Interesting Stuff: Early November 2010 (extended)

This is a merger of two items that were originally posted seperately. The bulletted items were originally published later (on November 7th), and the paragraphs underneath on November 4th.

  • The colours of planets, with applications for the detection of alien life. Includes cool diagram.
  • Amazing night-time photography video with suitably dramatic background music.
  • A video demonstrating an intriguing way to make dynamic fractals. Not a stretch to imagine the original Doctor Who title sequence using it in some slightly altered reality. (Don’t bother watching the whole video: after a minute or so you’ve seen it all.)
  • On feathered dinosaurs and their absence from popular culture. Top-quality science writing from Brian Switek.
  • Sexual preferences of fruit flies change with their stomach bacteria. There’s a science fiction plot idea lurking in this.
  • Subject vs object biasing of pronouns approximately constant between languages. This one won’t interest everyone, but I kind of like it, partly because I participated in one of the online experiments that the data comes from.
  • Scientist confirm the cause of the Black Death and conclude that it came from China.
  • Researching something I was idly curious about, I came across this article, and quickly hypothesised that it was an April Fool’s joke. Sure enough, it was, from 1999.

I’ve been playing with, a utility that takes you to a randomly-selected Google Street view from the country or countries of your choice. (To share your discoveries, make sure you press the appropriate button rather than copying from the URL bar.)

An idea I had was to see how many views you have to generate before you find an image that matches your mental image of a given country. I don’t mean to imply you should necessarily be able to guess the country from the image, only that it should look about right and reasonably distinctive. If a country has more than one iconic image for you (e.g. a rural one and an urban one), go with whichever turns up first.

Here are images of: Antarctica; Australia; Brazil; Canada; Czech Republic; Finland; Germany; Hong Kong; Ireland; Italy; Netherlands; Norway; Singapore; South Africa; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; United Kingdom; USA.

What can you discover?

2 Responses to “Interesting Stuff: Early November 2010 (extended)”

  1. Stan Says:

    Interesting idea, but oh, the wanderlust it has given me. A scene of stone walls, green fields and a narrow country road is fairly archetypal of Ireland (though urban sprawl has eaten away at this in recent times). When I have more time I must have a proper wander around the site.

  2. Flesh-eating Dragon Says:

    I found the site via a tweet from @RichardWiseman, who suggested using it as a test of psychic powers (i.e. try to control the next location that comes up).

    I’ve decided to use Google Street View to give myself a virtual tour of Ireland. In fact, I’ve already started – did the north coast last night (from the NI border to Sligo).

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