Daily Archives: February 2, 2008

The Physics of Tatiana

i-ab222cf9ca9b8e8bb7322a8fb392a522-tatiana.jpgTatiana was the captive Siberian Tiger who, on Christmas Day, leaped out of her cave to attack teenage boys who were taunting her. She killed one of them. Zookeepers are investigating how she did it, considering the possibility that the wall of her enclosure was not high enough (technically, it was lower than recommended height by a short distance). Tatiana’s leap has, indeed, has rekindled a long term dialog regarding zoos, and big cats in zoos in particular.Now, a physicist at Northeastern University in Boston, has produced an analysis indicating that what did happen was possible. However, I think there is a problem with the analysis. Continue reading The Physics of Tatiana

The Great Potato Origins Debate May be Settled

ResearchBlogging.orgSolanum tuberosum, is an American cultivar related to the tomato and the eggplant (Remarkably, they are all in the same genus, but rarely to all three appear in the same dish). Potatoes, the lovely underground storage organ (USO) without which we would not have French Fries, or dipping chips to eat during the Super Bowl, twice baked potatoes, or Mr. Potato Head and his family, were domesticated by Native Americans in two local centers, one in the high Andes in eastern Venezuela and northern Argentina, and in the lowlands of south-central Chile. During the last half of the 16th century, they spread worldwide, as did many other food crops.The origin of the “European” version of the potato has been the subject of intense debate. Did the European potato come from the Andes or from Chile? Over the last several decades, the former has been the more accepted theory. The fact that all modern potato varieties show Chilean origins has been explained by the hypothesis that the Andean varieties were all wiped out by the great potato blights of the 19th century. Continue reading The Great Potato Origins Debate May be Settled

Speaking of Technology …

Xii Monitor, a French web survey company, came out with the 2007 market share statistics, with interesting news about the Firefox browser. The Open Source browser’s market share has climbed to 28 percent of the European market, mostly at the expense of Microsoft Internet Explorer. The trend for the year shows a steady increase [source].Speaking of Microsoft, apparently executives at the behemoth are accusing IBM of being the prime mover in the recent global war against the Office Open XML ‘standard.’ According Microsoft’s senior director of XML technology, Jean Paoli, “Let’s be very clear … It has been fostered by a single company — IBM. If it was not for IBM, it would have been business as usual for this standard.” Nicos Tsilas, Microsoft’s director of interoperability and IP policy added, “They have made this a religious and highly political debate … They are doing this because it is advancing their business model. Over 50 percent of IBM’s revenues come from consulting services.”Microsoft executives also implicated “the likes of” (a phrase that may cause some alarm) the Free Software Foundation in this lobbying effort. Is this some sort of strategic rhetoric, or is it really the case that Microsoft does not get it? Is the megacompany aware of the fact that they are so annoying that everyone hates them? [ story here]i-f2803c900be4af8fc3e135cf93106db4-vista.gifSpeaking of being annoying, tech-geek publisher O’Reilly has recently released the latest book in their “annoyances” series. I won’t be needing a copy of Windows Vista Annoyances: Tips, Secrets, and Hacks, but perhaps you will.And, as long as we are on the subject of annoyances, have a look at MythBusters’ “7 Tech Headaches and How to Fix Them.” My favorite? “Computer operating systems loaded with stuff I don’t want and will never use.” The solution? ” Switch to a Linux-based OS such as Ubuntu. Since most Linux OSs are free, there’s no business reason to bloat up the system with feature frills.”

Darwin and the Voyage: 01 ~ Introduction

Of his time on the Beagle (1832 – 1836), Darwin wrote, “The voyage of the Beagle has been by far the most important event in my life and has determined my whole career.” Of the manuscript describing that voyage, he wrote, “The success of this my first literary child always tickles my vanity more than that of any of my other books.” Continue reading Darwin and the Voyage: 01 ~ Introduction