Hagbard
@hagbard
Joined October 2020
Administers @web

Soviet physical therapists managed to prevent real disasters with heat, UV radiation and electric current. However, sometimes the procedures themselves looked… a bit crazy.

An obsidian “spirit mirror” used by John Dee, an advisor to England’s Elizabeth I, traces its origins to Aztec culture, a new study published in the journal Antiquity suggests.

A Renaissance polymath whose interests ranged from astronomy to astrology, alchemy and math, Dee advised the queen from the start of her reign in 1558 to the 1570s. As court astrologer and scientific advisor, he advocated for overseas exploration and the establishment of colonies.

“Later he became involved in divination and the occult, seeking to talk to angels through the use of scryers (those who divine the future), who used artifacts—like mirrors and crystals,” the study’s lead author, University of Manchester archaeologist Stuart Campbell, tells Ashley Strickland of CNN.

Today, the British Museum owns the mirror, which is on display in London alongside two similar circular obsidian mirrors and a rectangular obsidian slab that may be a portable altar, reports Tom Metcalfe for National Geographic. Researchers had previously suspected that the artifacts originated with the Aztecs, and the new study confirms this chemically.

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Concrete often begins to crack and crumble after a few decades of life — but curiously, that hasn’t been the case with many Roman structures. The structures are still standing, exhibiting remarkable durability despite conditions that would destroy modern concrete.

One particular structure is the large cylindrical tomb of first-century noblewoman Caecilia Metella. New research from MIT scientists and colleagues published in the Journal of the American Ceramic Society shows that the quality of the concrete of her tomb may exceed that of her male contemporaries’ monuments because of the volcanic aggregate the builders chose and the unusual chemical interactions with rain and groundwater that accumulate over two millennia.

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On the Internet, information circulates fast and widely, and the form of content adapts to comply with users’ cognitive abilities. Memes are an emerging aspect of the internet system of signification, and their visual schemes evolve by adapting to a heterogeneous context. A fundamental question is whether they present culturally and temporally transcendent characteristics in their organizing principles. In this work, we study the evolution of 2 million visual memes published on Reddit over ten years, from 2011 to 2020, in terms of their statistical complexity and entropy. A combination of a deep neural network and a clustering algorithm is used to group memes according to the underlying templates. The grouping of memes is the cornerstone to trace the growth curve of these objects. We observe an exponential growth of the number of new created templates with a doubling time of approximately 6 months, and find that long-lasting templates are associated with strong early adoption. Notably, the creation of new memes is accompanied with an increased visual complexity of memes content, in a continuous effort to represent social trends and attitudes, that parallels a trend observed also in painting art.

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Remember domino theory? One country going Communist was supposed to topple the next, and then the next, and the next. The metaphor drove much of United States foreign policy in the middle of the 20th century. But it had the wrong name. From a physical point of view, it should have been called the “sandpile theory.”

In the mid-to-late 2000s, you either knew, or were, that kid in grade school. You know. The one who could put games on your graphing calculator. You may be surprised to learn that some of these people didn’t exist totally in a vaccuum. There was in fact a thriving scene of hackers who had bent these calculators to their will, writing games, math software, and more generally hacking on the platform just for the sake of it.

True to my interests, it’s all deeply embedded, pushing the limits of platforms that were obsolete when they were released. I’ll take you through some of the highlights of Texas Instruments calculator hacking done over the past two and a half decades, along with an explanation of why these projects are so technically impressive.

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According to Durkheim, social facts are the subject matter of sociology. Social facts are “sui generis” (meaning of its own kind; unique) and must be studied distinct from biological and psychological phenomenon. Social facts can be defined as patterns of behavior that are capable of exercising some coercive power upon individuals. They are guides and controls of conduct and are external to the individual in the form of norms, mores, and folkways. “A social fact is identifiable through the power of external coercion which it exerts or is capable of exerting upon individuals” (Durkheim,  [1895] 1982, p. 56). Through socialization and education these rules become internalized in the consciousness of the individual. These constraints and guides become moral obligations to obey social rules.

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If you sail to the island of Sanday in the Orkney archipelago in northern Scotland, you’ll see the silhouettes of neighboring islands on the horizon. Upon arrival you’ll see white, sandy beaches that trail into rough, once-agricultural terrain, and experience its erratic weather—sun then fog then rain then clear skies all in the same day. Nestled there, on a shallow cliff, is a mound of earth and rocks: a prehistoric tomb dating to around 3500 B.C.

The tomb sits on a low-lying peninsula, where growing storms and agitated seas are eroding it away. So, in August and September 2021, a group of archaeologists made their way there, to Tresness, the site of that lone Neolithic tomb, with their sights set on excavation. The research team was anxious to study the tomb before it was lost; it contains a single chamber, presumably for someone important.

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The Martians of Budapest”, sometimes referred to as simply “The Martians” is a colloquial term used to describe a group of prominent Hungarian physicists and mathematicians who emigrated to the United States following the Great Purge of 1933. The term refers to—what appeared, from the perspective of Americans—to be a group of men with superhuman intellects, arriving from an obscure country speaking an incomprehensible foreign language and English with strong, characteristic accents (later popularized by Bela Lugosi in Dracula).

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If the conditions are just right, some of the electrons inside a material will arrange themselves into a tidy honeycomb pattern — like a solid within a solid. Physicists have now directly imaged these ‘Wigner crystals’, named after the Hungarian-born theorist Eugene Wigner, who first imagined them almost 90 years ago.

Researchers had convincingly created Wigner crystals and measured their properties before, but this is the first time that anyone has actually taken a snapshot of the patterns, says study co-author Feng Wang, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley. “If you say you have an electron crystal, show me the crystal,” he says. The results were published on 29 September in Nature1.

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Saildrone Inc. and the NOAA have released the first video footage gathered by an uncrewed surface vehicle (USV) from inside a major hurricane barreling across the Atlantic Ocean. 

The Saildrone Explorer SD 1045 was directed into the midst of Hurricane Sam, a category 4 hurricane, which is currently on a path that fortunately will miss the U.S. east coast.  SD1045 is battling 50 foot waves and winds of over 120 mph to collect critical scientific data and, in the process, is giving us a completely new view of one of earth’s most destructive forces.

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After the sudden and intense drama of getting hit, they suffered from devastating symptoms that wouldn’t go away. It seemed like no one could help—until they found each other.

Imagine a postapocalyptic world. Beside the ruined buildings of our own civilization - St. Peter’s Basilica, the Taj Mahal, those really great Art Deco skyscrapers - dwell savages in mud huts. The savages see the buildings every day, but they never compose legends about how they were built by the gods in a lost golden age. No, they say they themselves could totally build things just as good or better. They just choose to build mud huts instead, because they’re more stylish.

The unexpected discovery of the double-charm tetraquark has given physicists a new tool with which to hone their understanding of the strongest of nature’s fundamental forces.

During the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, the Republic of Armenia established its first all-women military detachment. This was the latest in a series of developments that won women the right to serve in the Armenian armed forces since military academies first opened their doors to them in 2013. The unit was named the Erato Detachment, after a first-century Armenian queen. The inclusion of historical women in modern Armenian discourse is a relatively new and rare phenomenon and it is in large part the product of work within the field of Armenian studies over the past few years. The absence of historical female figures can ultimately be traced to the ways in which they were represented in the earliest Armenian historical narratives, which continue to play an important role in the collective Armenian memory. 

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THAT VIKINGS crossed the Atlantic long before Christopher Columbus is well established. Their sagas told of expeditions to the coast of today’s Canada: to Helluland, which scholars have identified as Baffin Island or Labrador; Markland (Labrador or Newfoundland) and Vinland (Newfoundland or a territory farther south). In 1960 the remains of Norse buildings were found on Newfoundland.

Sid Meier is famous for creating the video game Civilization. He’s also known for having his name on the box. Meier released Civilization thirty years ago this month, after developing it with Bruce Shelley, a veteran board-game designer. The pair were inspired by the illustrated history books you might find on a middle-school library shelf, and by titles like Seven Cities of Gold (1984), a video game of Spanish conquest created by the designer Danielle Berry. In Civilization, you start with a covered wagon on a map that is largely obscured. You found a city. You learn metalwork, horse riding, feudalism, democracy, and diplomatic relations. Eventually, the rest of the world is revealed—a patchwork of nations. You can dominate your neighbors or strive to outshine them. History rolls on.

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If you woke up under a tree with a beard and 70 extra years in your past, who is the first person you would try to find? For Choni Hamagel (AKA Babylonian Rip Van Winkle) a man in the 1st century BC, it was his chavrusa. The word ‘chavrusa’ literally translates to something like ‘companion’- but the word communicates a lot more than that. A chavrusa is an intellectual spouse, a spiritual colleague, and a second brain. A chavrusa is a soundboard, a mental sparring partner, and a beloved spiritual archnemesis.

Choni Hamagel got his name by demonstrating that he was more stubborn than god. A terrible famine had struck the land, and rabbis were beseeching the lord for rain, to no avail. Choni drew a Magel- a circle- in the parched dust and calmly informed God that he was not going to leave the circle until it rained, which it promptly did. That’s a real chavrusa. A person who, to access life-giving rain, digs their heels all the way in, who will challenge God himself if they feel they are close to the truth. I mean this literally- even from within the strict parameters of religion, the Talmud is very clear that it is not the mandate of heaven to decide what god’s will is- it belongs to chavrusas, to humans interpreting the divine word. Modern chavrusas take this further; I had the privilege of being part of chavrusas that teased apart and redefined our very belief in divinity, which blurred the lines between our traditional training and contemporary understanding.

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Somewhere near Międzyrzecz in western Poland, there is an abandoned Soviet nuclear installation. Patches of pine and spruce, which had been planted as camouflage, are still doing their job. Vegetation entirely envelopes the concrete entrance, which is blocked off but accessible to bats and determined, rule-breaking humans. On top of a ventilation pipe that juts out from the mostly underground facility, there is big, mound-like nest of wood ants. It is a perfectly normal place for wood ants to live. They feast on the sweet honeydew secreted by aphids dwelling in nearby pine trees, and soak up the rays of post-Soviet sun.

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