Last one out, please turn on the light is a survey of London’s remaining professional darkrooms, by Richard Nicholson. The photographs are well lit to reveal the beautiful machinery of an often gloomy place.

## Month: December 2009

## Eiffel blueprints

The blueprints for the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Apparently, they are reproductions from a book titled *The 300 Meter Tower*, written by Eiffel himself, and published by Lemercier in 1900. I wasn’t able to find an electronic copy of the book (it’s likely out of copyright), but I did come across another book about the tower published in 1889.

## Rithmomachy

Rithmomachy is a complex, Early European, mathematical board game. The literal translation is “Battle of Numbers”. It’s similar to chess, but the capture of pieces depends on the numbers on each piece. Rhythmomachy Basics provides a few more details than the Wikipedia entry.

## The Language of Avatar

Some highlights of Na’vi gives us a brief look at the language spoken by the inhabitants of Pandora, in James Cameron’s Avatar. It was created by Paul Frommer from USC’s Marshall School of Business. He gives the Language Log an overview of the phonetics and phonology behind the language.

## Dog with a pipe

An awesome photo from The National Library of Wales photostream. That is all.

## Space battle physics

The Physics of Space Battles. It won’t really be like the dogfights or naval style battles in our scifi books, movies and television shows.

In principle, yes, your enemy could come at you from any direction at all. In practice, though, [they] are going to do no such thing. At least, not until someone invents an FTL drive, and we can actually pop our battle fleets into existence anywhere near our enemies. The marauding space fleets are going to be governed by orbit dynamics — not just of their own ships in orbit around planets and suns, but those planets’ orbits. For the same reason that we have Space Shuttle launch delays, we’ll be able to tell exactly what trajectories our enemies could take between planets: the launch window.

## The decade in photos

The Big Picture has a good collection representing the decade in news photography.

## Making music

Making Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up”. Pretty cool to see how the song is constructed, makes me believe I can sit down and bang out the next great club hit.

## First FontFont specimen

5 Dutch Type Designers was the first FontFont specimen, published in 1990. There’s a PDF of the original Dutch version available for download, as well as some commentary and recollections.

## Alice as mathematical satire

The absurdity in Alice in Wonderland is often attributed to drugs or a dark trip into the subconscious. For her PhD work, Melanie Bayley examined some of the most popular scenes from a mathematical perspective, which is summed up in Alice’s adventures in algebra. Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Caroll) was a rather conservative mathematician, who disagreed with many of the new mathematical theories emerging during the 19th century.

The madness of Wonderland, I believe, reflects Dodgson’s views on the dangers of this new symbolic algebra. Alice has moved from a rational world to a land where even numbers behave erratically.

I don’t imagine that Tim Burton’s new Alice in Wonderland will delve too deeply into mathematical theory.