Links, Research, Science

Pre-Incan Trumpets to IKEA Physics

To start of this round of ToTs, some Stanford acoustics scientists played a marine shell trumpet for the first time in almost 3000 years . They were grabbed from a 2001 excavation of the Chavín de Huántar site in Peru.

For a real interesting graphical look at the Human Development Index and how it affects the US, check out the maps from the Measure of America project. You can compare down to congressional districts how your area fares in education, health,  and life expectancy along with other criteria.

CollegeHumor has given us this funny quantum physics/IKEA mashup with the Hadronn Cjolidder:

Culture, Links, Research, Science

Ayahuasca to Witch Trials

Now that the World Cup is over I can kick-start the dump of info I’ve been grabbing since kick-off. First up, courtesy of Mr. Warren Ellis is this article talking about an evolution of ayahuasca called changa, if you can call smoking an Amazonian hallucinogenic plant and DMT “evolution” from drinking it. Now, as a South American I do take a bit offense to some new-agers freebasing off of plants from my neck of the woods. Still, it did make me wonder if sometime in the future some psychedelic genetic engineers would try to make a one-stop shop plant that had both MAOIs and DMTs needed for the trip instead of needing two, for experimental purposes of course.

Moving on, one of my favorite Asimov stories, “The Last Question”, is up for your reading pleasure, thanks to Thrivenotes.  Check it out, and make sure to read the last line.

This one needs no details: DNA robot nanospiders. Just kidding, what that really mean is that scientists from four universities (Caltech, Columbia, Arizona State, and U of Michigan) have found a way to program DNA molecules to act much like the robots you’d make with a Lego Mindstorms set, only you know, at the nanoscale. How could they do this with such a small sort of material like DNA, you ask? Well, that’s when my good old friend DNA origami comes into play, which I mentioned in a post a while back. This is just at the proof-of-concept stage, they aren’t curing cancer or building new cells yet, but give them time. We’ll be killing ourselves with ourselves soon enough.

And to finish this off, the Central African Republic’s issues with taking witchcraft to court seems like something out of Franz Kafka and Terry Pratchett, but this is actually happening.

Art, Research

Happy Horny Werewolf Day: The Origins of St. Valentine’s Day + Funny VDay Cubee

I’m not one to knock on St. Valentine’s Day/Single’s Appreciation Day/ Hallmark Holiday #4. My point of view is that any day that produces any emotion, be it love or bitterness or abject Mafia rage, is a good one in our increasingly mind-numbing world. That being said, a couple of years back Warren Ellis posted up this message on the internet:

Always remember: Valentine’s Day is a Christian corruption of a pagan festival involving werewolves, blood and fucking. So wish people a happy Horny Werewolf Day and see what happens.

I was intrigued by this message, so I researched this holiday’s origins. I found Lupercalia, which is a spring cleansing festival from Ancient Rome tied to the Capitoline Wolf . To put the most important acts succinctly, priests would sacrifice a dog and two goats, shower in their blood, then cut out the entrails of said goats and whip women with them in order to increase their fertility and ease childbirth pain. There is a more left field take to this ritual, however, and although it comes from a very questionable source, I’m not gonna let things like conspiracy theories get in the way of a good joke. Here’s a fun part from it:

As the Romans grew ever more sophisticated, the Lupercali would be celebrated by a man binding the lady of his choice wrist to wrist, and later by passing a billet to his object of desire, suggesting a romantic rendezvous in some secluded place.

On an unrelated but equally as funny note, I made a pretty amusing cubee for my girlfriend today. Check it out:

To all my friends: Have a Happy Horny Werewolf Day.