Not So Boring Drill

Speaking of Minecraft, here’s some real mining craft, crafting mines.

Wikipedia fills us in on the Gotthard Base Tunnel:

After 64 percent of Swiss voters accepted the AlpTransit project in a 1992 referendum, construction of the tunnel began in 1996. Boring operations in the east tunnel were completed on 15 October 2010 in a cut-through ceremony broadcast live on Swiss TV. When it opens for traffic in late 2017, the tunnel will cut the 3.5-hour travel time from Zürich to Milan by an hour and from Zürich to Lugano to 1 hour 40 minutes.

The drill is much less epic when it’s spotless and removed from its natural setting.

(Also, this is only a scale model.)

[via Kottke]

[images via the Guardian and Wikimedia Commons]
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October 19, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Smarts. Leave a comment.

Pineberries

Pineberries. Look like strawberries, taste like pineapples. Do want.

Still looking for:

Snozzberries

Elderberries

[originally via John Farrier @ Neatoroma, but the link went and died]

[image via Wikimedia Commons]

October 11, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . Smarts. Leave a comment.

How to be an Ass at Parties

Step 1.) Read Wikipedia’s List of Common Misconceptions.

Some Good ones:

  • George Washington did not have wooden teeth. According to a study of Washington’s four known dentures by a forensic anthropologist from the University of Pittsburgh (in collaboration with the National Museum of Dentistry, itself associated with the Smithsonian Museum), the dentures were made of gold, hippopotamus ivory, lead, and human and animal teeth (including horse and donkey teeth).
  • Searing meat does not “seal in” moisture, and in fact may actually cause meat to lose moisture. Generally, meat is seared to create a brown crust with a rich flavor via the Maillard reaction.
  • It is commonly claimed that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from the Moon. This is false. None of the Apollo astronauts reported seeing any man-made object from the Moon. The misconception is believed to have been popularized by Richard Halliburton decades before the first moon landing.

Step 2.) This part is automatic. You’ll act like a total ass the next time someone mentions that lemmings are suicidal, Napoleon was short, or that George Washington Carver invented peanut butter.

Happy Trolling.

[List of Common Misconceptions via the Browser]

[image via Wikimedia Commons]

October 5, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Smarts. 7 comments.

Narrative

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the use of narrative in scientific writing. The primary reason is my job (which consists of much reading), but coming in at a close second is an article by the author of Black Hawk Down, Mark Bowden.

What initially grabbed me was a scene that could have come straight from the Wire.

So then we left, and we pulled up in front of the housing project outside of Annapolis. And I thought, “This is odd. Why would the major drug dealers in Anne Arundel County be living in the projects? Don’t they make any money dealing drugs?” That night, I watched as they banged on doors and they dragged people out in their pajamas and their underwear, and they rounded everybody up, and made a big commotion. The following morning, like seven o’clock in the morning, they had this very dramatic press conference in Annapolis, where they had invited all of the reporters from the newspapers in Washington and Baltimore and Annapolis, and TV and radio—it was a big deal. And laid out on tables in front so they could all get pictures were all the drugs they had seized from the housing projects the night before.

[…]

I wrote what happened, beginning with the party in the parking lot, with the beer and the urinating, and then going on to my description of the unfortunates being roused from their apartments. And then we come to the press conference, and I describe the drugs that were on the table accurately and estimate what they’re worth, and then I quote the Anne Arundel County spokesman claiming that this is $800,000 worth of drugs.

The story was an enormous hit. My editors loved it, the readers loved it. It was a narrative. It was my way out of a thorny problem. Captain Lindsey was very unhappy with me, but he couldn’t be angry with me, because he knew that everything in the story was true.

Very compelling read throughout.

[Mark Bowden @ Nieman Storyboard via the Browser]

[image via Wikimedia Commons]

August 31, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Reading. Leave a comment.