How much is Stonehenge worth?

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You can now use English law to work out what Stonehenge is worth in this blog post from Ulla Rajala. Someone has been fined for des­troy­ing a quarter of one of the Priddy Circles in Somerset and you can work out from the fine for that what the fine for bull­doz­ing Stonehenge would be — if English law were consistent.

The bonus ques­tion What gets the biggest fine, bull­doz­ing a quarter of a pre­his­toric monu­ment or installing uPVC win­dows into a lis­ted farm­house? is easy to answer.

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Priddy Circle ver­dict: how much is a monu­ment worth?
This week brought the sen­ten­cing of the case of the par­tial destruc­tion of one of the Priddy Circles in the Mendips in Somerset. A retired busi­ness­man who had bought the farm house near the Circles ha…

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Not a good writing day today

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Actually an abso­lutely lousy writ­ing day today. I’d writ­ten myself into a dead end. There’s two ways of deal­ing with that.

The clever way would have been so have accep­ted there was a prob­lem that I wasn’t going to fix in a rush and moved on to the next sec­tion. After get­ting that done I could return to the prob­lem point and re-write to get from there to here.

However, I thought the sec­tion I was stuck with might affect how the rest of that chapter works, so I looked for a fix. And looked. And looked. I finally have one, but it’s prob­ably cost me a day’s writing.

I have a party I have to go to tomor­row, so it’s a bit of a stall on the writ­ing at the moment. This is a slight pain as my cal­en­dar tells me it’s just day 2 of #AcWriMo . I would have been nice to get to day 3 before run­ning into a big­ger problem.

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November Writing

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Over at the Extelligence Experiment I’ve put up some plans for writ­ing a short book in November. The aim won’t be to get some­thing per­fect done, but a work­able draft I can hack around. The daft part of the pro­ject is I plan to upload sec­tions as I go along, so if it goes wrong then it will go wrong repeatedly and embar­rass­ingly through­out November.

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November Writing
I’ve recently had more test res­ults back fol­low­ing an oper­a­tion and found out that the thing that’s kept me busy all sum­mer wasn’t can­cer, merely some­thing that could eas­ily be mis­taken for …

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More ways to date a Neanderthal?

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This is use­ful inform­a­tion for archae­olo­gists. Carbon Dating would be fant­astic if the pro­duc­tion of Carbon-13 were con­stant. It’s not. This means that archae­olo­gists need samples of known date to cal­ib­rate their car­bon dates. That’s pos­sible when you have things like a his­tor­ical record to match mater­ial against, but not so easy when you have no con­scious record­ing of a date.

The usual answer has been to use trees. You can date tree samples from the pat­tern of yearly growth. The pat­tern of thick and thin growth rings acts a bit like a fin­ger­print for earlier peri­ods which means you know the date of a sample to a year. You then car­bon date the sample to cal­ib­rate your car­bon dates. The prob­lem is tree-ring data only goes back to the latest parts of of the Upper Palaeolithic.

This new data could push dat­ing back as far as the Middle Palaeolithic and allow the dat­ing of later Neanderthal material.

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Reshared post from +Kristina Killgrove

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Carbon Dating Gets a Reset: Scientific American
Climate records from a Japanese lake are provid­ing a more accur­ate timeline for dat­ing objects as far back as 50,000 years

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Photos from the National Botanic Gardens of Wales

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I’ve finally fin­ished pro­cessing my pho­tos from my trip out at the week­end. It’s the time of year when the vegat­able gar­dens have more action than the flowerbeds.

The full set is on Flickr at http://​www​.flickr​.com/​p​h​o​t​o​s​/​a​l​u​n​/​s​e​t​s​/​7​2​1​5​7​6​3​1​7​1​9​9​1​4​6​0​3​/​w​i​t​h​/​8​0​7​9​5​9​7​4​32/

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Security Two-Step

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I’ve finally got round to set­ting up two-step veri­fic­a­tion for my Google account. I should have done it sooner after read­ing this account of hack­ing http://​www​.emptyage​.com/​p​o​s​t​/​2​8​6​7​9​8​7​5​5​9​5​/​y​e​s​-​i​-​w​a​s​-​h​a​c​k​e​d​-​h​ard but it’s taken a while because it can be a pain.

The way it works is by com­bin­ing a pass­word with a veri­fic­a­tion code sent by a text mes­sage to con­firm any major changes to your account. By itself it’s just the slight extra hassle of keep­ing your phone with you when you make changes, like adding access for a new program.

In real­ity you can’t use veri­fic­a­tion codes with a lot of pro­grams, so you also need to gen­er­ate a lot of one-shot pass­words for each applic­a­tion. My mail pro­grams on my phone and my desktop both use dif­fer­ent pass­words to my account pass­word. If I give any­thing else access like laptop or tab­let, that will need a new one-shot pass­word too. If I try to get this pass­word for my laptop while using my laptop browser for the first time, then that will need text veri­fic­a­tion to get into my account.

It is a hassle.

It’s even more hassle because I’m for­get­ful. There’s a good chance I could for­get where my phone is. Or it could break or get stolen. So I also have to get some more access codes to take account for that, print them off and store them some­where. Not any­where near a device, in case they’re stolen with the device, but access­ible enough that I can get them when I need them.

It is a pain, but even if you keep your pass­word secure you can’t be sure every­one else will keep your pass­word secure. http://​www​.wired​.com/​g​a​d​g​e​t​l​a​b​/​2​0​1​2​/​0​8​/​a​p​p​l​e​-​a​m​a​z​o​n​-​m​a​t​-​h​o​n​a​n​-​h​a​c​k​i​ng/ If you can get into your own account with no effort, how much effort is it going to take any­one else? You can decide for your­self if two-step veri­fic­a­tion is neces­sary for you by work­ing out how much you might lose if your Google account were hacked.

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Tentacles of Doom

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Venus Fly Traps aren’t the only plants with fast moves when it comes to catch­ing prey. German sci­ent­ists have dis­covered a Sundew with tentacles that cata­pult insects into its hungry leaves. You can read the paper free, or down­load more video at http://​dx​.doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​3​7​1​/​j​o​u​r​n​a​l​.​p​o​n​e​.​0​0​4​5​735

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