California-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has been central to the US missile and rocket development and operations for decades, and from the beginning that technology's success rested on a corps of expert mathematicians, people known as computers. And from the beginning they were all women, in a time when such opportunities were few and far between. You can find pictures of them, but names have not been well-recorded ... until now. Nathalia Holt found many of those women and wrote about their experiences in her book, Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars. [more inside]
A team of researchers, including University of Edinburgh paleontologist Stephen Brusatte and Swarthmore College Associate Professor of Statistics Steve C. Wang, cataloging 853 skeletal characteristics in 150 dinosaurs and analyzing the rate at which these characters change, and they found that "there was no grand jump between nonbirds and birds in morphospace." In other words, birds didn't suddenly come into existence, but evolved, bit by bit, or characteristic by characteristic. But when birds were finally a thing, they went crazy. "Once it came together fully, it unlocked great evolutionary potential that allowed birds to evolve at a super-charged rate."
Renegade Studios, the team behind the 2008 fan film "Star Trek: Of Gods and Men", has released a teaser trailer for their next web series project: Star Trek: Renegades. [more inside]
Yuja Wang (official site / wikipedia) is a 24-year old, Chinese virtuoso classical pianist who became an overnight sensation in 2007 when she filled in after piano legend Martha Argerich, cancelled a performance with the Boston symphony. Since then, Ms. Wang has become a superstar in her own right, hailed by critics for her precise, passionate performances and lightning-fast technique. But after a recent appearance on-stage in a short red dress and high heels led to a critic's complaint about her outfit, others are now weighing in on whether it is appropriate for a female classical musician to wear revealing clothing. [more inside]
Wait! Look, what do you see? A new crucifix has been hung behind the altar at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Oklahoma City. It has caused quite the stir. [more inside]
The Wang Freestyle (warning: Google Video; part one of video). A curious footnote in the history of computing that took the desktop metaphor to new levels back in 1988. Featured sampled sound, high-res graphics, and the ability to stack documents on top of each other, the last of which is due in a certain big cat operating system later this year. Watch for how slow the system is, and the subsequent magician-like distraction techniques used by the presenter to avoid people noticing.
Speed of light broken... no biggy.