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February 29, 2020

Smithsonian Image Mega-Drop

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From the Smithsonian :

For the first time in its 174-year history, the Smithsonian has released 2.8 million high-resolution two- and three-dimensional images from across its collections onto an open access online platform for anyone to peruse and download free of charge.

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Featuring data and material from all 19 Smithsonian museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo, the new digital depot encourages the public to not just view its contents, but also use, reuse and transform them into just about anything they choose — be it a postcard, a beer koozie, or a pair of bootie shorts.

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And this gargantuan data dump is just the beginning.

Throughout the rest of 2020, the Smithsonian will be rolling out another 200,000 or so images, with more to come as the Institution continues to digitize its collection of 155 million items and counting.

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The database's launch also marks the latest victory for a growing global effort to migrate museum collections into the public domain.

Nearly 200 other institutions worldwide — including Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago — have made similar moves to digitize and liberate their masterworks in recent years.

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But the scale of the Smithsonian's release is "unprecedented" in both depth and breadth, says Simon Tanner, an expert in digital cultural heritage at King's College London.

"The sheer scale of this interdisciplinary dataset is astonishing," says Tanner, who advised Smithsonian's open access initiative. "It opens up a much wider scope of content that crosses science and culture, space and time, in a way that no other collection out there has done, or could possibly even do. This is a staggering contribution to human knowledge."

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Listed under a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, the 2.8 million images in the new database are now liberated from all restrictions, copyright or otherwise, enabling anyone with a decent Internet connection to build on them as raw materials — and ultimately participate in their evolution.

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"Digitizing the knowledge that's held [at the Smithsonian] to access and reuse transfers a lot of the power to the public," says Andrea Wallace, an expert in cultural heritage law at the University of Exeter. People are now free to interact with these images, she says, "according to their own ideas, their own parameters, their own inspirations," completely unencumbered.

Fair warning....

February 29, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Lazy Saturday

February 29, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Utterly Sublime 19th-Century Japanese Firemen's Coats

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From PublicDomainReview:

During the Edo period in Japan (1615–1868), crowded living conditions and wooden buildings gave rise to frequent fires — so frequent in fact it was said that "fires and quarrels were the flowers of Edo."


The socially segregated brigades formed to combat these fires were made up of either samurais (buke hikeshi) or commoners (machi hikeshi), but whatever their class, their methods were the same: they would destroy the buildings surrounding the fire in an effort to contain it.

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Although experiments with wooden pumps were made, limited water supply rendered this more modern firefighting method impractical.

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Each firefighter in a given brigade was outfitted with a special reversible coat (hikeshi banten), plain but for the name of the brigade on one side and decorated with richly symbolic imagery on the other.

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Made of several layers of quilted cotton fabric, using a process called the sashiko technique, and resist-dyed using the tsutsugaki method,

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these coats would be worn plain-side out and thoroughly soaked in water before the firefighters entered the scene of the blaze.

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No doubt the men wore them this way round to protect the dyed images from damage, but they were probably also concerned with protecting themselves,

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as they went about their dangerous work, through direct contact with the heroes and creatures represented on the insides of these beautiful garments.

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Many more here.

February 29, 2020 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dark side of the moon — what lies beneath


[Subsurface stratigraphy to a depth of 40 meters seen by Yutu-2 radar on the far side of the moon.]

From SciTechDaily:

A little over a year after landing, China’s spacecraft Chang’E-4 is continuing to unveil secrets from the far side of the Moon.

The latest study, published on February 26, 2020, in Science Advances, reveals what lurks below the surface.

Chang’E-4 (CE-4) landed on the eastern floor of the Van Kármán crater, near the Moon’s south pole, on January 3, 2019.

The spacecraft immediately deployed its Yutu-2 rover, which uses Lunar Penetrating Radar (LPR) to investigate the underground it roams.

"We found that the signal penetration at the CE-4 site is much greater than that measured by the previous spacecraft, Chang’E-3, at its near-side landing site," said paper author Li Chunlai, a research professor and deputy director-general of the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC). "The subsurface at the CE-4 landing site is much more transparent to radio waves, and this qualitative observation suggests a totally different geological context for the two landing sites."

Li and his team used the LPR to send radio signals deep into the surface of the moon, reaching a depth of 40 meters by the high-frequency channel of 500 MHz — more than three times the depth previously reached by CE-3.

This data allowed the researchers to develop an approximate image of the subsurface stratigraphy.

"Despite the good quality of the radar image along the rover route at the distance of about 106 meters, the complexity of the spatial distribution and shape of the radar features make identification of the geological structures and events that generated such features quite difficult," said Su Yan, a corresponding author who is also affiliated with NAOC.

The researchers combined the radar image with tomographic data and quantitative analysis of the subsurface.

They concluded that the subsurface is essentially made by highly porous granular materials embedding boulders of different sizes.

The content is likely the result of a turbulent early galaxy, when meteors and other space debris frequently struck the Moon.

The impact site would eject material to other areas, creating a cratered surface atop a subsurface with varying layers.

The results of the radar data collected by the LPR during the first 2 days of lunar operation provide the first electromagnetic image of the far side subsurface structure and the first "ground truth" of the stratigraphic architecture of an ejecta deposit.

"The results illustrate, in an unprecedented way, the spatial distribution of the different products that contribute to from the ejecta sequence and their geometrical characteristics," Li said, referring to the material ejected at each impact. "This work shows the extensive use of the LPR could greatly improve our understanding of the history of lunar impact and volcanism and could shed new light on the comprehension of the geological evolution of the Moon's far side."

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the first footstep on Mars will be made by a Chinese woman in the 2030s.

Wait a sec — what's that music I'm hearing?

February 29, 2020 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rockstar Ruler

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From the website:

You'll be the coolest student (or maths teacher) in class with this multi-use and multi-purpose ruler.

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Inbuilt set square, protractor, arc tool, and circular stencils.

14" x 4.5".

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February 29, 2020 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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