Eightface

by Dave Kellam

Using dynamite to clear ice

Ottawa uses dynamite to clear up ice in the Rideau river. It’s the first time I’ve heard about this program.

Since mid-February, specialist workers have been using buzz saws and amphibious ice breakers to cut channels and long grooves in the ice. The next step is to drill holes, pack these holes with sticks of dynamite, and blow apart the sheets of ice.

Basically, it helps prevent massive flooding in the spring time.

Update: Another article from The Globe and Mail.

February 27, 2011 ·

Google Art Project

Close up of The Bedroom by Van Gogh

The Art Project by Google allows you to get up close and personal with well-known pieces of artwork. The project has street-view style walkthroughs from a number of museums, with large resolution versions of many paintings. A portion of the paintings have a very-high zoom level, allowing you see them in minute detail. The crop above is from The Bedroom by Van Gogh. The site requires Flash.

February 22, 2011 ·

God as an alien mathematician

There’s an interesting interview with Hugo de Garis in h+ magazine. From the beginning of the piece:

Hugo, you’ve recently published an article on KurzweilAI.net titled “From Cosmism to Deism”, which essentially posits a transhumanist argument that some sort of “God” exists, i.e. some sort of intelligent creator of our universe – and furthermore that this “creator” is probably some sort of mathematician.

We’re just tiny bits of a big equation being used to determine the optimal baking time for a quiche in the unfathomably large oven at a cosmic dinner party.

February 22, 2011 ·

Engelbart’s Chord

At the famed “Mother of All Demos, Douglas Engelbart presented the mouse and keyboard that we know, as well as an input device called a chorded keyboard.

A computer input device that allows the user to enter characters or commands formed by pressing several keys together, like playing a “chord” on a piano. The large number of combinations available from a small number of keys allows text or commands to be entered with one hand, leaving the other hand free.

Ah, it’s similar to playing piano chords, that’s probably why the thing never caught on… raise your hand if you bombed out of piano lessons in spectacular fashion. I’m sure with years of practice on a chorded keyboard, you could become a machine. For now, I’ll stick with my keyboard. It may be inelegant, but so is marching around the apartment naked while banging pots and pans together. Sometimes you just need to make music.

If you want to try a simulation of the device, check out Engelbart’s Chord by Paul Tarjan.

February 21, 2011 ·

Caravaggio the criminal

Old state archives from Rome, show that Caravaggio had somewhat coloured past.

He had frequent brushes with the police, got into trouble for throwing a plate of cooked artichokes in the face of a waiter in a tavern, and made a hole in the ceiling of his rented studio, so that his huge paintings would fit inside. His landlady sued, so he and a friend pelted her window with stones.

Tack on a murderous brawl and you’ve got yourself a fine upstanding citizen.

February 18, 2011 ·
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