Thursday, December 16, 2010

Facts, New or Not

I'm giving you answers here; you come up with the questions for your party guests.

✦ Given the right software, anyone can make a robot walk, sing, or act. Or so say the experts at Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology who have created the software dubbed Choreonoid. You'll want to try it on your own. Check out the Dancing Robot Project videos here. This post shows how movements get mapped using the software.

✦ Google has an agreement with Israel Antiquities Authority and Israel Museum to digitize and make available for free some 30,000 Dead Sea Scroll fragments in the museum's collection. For more about that agreement, the technology to be used, and the placement of the historic documents online, go here. A video of a Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition is here.

✦ In ancient Egypt and Babylonia, eye makeup served a religious and magical role and had medicinal purposes as well, keeping away infection-causing small flies. This article covers some of the customs for face care and makeup, what was used, and how makeup was applied.

While we're on the subject of makeup, take note: This UK study, reported in the Daily News, says the average woman (whoever she may be) spends $13,000 on makeup during her lifetime.

✦ The New York subway system turned 106 years old on October 27. The system has 468 stations and runs some 660 miles; a favored mode of transportation, it's used by more than 1 billion people annually. A New York Times photographic essay to mark all those decades of service is here.

New York City Transit History and Chronology

✦ It's a bit sticky, to say the least. Sticky as in an estimated one million pieces of chewing gum covering its surface. It is an historic Pike Place Market wall in Seattle, Washington, otherwise known as the Bubble Gum House, Chewing Gum House, Gum Wall, or Wall of Gum. It placed second (after the Blarney Stone in Ireland), for "World's Germiest Attractions", in a 2009 Trip Advisor poll. The wall began its transformation into an official tourist attraction (since 1999) when, in 1993, ticket-holders waiting for the doors to open to the Market Theatre, under Pike Place Market, began leaving their gum there. (You know, theatre rules being what they are, what else were the people to do with it? Better the wall than soles of shoes.) The wall's inspired a scene in some forgettable movie and even been the backdrop for weddings. Go here to view this unique "artwork" at a safe distance. (My thanks to my friend Diane whose own photograph of the wall made me curious enough to do a bit of research.)

✦ Founded by Michael Hart in 1971, Project Gutenberg is "the first and largest single collection of free electronic books"—more than 33,000, and each one downloadable at no cost in the United States. A check of the virtual 77-page bookshelf, which is updated each night, reveals everything from adventure stories to tales of witchcraft.


M.L. Gallagher said...

I'll have to bring my laptop to Christmas dinner and wow everyone!

Oh dear, but Emily Post might have something to say about my manners!

Great list of interesting tidbits Maureen -- you make conversation scintillating!

hedgewitch said...

Fun, Maureen. Enjoyed the bit on cosmetics especially. The pictures of the ancient make-up containers and accessories were quite poignant, a connection to women who are dust. Also enjoyed hearing more about Project Gutenberg, I've used the website several times to find literature--their interface is simple, the e-reader is good for old eyes, and they have a huge variety of material.

thelmaz said...

Loved the facts. $13,000 on makeup--amazing. And I loved learning about the Bubble Gum Wall-yuck.

A. Jay Adler said...

I swoon at those NYC transit photos. Like Willa Cather looking out at the prairie.