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Posts Tagged ‘Morse Code

“The worst wheel of the cart makes the most noise”*…

 

The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification turns ten in 2016. Created by artist Julian Montague [bio here], the book attempts to bring clarity to a world littered with shopping carts far away from their birth stores. Written in the voice of a character who takes the project as seriously as a birder would take a birding guide, the book is as complex as it is wry…

A winner of the 2006 award for Oddest Book Title of the Year [c.f. this earlier visit to that list], Montague’s guide received a decent amount of media attention when it came out. But, published in the rudimentary years of social media, it missed out on a chance for the level of virality it may have achieved today. So far, there are few, if any, efforts to add to Montague’s research. Perhaps it’s too good. Perhaps it’s too insane…

See for yourself at “A Look Back at the Greatest (and Only) Stray Shopping Cart Identification Guide Ever Made.”

* Benjamin Franklin

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As we return our baskets to the queue, we might recall that it was on this date in 1904 that “CQD” (Morse code  – · – ·    – – · –    – · ·) became the official distress signal to be used by Marconi wireless radio operators. A few years later, judging that “CQD” was too easily mistaken for the general call “CQ” in conditions of poor reception, the signal was changed to the now-ubiquitous “SOS” (· · · – – – · · · ).

In 1912, RMS Titanic radio operator Jack Phillips initially sent “CQD”, which was still commonly used by British ships.  Harold Bride, the junior radio operator, jokingly suggested using the new code, “SOS”.  Thinking it might be the only time he would get to use it, Phillips began to alternate between the two.

 source

 

Written by LW

February 1, 2016 at 1:01 am

All Reith Now!…

Bertrand Russell delivering the first Reith Lecture

The Reith Lectures were inaugurated by the BBC in 1948 to honor the contributions of its first Director General, John Reith (more formally known by the end of his career as “John Charles Walsham Reith, 1st Baron Reith”).

Lord Reith had operated on the principle that broadcasting should be a public service that enriches the intellectual and cultural life of the nation. In that spirit the BBC invites a leading figure to deliver a series of radio lectures each year– the aim being “to advance public understanding and debate about significant issues of contemporary interest.”

And so, over the last 63 years, British listeners have been treated to Arnold Toynbee on “The World and the West,” Robert Oppenheimer on “Science and Common Understanding,” John Searle on “Minds, Brains, and Science,” John Keegan on “War in Our World,” Marina Warner on “Managing Monsters”… and dozens more extraordinary minds explaining and provoking.

As of a few weeks ago the BBC has made the entire audio library of Reith Lectures available online, from Bertrand Russell’s kick-off through 2010’s Martin Rees on “Scientific Horizons.”

Hallelujah!

[TotH to @brainpicker for the link]

As we listen and learn, we might recall that it was on this date in 1908 that “SOS” (. . . _ _ _ . . .) became the global standard radio distress signal.  While it was officially replaced in 1999 by the Global Maritime Distress Safety System, SOS is still recognized as a visual distress signal.

SOS has traditionally be “translated” (expanded) to mean “save our ship,” “save our souls,” “send out succor,” or other such pleas.  But while these may be helpful mnemonics, SOS is not an abbreviation or acronym.  Rather, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the letters were chosen simply because they are easily transmitted in Morse code.

click image above, or here

So graphic!…

Long-time readers know that your correspondent is a sucker for nifty charts, elegant tables, and incisive visual displays of all sorts.  In the spirit of earlier-featured Jessica Hagy/Indexed and Gary Damrauer/New Math, a pointer to GraphJam, where one will find illustrated insights like:

More here.

As we attempt to keep X and Y straight in our minds, we might shudder to recall that it was on this date in 1883 that the volcano at Krakatoa (Krakatau) erupted with full force.  The sound was heard over 2,000 miles away (that’s over 7.5% of the earth’s surface– the equivalent of an explosion in New York City being heard in San Francisco); tsunamis caused by the great blast killed 36,000 people in Java and Sumatra.

But there was another sense in which Krakatoa was importantly “the sound heard ’round the world”:  While news of Lincoln’s assassination (only 18 years earlier) had taken almost two weeks to reach London,  Europe and the U.S. knew of Krakatoa in about four hours.  In the years between 1865 and 1883, there had been three interrelated developments: the global spread of the telegraph, the invention of Morse Code, and the establishment of Reuter’s news agency… and the world had become much smaller.  (C.F., Tom Standage’s marvelous The Victorian Internet for the details– both remarkable and altogether resonant with today.)

(As big as the explosion was, it was not the biggest in history: experts suggest that Santorini’s eruption in 1628 BCE was three times as powerful.)

An early 19th-century illustration of Krakatoa

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Written by LW

August 26, 2009 at 12:01 am

Tap, tap, tap…

source

-.. . .- .-. / .-. . .- -.. . .-. –..– / -.– — ..- / -.-. .- -. / -.. — / – …. .. … / -.– — ..- .-. … . .-.. ..-. –..– / .- – / – …. The Morse Code Translator.

As we flex our fingers, we might recall that it was on this date in 1955 that U.S. Customs confiscated 520 copies of Allen Ginsberg’s book Howl, arriving in the U.S. from England, where they’d been printed, on the grounds that the poem was obscenity.  San Francisco’s own City Lights, led by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, proceeded to publish the book domestically in the fall of 1956, leading to to Ferlinghetti’s arrest on obscenity charges.  Ferlinghetti was bailed out and defended by the American Civil Liberties Union, which fielded nine literary experts to testify that the poem was not obscene… Ferlinghetti was found not guilty, and Howl— both the poem and the tumult surrounding it– became a cornerstone of the counterculture…

source: Bookride

Written by LW

March 25, 2009 at 1:01 am

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