Archive for 'Arts and science'

Wooden legs as compassion attractors

Monday, July 6th, 2015

“Rembrandt’s etching of a beggar with a wooden leg is notable because the two lower limbs of the presumed beggar are present and not deformed.”


– note authors J. ten Kate (MD), F. G. I. Jennekens (MD, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Clinical Neurology) and J. M. E. Vos-Niël (MD, MAPhil, Retired Lecturer in Rehabilitation Medicine) in The Bone & Joint Journal, February 2009, vol. 91-B, no. 2, pp. 278-282. And, furthermore :

“[…] the man depicted by Rembrandt had no begging bowl and was unable to collect money by hand. If the man had attached the artificial leg to his knee to attract compassion, he did not exploit it by begging.”

Such observations prompted the team to perform one of the only in-depth investigations of wooden leg depictions in engravings and etchings (n=28) from the low countries, produced between 1500 -1700. The results of their study revealed that:

“Artificial legs in the period 1500 to 1700 were not only used when part of a lower limb was absent. The etchings and engravings indicate that they were also employed by people with disorders of the knee and lower leg. They may also have been used to attract compassion.“

See:Rembrandt’s ‘Beggar with a wooden leg’ and other comparable prints’


A machine for a Monday morning

Monday, July 6th, 2015

This machine symbolizes Monday mornings. This machine also symbolizes almost anything else. This machine fails to symbolize almost nothing.

Claude Shannon, who figured out some things about information, designed the machine, years ago.

Web Cleaner Mote Knife Gauge / Neps & Trash

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

A neps and trash indicator

It’s been a while since we featured a study about neps and trash. Here’s one:

Effect of Web Cleaner Mote Knife Gauge on Neps and Trash“, Yu Xuezhi Sun Pengzi. Cotton Textile Technology, February 2008. The authors, at Liaoning Liaodong University, China, explain:

“To study the effect of web cleaner mote knife gauge on removing neps and trash in card sliver, USTER AFIS single fibre tester was adopted, neps and trash in card sliver that was produced in condition of two kinds of suction form,two kinds of air capacity and three kinds of mote knife gauge were tested.The result shows that when using unilateral suction and mote knife gauge is 0.53 mm, the effect of removing neps and trash is better.”

About you and about notes on a disturbing error

Saturday, July 4th, 2015

If you are a person of a certain sensibility you will enjoy reading Professor Richard Montgomery‘s “Notes on a disturbing error found in the book Sub-Riemannian Geometry — general theory and examples by Calin and Chang.

And if you aren’t, you won’t.

Montgomery is enamored also of thinking about the Dzhanibekova effect (which some people prefer to call “the tennis racket effect” or “the tennis racket theorem“), which is on display in this video:

As someone or other described it in words: “a rigid body is rotating around the axis and then SUDDENLY the rotation axis CHANGES ITS POSITION by 180 degrees. And this happens periodically with some time period.”

Ig Nobel winner’s damn!’s-good book on bad behavior

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Richard Stephens, who was awarded the 2010 Ig Nobel peace prize for demonstrating that swearing helps relieve pain, has written a book about the good sides of bad behavior.

The book, to which I delightedly contributed a cover blurb (‘Richard Stephens demonstrates that the bad (“NEVER DO THAT!”) things in life do have their good, practical side’), is called Black Sheep: The Hidden Benefits of Being Bad. The publisher produced this wicked little video about it:

Caroline Morley wrote an admiring book review, in New Scientist magazine, that begins:

WHETHER it’s skiving, sex, speeding or drinking alcohol, everything fun seems to have a warning attached. So why does behaving badly feel so good?

Richard Stephens, a senior lecturer in psychology at Keele University, UK, may not sound like the obvious person to tackle the science of deviance until you discover that he has won an Ig Nobel prize for his work on swearing. And since swearing is a particular vice of mine, I was keen to read about any advantages fruity language might confer.

In Black Sheep, Stephens ranges far and wide, surveying the psychological and physiological research into our character flaws. He writes with the glee of someone at a theme park, which is fitting since he tells us that a ride on a roller coaster is beneficial for asthma….