Advocate of Entropy

Nothing is Lost. If the TV's still on.

Category: Academia

Rare Views into 1840’s U.S.A.

In this nice video, you can look at photographs taken nearly 200 (!) years ago in the american west. It really rushes you into a simpler, wider but also more dangerous world. I personally like ships very much, and never get tired of looking at old stuff in general. Enjoy!

© Alfred A. Hart

© Alfred A. Hart

No, the picture above does not come up in the video, I just like it. It’s the 1865 C.P.R.R.’s locomotive “Gov. Stanford”; and trains are just cool, aren’t they?

Stay Alert and Go West !, yours Advocate of Entropy


Past and Future: Tian’anmen

25 years ago the world was seething from change and everywhere some new formation, organisation appeared: commemorating the near end of the cold war and trying to make the world a little better; piece by piece. In some regions of the world those movements didn’t have many friends, because they also protested against the old regimes and gridlocked politics.
Surprisingly in countries like Russia or regions like East Europe these “revolutions” and actions mostly took place in total calm and (nearly) without violence. But not in communist China. No no! Here, on the Tian’anmen (Place of Heavenly Peace) and the whole rest of Beijing, mostly students stood against everything, they thought was wrong. As it happened to be, they didn’t just occupy the place, like today’s “protesters” (cuz seriously: what do you think can be accomplished with sitting in a park for twenty weeks?), but they wanted that Michail Gorbatschow (russian president at that time) would see their mysery and help the thousands of brave studtens and workers who were trying to change something in their homeland, when he would visit Beijing. But China’s bigheads decided otherwise and quelled the “rebellion” with brutal force…
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Bad Saint, go to the Fridge!

On the weekend I learned something fascinating. Most people know that in South America there about a gazillion saints and everyone has it’s own jurisdiction. Whenever you want something from them, you send a little prayer to one of the figurines standing in your living room, just above the TV. And now it get’s interesting!

Saints / © German Art Industries

Saints / © German Art Industries

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The Trojan Wars


Wicca was suggested this week, but I think that will require a little more research than I want to devote while finishing off some other writing. I hope you will accept my substitute, the Trojan Wars.

Everyone knows about the Trojan War, either as written by Homer himself or through the reasonable movie facsimile done a few years ago. The romance of Paris and Helen, the foolish bravado of Achilles conflicting with the regal arrogance of Agamemnon, and the terrible situation Priam and Hector are forced into are all good storytelling.

The truth is that if a minion behaved as Achilles does toward Agamemnon, he would have had his throat slit as he slept. If he didn’t, his king would lose his hold over his other minions and himself be killed. The fact is that Odysseus is the real hero of The Iliad and Homer’s sequel The Odyssey. He enlists…

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The Druids


Druids have become, in the modern lexicon, a symbol of Celtic magic or mysticism. Part of that is the fault of the early Christians in Britain and Ireland; they portrayed druids as the keepers of the old religion who had to be outshone in order to usher in the new; Columba defeats a Druid several times in bringing Christianity to Brude, king of the Picts. No doubt stories abounded about Patrick accomplishing the same feats in Ireland.

Part of the problem also has to do with our perceptions of magic. Today we see the craft as the province of people who study for years, people who go by the names of witches and wizards. But that was not the case in the ancient and medieval worlds. As has been seen, bards were wordsmiths, and for that reason their creations had a supernatural quality. The king’s power over his people rested…

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SCIENCE Webinar: The Many Roads to Cell Death // Cells moved with Light

© wiseGEEK / Multiple Cells

© wiseGEEK / Multiple Cells


Cell death is, ironically, an essential part of life. In recent years, the study and understanding of cell death pathways has been dramatically transformed by the insights gained into non-apoptotic pathways, including necro-apoptosis and autophagy, together with a deeper understanding of the mechanism of the apoptotic cascade. New discoveries have been enabled by cutting-edge technologies, particularly in the realm of cytometry and cell-death–specific markers. In this webinar, the latest insights into cell death pathways will be discussed, including the molecular markers and cellular changes that characterize each pathway. Viewers will also learn practical cytometry-based strategies for dissecting cell death pathways, and how to use the data to better understand the pathophysiology of diseases such as cancer as well as to uncover new targets for drug discovery and development.

by John Abrams & William G. Telford Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Chinese with Pictograms

Chineasy is a website and a corresponding book, which teach you modern chinese through pictograms and visual semantics in very easy steps and from the smallest parts, the words, up to full phrases. And you can learn how they are written in chinese squiggles, how the written signs compose and much more helpful and interesting stuff around the structure of the chinese language.

I myself started just a few days ago and already could ask for some bread or where to sleep (if I had to leave for China any time soon). This method is pretty slick for learning the composition of words, the pattern of translation and the original writing in harmony with your original language; a brilliant way to build bridges between old an new knowledge. You want a little example? Here we go:

Rupture / ©

Rupture / ©

This pretty fella means rupture and composes from the building block symbols for mountain (basically an earthen trident) and twice night (which looks like a window with pulled down jalousie, because it’s dark outside). That’s because when a vulcano (= mountain) ruptures, it would cover the sky with ashes and turn day into night. Tadaa! Isn’t that chin-easy? 🙂

víkingr – Northmen on the Raid

Randas bæron
sæwicingas ofer sealtne mersc,
manna menio; micel angetrum
eode unforht.

Seavikings, many men,
carried their shields over the salty seas,
a selected flock, that walked
withour fear.

Shady men with long, dreaded hair and beards, emerging from the morning fog over the river, wielding mighty axes and brazen swords, calling upon their wild, nordish gods, hiding their muscular, sea-torn bodies behind colourful, round shields and jumping over the planks of their dragon-headed ship. Soon everywhere is fire and blood, for nobody can escape their wrath; nobody can stop their force. And before any help can arrive, the savage northerners are gone with all the supplies and treasures; and all the healthy men and women they didn’t slaughter. They are the demons of the seas, the pest of the coasts – they are Vikings.
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Unusual Animals trained to be Mine Detectors

Since several weeks heavy rain over the balkan has cost millions of people their homes and tens have died in floods and landslides. In addition to the nonstop raining, thousands and thousands of landmines are being carried around by water and mud. They could explode at any time or get burried beneath a thin layer of slime and then go off as soon as someone steps on them.
Overall the world every year more than 15.000 people die by landmines, 80% of which are civilians. Only since 1999 the Ottawa Treaty (signed by 161 countries; but neither the U.S, Russia, Israel, China, Syria, India, Saudi Arabia, Iran or Egypt seem to think of it as an desirable effort) forbids the production and usage of “anti-personnel mines”. Next to the technical approaches to this nightmare, organisations around the world have begun to explore the animals’ expertise. Mostly dogs and some cats are trained to search for mines, but there’s a fundamental problem: they’re too heavy! When a dog or cat finds a landmine it has to naturally scratch or sit on it and so triggers the explosive. But what other furry friends could we get to help us? Read the rest of this entry »

Caesar and the Helvetii: Can Technology verify History?

An international team around Assistant Professor Tom Whitley from the University of Western Australia is using GIS (or Geographic Information Systems) to recreate the environment around Gaius Iulius Caesar’s De bello Gallico and check, if it really was lack of food, which drove the Helvetii (a celtic tribe that lived in middle-switzerland and south-west germany) out of their mountains, onto roman territory.
With radar, magnetometry and aerial photogrammetry they try to create a digital landscape of 60 B.C.’s switzerland and try various settings and influences (e.g. erosion, avalanches or manmade alterings, like dams and fields) to get as close as possible to the ancient conditions. What was going on with the Helvetii back then and where could Caesar have build the bridges, whose pure existance shocked the Helvetii into retreating? You just gotta love the efforts of some scientists!

Divico and Caesar (Andres Furger-Gunti)

Divico and Caesar (Andres Furger-Gunti)

Article: here