Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Royal Navy in the First World War

The Guardian has an animation that shows the movement of the ships of the Royal Navy during the First World War.  The information comes from a project that is going through all of weather information in the ships' logs as part of a study on climate change.  I am assuming it doesn't include all RN ships but it doesn't really say.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

500 New Fairy Tales Found

The Guardian reports that 500 new fairly tales have been found in an archive in Germany where they had been sleeping for 150 years.
For example, there is the tale of a maiden who escapes a witch by transforming herself into a pond. The witch then lies on her stomach and drinks all the water, swallowing the young girl, who uses a knife to cut her way out of the witch. However, the collection also includes local versions of the tales children all over the world have grown up with including Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin, and which appear in many different versions across Europe.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Animated Beer Labels

For some reason this guy makes animated gifs of beer labels.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Average Female Faces

FSToppers has a post about the average female face in various countries.  It is interesting that there are noticeable differences between the various European countries (and also between the South American ones).

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Power on Tap

Low-Tech Magazine has a post explaining that before the spread of electricity people used to power household devices using the water pressure from their water taps.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Victorian Lockpickers

Slate has the story of Alfred C. Hobbs an American locksmith who shocked Victorian London by picking a supposedly unpickable lock.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

A Map of History

Slate has an article about a "Histomap", published in 1931, that purports to show human history in chart form.
The 5-foot-long Histomap was sold for $1 and folded into a green cover, which featured endorsements from historians and reviewers. The chart was advertised as “clear, vivid, and shorn of elaboration,” while at the same time capable of “holding you enthralled” by presenting:

 the actual picture of the march of civilization, from the mud huts of the ancients thru the monarchistic glamour of the middle ages to the living panorama of life in present day America.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Names Are Becoming Less Common

The Economist reports (with graphs) that the names of newborns in the US are increasing not in the top 100 names.
In fact since the 1950s names have become less uniform across the board. Back then 76% of baby boys were given one of the 100 most popular names. Now the proportion is 43%.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dolphins Have Names

The Guardian has an article that says that, essentially, dolphins have and use names for each other.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Where the Countries used to be

Flowing Data has a post with a map showing the original continent of Pangea with modern day country borders.  It looks like you could have walked from Newfoundland to Morocco.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Invented in Canada

Mental Floss as a post with a list of 19 things invented in Canada.  In addition to the usual suspects there were a few on the list that I hadn't known were Canadian.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Where Could Snowden Go?

The Economist has a post with a map showing which countries have extradition treaties with the US.  This could be useful information if any of you are considering a life of crime (or whistle-blowing).

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Where to see Spaceships (in the US) has an article with an infographic (also known as a map) showing where you can see various retired spaceships around the USA.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Montreal Moving Day

The Wall Street Journal has an article about a Canadian phenomena that I have always wondered about.  Why does everyone in Montreal move house on the same day?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

DIY Grad School

The Art of Non-Conformity has a post about a do-it-yourself version of grad school.  I have been vaguely considering going to grad school but maybe I should try this instead.  Especially since I already have a subscription to the Economist.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Escher Tile Hardwood Flooring

Technabob has a post about hardwood floor cut into the shape of the Escher reptiles.  I think this might look a bit strange in reality but maybe I'm just hung-up on have long thin strips of wood.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Bell that has been Ringing for 173 Years

According to this article on io9, there is a bell at Oxford University that has been ringing for 173 years.  Apparently no one knows what is in the battery and they are waiting for it to run down before opening it up.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

20th Century Causes of Death

Information is Beautiful has a post with an infographic showing the total numbers of people killed by various causes during the 20th century.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Worldly Personal Space

CNN has a page with an interactive graphic that show the amount of space people take up in various cities around the world.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

The Most Isolated Man in History

The BBC has an article about Al Worden who was the command module pilot on Apollo 15 and as such orbited the moon alone while the rest of the crew went down to the lunar surface.  When the command module was on the far side of the moon (from both the Earth and the lander crew) he (and the five command module pilots on the other Apollo missions) was the most isolated that any human has ever been.

Friday, May 03, 2013

A Friend's App: Linger

The Atlantic has a write up on my friend Chuck Shnider's new app Linger. The app gives an organised view of the films in the Prelinger Archives.  I was at the NSNorth conference a few weekends ago and during some of the breaks Chuck played films from his app on the giant screen.  This app could be a real time eater.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fuel Surplus

The Pacific Standard has an article about the amount of oil in the world.
We human beings have consumed, over our entire history, about a trillion barrels of oil.
They continue with:

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates there is still seven to eight times that much left in the ground. The oil that’s left is just more difficult, and therefore more expensive, to get to.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Photo: Owl and Mouse

National Geogrpahic Photo of the Day has an awesome shot of an Owl about to pick up some lunch.

Monday, April 15, 2013

World's Oldest Aerial Photo

The Smithsonian has a blog post about the world's oldest surviving aerial photography.  It is a picture of Boston taken in 1860.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Obit: Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist - last of the anti-Hitler plotters

The Economist has the obituary of Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist.  During the Second World War he twice agreed to be a suicide bomber in plots to assassinate Adolph Hitler.  He was the last surviving member of the July 20 plot (which was the subject of the Tom Cruise movie Valkyrie). 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Words from Shakespeare

Mental Floss has a post listing twenty words that were coined by William Shakespeare.  Apparently he created "over 2200 never-before-seen words".  I was amazed that one of them was the word manager.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Obit: John E. Karlin - Dialing Pioneer

The New York Times has the obituary of John Karlin who was involved in the development of the modern telephone numbering scheme.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2013 Dakar Rally Photos

The Atlantic has a nice photo post on this year's Dakar Rally.  I have never understood why this event doesn't get more coverage.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Awesome Gadget-filled Antique Desk

Make has a post with a video demonstrating the amazing features of an antique desk.  There is no electricity in the desk, all of the mechanisms are powered by falling weights.

Monday, January 14, 2013

How Tall can a Lego Tower get?

The BBC has an article, though it was in many other places as well, about a study to determine the maximum possible height of a tower made of Lego bricks.  The short answer is 3.5 km but it is worth reading the article to see how they figured that out.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Where the Bombs Hit

Bombsight is a website that maps the locations of all of the German bombs that were dropped on London during the Blitz (7 October 1940 to 6 June 1941).  Apparently two bombs fell on the small street we used to live on in Fulham and four landed in the square opposite my first London apartment (as well as two on the block where the apartment was).

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The Sun's Energy

According to this Google+ post, the sun produces enough energy in one second to power the world for 1 million years.

Follow up: A vaguely related article in the Economist has a graph showing the falling cost per Watt of solar panels.