Oh My: Romola Garai

So the new BBC show The Hour debuted this week. Although many early reviews called it “the British Mad Men“, it wasn’t quite that. The show does have a plotline that involves the media getting too close to the government… which makes me wonder if Kudos knew the News of the World scandal was going to break months ago, or if the whole thing is one gigantic coincidence.

Anyway, one the unexpected delights of the show was actress Romola Garai, who plays producer Bel “Moneypenny” Rowley. Born to British parents in Hong Kong in 1982, Garai can certainly act. And Good Lord – does this woman have an amazing body or what?

Romola Garai
(click to embiggen)

You can also see Garai in the films AtonementAmazing Grace, Glorious 39 and in the lead role in the BBC’s 2009 adaptation of Jane Austin’s Emma, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe.

Congratulations, Romola! You win the “RAWR of the Week” Award! Check out her Wiki page here and hit up Google Images for her here.

The Oddest Coincidence

Human beings have known about the uniqueness of fingerprints for a long time. Ancient Babylonians used fingerprints for signatures. The famous Code of Hammurabi (1700 BC) authorized authorities to record the fingerprints of those who were arrested. The ancient Egyptians, Minoans, Greeks and Chinese used fingerprints as a form of identification, usually on legal documents, but sometimes as a “maker’s mark” on pottery items. By 702 AD, the Japanese had adopted the Chinese fingerprint method to authenticate loans.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe seemed to forget about fingerprints for a long time. It wasn’t until 1684 that English physician Nehemiah Grew published the first scientific paper about fingerprints. Just over a century later, in 1788, German anatomist Johann Christoph Andreas Mayer published a paper in which it was recognized that each fingerprint is unique.

Fingerprinting got a big boost in 1858. And that’s because of Sir William James Herschel, grandson of William Herschel, the German-born English astronomer who discovered Uranus, and son of John Herschel, who named seven moons of Saturn and four moons of Uranus.

William James Herschel was an officer in the Indian Civil Service in Bengal. Herschel became a big proponent of fingerprinting after becoming fed up with the rampant forging of contracts and legal papers that was going on in India at the time. Herschel’s decision to  require fingerprints on most legal documents not only made forging them much more difficult, it almost eliminated fraud in pensions, in which family members continued to cash checks long after their relative had died. This was, of course, costing the English authorities a massive sum of money. Shortly thereafter, Herschel also began fingerprinting prisoners as soon as they were sentenced, as it was somewhat common for Indians to pay someone else to serve their prison sentences.

In 1880, Dr Henry Faulds, a Scottish surgeon who had been appointed by the Church of Scotland to open a mission in Japan, published a paper in the journal Nature on how fingerprints were unique and could be used for identification purposes. Faulds’ interest in fingerprints came about thanks to an archaeological expedition he went on with an American friend, Edward S. Morse. Faulds noticed that he could see ancient fingerprints in recovered pottery shards, and he began looking at his own fingerprints. Shortly thereafter, the hospital Faulds founded was broken into. A staff member was accused of the crime, but Faulds was certain the employee was innocent. He compared fingerprints found at the scene with those of the suspect and found that they were different. This convinced Japanese police to release the man.

Continue reading “The Oddest Coincidence”

Quote of the Day

“Who is that that says it’s your conscience?” he cried, looking around with a constricted face as if he could smell the particular person who thought that. “Your conscience is a trick,” he said, “it don’t exist though you may think it does, and if you think it does, you had best get it out in the open and hunt it down and kill it, because it’s no more than your face in the mirror is or your shadow behind you.”

– Flannery O’Connor
Wise Blood

GT Researchers Make Power Out of Nothing

Researchers at Georgia Tech have come up with a way to pull electrical power out of thin air… sort of.

gt_power

Basically, they’ve taken an ink solution containing silver nanoparticles and printed a grid onto paper or plastic (pic above). The grid pulls electromagnetic energy out of the ambient environment, providing around one milliwatt to a battery or capacitor… which is not a lot. However, the researchers hope to increase this to 50 milliwatts using advanced capacitors, and you can also use several such grids wired together to increase the yield.

The technology, which would be insanely cheap if scaled to production levels, has many possible uses, such as environmental sensors (to power seismographs in remote locations, for instance), or as part of a distress sensor (in life rafts or industrial applications, for instance), or to power RFID tags in commerce, or to power inexpensive (easily hideable and movable) bomb sniffers at airports, or even to power stress sensors underneath bridges, where solar power is not an option.

Read more about it here. Go Jackets!

Thank you, GQ!

Dear God!

0714-alison-brie-lesbian-lingerie-00
(click to embiggen)

If you’re not watching Community on NBC, this is what you’re missing!

Happy Birthday, Neptune!

Yes, this is a week late, but uh… better late than never and all that.

Happy “first” birthday, Neptune!

neptune_small

Our solar system’s last “real” planet (I’m still torn about Pluto) was discovered on September 23, 1846. Neptune is far too dim to be observed with the naked eye, so it wasn’t until the telescope was invented that it could even be seen. However, although it was observed by astronomer after astronomer, every last one of them thought Neptune to be a star (with “them” including Galileo, Jérôme Lalande and John Herschel). In 1781, British astronomer William Herschel discovered Uranus, and by 1846 it was clear that Uranus had some orbital oddities that could only be explained by the presence of another planet. Thus, Neptune is the only planet in our solar system discovered by mathematical means, not observation. Interestingly, Neptune’s massive moon, Triton, was discovered by English astronomer William Lassell just 17 days later.

Neptune is the forth largest planet by diameter and the third most dense in the solar system. It orbits the Sun at an average distance of 30.1 AU (astronomical units, the average distance from the earth to the Sun). It takes Neptune 165 years to circle the Sun, thus, if there were people on Neptune, they’d be celebrating the first year anniversary of when earthlings discovered their home.

Here’s a cool video from the BBC’s 1999 series The Planets about Neptune:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29wfzotaBIg

Even cooler, here’s a sound recording from the Voyager mission. This isn’t what the planet actually sounds like to human ears; it’s what the radio waves coming from Neptune sound like. And it’s really cool:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwnpXll_A_E

I love Neptune! It’s my favorite planet after earth!

Heads Up, “Mad Men” fans!

I know several folks have found my site thanks to my Mad Men reviews, and I thought I’d give you guys a heads-up about a new show debuting this week that you might like.

It’s a six-part BBC series called The Hour. It’s set in a fictional 1950s British current affairs TV show. According to everything I’ve read, production values (costumes, set design) are supposed to rival Mad Men in authenticity. And, like our favorite show, The Hour is supposed to be a pastiche of actual people and events. For example, one of the characters, Bel Rowley (played by Romola Garai) is based on Grace Wyndham Goldie, the first female executive at the BBC, and a giant name in the history of British TV (although, as it so often happens on TV, Bel will look much more like Joan Holloway or Betty Draper than the real Goldie). And at least one actual event, the Suez Canal Crisis, will be featured on the show. Fans of The Wire will also be pleased that Dominic West will play one of the three main characters of The Hour.

Here’s the trailer for the series:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InILSU-ZV9M

The series is produced by Kudos, the production company that gave us Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes, Spooks, The Fixer and Law and Order UK, so I have high hopes for the show. The Daily Mail has a good piece about the series (and about how the character of Bel is based on Goldie) here. Check out Wikipedia’s page on the show here. Check out the official BBC page for the show here.

The show airs on Tuesdays at 21:00 BST (16:00 EDT) on BBC 2. There’s a 99% chance the show will appear on torrent and cyberlocker sites in both XviD and 720p formats shortly after the show airs. If you prefer, you can use this guide to setting up your computer to use a British proxy server and watch the streaming version on iPlayer.

The show will also debut on BBC America on Wednesday, August 17, at 10:00 PM as part of their new Dramaville series. Even better, each episode will be introduced by Luther‘s Idris Elba! I could swear I read somewhere that shows aired under the Dramaville banner will not be edited for time; there will still be commercial breaks, but instead of cutting content to make a 58 minute BBC show fit into a 43 minute US timeslot, the show will run for 75 minutes with breaks added. I can’t verify this at the moment, so perhaps a reader can help.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-07-17

  • R.I.P. Sherwood Schwartz. I’ll pour some chocolate milk on the pavement for you! #
  • NOTE TO SELF: Backups work better when you, you know, schedule them and all. #
  • OMG! @therealzooeyd sings on the new “Winnie the Pooh” soundtrack! I think my head will asplode from TEH CUTENESS! #
  • I meant to post this yesterday, but @Patt_Morrison is an idiot. #
  • Oh no! The “clown rape” episode of “Little House on the Prarie” is on! #
  • @shannonwoodward I don’t get it, either. #
  • RT @wagnerofficial: Quote from the dinner table : “Krispy Kreme , Texas Pete , a strip club and a steak in between.. What more do you need?” #
  • TODAY’S POINTLESS TRIVIA QUESTION: Who’s the only person who played for the Boston Braves, Milwaukee Braves and Atlanta Braves? No cheating! #
  • This sucks: @ajcgatech: Tech fined $100,000, forced to vacate 2009 ACC title by NCAA http://bit.ly/oYgm4z #
  • Just listened to New Order’s “Hellbent”. Sometimes “unreleased tracks” go unreleased for a reason. #
  • [sarcasm] Oh no! Not J. Lo and Marc Anthony! [/sarcasm] #

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Quote of the Day

“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.”

– H. L. Mencken