changes to our current infrastructure or social status-quo. But is that a good idea, or a waste of time and resources? In the first edition of a new monthly column for The New York Times
, Justin Gillis writes about the allure of energy miracles
, what they actually look like in reality, and whether there's really a dichotomy between using what we have and developing something better. — Maggie
“The replacement of the car is probably out there. We just don’t fully recognize it yet.”
— a really interesting story on the historical patterns of technology adoption and decline, and how those patterns might apply to the things we think of as absolute and necessary as much as they applied to the steamship or the landline. — Maggie
Here's a video of a successful test of a rocket engine designed by Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin commercial space program. Eventually, this technology is supposed to provide the thrust necessary to send a manned capsule into space. For now, I just like seeing all that fire up close. (Thanks, Tim!)
Even when your eyeballs look
still, they aren't still. Every time your heart beats, it creates almost imperceptible changes in your skin tone as blood moves through your body. Tall buildings and construction cranes wobble slightly in the wind, even though our eyes can't usually catch them at it. Now, a team at MIT has figured out how to spot these small movements using a computer program that goes through video frame-by-frame and pixel-by-pixel, amplifying minute changes in color and motion and making them visible to us. The New York Times' Bits blog has a video with some awesome demonstrations of the system
. — Maggie
A battery can hold a lot of energy, but it takes a long time to charge it. A capacitor can be charged very quickly, but doesn't hold a comparable amount of energy.
A graphene supercharger is the best of both: it takes just seconds to charge, yet stores a lot of energy. Imagine being able to charge your spent laptop or phone battery in 30 seconds, and your electric car in a few minutes. Also, unlike batteries, Graphene supercapacitors are non-toxic.
The Nobel Prize was awarded to the inventors of Graphene in 2010. Wikipedia defines Graphene as a "substance composed of pure carbon, with atoms arranged in a regular hexagonal pattern similar to graphite, but in a one-atom thick sheet. It is very light, with a 1-square-meter sheet weighing only 0.77 milligrams."
(via Tony Moore at the Boing Boing G+ community)
The awesomesauce merchants at BeagleNetworks.net have engineered an appropriately epic set of internal routes, such that a traceroute to 18.104.22.168 produces the introductory crawl from Star Wars:
TraceRoute from Network-Tools.com to 22.214.171.124 [fin]
Hop (ms) (ms) (ms) IP Address Host name
1 0 0 0 126.96.36.199 -
2 0 0 0 188.8.131.52 xe-4-2-0.er2.dfw2.us.above.net
3 3 3 3 184.108.40.206 ae2-109.dal33.ip4.tinet.net
4 36 36 36 220.127.116.11 xe-1-2-0.atl11.ip4.tinet.net
5 37 35 38 18.104.22.168 epik-networks-gw.ip4.tinet.net
6 21 21 21 22.214.171.124 po0-3.dsr2.atl.epikip.net
7 58 58 56 10.26.26.102 -
8 61 57 58 126.96.36.199 episode.iv
9 59 63 62 188.8.131.52 a.new.hope
10 59 58 61 184.108.40.206 it.is.a.period.of.civil.war
11 Timed out 58 60 220.127.116.11 rebel.spaceships
12 58 66 65 18.104.22.168 striking.from.a.hidden.base
13 60 60 60 22.214.171.124 have.won.their.first.victory
14 61 57 57 126.96.36.199 against.the.evil.galactic.empire
15 61 57 56 188.8.131.52 during.the.battle
16 61 58 60 184.108.40.206 rebel.spies.managed
17 57 59 62 220.127.116.11 to.steal.secret.plans
18 60 60 56 18.104.22.168 to.the.empires.ultimate.weapon
19 62 60 58 22.214.171.124 the.death.star
20 60 60 57 126.96.36.199 an.armored.space.station
21 61 64 61 188.8.131.52 with.enough.power.to
22 59 58 60 184.108.40.206 destroy.an.entire.planet
23 63 62 65 220.127.116.11 pursued.by.the.empires
24 62 59 Timed out 18.104.22.168 sinister.agents
25 59 61 60 22.214.171.124 princess.leia.races.home
26 62 60 62 126.96.36.199 aboard.her.starship
27 61 61 68 188.8.131.52 custodian.of.the.stolen.plans
28 64 60 62 184.108.40.206 that.can.save.her
Traceroute, Ping, Domain Name Server (DNS) Lookup, WHOIS express 220.127.116.11:
(via Hacker News)
My little brother and I went to the Blue Ridge Parkway Folk Art Center in Asheville, NC, today and ran across this very cool piece of maker history — a scroll saw operated by a pulley powered contraption resembling a stationary bicycle. Pedal punk?
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There is no single definition of comfort. My newest column for The New York Times Magazine explores the different cultural definitions of pleasant living
, how those traditions affect energy use in different countries, and how globalization changes both the culture and the fossil fuel consumption. Fun fact: Engineers have a unit of measurement that helps them account for clothing when they're trying to figure out what temperature an office building should be. It's called the Clo, and 1 Clo is equivalent to one full business suit. As I discovered, that fact has a big impact on women, business people in the tropics, and basically anybody who doesn't wear a suit to work. — Maggie