Archive for January, 2010
While paying an unexpected visit to the wonderful University of Nebraska State Museum yesterday, there were a few standouts. Not only were there probably a dozen mammoth and mastodon skeletons from Nebraska, but everything there was found in or near the state. It was great to think of the plains filled with mammoths and ancient rhinos, before that covered in water with huge fish and snails.
I’ve always been a sucker for the rocks and minerals section of natural history museums. While the State Museum is fairly small, they had a wonderful piece of petrified wood. These cross-sections seem like abstract paintings, but where instead of brash or nimble brush strokes, the forces of the earth slowly crush and chemically transform the logs into different colors.
All images via: Arizona Skies Meteorites
More after the jump.
Stars for rating movies on IMDB.
Via: Make blog
Keith Rowe: “…I never thought of continuous sound as drones but as degrees of silence made audible”
I recently found this .pdf by the CDP Digital Audio Working Group titled “Digital Audio Best Practices”. It caught my eye because it was a great glossary of digital audio terms (perfect for my students). It turns out it also has a good discussion of archival storage of digital audio. I’ve been working on a “best practice” for my own studio (what sample rate to record new works at, how to store finished works, backups, etc) and this is another great piece of advice.
A xenon lamp used in IMAX projections. This lamp outputs 15kW of light – an average car engine outputs 25kW while “cruising”, according to Wikipedia.
And here is a (barely) related (but excellent) video of the world’s brightest flashlight scrambling an egg.
Finding all possible “cheezburgers” in the previous post, I remembered that about a year ago I saved three graphics from Weather.com. They have since changed their site, so these are now archive materials.
All possible “cheezburgers”.
As the result of the Dec. 8, 2009 Open Government Mandate, on Friday all cabinet-level federal departments released three publicly available data sets on Data.gov. What was a under-developed and atrophying website with so much potential, Data.gov looks like it may be getting an infusion of data sets that hopefully will result in regular updates from all federal agencies. According to an AP report via the New York Times:
Required to release the three new data sets are the departments of State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Education, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency, the offices of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and the Council of Economic Advisers.
… The Transportation Department will post ratings for 2,400 lines of tires for consumer safety based on tire tread wear, traction performance and temperature resistance. The Labor Department will release the names of 80,000 workplaces where injuries and illness have occurred over the past 10 years.
In a quick browse of the new sets, I also found information on feed grains (like oats and barley), an overseas citizen absentee voting survey, FEMA disaster declarations dating back to 1953, a list of damaged and destroyed villages in Darfur, and land surface temperature at night.
My biggest disappointment has been and continues to by the extremely limited participation by the National Science Foundation (NSF). As an employee of a large research university, I see the number of NSF grants available on a weekly basis (and virtually no art-making grants, but that’s another issue). According to Wikipedia, the NSF awards about 10,000 grants every year, so if even 1/10th of the findings were released that would be 1,000 data sets a year being readily available for use by specialists and (more importantly, in my mind) others as well. It is understandable that not all data generated could be made available, since much of the NSF funding goes towards DARPA and other military-related projects, but certainly studies that don’t deal with these areas could be made available.
The other two areas lacking in Data.gov are historical data sets (some now seem to be added as the result of this mandate) and access to real-time data networks. I have a special interest in real-time data from sources like the National Data Buoy Center, which has over 800 actively reporting buoys and is a resource I haven’t had time enough to explore.
As a final note, the best way expand Data.gov’s mission to “…improve access to Federal data and expand creative use of those data beyond the walls of government by encouraging innovative ideas” would be a grant program funding projects that utilize the data sets. It would be imperative that these fund creative projects as well as the “hard” and social sciences.
Image via: NASA