Random wikipedia links of interest

1. Operation Crossroads. The US conducted nuclear weapon tests at the Bikini Atoll in 1946, this article is about those tests, the purpose of which were to figure out how effective the new weapon was against naval units. That wasn’t the only kind of relevant information they obtained though. From the article:

Because of radioactive contamination, Bikini remains uninhabited as of 2010, though it is occasionally visited by sport divers. […] The brief attempt to resettle Bikini from 1974 until 1978 was aborted when health problems from radioactivity in the food supply caused the atoll to be evacuated again. Sport divers who visit Bikini to dive on the shipwrecks must eat imported food. The lagoon is teeming with fish, but none of it is safe to eat.

2. Mantle (geology). Did you know that the Earth’s mantle, the layer between the crust and the core, constitutes close to 84 % of the volume of the Earth? I didn’t.

3. Wernicke’s area. A part of the brain involved in the understanding of written and spoken language. In a world-view incorporating stuff like this there’s very little room for a ‘soul’.

4. Gills.

A gill: “extracts dissolved oxygen from water, afterward excreting carbon dioxide. It does not break up water molecules in hydrogen and oxygen and absorb oxygen. The microscopic structure of a gill presents a large surface area to the external environment.

Many microscopic aquatic animals, and some that are larger but inactive, can absorb adequate oxygen through the entire surface of their bodies, and so can respire adequately without a gill.”

5. Pirate game.


May 27, 2010 - Posted by | Biology, Economics, Game theory, Geology, History, Language, Mathematics, Neurology, Wikipedia


  1. > The lagoon is teeming with fish, but none of it is safe to eat.

    A testimony, with the DMZ and Chernobyl, about the relative danger of humanity and its products.

    Comment by gwern | October 22, 2011 | Reply

    • Yes. Other testimonies are harder to see because what used to be there no longer is. As John Hawks puts it in a recent post:

      “Michael Waters and colleagues [1] report on the date of a mastodon kill site from Manis, Washington. At 13,800 years old, it’s not the earliest evidence of New World people, nor the only evidence of pre-Clovis hunting. I find it interesting because of the addition of genetics to the mix of evidence. The specimen is verified as a mastodon, and the bone used to kill it was itself made of mastodon bone […]

      The conclusion of the paper suggests that the evidence of pre-Clovis megafauna hunting argues against a “blitzkrieg” scenario for megafaunal extinctions. Instead, the authors suggest that the extinction was staged over a period of nearly 2000 years. The invention of Clovis points around 13,000 years ago is proposed to be near the end of the process, which may have begun before 14,800 years ago according to a kill site at Hebior, Wisconsin.

      I think this distinction is just semantic. If 2000 years of human predation eliminated mastodons, mammoths, and all the rest of the megafauna, which occupied North America for more than a million years before that, it looks a lot like “blitzkrieg” to me.”

      Comment by US | October 22, 2011 | Reply

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