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22436.  Wed Jul 27, 2005 5:11 am Reply with quote

I wonder if anyone can guess what this might be used for?

The instrument resembled a wine vessel with a diameter of six feet. On the outside of the jar there were eight dragon-heads, facing the eight principal points of the compass. Below each of the heads was a toad, whose mouth was open toward the dragon.

22437.  Wed Jul 27, 2005 6:34 am Reply with quote

This was an original Seismograph, I believe, used in China.

It was to detect earthquakes- when an earthquale occured a ball would fall into the mouth of the dragon. The side the ball falls on shows the direction of the quake.

This was invented by....who was it...Lao Hzu, Tsu Di, someone like that. A philosopher / inventor who believed the earth and universe were actually the result of a large chicken laying an egg and it cracking.

Interestingly enough, the Chinese did not not invent this device for scientific resoning, as such. It was invented because, due to the very suspicious nature of the Chinese, when an earthquake occured they believed it was the Gods sending a message that the government was crap.

Naturally the emperors wanted to know where the quakes were occuring so they could go to that area and reassure all the Government has everything under control.

I wonder if any Emperor fell from power as a result of an earthquake.

22438.  Wed Jul 27, 2005 6:47 am Reply with quote

I don't know.

You post a question, only to come up against the world's leading authority in Chinese Seismography.

What are the chances?!

Here's a couple of sites for further reading...

...not that any is really necessary!

well done Brackett

22442.  Wed Jul 27, 2005 9:16 am Reply with quote

Biggy-Wiggy Dwarf: Awful Dwarf, come on - keep up!
Awful Dwarf: Cram it with walnuts, buddy!

That is a fabulous instrument, and made by such an incredible mix of strange beliefs and proto-geological discovery. I love the fact that they just needed to get the information from it, but they went the whole hog and turned the parts of it into nice little animal sculptures to make it pretty to look at too. Marvellous race the Chinese. Splendid chaps.

[hurredly learns some Mandarin]

22445.  Wed Jul 27, 2005 11:06 am Reply with quote

Can you identify this sound?

(and no sneaky looking at the web address!)

22446.  Wed Jul 27, 2005 11:22 am Reply with quote

Sorry, couldn't help noticing it came from NASA. In which case I'd hazard a guess at an audio representation of the solar wind or somesuch.

Either that, or the intro to some prog rock album.

22447.  Wed Jul 27, 2005 12:02 pm Reply with quote

It's so eerie, isn't it - like a Theramin orchestra.

It's from here:

It's a slowed-down (1 44th of the actual rate) audio representation of the radio emissions given out by Saturn's equivalent of the aurora.

22448.  Wed Jul 27, 2005 1:40 pm Reply with quote

Sounded more like the background music in a horror film to me, the short of thing they used to put on when the killer is slowly creeping up behind the blonde, female lead.

22457.  Thu Jul 28, 2005 5:03 am Reply with quote

OK, snce we're playing "guess the freaky noise", try this one:

Again, no sneaky looking at the URL as it'll *really* give the game away :)

Not sure why there's 2 minutes of silence on the end, though. Once the noise builds to
a climax and then stops, that's pretty much all there is.

22458.  Thu Jul 28, 2005 5:10 am Reply with quote

Boo, I can't listen to sounds on my computer. Stupid thing.

However, on a spacey theme. Did you know that meteorites are usually named after the closest Post Office to where they land?

I didn't. And annoyingly I can't find out where that convention came from.


Frederick The Monk
22459.  Thu Jul 28, 2005 10:33 am Reply with quote

According to Washington University in St. Louis (who???)

By long-standing convention, meteorites are named after the location where they fall or are found. For example, Calcalong Creek is a place in Australia. Somewhat contrary to the convention, the Antarctic meteorites in the U.S. collection often go by abbreviated names, where ALHA = Allan Hills, EET = Elephant Moraine, LAP = LaPaz Icefield, MAC = MacAlpine Hills, MET = Meteorite Hills, PCA = Pecora Escarpment, and QUE = Queen Alexandra Range. Similarly, the Northwest Africa and Dar al Gani meteorites are sometimes abbreviated NWA and DaG. Because hundreds to thousands of meteorites have been found in Antarctica and hot deserts, serial numbers are used in addition to names. For the Antarctic meteorites, the first two digits of the numeric part of the name represents the collection year.

The Meteoritical Society (who I suppose should know about such things) have a PDF file on naming meteorites here. There still doesn't seem to be total agreement on how to do it, but neither is there any mention of Post Offices, which is a shame.

22463.  Thu Jul 28, 2005 10:48 am Reply with quote


There are an awful lot of sites who agree with the Post Office thing:
For instance:

The Astronomical Observatory of Padova
By international convention, the name of the meteorite is determined by the nearest post office. In the case of antarctic samples three letters indicating the "trap" mountain, the year and the subsequent number of the finding are used. For example FRO-93348 is the finding 348 of the year 1993, Frontier Mountain.

Traditionally, the meteorite is named after the nearest post office to where it fell.

The Lunar and Planetary Institute
This fragment will likely be named the Statesboro, GA by the Meterorite Committee as it does not conflict with any other named meteorite and this is the nearest post office.

meteorites that are not from Antarctica are named after the nearest post office (nearest to which they were picked up). Meteorites from Antarctica are named after the geographical area from which they were picked up.

Among many many others.

Something fishy methinks.

Frederick The Monk
22465.  Thu Jul 28, 2005 11:01 am Reply with quote

Very fishy.

The COMMITTEE ON METEORITE NOMENCLATURE (which is chaired by Jutta Zipfel of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry - who sounds reasonably serious) have their guidelines here. Again, no mention of Post Offices.

Last edited by Frederick The Monk on Tue Feb 14, 2006 11:19 am; edited 1 time in total

22476.  Fri Jul 29, 2005 6:32 am Reply with quote

Back to Komodos - I learned today that Komodos, koalas, opossum, kangaroos (in fact marsupials in general) and iguanas all have forked penises.

I also learned that a dork is a whale's penis and that mouse sperm are longer than elephant sperm.

Source for all this is but I haven't yet verified these gems from another and possibly more reliable source. This one gives a totally rubbish derivation of fuck.

22477.  Fri Jul 29, 2005 6:38 am Reply with quote

Seeing as you brought the subject up, Jenny.

I read somewhere that Dragonflies have shovel-shaped penises, and use such appendage to scoop out rivals' sperm (apologies if anyone's eating their lunch)

Again, this is very much unverified, firstly due to the fact that I couldn't really see the subject coming up in conversation, and secondly because googling for such a fact would probably come-up with some undesirable results.


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