Mild science, tech news, stories, reviews, opinion, maps and humor

05 December 2011

Medical Arts

Clinical Cases and Images posted an article about Merriam-Webster's Visual Dictionary of Medical Terms (online edition) in 2008. It remains an excellent reference source, useful for medical terms and for general interest topics.

Pathology - Buja 1EWhile visiting the Clinical Cases blog, I found and followed a link to the official website of the most well-known medical illustrator of the 20th century, Frank Netter.

I spent many happy hours looking at Netter-signed illustrations when we lived in New Mexico. There were so many of them in my father's medical reference books. Dr. Netter was an exceptional artist.

Did Frank Netter illustrate anything else, beside human anatomy? Did he have other artistic inclinations?

Frank Netter was born in 1906. He wanted to pursue a career as an artist. However his parents wanted him to do work that would ensure a good living. So he went to medical school near home, in New York City. Netter gradually transitioned from clinical practice, as a general surgeon, to work as a full time, widely acclaimed medical illustrator:

"The first comprehensive collection of Netter’s work, a single volume, was published by CIBA Pharmaceuticals in 1948. It met with such success that over the following 40 years the collection was expanded into an 8-volume series—each devoted to a single body system."

This multi-volume series was referred to as Netter's Greenbooks. Elsevier Publishing acquired Dr. Netter's collection of hand-drawn, then painted, medical artwork after his death in 1991.

That was as much information as I could find in the biographical information from Elsevier.

Frank Netter's images showed great sensitivity toward his subjects. I remain curious what sort of artwork he did in his spare time, and in the years before he attended medical school. The Morisstown Museum in New Jersey exhibited Dr. Netter's work recently. It was a large show, and ran from November 2010 through March 2011. More insight could probably be found there.

13 November 2011

The Tree of Life

This is a beautiful hand-woven silk carpet. Solveigh told me that it represents the Tree of Life.

Mrs. Solveigh Calderin is a nice Scandinavian woman I met on the Internet. She seems to know a lot about fine wool rugs and carpets. I found the image (above) on her website the other day.

This is NOT a sponsored endorsement! The Tree of Life is, well, it is symbolic of everything. While highlighting the good. It has been on my mind recently, as Rosh Hashanah was a few weeks (okay, months) ago.

24 August 2011


Complexity is a gallery of images that I found on Flickr. Flickr is a photo (and image) sharing site owned by Yahoo.
sc-40 GustavoGThe FlickrVerse, April 2005 poster: flickr's social networkTurbulence study.mandalascopePhyllotaxy Poster, 72dpiPeach Poster, 72 dpi
This is a themed collection-- visual representations of complex systems. All images were created with remarkable detail. Good resolution and clarity were retained, even at high magnification. And they are beautiful.

* I included links to the underlying assumptions, as given by each artist.

11 July 2011

Entertaining Video by the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank

This is the latest installment of the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank's Drawing Board video series. The Cleveland Fed on YouTube describes the videos as a series of
Really bad drawings, with real simple explanations.
I beg to differ.

The Inflation* video (see below to watch) is dated May 20, 2011, yet has a mere 112 page views. It was more amusing, and informative, than I expected. I've seen far worse on YouTube, sometimes even from producers of widely acclaimed educational videos. Contrast with the Cleveland Fed's research department: They make no claim of multi-media production expertise whatsoever!

Each image is hand-sketched using a thick black magic marker. Narration is very clear. Subject matter varies for each video in the series.

* The specific focus is price stability in the U.S. economy, and its effect on employment, for finding as well as keeping a job.

10 July 2011

The Top 1000

This is a very useful list. Useful enough to base an entire post on it? Yes.

What is it?

It is a list of the top 1000 most-visited websites worldwide, based on unique visitor counts, as measured by Google DoubleClick Ad Planner. The list is updated monthly with new Ad Planner data sets as they are released.

When I checked on June 30, 2011, the list was dated April 2011, so there seems to be a one to two month lag in reporting. I don't know if reporting is based on beginning-of-month or end-of-month. For most purposes, this update frequency is adequate.


The list only considers top-level domains. This is not a problem, in my opinion, as I doubt many sub-domains would have sufficient traffic to be included in a Top 1000 Website traffic list. Each site on the list includes:
  • Site category, with category types specified by Google*
  • Unique visitor count
  • Page view count
  • Whether or not the site has advertising
Note that the list specifically excludes
adult sites, ad networks, domains that don't have publicly visible content or don't load properly, and certain Google sites
* More information about site categories is available from the Google Ad Planner help page for the list.


On 5 September 2011, Google announced that it would no longer update the Google Ad Planner Top 1000 Website List. The final month of data displayed is July 2011. This was due to the following policy change:
Ad Planner information is limited to placements within the Google Display Network (GDN). GDN Ad Planner no longer provides information on any sites, domains, or non-GDN placements. The Ad Planner 1000 list is still available, but we no longer update it... Statistics only appear for a site on the list if it is in the GDN.
The URL for the list Top 1000 Website List remains
The link for the "Top 100 Country List", URL

is still visible on the page, but clicking it now returns an HTTP 404 "Page not found" error. The Google Ad Planner Top 1000 Website Help page, now struck out above, also returns "Page not found".

17 June 2011

Special felines and a minor mapping puzzle

Part One: A most unusual hybrid cat

Funny Blog featured this today. It is more of a specialty hybrid: The Caterpillar!
Funny Blog has a funny cat for you!
Source: Silver Jewelry Life

Part Two: A metaphorical cat of time and space

This is L0L0 Cat, all L0L0 and without the actual cat. It is more geographical, or cartographic than feline-related. But it wasn't like that always, as the idea came to me from the LOLcat internet meme. Another point is that the caption is truly L0L0 rather than LOL or LOLO.

I'll give one clue to solving the mystery of the L0L0 cat location, and why it is special. The clue is "What is the name of the official Google map product blog on Blogger?" Not the URL, but the actual name of the blog.

Have a look at the map, and observe the caption at the bottom center. Remember that the map may be enlarged on the website here, I is not necessary to open on another page if you don't want to, although you can. I didn't use Google Earth, only Google Maps, so no additional software is required to view.

View L0L0 Center in a larger map

Second clue: The triangular red map-marker (with an exclamation point) shows the physical location of the Land of L0L0. But there is something additional that makes it special.

I hope I haven't given too much information. Please reply with your answers in the comment section below!

24 May 2011

Ultra short epistemology post

So many clever people, such good writing, so little time!

I read something that I liked today. Let me share the joy. It seems fitting, particularly in these uncertain times, with a possible rapture scheduled for the weekend, amongst other things:
Probabilities are for understanding... Truth is a rhetorical device.
Tempered by this wry observation,
On the other hand, "justified at an 83.5% probability" leaves something to be desired for whipping the tribesfolk into a frenzied mob.

For more political economy-flavored thought delivered with the sincerity of an electrical engineer, see Aretae and his list of BlogFriends.

Some of my own favorites are featured:
  • The Volokh Conspiracy, which sounds sinister but isn't. They are actually a very loosely affiliated and mostly cordial cabal of blogging law professors.
  • The Money Illusion, a very sane and friendly site where the author and readers discuss serious policy matters in an agreeable, self-deprecating way. Two typically understated examples are Other activities bumped and Still Not Blogging.
  • xkcd: A math, physics and etymology web comic. It is also supposed to be about sarcasm and love, but there is not so much of that lately. I even wrote my own tribute to Randall Munroe, the author and creator of xckd in my earlier post, With love and geo-hashing.
  • Greg Mankiw's Blog: I think he won a Nobel Prize. He's an often reviled pillar of economic orthodoxy, whatever that actually means. Maybe "University of Chicago-school monetarist" or "economic heterodoxy" would be more accurate. He has an arrogant style sometimes, but is very bright. Bonus: Mankiw gives links to sites with nice free things. Like economics or statistics textbooks. Or gratis access to the Brookings Institute economics journal.
  • Overcoming Bias
  • Foseti on banking and regulatory capture
  • The Unenumerated: I really liked this post, Signals, Gifts and Politics.

27 February 2011

Physikalische Typografie

This is a situation where the German language -- not French, nor Italian and certainly not English, really captures the feeling and nuance of a work of art most eloquently. Physikalische Typografie* means "Typography of Physics."

I like that much better than my prosaic versions:
  • An Alphabet of Physics Diagrams?
  • Creatively Capturing Fonts with Physics- truly awful!
  • 26 Physical Letters- not too bad.
This post is about physics-student-turned artist MunnaOnTheRun, and the story of his rather abrupt transition to artiste and graphic designer. The catalyst for his transformation was quite literally the Unified Field Theory of Physics. MunnaOnTheRun, and Wikipedia, refer to it as The Theory of Everything. It is (a yet to be proven theory) linking all known physical phenomena. Albert Einstein was intent on tracking it down in the last decade of his life.


MunnaOnTheRun was an enthusiastic student. Unfortunately he was also a miserable failure in physical science coursework, by his own admission.

World Year of Physics || {Physics + Typography} by Munna

Now, fast forward in time. 2005 was designated World Year of Physics in commemoration of Einstein's Theory of Relativity centennial. MunnaOnTheRun wanted to create a typeface from physics diagrams for the event.

This is the story of his success, in the artist's own words:
After months of research... I finally got hold of 26 diagrams that looked liked the letters of the alphabet. This poster literally transported me into a parallel universe. I sent this around to graphic designers .... With no formal training in art, and nothing to show for except badly drawn doodles, I started believing that I could make art.

Physics changed everything for me.
* The website ILoveGraffiti coined that pithy phrase, Physikalische Typografie.

19 February 2011

Art Basel Miami Features Building Blocks

Friends with You

"FriendsWithYou is proud to present Building Blocks ... Known for their reductive approach to geometric abstraction and playful imagery, Building Blocks introduces a series of paintings, executed in the artists' customary style."

"Rather than merely flat wall pieces, these ... are two-dimensional extensions of sculptural, graphical and experiential installation works. They are quasi portraits. The abstraction of human visage allows viewers to project their own emotions."

"Continuing the interactive focus, the air inflated sculptures experiment with ... relational artwork."

The Building Blocks exhibit opened during the first week of December 2010.

It runs for several months longer, at 3930 NE 2nd Avenue, 2nd Floor, in the Miami Design District of North Miami Beach in South Florida.

12 January 2011

eBook Reader Product Review

This is the best review of an eBook reader that I've run across yet. It was written by a bona fide computer scientist, too!  His assessment was not biased by the novelty of the technology. That can happen. I know. I've experienced it.

An eBook reader is a device such as the Amazon Kindle or Apple iPad. Giorgio Sironi addresses certain issues that I would  expect to encounter while reading text on an electronic device instead of an physical book. Yet Giorgio's review is the only one that describes these difficulties, despite the many eBook reviews I've read.
"The only problem with reading eBooks is the device you use to read them. My Asus PC is good for writing articles, and skimming blog posts, or for a bit of PHP programming... But for reading extensively, LCD screens will kill us. You know when, as a child, you were told not to stare at the Sun? Here is the same mechanism, on a lesser scale... The LCD screen has a very different light intensity from the surrounding environment, which causes eyestrain due to continuously adapting between the screen and the rest of the world."
The brighter the environment, the less you see on the screen.
"With an e-ink screen like Kindle's, you must have ... external light to read. This is an advantage for e-ink devices."
The actual post goes into more detail. But the conclusion is that an LCD-based device is unsuitable for regular use as an eBook reader. Not if you want something that isn't a headache to use!
"Forget about iPads- They make wonderful trays for Martini glasses but not as an e-Reader."

Physical books v.s. eBooks

I guess that's why I like paperback books so much. They are small, very durable, replaceable, inexpensive and very green, because they continue to provide value to owner after owner. That makes me seem like a Luddite. Or jealous, because I don't have an iPhone of my own!

The biggest problem for me is eyestrain. I find it so much easier to use any of the following:
  1. a portable electronic device that is NOT light-emitting and allows large font sizes,
  2. a book, or
  3. a full-size desk top monitor with all the usability features activated.