Friday, 4 July, 2014
Imagine coming home one day to find scientists hard at work dismantling a nuclear reactor the teenager next door had decided to build in his parent’s garden shed. Apparently no one in the neighbourhood had any idea such a device was in their midst until then…
But June 26, 1995, was not a typical day. Ask Dottie Pease. As she turned down Pinto Drive, Pease saw eleven men swarming across her carefully manicured lawn. Their attention seemed to be focused on the back yard of the house next door, specifically on a large wooden potting shed that abutted the chain-link fence dividing her property from her neighbor’s. Three of the men had donned ventilated moon suits and were proceeding to dismantle the potting shed with electric saws, stuffing the pieces of wood into large steel drums emblazoned with radioactive warning signs. Pease had never noticed anything out of the ordinary at the house next door.
history, physics, science
Thursday, 3 July, 2014
A former World War II sea fort located off the coast of Britain, in the North Sea, that slightly resembles an oil rig, and originally known as HM Fort Roughs, eventually went on to become the nation, or micronation, of Sealand.
British military personnel finally left the fort in 1956, and sometime later it was occupied by pirate radio broadcasters. In 1967 it was taken over by Paddy Roy Bates, who intended to establish his own pirate radio station there.
By 1975 Sealand had its own constitution, national anthem, flag, currency, and passport, while Bates ruled as a prince. In 1978 mercenaries staged an invasion while Bates and his wife were visiting Britain. Although Bates managed to regain control of the fort, the invaders continue to claim Sealand as theirs to this day.
There has a to be a screenplay in the story of Sealand…
history, politics, travel
Thursday, 3 July, 2014
In 1991 London based photographer Zed Nelson started taking a photo each year of a friend, and his family, until 2012. More of these sorts of photo collections – that span years and decades – seem to keep coming to light, but that doesn’t make them any less interesting.
family, history, photography
Wednesday, 2 July, 2014
Our children will no doubt laugh at us when we tell them what telephones – you know, those devices you Snapchat and Instagram with – used to be like in “the olden days”. I baulk when I remember how… cumbersome the old rotary dial models especially, used to be.
Once upon a time, you couldn’t fit a phone in your pocket or purse. You couldn’t use it to play music, take pictures, shoot video, or check the Internet. You couldn’t select your ringtone or customize your desktop image – because your phone didn’t have a desktop, and its tone was predetermined, for many decades, by Ma Bell, and then, after deregulation, by the manufacturers of budget-priced, cheaply-made phone sets. You could, starting in the late 1980s, speed-dial the last number you entered, and program up to seven or eight others; but your phone probably still needed a wire to work, and woe unto you if your emergency situation didn’t occur in close proximity to a wall jack.
communication, history, technology, telephone
Tuesday, 1 July, 2014
I’m not much of a poet, and don’t I know it, so I am thankful I did not live at time – think up until the sixteenth century – when mathematical equations were written as metered verse, because then I’d have been doubly bad at maths.
Why did people stop expressing maths problems as metered verse? Because it was around this time that mathematical symbols such as plus, minus, and equals, were devised, or at least started to come into more widespread use.
history, mathematics, poetry, symbols
Wednesday, 25 June, 2014
While we don’t need to send civilisation as a whole back to the Stone Age, there may be some benefit in adhering to the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors, one that consisted mainly of meat, fish, nuts, and berries:
The argument for the so-called “Palaeolithic diet” goes like this: the human body adapted to life during the Stone Age, and as our genetics has changed very little since then, this means biologically speaking we are far better-suited to the hunter-gatherers’ diet that existed before there was any agriculture. Details vary from diet to diet, but on the whole they advocate eschewing all dairy products, grain-based foods like pasta, bread or rice, and in some versions lentils and beans aren’t allowed. Proponents argue modern disorders like heart disease, diabetes and cancer have arisen primarily from the incompatibility between our current forms of diet and our prehistoric anatomy.
food, health, history
Thursday, 19 June, 2014
Joe Reifer, a San Francisco based night photographer, also has a liking for abandoned places… his intriguing, yet mildly foreboding, portfolio includes motels, ski fields, farms, scrap metal yards, military bases, and of course ghost towns.
history, photography, travel
Monday, 16 June, 2014
In 1908, long before Google’s search engine even existed, let alone any other Google product, German inventor, and pioneer of amateur photography, Julius Neubronner devised a miniature camera that could be attached to pigeons for the purposes of taking Google Earth like photos.
That the images collected by Neubronner and his team of pigeons were in fact sold as postcards is irrelevant, there you have the basis of the well known mapping application. In a way.
But the pigeon powered Google Earth variant isn’t the only seemingly modern concept that hasn’t been tried, in some form, before. GPS, FaceTime, Skype, ebook readers, and flat screen televisions, are also among ideas that aren’t quite as recent as they seem.
history, innovation, technology
Friday, 13 June, 2014
Last year a box of photographic negatives, that were almost one hundred years old, was found in a room at Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition base at Cape Evans, Antarctica.
Rather than Scott’s team though, the images depict members of Ernest Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party, who were tasked with laying supply depots across the Great Ice Barrier, ahead of the Irish born polar explorer’s 1914 to 1917 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
Thought to have been taken by Arnold Spencer-Smith, who served as the advance group’s photographer, the photos have now been intricately restored, and can be viewed at the Antarctic Heritage Trust website.
Via Imaging Resource.
Antarctica, history, photography
Monday, 9 June, 2014
It was the date of this article, or the year it was published, 1999, that caught my eye. To my mind 1999 is possibly a point in time that inherently contains some sort of cosmic significance, almost as if it were the temporal junction point of the entire space-time continuum. Whatever. I thought I’d link to it anyway.
A list of the top ten web design mistakes of 1999, compiled by the much reviled, at the time at least, web usability consultant Jakob Nielsen, who, way back in 1999, was concerned that web designers weren’t giving much thought to the way information was archived on a website:
Old information is often good information and can be useful to readers. Even when new information is more valuable than old information, there is almost always some value to the old stuff, and it is very cheap to keep it online. I estimate that having archives may add about 10% to the cost of running a site but increase its usefulness by about 50%. Archives are also necessary as the only way to eliminate linkrot and thus encourage other sites to link to you.
history, technology, web-design