Tuesday, September 11, 2012

11th Anniversary of 9/11

Flag recovered from Ground Zero
"You can be sure that the American spirit will prevail over this tragedy." -General Colin Powell

9/11 Freedom Tower

Related links -> http://www.dannyfinnegan.com/2011/09/powerful-images-from-911-memorial-nyc.html & http://www.dannyfinnegan.com/2011/09/911-before-and-after-images.html

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fungi used to artificially treat wood increases resonance to Stradivarius-like levels

In the growing seasons between 1645 and 1715, Europe had an usually cold climate. Growing seasons were shorter than normal which caused many long-standing effects to plants and items made from them for many generations. One of the more famous examples of this were the construction of several violins by Antonio Stradivari.

From Science Daily:
Low density, high speed of sound and a high modulus of elasticity -- these qualities are essential for ideal violin tone wood. In the late 17th and early 18th century the famous violin maker Antonio Stradivari used a special wood that had grown in the cold period between 1645 and 1715. In the long winters and the cool summers, the wood grew especially slowly and evenly, creating low density and a high modulus of elasticity. Until now, modern violin makers could only dream of wood with such tonal qualities.

That cool weather had a dramatic effect on the density of seemingly "normal" wood the famed violin maker used. Examples of genuine Stradivarius violins are known to sell at auction for several million dollars if sold at all.

Via Geekosystem:

Recently, a Swedish wood researcher may have unlocked one of the lasting secrets of the Stradivarius sound. By treating the wood of an inexpensive violin with two types of fungus that decay wood in an unexpected way, Professor Francis W. M. R. Schwarze was able to manipulate the inexpensive violin’s sound to be indistinguishable from a Stradivarius. Schwarze developed the new technique by employing fungi that thin the wood of a violin, but don’t adversely affect the way sound travels through it, producing violins that were regularly mistaken for Strads by professional musicians in double blind studies. The next step is developing a process by which this fungus treated violin wood, or mycowood, could be used to mass produce cheap violins that sound just like their expensive counterparts.

That development could go a long way towards democratizing the violin world. Concert quality violins are a necessity in any young performer’s career, but are so expensive that young players often have trouble affording them. Some have instruments purchased and loaned to them by patrons, while others have seen families mortgage homes to afford a proper violin. If high quality instruments could be made on the cheap with mycowood, many more players around the world could have access to them in short order.


The 2 things I see from this however are a need for an immediate central registration of genuine Stradivarius violins* in order to prevent fraud with the new process and regarding the tonal differences of Stradivarius wood, what if the little ice age wasn't the only thing that caused this quality in the first place?

Sources -> http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120908081611.htm via http://www.geekosystem.com/fungus-stradivariushttp://web.archive.org/web/20070513143309/http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/science/12/08/stradivarius.secret.ap/ & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stradivarius & http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/01/0107_040107_violin.html

Image source -> http://www.stradivarius.org/stradivarius-violins

*I assume a version of this already exists and this discovery is great for classical music, but one can assume that fraud is going to creep up once this process goes public unfairly lowering the cache of a genuine piece of history like a Stradivarius violin.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Alex Zanardi wins 16K handcycling at 2012 Paralympics

Formula Formula 1 driver Alex Zanardi has a new successful racing career. After experiencing a terrible crash in the 2001 CART Lausitzring race in Germany which severed both legs he has made an incredible recovery.

From the Fox Sports article :

Alex Zanardi just loves to race. But what he really likes to do is win. Overcoming grief WE SHALL OVERCOME Many athletes have persevered through tragic circumstances. The former Formula One driver took the Paralympic gold medal Wednesday in paracycling - a hand cycle powered by the arms - at the Brands Hatch race track, posting a time of 24 minutes, 50.22 seconds. The victory capped an incredible journey for the 45-year-old who almost died in a horrific accident at a 2001 CART race in Germany. `'It's an amazing feeling,'' a clearly exuberant Zanardi said. ''I'm really, really happy for the result.'' Zanardi celebrated by sliding out of his cycle and lifting it over his head with one hand and raising his other arm, fist clenched, to the sky. It was unusual. It was on purpose. ''I'm Alex Zanardi,'' he said with a huge grin, his Italian accent dragging each syllable. ''I always have to come up with something. I have a little bit of a big head.'' Zanardi's journey to the Paralympics began at the American Memorial 500 on Sept. 15, 2001, at the Eurospeedway Lausitz in Germany - the only American-based series to go forward on the weekend after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Zanardi, a former two-time CART champion, had had a difficult season. He started 22nd in a field of 27, but the car was responding well. He was enjoying the drive, passing one car after another, until with 13 laps to go he was in the lead. Zanardi went into his final pit stop and the crew chief waved him off urging him to ''Go, go, go!'' But as he built up speed to get back into the race, the car spun out of control and he veered onto the track. Canadian driver Alex Tagliani, traveling at close to 200 mph (320 kph), could not avoid him. The reinforced carbon fiber cone of Tagliani's car sliced through the area beside Zanardi's left front wheel and cockpit, the weakest part of the vehicle. On the track, Dr. Terry Trammel slipped and fell as he raced to the wreckage. He thought he had fallen in oil, but it was Zanardi's blood.

Zanardi had lost almost 75% of his blood and severed both legs instantly near the knees. His survival looked bleak as the rescue crew approached what remained of his car (warning graphic video).

Clickable link -> http://youtu.be/N0N1gLOx3Os

In his own words, “I shouldn’t have survived that accident,” he says “I basically survived for about 50 minutes with less than one litre of blood. Science says that’s simply impossible”. He returned to the track 2 years later to complete the 13 laps he had remaining.

Initially he had taking up handcycling to stay in shape. After being invited to the 2007 NYC Marathon for a pasta party being thrown by sponsor Barilla, he decided to enter the race, which he finished fourth. In 2011 he had won in his category.

From Fox Sports:

  On Wednesday, he defeated one of the best in the world - American Oscar ''Oz'' Sanchez, who won a gold medal in the time trial at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing and a bronze medal in the road race. Sanchez took the bronze in London with a time of 25 minutes, 35.36 seconds.
Norbert Mossandl of Germany won the silver in London with a time of 25 minutes, 17.40 seconds.
Zanardi knew the Brands Hatch course north of London would be tough - he once drove it in a race car. To make things worse, he had a bad crash with his favorite bike a few weeks ago - a picture on his Twitter feed showed a crumpled vehicle, its front wheel askew.
But by Wednesday, all that was forgotten. He said Vasser had called him Tuesday night and promised him a car for the Indianapolis 500 - if he won the gold.
`'I'll have to call him back tonight and say `Jimmy. I got the gold medal!' `' he said. '''How about the car?'''

Pre-London Paralympic Telegraph article -> http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/paralympic-sport/8973571/Alex-Zanardi-puts-life-threatening-Champ-Car-crash-behind-him-to-go-for-gold-in-hand-cycling-at-London-2012.html

Source -> http://msn.foxsports.com/olympics/cycling/story/alex-zanardi-former-formula-one-driver-wins-paralympics-gold-medal-in-16-kilometer-handcycling-time-trial-090512

Its a Schooner not a Sailboat!

Its been a while since I last posted. Apologies to anybody waiting for a new post. I've been pretty busy the last few weeks and haven't been able to keep up. I'm remedy that in the next few days. Hey! Check out the video below!

Clickable link -> http://youtu.be/zdW7PvGZ0uM 

Source -> http://gizmodo.com/5940955/this-amazing-optical-illusion-will-make-you-hate-your-brain