(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Mongolia


Nearly 40 years ago, a Hungarian architecture professor, Emo Rubik, created a puzzle to use with his design students- a puzzle with 43 quintillion possible combinations and one solution.  Within five years, it had been played by over 20% of the world’s population, and has so far sold over 350 million units (not counting “unofficial” versions).

Read an interview with Rubik at CNN, and find other confounding facts (like the ones above) here.


As we twist and turn, we might spare a thought for Ulugh Beg; he died on this date in 1449.  Probably Mongolia’s greatest scientist, Beg was a Timurid ruler and sultan, a mathematician, and the greatest astronomer of his time.  In his observatory in at Samarkand he discovered a number of errors in the computations of the 2nd-century Alexandrian astronomer Ptolemy, whose figures were still being used; his star map (of 994 stars) was the first since Hipparchus’.

Forensic facial reconstruction


Written by (Roughly) Daily

October 27, 2012 at 1:01 am

Leggo my Lego…

Readers will recall The Antikythera Mechanism (“A Connecticut Yankee in King Agamemnon’s Court?…“), the oldest known scientific computer, which was built in Greece probably around 100 BCE.   It was recovered from a shipwreck in 1900; but its purpose remained a mystery for over a century, until archeologists and scientists realized its ingenious intent: it’s an extraordinarily-accurate astronomical clock that determines the positions of celestial bodies– an analog computer with over 100 gears and 7 differential gearboxes– accurate to a day or two over its range.

Andrew Carol has rebuilt the device…  in Lego:

Read the story and see photos here.   And for extra fun, check out Carol’s Lego homage to Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine.  As he says of his work,

Having always loved complex mechanical devices, and never having fully outgrown LEGO, I decided to explore where computational mechanics and LEGO meet. This is not LEGO as toy, art, or even the MindStorms® fusion of LEGO and digital electronics. This is almost where Steampunk and LEGO meet. Hand cranked devices that perform complex mechanical tasks.

[TotH to Universe Today]

As we revel in the satisfaction of making round pegs fit, we might recall that it was on this date in 1271 that Genghis Khan’s grandson and Coleridge’s celebratee Kublai Khan renamed his empire “Yuan,” officially marking the start of the Yuan Dynasty of Mongolia and China.  By 1279, the Yuan army had defeated the last resistance forces of the Song Dynasty, which it succeeded.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure-dome decree



Activists prevail: Symmetry in all things…

Back in 2007, Drew Mokris of Left-Handed Tunes, wrote an open letter to the powers-that-be at Subway, mass market purveyors of submarine sandwiches:

Now, as he reports in his blog, “the war against geometric indecency” (and the resulting uneven distribution of cheesy good taste in a Subway sandwich) is won.  At least in the Antipodes:

click to enlarge

The Consumerist reports,

2 years, 11 months, and 13 days later, Subway has changed its policy. At least for the Australia/New Zealand area.

Heralding the victory, Drew at Left-Handed Toons writes, “Now is the time for the New Procedure. You can almost picture taking every homogenous bite. It’s okay now. Everything will always forever be okay now.”

Is this a regional test or the first stage in a worldwide phase-in? We can only pray.

And so one must.

As we spread our mayonnaise evenly and all the way to the edges of our bread, we might recall that it was on this date in 1993 that Mongolia held its first direct presidential election.

In 1911, Mongolia declared it’s independence from China under religious leader and king Bogd Khaan.  But on his death in 1924, and with the “help” of the Soviet Union, The Mongolian People’s Republic was established.  Mongolia stayed within the Soviet orbit until 1992, when Mikhail Gorbachev’s introduction of perestroika and glasnost  in the USSR encouraged a peaceful Democratic Revolution in Mongolia and led to the introduction of a multi-party system and market economy.

The flag of Mongolia

The detritus of empire…

As the USSR fell apart, many of its military outposts were simply abandoned.  Photographer Eric Lusito travelled from East Germany to Mongolia and from Poland to Kazakhstan in search of these former Soviet bases.   His photo essay– “After the Wall– Traces of the Soviet Empire“– is mesmerizing:

Parade ground, Mongolia. By the early 1970s, monuments to the Great Patriotic War became ubiquitous features of the Soviet landscape. A soldier named Alexei served as a model for one of the first, since then these monuments are nicknamed ‘Alyosha,’ the affectionate name form of Alexei. At the base of the statue an inscription reads ‘All that was built by the people, must be imperatively defended.’
The area in front of the statue was used for military parades. Around 10-15,000 soldiers, personnel and their families were based here.

See all of Lusito’s remarkable photos here.

As we contemplate Ozymandias, we might don our celebratory togas in honor of Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, Roman poet better known these days as Lucan, born on this date in 39 AD in Cordoba.  The Grandson of Seneca the Elder and the nephew of Seneca, Lucan wrote in the time of Nero, with whom he feuded, and against whom he ultimately plotted– until (at the age of 25 ) he was discovered and forced, like his uncle Seneca, to commit suicide.  Of course, karma being what it is, history remembers Nero as a libertine and a tyrant; it remembers Lucan as an exemplar of the Silver Age of Latin poetry… indeed, Lucan comes in for not one, but two nifty mentions in Dante (in The Inferno and in De Vulgari Eloquentia)…


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