Sunday Things - miscellaneous edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday September 30 2012

Sundays are for realising the combination of a cold and jet-lag has prevented the Saturday night compilation of the latest Sunday Things. So in a way, this is late - and for the first time ever - but it's still Sunday. So things can't be so bad?

Sunbathing is far riskier than anyone imagined.
August 31st Coronal Mass Ejection - giant eruption on the Sun, imaged by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. I'm only posting this 'cause anyone who somehow hasn't seen this already is seriously missing out!

Hopefully not foul Greek graffiti? Winter sports facilities always look strange without snow
Abandoned Olympic Sites - the intentionally transient nature of much of the London Olympics' constructions may help avoid a similar fate, but infrastructure from previous games has stuck around... There are some great other links within the article, too. via locworks

A knotty problem.
Knots on Mars - a few thoughts on the hand-tied knots lacing together cables on the MSL Curiosity Mars rover, courtesy of the International Guild of Knot Tyers (no, really). I've always found that space probes are a beautiful intersection of precision engineering and delicately hand-built prototypes - cosmetic imperfections and evidence of modifications reveal their defiantly non-mass-produced nature. via David

Bonus Extreme Weather corner:

  • Extreme Instability - people's hero goes chasing storms in a car with a camera. I went through what looked like a weather front in northern France the other day - a huge bank of clouds with damp consequences on the other side.
  • Atmospheric Optics - all those funny crepuscular rays, parhelia, supernumerary rainbows, halos and noctilucent clouds all have names, don't you know.
  • French Warship versus Big Waves - I'm hoping for weather like that on Lake Washington. The 271 bus has already been splashed by smaller waves...

Sunday Things - Seattle LiDAR edition

posted in 3D by Cargo Cult on Sunday September 23 2012

What to do on long train journeys with no intertubes and no books to read? Instead of succumbing to tedious modern media consumption with a Kindle or iPad, why not break out the high-end modelling and rendering packages, combine them with geographical data conversion utilities and visualise some previously-downloaded LiDAR heightfield data of significant Pacific Northwestern cities?

Seattle LiDAR 1 Seattle LiDAR 2 Seattle LiDAR 3 (this was supposed to be low-lying morning mist, but didn't turn out too well)
Rendering data from the Puget Sound Lidar Consortium, converted to GeoTIFF format with a recent GDAL installation, then rendered into glorious globally-illuminated worlds using one's own personal copy of Modo. Convert the funny ASCII .e00 files with something like 'gdal_translate -of gtiff -ot uint16 -scale 0 1000 0 65535 q47122e31ff.e00 q47122e31ff.tiff' - the resulting 16-bit TIFF can then be opened in Photoshop for checking and tweaking, then rendered as a displacement map in Modo. Surprisingly, it eats through my laptop's battery like you wouldn't believe.

Sunday Things - underground edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday September 16 2012

Quick subterranean edition, assembled while waiting to board a plane...

Yet more real-life Minecraft. Given the opportunity to dig, people will dig.
Caves of Nottingham - the mighty BLDGBLOG goes exploring in somewhere I thought I knew, and sees many things I haven't. The longest article I've ever seen on Nottingham's many artificial caves, and it's all thanks to...

sv_cheats 1; noclip

Nottingham Caves Survey - going underground?

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The Nottingham Caves Survey - surveying and scanning the caves using LiDAR, producing a huge dataset of point-cloud geometry. I do hope they release some of that data!

STOP PRESS (again) - THE ROBOT IS LOOKING AT US

posted in Space by Cargo Cult on Sunday September 9 2012

Beady little spider-eyes?

That Martian robot has gained sentience, and is looking at us. It can see itself, and it knows we can see it. Forget the cute, cuddly and anthropomorphic mastcam self-portrait, it is now showing its true nature - a monstrous space-robot bristling with cameras and scientific instrumentation.

In other words, MSL Curiosity's MAHLI camera is fully activated, the lens cover is open and it's busy inspecting itself. Calibration targets, wheels, hazcams - this is rather fancy. SPAAAACE! Ahem.

Sunday Things - biological edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday September 9 2012

This week, only one mention of a particular Martian robot! Instead, an attempt at a biological theme. I found lots of things in my bookmarks, but mostly vomit-inducing anatomy...

Close relations: trilobites, headcrabs and facehuggers.
Horseshoe crab anatomy - from Recherches sur l'anatomie des Limules, Paris, 1873. They're fascinating buggers, vaguely related to spiders - heavily armoured, swimming upside down, and with blue blood that's harvested by the medical industry for its bacterium-detecting properties. Extra: more on their anatomy, and some close-up macro shots.

STARING EYE TAG
Morbid Anatomy - a vast collection of anatomical waxworks and pickled specimens. Persons in the 18th and 19th centuries had strong stomachs, and sick imaginations. Warning: may contain depictions of syphilitic nether regions. Extra: more anatomy to expel your lunch over.

Also beware: Shelob. Also also beware: Sumatran rat-monkeys.
Waitomo Glow Worm Cave - a New Zealand cave colonised by strange glowing invertebrate larvae, dangling sticky threads in the hope of catching a passing tourist or a David Attenborough...

Bonus Inevitable Robots corner: