Archive for: June, 2008

Richard Marsh's Curios

Jun 17 2008 Published by under Horror

Okay, I've got to describe one more book by Richard Marsh, then I'll move on to other authors for a while! The book of interest is Marsh's Curios (1898), subtitled "Some Strange Adventures of Two Bachelors." It is available, as many of Marsh's works are, through Valancourt Books.

This book is the least conventional of Marsh's works that I've read, and is a style of tale whose like I've never seen elsewhere. The book is a loosely-connected set of stories about a pair of collectors, Mr. Tress and Mr. Pugh, who are ostensibly friends but often at odds with each other. Below the fold I give a little more description, and as a bonus I give a description of some of my own curios that I've collected over the years!

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"The Giant's Shoulders": call for entries and hosts!

Jun 16 2008 Published by under General science

Note: bumped up to make sure everyone sees it!

So we've got a weblog up for the new classic science carnival, "The Giant's Shoulders". The first event will be hosted by Coturnix at A Blog Around The Clock, and entries will be due on the 15th of July. For the first event, tradition dictates that you can submit any relevant posts you like, including things that appeared in the "Classic paper challenge"! Send your links to Coturnix to get things going (I've got some really kewl stuff to contribute, myself).

On a related note, we'll also need volunteers to host future incarnations of the event! I've put a call for hosts on the new blog, so drop on by there and let us know if you're interested in hosting in the future!

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Useless scientific factoid of the day: the 'zombie palm'

Jun 16 2008 Published by under General science

In my previous post, my friend Personal Demon asked the following question, when I referred to the ancient palm as 'Lazarus':

or it could be a MUMMY palm tree… or a ZOMBIE palm tree…

Why WHY don’t scientists ever think about the consequences of their actions?

As my fiancée pointed out, it can't be a zombie palm tree because there is already a 'zombie palm', which by pure serendipity we stumbled across while wandering Daniel Stowe Gardens yesterday. Why is it a 'zombie palm'? A brief description after the fold...

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Ancient palm tree resurrected!

Jun 16 2008 Published by under Science news

Via Science Magazine, we learn some fascinating news:  a group of biologists and botanists have managed to grow a palm tree from a 2000-year old seed!

In 1963, archaeologists excavating King Herod's fortress near the Dead Sea uncovered a small number of date palm seeds.  The seeds waited 40 years more in storage until a research team decided to date them and, seemingly almost on a whim, plant one.  After 8 weeks, the ancient seed germinated into a date palm, named "Methuselah" after the oldest person in the Bible.

Even more intriguing is the possibility that the palm may represent a species which had officially gone extinct!  By the time of the Crusades, date palms had vanished from the Dead Sea region, and the missing palm may have been a distinct species.  (In which case, the regrown palm should probably be renamed "Lazarus".)  Tests are ongoing to determine if the date palm is a distinct species.

Hmm... using science to recreate extinct species?  Don't these people watch movies?  Don't they realize that the plants will inevitably turn on their creators and attempt to eat Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern!!??

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Unconventional skydives: beach jumps!

Jun 15 2008 Published by under Sports, Travel

Over Memorial Day weekend, i went with a group of friends to a skydiving party ('boogie') at the Emerald Coast Skydiving Center, which is near the Gulf Coast. The fun of this particular boogie is the ability to skydive over the Gulf and land on the beach, right in front of the Flora-Bama Bar (which is on the coastal border between Florida and Alabama). My friend Terry did some nice videos of our jumps, and I post one of them below the fold!

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Irony

Jun 13 2008 Published by under ... the Hell?

Last week I got a traffic ticket, and opted to do the 'defensive driving course' to save myself the insurance and license penalties.  The course was the usual thing: most accidents are rear-end collisions, caused by people distracted by, for instance, talking on cell phones.

On the way home, I was stopped at an intersection when my car was severely rear-ended by a guy who was distracted by his ringing cell phone.

Irony.

Bonus irony: I only have two payments left on my car.

One response so far

Optics basics: Polarization

Jun 11 2008 Published by under Optics, Optics basics

In a previous 'basics' post, I discussed the three major branches of optical science. My specialty, physical optics, involves the study of the wave properties of light. In particular, there are three major phenomena in physical optics: interference, diffraction, and polarization. We've talked about the first two of these in earlier posts, and it is time at last to say some words about polarization!

In essence, "polarization" is a fancy way of saying that light is a transverse wave; with that in mind, we begin with a brief discussion of transverse and longitudinal waves.

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10 responses so far

Richard Marsh's The Goddess: A Demon

Jun 10 2008 Published by under Horror

I've been on a bit of a Richard Marsh kick lately (I already discussed his books The Beetle and The Joss), reading everything of his that's available in print. He's almost completely unknown today, even though he was a highly successful author in the late 1800s/early 1900s.

I've almost run out of his books available in hardcopy, and have now turned to Google books to find more of Marsh's work. I recently finished reading his 1900 horror/mystery novel The Goddess: A Demon, and I give a summary and some impressions of the book after the fold...

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4 responses so far

Mathematicians on Mortgages

Jun 09 2008 Published by under Mathematics

In a nice little coincidence, recently two mathematics bloggers have decided to give a bit of a description of the subprime mortgage market crisis.  Neither is an economist, but that's probably okay, even preferable, considering it was the economists who got us into this mess.

Ben Allen of Plektix has written a two-part discussion here and here, and

Mark Chu-Carroll of Good Math, Bad Math has written a two-part discussion here and here.

All of these articles are worth a read!

6 responses so far

Lost divers shamelessly rip off 'Lost' and 'Land of the Lost'!

Jun 08 2008 Published by under Animals, Science news

Last Thursday, a group of divers went missing on what was supposed to be a routine tour dive in Indonesia. On Saturday, all five were rescued from the island of Rinca near Komodo Island, having spent two days surviving on the abandoned island (a more British-centric description can be found here). They ate raw shellfish while waiting to be rescued, and all are in good condition, apart from some dehydration.

The story gets better, though, as anyone familiar with the native inhabitants of Komodo Island might suspect: they had to fend off a Komodo dragon that was showing a little too much interest in them!

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