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29 October 2008

Pictures Worth A Thousand Words - Post 18


"Pictures Worth A Thousand Words" series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17.

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24 October 2008

What Really Causes Falling Stars

Digital images of a "falling star" or a "shooting star" shows that it actually has nothing at all to do with a star! These amazing streaks of light you can sometimes see in the night sky are caused by tiny bits of dust and rock, in other words, meteoroids, falling into the Earth's atmosphere and burning up. The short-lived trail of light the burning meteoroid produces is called a meteor. If any part of the meteoroid survives burning up and actually hits the Earth, that remaining bit is then called a meteorite.

At certain times of year, you are likely to see a great number of meteors in the night sky. These events are called meteor showers and they occur when the Earth passes through the trail of debris left by a comet as it orbits the Sun. These showers are given names based on the constellation present in the sky from which they appear to originate. For example, the Leonid Meteor Shower, or Leonids, appear to originate in the constellation Leo. It is important to understand that the meteoroids (and therefore the meteors) do not really originate from the constellations or any of the stars in the constellations, however. They just seem to come from that part of the sky because of the way the Earth encounters the particles moving in the path of the comet's orbit. Associating the shower name with the region of the sky they seem to come from just helps astronomers know where to look!

The dust and rocks that cause meteor showers come primarily from the Earth passing through the debris stream left behind by a comet as it orbits the Sun. Usually, the Earth's orbit and the comet's orbit are slightly tilted relative to one another. So the paths only intersect on one side!

Annual Meteor Showers
NameWhen They Occur
QuadrantidsJanuary 1-6
April LyridsApril 19-24
Eta AquaridsMay 1-8
Delta AquaridsJuly 15- August 15
PerseidsJuly 25 - August 18
OrionidsOctober 16-27
TauridsOctober 20-November 30
LeonidsNovember 15-20
GeminidsDecember 7-15

Note that one of the best meteor showers, the Perseids, happens in August. "Peak time" is when you are likely to see the largest number of meteors per hour. It occurs in the middle of August and it can be quite spectacular to see!


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22 October 2008

Animals Gone Wild: Homosexuality In Animals!

In compiling past and current research, it has been determined that thousands of identified animal species have demonstrated homosexual behavior. "Homosexuality has been observed in more than 1,500 species, and the phenomenon has been well described for 500 of them," according to Petter Bockman, project coordinator of the University of Oslo's Natural History Museum's exhibition display. "Against Nature?" Let's look at some specific examples.

Monkeys (both Old World and New World) use sex as a tool to solve struggles between each other. Unlike humans, they do not have any sexual taboos; nor are they concerned with age or numbers of partners. The only practice that is "disallowed" are sexual unions between mother and son.

It appears as though almost all Bonobos (Pigmy Chimpanzees) are bisexual. They mate like wild and they commonly express their joy by screeching. 66 percent of all females partake in active homosexual relationships.

The females of Japanese Macaque packs have strong connections between each other and during mating seasons they accompany each other as temporary lesbian partners. They demonstrate the sexual bonding between each other and then chuckle to show that they have received pleasure. Male macaques also perform homosexual acts but not among other pairs. They prefer one-night stands. They are male after all! =)

Although it may be hard to believe, American Bisons perform more homosexual intercourse than heterosexual intercourse. The females only have a relationship once when they are on heat, but bulls have homosexual sex multiple times during this period and mating among young males is 55 percent more likely to be with other males.

Homosexuality is also apparent among dolphins. The Bottlenose Dolphin is known as a species which experiences a homosexual period of time and is reputed for this characteristic. Males have oral sex between each other: one dolphin caresses the other dolphin’s penis with his nose and they also rub their penises upon each others’ body.

Homosexual behavior is equally common among Giraffes and they even stroke each others necks for 1 hour before mounting each other. It has been observed that %5 of male Giraffes partake in homosexual activity at any given time.

Kob Antelopes experience lesbian sex twice every hour (wow!) and 8 percent of their activities during mating is homosexual orientated. One female approaches the other female from behind and touches the other female by lifting her leg between the other antelope’s legs.

25 percent of all Australian Black Swans are homosexual and the activities between such pairs can last years. During this period a male may partner another female but then the other male may chase her away after she has laid her eggs. Sometimes homosexual couples may steal the eggs of heterosexual couples or even claim the nest for their own.

Additionally, Walruses have a time frame when they are involved in homosexual activities. When males reach the age of 4, they reach sexual maturity and up to that time may have experienced many homosexual encounters. Older males are bisexual
because they mount females during mating season and spend the rest of the year in homosexual endeavors. Not only do they rub their bodies against each other; they hug and fall asleep together.

Amongst male Grey Whales, homosexual orgies (group sex) are quite common: 5 or so partners perform sliding movements, race around each other, squirt water and rub their penises against each other.

A surprise awaited scientists most prominently in the activities of the beautifully colored Guianan Cock of the Rock which lives in the mountains of South America. Almost 40 percent of males were homosexual and only a few of them mated with females.

When asked why animals engage in homosexual behavior and/or activity, Linda Wolfe, head of East Carolina University's Department of Anthropology replied, "You can make up all kinds of stories: Oh it's for dominance, it's for this, it's for that, but when it comes down to the bottom I think it's just for sexual pleasure."

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20 October 2008

Is Chocolate That Irresistible?

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19 October 2008

The Cost of Open Source Software

What is the meaning of open source software freedom? The interesting thing is that these open source software are written by many people without any expectations (financial at least). I'm starting to think that so many people from so many different countries have never before actively cooperated and shared like this before.

There is a site called Ohloh which can be seen as a portal that follows the progress of open source software. Usually every open source project is accompanied by interesting statistics and predictions.

These statistics shows how many lines a code is composed of, how many active developers there are, what language the software was written in and many more bits of information. Yet I find the prediction part most interesting. This prediction shows what the total cost would be if the project was re-made from scratch. This prediction is based on the COCOMO model. The predictions showed many compelling values. Moreover these predictions imply that developers should gain a yearly income of 55.000 dollars!

Here are some total costs of some of the most popular open source projects so far

  • Mozilla Firefox: $830.000
  • Apache HTTP Server: $2.983.791
  • Linux Kernel (Seed Only): $177.004.094
  • PHP: $25.023.881
  • Open Office: $138.706.367
  • GIMP: $19.527.651
  • VLC Media Player: $7.163.299
  • GNOME: $285.322.119
  • KDE: $66.999.594
  • MediaWiki (The software behind Wikipedia): $16.792.050
  • Wordpress: $1.108.448
  • Blender: $31.507. 688
  • Debian GNU/Linux: $334.229.025
  • Pardus: $19.195.422

We must not forget that these software are only a chosen few. Hence the tip of the iceberg. I think this is very profound situation. What do you think?

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17 October 2008

The Onset of the War on Piracy in the World of Design

The cultural production is overwhelmed with the discussion on intellectual property and piracy. That's actually true only to a certain extend. The cultural production of the intangibles is, but the design of the tangibles is not. So far. The architects and product designers does not suffer from insomnia for the reasons that some musicians and filmmakers do (not to mention all the international music and film corporations, but some of the artists on the other hand take advantage of the situation just quite great. Examples are all the musicians at Jamendo as well as creators of The Corporation.

Unfortunately designers' calmness might not last too long. What if you wake up one day to find out that the virtual model of your newly finished building (or just marketed piece of furniture) is available to be downloaded for free at Bit Torrent and it was downloaded few thousands times already? Some would say that you should be quite happy. It's a good design - few thousand downloads in few hours in not a common thing. But I wouldn't be surprised if you would feel the opposite asking where the heck will I get money from now?

Microsoft's Photosynth might herald a whole new kind of debate in the design world. It's an online software (for Windows only) which creates a 3d virtual model out of a set of pictures in order to display as a continuous 3d scene. The direction of it's development might however become focused on the 3d model itself. "Synths constitute a whole new kind of trouble", one might say, but only if he or she is not familiar with the channels of cultural production suitable to web 2.0. The mistake of intellectual property holders of the intangibles should not be repeated in relation to the tangibles. The designers need to begin with licensing under CC and publishing work in order to harness collaboration, so that it simply doesn't make much sense to copy it illegally from the 3d model/photo.

We should simply chase the technology advancement with adaptation of our business model. Since Kurzweil, we know that technology develops exponentially. It might not be an easy thing to do, but it also means that we should start doing it right now. Some companies such as Ponoko are working to achieve this goal (and there are even companies like Genometri, who specialize in online design solutions), but my point is that we need a much broader debate starting at the arts and design universities (to which, as far as I know the topic is yet completely unknown).

Article by Michal Piasecki. Michal writes many times a week about design in the era of Web 2.0. Submit your thoughts - click here!

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16 October 2008

Taking Advantage of Suicide Discount in Real Estate

Finding an apartment in one of the world's most expensive cities is a grave matter, but some savvy renters in Tokyo have more than a ghost of a chance of finding prime digs – they seek to rent where someone else bought the farm. Imagine lying awake at night in your new apartment, restless and not yet accustomed to the usual night noises. Your mind drifts, then settles on the great deal you got on this place – and WHY you got it. A creak; a sigh; is it just the evening breeze, or something more sinister?

If you're not an insomniac now, living where a suicide - or worse, a murder - has occurred just might make you one. The flip side? Who needs sleep when you're paying only ¾ of what you normally would?

The so-called suicide discount is an unwritten rule adhered to by most Tokyo real estate agents and doubtless by realtors worldwide. In Japan at least, the law compels real estate agents to make potential tenants aware if a death occurred in the unit being offered. One small catch is that the law applies only when the unfortunate event concerned the occupant immediately previous, but as one realtor admitted, "Even if we didn’t, neighbors would certainly tell new residents about the gruesome details."

While few people can completely shrug off the fact their new abode has a questionable history, it's likely everyone expects a substantial cut in their rent as a result. "I definitely agree that there is a suicide discount," stated a local Tokyo real estate agent. "Late last year we bought an apartment for a client where the previous owner had committed suicide. In this case the discount over normal market prices was about 25% even though the apartment had been completely remodeled and a purification ceremony had been held by the local shrine." Seems like Tokyoites have more faith in the power of the yen than in the local ghostbusters!

One curious point brought up by a Tokyo real estate company owner was that young women are the most typical renters of apartments with shady histories. "Men, rather than women, tend to be superstitious and think the place will be haunted by the victim or something," he stated. Women are also well-connected with the online real estate scene. "They exchange information on the availability of such places and what the rent is likely to be with each other online."

I don't know about you, but nothing says "bad karma" more than moving into an apartment whose last resident dies un-naturally. It's a plot used in many a movie, most recently "1408" the number of a horrid hotel suite where 56 met their deaths, one after another in the grisliest of manners.

Save money? I'd prefer to save my life.

Article by Steve Levenstein from Inventor Spot. Submit your thoughts - click here!

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15 October 2008

TTB is Back: Bigger, Better, Stronger!

We are pleased to announce that we overcame the technical difficulties and are back to regular publishing of posts on eccentric topics. As you might already know, we've also been publishing interesting posts from guest thinkers in the past such that The Thinking Blog went multi-author about 10 months ago. One of our regular contributors, Steve Levenstein, who also happens to be the Japanese Innovations Writer at InventorSpot, is now an Associate Editor here at TTB - bringing the craziest ideas from where else but Japan!

Here is Steve in his own words:

I live in Canada and I’m married to a lovely and charming Japanese woman. Between our visits to Japan, watching Japanese TV at home and listening to my wife for more than 15 years, I’ve really gained an appreciation for the many ways Japan is different from the rest of the world.

Some of the best things about Japan and Japanese culture, though, are their embrace of modern technology and the effortless way they have made the latest gadgets & gizmos a part of their daily lives. Especially interesting are the ways that Japanese sensibilities have affected the design of the gadgets, such as the need for “cuteness” and, as you well know, the power of high status as exemplified in “Born Rich”.

Stay tuned for his new post tomorrow and let's all welcome Steve to his new 'second' home at TTB!

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13 October 2008

Nikola Tesla Invents Phone Before Bell Or Meucci

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