Notes on a web journey

posted on: 30 September 2006

Peak Oil

filed under: @ 19:04:41

Peak Oil is the simplest label for the problem of energy resource depletion, or more specifically, the peak in global oil production. Oil is a finite, non-renewable resource, one that has powered phenomenal economic and population growth over the last century and a half. The rate of oil “production”, meaning extraction and refining (currently about 84 million barrels/day), has grown in most years over the last century, but once we go through the halfway point of all reserves, production becomes ever more likely to decline, hence “peak”. Peak Oil means not running out of oil, but running out of cheap oil. For societies leveraged on ever increasing amounts of cheap oil, the consequences may be dire. Without significant successful cultural reform, economic and social decline seems inevitable.

Peak Oil primer


posted on: 30 September 2006

Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs

filed under: @ 10:55:03

Tutankhamun broad collar

Visitors to the new exhibition - twice the size of the original 1977 exhibition - will view stunning artifacts that portray the splendors of life and death in the 18th Dynasty, the Era in which King Tutankhamun and his family ruled. Called the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, this period produced some of Egypt's most famous rulers and most exquisite works of art.

Tutankhamun diadem Tutankhamun Horus collar

Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs

Pictures of amazing Egyptian artifacts on the Field Museum web site for the upcoming exhibition. I have seen them many times but they are still just incredibly beautiful.


posted on: 29 September 2006

Type and standards

filed under: @ 09:05:23

Two articles on Think Vitamin:

Looking at type

Choosing the best fonts for your site is about more than making it look pretty: different typefaces send out different signals.

Why standards still matter

The last couple of years may have seen an increase in the level of interest and action around web standards. But it still isn't filtering down to the mainstream.


posted on: 28 September 2006

The Human Journey

filed under: @ 18:54:02

Human Journey atlas

It must have been around for a while but I just found it:
Atlas of the Human Journey

National Geographic and IBM's Genographic Project explores early human migration routes and describes the highlights along that journey.


posted on: 26 September 2006

A map of emergencies and disasters

filed under: @ 08:38:07

A map of emergencies and disasters

A map showing real time emergencies and disasters happening on earth: biological hazards, epidemics, storms, tornados, hails, airplane accidents, active vulcanoes, earthquakes and more.


Clicking on an icon on the map takes the user to an event description page and a Google Map of the area, if available. Nice work.


posted on: 25 September 2006

History in pictures

filed under: @ 11:47:23

We have compiled a collection of thousands of the most important photographs of the last 150 years; pictures of our struggles, trials, and triumphs. We can only fully understand our history by gazing into the eyes of the people that made that history.

Naples streets - ca. 1890

Picture History

The institution of photography in Ceylon was first established in the mid 1840's and was practiced quite extensively towards the end of the 19th Century. During that period there were dozens of local and foreign artist who took up the challenge to record the daily events which took place in the beautiful and mysterious island of Ceylon in the form of a photographic image.

A group of Veddhas

Images of Ceylon


posted on: 24 September 2006

Conan Doyle and Houdini

filed under: @ 18:49:23

Conan Doyle and Houdini first met in 1920, during the magician's tour of England. The two of them became good friends, despite their opposing views on the supernatural. Houdini was delighted to learn that there was at least one intelligent person who believed in Spiritualism and found that man in his friend Conan Doyle.

Conan Doyle & Houdini
via the nonist


posted on: 24 September 2006

Object oriented Javascript

filed under: @ 09:47:01

In JavaScript, a function is an object; creating a function creates an object. Function objects can be a little more useful than the object literals we just discussed, though, in that they can be used as a template for new objects.

Objectifying JavaScript


posted on: 23 September 2006

Understanding HTML, XML and XHTML

filed under: @ 18:35:02

The relationships among HTML, XML and XHTML are an area of considerable confusion on the web. We often see questions on the webkit-dev mailing list where people wonder why their seemingly XHTML documents result in HTML output. Or we're asked why an XML construct like <b /> doesn't actually close the bold tag. This article will attempt to clear up some of that confusion.

Understanding HTML, XML and XHTML


posted on: 23 September 2006

2006 Visualization Challenge

filed under: @ 14:41:03

On 22 September 2006, Science Magazine and the National Science Foundation honor the creators of dazzling scientific images and animated presentations, in the fourth annual Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge. This year's winners - in categories including photography, illustration, informational graphics, and multimedia - captured inner details of a child mummy, mathematical surfaces rendered as glass objects, the highest mountain on Earth, air traffic by night, cellular dynamics, and the vasculature of conjoined twins. We invite you to explore the contest's winning entries and honorable mentions in this special online slide show.

2006 Visualization Challenge - glass mathematical surfaces

2006 Visualization Challenge: slide show

2006 Visualization Challenge: full text


posted on: 21 September 2006

Lebanon war

filed under: @ 19:00:06

Watching Lebanon

It's a disturbing article, food for thought. I know that that's the way many people think but I really don't see how it could ever bring anything positive along. It seems to me as if everybody actively involved is avoiding to see the causes of all this, only concentrating on the effects, as I never tire to say.


posted on: 21 September 2006

Human ancestors

filed under: @ 10:09:04

The 3.3-million-year-old fossilised remains of a human-like child have been unearthed in Ethiopia's Dikika region. The female Australopithecus afarensis bones are from the same species as an adult skeleton found in 1974 which was nicknamed Lucy.


posted on: 20 September 2006

Safe weapons

filed under: @ 18:56:21

Weapons are going to be used and when they are, we try to make them as safe for the user as possible, to limit the collateral damage and to impact as little as possible on the environment.

Environmentally friendly fire
via the nonist

Sometimes I wonder if they are just plain stupid or if they actually are trying to manipulate the perception of reality of the people. How can anyone say something like that? It's like calling all humankind a bunch of hopeless idiots incapable to choose anything else but shooting each other to solve a problem. I know, that's what happens mostly, but I don't believe that that's the best we can do and I still reckon humans able to learn and change what needs to be changed.


posted on: 18 September 2006

The World: humans and wilderness

filed under: @ 09:10:34

Analysis of the human footprint map indicates that 83% of the land's surface is influenced by one or more of the following factors: human population density greater than 1 person per square kilometer, within 15 km of a road or major river, occupied by urban or agricultural land uses, within 2 km of a settlement or a railway, and/or producing enough light to be visible regularly to a satellite at night. 98% of the areas where it is possible to grow rice, wheat or maize (according to FAO estimates) are similarly influenced.

Human footprint map

The last of the wild represent the largest, least influenced areas (defined as above) in all the biomes of the world in all the world's regions. They represent a practical starting place for long-term conservation, places where the full range of nature may still exist with a minimum of conflict with existing human structures.

Last of the Wild map

Wildlife Conservation Society



posted on: 17 September 2006


filed under: @ 09:35:21

The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library is a public private partnership launched in 2004 to preserve and provide free public access to the Boston Public Library's historically significant collection of 200,000 maps and 5,000 atlases. Our goal is to maximize the educational potential of these antique and contemporary maps of the World, United States, and New England.

The Map Center at the Boston Public Library


posted on: 16 September 2006

From carbon dioxide to fuel

filed under: @ 09:33:41

It is the biggest contributor to climate change. Now chemists are hoping to convert carbon dioxide into a useful fuel, with a little help from the sun. If they succeed, it will be possible to recycle the greenhouse gas produced by burning fossil fuels.

Solar alchemy turns fumes back into fuels


posted on: 15 September 2006

The Fall of Easter Island

filed under: @ 19:05:21

Every year, thousands of tourists from around the world take a long flight across the South Pacific to see the famous stone statues of Easter Island. Since 1722, when the first Europeans arrived, these megalithic figures, or moai, have intrigued visitors. Interest in how these artifacts were built and moved led to another puzzling question: what happened to the people who created them?

MOAI - Easter Island

Rethinking the Fall of Easter Island


posted on: 15 September 2006

Neanderthals and Olmecs

filed under: @ 09:22:21

Gibraltar may have been the last refuge of the Neanderthals, according to the results of a six-year archaeological dig. The findings, which show that Neanderthals lived alongside modern humans for thousands of years, bring fresh evidence to the debate on what happened to our evolutionary cousins, and whether modern humans drove them to extinction.

Neanderthal's last stand

Archaeologists have unearthed a block of stone from the Veracruz region of Mexico that is inscribed with a mysterious and hitherto unknown script. By comparing their find to other fragments of ceramics, clay and stone found in the same place, Ma. del Carmen Rodriguez Martinez at the Central Institute of Anthropology and History in Veracruz, Mexico, and her colleagues dated the slab to 900 BC. That makes it the earliest example of writing ever to be discovered in the Americas.

Written in stone


posted on: 13 September 2006

Releasing core fonts

filed under: @ 19:31:02

I believe that the Net should be a place open to all. Those that can afford to buy have no problem but those that don't should still have a chance. Lately Andrei Herasimchuk as asked for some fonts to be freely available. I agree, so I thought I'll make my case and join my voice to theirs (as asked by Andrei):

So, Mr. John Wornock, thanks for all you've done and we'd appreciate if you'd release some of those fonts.


posted on: 13 September 2006

Anthropogenic trap

filed under: @ 09:22:47

The tendency to see ourselves as the most important factor in the change of life conditions on Earth is another mistake, as the one we make continuously avoiding to see the error in how we relate with what's around us and with each other. Balance seems to be very difficult to attain for us humans. As everybody knows, to create is much more difficult then to destroy.

The anthropogenic trap


posted on: 13 September 2006

Cartographic symbols

filed under: @ 09:15:06

Map symbols

The standard cartographic symbols and patterns used on U.S. National Park Service maps available for download


posted on: 12 September 2006

Frescoes restoration

filed under: @ 19:14:32

Physicists in Italy are developing a new device for assessing the condition of some of the country's most valuable fresco paintings. The tool can reveal information about the condition of a wall painting without ever touching its surface, making the device a potentially valuable aid to restoration and preservation efforts.

Tool to diagnose Italian frescoes


posted on: 12 September 2006

Deceit and self deception

filed under: @ 08:57:02

In the 1970s, a Harvard class taught by evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers ignited a controversy that would escalate into the “sociobiology wars”. His papers provided a Darwinian basis for understanding complex human activities and relationships. Across town at MIT, revolutionary linguist Noam Chomsky had earned a reputation as a leading opponent of the Vietnam War. Throughout those pivotal years, and in the following decades, the two explored similar ideas from different perspectives. Long aware of each other's work, they had never met until a couple of months ago, when they sat down to compare notes on some common interests: deceit and self-deception.

Noam Chomsky + Robert Trivers
via The Nonist


posted on: 11 September 2006

The Strouhal Number: swimming and flying

filed under: @ 19:40:07

Flight waveform of the Common Sheathtail Bat
Flight waveform of the Common Sheathtail Bat

Animals swimming or flying at cruising speed use similar ratios of stroke frequency and amplitude to forward speed. For dolphins, sharks, and bony fish moving at their preferred cruising speed, the ratio of tail frequency and amplitude to forward speed is constrained to a narrow but efficient range of values.

The Strouhal Number in Cruising Flight

Part of, a series of experimental data graphics.
(published by 13pt)


posted on: 10 September 2006

US Mexico border: on the line

filed under: @ 11:39:47

Last year, three friends gave hundreds of disposable cameras to two groups on opposite sides of the U.S.-Mexico border: the undocumented migrants crossing the desert and the American civilians trying to stop them. The result? A portrait of the border like no other.

Border film project pictures

BORDER | film project via GOOD magazine


posted on: 09 September 2006

Evolution and music

filed under: @ 10:40:23


The fact that music is universal across cultures and has been part of human life for a very long time - archeologists have found musical instruments dating from 34,000 BC and some believe that a 50,000-year-old hollowed-out bear bone from a Neanderthal campsite is an early flute - does suggest that it may indeed be an innate human tendency. And yet it's unclear what purpose it serves...The evolutionary benefits of our affinity for food (nutrition) and sex (procreation) are easy enough to explain, but music is trickier. It has become one of the great puzzles in the field of evolutionary psychology, a controversial discipline dedicated to determining the adaptive roots of aspects of modern behavior, from child-rearing to religion.

Survival of the harmonious


posted on: 09 September 2006

Civilization out of necessity

filed under: @ 10:18:41

Extreme changes in the Earth's climate that happened around 3,000 years ago, during which the Sahara Desert became completely arid and the El Niño cycle strengthened, could have kick-started civilizations in some places on Earth.

Civilizations born of hard times

Hardship brings out the best part of man? In some ways, probably, but I bet that it got a lot worse before it got any better. It says so at the end of the article:

The changes might not have been entirely positive, however, Brooks notes. “Life actually got worse for a lot of people” he says. “Inequality and hierarchy increased and most people had to do more hard labour.” Hunter-gatherer communities, on the other hand, ran on a consensus basis with no set leaders - much closer to today's notions of the democratic ideal.

I particularly like the last line, today's notions of the democratic ideal, what's that? Sometimes these scientists live in a dream world, I don't see any sign of democracy or anything even remotely similar to it in the world. Might is right, that's what works. Human beings may get together in times of hardship, but that's the exception not the rule.


posted on: 08 September 2006

Genetic testing

filed under: @ 12:22:50

Type genetic testing into a search engine and you'll see an array of paid adverts along the sides of the page, offering screening tests, DNA tests, paternity tests and genealogy tests. It's a thriving business. What's not as clear in the adverts is that the foundations of the business could best be called shallow.

Genetic medics build high hopes


posted on: 07 September 2006

Helvetica, Arial and Typecasting

filed under: @ 09:06:31

Anachronistic typography in movies:
and the follow-up: Son of Typecasting

Helvetica vs. Arial:


posted on: 06 September 2006

Google news archive search

filed under: @ 10:05:02

News archive search provides an easy way to search and explore historical archives. Users can search for events, people or ideas and see how they have been described over time. In addition to searching for the most relevant articles for their query, users can get a historical overview of the results by browsing an automatically created timeline. We provide two ways of searching: search articles, which presents articles in order of relevance to the query and show timeline, which presents a timeline of events and articles associated with the query. The timeline is dynamically generated in response to each query.

News Archive Search


posted on: 06 September 2006

Human history of Britain revealed

filed under: @ 08:53:20

Eight times humans came to try to live in Britain and on at least seven occasions they failed - beaten back by freezing conditions. Scientists think they can now write a reasonably comprehensive history of the occupation of these isles.

Britain's human history revealed


posted on: 04 September 2006

Historical awareness

filed under: @ 10:03:21

The Bush Administration and Godwin's Law

An historical frame of reference is of great importance to keep perspective on current events. Nowadays very often words are used in the media to catch inattentive people attention and subtly steer public opinion. I say inattentive because it seems to me people don't really pay attention to what words mean, to the fact that one day something is said to be white and the next black. Facts are continuously turned around to fit momentary needs of political nature, regardless of accuracy. What makes me wonder is the incapacity (or maybe unwillingness) of people's memory to retain these manipulations and see the incongruence between them. I heard a journalist saying that we have developed a “TV memory”, short unrelated flashes, and I think that in many cases it's, regrettably, the truth.


posted on: 02 September 2006

HTTP authentication

filed under: @ 10:38:03

I've added a printer friendly button on the studies pages. Some very simple PHP and the bit of mod_rewrite in the .htaccess file to keep the URLs clean. I also found out a way to force IE to forget the credentials used in an Apache based HTTP authentication, making log out possible (see article for details):

<script type="text/javascript">
var agt=navigator.userAgent.toLowerCase();
if (agt.indexOf("msie") != -1) {

Adding also a redirect it's possible to have a log out button that actally acts like a proper one, except that it still prompts for a user and password window that needs to be canceled.
Tested only on Firefox and IE6 running on Windows XP.

Some more about HTTP authentication and .htaccess:


CSS,Javascript and Php studies

Anti spam email
A solution to writing an anti spam email contact link
filed under: Javascript
Background image
A background image randomizer that I used in the second version of this site.
filed under: Javascript/CSS
Javascript menu
A menu that uses Javascript and session cookies.
filed under: Javascript/CSS
Experimenting with CSS and Javascript.A simple but, in my opinion, nice navigation “system”. The MiniSite is a one page site.
filed under: Javascript/CSS
Photo display
Protect copyrighted photos: a simple but effective solution.
filed under: Javascript/CSS
Photo gallery
A photo gallery made for a friend
filed under: Javascript
PHP menu
A PHP menu that can be updated without having to re-publish all the pages is on.
filed under: PHP
Pop-up menu
A very simple pop up menu powered by Javascript. It works also if Javascript is disabled.
filed under: Javascript/CSS
RSS feed
How to write and use an RSS feed
filed under: rss-xml
Tag replacer
The Tag replacer explained and a link to it.
filed under: PHP
Tags search
A search form build and powered using Javascript and the DOM
filed under: Javascript