In Whisky tasting using a bimetallic nanoplasmonic tongue (Nanoscale/Royal Society of Chemistry), a team from U Glasgow's School of Engineering describe their work on an "artificial tongue" lined with "tastebuds" that sense "plasmonic resonance" (the absorption of light by liquids) to produced highly detailed accounts of the profiles of Scotch whiskys, which can be used to determine whether a given whisky is counterfeit. Read the rest
Multinationals are excellent players of the global financial tax system, using "profit shifting" (through which operating profits are remitted to phony sister companies in tax havens as "licensing fees" or "management fees") to make it look like wildly profitable companies are losing money, making them eligible for tax relief and rebates -- thus it is that companies can rake in billions and then receive millions more in corporate welfare. Read the rest
A new week is upon us and, sadly, the earth did not pitch out of orbit into the sun before we all had to go back to work. A little bit of Slade can almost make that feel OK.
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Last month, Propublica published a blockbuster investigative report on companies that claimed they could help you get your ransomware-locked data back, but who were secretly just paying off the criminals -- one company got so good at it that ransomware criminals started to refer their victims to them. Read the rest
Archaeologists uncovered the skeleton of this neolithic dog more than a century ago in a 5,000 year old tomb on on the island of Mainland, Orkney, Scotland. Now, forensic scientists and artists have reconstructed the animal's face. According to Historic Environment Scotland researcher Steve Farrar, this dog and 23 others found in the "Cuween Hill (tomb) suggest that dogs had a particularly special significance for the farmers... Maybe dogs were their symbol or totem, perhaps they thought of themselves as the 'dog people.'" From The Scotsman:
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As HES observes, the fact that the Orkney residents placed canine remains alongside those of humans could also speak to their belief in an afterlife for both parties.
The latest work was originally created in clay using traditional methods, with a 3D print of the Cuween Hill skull as the base to build the anatomy on to.
It was then cast in silicone and finished with the fur coat resembling a European grey wolf, as advised by experts...
(Forensic artist Amy) Thornton, who trained in facial reconstruction methods at the University of Dundee, said: “This reconstruction has been a particularly interesting project to be involved in, as it marks the first time I’ve employed forensic methods that would usually be used for a human facial reconstruction and applied these to an animal skull.
“This brought its own set of challenges, as there is much less existing data relating to average tissue depths in canine skulls compared to humans.”
The next CHI (computer-human interaction) conference is being held on May 5 in Glasgow, and will include a workshop called CHI4Evil, "Creative Speculation on the Negative Effects of HCI Research," in which scholars, researchers and practitioners are invited to "anticipate and reflect on the potential downsides of our technology design, research, and implementation" through design fiction, speculative design, and other tools. Read the rest
Real or not, the Loch Ness Monster brings in $54 million to the Scottish economy each year, an increase of $14.4 million from four years ago. The data comes from accountant Gary Campbell who also happens to be the official keeper of the Nessie sightings register. From the UK Press and Journal:
“We analysed the number of people that visit the attractions around the loch, along with those who took to the water to try to get a closer look for Nessie and then took other research into tourism spend on overnight accommodation and food,” said Mr Campbell.
“We then added in the day trippers and from this we conservatively estimate that the draw of the monster is adding £40.7m to the local economy each year...."
The research has been endorsed by tourism ambassador and director of Loch Ness Marketing, Willie Cameron.
“From my perspective and from the numbers and spend we see at the loch, I’d say that this is a very conservative estimate but at over £40m per annum, it shows that Scotland’s rural economy can make a significant contribution to the health of the overall Scottish economy,” he said.
Sometimes, the most delightful musical discoveries happen completely by accident: a song you hear at a party or catch the tail end of on the radio without the DJ bothering to tell you what it's called can wind up being one of the tunes that's always lurking on the cusp of your mind. This was the case for me with Salsa Celtica.
I was listening to Eliza Carthy sing The Grey Cockerel, and happened to glance at my phone's display while the music was playing. Salsa Celtica was credited as Carthy's collaborator on the track. Digging their sound, I googled the name. Boom: they'd a ton of albums to their credit. The title of one of their records, El Agua De La Vida, made me laugh. The translation: The water of life. In Gaeilge (Irish,) the translation of this is uisce beatha (uisge beatha in Gaelic.) It means 'whiskey.' It's one of the phrases that many tourists returning Ireland or Scotland is likely to have picked up during their time on holiday.
This, it seemed to me, was a band that could teach a master class in taking the piss.
Salsa Celtica has been spinning out dancable Celtic-infused Cuban music since the 1990s. I've yet to fall out of love with any of their albums. Read the rest
In 2001, the Scottish Natural Heritage drew up a plan of action if the Loch Ness Monster were ever to be found. The code-of-practice is in the news again due to a a recent big effort to collect skin and scale samples from Loch Ness and compare those DNA sequences against known animals. From the BBC News:
It stipulates that a DNA sample should be taken from any new creature, and then it should be released back into the loch...
Nick Halfhide, of SNH, an organisation that promotes Scottish wildlife and natural habitats, said the 17-year-old code of practice remained relevant today.
He said: "There was a lot of activity on the loch at the time about Nessie.
"So, partly serious and partly for a bit of fun, we drew up a contingency plan about how we would help Nessie if and when she was found."
Mr Halfhide said: "Some of the lessons we learned then have been relevant when we have reintroduced species like sea eagles, and were used when, a couple of years ago, four new species were found in the sea off the west coast."
The foghorn at Sumburgh in the Shetland Islands of Scotland is powered by more than one 44hp Kelvin K-Series diesel engines, powering the Alley and MacLellan compressors which blow the horn itself.
"Just so's you know," writes JJ Jamieson, who posted this footage to YouTube, "the horn was originally much louder at the end, but YouTube's audio algorithm turned the volume down. I tried several versions but it wasn't having it." Read the rest
This burglar doesn't realize he's got about a minute to get his work done before the Scottish police turn up. It's interesting seeing British commenters complain that he was treated too roughly by them, while the American ones marvel that he wasn't executed on the spot.
My guess is the copper didn't see the crowbar until right on top of him in the cramped backyard, creating an opportunity for the burglar to strike and thereby necessitating a pre-emptive beating that sadly lacks the usual jaunty interaction between British police and suspect, the extended ironic ruminations on the nature of crime and the inevitability of justice, the perverse yet socially reinforcing affectations of honor and fair play, the tea and biscuits down the station, etc., that are the usual hallmarks of modern British policing and its interactions with the criminal element. Read the rest