Friday 31 January 2014

A Modest Proposal (1989)

In the late 1980's Tim Berners-Lee had a bright idea. He wrote a paper about the idea which he then sent to his boss (who called it Vague but exciting ...).

The idea was arguably the biggest that any physicist has had in the last 25 years, in terms of impact on the planet. It is nothing to do with science or physics. It was, of course, the basic architecture of the World Wide Web.

The diagram is wonderfully self-referential.


Sunday 19 January 2014

Physics Envy Unmasked

HERE is a very entertainingly written article in the Guardian about the de-bunking of a highly cited paper on positive psychology that had used Lorenzian complex dynamic maths. It is a textbook case of Physics Envy. The debunking paper is HERE

The 3 conclusions of the Berelson & Steiner Book on Human Behaviour are worth calling to mind in any quantitative study of humans:

- Some Do, Some Don't.
- The Differences Aren't Very Great.
- It's More Complicated Than That.


Saturday 11 January 2014

Across the Plains

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)  wrote novels, essays, letters and poetry. He is best known for classics such as Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

In 1879 Stevenson began a romantic and adventurous journey to be united with his lover Fanny Vandegrift. After sailing in second-class on the Devonia from Scotland he traveled from New York City overland by train to California. The journey almost killed him. 

Stevenson recounts his journey across the US and his stay in Monterey in Across The Plains. He stayed in Monterey, California in the house below.

Friday 10 January 2014

Smiths Map 1815

William Smiths Map of Geology 1815

Wednesday 8 January 2014

A Map of the Gulf Stream 1871

In 1855 the American oceanographer Mathew Maury described the Gulf Stream in the following lyrical terms;  

There is a river in the ocean. In the severest droughts it never fails, and in the mightiest floods it never overflows. Its banks and its bottoms are of cold water, while its currents are warm. The Gulf of Mexico is its fountain and its mouth is in the Arctic Seas. It is the Gulf Stream. There is in the world no other such majestic flow of waters. Its current is more rapid than the Mississippi or the Amazon.
 Below is a map of the Gulf Stream presented in Light science for leisure hours. A series of familiar esays on scientific subjects, natural phenomena, &c., &c (1871) by Richard Proctor (HERE).The map is an isographic projection. 

Monday 6 January 2014

The Foldscope

I met Manu Prakash last year at a TED conference in Edinburgh. He is a very smart young professor at Stanford University.

With a couple of co-workers he has invented the Foldscope. A folding, $1 microscope, that uses origami techniques to go from completely flat to functional. He has filed a patent (WO2013120091). An abstract of what it can do is below (with an illustration from the patent application indicating the Foldscopes response to being stomped upon by a person).

Sunday 5 January 2014

Cheshire - 1819

The history of the county palatine and city of Chester: compiled from original evidences in public offices, the Harleian and Cottonian mss., parochial registers, private muniments, unpublished ms. collections of successive Cheshire antiquaries, and a personal survey of every township in the county; incorporated with a republication of King's Vale royal, and Leycester's Cheshire antiquities. By George Ormerod (1819).


A detailed Bathymetric Map of the Dee estuary

The Dee Estuary is large and is dominated by dynamically changing sand bars and channels.

Figure 5.1 of Ramachandran, K. (2010): Tidal morphodynamic modelling in the Dee Estuary,UK., MSc thesis, University of Southampton, UK.

Earls of Chester

The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester. Vol III
George Ormerod, London 1819