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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Things you would like to have if shipwrecked on an island...

  • knife
  • magnifying glass
  • machete
  • my girlfriend ;)
  • sleeping bag
  • boat
  • container
  • hat
  • sunnies
  • rope
  • a big sheet of flexible perspex
  • mosquito netting
  • wind-up or solar powered radio
  • compound bow and arrows
  • cloth
  • brush
  • soap
  • toothbrush
  • mirror
  • fishing rod
  • toilet paper
  • shovel
  • vegetable seeds - potato's. tomatoes. broccoli. coffee. grains. bamboo. herbs.
  • cutlery
  • scissors
  • how-to manual
  • plates + bowls
  • cups
  • sunscreen
  • pushbike
  • aeroguard
  • assorted clothes + shoes
  • tent
  • towel
  • dog
  • dogfood
  • paper + pencils
  • billy
  • pot stoves

Floating lab to monitor oceans

The planned SeaOrbiter is intended to be a research lab that will observe ocean life and the interaction between ocean and atmosphere. It will be driven by currents and have a life expectancy of 15 years, according to its backers.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Praying monkey in India

A monkey reportedly participated in a Hindu ritual at a temple in the Balasore district of Orissa, India. The monkey allegedly folded its hands, took prasad (sanctified food), and marked its forehead with vermillion. After the villagers adorned it with a garland, the monkey took off into the forest. From the Indo-Asian News Service:
"When we saw the monkey joining us we were surprised. We did not try to drive it out and it continued praying for nearly an hour amid hundreds of devotees," (Junia village resident Aniruddha) Behera told IANS... "We have not seen any monkey around for the last two years. This is a miracle for us," Behera said.
...via boingboing

Friday, May 20, 2005

News :
Google releases personalisable homepage
Google released www.google.com/ig.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

They're all god movies, in mysterious ways

The internet has become almost like a 21st-century church or temple, says a Sydney academic.

Disenchantment with organised religion has given rise to spiritual movements inspired by cinema and books and promulgated on the World Wide Web, says Adam Possamai, president of the Australian Association for the Study of Religions and a sociologist at the University of Western Sydney.

The futuristic Matrix trilogy and the Star Wars franchise - of which the final chapter, Revenge of the Sith, was released at midnight - are part of a phenomenon of "hyper-real" religions that draw on old religious symbolism and works of popular culture.

The internet is like a place for worship, but instead of pews, followers, mainly teenagers, congregate in chat rooms.

Star Trek, the Matrix trilogy and Star Wars, even the Harry Potter films, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are more than pieces of cinematic or television escapism, Dr Possamai says.

Their stories of spiritual drama, littered with a religious subtext of good versus evil, "chosen ones", prophets of doom and a benevolent universal power, mean they are a source of inspiration for "seekers".

Dr Possamai said the Matrix trilogy had spawned "Matrixism", a so-called movie-based religion that claims 300 adherents and has as one of its tenets a belief in the prophecy of "the One".

The Jedi Knight movement, which has a quasi-spirituality of the Force and an ethical code, promotes ancient techniques for developing the self such as meditation, yoga and shamanism.

The neo-pagan network of the Church of Old Worlds claimed to be inspired by Star Trek and the science fiction writer Robert Heinlein , he said. The Passion of the Christ had been used as a rallying cry by organised religion and many Christian groups had embraced popular culture by creating comic book heroes and virtual bibles.

"Hyper-real religions are a simulacrum of a religion partly created out of popular culture. They have been underground since the 1960s but are becoming more mainstream, due to the advent of the internet," said Dr Possamai, whose book on the subject has just been released.

"We live in a consumer society where popular culture is becoming more commercialised. As society becomes more consumerist I expect the hyper-real religious phenomenon to grow, but to what extent I've got no idea."

source : smh

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

How to live with curves

"Curved walls enable you to place windows and doors where they are best adapted for the use of a room, or to make the best of the view and the light. In a curved room, the usual references to space have gone. From each location in the house you have a different view or perspective onto the rest of the house, therefore more variety. Lighting is softer and less uniform and aggressive than with flat walls. The illusion of space is greater as there are no set lines for the eye to follow."

from an article about Lovag Bubble houses..

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Researchers revive plan to clone the Tassie tiger

The last living Tasmanian tiger is seen in this picture, dated 1936.

The last living Tasmanian tiger is seen in this picture, dated 1936.

The audacious plan to bring the Tasmanian tiger back from the dead through cloning is to be revived by a coalition of academics.

Three months after the Australian Museum said it was shelving plans to clone the tiger - or thylacine - the University of NSW's Dean of Science Mike Archer said the work was being picked up by a group of interested universities and a research institute.

Professor Archer, a former director of the museum, said researchers from NSW and Victoria were likely to take part in the program, which involves recovering DNA from preserved tiger tissue to breed a living specimen.

The University of NSW was likely to take part and the museum would be asked to co-operate.

Professor Archer declined to publicly name the other bodies involved before they were formally committed.

"A group of institutions is involved in moving ahead with creating new ways of getting the thylacine project back on track," Professor Archer said.

"I would see this institution [UNSW] being involved.

"We're beginning to think how we would progress this program."

The Australian Museum captured worldwide headlines in 1999 when under Professor Archer's directorship it announced plans to take the DNA from a thylacine pup that was preserved in ethanol in 1866 and reconstruct it.

The museum planned to clone the thylacine using the egg of another carnivorous marsupial, the Tasmanian devil.

The plan attracted more than $300,000 in sponsorship from the private sector.

However, Professor Archer left the museum in 2004 and in February the institution said it was abandoning the work due to poor DNA samples and a lack of adequate technology.

The decision won praise from some conservationists who said the money spent on cloning research would have been better spent on preserving existing endangered species.

Greens Senator Bob Brown said he believed the idea of bringing the dead back to life was "dysfunctional" because the habitats occupied by the thylacine are themselves being destroyed.

The last known tiger died in Hobart Zoo on September 7, 1936.

In February this year, two German tourists caused a flurry of excitement when they produced two digital images they claimed showed a living tiger they had encountered in the wild.

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery director Bill Bleathman, who viewed the photographs, said they showed the back of a thylacine but its head, hindquarters and tail were not clearly visible.

The pictures are considered inconclusive.

In March Kerry Packer's magazine The Bulletin announced it would pay $1.25 million for the capture of "a live, uninjured animal" as part of its 125th anniversary celebrations.

Tasmanian tour operator Stewart Malcolm subsequently upped the offer to $1.75 million, saying that he had been planning for months to offer a bounty.


 Like the Tasmanian devil, the thylacine is a carnivorous marsupial.

 It was hunted into extinction because it was regarded as a threat to livestock.

 The last known specimen died in Hobart Zoo in 1936.

 In March, The Bulletin announced it would pay $1.25 million for the capture of "a live, uninjured animal".

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Machines lay hands on building blocks of artificial life

New cubes on the block ... Hod Lipson holds parts of the robot he has designed to self-replicate. The robot starts as a stack of blocks, which builds a new stack in 2 minutes.

New cubes on the block ... Hod Lipson holds parts of the robot he has designed to self-replicate. The robot starts as a stack of blocks, which builds a new stack in 2 minutes.
Photo: Kevin Stearns

A dream of robotics and a nightmare of science fiction has been achieved with the development of complex, self-reproducing machines.

American researchers have built a family of robots that can make working copies of themselves within minutes.

Hod Lipson, of Cornell University, said his team's creations demonstrated that self-reproduction "is not unique to biology". The ability to reproduce would be useful for robots that needed repairing in hazardous environments or on distant planets. "Self-replication is an extreme version of self-repair," Professor Lipson told the Herald.

Science fiction thrillers, including Michael Crichton's novel Prey, have painted doomsday scenarios of tiny robots running amok.

Prince Charles has also expressed concern at the prospect of the planet being turned into a "grey goo" by self-replicating machines.

Professor Lipson said self-replicating machines needed sources of energy and materials to build copies of themselves. "So they are easy to control. It would not be high on my priorities to worry about," he said.

The team's robots, described today in the journal Nature, are made of independently operating cubes about 10 centimetres wide, which are split into halves that can swivel.

Each cube contains computer instructions and is fitted with electromagnets so it can attach or detach from a neighbouring cube.

A flexible stack of four cubes can bend over, move blocks and build an identical stack within 2 minutes, as long as it has a supply of new cubes.

Professor Lipson said two other devices that could make copies of themselves had been developed, including a system of Lego blocks on tracks, but they were extremely simple and worked only in two dimensions.

His team's cube design allowed for a complex "family of robots" in different shapes and sizes to be built and reproduce in three dimensions.

Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte, of the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney, said the new robots were an interesting development in a rapidly advancing field.

Other teams have developed robots that can change shape or split in two and recombine, he said. The biggest practical problem would be how to supply the robots with power in remote locations.

from smh

Monday, May 09, 2005

In between, I made this.... Posted by Hello

Sunday, beers with Matty! Posted by Hello

The Epping Hotel... Posted by Hello

Beers with Migel on Thursday night! Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 05, 2005

According to research by the Australia Institute, about one in three Sydney fathers in full-time work with children under 15 years spend an average eight hours and 17 minutes a week travelling to work but three hours and 44 minutes with their children.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The importance of Sci-fi
(disclaimer : this is a thought in progress, I intend to expand on it when I can.)

I watched the new 'Dalek' episode of Doctor Who last night and it got me a-thinking...

The importance of Sci-fi to people in technical jobs is, for me, high, as I find that it allows me to side-step whatever current technical problems I may be encountering and escape to a time where those problems no longer exist. It occurs to me that Sci-fi shows oftens show situations that transcend what is currently possible / acceptable in many arena, not just the obvious technical considerations, and that it is this element of
transcendence that really contains the power. It's quite normal to experience doubt and stress when facing technical issues, and it could be considered that it's part of the human condition to push ourselves on to overcome increasing odds.

Sci-f, for me allows a vision of that goal state ahead of it's deserved time, the so-called carrot dangling before the donkey.

It could be said that Sci-fi shows people (and other creatures!) transcending many issues, not just technical, and so do many other genres. A show set in the 1920's showing people overcoming technical issues, while still interesting to me, is not as interesting as something future-based, and I wonder why...

I like seeing visions of the future, regardless of the bad props (although this can detract from it dramatically), and I work for an IT company and I see many people around me, both male and female being interested in sci-fi. Is it perhaps an interest in technology that drew us to our chosen field of employment?

I'm not a pimply geek type, I enjoy many other things than sitting in front of a computer, but I do experience a sort of buzz after watching a good piece of sci-fi. I've had a brief trawl around the net looking for other commentry of a similar tone, but can't find anything of note.

Any thoughts?

...I'd be really interested in hearing other peoples opinions of this.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

...up... Posted by Hello

the face at the Luna Park entrance... Posted by Hello

new bedside table lamp... Posted by Hello

cafe sign at Luna park, Sydney Posted by Hello

Another weekend closes...

Yesterday we went to Bunnings Warehouse and bought, amongst other things... a couple of blocks of Hebel (a light aerated concrete block) and some chisels and coarse sandpaper with the intention of starting some tiki head sculptures. Lisa bought a stack of plants and some trellis for her little backyard. We watched 'Without a Paddle', a hilarious little comedy/adventure.

What else did we do this weekend? It was one of those... I think a percentage of it involved Lisa and I recovering from our respective colds.

Exciting huh.

oh yeh, we went for a nice walk through Luna Park and took some photos on Saturday night, there's something quite disturbing about the art and design around theme parks isn't there. I've included a couple of the pics here (and on my Flickr site) so you can check them out.

My Good friend Mick was a recipient of one of my free Flickr pro accounts. He's been busy putting up some photos from about 5 years ago that I haven't seen in such a long time. These photos are from our first house in Sydney and also from our old workplace. It's quite humbling looking at these photos and thinking of all the things that have happened since then, and simultaneously, how much has not changed. So go on, check out his Flickr site and say hi. He's a nice guy, he'd appreciate it.

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