Wikipedia articles of interest

1. Trajan.

Roman Emperor from 98 AD to 117 AD. This is what the Roman Empire looked like at the end of his reign:

You can file this one under: ‘Yet more stuff I should have learned something about when I was younger.’ Before I started at the university, I learned a lot of the stuff the various schools I was enrolled in had to offer – but I didn’t learn much outside school. I really dislike now that I wasted so much time back then. I still do, btw., ie. waste a lot of time – old habits die hard but it’s better than it used to be. No, it’s not that I consider all the time that is spent not collecting knowledge like this wasted, no way; I just don’t have all that many better things to be doing with my time when I’m not doing the stuff I have to do, like studying the stuff that’s actually related to my exams, so my tradeoffs don’t look quite like those of a more ordinary person – who might have, say, a lot of what might be termed ‘social obligations’. I think of reading stuff like this as somehow more virtuous than reading tv-tropes or kibitzing a game of chess between two GMs and most certainly more virtuous than watching an episode of House, which I also happen to be doing every now and then.
Robin Lane Fox did include Trajan’s ruling period in his book but it’s been a while since I read that anyway and there wasn’t a lot of stuff about that guy in there. Here’s one sentence, perhaps not exactly displaying Trajan in the best possible light: “Between May 107 and November 109 Trajan celebrated his conquest of Dacia (modern Romania) with more than twenty weeks of blood sports, showing more than 5,500 pairs of gladiators and killing over 11,000 animals.” Though it should probably also be noted that such ‘blood sports’ were quite popular among the populace as well back then. (how much did I actually quote from that book here on the blog back when I’d read it? I now think perhaps my coverage of the book back then was somewhat lacking, perhaps I should have included more stuff? Well, it’s not too late, if I get ’round to it, maybe..).

2. Ants. File under: ‘These guys are pretty amazing’. There are more than four times as many estimated ant species (22.000) as there are species of mammals combined (5.400) – more than 12.500 ant species have already been classified. They’ve been around for more than 100 million years:

“Ants evolved from a lineage within the vespoid wasps. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that ants arose in the mid-Cretaceous period about 110 to 130 million years ago. After the rise of flowering plants about 100 million years ago they diversified and assumed ecological dominance around 60 million years ago.”

According to one of the source articles to the article:

“Ants are arguably the greatest success story in the history of terrestrial metazoa. On average, ants monopolize 15–20% of the terrestrial animal biomass, and in tropical regions where ants are especially abundant, they monopolize 25% or more.”

3. Cell.

4. Autoregressive model. ‘The type of stuff people like me work with on a near-daily basis’. [‘economics? That’s a bit like philosophy, right?’ – I got that comment once not long ago out in the Real World. In some ways it kinda is, sort of, or there are at least some elements the two systems have in common within relevant subsystems; but if you actually ask a question like that the answer will always be ‘No’.]

5. International Space Station. A featured article. Some stats:

Mass: 369,914 kg
Length: 51 m
Width: 109 m

“The cost of the station has been estimated by ESA as €100 billion over 30 years,[25] and, although estimates range from 35 to 160 billion US dollars, the ISS is believed to be the most expensive object ever constructed.”

The link [25] in the article states that: “The European share, at around 8 billion Euros spread over the whole programme, amounts to just one Euro spent by every European every year…”


November 18, 2010 Posted by | Biology, Econometrics, Evolutionary biology, History, Statistics, Wikipedia, Zoology | Leave a comment

A game

I’ve put it up here, doesn’t require Java. I was black. The computer much preferred 29…fxg4 to …f4, but it’s an eval difference between -3,5 and -2, so basically both moves are winning – actually the position was won long before this move was played. No other moves were much disliked by the machine and I played much better here than I did last time I played a game in the club. Moves below, just in case the game is removed from the server later on you can always plug it into a pgn-viewer if you’re curious:

1.d4 Nf6
2.Nf3 g6
3.b3 d5
4.Bb2 Bg7
5.Nbd2 0-0
6.e3 c5
7.Be2 b6
8.0-0 Bb7
9.Rb1 Nbd7
10.a3 Rc8
11.Ne5 Nxe5
12.dxe5 Ne4
13.Nxe4 dxe4
14.Qc1 Qd5
15.c4 Qe6
16.Qc3 Rcd8
17.Rfd1 Bc6
18.a4 a5
19.Ba1 Rd6
20.Rxd6 exd6
21.Qe1 Bxe5
22.Bxe5 Qxe5
23.g3 d5
24.Qc1 d4
25.Bf1 d3 (if the position wasn’t already won for black by move 22, it certainly is now. My opponent plays on roughly another 10 moves though)
26.Qd2 h5
27.Bg2 h4
28.g4 f5
29.h3 f4
30.Rb2 fxe3
31.fxe3 Qg3
32.Ra2 Rf3
33.Kh1 Rxe3
34.Qc3 Re1+

Resigned, 0-1

Yes, in case you were in doubt I have trouble sleeping.

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Chess | Leave a comment