« February 8, 2020 | Main | February 10, 2020 »

February 9, 2020

What is it?

Did you get it?

Answer here this time tomorrow.

Hint: smaller than a bread box.

Another: glass.

February 9, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Beverly Pepper, sculptor of monumental lightness

Screen Shot 2020-02-08 at 9.22.01 AM

She died this past Wednesday at home in Todi, Italy, at the age of 97.

Screen Shot 2020-02-08 at 9.22.23 AM

Margalit Fox's superb New York Times obituary  brought home to me just how great this artist,

Screen Shot 2020-02-08 at 9.22.40 AM

who lived most of her adult life in Italy, really was.

Screen Shot 2020-02-08 at 9.35.22 AM

Exemplars of her work appear above and below.

Screen Shot 2020-02-08 at 9.22.53 AM

Above, the artist in 2014 at age 92,

February 9, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tomato seeds that went to space aboard Challenger and Columbia are on my desk


Above and below, the packet of seeds I obtained through somewhat dishonest means back in the early 90s.

Long story short: NASA offered packets of space-exposed seeds to teachers for use in their classrooms, to conduct experiments on viability and growth.

Since I was an associate professor of anesthesiology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine at the time, I figured I fell under the heading "teacher," so I wrote and requested seeds.

Sure enough, back came the metallic sealed packet pictured above and below.


The text on one side of the packet:

These seeds were flown in space aboard the LDEF [Long Duration Exposure Facility] which was launched April 6, 1984, on Space Shuttle Challenger and returned to Earth January 20, 1990, on Space Shuttle Columbia.

I've never opened the packet because it seemed — and still seems — much more wondrous to think about the dormant, space-exposed seeds in situ.

I wonder if they would grow if planted....

The packet says: 

Sealed at scientifically controlled low moisture content to insure peak vigor in the seed until you are ready to plant.


Note added Februrary 9, 2020 at 2:21 p.m.:

Reader antares commented, "Joe, I suggest you leave the packet unopened as a memoriam. Those seeds flew in the two shuttles that were lost."


February 9, 2020 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

3,000-year-old mummy "speaks"

Screen Shot 2020-02-08 at 10.45.44 AM

[caption for photo above: The mummy of Nesyamun, a priest who lived in Thebes about 3,000 years ago, ready for CT scanning]

The original paper was published in Nature on January 23, 2020.

Below, the abstract.

Synthesis of a vocal sound from the 3,000-year-old mummy Nesyamun, "True of Voice"

The sound of a 3,000 year old mummified individual has been accurately reproduced as a vowel-like sound based on measurements of the precise dimensions of his extant vocal tract following Computed Tomography (CT) scanning, enabling the creation of a 3D printed vocal tract. By using the Vocal Tract Organ, which provides a user-controllable artificial larynx sound source, a vowel sound is synthesized which compares favorably with vowels of modern individuals.

An excellent New York Times story has an audio link so you can hear the mummy speak.

February 9, 2020 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Keychain Pencil Sharpener

Screen Shot 2020-02-07 at 7.22.47 PM

From websites:

This rugged and stylish brass pencil sharpener features a unique cylindrical design with four circumferential knurled bands to make it easy to hold and twist.
Screen Shot 2020-02-07 at 7.27.35 PM

The sharpener also includes a hole for attaching it to a keychain or lanyard.

Möbius & Ruppert craft their sharpener blades on-site at their facility in Erlangen, Germany to ensure consistency and quality.

Screen Shot 2020-02-07 at 7.23.00 PM

Their blades are designed to work cleanly with every type of lead and pencil.

Screen Shot 2020-02-07 at 7.23.10 PM

They feature special anti-corrosion protection to ensure a long life expectancy.

Screen Shot 2020-02-07 at 7.22.53 PM

$4.40 (pencil not included).

February 9, 2020 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

« February 8, 2020 | Main | February 10, 2020 »