(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Nero

The Department of Things Coming in Threes: Iceland, BP…

Captured by high-resolution cameras aboard a robotic submersible, mineral-rich water spews from hydrothermal vents in this June 30 picture of Kawio Barat, a massive undersea volcano  off Indonesia.

During the past few weeks, the submerged volcano– one of the world’s largest– was mapped and explored in detail for the first time by a joint Indonesian-U.S. expedition north of the island of Sulawesi (map).

Read the whole story, and see fascinating video, at National Geographic.

As we batten down the hatches, we might recall that it was on this date in 64 CE that the Great Fire of Rome began, ultimately destroying much of the Imperial City. The fire began in the slums of a district south of the Palatine Hill. The area’s homes burned very quickly and the fire spread north, fueled by high winds; it raged out of control for three days.  Three of Rome’s 14 districts were completely razed; only four were untouched by the conflagration.  Hundreds of people died in the fire and many thousands were left homeless.

Legend has it that the Emperor Nero fiddled while the city burned.  Aside from the facts that the fiddle did not even exist at the time (Nero was an adept of the lyre) and that he was actually 35 miles away in Antium when the fire broke out, there could be something to it.



The shortwave radio station UVB-76 is known to DXers (serious shortwave listeners) as “The Buzzer” because it has been broadcasting a short, monotonous buzz tone (hear it here), repeating at a rate of approximately 25 tones per minute, 24 hours per day, since 1982…  that is, until this past weekend, when it stopped.

Satellite photo of the UVB-76 transmitter near Povarovo, Russia

Many believe that UVB-76 was being used to transmit encoded messages to spies, as is generally assumed for the many numbers stations that populate shortwave frequencies…. though no nation’s government will confirm or deny the existence of the stations or their purpose.  Or the constant transmission of its characteristic sound may have been signaling the availability or readiness of some kind of installation– a kind of “dead man’s switch” of a military or other installation– possibly for the infamous Dead Hand system.

But a more benign explanation is that the constant buzz was a High-Frequency Doppler used for ionosphere research of the sort described in the Russian Journal of Earth Sciences, in which radio waves are reflected from ionosphere inhomogeneities.  (This method involves comparing a continuous radio transmission which is reflected by the ionosphere with a stable basic generator.)  As it happens, the continuously-transmitted carrier frequency currently used for this research is the same as that of the UVB-76 (4.625 MHz).

Rest in peace (and quiet).

TotH to Above Top Secret.

As we keep our ears to the ground, we might note that this date, June 9, was a big one for the fifth and final Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, Nero:  On this date in 53 CE, he married his step-sister, Claudia Octavia.  Then on their anniversary in 62 CE, he had her executed. And on this date in 68 CE,  Nero committed suicide, after quoting Homer’s Iliad. (On hearing the approach of horsemen who’d been dispatched by the Senate, which had declared Nero a public enemy, the deposed Emperor declared “Hark, now strikes on my ear the trampling of swift-footed coursers!”)


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)…


By our pocket protectors ye shall know us…

source: thocp.net/TI

When your correspondent reported to Business School, he was prepared to work on sharpening his slide rule skills.  Every entering student up to that fateful year was required to use one to accomplish the capacious calculations involved in deriving present values, discovering internal rates of return, and the like.  But students entering in 1974 were the first class required to purchase an “electronic calculator.”  Your correspondent bought his first,  a Texas Instruments SR-10.

So one can imagine his satisfaction at learning that the TI SR-10 is honored in CIO Magazine‘s list of “The 50 Greatest Gadgets of the Last 50 Years” (as indeed it has been by its inclusion in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute)… Scan the full list for a roster of gizmos and devices that have changed lives over the last half-century.

As we reach for fresh batteries, we might strain to hear Nero’s noodling on the fiddle, as it was on this date in 64 CE that Rome began to burn.

The Great Fire of Rome

Written by LW

July 18, 2009 at 12:01 am

%d bloggers like this: