To the extent that we were taught any history at all, I suspect that many of us learned our world history in a fairly linear fashion: “First the Greeks, then the Romans, then the Dark Ages, then the Renaissance” or some causative narrative like that. Although they’re easy to teach, these linear threads are 1) often misleading or outright taught wrong; and 2) miss out on the real point of history, which is how multi-threaded history really is. The fun part of history is how, in any given year, so many things were happening all at the same time.

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

Being good is hard. How an ancient Indian emperor, horrified by the cruelty of war, created an infrastructure of goodness…

Oct 14

This book describes psychonetics as “an aggregate of psychotechnologies, based on the unified methodological foundation, directed towards resolving tasks defined in a constructive manner, using exclusive properties of mind”. [3]

In the author’s opinion, psychonetics appears to be a well-turned nerd’s toolset to access mental and perceptual resources in their basic forms independently of any particular application and in an ideologically unbiased manner.

Psychonetics can potentially be used to create new types of technologies that work with complex systems in their totality as organisms as opposed to using a mechanical approach in which a complex system is perceived as a mechanism that can be assembled or disassembled.

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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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Oct 13

An international team of researchers has found evidence that people lived on islands in the Azores archipelago approximately 700 years earlier than prior evidence has shown. In their paper, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their study of sediment cores taken from lakes on some of the islands in the archipelago.

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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Oct 11

The remains of a V2 rocket fired by Nazi Germany at London during World War II have been unearthed in a field in South East England, where it crashed and exploded before reaching its target.

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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The earliest known image of Homer comes to us in the form of a Roman imperial copy of a head, now in Munich, that once belonged to a standing life-size statue dedicated at the Temple of Zeus Olympia in 460 bc. Later examples of original portraiture, each engendering families of sibling copies, run from the High Classical period (430 bc) to the Hellenistic and Roman periods and then on into later antiquity. As we know from ancient travelers and other writers, considerably more visual representations of Homer once existed in sundry media, sizes, and poses, but these were lost over time.

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A rugged Byzantine warrior, who was decapitated following the Ottoman’s capture of his fort during the 14th century, had a jaw threaded with gold, a new study finds.

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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In 2014, Norwegian archaeologists found a lone wooden ski on a mountaintop, where it had been trapped in ice for 1300 years. Because skis come in pairs, archaeologists monitored the ice patch for summertime thaws that might reveal the other one. 7 years later, their patience has paid off.

Color is a spectrum: Red fades from orange to yellow, whereas green merges to turquoise, then blue. Languages treat this spectrum in different ways: Some have separate words for “green” and “blue,” others lump the two together. Some barely bother with color terms at all.

“The question is, why?” says Dan Dediu, an evolutionary linguist at Lumière University Lyon 2. Now, he and his colleagues have found evidence for an unexpected answer: People with more exposure to sunlight are more likely to speak languages that lump green and blue together, under a term that linguists dub “grue.” That’s because of the effects of a lifetime of light exposure, the team speculates: Lots of Sun causes a condition called “lens brunescence” that makes it harder to distinguish the two hues.

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Biologists are rescuing baby sharks and skates from recently caught females, giving the unborn a chance at survival.

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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Henri Bergson’s original heuristic of open and closed societies emphasizes that liberalism is a religion born out of moments of mystical perception and faith


Random things that are interesting.

Created on Aug 31, 2020
By @gurlic