Saturday, June 07, 2003

Was Peabody around for the initial discovery?

British archeologists believe they may have identified the body of one of the most legendary beauties of the ancient world. They are confident a tattered mummy found in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings is probably Queen Nefertiti, stepmother of the boy king Tutankhamun and one of the most powerful women in ancient Egypt. The conclusion has been made after 12 years of research, using clues such as fragments of a wig and the piercing of the mummy’s ears. The breakthrough came after the Egyptian authorities allowed the 3,500-year-old body to be examined in detail for the first time.

Under a pile of ancient linen, archeologists found a broken-off arm bent in a way that was permitted only if the dead person was a pharaoh or queen.

Joann Fletcher, a key member of the research team from York University, said: “It’s a royal woman of the late 18th dynasty who wielded tremendous power. There are not many who fit that description. We can never have cast-iron certainty that it is Nefertiti but we have narrowed it right down.”

The mummy was originally found with two others by a French team in 1898. It was walled up in a side chamber of the tomb of King Amenhotep II. The body’s poor condition meant it drew little attention. It was photographed only once, in 1907, before the chamber was walled up again. Since then it has been known simply as “the younger woman”.

Fletcher’s interest in the mummy was sparked when she noticed the photograph’s resemblance to a Nefertiti bust on display in Berlin since the 1920s whose beautiful face makes it one of the best-known images of ancient Egypt. It shows a woman with a long neck, high cheekbones and a slender nose. The name Nefertiti means “a beautiful woman has come”.

The bust was found at Amarna, where Nefertiti’s husband, the pharaoh Akhenaten, had his capital in the 14th century BC. But after his death he was branded a heretic and anything connected with his reign was destroyed. “Nefertiti is the big name. She is such a phenomenally important Egyptian figure and she is an icon because of that bust in Berlin,” said Fletcher.


via The Times (UK)

Well, this should pose interesting challenges for the cops and for junior high teachers...

Spider Man, it seems, got it wrong. By the end of the decade, humans might well be able to climb like insects up the face of any building. Yet the inspiration behind such wall-scaling technology will not be spindly-legged arachnids, but rather hairy-toed geckos. In this month's issue of Nature Materials, a team of scientists reports that it has prodcued a dry, glueless adhesive that would allow humans to scurry across the living-room ceiling - supported solely by the feeble molecular attractions that occur every time two objects touch.

There is more work to be done before "gecko tape" is ready for human use. The first piece is smaller than a postage stamp and can only hold a Spider-Man action figure to the underside of a piece of glass. But the promises are astounding: from gecko gloves to easy-peel bandages to one-sided velcro. Now, scientists believe they have passed perhaps the most significant stumbling block.

"There are technological challenges, but I see them only as challenges," says André Geim, a physicist at the University of Manchester in England and author of the new study. "There is nothing that is fundamental ... that could stop us from achieving this."


via the Christian Science Monitor

This is so cool. Supposedly done by Honda UK. He says he put it on his server to download more quickly. See how many simple machines you can identify. I am using it with my classes next year if it is still there. It may load more quickly with broadband, I don't now about dial-up.

Friday, June 06, 2003

This is very good news, not because it is a cure yet, but because of what they are learning about how this works.

Twelve diabetic patients who have taken part in a transplant trial no longer need to take insulin shots, according to early data released here Monday. The patients have all had at least one transplant of pancreatic islet cells, which are meant to replace their own non-functioning cells. Islets are clusters of cells in the pancreas that contain insulin-producing beta cells.

The hope is that these patients, who have type 1 diabetes, will never have to be insulin-dependent again, and that they won't experience the disease's common complications, such as blindness, and heart and kidney disease, said James Shapiro, the trial's principal investigator and director of the islet transplant program at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

Shapiro and colleagues at nine sites around the world began transplanting islet cells into diabetic patients in late 2001, and have reported on a few patients before. They gave an update Monday at a briefing held in conjunction with the American Transplant Congress. Twelve patients have stopped taking insulin, and 16 others are showing good donor islet function, but are still taking some insulin.


via Reuters

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Xoanon from TheOneRing.net has finally had it with questions concerning the Return of the King trailer.

We get hundreds of emails a day here at TORN, but today I personally have gotten at least a dozen asking about the ROTK trailer. People asking me why it wasn't attached to TTT or panicking when they notice TTT has left their local theatre. Here is what we KNOW.

The ROTK trailer will not be attached to the end of TTT anywhere. It WILL be seen as a regular trailer (the type before a film starts) sometime soon but NOT IN JUNE. The last I heard it will NOT be attached to 'Dumb and Dumberer', but of course things are fluid and could possibly change.

So there's the news that is fit to print. Take a screenshot of this page, print it out, stick it on your fridge...tell your friends or family or the guy who hands you your food at the next drive-thu you go to....just get the word out.


Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Remember all those cool scenes in Minority Report where Tom Cruise is manipulating the computers with just his hands? Seems like fact is following fiction once again with this cool gadget.

    The most common hand gesture made toward a computer may involve one finger, usually in frustration over a lost document.
    But one company is turning other natural hand movements into a sleek new way to work on the computer. FingerWorks of Newark, Delaware, has developed a technology that turns hand gestures into some of the most common computing tasks, like opening files. The technology could gain favor with people who suffer from repetitive stress injuries.
    "As your fingers and hands touch the surface, the microprocessors are constantly able to observe what's going on," said John Elias, FingerWorks' president and CEO. "This is the beginning, we think, of a gesture-based language for communicating with and interacting with computers."
    FingerWorks sells two types of products. The iGesture pad is about the size of a standard mouse pad. The TouchStream keyboard functions like a regular keyboard, but also incorporates the same gesture-sensing technology, eliminating the need for a mouse.
    The gesturing interface works like this. To open a file, a user rotates a hand as if to open a jar. To close a file requires the opposite rotation. To cut a piece of text, pinch the fingers together, and to paste, flick the fingers outward. To zoom in, expand all five fingers, jazz-hands style. Contract the hand to zoom out.
--Katie Dean at Wired.com

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

The creators of "The Hulk" seem to believe that their animated Hulk will be superior to WETA's Gollum. Well, Ringer Spy Tehanu of TheOneRing.net has posted an interesting tidbit from a friend of hers on just how good Gollum was done.

Lisa wrote, "A few months ago I wrote to TORN telling them how fantastic Gollum was for my hearing-impaired husband. [The animation is so accurate that he can be lip-read! - T] TORN asked me if my husband could interpret what Sam was saying in Osgiliath, when Frodo fades in and out . After several attempts, however, he's said he can't understand Sam. One drawback of lip reading is that slow motion kills any ability to understand what the person is saying - which is why you should never exaggerate enunciation when speaking to a hearing impaired person!" OK, so we're putting the call out to all Ringers: What do YOU think Sam is saying when his voice fades out to Frodo in Osgiliath?

Not much as usual. Went to the diabetes clinic today, Emily's coming home, and 36 days until 'Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl' comes out in theaters. Orlando Bloom ahoy!!!

Monday, June 02, 2003

Such cool stuff at the Library of Congress. Check this out!
Courage, Patriotism, Community Web Site Debuts on Library of Congress website

In honor of Memorial Day and in celebration of the American spirit, the Library of Congress is launching a new Web site highlighting its collections of veterans
stories, patriotic music and community life. The new site, called Courage, Patriotism, Community, is accessible at http://www.loc.gov/courage
The site comprises three Web presentations:
Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project; Patriotic Melodies: Selections from I Hear America Singing; and Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project.
Experiencing War (http://www.loc.gov/warstories) features selected stories from the Library Veterans History Project in the American Folklife Center. Created by an act of Congress in 2000, the Veterans History Project provides veterans and the civilians who supported them the opportunity to record for posterity their wartime experiences. These poignant stories,which reflect the Web site theme of courage, patriotism and community, are told through video, audio and written personal accounts from 21 veterans and civilians. They include such stories as that of James Walsh, veteran of the Korean War, who describes the numbing cold and horrifying scenes he endured with the 25th Infantry. Also included are photographs, diaries and scrapbooks all digitized and presented on the Web site. This initial release of personal narratives will be followed by many more from the 7,000 collections the Veterans History Project has received to date.

Patriotic Melodies (http://www.loc.gov/patrioticmusic) illustrates the close connection between patriotism, music, and the expression of the American spirit; it features some of the nation most beloved patriotic tunes as well as the story behind the creation of each melody. The 26 initial selections include national songs like The Star Spangled Banner,America and My Country Tis of Thee; military theme songs like The Army Goes Rolling Along,Anchors Aweigh and The Marines Hymn; and music like Over There and Yankee Doodle Boy drawn from musical theater. A trip to the Web site will allow visitors to turn the pages of Aaron Copland Fanfare for the Common Man, listen to Kate Smith sing God Bless America, and learn interesting facts such as the title of George M. Cohan renowned song, You're a Grand Old Flag, which was originally titled You're a Grand Old Rag.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

A very interesting report from Ringer Spy Tehanu on TheOneRing.net. It has to do with a possible appearance of the deceased Haldir of Lorien. If this cut makes it into the movie or dvd, it and another scene will appeal to The Sillmarilion fans mostly. Possible spoilers, but still very interesting!

If you have any interest in education check out John McPherson's Close to Home for June 1, 2003. I have always thought that if the kids have to take standardized tests, the parents should have to pass one too. This is along the lines I was thinking.

The folks at ILM are in charge of bringing the Hulk to life on the big screen. When Dr. Bruce Banner is "hulking" he will be a digital character. I love the return to these characters from comic book history. There is great interest in "graphic novels" (as they are now refered to) among the younger set. Reading comic books strengthens literacy skills by reinforcing left to right tracking, fast moving plots, instant illustration in every frame, onomatopoeia (blam, zap, pow!) and coaxes reluctant readers into "trying" a book.

I was disappointed in the preview for the movie I saw last weekend. Shrek had more "life" in him than the examples we saw on the big screen. Still, I wished them well BUT now they've gone too far. In this article "How Bana became the Hulk" the ILM team acknowleges that "Gollum" is the standard they plan to surpass and then continue to run down this digital master-work/character.
"ILM was under pressure to create a Hulk that supersedes the visual effects breakthroughs made by the Gollum character in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

"With Gollum coming out I think everyone is going to be really nitpicking and analysing The Hulk to death," Mann said.
"One thing we came up with was let's make The Hulk interact with his environment.
"Gollum, he was climbing across the mountains and a river but he doesn't get wet, he doesn't get dirty and doesn't interact that much."



In their dreams! The plastic-Toy-Story-shiny character I saw in the previews will not hold a candle to the emotional, devious Gollum so perfectly drawn by Andy Serkis and Peter Jackson's team. Ha! Take that!