An Indonesian Pompeii

NPR : Culture Destroyed by 1815 Volcano Rediscovered
With all the Archaeology around lately, I might need a seperate category for it! This time we go to the Island of Tambora, which was rocked by one of the greatest volcanic eruptions in recorded history, the 1815 volcanic eruption of Tambora. This eruption was so large, it affected global climate, causing a nuclear winter culminating in the “year without a summer”.
University of Rhode Island volcanologist Haraldur Sigurdsson has found evidence and lots of artifacts from the culture wiped out by this titanic blast, buried under volcanic ash.
An Indonesian Pompeii!

Messier 101

HubbleSite – Hubble’s Largest Galaxy Portrait Offers a New High-Definition View – 2/28/2006
On the Hubble site are a bunch of new, high resolution images of Messier 101, a spiral galaxy which presents a face on view. A small version of the image is in the extended entry. I strongly recommend, though, you go to the site and see it in all its glory, including an interesting close up on one section of the galaxy.

Continue reading Messier 101

A Theory of what makes a Superior Roleplayer

A superior roleplayer
–Brings energy to the game, for themselves, their GMs and others.
–In written format games, writes well and engagingly so
–Brings ideas, plots, facets and aspects of the GMs plot and their own plots to the fore, enriching the game world.
–Helps create the playground of the imagination.
–Creates well drawn and interesting and well portrayed characters that others want to interact with, either in cooperation or if the game responds to it, conflict.
–Plays well with other players, even in situations where characters are in conflict or opposition.

New Moons of Pluto

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have confirmed
the presence of two new moons around the distant planet Pluto.
The moons were first discovered by Hubble in May 2005, but the
Pluto Companion Search team probed even deeper into the Pluto
system with Hubble on Feb. 15 to look for additional satellites
and to characterize the orbits of the moons. In the image, Pluto
is in the center and Charon is just below it. The moons,
provisionally designated S/2005 P 1 and S/2005 P 2, are located to
the right of Pluto and Charon. The initial discovery is being reported
today in this week’s edition of the British science journal Nature.
Images and more are available on the JHU website and of course the Hubble site too.
These moons are pretty tiny, but a moon is a moon is a moon.

Book Reviews 2006 (6-10)

A bit of a change of pace. I was fortunate in the generosity of friends and family in providing me a couple of reference books for Christmas, and since I have digested them, I am adding them to my reading queue, officially, and want to say a few words about each of them. In addition, to round out the set, a book on a fabulous exhibit I saw last year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The books are:
Atlas of the Medieval World, by Rosamond McKitterick
America Discovered, an Historical Atlas of North American Exploration, by Derek Hayes
National Geographic’s Mapping the World, an Illustrated History of Cartography, by Ralph E Ehrenberg
Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana, by Jess Nevins
Prague, The Crown of Bohemia 1347-1437 edited by Barbara Drake Boehm and Jiri Fajt

Continue reading Book Reviews 2006 (6-10)

Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin

Making Light: Spin
Patrick Nielsen Hayden breaks with his practice of not making specific recommendations for awards for books, and gushes about Robert Charles Wilson’s latest novel, Spin.
It does sound really good, I admit. And I’ve enjoyed a couple of Wilson’s previous books (Mysterium, Chronoliths and Darwinia). If Patrick is willing to break with tradition because he thinks the book is so good, then perhaps I should pick this up and stick it up on the top of my rule of seven, eh?

New section of Hadrian’s Villa found

Archaeologists Unearth Headless Sphinx – Yahoo! News
Tue Feb 7, 10:28 PM ET
TIVOLI, Italy – Archaeologists who have been digging for more than a year at the villa of Roman Emperor Hadrian in Tivoli have unearthed a monumental staircase, a statue of an athlete and what appears to be a headless sphinx.
The findings were presented Tuesday by government officials who described the discoveries as extremely important for understanding the layout of the ruins. The staircase is believed to be the original entrance to the villa, which was built for Hadrian in the 2nd century A.D.
So far, 15 steps, each 27 feet wide, have been identified and archaeologists did not rule out uncovering more.
Officials said that the newly uncovered area of the site, northeast of Rome, would be open to the public within a year.