(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Smithsonian Institute

The eyes have it…

Two extraordinary repositories; two extraordinary new web visualization tools…

From The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, the 3D Collection:

Date of Discovery: 1961
Discovered by: Hisashi Suzuki
Age: About 41,000 years old
Fossil Name: Amud
Location of Discovery: Wadi Amud, Israel

The purpose of this collection [of 3D fossils and artifacts] is to allow you to view your favorite objects from our David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins and to help you share your museum experience with your friends and family. Before our exhibit opened, the objects on display were either CT or laser scanned. The scanning process enabled Human Origins Progam staff to generate 3D models of each object that you can view, rotate, and interact with online. It may take a minute or two to load depending on your computer, but after it is loaded you will be able to move the 3D object around by holding down the left-click button and moving your mouse.

And from the Vatican, the Virtual Reality Tour of the Sistine Chapel:

A virtual tour of Michelangelo’s masterwork — move around the space and inspect from any angle, using your mouse– designed by the Augustinian computer scientists at Villanova University.

As we marvel at time, at space, and at the technology that aims to tame them, we might recall that it was on this date in 1979 that operators failed to notice that a relief valve was stuck open in the primary coolant system of Three Mile Island’s Unit 2 nuclear reactor following an unexpected shutdown. Consequently, enough coolant drained out of the system to allow the core to overheat and partially melt down– the worst commercial nuclear accident in American history.

Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant, near Harrisburg, PA

182 years earlier, on this date in 1797, Nathaniel Briggs (of New Hampshire) patented the first “washing machine,” known as the Box Mangler– a heavy frame containing a large box filled with rocks, resting on a series of long wooden rollers. Washing was laid flat on a sheet and wound round one of the rollers, then two people pulled on levers to move the heavy box back and forth over the rollers.  While it was expensive, heavy, difficult to operate, and even then, jammed often, its failures never led to the evacuation of major population centers.

Box Mangler

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 (Roughly) Daily

July 18, 2009 at 12:01 am

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