Did You Know: First Edition (?)

10 04 2010

I can't believe it's not Canada

Have I done one of these before?

Some miscellaneous facts that I have uncovered across Wikipedia:

My current “Did You Know” factbox is on my public Wikispace.

Image credit: Canada Bay by Just For Fun – Jason on Flickr (CC A-NC)


Stacks On!

31 08 2009

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Such is life in prison – someone is gonna make you their bitch.

Star Tortoises at Melbourne Zoo – caption and photo by zayzayem.

What does the internet think of you?

25 08 2009

via Christie @ OOAN

The internet gives you a right to narcissism. And now you can enjoy that narcissism in a new colourful way with Personas.

This MIT gadget scours the internet for your digital imprint and classifies your record into a bunch of coloured bars corresponding to different categories (e.g. politics, arts, sports – even stuff like aggression and illegal).

Definitely worth checking out. And as Christie notes, it will change each time you run the program.

I ran the simulation three times. I did not use my real name, the program cannot distinguish people with the same name – and there are much more prominent internet Michael Zimmers.

ZayZayEM 01

ZayZayEM 02

ZayZayEM 03

Most of the presence for zayzayem comes from Wikipedia (particularly spats and screeds). Not sure where all the sports is coming from (perhaps early days on SparkNotes).  I think the third one represents me best.

Your online identity is important. Potential employers (and dates) screen you through Google and Facebook – so there are definitely certain things you don’t want to inadvertantly place up there. This can be a useful tool in seeing what is out there on you. But it is also only a matter of time that they will be using it to check up on you.

Surf safe strategy #8

13 07 2009

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Original picture: mine from flickr. Taken at Bondi Beach, Sydney.


20 01 2009

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Novartis Institute for Tropical Disease (NITD) is a Singapore-based tropical disease research institute created through a public-private partnership between Novartis and the Singapore Economic Development Board. Research at NITD focuses primarily on developing novel small molecule therapies for tropical infectious diseases that are endemic to the developing world, particulary dengue fever, malaria and tuberculosis.[1][2]

History and mission

NITD was founded in 2002 as a public-private partnership between Swiss-based pharmaceutical company Novartis and the Singapore Economic Development Board.[1]

NITD states its goals are “to discover novel treatments and prevention methods for major tropical diseases.” Their website states they hope to have at least two drug candidates going through clinical trials in patients by the year 2012.[2]

Novartis has also stated that the NITD will seek to make treatments developed by the NITD available without profit to the poor in developing nations in which these diseases are endemic.[3]


NITD is a small molecule drug discovery research institute.[1]

Research is currently focused on three main diseases:[2]

NITD’s research model relies on global partnership with other research institutes.[1] In 2008, NITD announced a 5-year collaborative research effort would be conducted in cooperation with the TB Alliance to develop new medicines for tuberculosis, including drug resistant tuberculosis.[4]


In addition to research, NITD is engaged in educational activities. It runs a research-based Master of Science program in fields related to infectious diseases in cooperation with National University of Singapore, University of Basel and Swiss Tropical Institute.[5]

NITD also supports training opportunities for post-graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.[2]


External link

Next Gaming in Evolution – part 2

6 09 2008

First two parter on It’s Alive!!

For some background on our topic: Science in the new Spore Computer game visit: Spore Official Site, Carl Zimmer: Gaming Evolves, Joan Bushwell’s Chimpanzee Refuge and/or the first part of this post.

I’m going to be rather brash and provide some constructive criticism on a game that I haven’t played yet, and isn’t even released in Australia yet…

The user-driven nature of Spore is going to be very hard to remove in a gaming market. A game isn’t a game if a user isn’t able to meddle with it. Even Sim-Earth, which allowed you to tweak planetary climate conditions, still allows some lee-way towards IDiots. Hell, IDiots even use computer evolution simulations by proper evolutionary biologists as *proof* of ID. So I’m not going to suggest too many improvements on that aspect, aside from perhaps a version that allows attributes to be generated in a more random fashion than spending points in a shop. I don’t think this would float in the market though, modern gamers are very much used to be able to get what they want.

To combat the games “one dimensional march”, perhaps mods or sequels that introduce “end-game” style content for the pre-intelligence mini-games in the greater Spore game.

For the beast-stage game, the user could try and make their creature survive in wake of another creature holotype achieving sentience. I think this could have a capacity to have some environmental messages in there. The user would be charged in ensuring their species does not go extinct. This could be achieved in several ways:

  • the high road – adaptation – adjusting to threats such as hunting (build up defense like – venoms, quills, mimicry of predators), habitat destruction (adapt to extreme habitats or adjust to city life), and pollution (avoid eating plastic bags, drinking polluted streams) – standard time-based victory
  • the middle road – domestication – either by becoming tasty, cute or just generally useful enough that the sentients will actively try not to wipe you out. Be careful though, the balance between being domesticated and being hunted to extinction may be very tricky to reach. Case study: The Aurochs.
  • the low road – nature fighting back – why let yourself be hunted to death, having sentience doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be top of the food chain – I think this would prove a popular victory path – standard winning by ensuring the other guys (in this case the human equivalents) are wiped out

For the tadpole-stage game. I was intrigued by the NYTimes comment amount the small sea-critter being eaten by leviathans out in the depths, forcing it to go onto land. Why not allow your creature to become the leviathan. Again conservation could be brought in by drawing from the fate of whales, sharks and other ocean dwellers.

The ocean depths being analogous to space in terms of a Final Frontier would really open up opportunities for some very exotic environment and alternative creature animations.

Further discussion below the fold… Read the rest of this entry »

Taking the piss out of alchemy

4 09 2008

One of the last posts of mine (actually the alleged “last post“) on the old blog was about the virtue of alchemy as predecessor to modern investigative science.

While alchemy’s main basis in Hermetic mythology and the ability to transmute metals into gold may have been grounded in woo – much of the foundation for chemistry – physical and organic was laid down by alchemists.

The AIRchives has an interesting art based portrayal of one of these science-based areas of alchemical expertise – extraction of phosphorous – from urine.

Now you know what’s in all those scientists beakers…