Benvenuti in queste pagine dedicate a scienza ed arte. Amelia Carolina Sparavigna

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Eye of Osiris

"The Eye of Osiris" is a novel written by Richard Austin Freeman (1862 - 1943). He was a British writer of detective stories, mostly featuring the medico-legal forensic investigator Dr Thorndyke. A large proportion of the Dr Thorndyke stories involve genuine points of scientific knowledge, from areas such as tropical medicine, metallurgy and toxicology. In this crime novel, Dr Thorndyke solved the mistery using a X-ray photography of a mummy.

"It was all clear enough so far. The peculiar sound that filled the air was the hum of the interrupter; the bulb was, of course, a Crookes' tube, and the red spot inside it, the glowing red-hot disc of the anti-cathode. Clearly an X-ray photograph was being made; but of what? I strained my eyes, peering into the gloom at the foot of the gallows, but though I could make out an elongated object lying on the floor directly under the bulb, I could not resolve the dimly seen shape into anything recognisable. Presently, however, Dr. Norbury supplied the clue. 'I am rather surprised,' said he, 'that you chose so composite an object as a mummy to begin on. I should have thought that a simpler object, such as a coffin or a wooden figure, would have been more instructive.' "

Eye of Horus

The Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power and good health. The eye is personified in the goddess Wadjet. The name Wadjet is derived from 'wadj' meaning 'green' hence 'the green one' and was known to the Greeks and Romans as 'uraeus' from the Egyptian 'iaret' meaning 'risen one' from the image of a cobra rising up in protection. More at Wiki
Wadjet was one of the earliest of Egyptian deities who later became associated with other goddesses such as Bast, Mut, and Hathor, who is also depicted with this eye. Burial amulets were often made in the shape of the Eye of Horus, to protect the owner in the afterlife and to ward off evil. Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern sailors would frequently paint the symbol on the bow of their vessel to ensure safe sea travel (Charles Freeman, The Legacy of Ancient Egypt, Facts on File, Inc. 1997. p.91).
"Horus was the ancient Egyptian sky god who was usually depicted as a falcon. His right eye was associated with the sun Ra. The eye symbol represents the marking around a Peregrine Falcon's eye that includes the "teardrop" marking sometimes found below the eye."
It is interesting to note that, in the ancient egyptian calculus, the Eye Of Horus defined number one (1) = 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/32 + 1/64, by throwing away 1/64. The parts of the Eye were used to represent fractions.

Amulets on display at the Egyptian Museum, Torino

Second sight

In English, "second sight" indicates a form of extrasensory perception - a supposed power to perceive things that are not present to the senses - by means of which a person gains information in the form of a vision. The person "sees" future events before they happen (precognition), or  things  at remote locations (remote viewing). "Second sight" is so called because normal vision is coming as first, while supernormal vision is a secondary thing, confined to certain individuals.
In Italian, we call it the "doppia vista", that is the double sight, physical and spiritual. It is considered an  awakening of consciousness.

Ecco una divinita' solare mesoamericana (cultura Chupicuaro), che con i suoi occhi raddoppiati evoca il dono della "doppia vista". Il giallo, colore del Sole, simboleggia la perfezione spirituale ed è specifico dell'intelligenza; è stato spesso usato negli oggetti di culto e magici. Bella statuetta che illustra chiaramente il concetto della doppia vista.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Centenario - Emilio Salgari

Quest'anno è il centenario della morte di Emilio Salgari.
Chi non ha letto un libro o visto un film  il cui protagonista è Sandokan, la Tigre della Malesia?
Read more http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandokan

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Eye" of Sahara

During a survey by means of Google Maps of the desert near the Nile, I have seen this structure, which seems an eye on the sand.

It is small when compared to the huge Richat structure in Mauritania.

Richat Structure

The Richat Structure is a huge circular feature in the Sahara desert of Mauritania near Ouadane. It has attracted attention since the earliest space missions because it forms an eye. The structure has a diameter of approx 50 kilometres. It was initially supposed a meteorite impact structure.

Image obtained by Google Maps

Arabia: craters and stone circles

The Arabia Shield has a volcanic nature inside. A region of the Western Saudi Arabia is in fact covered with vast fields of lava known as harraat. These lands are spotted by many stone circles and other quite interesting archaeological remains of the Neolithic period, such as the "desert kites", the hunters used to guide the game across the harrah in some corrals. With Google Maps, we can observe both sceneries, the volcanic nature of the land and a portrait of Arabia during the Neolithic times.


Arabia: from craters to stone circles, by Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, arXiv, 9 Nov 2010
Keywords: Satellite maps, Landforms, Artificial landforms, Image processing, Archaeology
Subjects: Geophysics (physics.geo-ph), Cite as: arXiv:1011.2111v1 [physics.geo-ph]

Arabia: from craters to stone circles - di Amelia Carolina Sparavigna
Archaeogate, 19-11-2010

Paper cited by
New Evidence for a Large Prehistoric Settlement in a Caldera-Like Geomorphological
Structure in Southwest Morocco, by M. Huebner and S. Huebner
asalas.org, Germany
Abstract: In this article, the results of two expeditions to a prehistoric settlement
in southwest Morocco are summarized. It is situated in the Souss-Massa plain inside an annular
(circular) geomorphological structure and once covered about 20 km2.
The center was densely populated and surrounded by a 9 km long wall.
The authors found many ruins of houses, large monuments, caverns, cisterns, kilns, tumuli, paths, rock
carvings and various types of landscaping.

To see the paper: Archaeogate

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Woodhenge is a Neolithic henge and timber circle monument located in the Stonehenge World Heritage Site in Wiltshire, England. Woodhenge was identified in 1925 after an aerial archaeology survey by Alexander Keiller and OGS Crawford. Crawford credits the discovery to an aerial photograph.
Most of the 168 post holes held wooden posts, although Cunnington found evidence that a pair of standing stones may have been placed between the second and third post hole rings. The positions of the postholes are currently marked with modern concrete posts which are a simple and informative method of displaying the site. Further comparisons with Stonehenge were quickly noticed by Cunnington; both have entrances oriented approximately on the midsummer sunrise. 
more wiki

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Crop circles - 2

Crop circle near Avebury

Crop circles - 1

Crop circle, near the ancient monument of Avebury, UK

"Avebury is the site of an ancient monument consisting of a large henge, several stone circles, stone avenues and barrows, surrounding the village of Avebury in the English county of Wiltshire. It is one of the finest and largest Neolithic monuments in Europe, about 5,000 years old. Although older than the megalithic stages of Stonehenge 32 kilometres (20 mi) to the south, the two monuments are broadly contemporary overall. ... Avebury is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, a World Heritage Site, and a National Trustproperty." More Wiki

Monday, January 24, 2011

Archimedes's steam cannon

A steam cannon is a cannon where projectiles are launched by steam. The first steam cannon was designed by Archimedes during the Siege of Syracuse. Leonardo da Vinci was also known to have designed one. The device is metal tube, which would be placed in a furnace: one end of the tube is closed and the other loaded with a projectile. Once the tube reached a high enough temperature, a small amount of water in injected in behind the projectile. Leonardo da Vinci guessed that the water would rapidly expand into vapour, blasting the projectile out the front of the barrel.
See how the  ArchiMITes cannon is working: http://web.mit.edu/2.009/www//experiments/steamCannon/ArchimedesSteamCannon.html

Thermal water pump

A water pump that uses thermal energy from the sun is to undergo field testing before potentially being used by farmers in the developing world for irrigating fields. The device uses a non-inertive-feedback thermofluidic engine (NIFTE) that converts relatively small temperature differences between its heat source and heat sink into mechanical force.
Thermal water pump could aid farmers in developing nations | News | The Engineer
NIFTE is the core product of an univerisyt spin-off, http://www.thermofluidics.com/ . It would be interesting to have more details.

Thermodynamic solars: a new italian technology

"Encouraging news in the renewable energy come from solar thermal industry that, in 2009, has experienced considerable growth and that seems destined to play an even more important in coming years. The U.S., in fact, intend to achieve by 2020 the technology for new power plants with a total capacity of 10.3 GW of power.
Also Italy is taking decisive steps in this field, as evidenced by the recent birth of a company called Archimedes Solar Energy, which produces the key component of solar thermal power plants, pipes receptors, according to a new technology patented by ENEA." World of Solar Thermal - Solar Thermal Energy Daily News, Events, Companies, Products, Jobs and more - Thermodynamic solars: a new italian technology

Why the name "Archimedes"? Let us remember what the 2nd century AD author Lucian wrote about.
"During the Siege of Syracuse (c.214–212 BC), Archimedes destroyed enemy ships with fire. Centuries later, Anthemius of Tralles mentions burning-glasses as Archimedes' weapon. The device, sometimes called the "Archimedes heat ray", was used to focus sunlight onto approaching ships, causing them to catch fire. This purported weapon has been the subject of ongoing debate about its credibility since the Renaissance. René Descartes rejected it as false, while modern researchers have attempted to recreate the effect using only the means that would have been available to Archimedes. It has been suggested that a large array of highly polished bronze or copper shields acting as mirrors could have been employed to focus sunlight onto a ship. This would have used the principle of the parabolic reflector in a manner similar to a solar furnace." More  wiki

Wind turbines need more studies

Wind turbines need to be farther apart, suggests study | News | The Engineer
"Currently, turbines on large wind farms are spaced about seven rotor diameters apart. The new spacing model developed by Meneveau and Johan Meyers, an assistant professor at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, suggests that placing the wind turbines 15 rotor diameters apart - more than twice as far apart as in the current layouts – results in more cost-efficient power generation. Large wind farms - consisting of hundreds or even thousands of turbines - are planned or already operating in the western United States, Europe and China."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Museo in 3D

Dettaglio di una scultura indiana, da vedere in 3D con gli occhialini rosso/ciano.
Museo Arte Orientale

Profiles - Chief Joseph

Chief Joseph (1840 – 1904) was the chief of the Wallowa band of Nez Perce during General Oliver O. Howard's attempt to forcibly remove his band and the other "non-treaty" Nez Perce to a reservation in Idaho. For his principled resistance to the removal, he became renowned as a humanitarian and peacemaker.
From Wiki
Joseph the Younger succeeded his father as chief in 1871. Before his death, the latter counseled his son:
"My son, my body is returning to my mother earth, and my spirit is going very soon to see the Great Spirit Chief. When I am gone, think of your country. You are the chief of these people. They look to you to guide them. Always remember that your father never sold his country. You must stop your ears whenever you are asked to sign a treaty selling your home. A few years more and white men will be all around you. They have their eyes on this land. My son, never forget my dying words. This country holds your father's body. Never sell the bones of your father and your mother." Chief Joseph commented "I clasped my father's hand and promised to do as he asked. A man who would not defend his father's grave is worse than a wild beast."
Chief Joseph formally surrendered to General Nelson Appleton Miles on October 5, 1877 in the Bear Paw Mountains of the Montana Territory, less than 40 miles south of Canada in a place close to the present-day Chinook in Blaine County. The battle is remembered in popular history by the words attributed to Chief Joseph at the formal surrender:
"Tell General Howard I know his heart. What he told me before, I have it in my heart. I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed; Looking Glass is dead, Too-hul-hul-sote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led on the young men is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets; the little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are—perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."

The image shows Alice Cunningham Fletcher and Chief Joseph at the Nez Percé Lapwai Reservation in Idaho, where Fletcher arrived in 1889. The image is adapted from the original photograph by Jane Gay. This image is in the public domain due to its age.

Alice Cunningham Fletcher (1838 - 1923) was an American ethnologist who studied and documented American Indian culture. More  Wiki and also http://www.nmnh.si.edu/naa/fletcher/ (this web page has an image archive with original stereoscopic pictures).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Caligula's Tomb

"Hallan la tumba de Calígula", Tras dos milenios de su muerte, hallaron la tumba del emperador Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, más conocido como Calígula, de quien se decía que era promiscuo, depravado, cruel y demente, en el sur de Roma. El lugar fue detectado cuando la policía descubrió a un hombre que trataba de contrabandear una estatua del emperador robada del sitio, de dos metros y medio de alto. Calígula murió a los 28 años, cuando sus propios guardaespaldas acabaron con su vida en el año 41 A.C. Una de las locuras más célebres de Calígula fue nombrar consejero y sacerdote a su caballo favorito, Incitatus. http://connuestroperu.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14915&Itemid=1

"Caligula's tomb found after police arrest man trying to smuggle statue"
Police arrest tomb raider loading part of 2.5 metre statue into lorry near Lake Nemi, south of Rome, where Caligula had a villa. The Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/17/caligula-tomb-found-police-statue   The lost tomb of Caligula has been found, according to Italian police, after the arrest of a man trying to smuggle abroad a statue of the notorious Roman emperor recovered from the site. ...  The emperor had a villa there, as well as a floating temple and a floating palace on the Lake Nemi.

La tomba perduta di Caligola è stata trovata, secondo la polizia italiana, dopo l'arresto di un uomo che cercava di contrabbandare all'estero una statua dell'imperatore romano famigerato recuperata dal sito.

Emperor Caligula, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. (courtesy, Louis le Grand)

Caligula's Floating Palaces

"Caligula was a man of many passions, and he indulged nearly all of them, including his passions for chariot racing, theatrical performances, gladiatorial games, and ships. During his brief rule from A.D. 37 to 41, he had two enormous ships--a sailing ship and an oared galley--built and anchored on Lake Nemi as pleasure craft. Pillaged and deliberately sunk later in the first century, they were recovered in a feat of engineering sponsored by Benito Mussolini in the 1930s, but destroyed during a German retreat in 1944."  http://www.archaeology.org/0205/abstracts/caligula.html

Here an interesting description, written by Colonel Maceroni, in 1838.

A very singular piece of antiquity exists in the lake of Nemi, of which I have never seen any mention made by travellers. On the north-east side of the lake, in about forty feet water, lie the ruins of a large floating palace constructed by the Emperor Claudius or by Nero (in fact, Caligula). The lakes of Albano and Nemi are the craters of extinct volcanos, from which, at the time when they were covered by the sea, has proceeded all that vast quantity of tuffo and puzzolana which covers the Campagna di Roma. The high, steep banks of these circular lakes, covered with most beautiful trees and villas, cause one side of the water below to be constantly sheltered from the wind. Hence a floating habitation will give the choice of shade and shelter, or sunshine as the season may require. The way in which I became acquainted with this sunken palace was quite accidental. Being one evening in my punt about to lay some eel lines, the fisherman whom I employed told me, that the best place in that vicinity was "about the old palace". I stared and looked about. "What palace?" said I. I see plenty of houses and cottages, and ruins, on the hills around, but they are not even quite at the water's edge. My man rejoined : "I mean about the wooden palace under water in which the Emperor Claudius used to live." Delighted and excited by this announcement more than I should have been by the capture of a thousand eels as big as the mast of a ship, I hastened to the spot, but the declining sun had sunk below the high crater wood-clothed margin of the lake, and looking down into the limpid waters, all seemed dark and blue, and nothing could be seen but the hills and trees, and my own anxious physiognomy reflected in the watery mirror. However, I laid my lines, the hooks being baited with the thighs of frogs, and next morning I found fourteen eels, all about a pound a piece, and some of three pounds weight. Moreover, a brilliant sunshine enabled me to see the sunken palace, which appeared to be about one hundred feet square and fifteen to twenty feet high. How did I then regret not having the command of a diving-bell! What most curious and precious objects of antiquity might not be found in the interior of this construction? But this discovery I must leave to some future traveller, who may have the means of causing a diving-bell to be constructed at Rome, and know how to use it. As for myself, I mentioned the discovery to General Miolis, the imperial locum tenens, or Governor of Rome, and also to the learned antiquary, Mr. Norviuse de Monbreton, but nothing was done.


Star and Stripes - Geoglyphs Titicaca

A geoglyph of Titicaca - As seen by Google Maps
Coordinates -15.544474,-70.03443
Note that this structure is superimposed to an older one. Is it an incongruent restoration?

The star viewed from the ground (Courtesy, Gary Mariscal Herrera, Director Instituto Nacional de Cultura, Peru)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Un grande frammento, forse parte dell’alone luminoso di una statua, è esposto al Museo d'Arte Orientale ed è una tipica produzione degli artigiani Newar operanti in Tibet alla metà del secolo XV.  Un vegetale rampicante disegna le volute al cui interno si collocano le figure di un Nagaraja (re dei serpenti e protettore dei tesori contenuti nelle profondità delle acque) e di Manidhara (il Portatore del Gioiello). Manidhara e Nagaraja insieme rimandano al mito di Nagarjuna (Acharya Nāgārjuna,  150-250 AD, filosofo indiano, fondatore di una scuola buddista) che portò agli iuomini il gioiello della Prajñaparamita (La perfezione della saggezza trascedente) ricevuto dal re dei Naga.

Arte tibetana, Museo Arte Orientale, Torino


Gandhāra is the name of an ancient kingdom in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. This Kingdom lasted from early 1st millennium BC to the 11th century AD. It attained its height from the 1st century to the 5th century under the Buddhist Kushan Kings. Gandhāra is known for the distinctive Gandhāra style of Buddhist art, which developed out of a merger of Greek, Syrian, Persian, and Indian artistic influence. This development began during the Parthian Period (50 BC – AD 75). Gandhāran style flourished and achieved its peak during the Kushan period, from the 1st to the 5th century. It declined and suffered destruction after invasion of the White Huns in the 5th century.
By the time Gandhara had been absorbed into the empire of Mahmud of Ghazni, around 1000 AD, Buddhist buildings were already in ruins and Gandhara art had been forgotten. In the 19th century, British soldiers and administrators started taking interest in the ancient history of the Indian Subcontinent. In the 1830s very old coins were discovered and decipherment of some  Chinese records provided locations of Buddhists shrines. Along with the discovery of coins, these records provided necessary clues to piece together the history of Gandhara. In 1848 Gandhara sculptures have been discovered north of Peshawar. From then on a large number of Buddhist statues have been discovered in the Peshawar valley.

Headless Standing Buddha, II Century AD, Museo Arte orientale, Torino

Friday, January 14, 2011

Human, All Too Human - 4 - Lifespan

"A new study by a Washington University in St. Louis suggests life expectancy was probably the same for early modern and late archaic humans and did not factor in the extinction of Neanderthals. Our species, Homo sapiens, is the only surviving lineage of the genus Homo. Still, there once were many others, all of whom could also be called human. One puzzle was the lack of elderly individuals. It was therefore suggested that early hominins might have had a shorter life expectancy than early modern humans, with our lineage ultimately outnumbering Neanderthals, contributing to their demise." But  Neanderthals and early modern humans had same lifespan.

Pella in Giordania

"Pella is located in the eastern foothills of the north Jordan valley, around five kilometres east of the Jordan River in the modern-day Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It overlooks the north/south road that runs up the Jordan Valley, as well as the east/west trade route west down the Jezreel Valley to the coast at Haifa...The high cone-shaped largely natural hill of Tell Husn dominates the southern approaches to the site....The landscape surrounding the main mound is rich in archaeological remains stretching back deep into the Palaeolithic period. The first trace of hominid occupation dates from the Lower Palaeolithic, around 250,000 years ago. Survey and excavation in the Wadi Hammeh, five kilometres north of the main mound, have recorded a long sequence of Middle (80,000-40,000) and Upper (35,000-20,000) Palaeolithic campsites in the hills surrounding Pella." Read more http://www.pasthorizons.com/index.php/archives/11/2010/exploring-pella-bronze-age-temple-complex

The 'millicrab'

"One of the most studied objects in the sky, the Crab Nebula is the remnant of an exploded star 6500 light-years away from Earth. At its core is a neutron star that spins 30 times per second, driving processes that are responsible for it X-ray and gamma-ray emissions. Until recently the X-ray intensity of the Crab was considered to be so stable that it is used as a "standard candle" to judge the relative brightness of other objects in the sky. Indeed, X-ray brightness is often expressed in units of "millicrab"." X-ray astronomers have for decades calibrated their detectors using the Crab Nebula, but now an international team of astronomers has discovered that the X-ray output of the Crab has dropped by 7% in the last two years.
Astronomers say goodbye to the 'millicrab' - physicsworld.com

Gulf Stream edging northwards along Canadian coast

The Gulf Stream off eastern Canada appears to have advanced northward of its historical position in recent decades, possibly in response to anthropogenic climate change. That is according to researchers in North America and Switzerland who say that the changes could have some profound implications for marine life off the coast of Canada.
Gulf Stream edging northwards along Canadian coast - physicsworld.com

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Acoustic archaeology

Acoustic archaeology is an emerging field that melds acoustical analysis and old-fashioned bone-hunting. Ancient people created fun house-like temples that featured scary sound effects. More http://news.discovery.com/archaeology/acoustic-archaeology-chavin-mayan.html
and also "Scientists analyze tunes from 3,000-year-old conch-shell instruments for insight into pre-Inca civilization"

The Fourth Dimension of Space

"For a moment the Canterville ghost stood quite motionless in natural indignation; then, dashing the bottle violently upon the polished floor, he fled down the corridor, uttering hollow groans, and emitting a ghastly green light. Just, however, as he reached the top of the great oak staircase, a door was flung open, two little white-robed figures appeared, and a large pillow whizzed past his head! There was evidently no time to be lost, so, hastily adopting the Fourth Dimension of Space as a means of escape, he vanished through the wainscoting, and the house became quite quiet." Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost, http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Canterville_Ghost/Chapter_I
Curioso richiamo alla quarta dimensione.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


A hemispheric view of Venus was created using more than a decade of radar investigations culminating in the 1990-1994 Magellan mission, and is centered on the planet's North Pole. The Magellan spacecraft imaged more than 98 percent of the planet Venus and a mosaic of the Magellan images (most with illumination from the west) forms the image base.
The image in full resolution http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/508439main_PIA00007_full.jpg

Molecular motors

"Inside cells there are proteins that convert chemical energy into useful work. For example, kinesins and dyneins haul cargo around the cell. Myosin molecules can bind to actin filaments and exert forces, which is how our muscles work. Other molecules rotate, such as the protein that creates the molecules that are the prime fuel of our cells. The general method by which these molecular motors operate is through a Brownian ratchet mechanism. However, whereas the classic Brownian ratchet does not actually work, molecular motors harness molecular binding energies to satisfy the second law of thermodynamics. Typically, binding of an ion or molecule (such as ATP) to the motor leads to a conformational change in the protein. This conformational change can act like a power-stroke in the motor. Hydrolysis of ATP or release of the bound ion then returns the motor to its original state, thereby completing a cycle (or, in the case of rotational motors, a binding and release event typically only produces a substep of a complete rotation)." from  Does cell biology need physicists?, by
Charles W. Wolgemuth, http://physics.aps.org/articles/v4/4

"The busy life in living cells involves a great deal of transport activities and mechanical tasks, which are undertaken by motor proteins* —molecular machines that convert chemical energy into mechanical work. In recent years, these remarkable machines have inspired artificial devices that deliver mechanical work  or propel themselves in a viscous environment. We do not yet understand the mechanism behind the complex mechanochemical coupling in motor proteins. Standard rules used in macroscale engineering do not work at the nanoscale. New strategies are needed for the development of artificial nanoscale machines." http://physics.aps.org/articles/v3/108

*Motor proteins are a class of molecular motors that are able to move along the surface of a suitable substrate. They are powered by the hydrolysis of ATP and convert chemical energy into mechanical work. more http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_protein

Carbon nanotubes spin a yarn

Researchers in US are the first to produce electrically conducting yarns from webs of carbon nanotubes and various powders and nanofibres. The yarns, made by a technique called biscrolling, are very strong and can be woven, sewn, knitted and braided into a variety of structures. They could find applications in energy storage and harvesting, structural composites, photocatalysis and intelligent textiles. http://nanotechweb.org/cws/article/tech/44733

Strain on Earth’s biological resources

"NASA satellite images have revealed that the biosphere is being placed under increasing strain as rising population on a global scale is accompanied by increased consumption of crops and animals per capita."

Il satellite Planck per capire le origini dell'Universo

"Da oggi, 11/1/2011 c'è in rete un nuovo tesoro, anzi una vera e propria miniera di tesori. Si tratta del catalogo preliminare dei dati del satellite europeo Planck, un catalogo di dati per astrofisici specialisti, ma che rappresenta un notevole balzo in avanti per la conoscenza del nostro Universo. Ed è solo l'inizio perché il satellite è a metà circa del suo lavoro che terminerà, fondi permettendo fra un paio di anni. Poi ce ne vorranno anche una diecina per pulire e analizzare a fondo la massa enorme di dati che Planck sta trasmettendo."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Profiles - Hero of Alexandria

The idea using the power of steam is quite old. A Greek mathematician and engineer who resided in the Ptolemaic Egypt, named Hero, wrote a manuscript describing various devices and ideas of the time. Although it is not sure that Hero was the inventor of  these devices, he is credited for the earliest mention of steam power. Hero describes a method to open the doors of a temple with the action of a fire on an altar at the front of the temple. A series of pipes runs between altar and the temple doors: it is the steam created by the fire on the altar and the suitable syste of pipes to open the temple doors.

Antikythera mechanism

Antikythera is a Greek island. It is known for being the location of the discovery of the Antikythera mechanism and for the Antikythera wreck, a shipwreck from the 1st or 2nd century BC. It was discovered by sponge divers in the early 1900s. The wreck produced numerous statues and a mechanism, considered as the world's oldest known analog computer.
In October 1900, a team of sponge divers led by Captain Dimitrios Kondos began diving off the coastline of Antikythera island. At that time, divers  wore as diving equipment a canvas suit and copper helmet, which allowed them to dive deeper and to stay submerged longer. "The first to lay eyes on the shipwreck 60 metres down was Elias Stadiatos, who quickly signaled to be pulled to the surface. He described the scene as a heap of rotting corpses and horses lying on the sea bed. Thinking the diver had gone mad from too much carbon dioxide in his helmet, Kondos himself dove into the water, soon returning with a bronze arm of a statue." more Wiki.
On 17 May 1902, archaeologist Valerios Stais made the most celebrated find. He was diving to search the area of the wreck and noticed that one of the pieces of rock near him had a gear wheel embedded in it. He found what is now known as the "Antikythera mechanism".

Il meccanismo è un "antichissimo calcolatore per il calendario solare e lunare, le cui ruote dentate potevano riprodurre il rapporto di 254:19 necessario a ricostruire il moto della Luna in rapporto al Sole (la Luna compie 254 rivoluzioni siderali ogni 19 anni solari). L'estrema complessità del congegno era inoltre dovuta al fatto che tale rapporto veniva riprodotto tramite l'utilizzo di una ventina di ruote dentate e di un differenziale, un meccanismo che permetteva di ottenere una rotazione di velocità pari alla somma o alla differenza di due rotazioni date. Il suo scopo era quello di mostrare, oltre ai mesi lunari siderali, anche le lunazioni, ottenute dalla sottrazione del moto solare al moto lunare siderale.Sulla base della sua ricerca, Price concluse che, contrariamente a quanto si era creduto in precedenza, nella Grecia del II secolo a.C. esisteva effettivamente una tradizione di altissima tecnologia." More http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macchina_di_Anticitera and also, a longer discussion, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antikythera_mechanism

I have prepared the following image, using a picture after enhancement and a schematic view, both from Wiki. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Crystal skull

Small crystal skull, a few centimeters size, Palazzo Madama, Torino

Double-layers and supercapacitors

A double layer (DL), or electrical double layer, is a charge distribution that appears on the surface of an object when it is placed into a liquid. The object might be a solid particle, a gas bubble or a liquid droplet. The double layer is created by two parallel layers of charge, surrounding the object. The first layer is attached to the surface, with a charge either positive or negative. This layer is built by the ions adsorbed* onto the object due to chemical interactions. The second layer is composed of ions attracted to the surface charge via the coulomb force, electrically screening the first layer. This second layer is loosely associated with the object: it is made of free ions which move in the fluid under the influence of electric attraction and thermal motion rather than being firmly anchored. It is thus called the diffuse layer.
DL plays a fundamental role in many real-world systems. For instance, milk exists only because fat droplets are covered with a double layer that prevent their coagulation into butter. DLs exist in practically all heterogeneous fluid-based systems, such as blood, paints, inks, ceramic slurries and cement slurries.

* In general, adsorption is the adhesion of atoms, ions, biomolecules or molecules of gas, liquid, or dissolved solids to a surface. This process creates a film of the adsorbate (the molecules or atoms being accumulated) on the surface of the adsorbent.
More on double-layers at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_layer_(interfacial)

An electric double-layer capacitor, also known as supercapacitor, supercondenser, pseudocapacitor, electrochemical double layer capacitor(EDLC), or ultracapacitor, is an electrochemical capacitor with relatively highenergy density, typically on the order of thousands of times greater than anelectrolytic capacitor.
Supercapacitors are able to store about a million times more charges than conventional capacitors. The principle is that of the "double layer". The charge is stored in the so called Helmholtz double layer. When voltage is applied, ions of opposite charge accumulate at the electrodes and the double layer is formed. Its thickness is in the range of several angstroms. Usually, highly porous carbon is used as electrode material, to create a fractal surface. Due to this very high specific electrode surface and the very small distances within the double layer, capacities of several hundreds farads can be achieved. As charge storage is only physical and not chemical, as in the case of batteries.

Some researchers in the US have made the first high-frequency AC supercapacitors containing graphene electrodes. The devices, which are much smaller than conventional capacitors, could be used in applications like computer processing units and other tiny integrated circuits.

Google Earth Engine

Google Earth Engine, mette online mappe e ambientali per la possibilità di analisi e confronti incrociati su deforestazione, desertificazione e risorse idriche. "Un nuovo strumento online per salvaguardare il pianeta. Alla conferenza Onu sul clima di Cancun, in Messico, è stato presentato in questa veste Google Earth Engine, nuova piattaforma targata Mountain View che mette a disposizione della comunità scientifica internazionale 25 anni di dati e immagini satellitari - e gli strumenti per analizzarli."

Dante's portrait by Longfellow

Tuscan, that wanderest through the realms of gloom,With thoughtful pace, and sad, majestic eyes, Stern thoughts and awful from they thoughts arise, Like Farinata from his fiery tomb. Thy sacred song is like the trump of doom;Yet in thy heart what human sympathies,What soft compassion glows...
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Dante e l'America, Henry Longfellow

"La presenza di Dante nella cultura americana risale al 1867, quando il poeta Henry Wadsworth Longfellow completò la prima traduzione americana della Divina Commedia", dice Giuliana Fazzion, James Madison University. Longfellow fondò nel 1865 un circolo per la traduzione di Dante nella sua casa a Cambridge, Massachusetts. Altri studiosi collaborarono con Longfellow alla prima intera traduzione della Divina Commedia. Il  gruppo di lavori si battezzo “Dante Club”  e nel 1881 divenne  “The Dante Society of America”.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Il Caronte di Virgilio

Il post precedente  riporta la descrizione di Caronte fatta da Dante nell'Inferno, con la traduzione Longfellow. Chi era Caronte? Nella mitologia, Caronte, figlio di Erebo e Notte, era il traghettatore dell'Ade. Trasportava le anime da una riva all'altra del fiume Acheronte, ma solo se i loro corpi avevano ricevuto i rituali funebri, con un obolo per pagare il viaggio; chi non aveva l'obolo, era costretto vagare tra le nebbie del fiume per cento anni. Si metteva così una moneta nella bocca del defunto prima della sepoltura. Alcuni ricercatori sostengono che il prezzo era di due monete, sistemate sopra gli occhi. Pochissime anime vive son state trasportate da Caronte, tra di loro Enea, Ulisse, Orfeo e Dante.
Caronte viene descritto nell'Eneide da Virgilio al libro VI con le seguenti parole:

"Portitor has horrendus aquas et flumina servat
terribili squalore Charon, cui plurima mento
canities inculta iacet, stant lumina flamma,
sordidus ex umeris nodo dependet amictus.
Ipse ratem conto subigit velisque ministrat
et ferruginea subvectat corpora cumba,
iam senior, sed cruda deo viridisque senectus."

Ecco che Dante segue il suo maestro Virgilio e riprende la figura di Caronte, la barba bianca, gli occhi di fuoco, ma sembra renderlo meno demone e più dannato egli stesso come le anime che traghetta.

Charon the demon

Ed ecco verso noi venir per nave un vecchio, bianco per antico pelo,
gridando: <<Guai a voi, anime prave! Non isperate mai veder lo cielo:
i' vegno per menarvi a l'altra riva ne le tenebre etterne, in caldo e 'n gelo.
E tu che se' costi`, anima viva, partiti da cotesti che son morti>>.
Ma poi che vide ch'io non mi partiva, disse: <<Per altra via, per altri porti
verrai a piaggia, non qui, per passare: piu` lieve legno convien che ti porti>>.
E 'l duca lui: <<Caron, non ti crucciare: vuolsi cosi` cola` dove si puote
cio` che si vuole, e piu` non dimandare>>. Quinci fuor quete le lanose gote
al nocchier de la livida palude, che 'ntorno a li occhi avea di fiamme rote.
Ma quell'anime, ch'eran lasse e nude, cangiar colore e dibattero i denti,
ratto che 'nteser le parole crude. ...
Caron dimonio, con occhi di bragia, loro accennando, tutte le raccoglie;
batte col remo qualunque s'adagia.

And lo! towards us coming in a boat an old man, hoary with the hair of eld, crying:
"Woe unto you, ye souls depraved! Hope nevermore to look upon the heavens; I come to lead you to the other shore, to the eternal shades in heat and frost. And thou, that yonder standest, living soul, withdraw thee from these people, who are dead!"
But when he saw that I did not withdraw, he said: "By other ways, by other ports thou to the shore shalt come, not here, for passage; a lighter vessel needs must carry thee." And unto him the Guide: "Vex thee not, Charon; it is so willed there where is power to do that which is willed; and farther question not." Thereat were quieted the fleecy cheeks of him the ferryman of the livid fen, who round about his eyes had wheels of flame.
But all those souls who weary were and naked their colour changed and gnashed their teeth together, as soon as they had heard those cruel words...
Charon the demon, with the eyes of glede, beckoning to them, collects them all together, beats with his oar whoever lags behind.

(traduzione Longfellow)

Fluorescence test for water quality

"A team of engineers and scientists are developing a device that measures water’s fluorescence in order to detect harmful microbes and chemicals... Water, like other substances, can absorb certain wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation and then emit it at a different wavelength, a process known as fluorescence.
Bridgeman’s technology identifies where radiation absorbed and emitted at specific wavelengths creates high intensity fluorescence, indicating that water pollutants are present."
Item by Stephen Harris, http://www.theengineer.co.uk/1006706.article?cmpid=TE01P&cmptype=newsletter&cmpdate=070111&email=true

Coronary stent

Most balloon angioplasty procedures include the insertion of tiny cylindrical wire mesh structures, called cardiovascular stents*, into the artery to prevent the elastic recoil that follows arterial dilatation. The scaffolding characteristics of the stent provide strength to the artery wall. However, vascular injury during stent deployment and/or recognition of the stent as a foreign material triggers neointimal hyperplasia, causing re-closure of the artery. A recent advancement to counteract restenosis is to employ drug-eluting stents to locally deliver immunosuppressant andantiproliferative drugs.  Furthermore,  auxetic (negative Poisson's ratio) stent structures were proposed that exhibits high circumferential strength in its expanded configuration and low flexural rigidity in its crimped configuration. 

*A stent is an artificial tubular structure inserted into a natural passage/conduit to prevent, or counteract, a localized flow constriction. The term may also refer to a tube used to temporarily hold such a natural conduit open to allow access for surgery.
See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronary_stent

Note the structure of the two stents. Stretching the tube corresponds in increasing the diameter. This image has been obtained after elaboration of the original one: Zwei Stents von schräg vorne mit Zentimetermaß. Ort der Aufnahme: Baden-Baden, Deutschland, Frank C. Müller.

Angioplastica coronarica

"L’angioplastica consente di ristabilire il flusso del sangue al cuore, riaprendo le coronarie ristrette per la presenza di placche aterosclerotiche, senza bisogno di aprire lo sterno con un intervento chirurgico, come si fa nei by-pass, ma arrivando direttamente ai vasi ostruiti risalendo lungo un’arteria perforata attraverso la pelle."..."A metà degli anni ottanta si pensò di inserire nell’arteria, di solito dopo averla dilatata col palloncino, un cilindro cavo formato da una retina metallica che si apriva impedendo che il vaso si restringesse di nuovo. Questo strumento, che viene lasciato in quella posizione al termine della procedura, è detto stent". ..."A metà degli anni novanta nascono i cosiddetti stent medicati, retine metalliche identiche alle precedenti ma ricoperte di un farmaco che viene rilasciato apoco a poco e che riduce la proliferazione delle cellule responsabili del restringimento all’interno del canale."

Auxetics, that is Negative Poisson's ratio materials

"Poisson's ratio, also called the Poisson coefficient, is the ratio of transverse contraction strain to longitudinal extension strain in a stretched bar. Since most common materials become thinner in cross section when stretched, Poisson's ratio for them is positive. The reason is that inter-atomic bonds realign with deformation. Stretching of normal honeycomb, shown on the right, illustrates the concept. Normal polymer foams or cellular solids, above left, have a positive Poisson's ratio. Re-entrant polymer foams developed in our laboratory, above right, have a negative Poisson's ratio." by Rod Lakes

Auxetics are materials that have a negative Poisson's ratio. When stretched, they become thicker perpendicular to the applied force. Auxetic materials can be created from particular structures of macroscopic matter. Such materials are expected to have mechanical properties such as high energy absorption and fracture resistance. Auxetics may be useful in applications such as body armor, packing material, knee and elbow pads, robust shock absorbing material, and sponge mops. The term auxetic derives from a Greek word  which means "that which tends to increase", This terminology was coined by  Ken Evans of the University of Exeter.

Self-Organization of Helical Assemblies

"Organisms in nature can assemble themselves into highly functioning structures. Understanding the unique architectural principles that prompt this self-organization offers important clues into economical ways of solving complex material and design challenges."

Scientists explore nature’s designs

"A Harvard physical chemist Joanna Aizenberg acquired a passionate curiosity about — of all things — sponges. She particularly liked the ones made of glass, whose apparent fragility belied the fact that they could withstand terrific pressure in the deep sea"
More http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2008/12/scientists-explore-nature%E2%80%99s-designs/
"To illustrate the kind of work done at her laboratory, Aizenberg focused on Venus’ Flower Basket, a milky-looking undulant sponge shaped like a tapering tube... native to the deep ocean, thriving in cold, crushing pressures a thousand feet below the surface... Venus’ Flower Basket is an intriguing package. At 500 million years old, it’s very low on the evolutionary tree. But its layered superstructure of glass illustrates how strong nature makes things, and with what apparent ease."

Sponges and glass fibers

The Venus' Flower Basket, or Euplectella aspergillum, is a deep ocean sponge. In traditional Asian cultures, this particular sponge, in the dry state, was given as a wedding gift. The reason is that this sponge is the house for a couple of small shrimp. The shrimp inside of the basket clean it, and in return, the basket provides food  by trapping it in its fiberglass-like strands, and then releasing it into the body of the sponge for the shrimp. The sponge  is also bioluminescent.
The glassy fibers that attach the sponge to the ocean floor,  are of interest to fiber optics researchers. The sponge extracts silicic acid from seawater and converts it into silica, then forms it into an elaborate skeleton of glass fibers. Other sponges  can also produce glass biologically. The current manufacturing process for optical fibers requires high temperatures and produces a brittle fiber. A low-temperature process for creating and arranging such fibers, inspired by sponges, could offer more control over the optical properties of the fibers.
More http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus'_Flower_Basket

Friday, January 7, 2011

Buddha - Thailandia

Bronzo laccato e dorato, Thailandia, XVII-XVIII sec.

Anche questa statua è esposta nella collezione del Museo d'Arte Orientale dedicata alla Thailandia.

Buddha - Tibet

Museo Arte Orientale, Buddha Shakyamuni, Rame dorato e pigmento azzurro, Tibet centrale, XIII sec.

Il Museo d'Arte Orientale di Torino ha una sezione dedicata alla regione Himalaiana, ricca di reperti provenienti dal Tibet. Buddha Shakyamuni siede nella posizione del loto. La spalla destra scoperta, un sottile panneggio ricade sulla sinistra dopo aver fasciato il busto. Il collo ha le tre pieghe di bellezza. Busto slanciato e spalle larghe e arrotondate. Viso ovale che si allarga in alto nella fronte spaziosa. Gli occhi si estendono verso le tempie con le palpebre abbassate a caratterizzare uno sguardo interiore. Questa immagine del Buddha venne creata per un monastero Tibetano, anche se risente della tradizione della scultura nepalese, nella fusione in rame e la ricca doratura al mercurio.

Museo Arte Orientale, Buddha del Paradiso d'Oriente, Fusione in rame con tracce di oro freddo, Tibet centrale, XIV secolo

La statua mostra il Buddha del Paradiso d'Oriente nel momento della tentazione del Buddha Shakyamuni da parte di Mara e la sua incrollabile decisione di raggiungere l'Illuminazione. Il Budha siede su una doppia corolla di loto culminante in un filare di perle, con la mano sinistra nell'atteggiamento della meditazione e con la mano destra che sfiora il suolo nel gesto che chiama la Terra a testimone del diritto maturato in infinite vite precedenti.

The Doors to Aslan

C.S. Lewis wrote "The Chronicles of Narnia" as fantasy novels for children. Written between 1949 and 1954, the series is Lewis's most popular work. The books contain Christian ideas intended to be easily accessible to young readers. In addition, Lewis used characters from Greek and Roman mythology as well as traditional British and Irish fairy tales.
According to the paper, "The Wardrobe as Christian Metaphor", by Don W. King, Mythlore 14 (Autumn 1987), C.S. Lewis is aware of how frequently the door is used metaphorically in the New Testament and that Jesus is often associated with a door. In John 14:6 for instance, Jesus tells to be the door to communion with God. Lewis' knowledge of Scriptures is put to work throughout  Narnia. As we can read in the paper by Don W. King, "doors are used significantly in the stories and echoes of the Biblical references made above resonate clearly. Four specific points about Lewis' use of doors are noteworthy: 1) Literal doors lead to the Door, Aslan; 2) Aslan is a two-way door; 3) Passage through the different literal doors into Narnia is always unplanned; and 4) All who enter the doors are called into Narnia, but none are compelled to stay; indeed, some who are called do not seem to belong. First, in every instance the literal doors that the children use to enter Narnia eventually lead directly to the Door, Aslan. The doors themselves take on different forms, from the wardrobe door in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to the framed picture in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to the railway station in Prince Caspian and The Last Battle to the magic rings and the Wood Between the Worlds in The Magician's Nephew. Literally, the doors function to take the children out of their real world and into a new other world". The doors serve to move the children from the everyday life to a new  reality. All the doors inexorably lead to Aslan.

The Doors of Gringotts

"Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed,
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay most dearly in their turn.
So if you seek beneath our floors
A treasure that was never yours,
Thief, you have been warned, beware
Of finding more than treasure there."

—Inscription on the doors of Gringotts

"Gringotts Wizarding Bank is the only known bank of the wizarding world, and is owned and operated by goblins. It was created by the goblin Gringott. Its main offices are located in Diagon Alley in London, England. In addition to storing money and valuables for wizards and witches, one can go there to exchange Muggle money for wizarding money. According to Rubeus Hagrid, other than Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Gringotts is the safest place in the wizarding world."

See also, Dante, The Gate of Hell and The Doors to Aslan

The Gate of Hell

"Per me si va ne la citta` dolente,
per me si va ne l'etterno dolore,
per me si va tra la perduta gente.
Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore:
fecemi la divina podestate,
la somma sapienza e 'l primo amore.
Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create
se non etterne, e io etterno duro.
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate".
Queste parole di colore oscuro
vid'io scritte al sommo d'una porta.

"Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.
Justice the founder of my fabric mov'd:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.
Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure.
All hope abandon ye who enter here."
Such characters in colour dim I mark'd
Over a portal's lofty arch inscrib'd.

Coccodrilli e fossili nelle chiese

Pare che la presenza di coccodrilli nelle chiese non sia una rarita', da come si puo' vedere con una semplice ricerca su Internet. Ho, per esempio, trovato il Santuario della Beata Vergine di Mantova   dove un rettile pende dal soffitto. Si legge nel sito, che in epoca cristiana le figure di draghi coccodrilli o serpi venivano spesso associate al male, considerate personificazioni terrene del diavolo. "La collocazione di questi animali nelle chiese ha quindi un forte significato simbolico, come furono nelle chiese medievali l'ubicazione di fossili preistorici; quindi, incatenare l'animale in alto, nella volta della chiesa vuol dire renderlo innocuo, bloccare il male che rappresenta e nello stesso tempo esporre un monito concreto per i fedeli contro l'umana predisposizione all'errore."

Palazzo Madama

Vedi anche A dinosaur in church Saint Bertrand's crocodile (questo coccodrillo è descritto in un racconto di M R James - Canon Alberic's Scrapbook)

A dinosaur in church

Very interesting: in marble objects and decorations of churches we can find remains of past eons.
See the item DINOSAUR SKULL FOUND IN CHURCH, by Rossella Lorenzi. "Encased in pinkish marble-like slabs supporting a balustrade, this dinosaur - or what's left of it - has for centuries been the most faithful presence in the Cathedral of St. Ambrose in Vigevano, a town about 20 miles from Milan. The rock contains what appears to be a horizontal section of a dinosaur’s skull.

Saint Bertrand's crocodile

Very ancient and beautiful cathedral
having a curoius stuffed crocodile on a pillar, as told in the M R James' novel "Canon Alberic' scrapbook",

M R James - Canon Alberic's Scrapbook

Racconto di M R James dove un collezionista di volumi rari si imbatte, nel paesino dei Pirenei, in un taccuino molto speciale. Il racconto si apre con la visita del protagonista alla cattedrale, dove un coccodrillo impagliato è appeso ad una parete.
"St. Bertrand de Comminges is a decayed town on the spurs of the Pyrenees, not very far from Toulouse, and still nearer to Bagnères-de-Luchon. It was the site of a bishopric until the Revolution, and has a cathedral which is visited by a certain number of tourists. In the spring of 1883 an Englishman arrived at this old-world place ... He was a Cambridge man, who had come specially from Toulouse to see St Bertrand's Church... (He) proposed to himself to fill a notebook and to use several dozens of plates in the process of describing and photographing every corner of the wonderful church that dominates the little hill of  Comminges...
However, the Englishman (let us call him Dennistoun) was soon too deep in his notebook and too busy with his camera to give more than an occasional glance to the sacristan. Whenever he did look at him, he found him at no great distance, either huddling himself back against the wall or crouching in one of the gorgeous stalls. Dennistoun became rather fidgety after a time. Mingled suspicions that he was keeping the old man from his déjeuner, that he was regarded as likely to make away with St Bertrand's ivory crozier, or with the dusty stuffed crocodile that hangs over the font, began to torment him.
'Won't you go home?' he said at last; 'I'm quite well able to finish my notes alone; you can lock me in if you like. I shall want at least two hours more here, and it must be cold for you, isn't it?'
'Good Heavens!' said the little man, whom the suggestion seemed to throw into a state of unaccountable terror, 'such a thing cannot be thought of for a moment. Leave monsieur alone in the church? No, no; two hours, three hours, all will be the same to me... 

Spicules – plasma jets on the Sun

A mystery: why is  the Sun's outer atmosphere – or corona –  so much hotter than its surroundings?
"The corona, the vast gossamer atmosphere of plasma visible from Earth during a total solar eclipse, can notch up temperatures in excess of one million degrees Kelvin (MK). Several rival explanations have jostled to account for why the corona is unexpectedly over 200 times hotter than the visible surface, or photosphere, of the Sun".
It could be the action of spicules to increase the coronal temperature.

Profiles - Ibn al-Haytham

"The Scholar and the Caliph" by Jennifer Ouellette is a work of fiction, a imagining of a 10-year period in the life of the medieval Muslim polymath Ibn al-Haytham (AD 965–1040) considered by many historians to be the father of modern optics. He lived during the golden age of Arabic science, creating an early version of the scientific method, two hundred years before scholars in Western Europe. He is most celebrated for his Book of Optics.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ryusai Shigeharu

Museo Arte Orientale, Arte Giapponese

Snow country

"Snow Country" is a novel by Yasunari Kawabata (1899 – 1972,  Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968). "Snow country" is a literal translation of the Japanese title "Yukiguni". The name comes from the place where the story takes place, where Shimamura arrives in a train coming through a long tunnel under the border mountains between Gunma  and Niigata Prefectures. more http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_Country

Some Prefer Nettles

"Some prefer nettles" is a novel written by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki (1886 – 1965). Considered one of Tanizaki’s most successful novels, Tade kuu mushi has a theme pervading it, the struggle between East and West. 
The protagonist of the novel, Kaname, possesses aesthetic tastes leaning toward the so-called West.  more http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Some_Prefer_Nettles
Anche in italiano, Gli insetti preferiscono le ortiche.

Scientist googles crater find

Scientist googles crater find, Monday, 16 August 2010, by Stuart Gary
"Scientists using Google Maps have discovered a new crater like structure in the Bayuda Desert of Sudan. If confirmed, it will be the second such discovery using the popular online mapping tool and could spawn a new generation of home-based amateur crater hunters. Assistant Professor Amelia Sparavigna from the Politecnico di Torino in Italy has detailed her discovery on the pre-press website arXiv.org."

Slideshow: Photo 1 of 2

Google Crater after (Google Earth)

Ryusai Shigeharu

Personaggio femminile con pugnale, xilografia su carta, tecnica nishiki-e, oban tate-e (37,3 x 25,4 cm) 
Autore: Ryusai Shigeharu, ca. 1830.
Museo Arte Orientale, Arte giapponese

Byōbu, the wind wall

Byōbu (wind wall) are the Japanese folding screens, made from several joined panels bearing decorative painting, used to separate and enclose private spaces. During the Edo Period (1600-1868), Byōbu  adorned samurai residences. The backgrounds of byōbu were made from gold leaf and highly colorful paintings depicting nature and scenes from daily life.

Museo Arte Orientale


"Under a Wave off Kanagawa", also known as The Great Wave, is a woodblock print by the Japanese artist Hokusai. This particular woodblock is one of the most recognized works of Japanese art in the world. It depicts an enormous wave threatening boats near the Japanese prefecture of Kanagawa.  It depicts the area around Mount Fuji and the mountain itself appears in the background. Copies of the print are in many Western collections.

Torino - Museo Arte Orientale

Gyokusen Shuga Cho

Mochizuki Gyokusen (1834-1913)

Torino - Museo Arte Orientale, Via San Domenico 11


Garamantes lived in fertile areas of Sahara, corresponding to the southwestern Libya, which had not always been a desert. In a period lasting from about 10,000 to 6,000 before current era, the country was like a savanna, with some perennial lakes. During the sixth millennium, several great droughts forced people to abandon the region. The lakes disappeared, leaving large fields of salt, one of the main articles of future Garamantian trade.
more http://www.livius.org/ga-gh/garamantes/garamantes.html