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

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