Monday, January 15, 2007


Antikythera mechanism: a 2000 year old computer

Scientists are one step closer to understanding how the Antikythera mechanism works with the latest discoveries:

Using modern computer x-ray tomography and high resolution surface scanning, a team led by Mike Edmunds and Tony Freeth at Cardiff University peered inside fragments of the crust-encased mechanism and read the faintest inscriptions that once covered the outer casing of the machine. Detailed imaging of the mechanism suggests it dates back to 150-100 BC and had 37 gear wheels enabling it to follow the movements of the moon and the sun through the zodiac, predict eclipses and even recreate the irregular orbit of the moon. The motion, known as the first lunar anomaly, was developed by the astronomer Hipparcus of Rhodes in the 2nd century BC, and he may have been consulted in the machine's construction, the scientists speculate.

Remarkably, scans showed the device uses a differential gear, which was previously believed to have been invented in the 16th century. The level of miniaturisation and complexity of its parts is comparable to that of 18th century clocks.

Wow. Did the Greek invent the iPod as well?


Free trip around the Moon

This sounds too good to be true: is offering free trips around the Moon as well as free trips to orbit. Sam Dinkin explains how it will be possible on the Space Review:

FreeSpaceShot doesn’t have a huge bankroll for advertising. If it did, I would use part of it to buy a spaceflight for myself instead of spending enough for a spaceflight to open up the dream of spaceflight to everyone else in the world. FreeSpaceShot needs to have its message spread primarily by word of mouth. We don’t want to wait until the age of personal spaceflight is well underway, we want to start giving away flights now. So we must be very eclectic in who we target. In particular, we are targeting kids aged 9–13.

The concept is a bit unusual as the flights to the moon will be financed by kids playing online games and watching ads:

Kids, though, do have time. If I can get one percent of kids 9–13 to play three hours a day, 30 times per hour, watch 15 ads per play, and charge $1 per thousand ads, I can put together a prize pool of $150 million in a couple of years. If I can match the $16 ad rates of IGN, a gaming and entertainment site, I can put together ten flights to the Moon per year.

I don't know if it will work but I hope it does for the kids (and that I was young enough to participate…)

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Apple iPhone

It is official, Apple are making the much rumored iPhone:

It looks very nice, has an innovative user interface where you control the features using your fingertips instead of tiny buttons or a stylus. It packs some some impressive features as well:

  • OS X operating system with safari web browser and widget support

  • 4 or 8 GB storage

  • Quad-band GSM

  • WiFi + EDGE + Bluetooth 2.0

  • 2.0 megapixels camera

Cisco, as expected, has already sued Apple for using the name iPhone as their trademark on the name goes back to 1996.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Search Google in total privacy with

Are you generally afraid of cookies or what Google knows about you and your searching habits?

Then Scroogle Scraper is what you have been looking for. It queries Google for you anonymously and returns results without advertisements with the lightning speed you would expect from Google.



The brightest comet in 30 years...

and it is cloudy and rainy in Milano so I cannot see it :-( has this to say on comet McNaught:

Comet McNaught has continued to brighten as it approaches the sun and it is now the brightest comet in 30 years.  For observers in the northern Hemisphere, tonight is probably the best time to see it:  Go outside this evening and face the sunset. A clear view of the western horizon is essential, because the comet hangs very low. As the twilight fades to black, it should become visible to the naked eye.  Observers say it's a fantastic sight through binoculars.

In the days ahead, Comet McNaught will pass the sun and emerge in good position for southern hemisphere viewing later this month.  Meanwhile, solar heating will continue to puff up the comet, causing it to brighten even more.  It could become one of the brightest comets in centuries, visible even in daylit skies.

Let's hope the weather gets better, fast.

Monday, January 8, 2007


Impressive microscopic sculptures

The microscopic art by Willart Wigan is just awesome:

Cassius Clay V Sonny Liston

Elvis Presley on a pinhead

The Statue of Liberty in the eye of a needle

Willard Wigan was born in Birmingham, England in 1957 and is the creator of the smallest works of art on earth. From being a traumatised and unrecognised dyslexic child, he is now emerging as the most globally celebrated micro-miniaturist of all time and is literally capable of turning a spec of dust into a vision of true beauty.

Cool Or What?