Archive for the ‘the marvelous’ Category
Scientists researching a human settlement in southern Germany have discovered some bone flutes they think are some 40,000 years old. LiveScience writer Jennifer Welsh writes on Discovery:
Early modern humans could have spent their evenings sitting around the fire, playing bone flutes and singing songs 40,000 years ago, newly discovered ancient musical instruments indicate. The bone flutes push back the date researchers think human creativity evolved.
- The flutes are the earliest record of technological and artistic innovations characteristic of the Aurignacian period.
- The Danube River was a key corridor for the movement of humans and technological innovations into central Europe.
- Neanderthals as well as modern humans may have lived in this area around the same time.
“These results are consistent with a hypothesis we made several years ago that the Danube River was a key corridor for the movement of humans and technological innovations into central Europe between 40,000 and 45,000 years ago,” study researcher Nick Conard, of Tübingen University, said in a statement. “Geißenklösterle is one of several caves in the region that has produced important examples of personal ornaments, figurative art, mythical imagery and musical instruments. The new dates prove the great antiquity of the Aurignacian in Swabia.”
A man in Pullman, Wash. today admitted to having discovered the Higgs-Boson particle several weeks ago. The man, who asked not to be identified, has been using beams of the elusive “God” particles in quantumly questionable ways.
“My wife was pestering me about the toothpaste and why it never seemed to run out,” the man said. “It’s been in the same, almost-gone state for several weeks now.”
The man explained that he had bombarded the nearly spent tube of toothpaste with a beam of Higgs-Boson particles. “This created a quantum wormhole connecting the tube with the universal toothpaste supply,” the man explained. “Toothpaste lurches across the universe through the wormhole, constantly refilling the tube with paste quanta.” The tube of toothpaste never seems to fill more than it was when bombarded. “But there is always just enough to brush our teeth,” the man said.
The man declined to explain how he had discovered the Higgs-Boson, which has been the object of a multi-year, multi-billion dollar search by the world’s smartest physicists. But he did say that his high-energy physics experiments are fueled by his desktop cold-fusion system.
When I lived in San Francisco, I used to walk right over the tops of cars that were in pedestrian pathways. Which was pretty frequent, considering the limited amount of available parking and the high density of cars. Indeed, because there are so many damn cars in San Francisco, it is considered one of the least safe cities in the U.S. for pedestrians and bike riders. (Of course, the self-righteous bikers would run over pedestrians, too, for getting in their way…)
So I can really relate to this Lithuanian mayor who decided to deal with illegally parked cars in a dramatic way.
Arturas Zuokas, 43, took the drastic action after becoming infuriated with motorists parking their luxury cars illegally around the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius.
The flamboyant politician decided to take the novel approach of fighting illegally parked cars by driving over them in a Russian tank [actually, an armored personnel carrier, but hey…).
He said: ”I wanted to send a clear message that people with big and expensive cars can’t park wherever they feel like and ignore the rights of pedestrians and bike riders.
File under: Who Knew? and Dang Plants, They Think of Everything.
Synsepalum dulcificum produces berries that, when eaten, cause sour foods (such as lemons and limes) subsequently consumed to taste sweet. This effect is due to miraculin, which is used commercially as a sugar substitute. Common names for this species and its berry include miracle fruit and miracle berry. These common names are shared also by Gymnema sylvestre and Thaumatococcus daniellii, two other species that are used to alter the perceived sweetness of foods. Additional common names include miraculous berry  and sweet berry. In West Africa where the species originates, common names include agbayun, taami, asaa, and ledidi.
The berry itself has a low sugar content and a mildly sweet tang. It contains a glycoprotein molecule, with some trailing carbohydrate chains, called miraculin. When the fleshy part of the fruit is eaten, this molecule binds to the tongue’s taste buds, causing sour foods to taste sweet. While the exact cause for this change is unknown, one theory is that miraculin works by distorting the shape of sweetness receptors “so that they become responsive to acids, instead of sugar and other sweet things”. This effect lasts 15–60 minutes.
Great Expectations & Kochuu, 2 films on DVD
review by Brian Charles Clark, who gives the pair 4 stars
There’s a funny TED Talk video called “Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics” about how to make a good – and a bad – TED Talk. One way to go bad is to talk about architecture. We may be safe in generalizing from TED to the general culture: architecture makes most people grow faint and causes their eyes to roll.
Which is weird, because in and around architecture is where we engage with other people the most. Buildings great and small are pretty much exclusively where we conduct the four F’s — the two familiar ones, fight or flight, plus the two even more familiar ones that everybody forgets to put on the F-list: freeze (or space out) and fuck. Architecture is where we live all the fundamentals of, well, life. From coffee to water cooler to toilet to bed, we really, really need architecture to help house us. Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s something that isn’t exactly news but does tend to support my long-held thesis that scientists make the best science fiction writers not because they know so much about science but because they’re so damn weird:
“…if all the matter in the universe except the nematodes were swept away, our world would still be dimly recognizable, and if, as disembodied spirits, we could then investigate it, we should find its mountains, hills, vales, rivers, lakes, and oceans represented by a film of nematodes. The location of towns would be decipherable, since for every massing of human beings there would be a corresponding massing of certain nematodes. Trees would still stand in ghostly rows representing our streets and highways. The location of the various plants and animals would still be decipherable, and, had we sufficient knowledge, in many cases even their species could be determined by an examination of their erstwhile nematode parasites.”
From Nematodes and Their Relationships, 1915 by Nathan Augustus Cobb, the “father of nematology in the U.S.“