Archimedes Palimpsest

July 26, 2006

From HASTRO-L comes news of the live unveiling of the Archimedes Palimpsest at 4pm PST on August 4, which is midnight onwards GMT, or 1am BST. The press-kit states “Join us at the Exploratorium or online as we watch ancient text revealed and read for the first time in a thousand years!“, which makes them much more honest than me. I’d have made sure my panel of experts knew exactly what was going to be revealed so they could coo appreciatively and say something useful to the webcam.

It also adds useful information about what a palimpsest is. “His thoughts were inscribed on goatskin parchment, but the letters and diagrams were scraped off and written over by Greek monks in the Middle Ages.” This sort of thing was usual in the middle-ages, so a lot of ancient texts have been lost. The reason we can read this one is that high-tech imaging equipment is allowing to peek at what was originally on the parchment. Archimedes’ work is the most famous material found, but the book appears to have leaves from other older texts too.

The material found could potentially cast knew light on how the Greeks practiced mathematics and prove a few pet theories completely wrong.

There’s an hour long video on Google with more information.

You can download the video from Google.

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Hot hot hot!

July 25, 2006

Just in case you were in any doubt about how hot it is, satellite images show you in exquiste detail:
Satellite image
BBC News reports Dr John Remedios, Head of Earth Observation Science at the University of Leicester, saying: “The latest satellite data shows a perspective of the environment in which we live that can only be obtained from space. The images show temperature increases and increased pollution for every region in the UK. It is particularly striking to see the extent of temperature and pollution increases in the large cities, which have such a detrimental effect on the quality of life in those locations.”
Phew, tell me about it!

Virus particles

July 21, 2006

Virus particles are pretty darn smart for something so small. For one thing, they know how to assemble themselves using only the information contained in the particle itself (did someone say nanotechnology? 🙂
They’re also pretty tough – about as tough as bullet-proof plastic. Not bad!

The MicrobiologyBytes podcast reveals all!

Goblets of Fire

July 20, 2006
Harry Potter

This was in THES recently. It’s Jonny Woodward doing his Harry Potter event in Chemistry. I’ve seen him come to meeting in his gear, but haven’t had chance to see him in action yet.

Seen Elsewhere

July 19, 2006
Saxon Cremation
Saxon Cremation. Photo by Mattnic.

A new edition of the Tangled Bank, looking at what’s happening in science blogging is online at Salto Sobrius. There’s plenty to read from a variety of sciences.

The BBC reports on an apartheid society in early Anglo-Saxon Britain. By combining genetic and archaeological data researchers think they may have more evidence to show that relatively few Saxons came over, but had a large influence on sub-Roman Britain. The original paper is online at the Royal Society, but not publicly accessible. You can buy it for £25. Or not.

Some papers from the Royal Society are available for free download for a while, including Ancient DNA by Eske Willerslev and Alan Cooper if you want to see a preview of what sorts of things might be making the headlines in the next couple of years.


July 18, 2006

This is a test of YouTube and the movie function on my cheap but usable camera.

It’s a frog and insect arranging to meet for lunch near by my pond. The insect might be hard to spot, so I’ve drawn a diagram. Yes I am that sad.

Frog Insect Lunch Diagram

Eiger becomes not quite so Eige

July 14, 2006

North face of the EigerVia NewScientist’s Short Sharp Science comes the news that the Eiger is no longer the mountain it was. A glacier supporting the East face of the Eiger has melted due to global warming. Additionally water is falling into the crack that has now formed, adding pressure. A chunk of rock about twice the size of the Empire State Building is expected to fall sometime soon-ish. Swissinfo has a video and there’s always Google.

Photo by Anaulin.