"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia
was written by Pliny the Elder
between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian
, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum
, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb
on Dec 16, 2013 -
on September 22 last year, Professor Robert Fuller
of the University of North Georgia spent four months paddling down the Chattahoochee River system, from the Chattahoochee's headwaters in northern Georgia down through the Apalachicola into the Gulf of Mexico, studying water quality
along the way. Then he paddled 200 miles through the Gulf, turned at the mouth of the Mobile River, and paddled another 750 miles upstream
on the Mobile, Alabama, Coosa, and Etowah Rivers all the way back
to northern Georgia—a total of just over 1,500 miles of solo paddling in his Kruger Sea Wind
. Along the way, he kept a blog
, "ate a lot of Beanie Weenies"
, and faced difficulties including cold, hunger, injuries, and river obstructions. Incidentally, he did all this while living with leukemia
. [more inside]
posted by Orinda
on Jul 27, 2013 -
Last fall, the Canadian Space Agency asked students to design a simple science experiment that could be performed in space, using items already available aboard the International Space Station. Today, Commander Chris Hadfield
conducted the winner for its designers: two tenth grade students, Kendra Lemke and Meredith Faulkner, in a live feed to their school in Fall River, Nova Scotia. And now, we finally have an answer to the age-old question, What Happens When You Wring Out A Washcloth In Space? [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Apr 18, 2013 -
NASA May Have Discovered Flowing Water on Mars Dark, finger-like features appear and extend down some Martian slopes during late spring through summer, fade in winter, and return during the next spring. Repeated observations have tracked the seasonal changes in these recurring features on several steep slopes in the middle latitudes of Mars' southern hemisphere.
posted by modernnomad
on Aug 4, 2011 -
"We have water
," said William Boynton of the University of Arizona, lead scientist for the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA
. "We've seen evidence for this water ice before in observations by the Mars Odyssey orbiter and in disappearing chunks observed by Phoenix last month
, but this is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted."
posted by finite
on Aug 1, 2008 -
If you were doing research in the 60s, You might've heard of Polywater,
A form of water that exhibited wide variety of interesting characteristics and existed under identical conditions to that of normal water. Eventually debunked, none the less is a fascinating story. Naturally one draws parallels to Vonnegut's ice nine, but did you know there actually is an ice nine?
In fact, there's twelve to sixteen types of ice
, depending on your opinion.
More recently, computer simulations have indicated water may structure itself into icosahedra
, which, incredibly, is the platonic solid (described over 2000 years ago!) representing the element water!
And if you don't know what an icosahedron is, I bet you've used one before
. One of the most ubiquitous, and arguably most important,
substances in our lives, our understanding of water
is far from complete.
posted by Large Marge
on Apr 29, 2008 -
Miracles You’ll See In The Next Fifty Years
Some more up-to-date predictions: science
, space travel
, mental health
, smart machines
, robots, mind uploading
What is your prediction
posted by MetaMonkey
on Oct 5, 2006 -
The Hidden Messages in Water?
Masaru Emoto claims that water has the ability "to absorb, hold, and even retransmit human feelings and emotions. Using high-speed photography, he found that crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts are directed toward it. Music, visual images, words written on paper, and photographs also have an impact on the crystal structure." The theory may be suspect
, but the photos are beautiful
posted by taz
on May 11, 2005 -
Grab your water-wings while you can, because I'm afraid I am the bearer of bad tidings. We only have a billion years of beach time left,
because our planet's ocean's are going to dry up completely. Fortunately, earth will be almost completely unlivable by then, so our descendents will already be dead. According to professor of meterology James Kastings, "My calculations are somewhat pessimistic and present a worst case scenario..."
posted by sixfoot6
on Feb 20, 2000 -