Monday Links from the Bench vol. CDLVII Monday Links from the Bench vol. CDLVII
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  1. #1

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    Default Monday Links from the Bench vol. CDLVII

    A bit earlier than usual this week because I've got some other stuff I need to do, but don't start relying on that happening

    • The Red Ghost - "The huge, cloven-footed creature that terrorized southeast Arizona was no figment of the mind. The grisly story of its origin and fate was more macabre in fact than any fiction." A strange tale of the U.S. Army Camel Corps, deployed to the south and west of the USA in the mid-19th century; originally published in 1961.

    • Plutonium and Its Discontents - "For 75 years, scientists have been trying to devise a way to make a vast supply of radioactive and chemically dangerous waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation safe." It hasn't helped that the chemistry of such elements as plutonium was, and is, poorly understood.

    • How Auto-Tune Revolutionized the Sound of Popular Music - How the application of mathematical techniques originally developed for reflection seismology changed pop: "Chances are that any vocal you hear on the radio today is a complex artifact that’s been subjected to an overlapping array of processes. Think of it as similar to the hair on a pop star’s head… we don’t really like to think of it as being doctored and denatured as a neon green wig."

    • How to Build a Low-tech Website? - "This is a solar-powered website, which means it sometimes goes offline." The batteries are currently at 70%, so hopefully it'll stand up to you lot visiting

    • The Mobile Phones of Doctor Who - "To celebrate the upcoming series Doctor Who staring Jodie Whittaker, I'm attempting to chronicle all the mobile phones used in previous shows." Fun project by Terence Eden, identifying such recondite phones as this Sony Ericsson M600 from series 3:

    • Pokémon Red / Blue at 20 - Although Pokémon actually launched in 1996, it didn't really become a thing in the West until 1998, hence this exhaustive look back: "We’re traveling across the entire land of Kanto with personal memories, objective Pokémon reviews, deep dives into the franchise’s history and more. It’s never a bad time for a little nostalgia, right?"

    • As Above, So Below: Asteroid Motion on an Atomic Scale - "Physics stories often highlight the strangeness of the quantum realm in comparison to our everyday world, the difference between what we experience and what happens at the nano-scale. Sometimes, though, you can gain more insight by focusing on the similarities between two situations than on their differences."

    • The Tipperary, Fleet Street: It’s a Long, Long Way from Accurate History - An entertaining look at the almost entirely fabricated history of what is, nonetheless, one of London's oldest pubs: "Almost everything written about the history of the pub… is wildly, utterly wrong, a staggeringly inaccurate macedonie of untruths, misunderstandings, shameful made-up nonsense, fake news and pure bollix of inexplicable ancestry. What is particularly tragic is that the pub actually has a fine back-story, which has become entirely submerged by layers of invented nonsense."

    • Two bits per transistor: high-density ROM in Intel's 8087 floating point chip - "Ken Shirriff again?" you ask? Well, yes; yes it is, for who doesn't want to know how the 8087 floating point coprocessor stores two bits per transistor: "Instead of storing binary data, each cell in the 8087's ROM stored one of four different values, which were then decoded into two bits. Because the 8087 required a large ROM for microcode and the chip was pushing the limits of how many transistors could fit on a chip, Intel used this special technique to make the ROM fit."

    • Control Panel - Pictures of control panels, such as this beauty photographed by Lars-Christian Uhlig: "Built in 1954, the building that houses longwave transmitter Europe 1 is the oldest privately owned radio station in Germany."

    Happy invoicing!

  2. #2


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    Good stuff.

    In the control panel thing I found the mechanical calculator that I used in statistics back in the Very Long Ago day.

    It's a long way to Tipperary and who'd have thunk there were 2 bits per cell in the 8087.

    Who'd have thunk it would be so difficult to clean up 50 years of crap in Hanford.

    Dunno why they're so concerned about Technetium 99, after all "we" just chucked it all in the Irish Sea.
    When the fun stops, STOP.

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