Friday, August 19, 2011

Are Cephalopods the Craftiest Critter?

Video by Roger Hanlon, produced by Flora Lichtman from Sciencefriday

In my opinion, Cephalopods are certainly the coolest animals extant, extant is a concise way to say "currently living".   Cephalopods include Octopus,  Squid,  Cuttlefish, and Nautiloidea.  Cuttlefish are my favorite, they seem to me to be the most sophisticated of the Cephalopods.
The Cuttlefish ability to camouflage is so advanced they can virtually disappear.  The also can put on displays that shame electronic devices.

As this short clip from Nova demonstrates.

Though Nautiloidea, such as Nautilus and Allonautilus, are a passion of a Mentor of mine Peter D. Ward.  Article here coauthored by him about the Allonautilus.

In a future post, I will show some of the connections between the study of Stones (Lithic) and Cephalopods.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lithic Technology

Natural stone by Michael Miller
 Or Flintknapping as it is commonly called is an old technology that anyone can learn.  It is a low cost hobby, you will need a few tools, but if you can't spend much money at the start you can use modern tools that you have laying around now.

Since you will literally be working stone, which if not "dirt" cheap is still inexpensive, the consumable part of the hobby will be almost free.

In addition, if your serious about it, you can sell some of your work once you have mastered the basics.  Though many do not realize it, you can work glass.  Obsidian, a traditional material for flintknapping, is a volcanic glass.

Glass does have some downsides vs some other materials specially some types of flint and chert.  But it is easy to obtain glass that makes truly beautiful points or blades.

You can use beer, wine, or soft drink bottles as an easy to find most likely free source of material that comes in colors not typically found in natural stone.

Artistic Glass point by Michael Miller

Or if your willing to spend a little money for aesthetic or artistic joy you can consider Artistic Glass, photo above is finished point made from Artistic Glass by Michael Miller.  See this thread on the Paleoplanet forum.  I find these modern materials are often truly beautiful.

Even people not familiar with forming stone tools can easily see the beauty of these objects.  I also find a lot of natural stone points pleasing to the eye as well.  Agate makes for jewelry quality points in my opinion.

So if your interested in learning how ancient people made tools.  If your looking for a rewarding hobby, or perhaps you just dream of being stranded like Robinson Crusoe, take a look at Flintknapping. 

Paleoplanet is a good place to start if you want to learn more, they also cover a lot of other primitive skills.  If you want to buy some artistic or functional work by modern masters check out ,I am waiting for my first order of a few points to arrive from that site.

I plan to do a future post on flintknapping with a lot more detail as I learn more.  As mentioned above I have ordered a few points myself, I plan to acquire at least a small collection.  I also want to test points and blades in the field to learn how they compare to the more modern tools I am used to.

Special thanks to the founder of, Michael Miller, he provided the pictures for this post.  In addition to answering all of the questions I had about flintknapping.  Michael Miller's Gallery of items for sale, link to his Lithic Analysis company.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Great place for more learning about Science

The Physics Forum, I discovered this today by accident, just wish I would have found this forum years ago, they have many different sections for students and professionals. 

They cover a lot more than just Physics, there is to much for me to cover in a brief post.  I am overwhelmed with the amount of resources available at the  Physics Forum.  In a few weeks after I have timed to digest some of what they offer I will do an update post.

I will also add their link to right side of my blog for easy clicking.

Check them out, you won't be disappointed.

Twitter, Tweets, & Copyright

Trying to understand copyright issues in connection to the internet and related Technology really seems a daunting task at times.

Personally I think the legal system hasn't caught up to "Internet Age" yet, just like the music industry only recently adapted to change in recording technology. Or, more interesting to me than music industry, book publishing industry is in the midst of adaptation. Though that is a topic for a future blog.

I have come to blogging from a writing background, thought I understood proper ways to use copyrighted material, but I recently realized that I was actually at the Unconscious Incompetence stage of knowledge [see  Four Stages of Competence wikipedia].  I  literally didn't know what I didn't know.

So I have been considering much more critically anything I want to quote or reference with more than a link & description.

This morning I saw a Tweet I wanted to post on a fan page, so I did some Net searching to see if there was an answer.  Though I wasn't concerned about that specific Tweet, since I am sure the author wants the information spread.  That was the point of his Tweet.

So far this article, by Emerging Strategies, is by far the best information I have found about Tweets & copyright issue.

I have a far better understanding of the issue, after reading their article, than I did from the rest of my research combined.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Aurora Above Churchill, Manitoba

Photograph by Richard Kelly
A beautiful picture.  From Earth Science Picture of the Day [EPOD] a neat & educational Blog.

Information about the Blog.

Photographer Richard Kelly
Richard Kelly's website

Possible Water Flows on Mars

Embedded video from

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology

August 04, 2011
PASADENA, Calif. -- Observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed possible flowing water during the warmest months on Mars.

"NASA's Mars Exploration Program keeps bringing us closer to determining whether the Red Planet could harbor life in some form," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, "and it reaffirms Mars as an important future destination for human exploration."
~NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (more)
 For more information from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter [MRO] check  NASA MRO or Mars Program they have lots of high resolution pictures.  In addition to much more information.

Defensive Adaptations

Japanese Honey bees have a interesting defense against the Asian Giant Hornet that likes to prey on them, see this link for full story.

Science Pictures

Image Credit: NASA/Swift/Penn State/J. Kennea
Just a bit of inspiration, to keep slogging through calculus so I can see the beauty that lies beneath the surface of images like these.

If you want to learn what these pictures really mean, check Professor Astronomy.
Image Credit: Jon Morse and NASA

Friday, August 5, 2011

Paleolithic technology

Check out PaleoPlanet.  They have have information on Flintknapping and other "primitive" skills.  In my opinion they are not low level skills.  I suspect most people that study so called "primitive" skills quickly learn that, buy then my BA is in Anthropology.

I think learning "primitive" skills is very rewarding, it is something anyone can learn how to do, though it takes time and effort.  It is an extremely rewarding hobby, activity, or even avocation for adults or children. 

It is an educational activity, part of "experimental anthropology" or term I'm more used to "reconstructive archaeology," were you attempt to learn more about how things were done in the past by using techniques and tools from certain people & time period.

This often leads to new information, you gain knowledge by doing that can not be learned from simply studying the artifacts past people left behind.

NASA Juno space probe

This is the quote that caught my eye:
Attached to the probe are three little Lego figures specially made of space-grade aluminum. They represent the Italian physicist Galileo, who discovered Jupiter's four biggest moons; the Roman god Jupiter; and his wife Juno, for whom the spacecraft is named.

Lego's in space, makes me think of MST3K.

More detailed information from NASA.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cyber Attack

More details from The Atlantic Wire, but it is pretty stunning in the scale.

Also consider that the Pentagon considers Cyber Attacks an act of war.

See refs The Atlantic Wire article, Wall Street Journal article, US Dept of Defense pdf

Though there are problems with DOD's position on the general issue of cyber attacks, I also wonder if that posistion was drafted in response to this attack.  Remember the parts of the government and some others have know about this large Cyber Attack for some time.  The story just broke to the public now.

Multiverse theory

Maybe we are not alone. Story from BBC, what is really cool about this particular Multiverse idea is that it is testable!

Scientist may actually be able to find evidence of other universes.  Doubtful we will be able to find out more.

Multiverse info from Wikipedia, might not be updated yet with this recent information.

Journal Physical Review D

First observational tests of eternal inflation: Analysis methods and WMAP 7-year results

Stephen M. Feeney, Matthew C. Johnson, Daniel J. Mortlock, and Hiranya V. Peiris

Abstract pdf

Detailed publication pdf

How to change Text color HTML help

Thanks to quackit again, link to HTML color help here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tired of Breaking Cell Phones?

Then give this Cell phone a try, I think I could break it if I tried. But it would take a bit of work.

Alpacka packrafts

I discovered the Alpacka Rafts from reading Andrew Skurka's blog, he used one on a long Alaskan hike both as raft and also at times as a sledge/toboggan for hauling gear.

Just struck me as very cool, idea of being able to fish and paddle in ponds and lakes that might not see people in any given decade, perhaps even any century, has a certain appeal to me.