Apollo’s on-board flight software source code, printed out

Thursday, 4 February, 2016

Margaret Hamilton

Margaret Hamilton, a computer scientist, lead a MIT Instrumentation Laboratory team that developed on-board flight software for the Apollo Moon flights. She is pictured here, standing beside print outs of the source code that was produced.

About the only time I see source code is on a screen, and if I’m lucky, it’s not too more than a thousand lines in length. Very rare is the occasion I see source code in printed format, if at all, and in this case, I suspect there’s somewhat more than one thousand lines of code.

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The history of Japan, a history lesson with a difference?

Thursday, 4 February, 2016

A quirky, yet engaging, recounting of Japan’s history… it might not be to your taste initially, but give it a minute, this is an informative method of teaching history.

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An oral history of Space Shuttle Challenger disaster

Monday, 1 February, 2016

It has been just over thirty years since the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, killing all seven members of the crew, just minutes after it lifted off the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, late on the morning of 28 January, 1986.

Popular Mechanics has compiled an extensive oral history of the tragedy, through interviews with numerous people who had a connection with the launch, that offers a touching, and unique, insight into the disaster.

I remember seeing the explosion, the two streams of white smoke, and realizing there was no shuttle in the middle. I remember thinking specifically: Wait, that doesn’t look right. I remember hearing cameras clicking. I remember one of our beloved teachers standing up on the cafeteria table and shouting, “Everybody shut up. Shut the hell up. Something’s wrong.” We respected him so much that when he did that, we got really scared, because he was scared.

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The best way to investigate UFOs, according to the CIA

Wednesday, 27 January, 2016

US intelligence agency the CIA had a keen interest in investigating would-be UFO activity, that was particularly rampant during the middle of the twentieth century, and recently published a summary of what they learned as a result of their earlier inquiries.

Rather than thinking extraterrestrial life was responsible for the strange flying objects that people had reported seeing however, the agency was more concerned that the Soviet Union was behind whatever was happening.

The CIA’s concern over UFOs was substantial until the early 1950s because of the potential threat to national security from these unidentified flying objects. Most officials did not believe the sightings were extraterrestrial in origin; they were instead concerned the UFOs might be new Soviet weapons.

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Classical composers and their curious subtleties

Thursday, 21 January, 2016

How much do you know about the best known composers of classical music? Did you know, for instance, that Ludwig Van Beethoven only made coffee that consisted of precisely sixty coffee beans? That Norwegian composer and pianist Edvard Grieg had a frog figurine as a good luck charm? Or that Antonin Dvorak, a Czech composer, was an avid trainspotter in his later years?

There’s more where that came from right here.

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Nomads of Mongolia, a short film by Brandon Li

Thursday, 14 January, 2016

Brandon Li, filmmaker, and self described global nomad, spent a few weeks in western Mongolia, filming the day to day, and still very much traditional, lives of the region’s nomadic Kazakh people.

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Privacy, three thousand years in the making

Monday, 30 November, 2015

US writer and editor Greg Ferenstein, who has no qualms publicly publishing his date of birth, writes about the long evolution of privacy. Given that privacy, as we know it, is only some one hundred and fifty years old, and as such is relatively new, the numbers who have taken to it are quite surprising. I mean, don’t we generally dislike the novel?

Privacy, as it is conventionally understood, is only about 150 years old. Most humans living throughout history had little concept of privacy in their tiny communities. Sex, breastfeeding, and bathing were shamelessly performed in front of friends and family. The lesson from 3,000 years of history is that privacy has almost always been a back-burner priority. Humans invariably choose money, prestige or convenience when it has conflicted with a desire for solitude.

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Fragmented photographs that form one picture

Wednesday, 25 November, 2015

Artwork by j.frede

Los Angeles based artist j.frede trawls flea markets looking for old photos, typically of landscapes featuring hills or mountains, and later matches up the disparate images to produce what appears to be a single panorama, based on the ridges of the hills and mountains, that form a collection he has titled The Fiction Landscapes.

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Does Roman bread improve with age? It looks like it might

Wednesday, 18 November, 2015

What did Roman bread taste like, exactly?

Thanks to the efforts of British Museum researchers, who analysed the remains of loaf of bread buried in the Roman town of Herculaneum, when Mount Vesuvius erupted in the first century, they were able to supply Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli with a list of its ingredients. He was then able to bake a more or less identical loaf, two thousand years later.

The recipe is here if you wish to make your own Roman era bread as well.

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Peking, China, as seen by British photographer Thomas Child

Tuesday, 17 November, 2015

Imperial City, Peking/Beijing photo by Thomas Child

A selection of photos of late nineteenth century Beijing, then Peking, taken by Thomas Child, a British gas engineer, who worked in China from 1870 to 1889, for the Imperial Maritime Customs. The images were part of an exhibition that took place in London’s Chinatown last week.

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