Originally posted 2009-06-16 11:51:30.
Originally posted 2010-08-31 09:35:50.
Originally posted 2010-04-06 12:35:04.
80% are within a mile of my place, woo hoo!
Originally posted 2007-08-08 16:30:25.
From Nat Geo:
A new computer program has quickly deciphered a written language last used in Biblical times—possibly opening the door to “resurrecting” ancient texts that are no longer understood, scientists announced last week.
Created by a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the program automatically translates written Ugaritic, which consists of dots and wedge-shaped stylus marks on clay tablets. The script was last used around 1200 B.C. in western Syria.
Written examples of this “lost language” were discovered by archaeologists excavating the port city of Ugarit in the late 1920s. It took until 1932 for language specialists to decode the writing. Since then, the script has helped shed light on ancient Israelite culture and Biblical texts.
Using no more computing power than that of a high-end laptop, the new program compared symbol and word frequencies and patterns in Ugaritic with those of a known language, in this case, the closely related Hebrew.
Through repeated analysis, the program linked letters and words to map nearly all Ugaritic symbols to their Hebrew equivalents in a matter of hours.
The program also correctly identified Ugaritic and Hebrew words with shared roots 60 percent of the time. Shared roots are when words in different languages spring from the same source, such as the French homme and Spanish hombre, which share the Latin root for “man.”
Led by computer science professor Regina Barzilay, the team may be the first to show that a computer approach to dead scripts can be effective, despite claims that machines lack the necessary intuition.
(Related: “Video Games Help U.S. Soldiers Learn Arab Language, Culture.”)
“Traditionally, decipherment has been viewed as a sort of scholarly detective game, and computers weren’t thought to be of much use,” Barzilay said.
“Our aim is to bring to bear the full power of modern machine learning and statistics to this problem.”
Not Always a “Rosetta Stone”
The next step should be to see whether the program can help crack the handful of ancient scripts that remain largely incomprehensible.
Etruscan, for example, is a script that was used in northern and central Italy around 700 B.C. but was displaced by Latin by about A.D. 100. Few written examples of Etruscan survive, and the language has no known relations, so it continues to baffle archaeologists.
(Related: “Languages Racing to Extinction in Five Global ‘Hotspots.’”)
“In the case [of Ugaritic], you’re dealing with a small and simple writing system, and there are closely related languages,” noted Richard Sproat, an Oregon Health and Science University computational linguist who was not involved in the new work.
“It’s not always going to be the case that there are closely related languages that one can use” for Rosetta Stone-like comparisons.
But study leader Barzilay thinks the decoding program can overcome this hurdle by scanning multiple languages at once and taking contextual information into account—improvements that could uncover unexpected similarities or links to known languages.
This image is a “balloon race”. The higher a bubble, the greater the evidence for its effectiveness. But the supplements are only effective for the conditions listed inside the bubble.
You might also see multiple bubbles for certain supps. These is because some supps affect a range of conditions, but the evidence quality varies from condition to condition. For example, there’s strong evidence that Green Tea is good for cholesterol levels. But evidence for its anti-cancer effects is conflicting. In these cases, we give a supp another bubble.
Visit Information is Beautiful for the interactive version.
From Pocket Lint:
Monopoly owners Hasbro will be launching a circular version of the board game to celebrate the 75th anniversary of its creation the company has announced at this year’s Toy Fair.
The game, which stays the same when it comes to gameplay, will involve players moving around the board as if it were a roundabout rather than the traditional square set we’ve all come to know and love.
But it’s not just a random move to give die-hard fans a reason to buy yet another version, it turns out one of the first concepts for the board game was circular according to Hasbro.
Not to be out done by the latest video games, however, the Monopoly board will do away with cash and the chance to raid the bank when no-one is looking. Players instead will be issued with a chip and pin credit card and a central console that plays banker. No fair.
UPDATED: This link still works and identifies the writers and their abused substance(s) of choice.
Via Boing Boing
Anti-government activists are not allowed to express themselves in Iranian media, so theses activists have taken their expressions to another high circulation mass-medium, banknotes. The Central Bank of Iran has tried to take these banknotes out of circulation, but there are just too many of them, and gave up. For the activists’ people it’s a way of saying “We are here, and the green movement is going on”.
Source. Thanks Salome A.