Like Geology? Love MineCraft…? Then these models will be perfect for you…
The British Geological Survey has recreated several of their geological maps as 3D landscapes within the MineCraft game. Now you can explore the British Isles both above and below the ground! These models not only show the rolling land surface, but also how the underlying rock strata rise and fall, and overlap and fold, at different depths. All of the three-dimensional geology, elevation and topography are drawn from BGS and Ordinance Survey data. Now for the first time you can tunnel underground in MineCraft through real geological layers.
See the BGS website for more details on how these were made, and to download the MineCraft models.
Thought the history of civilisation, humanity has exploited an ever increasing repertoire of metals in our tools and technology. Copper and bronze, iron and steel, gold, silver, aluminium, tungsten, and so on.
Nowadays, we carry around in our pocket a huge range of metals — not just coins, but your smart phone in fact encapsulates an incredible selection of different metals, some pretty rare in Earth’s crust. The US Geological Survey has produced this amazing infographic of all the minerals and metals contained within the advanced electronics in your phone and other devices. Each material is selected for its particular combination of properties needed for the different functions within electronics. And these are sourced from mines all over the planet. Who’d have thought that we use such a range of materials everyday of our lives without even realising!
Chapter 10 of The Knowledge talks about ways to make inks for art and writing. Both the ancient Egyptians and Chinese developed a black ink based on soot, about 4,500 years ago. The tiny particles of carbon in the soot serve as a wonderfully dark pigment, which when mixed with water and a thickening agent like tree gum or gelatine (animal glue) gives you a great, black ink. Still very popular with artists today, ‘India Ink’ is therefore a misnomer as it was actually developed in China, and only traded with India. A suspension of carbon-black particles is also the basis of modern photocopier and laser-printer toner. Historically, these incredibly fine carbon particles were collected above the sooty flame from an oil lamp, or by charring organic materials like wood or bone.
Now, Gravity Labs, a spin-off from MIT, have developed a thoroughly modern, and eco-friendly, method for capturing carbon black. Graviky Labs founder Anirudh Sharma and his team worked with Tiger beer in Thailand to create an air filter that can be attached to the exhaust pipe of cars, trucks, or boat engines. The device captures the emitted soot particles from the diesel engine, which are then used for making paints and inks for local artists — Air Ink.
This is such an innovative idea for converting pollution into art!
Every now and then a new product comes along that seems to obvious in retrospect that you’re surprised no-one had thought of it before. I wrote earlier about the nifty BioLite electricity-generating stove that couples the gasification principle with the thermoelectric effect (real space probe technology!)
The Estream is another great example. Estream is a portable hydroelectric generator that fits in your backpack. Simply dunk the mini-turbine into a fast flowing stream or river, and the device will convert the energy of the moving water into electricity to charge-up on the internal battery. This stored energy can then be used to charge any USB devices, or even power the integrated light as a hangable lamp.
Perfect for taking on camping trips, or making a big difference to off-grid living and providing for yourself if civilisation ever did collapse!
The Flash Forward podcast, written and presented by Rose Eveleth, is consistently fascinating. Once a fortnight, Flash Forward visits a different possible scenario for our own future. The epidode lays out the premise with a series of imagined news broadcasts, and then interviews a range of experts to fully explore the likely consequences and ramifications for society and our everyday lives. These potential futures include everything from a world where you knew the exact date you’d die, to one with universal translation devices, or all drugs were legal.
Last month Flash Forward covered a scenario close to the thought experiment behind The Knowledge. ‘Episode 15: KABOOM’ explores what would happen if all the active volcanoes on the Earth were to start erupting at the same time. Obviously the answer is: lots of bad things… But what happens to humans and our planet? Who survives, and how?
Humble Bundle currently have an amazing offer for their Survive This deal. Every month Humble Bundle offers a collection of related games or books, and this month the theme is games based on survival and resource utilisation in unforgiving environments. All related to The Knowledgeand the topic of starting again from scratch, this bundle offers some great sandbox games. These include titles such as Rust where you need to hone your primitive survival skills like building shelters, hunting, and teamwork with other players to prevail in a wild landscape; and PlanetBase, a strategy game where you must build a successful self-sustaining colony on another world and gather everything you need to survive: collect energy, extract water, grow food and mine metal.
You can choose to pay what you want for this incredible bundle, and you’ll also be supporting worthwhile charities like Action Against Hunger and WaterAid.
Miller talks about The Knowledge, and muses on James Lovelock’s writings on what might be the best way for preserving crucial human understanding, and the ideal medium for storage. How do we know what we know, and how can you explain what experiments or investigations people would need to do to demonstrate truths for themselves?
Chapter 12 of The Knowledge explains how you can go right back to first principles to work out how to tell the time for yourself. Planting a stick into the ground can serve as a simple sundial, with the hour of the day indicated as the shadow revolves around with the movement of the sun. This chronological technology has been used by humanity for thousands of years.
But now, sundials have been brought right up into the 21st century.
Julien Coyne has invented a sundial that indicates the time as a digital display. This astounding example of ingenuity is based on some very clever mathematical design and 3D printing of the gnomon. Once orientated correctly, the sunlight passes through the precisely-calculated slits in the gnomon to project a shadow that indicates the time as a digital display.