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article archives at abelard's news and comment zonetopic archives: fun: for previously archived fun news articles, visit the news archive page (click on the button to the left)
XII-2004: 06 11 19 28 | I-2005: 29 |II-2005: 01 06 10 16 17 25 | III-2005: 04 08 11 17 30 | IV-2005: 02 20 26 27

New translation, the Magna Carta

K 'Y

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it’ll never work

  • "640K ought to be enough for anybody."
    -- Bill Gates, CEO and founder of Microsoft and world's wealthiest man, 1981

    Microsoft is releasing “new versions of its Windows operating system, providing a single platform that can easily run new 64-bit applications and existing 32-bit applications [...] increasing addressable memory from 4GB to 16TB.” [Quoted from]

  • " many centuries after the Creation it is unlikely that anyone could find hitherto unknown lands of any value."
    -- Committee advising King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain regarding a proposal by Christopher Columbus, 1486

    The American continent is 8.25% of the earth’s land surface (North America: 4.76%, South America: 3.49%).

  • "We are probably nearing the limit of all we can know about astronomy."
    -- Simon Newcomb, Canadian-born American astronomer, 1888

    For its 15th birthday, photographs are being published from the Hubble telescope that show the Whirlpool Galaxy (spiral galaxy M51) and the Eagle Nebula.
    “During the 15 years NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has orbited the Earth, it has taken more than 700,000 photos of the cosmos; images that have awed, astounded and even confounded astronomers and the public.” [Quoted from]

  • "I confess that in 1901 I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years. Two years later we ourselves made flights. This demonstration of my impotence as a prophet gave me such a shock that ever since I have distrusted myself and avoided all predictions."
    -- Wilbur Wright, American aviation pioneer, speech to the Aero Club of France, 1908

    The giant airliner, the Airbus 380, made its maiden flight yesterday. [Airbus A380 site]

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yes, great wall of china visible from space - but only if....

  1. you know what to look for and where
  2. the orbit is not too high (160 - 320 km up)
  3. the weather conditions are right (no clouds)
  4. the lighting is right (before the sun has risen high so light bounces of the wall sides)
  5. and as an added aid, it has been snowing.

Whether the Great Wall of China [GWOC] is visible to the naked eye from space has been troubling the Chinese since ...

“[...] Yang Liwei, China's first space orbiter, said he didn't see the Wall on his 21-hour mission in October 2003 [...] ”

According to

“Leroy Chiao [...], a veteran astronaut with three previous space flights to his credit [...] "It is hard to say whether or not I have seen it," he has said in a continuous string of email exchanges with China Daily over the past two months. "That's because from our altitude I cannot distinguish between the Wall and roads. I think that if I knew exactly where to look, I would have a chance." ”

Wei, of the Institute of Remote Sensing Application at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and also of the National Remote Sensing Centre of China, looked at photos that Chiao took while in space:

“The Great Wall differs from them in one crucial aspect: It is dotted with beacon towers at regular intervals. If I have enough time, I can count all the towers for you.”

The linked article has much on the study of very high altutude aerial photographs. Note taking a photo of the GWOC from space is a remarkable feat as the photographer orbits at speeds of say 5 miles a second.

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The other GWOC legend, found in a well-known Trivial Pursuit question/answer - that only the GWOC is visible from space - is wrong.

“It seems that the larger in size, the more regular in shape and the more sharp the contrast an object has with the surrounding environment, the more easily it registers on the human eye from far away.”

Here is Satellite image showing both the GWOC and the Da Yunhe, or Grand Canal.

the web address for the article above is

legstrong to “retire after tour” - going for no.7

”How you going to retire? You can’t even sit down.” Sheryl.

related material
the greatest show on Earth! Le Tour de France 1

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gettysburg address - if only lincoln had used ms powerpoint

“And now please welcome President Abraham Lincoln.

“Good morning. Just a second while I get this connection to work. Do I press this button here? Function-F7? No, that's not right. Hmmm. Maybe I'll have to reboot. Hold on a minute. Um, my name is Abe Lincoln and I'm your president.”

The Powerpoint slides used with the presentation

An example slide. Image credit: Peter Norvig

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The original Gettysburg Address before the the Powerpoint ‘improvements’:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met here on a great battle-field of that war. We are met have come to dedicate a portion of it as the a final resting place of for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But in a larger sense we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they have, thus far, so nobly carried on. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to the that cause for which they here gave gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

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Comments from Peter Norvig, the drafter of the Powerpoint Gettysburg presentation:

“Stanford University's Cliff Nass was quoted in the New Yorker [1] saying that PowerPoint "lifts the floor"; it allows some main points to come across even if the speaker mumbles, forgets, or is otherwise grossly incompetent. But PowerPoint also "lowers the ceiling"; it makes it harder to have an open exchange between presenter and audience, to convey ideas that do not neatly fit into outline format, or to have a truly inspiring presentation. ”

the web address for the article above is

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