Trinity College Long Room

Today I had the opportunity to visit Trinity College, see the Book of Kells exhibit and walk through the Library’s Long Room, which was nothing short of amazing.

The Long Room (amply named) was built in 1713, is 213 feet in length, and has 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books. This was originally a single story building, but became full and had the second floor and vaulted ceilings installed in 1860. Pictures don’t do this place any justice, but I’ll share them anyways.

Plight of the refugees

The press coverage about refugees fleeing from countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan in recent weeks/months into Europe has been nothing less than astonishing. The lengths and dangers that so many have braved to make a better life for themselves and escape civil war or terror is inspirational. I’m of the opinion that if you chase your dreams, that you can accomplish anything. And these folks are proving it every day.

With so many paths being closed off, some have resorted to taking some pretty dramatic routes to include bicycling through the Arctic.

The BBC also has an interesting ‘by the numbers’ article with some infographics here that help to explain why this is such a big issue for everyone involved.

While I understand the population issues that a mass exodus can cause, I do applaud their effort to get out of a bad situation and try to start anew. Good luck guys.

Turns out, rum can help with some health issues

Hip dislocations have long been dealt with the old-fashioned way, writes Horowitz: Inside the emergency room, doctors simply shove the hip back into its socket. It’s an agonizing procedure, and one that hasn’t changed in years. Normally, doctors use a move called the Allis Maneuver — the patient lays on a gurney, the doctor straddles the patient, and in goes the hip.
But all that changed when emergency medicine professor Gregory Hendey watched an ad for Captain Morgan rum. What if, he wondered, a doctor didn’t straddle patients at all? By putting a knee beneath the raised knee of a person imitating the Captain and pushing, it turns out hips can be popped back into place without the need to crawl onto the gurney.

How a Captain Morgan Advertisement Inspired an Emergency Room Technique that helps with dislocated hips.

Barcode history is probably more interesting than you thought

It had been calculated that only ten digits were needed; the barcode had to be readable from any direction and at speed; there must be fewer than one in 20,000 undetected errors.

Based largely on morse code, and originally intended to streamline the checkout process at a supermarket, the barcode has a pretty interesting history. Iterate, iterate, iterate; and eventually success ensues, as does widespread adoption of new and useful technologies.

Read more about it here, via the Smithsonian Magazine.

Astronaut

My office Friday and Saturday was the Richmond Speedway, where I hung out with Dawn and a couple other NASA folks who were manning a booth demonstrating the Resource Prospector. This is a rover in development that will scour the Moon for water beneath the surface, take core samples, and examine the specimin to determine what’s in it, and if it can be used by man, should we try to colonize the moon.

All in all, it was really great to see how interested the kids were in driving the rover, the questions they asked, and the questions their parents had. Just goes to show that science isn’t boring in the right context, and that kids really do enjoy learning – even if they claim the opposite.

Then this guy walked by:

  

A little town where wireless really means less

Ever hear of a small town called Green Bank, West Virginia? Until tonight, I hadn’t either. It’s a relatively small community of around 140 people as of the 2010 census and is about four hours from Washington, D.C. 

What makes this town interesting is that it’s localed in the middle of the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000 square mile exclusion zone where all forms of wireless radios and transmitters are illegal to use. This includes wifi, Bluetooth, cellphones, AM/FM and pretty much anything that transmits (with very few exceptions). 

The reason? Because it’s home to the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, the worlds largest steerable radio telescope. The ground stations are described as “so sensitive that it can pick up the energy equivalent to a single snowflake hitting the ground“. That’s pretty amazing if you ask me. 

The radio morrotorium has also attracted new residents, those who suffer from a condition called electromagnetic hypersensitivity, which is basically folks who are sensitive to electromagnetic fields. 

The Washingtonian wrote a great story about the history of the area, the people and dynamics in that region if you’re interested in reading more. Time well spent. 

Under the sea (submarine cables)

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 11.55.36 PMIf you’ve ever wondered how data gets from one continent to another on a terrestrial level, the Submarine Cable Maps site is a pretty good roadmap. They gather data from TeleGeography and compile it into a very useful format, using Google Maps to display loads of information about the line, who owns it, the bandwidth, etc.

Wondering how those communication lines are dropped down to the bottom of ocean? The Discovery Channel did a pretty decent documentary on it here:

TE SubCom also has a pretty interesting video on how they tackle undersea lines (a bit of PR in this video, but the explanation of the methodology makes up for it).

So the next time you visit a site hosted in another country, think of the folks that helped to make that happen, and the amount of work it took.