Saturday, April 23, 2016

Australian Privet Hawk Moth

View post on
The Privet Hawk Moth (Sphinx ligustri) is one of the bigger insects. Not an animal record or anything like that, but still its one of these things that is interesting to see alive if possible.


Printing of 3D building

View post on
 I've seen few years back pictures of this particular building, which is some kind of scaled down castle, but somehow couldn't find back then video of the process and luckily I stumbled today on one in Imgur.
Rudeno's 3d printed house/castle Photo courtesy Andrey Rudenko

A bit more details now. The guy's name is Andrey Rudenko and he is from Minnesota. More or less what he has done is create big 3D printer and use something like concrete for printing material. However this was not so simple, first he had to scale the existing designs for 3d printers and solve a lot of problems, which are non-issue for the smaller printers, but serious obstacles for a big one and as far as I can see he essentially designed and build something completely new. Second he had to create the printing material based on cement with a lot of trails and errors so he could finally achieve the strength, viscosity, speed of hardening, etc. After that he had to (re)make the software for the printer. And there were a lot more issues, that as an hobbyist myself I am sure he had but never mentioned in the articles. 

And finally for these that would like to make a more in dept research I've put a link to his web site.


Friday, April 22, 2016

The Hobbit - Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold from Clamavi De Profundis

First make sure you have quality speakers, because there is a lot going on in therms of instrumental and vocal performance. As far as I understand this particular version is a family project and it is so long, that there is actually second part. If you want to learn more, check the info box in the youtube's page of the song.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Imgur best

Actually I'll start doing something like daily Imgur pick ups (according my understanding of "best"). So here we go:

First, we can see here the daily funny cat.
View post on

Second is collection of the best from Buster Keaton.
Buster Keaton's big ones.

Here again we have a cat at the not so happy end.

Next is mildly interesting interaction with a shark.
View post on

And finally around 170 pictures on nature thematics (at least this is what I hope it is, because I haven't seen them yet)
Places and Things I want to see

More Giant Asian Hornets

...the queen who wakes up first.
Queen it is. May be its the angle but this thing looks the size of crow at least.

Simply classics

This is the Image that made me join Imgur over a year ago - and I don't regret my decision at all!
Riding a pig. Kusturica used it as art technique.

Interactions with our cousins

View post on
There is something very human-like in that lemur (or something very primate-like in the humans...)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Health benefits of walking and running barefoot (short summary)

Seems this blog has more visitors, so I am going to repost here an article I wrote and I'd like to have the knowledge about that topic disseminated around as much as possible.

Recently I've gotten interested in the topic of barefeet running and walking in general. So, I made some research and after trying it I empirically confirmed for myself the stated in Wikipedia health benefits. Just to list a few:
1. The natural position of the toes if shoes were never worn is sprayed and this puts the centre of the weight of each feet exactly above the axis between the big toe and the heel and therefore diminishing all unnatural forces that bend and torsion the ankles, knees and hips. This actually leads to diminishing the pain and damage in all these relatively fragile points of the body.
2. Without shoes, the gait tends to be more natural, while running its easier to lend more naturally on the middle part of the feet instead on the heel and thus diminishing the forces and damage suffered by the knees and other parts of the body.
3. Without shoes, we can easily see that big part of the walking actually is how the big toe grips the ground and this makes us much more stable and in general trains and develops the muscles in the feet and therefore decreases the risk and severity of the injuries suffered.
4. Happen that the surface of which we walk stimulates the skin and nerves on the feet and make us feel pleasure, which by itself normally is sign we do something that is good for us.
5. Risk of athlete foot type infections is greatly decreased, because the feet are pretty well aired and dryer
6. Last, but not least, barefeet walking allow our skin to get in contact with the dirt and with this we allow certain number of environmental bacteria and allergens to enter in contact with our immune system and to "train it" and therefore make us healthier.

Comparison of (B) an adult foot that has never worn shoes displaying natural splayed toes and (A, on the Right) cast of boy showing damage and inward-turned toes after wearing shoes for only a few weeks. Image courtesy: Wikipedia
There are also some minimal risks, mostly of injuries like cuts, but my experience says that this risk is so insignificant and so much out-weighted by the benefits, that is not even worth thinking about it.
Other then that, there are problems walking barefeet if the whether is bad and some other issues, about which I'll write in separate post and I'll try to find some solutions.

Sources: Wikipedia

The quest for immortality - statistical approach

For long time I've been thinking how can be achieved health, youth, longevity and maybe immortality. There are several methods, most famous being, replacing the body parts, including the brain with mechanical/cybernetic parts and manipulating genes, cells, chemicals, etc in the body, so it can be made to rejuvenate or at least to stop ageing. For me the first method seems to be too far fetched for the technology available at the moment, but the second one looks pretty credible. So I looked further down in this idea and found that, essentially there are two overlapping approaches. First making or finding and infecting ourselves with genes which will command the body to do the task, or the other somewhat based no Richard Dawkins ideas is to see what changes, how and why and trying to trick with chemicals or something else our systems to start functioning like young/fit ones. Now both lines of work require huge amounts of work, experiments, etc, which will take long time and resources until the results start appearing. However like many other things in the life, there should be one or more ways to shortcut though all this. One idea is to see what the evolution and technology managed to achieve until the moment and applying the statistics to try to find something unnoticed. For example if we compare enough genes across of enough species we'll be bond to find something. Or to compare the enough biochemical information from young/healthy and old we maybe able to find the answers.

Why I am writhing this? Well in the light of the last two articles I have read on the topic seems that this method for finding cues is getting more and more common. One is group of scientists compared the genomes of nematode, zebra fish and mice and the other is the finding that certain drug for diabetes extend the lifespan. In the net there are enough articles on the topic so I am not going to repeat all of them again, but I think it was worth mentioning that these methods are part of new trend which relies on recently made technologies for comparing and working with big amounts of data. And the best part is that we haven't yet even approached the already available capabilities of these technologies. Just imagine what could come from properly brute forcing the genomes and the information from billions of people and creatures (some of which are actually immortal).


One very interesting animal - The Springhare

This is what we've got when the kangaroo, the hare and the squirrel had a threesome :). On more serious note this a bit strange animal is called South African springhare (Pedetes capensis) or Springhaas in Dutch and is a rodent (which means its not related to the real hares), native to southern Africa.
Image courtesy: Wikipedia
 What is not visible on the pictures is the size of the springhare, which is not small like it seems on first sight, but rather similar to that of small rabbit.

 Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the bit of information about that cute beast.

Missing from Internet - Categorised repositories for 3d-printable models

Today's topic is going to be about issue, which is the main gripe and main waste of time and resources in the world of 3d-printing.

The one thing that is missing from Internet are Wiki-type repositories for 3d-printable models. What we have now? For example one of the biggest is Thingiverse, so far so good, but there is catch, most of the models are unfindable or unprintable. So if we can't guess the name that was put on by the creator of the file, the next best thing is to hope that what we are looking for was already found, deemed significant enough and put on some of the more popular list. Once we managed to find what we need (slim chance), we are present with the next problem that there is good chance the model was not optimised for 3d printing and without extensive knowledge how slicers and other programs work is unusable. Other sites are much better organised, but have mostly copyrighted models, which can't be downloaded without paying. And so on, and so on. The lack of properly organised and maintained site means, that the 3d-printing enthusiasts and professionals have to spend on orders of magnitude more time searching then actually working and printing the models.

My vision is to create site for uploading and categorising 3d-printable models similar to Wikipedia. The administrators and volunteers will take care to have all uploaded models categorised and tested for printability. On first thought it may look not very feasible idea, because of the limited number of enthusiast who have enough knowledge on the topic and some other concerns, but I believe that the future will show that such project is going to turn something like Wikipedia of the shapes, free and accessible for all. I picture it in my head as the big repository not only of the shapes of all objects, but in some future where the "Replicator" already exists as place one can find the blueprints for making of all human-created and natural objects.

I believe that the existence of such repository will have the biggest impact on the spreading of the 3d-printing since the creation of the first affordable Reprap style printers.

Soon, once I have a bit more disposable income, I'll start working on the project. Let me know if you have some ideas or are just interested in the topic.


Raspberry Pi Zero - Another step toward the disposable computers

Well, the humanity just made another step toward the future as it was predicted by Michio Kaku. Like he said "[chips] will cost about a penny, the cost of scrap paper. Computers as we now know them will disappear; they will be everywhere and nowhere, ubiquitous yet hidden, just like electricity and running water". Now we have computer that costs $5 and pretty decent to that. And its not only just theoretical step which doesn't have much practical applications like most of the innovations when they are presented for first time, but its actually something that a lot of us need for different reasons. And its certain that the number of these reasons and applications will keep increasing steady over the next years. For myself I'll need few of these for my hobby 3d printing projects. If one can't find reason to own Raspberry Pi Zero, think about it like $5 investment to promote trend and bring a little bit faster the future to us.

If by any chance somebody hasn't read yet Michio Kaku's "Physics of the future", I wholeheartedly recommend to do it.

Physics of the Future

Monday, April 18, 2016

Meat without killing animals

Today I came across article about meat grown in laboratory, or the so called "In vitro meat". It explains about the process in which cell from chicken is taken and from it are cultivated big enough chuncks to be eaten. What is different from the previous experiments is that cells from living animal are taken and cultivated, practicaly without harming the animal itself and for any further needs can be used the same culture.

Image courtesy: The Modern Agriculture Foundation
The implications of all this are are pretty serious. First, significant part of the vegetarians don't eat meat because of the moral implications of rising and killing animals for food, and this method solves 100% all of these issues. And second, if the lab grown meat gain popularity it will replace most of the meat from traditionally farmed animals and this by itself will have probably the biggest impact that can be realistically achieved in the quest for saving the environment. The theory is sound, however just like everything else much depends of the realisation of the idea. If the correct methods are used, it could be even healthier and cheaper then the traditionally used meat. And one last thing, seems many people are grossed by the idea of meat grown in lab and again just like everything else the irrationality of the general population may stale the project.

And another thing, just imagine ordering steak of mammoth meat...


Thanks for reading

Quantum computers - End of the Work?

I've been reading the last article about the Google's breakthrough in the field of the quantum computing and noticed that among the excited readers there was a common theme, that the advances in the quantum computing will speed up the development of other fields like machine learning, robotics, etc and this on his turn will make the machines much more capable of replacing humans in their job, which eventually will make the humans not really needed in most of the jobs. And when this happen there are two scenarios, either the world will be filled with starving unemployed outcasts or there will come the paradise on the Earth where nobody works and everybody has everything that needs, because the machines will provide for the humanity.

Now I think, these who propose such future development fail to understand the human nature. Lets first look into the so called "paradise on earth". I discovered that power to provide was already achieved by most of the developed world for these members of the society who can't or don't want to work, not only for their basic needs, but also certain number of luxuries (another question is that for historical, psychological and other reasons, this was applied only in few countries). However happen that even with the need to work eliminated about the same percent of people kept working like always. The key to this question is that there are not really such things as fixed level of needs which have to be satisfied, but rather most of the people compare themselves with these around (or in more recent times with what they see in the media) and based on this observation they position themselves on some imaginary scale of the well-being and try to achieve some betterment. The funny thing is that to cover this additional "improvement" often these people need something like 10% more income and because of this small increase they start to work.  Another point is, we know that the process of decreasing the need for human workers actually started long ago and most of the trades from the past centuries are gone or evolved in art and hobbies, but it didn't decrease the number of working people, because we keep inventing new needs, which require people. However I imagine that just like my grandfather couldn't perceive as work many of the professions in the end of 20 century like writing blog about computer games, I am not going to think is real work something even simpler that will arise in future and the new generations will think they need it. Or even simpler example, just look the richer people, they keep working, often even more then these poorer than them. So the answer is that it already happened and we discovered that in the "first world" the need to work is not really tied to the need to cover living costs and is actually dependent of some kind of innate for H. sapiens need to compete and increase the perceived quality of life and therefore the decrease need for human workers will not decrease the number of the them, because the people look for and need every time something more and something better.

So, lets look into the another case, where the world is split between 1% rich owners of robots, computers and technology and 99% jobless poor people living in gethos. This actually make more sense and it may happen, because we see continuous widening of the gap between rich and poor. However the free access of information and technologies somewhat acts as an equalizer and it may be avoided, but is vitally important to keep in check the entities who try to hinder this, like copy-right and patent advocates, censure and other similar. Just been thinking what would've happened if the patents in the 3d printing which expired recently never been in place. Observing the explosion of the 3d printing technologies last couple of years I can imagine that we may have had already printers closing in to the replicator from Star Trek, if there were no patents. Anyway its likely that in that scenario nothing will change much either, some countries will keep being hugely unequal and others will keep being socialist paradises.

Also I recommend the book "Physics of the Future" by Michio Kaku, where he writes about the issue in very entertaining and scientific way.

Links for additional reading:
Last advancement from Google
Basic income

Friday, April 08, 2016

Human albinism

Connie Chiu, Asian fashion model.

African boy with albinism.

Human eye. Rare case of complete lack of pigment, the eyes appear rather purple (red) than the usual blue or grey.

In another than the so called "Caucasian race" the look of person with albinism is very strange (probably only in my bigoted opinion of backyard European). I never have seen or even thought how these people look.

The albinistic people generally have pale skin, blond hair and light colour eyes. The eyes occasionally appear red due to the underlying retinal blood vessels showing through where there is not enough pigment to cover them. In humans this is rarely the case, as the human eye is quite large and thus produces enough pigment to lend opacity to the eye. However, there are cases in which the eyes of an albinistic person appear red or purple, depending on the amount of pigment present.

(My personal opinion is that albino is one of the prettiest colour variations)

Source: Wikipedia

New proofs Homo floresiensis is separated species

Latest findings confirm the theory that H. floresiensis (also being called Hobbits around the web) is indeed separated from H. sapiens species. Recent study of 40 H. floresiensis teeth compared to 450 from other Homo species, concluded that their teeth are different enough and have characteristics which place them closer to H. erectus, which from his side could be their ancestor.
Facial reconstruction of H. floresiensis Credit:
Facial reconstruction of H. floresiensis Credit: Hominin evolution
The background in short: since the remnants of these diminutive people were found 12 years ago, there were two major competing hypotheses. First is that we are dealing with completely new species in the genus Homo and the second is that we simply found odd variation or deformity, rather then different branch in our evolutionary tree. In my opinion its more likely to think of these people as separated from ours taxonomic clade. The differences are simply too many and it doesn't look very plausible that there were  individuals, who survived until adulthood in the hostile prehistoric environment with such serious condition as microcephali (or any other seriously impairing conditions, which produce similar deformations and small brain).

H. floresiensis were small species in the genus Homo, which means that they are related to us in similar fashion Tigers are related to Lions or Leopards. Two of the most distinctive characteristics are the small size, height being around 0.9-1.1m and weight around 25kg, which measurements are outside the range of human height and weight (possibly closest are the remnants of some island people found in the South Pacific ocean) and small brain, which with estimated 380cm3 is rather in the range of chimpanzee then human, which is several times bigger. And even more fascinating, the brain to body ratio is just above that of the great apes. There were found indication of fire and tool use, which suggest the species were actually well advanced and probably had pretty high cognitive capability. The age of the bones range between 13,000 and 74,000 years, which is pretty long time span for group of creatures living in isolation and may have some serious implications in the evolution and the changes occurring in them. And last, but may be most curious is that on the island Flores were the bones were found the folk tales about Ebu Gogo (something like forest creatures, translated as "Grandmother Glutton") are more prevalent, which may be indication that H. floresiensis probably survived until recent historic times and there may be more rich and recent remnants of them.

Reconstruction of H. floresiensis with contemporary animals Credit: © National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo
The last thing is making me think of the possibility of organising expedition to the island and trying to find more, before it is destroyed or lost. Also if these things were found on this specific island there is good chance that there is more on the other islands in the region. Now why looking for this? Well, as somebody said we as species are very lonely and we not only managed to wipe out most of the species in our biome, but even most of the information is lost. I think we can learn a lot about ourselves if we can find who were our cousins, what happened with them, how they were related to us and how we dealt with them.

Very unlikely, but just imagine, how cool is going to be if we even manage to find alive our cousins...

Read more and sources:
Scientific American
Hominin evolution
The Guardian

Thanks for reading.

Largest eagle

This is very difficult question. There are different features to compare. Possibly as average the heaviest and most powerful eagle is the Harpy Eagle. The record for this species is a captive female, "Jezebel", weighed 12.3 kg (26 lb), but the average weight for the females is about 7.5 kg (16.5 lb).

On other hand as heaviest eagle often is cited (Wikipedia) to be the Steller's Sea Eagle. There was reported (unverified) wild female Steller's Sea Eagle with weight 12.7 kg (28 lb), but on average, females weight from 6.8 to 9 kg (15 to 20 lb).

The Philippine Eagle has the largest wingspan, average weighs about 7 kg (15.5 lb), that may mean that is a little bit lighter than the species above.

The Crowned Eagle also often is regarded as most powerful eagle. Is smaller than all above but he can lift in the air up to four times his weight.

Source: Wikipedia

Airbus A380 crosswind test

Very interesting video of landing and take-off in strong cross-winds by Airbus A380, the largest passenger airliner.

Prince Igor’s Campaign

Other favourite paint "Prince Igor’s Campaign", 1942 Nicholas Roerich. The subject is the Tale of Igor’s Campaign.

Source: Roerich Family

Deadliest USSR sniper

Many people think that is Vasily Zaytsev, but there is other man Fyodor Okhlopkov. Zaytzev had 242 verified kills and Okhlopkov 429 confirmed kills. For Zaytsev the real number may be much higher, some argue it might have been as many as 400, but the same is true as well for Okhlopkov, who is on other hand Yakut and often overlooked for that reason. Despite him ethnics he had typical Russian name.

Sukhoi Su-47 Berkut

The Sukhoi Su-47 Berkut is an experimental supersonic jet fighter developed by Sukhoi Aviation Corporation. A distinguishing feature of the aircraft is its forward-swept wing.

Source: Wikipedia

Most powerful explosion ever

Tsar Bomba was the largest, most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. Developed by the Soviet Union, the bomb had a yield of about 50 megatons of TNT. The bomb was tested on October 30, 1961 in Novaya Zemlya, an island in the Arctic Sea. The subsequent mushroom cloud was about 60 km high (nearly seven times higher than Mount Everest) and 30–40 km wide. Atmospheric focusing caused blast damage up to 1,000 km away.

Source: Wikipedia

El Condor Pasa

On the video we can see an instrumental interpretation of the group "Espiritu Andino". It is an old South American folk song. The lyrics in Quechua:

Kuntur phawan (Yaw kuntur)

Yaw kuntur llaqtay urqupi tiyaq
maymantam qawamuwachkanki,
kuntur, kuntur
apallaway llaqtanchikman, wasinchikman
chay chiri urqupi, kutiytam munani,
kuntur, kuntur.

Qusqu llaqtapim plazachallanpim
Machu Piqchupi Wayna Piqchupi

Golden Eagle vs Red Fox

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) fight Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes). Here are series of shots of this encounter. The winner is likely to be the Eagle. The photo is taken on February 22nd 2006 South Finland, by ©Pekka Komi.

In this case the Eagle despite of the brave attack is in trouble. Generally is likely in encounter between the two animals to win the Eagle, but the Fox also have great possibility for success.

Source: Tarsiger

F-22 Raptor

F22 Airshow Demo - Free videos are just a click away
The F-22 Raptor is a fifth generation fighter aircraft. It is claimed by several sources to be the world’s most effective air-superiority fighter.