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Thu, 27 Jul 2017
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Secret History


Fudging the data - Eroding time

© WazzaMan/Wikipedia
In the last 35 years the storage capacity of personal computers has grown exponentially.

The common kilobyte became the magnificent megabyte and this was superseded by the glorious gigabyte.
The ZX Spectrum was launched on 23 April 1982, priced at £125 for the 16 KB RAM version and £175 for the 48 KB version.
In 1984, IBM introduced the IBM Personal Computer/AT (more often called the PC/AT or AT) built around the Intel 80286 microprocessor. This chip was much faster, and could address up to 16MB of RAM but only in a mode that largely broke compatibility with the earlier 8086 and 8088.

© Malaga Bay
These technological advances follow in the footsteps of the Gradualist Geologists who have [in theory] exponentially elongated the Age of the Earth from an anaemic "few millennia" to a blistering 4.54 billion years old.


Renaissance mom: Historians identify Leonardo Da Vinci's mother

© Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Leonardo da Vinci circa 1510.
The identity of Leonardo da Vinci's mother has eluded historians for years, but now one scholar said he's found the woman behind the Renaissance man.

After digging through overlooked records in Italy, Martin Kemp, a leading Leonardo expert, claimed that the artist was born to Caterina di Meo Lippi, a 15-year-old orphan, on April 15, 1452.

From existing documents, historians already knew that Leonardo was mostly raised by his father, a lawyer named Ser Piero da Vinci. Scholars also knew that Ser Piero was not married to Leonardo's mother, and there was some indication that her name was Caterina.

The gaps in knowledge among these details have led to a somewhat obsessive speculation about Caterina's identity. Sigmund Freud even weighed in with a psychoanalytical interpretation of Leonard's childhood. Freud claimed that the enigmatic smile in the 'Mona Lisa' must have reminded Leonardo of (you guessed it) his mother, which is why the painting captures both "the promise of unlimited tenderness and sinister threat."


A secret of the swamp - The USS Liberty

Survivor testimony by Richard Larry Weaver. This is newly published video for the 50th anniversary. He believes that the single torpedo that hit the USS Liberty was fired by a US submarine because all the French-built Israeli torpedoes missed. Never Forget. We are four days past the 50th anniversary of this false flag attempt. This is part of the swamp that Trump needs to drain.

Control Panel

Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: The visionary architect vs. the FBI

© Dirk Bakker, Allen Memorial Art Museum.
Usonian House, Oberlin, Ohio
Frank Lloyd Wright once boasted that he didn't design his buildings to last for more than a century. It's not something you hear from many architects. But that doesn't mean Wright was being humble. Indeed, there's a hefty element of hubris to this admission. With Wright, you always get the sense that the conception, as realized in his beautiful drawings, was more important than the structures themselves.

Then again it was true. While most of Wright's homes have stood up pretty well over the years, a few of his better designs began to crack and crumble soon after they were erected. Usually, this was a result of Wright trying to build on the cheap, often by using local sand as a source for the reinforced concrete that became a signature of his later buildings, such as La Miniatura, the house in the Hollywood Hills that looks like a compact Mayan temple. (Of course, it took the giant temples of Tikal 600 years to acquire the characteristics of a ruin and La Miniatura only a decade.)

It's also an idea that Wright swiped from the Japanese, whose traditional houses were temporal structures, built to last for only for a few years. Characteristically, Wright didn't credit them, though he did admit to a fondness for Japanese art, especially the woodblock prints of Hiroshige and Hokusai.


The Origins of Modern Economics: Meet the Arab Scholar Who Beat Adam Smith by Half a Millennium

Ibn Khaldun
In one of the most seminal works in the field of history of economic thought (History of Economic Analysis, 1954), Joseph Schumpeter argued that there is a "Great Gap" in the history of economics. The concept justifies the general ignorance in economics curricula towards economic thinking between early Christian and Scholastic times, emphasizing the lack of relevant positive ("scientific") economic thinking in this period.

Thanks to this self-created gap the most outstanding islamic figure of the Middle Ages, the Andalusian scholar and politician Ibn Khaldun is neglected in mainstream textbooks (Screpanti and Zamagni 2005, Roncaglia 2005, Rothbard 2006, Blaug 1985). Several of these works often misleadingly start to identify the roots of modern theories with discussing the mercantilists or the Scottish Enlightenment.

The truth is that these weren't the beginning of economic thinking at all.


Mysterious monument in England predates Stonehenge by 800 years

© Historic England
An aerial view of the site where two massive wooden palisades once stood of the landscape. Archaeological excavations have revealed that around 3300 B.C., ancient people built huge wooden enclosures, then burnt them down to the ground, near what is now Avebury, England.
A massive, wooden, eyeglass-shaped monument in Avebury, England, that was set alight in ancient ceremonies may be 800 years older than it was thought to be, new research suggests.

The monument, which consists of two huge, circular enclosures — each outlined by tall, wooden posts — is about 5,300 years old, meaning the structure predates the first stones erected at nearby Stonehenge by about 800 years, the study found.

Though the exact purpose of the Avebury monument is still shrouded in mystery, archaeologists think the two wooden circles were used for only a short time for a ceremony or festival before burning to the ground.

"It's much too large to be a stock enclosure; it's got to be a ceremonial enclosure," said study co-author Alex Bayliss, a statistical archaeologist with Historic England. "It's completely unlike anything we've ever found in the British prehistory."

Comment: It seems that for archaeologists, anything they don't understand is written down to "ceremonial"


Russian meteor stream study of 1966

© NASA-ARC/Image courtesy A. Scott Murrell and James W. Young
by Alexandra Terentjeva (Institute of Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia): [email protected]

3600 individual photographic orbits of meteor bodies and about 2000 visual meteor radiants with corresponding velocities were compiled and carefully studied in detail. 154 minor meteor streams were detected in the Solar System, their basic orbital and other data are given.

Firstly some remarkable shower and stream properties are established: examples of the large elliptic radiation areas with semi-major axes perpendicular to the Ecliptic; the existence of the Northern (N) , Southern (S) and Ecliptical (Q) branches of some streams; stream-antipodes and radiant-antipodes (symmetrically arranged relatively to the Ecliptic) with angular distances from the Ecliptic to 40-80°; а number of short-perihelion streams (q ~ 0.05-0.07 A.U.); some meteor streams perpendicular to the Ecliptic's plane.

There are also some unique meteor bodies with their orbits enclosed within the limits of the Earth's one, or having the clockwise and anticlockwise direction in two similar orbits.

Comment: See also: New study: Threat of asteroid collision on Earth higher than previously thought


500-year-old Aztec ball court discovered along with the Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl temple in Mexico City

© Reuters
Archaeologists have uncovered a giant temple dedicated to the Aztec god of wind, and a court where the Aztecs played a deadly ball game in the heart of Mexico City
Archaeologists have uncovered a giant temple dedicated to the Aztec god of wind, and a court where the Aztecs played a deadly ball game in the heart of Mexico City. The bizarre game involved players using their hips to keep a ball in play, as well as ritual human sacrifices.

Excavators also uncovered 32 sets of human neck bones at the site, which are likely to be remains of people who were decapitated as part of the game. The rare finds, including the semi-circular temple of Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl and nearby ball court were revealed yesterday.

Archaeologists believe the temple celebrated the god of the wind and was built between 1486 and 1502.

And records indicate that Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes first watched the ritual Aztec ball game at the court in 1528, invited by the last Aztec emperor, Montezuma - whose empire he went on to conquer.


'Strange Fruit': The bone chilling first recorded song about racism in America

Billie Holiday
With such a great deal of concern over racism, hate and division these days, it seems that the human race is so terribly fractured that it will take a miracle of sorts to unite us before we kill each other off entirely. We are in need of healing, and music is the one force of nature that has the power to inspire the awakening of humanity within even the most callous of souls.

Comment: Unless of course one is a psychopath, or irretrievably ponerized.

Even the saddest of songs can make a painful truth universally bearable, and in America's dark history of slavery, segregation and injustice, one remarkable composition has achieved just that. Strange Fruit, as performed by renowned jazz musician Billie Holliday was America's first recorded song about racism, and is a haunting reminder of why we still struggle to understand our relationship with one another in this melting pot.



300,000-year-old homo sapiens unearthed in Morocco

© Jean-Jacques Hublin/Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
An almost complete adult mandible discovered at the Jebel Irhoud site in Morocco.
Fossils discovered in Morocco are the oldest known remains of Homo sapiens, scientists reported on Wednesday.

Dating back roughly 300,000 years, the bones indicate that mankind evolved earlier than had been known, experts say, and open a new window on our origins.

The fossils also show that early Homo sapiens had faces much like our own, although their brains differed in fundamental ways.

Until now, the oldest fossils of our species, found in Ethiopia, dated back just 195,000 years. The new fossils suggest our species evolved across Africa.

"We did not evolve from a single cradle of mankind somewhere in East Africa," said Phillipp Gunz, a paleoanthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Liepzig, Germany, and a co-author of two new studies on the fossils, published in the journal Nature.

Today, the closest living relatives to Homo sapiens are chimpanzees and bonobos, with whom we share a common ancestor that lived over six million years ago.