Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict

New Written Language of Ancient Scotland Discovered : Discovery News

The ancestors of modern Scottish people left behind mysterious, carved stones that new research has just determined contain the written language of the Picts, an Iron Age society that existed in Scotland from 300 to 843.


Interesting – though it sounds as if not everyone is convinced – go figure.

Sartorial Splendor

It is good to have a friend who works in a thrift shop. Tony Lama tooled, cut out, laced and dyed belt with literally (in the literal sense) MY NAME ON IT. My head literally (in the metaphorical sense >grin<) exploded! The buckle is from my extensive (there is one other – the traditional skull formed from naked ladies w/ integrated bottle opener) collection, via eBay. Growing up in Phoenix, the scorpion in resin was an eight year old’s holy grail; paired with a belt like this – beyond imagining.


The shirt underneath is another score – I’m partial to blue chambray work shirts and it’s tougher and tougher to find non-tarted up examples. Ah, for the days of Madewell work shirts and dungaree – long gone, it appears.  Found this at an outlet store – sold.

A Piece of History

I was at the Clipper Home in Portsmouth recently, interviewing a man who had worked on Goat Island in the Fifties. SL can be lucid; he also has periods of fantasy (according to his family – I’m not so sure). In the course of our conversation, he mentioned that he had a box of papers and office effects from his time at the ‘Bin’. I tried not to get too excited, but he must have seen that I was interested because he offered the box to me on the spot. By happy coincidence, the daughter whose attic the box was stored in was in the room with us – the family likes to make sure there’s a chaperon whenever SL talks to anyone who’s not family or nursing home staff. Even more surprising, the daughter was also willing to give me the box – once my chat with SL was over, I followed the daughter back to her house and we retrieved the box. *

I’ve been helping a small group of local historians set up a web site; they want to get the material they’re gathering and their analysis of it out for all to see. They are focusing their attention on Goat Island out in Little Bay, and especially the Miskatonic University facilities that were there from 1931 until 1962. Last week the head honcho, Mo Labrie, came into possession of some field notebooks and patches from the Second Miskatonic Antarctic Expedition (the ’57/’58 effort that was part of the IGY – not to be confused with the privately backed group that disappeared in 1938). He’s obviously saving some for the project archives, but he’s also asked me to try to sell some off – the Goat Island Project has been funding itself out of the historian’s pockets.

The patch – 3 1/4″ diameter.


The notebook – for size reference, that’s a metric rule on the back cover.


I’m going to keep this easy (I hope) and low-tech. We’re asking $6.50 each for patches and notebooks, plus $2.50 flat shipping for any reasonable number of items. If you want a piece of atomic age Misky history, email me at dr.hypercube-at-gmaildotcom with how many of what kind and I’ll send you back a PayPal invoice. You pay the invoice and hey, presto – off your items will go.

More (less) memory

Last October, I posted a picture of my 8k memory module. Turns out I’m not the only local with magnetic core – the science teacher across the hall from me produced this little gem this morning for my edification.

Front – if you embiggen, you can see the cores.




It looks to me like a (10 x 4) x (10 x 4) = 1600 bit array – I googled for ’10 bit byte’, ‘395643 memory’ and some others w/o any luck. I don’t think it’s wise to assume 8-bit bytes, but just for purposes of comparison, that would make this a 200 byte memory card!

The complete mitochondrial DNA genome of an unknown hominin from southern Siberia : Nature

The complete mitochondrial DNA genome of an unknown hominin from southern Siberia : Nature.

Here we report a complete mitochondrial (mt) DNA sequence retrieved from a bone excavated in 2008 in Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia. It represents a hitherto unknown type of hominin mtDNA that shares a common ancestor with anatomically modern human and Neanderthal mtDNAs about 1.0 million years ago. This indicates that it derives from a hominin migration out of Africa distinct from that of the ancestors of Neanderthals and of modern humans. The stratigraphy of the cave where the bone was found suggests that the Denisova hominin lived close in time and space with Neanderthals as well as with modern humans.

Hobbit version 2.0: the undiscovered hominin

As my students have heard me say many, many times, gene trees are not species trees. The different genetic loci within a population have diverse genealogies. Often, when two populations diverge from each other, their gene genealogies will show similar patterns of divergence. But not always.

When we look within a single population, gene genealogies are likewise diverse. but within a single population, there is no population divergence. There must be an oldest branch point in the genealogy of any single gene. Here’s a question: how many individuals do you have to sample so that you are sure you will find this deepest branch point? The answer to that question depends on the frequencies of the lineages on either side of that branch. If one of them happens to be rare, you’re unlikely to find it unless you sample lots and lots of individuals.

And if the population is spread across a substantial amount of space, it is very likely that one of the clades will be geographically limited compared to the other.

Put these two things together, and apply them to a widespread population like the Neandertals. It is pretty likely that if we sample a dozen Neandertals across a subset of their range, that we will miss the deepest divergence in the genealogy of a single gene. That may be what has happened here. By extending the known mitochondrial sample of Neandertals even further to the east, this study may have discovered a deeper branch point than was previously known within the Neandertal population.

Indeed, a million-year-old clade divergence would be entirely normal for a large mammal. That’s what we see in chimpanzees, and as I pointed out yesterday, it’s smaller than the clade divergence we see among mammoth mtDNA across a similar time range and geographic extent.

Both links via William Gibson.

Finding Ada 2010 – Angela Sheehan

I first met Angela at a New Hampshire Media Makers meetup back in August 2009. During her three minute ‘here’s what I’m up to’ presentation she spoke of her interest in wearable tech: fabric/electronic mashups. I’m interested in any kind of computing/networking/digital tech that doesn’t involve a screen, keyboard and beige box; we said hello and struck up a conversation. Later in the week, she sent me links to work – REACTIVEfashion – she’d done (with Rebecca Grabman) as a senior at Bennington:

Interactive Formalwear.


Tween Voodoo.


Skate Power.


Wow, said I.

Before we get to what Angela has been up to recently, a few words on the path she took into Making. She went to Bennington intending to paint and do illustration, but ended up in a 3D animation class. When the person teaching 3D animation left, that program was essentially done (perils of small colleges). Not to worry – Angela jumped into Robert Ransick’s Viral Media class, from there, on to Physical Computing. Her timing was perfect – Leah Beuchley was off and running on her pioneering work, the Arduino folks had produced their platform (since adapted/adopted into the wearable-friendly Lilypad) – there was a lot of fun and ferment around wearables. Her interest in physical computing led to the work above, which was presented in a couple different venues – including a runway show, and to a class that I have to mention because the title is so great: Experiments in Mixed Reality (incidentally, structured around rapid prototyping cycles).

Since I met her last fall, Angela has been producing great work at an amazing clip:

I’m probably missing a couple, too. Going forward, I’ve heard rumblings that she’s coordinating flash-mob fun (including interactive tech) with Tara Sullivan (organizer of the Portsmouth Thriller Dance last Halloween) and know for sure that she’s looking into makerspace possibilities here on the seacoast. Especially with the flash-mob planning, it seems that she’s exploring some of the group dynamics/interaction themes that were central to at least one of the rapid-prototype projects she’s described to me.

Why Angela Sheehan on Ada Lovelace Day? She epitomizes, for me, many of the best aspects of Maker kulturny. She mashes up things she’s skilled at with things she’s figuring out and isn’t daunted by ‘I’ve never done that before’. If it’s something she wants to know, she learns it; if it’s less intriguing, she’ll get help. She pulls stuff apart and repurposes components in service to her projects. Alongside the uber-maker thing is her creativity – Angela just has a ton of cool ideas, many of which involve technology (important for the whole Lovelace thing!). Three cheers for Ada Lovelace and three cheers for Angela Sheehan.

[Side note – you can find Angela’s chinchilla related work at The Fuzz Depot.]