(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘eraser

“All things play a role in nature, even the lowly worm”*…

 

worm

Artist’s rendering of Ikaria wariootia. It would have lived on the seafloor.

 

A worm-like creature that burrowed on the seafloor more than 500 million years ago may be key to the evolution of much of the animal kingdom.

The organism, about the size of a grain of rice, is described as the earliest example yet found in the fossil record of a bilaterian.  These are animals that have a front and back, two symmetrical sides, and openings at either end joined by a gut.

The scientists behind it say the development of bilateral symmetry was a critical step in the evolution of animal life.

It gave organisms the ability to move purposefully and a common, yet successful way to organise their bodies.

A multitude of animals, from worms to insects to dinosaurs to humans, are organised around this same basic bilaterian body plan.

Scott Evans, of the University of California at Riverside, and colleagues have called the organism Ikaria wariootia

How a 555 million year old worm paved our developmental path: “Fossil worm shows us our evolutionary beginnings.”  Read the underlying paper in the journal PNAS.

* Gary Larson

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As we celebrate symmetry, we might recall that it was on this date in 1858 that Hyman L. Lipman, of Philadelphia was issued the first U.S. patent for a combination lead pencil and eraser (No. 19,783).  The pencil was made in the usual manner, with one-fourth of its length reserved inside one end to carry a piece of prepared india-rubber, glued in at one edge.  Thus, cutting one end prepared the lead for writing, while cutting the other end would expose a small piece of india rubber.  This eraser was then conveniently available whenever needed, and not likely to be mislaid.  Further, the eraser could be sharpened to a finer point to make a more precise erasure of fine lines in a drawing, or cut further down if the end became soiled.

US19783-drawings-page-1 source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 30, 2020 at 1:01 am

“The peppery-sweet perfume of pinks”*…

 

Think of the early American pencil industry as the Wild West of office supplies.

Starting in the 1820s, pencil manufacturers popped up across the United States in an effort to secure their own piece of a booming, million-dollar business—quickly followed by a flurry of innovations and inventions. “A lot of people were developing similar things from similar ideas in different places, not knowing that somebody else had already done it,” notes Caroline Weaver, owner of Manhattan pencil shop CW Pencil Enterprise. “There was an enormous amount of competition.”

Today’s office supply industry is not characterized by the same sort of frenzied lawlessness. But we still owe the look of our writing instruments to the marketing decisions of those early 19th- and 20th-century pencil mavericks trying to stand out from the crowd.

Take the eraser. In 1770, a British engineer named Edward Nairne produced the first eraser using a South American tree rubber known as caoutchouc. English chemist Joseph Priestley was quite impressed with the results, dubbing the substance “rubber” that same year, after its ability to rub out black marks from pencil lead…

Explore the aesthetics of eradication: “Why Erasers Are Pink.”

* Kate Atkinson

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As we reach for the rubber, we might might send a hand-made birthday card to William Joseph “Dard” Hunter; he was born on this date in 1883.  Active in the Arts and Crafts movement, he was an American authority on printing, paper, and papermaking, especially by hand, using the tools and craft of four centuries prior.  Hunter produced two hundred copies of his book Old Papermaking, preparing every aspect of the book himself: he wrote the text, designed and cast the type, did the typesetting, handmade the paper, and printed and bound the book.  A display at the Smithsonian Institution that appeared with his work read, “In the entire history of printing, these are the first books to have been made in their entirety by the labors of one man.” He later wrote Papermarking by Hand in America, a larger, but more conventional undertaking.

Dard Hunter’s self-portrait in watermark

source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

November 29, 2017 at 1:01 am

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it…*

 

Buzzfeed’s intrepid Kate Aurthur dove into a full week’s output from Nielsen, searching for the bottom of the television ratings barrel.

There are many channels in the United States, from the massive (USA, CNN, etc.) to the tiny. So many, in fact, that it does seem possible that at some hours of the day, no one — as in zero humans — is watching them. It’s also possible, of course, that this is where the problems of Nielsen Media Research, which has a monopoly on quantifying ratings, show themselves. If 324 ordinary Joe Shmoes — or 4,000 — did, in fact, watch one of the shows below, but none of those Joe Shmoes is in a Nielsen household, then those viewings do not register. Or, as Nielsen put it when I posed this question to them recently, the shows at the very bottom of the weekly cable list, the ones that get 0.0 total viewers, do not meet “minimum reporting thresholds.”

And yet, it does stand to reason that with hundreds and hundreds of available channels, there could be instances every week when not a single soul is tuning in to certain shows. When there are no longer broadcast networks and cable channels, and everything is digital and on-demand, we can look back at this period and marvel at its ridiculous economics.

I took a random week (Feb. 25-March 3) and delved into what sorts of shows — and cable channels — are members of the Zero Club. I excluded paid programming. And that left 35 shows that got zeros. You did not watch them. I did not watch them either. But here they are…

#1-13 

“WPRA Today,” RFD (Feb. 25, 6:30 a.m.). And 12 other shows on RFD.

What does WPRA stand for, you ask? Why, it’s the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association. And there is a show about it. Having not previously known about channel RFD, which bills itself as “Rural America’s Most Important Network,” I am now obsessed with it. (If you are curious what RFD stands for, it’s “Rural Free Delivery,” and as for what that means, it’s so complicated there’s a whole explainer about it on the website.)

RFD focuses on agriculture, equine issues of the day, lifestyle, youth, and livestock auctions. Unfortunately, my cable provider, Time Warner Cable, does not feature RFD — like I needed another reason to hate Time Warner Cable. (Dish and DirecTV customers, I am jealous of you, and I am coming over, k?)

But RFD may want to reconsider their programming mix, because there were 12 other RFD shows that also got zero viewers: FFA Today (Feb. 27, 4 a.m.), Ken McNabb (Feb. 28, 6 a.m.), All Around Performance Horse (Feb. 27, 6 a.m.), Presleys’ Country Jubilee (Feb. 28, 3:30 a.m.), Dennis Reis (Feb. 27, 6:30 a.m.), Julie Goodnight (March 1, 6:30 a.m.), Voices of Agriculture (Feb. 27, 4:30 a.m.), US Dressage (Feb. 27, 3:30 a.m.), Little Britches Rodeo (Feb. 27, 3 a.m.), Ren’s Old Time Music (Feb. 25 and 26, 5:30 a.m.), Chris Cox (Feb. 26, 6 a.m.), and Campfire Café (Feb. 25, 3:30 a.m.). Nielsen families! I call to you to watch these shows! In the middle of the night!

Check out chokes from ESPN, VH-1, Fox, and the rest of the list at “The 35 Least-Watched Shows on TV.”

* after George Berkeley‘s famous thought experiment: “But, say you, surely there is nothing easier than for me to imagine trees, for instance, in a park […] and nobody by to perceive them. […] The objects of sense exist only when they are perceived; the trees therefore are in the garden […] no longer than while there is somebody by to perceive them.” From A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710).

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As we prepare to dive, we might recall that it was on this date in 1858 that the first U.S. patent for a combination lead pencil and eraser was issued to Hyman L. Lipman, of Philadelphia, Pa. (No. 19,783).  Lipman’s design reserved one-fourth of the pencil’s length to hold a piece of prepared india-rubber, glued in at one edge; the balance, conventional graphite “lead.”  So, sharpening one end prepared the lead for writing, while sharpening the other exposed a small piece of the eraser.

 source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 30, 2013 at 1:01 am

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