Dan Falk writes in Scientific American that in the last few years, scholars have begun to look more closely at William Shakespeare's interest in the scientific discoveries of his time-asking what he knew, when he knew it, and how that knowledge might be reflected in his work. Astronomer Peter Usher argues that examples of the playwright's scientific knowledge can be found in works spanning his entire career and has taken a particular interest in Hamlet, which he sees as an allegory about competing cosmological worldviews. "According to Usher, the play references not only Copernicus, but also Ptolemy, as well as Tycho Brahe (PDF), who pushed for a hybrid model of the solar system (a compromise that preserved elements of the ancient Ptolemaic system as well as the new Copernican model). Digges, too, is central to Usher's theory. When Hamlet envisions himself as "a king of infinite space," could he be alluding to the new, infinite universe described-for the first time-by his countryman Thomas Digges?" Usher's proposal may sound far-fetched-but even skeptics do a double take when they look at Tycho Brahe's coat of arms, noticing that two of Tycho's relatives were named "Rosencrans" and "Guildensteren."
According to Falk, Shakespeare's characters were connected to the cosmos in a way that seems quite foreign to the modern reader. Whether crying for joy or shedding tears of anguish, they look to the heavens for confirmation, calling out to "Jupiter" or "the gods" or "the heavens" as they struggle to make sense of their lives. "[Shakespeare] lived in an age of belief, yet a streak of skepticism runs through his work, especially toward the end of his career; in King Lear it reaches an almost euphoric nihilism. His characters often call upon the gods to help them, but their desperate pleas are rarely answered. Was Shakespeare a closet atheist, like his colleague Christopher Marlowe?
"On 2011-02-03, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) issued the remaining five /8 address blocks, each containing 16.7 million addresses, in the global free pool equally to the five RIRs, and as such ARIN is no longer able to receive additional IPv4 resources from the IANA. After yesterday's large allocation (126.96.36.199/10) to Akamai, the address pool remaining to be assigned by ARIN is now down to the last /8. This triggers stricter allocation rules and marks the end of general availability of new IPv4 addresses in North America. ARIN thus follows the RIRs of Asia, Europe and South America into the final phase of IPv4 depletion."
The political analysis blog moonofalabama.org is under multiple DDOS, targeting both server availability and name services and cannot be resolved through DNS. The attackers are presumably suppressing the top-level entry, exposing violence by Ukrainian right-wing militia against civilian targets in Eastern Ukraine. As of this writing, a google cache of the page is available.
Hosted on Typepad, Moon of Alabama has a reputation for accurate and unconventional insight consistently brought to emerging stories. Bernhardt, the site owner has extracted the subtext of stories and exposed official disinformation on Iranian nuclear development, Wall Street corruption, African incursion and Syrian jihadists often to the embarrassment of US and European governments.
We can simulate the climate and we can even simulate babies. Now, we can simulate life on Earth, too the vast and complex interactions of the living organisms on our planet.
Named Madingley, after the village in Cambridgeshire, UK, where the idea was dreamed up, it's a mathematical model that could help us predict the future. It could tell us what would happen if all the bees disappeared, the difference it would make if pandas died out, and what the world might have looked like if humans had never invented intensive farming. The work also suggests that the basic structures of all ecosystems can be predicted using a small number of universal ecological principles.
Two contributors, Adrian Harvey and wirelessduck report, on a long-running experiment that has taken 84 years for someone to observe:
The pitch drop experiment at the University of Queensland has finally been observed producing a drop. Widely considered the world's longest running experiment, it was started 83 years ago in 1927. It was designed to show that even some solid-seeming substances like pitch will flow like a liquid given sufficient time. The flow is about an order of magnitude slower than the continental drift of the ground it's on! The experiment has produced drops before, but only when no one was watching. The last drop in 2000 even had a WebCam set up to watch it but the power went out just when the drop fell.
The pitch has dropped - again. This time, the glimpse of a falling blob of tar, also called pitch, represents the first result for the world's longest-running experiment. Sadly however, the glimpse comes too late for a former custodian, who watched over the experiment for more than half a century and died a year ago. Up-and-running since 1930, the experiment is based at the University of Queensland in Australia and seeks to capture blobs of pitch as they drip down, agonisingly slowly, from their parent bulk.
[Editor's Note: The discrepancy in the dates between the two articles is as they were reported. Obviously, at least 1 is incorrect, but the TFS does not change source material]
I want to hear your feedback below from everyone. Based on what we get back, we'll roll improvements into future votes, or if need be, reset the vote and do it again; I know a lot of you are active here or at least more involved, so the relatively low turnout is a warning canary for me. Leave your comments below, and expect another story in a few days to see how we're using your comments.
CNN reports that the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) by a vote of 6 - 2 has upheld a Michigan law banning the use of racial criteria in college admissions, finding that a lower court did not have the authority to set aside the measure approved in a 2006 referendum supported by 58% of voters. "This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy. "Michigan voters used the initiative system to bypass public officials who were deemed not responsive to the concerns of a majority of the voters with respect to a policy of granting race-based preferences that raises difficult and delicate issues." Kennedy's core opinion in the Michigan case seems to exalt referenda as a kind of direct democracy that the courts should be particularly reluctant to disturb. This might be a problem for same-sex marriage opponents if a future Supreme Court challenge involves a state law or constitutional amendment enacted by voters. Justice Sonia Sotomayor reacted sharply in disagreeing with the decision in a 58 page dissent. "For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy (PDF) that preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government."
NBC reports that as miraculous as it was that a 16-year-old California boy was able to hitch a ride from San Jose to Hawaii and survive, it isn't the first time a wheel-well stowaway has lived to tell about it.
The FAA says that since 1947 there have been 105 people who have tried to surreptitiously travel in plane landing gear world-wide on 94 flights with a survival rate of about 25 percent. But the agency adds that the actual numbers are probably higher, as some survivors may have escaped unnoticed, and bodies could fall into the ocean undetected. Except for the occasional happy ending, hiding in the landing gear of a aircraft as it soars miles above the Earth is generally a losing proposition.
According to a study titled "Survival at High Altitudes: Wheel-Well Passengers" (PDF) by FAA/Wright State University:
At 20,000 feet the temperature experienced by a stowaway would be -13 F, at 30,000 it would be -45 in the wheel well and at 40,000 feet, it can plunge to a deadly -85 F. "You're dealing with an incredibly harsh environment," says aviation and security expert Anthony Roman. "Temperatures can reach -50 F, and oxygen levels there are barely sustainable for life." Even if a strong-bodied individual is lucky enough to stand the cold and the lack of oxygen, there's still the issue of falling out of the plane. "It's almost impossible not to get thrown out when the gear opens," says Roman.
So how do the lucky one-in-four survive? The answer, surprisingly, is that a few factors of human physiology are at play: As the aircraft climbs, the body enters a state of hypoxia-that is, it lacks oxygen-and the person passes out. At the same time, the frigid temperatures cause a state of hypothermia, which preserves the nervous system. "It's similar to a young kid who falls to the bottom of an icy lake," says Roman "And two hours later he survives, because he was so cold."
Computer scientists have developed a new face recognition algorithm called GaussianFace which outperforms humans for the first time in challenging real-world conditions. The algorithm normalize each face into 150 x 120 pixels by transforming it based on five features: the position of both eyes, the nose and the two corners of the mouth. The accuracy is 98.52% compared to human accuracy at 97.53%. There's a database at umass.edu that captures much of the face variation by labeling faces in the wild which have 13 000 faces of almost 6000 public figures collected from web.
A BBC story reports that the New York Police Department attempted to improve their image by asking the public to tweet photos of themselves with an officer. The response was a lot of images of potential police aggression.