Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for April 12th, 2022

The Antikythera Cosmos

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A very interesting video on the Antikythera Mechanism. This is via a Vice article by Becky Ferreira, which begins:

In the early 1900s, divers hunting for sponges off the coast of Antikythera, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, discovered a Roman-era shipwreck that contained an artifact destined to dramatically alter our understanding of the ancient world.

Known as the Antikythera Mechanism, the object is a highly sophisticated astronomical calculator that dates back more than 2,000 years. Since its recovery from the shipwreck in 1901, generations of researchers have marveled over its stunning complexity and inscrutable workings, earning it a reputation as the world’s first known analog computer.

The device’s gears and displays cumulatively demonstrated the motions of the planets and the Sun, the phases of the lunar calendar, the position of Zodiac constellations, and even the timing of athletic events such as the ancient Olympic Games. The device also reflects a very ancient idea of the cosmos, with Earth at the center.

While some of the calculator’s mysteries have been solved over the past century, scientists at University College London’s Antikythera Research Team present, for the first time, “a radical new model that matches all the data and culminates in an elegant display of the ancient Greek Cosmos,” according to a study published on Friday in Scientific Reports.

Led by Tony Freeth, a mechanical engineer at UCL and a leading world expert on the mechanism, the interdisciplinary team called the artifact “an ancient Greek astronomical compendium of staggering ambition” and “a beautiful conception, translated by superb engineering into a device of genius,” in the study.

“This is such a special device,” said Adam Wojcik, a materials scientist at UCL and a co-author of the study, in a call. “It’s just so out-of-this world, given what we know, or knew, about contemporary ancient Greek technology. It’s unique and there’s nothing else that remotely approaches it for centuries, or maybe a millennia afterwards.”

“However, it exists and all the scholarship points to the fact that it is ancient Greek,” added Wojcik, who has been fascinated by the artifact since he was a child. “There’s no question about it and we just have to accept that there is so much about what they could do that we just don’t know and we can’t fathom. The mechanism is a window on that.”

Understanding the clockwork instrumentation of the Antikythera Mechanism has been a longstanding challenge for scientists because only a third of the artifact survived its multi-millennia entombment under the Mediterranean waves. The remains of the calculator include 82 fragments, some of which contain complex gears and once-hidden inscriptions, which were wedged between front and back display faces during the bygone era in which the artifact was fully intact.

As new experimental techniques emerged, research teams have been able to explain the purpose and dynamics of the Antikythera Mechanism’s back face, which includes a system of eclipse predictions. In particular, the use of surface imaging and high-resolution X-ray tomography on the artifact, described in a 2006 study also led by Freeth, revealed scores of never-before-seen inscriptions that helpfully amount to a user’s guide to the mechanism.

Now, Freeth and his colleagues believe they have tackled the missing piece of the puzzle: the complicated gearworks underlying the front “Cosmos” display of the calculator. Virtually nothing from this front section survived, and “no previous reconstruction has come close to matching the data” that does exist, according to the study.

The new paper “has synthesized other people’s work, and dealt with all the loose ends and the uncomfortable nuances that other people just simply ignored,” Wojcik said. “For example, there are certain features in the surviving bits—holes and pillars and things like that—which people have said: ‘well, we’ll just ignore that in our explanation. There must be a use for that but we don’t know what it is so we’ll just ignore it.’”

“Effectively, what we’ve done is we’ve not ignored anything,” he added. “So the enigmatic pillars and holes, all of a sudden, now make sense in our solution. It all comes together and it fits the inscriptional evidence.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 April 2022 at 10:33 pm

The Psychology of Dictatorship

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Written by Leisureguy

12 April 2022 at 3:45 pm

Nuclear Weapons and the War in Ukraine

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Written by Leisureguy

12 April 2022 at 3:43 pm

Tempeh harvest after 72 hours — with chili recipe

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This is the batch I started just 3 days ago, after 72 hours of fermentation. I probably could have ended it after 48 hours, but I thought another day would be good. So Saturday noon to Tuesday was the growth time.

You can click on any of the photos to view it as a slide show, but starting in the upper left corner and going left to right, row by row:

  1. On the rack and still in the bag after 72 hours. The first 20 or hours were in the incubator, then it resided on a raised rack on the table.
  2. The same block with the bag cut off. If you right-click the image to open it in a new tab and then click to enlarge it, you can see clearly the marks from the tiny perforations in the large Ziploc Fresh Produce bag I used.
  3. The first cross-section cut.
  4. Four pieces packed in a storage container, ready for the refrigerator, with one long narrow piece that didn’t fit.
  5. That long narrow piece now diced for a stir-fry or small batch of tempeh chili. 

I like tempeh that combines some type of bean and some type of grain, and this looks quite good.

UPDATE: Tempeh chili recipe improvisation in comment.

Written by Leisureguy

12 April 2022 at 12:22 pm

A highly satisfactory razor — and Organism 46-B

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Phoenix Artisan’s Organism 46-B — “burnt sugar – bitter orange – brandy – Hedione – tobacco absolute – benzoin resin – ambergris” — has joined the ranks of the discontinued, and all we can do is hope for someday seeing a revival. In the meantime, I shall enjoy the remaineed of what I have, which today produced a superb lather with the help of Phoenix Artisan’s Green Ray brush.

RazoRock’s MJ-90A is a remarkably good razor. The “A” stands for “Aggressive” (except in the URL, where it seems to mean “adjustable” — odd, since the razor is not adjustable),  but that refers to its efficiency, not its comfort and nick-averse action, which I would call “mild.” A very smooth, very easy shave with a very smooth outcome.

A splash of Organism 46-B aftershave, and the job is done.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s Hairy Crab Oolong: “Named for its leaves, which are serrated like a hairy crustacean, this oolong is delicate, refreshing and incredibly fragrant.”  I don’t have much experience with Oolongs, but the tea tastes good this morning. First infusion was at 193ºF for 5 minutes. I’ll try a second infusion at a shorter time, just to see.

Written by Leisureguy

12 April 2022 at 9:31 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

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