Posts about interesting (old posts, page 19)

The Tyranny of Stuctureless

Contrary to what we would like to believe, there is no such thing as a structureless group. Any group of people of whatever nature that comes together for any length of time for any purpose will inevitably structure itself in some fashion. The structure may be flexible; it may vary over time; it may evenly or unevenly distribute tasks, power and resources over the members of the group. But it will be formed regardless of the abilities, personalities, or intentions of the people involved. The very fact that we are individuals, with different talents, predispositions, and backgrounds makes this inevitable. Only if we refused to relate or interact on any basis whatsoever could we approximate structurelessness -- and that is not the nature of a human group.

Rome Reborn

Rome Reborn is an international initiative whose goal is the creation of 3D digital models illustrating the urban development of ancient Rome from the first settlement in the late Bronze Age (ca. 1000 B.C.) to the depopulation of the city in the early Middle Ages (ca. A.D. 550). With the advice of an international Scientific Advisory Committee, the leaders of the project decided that A.D. 320 was the best moment in time to begin the work of modeling. At that time, Rome had reached the peak of its population, and major Christian churches were just beginning to be built. After this date, few new civic buildings were built. Much of what survives of the ancient city dates to this period, making reconstruction less speculative than it must, perforce, be for earlier phases. But having started with A.D. 320, the Rome Reborn team intends to move both backwards and forwards in time until the entire span of time foreseen by our mission has been covered.

The Shape of Rome

We all know the long, rich history of the Roman people, and the city's importance as the center of an empire, and thereafter as the center of the memory of that empire, whose echo, long after its end, still so defines Western concepts of power, authority and peace. What I intend to discuss instead is the geographic city, and how its shape and layers grew gradually and constantly, shaped by famous events, but also by the centuries you won't hear much about in a traditional history of the city. The different parts of Rome's past left their fingerprints on the city's shape in far more direct ways than one tends to realize, even from visiting and walking through the city. Rome's past shows not only in her monuments and ruins, but in the very layout of the streets themselves. Going age by age, I will attempt to show how the city's history and structure are one and the same, and how this real ancient city shows her past in a far more organic and structural way than what we tend invent when we concoct fictitious ancient capitals to populate fantasy worlds or imagined futures.

The Shape of Rome

Fastest Man on Earth

Sitting alone atop the Sonic Wind, Stapp looked like a pathetic figure. A siren wailed eerily, adding to the tension, and two red flares lofted skywards. Overhead, pilot Joe Kittinger, approaching in a T-33, pushed his throttle wide open in anticipation of the launch. With five seconds to go Stapp yanked a lanyard activating the sled's movie cameras, and hunkered down for the inevitable shock. The Sonic Wind's nine rockets detonated with a terrific roar, spewing 35-foot long trails of fire and hurtling Stapp down the track. "He was going like a bullet," Kittinger remembers. "He went by me like I was standing still, and I was going 350 mph." Just seconds into the run the sled had reached its peak velocity of 632 miles per hour -- actually faster than a bullet -- subjecting Stapp to 20 Gs of force and battering him with wind pressures near two tons. "I thought," continues Kittinger, "that sled is going so damn fast the first bounce is going to be Albuquerque. I mean, there was no way on God's earth that sled could stop at the end of the track. No way." But then, just as the sound of the rockets' initial firing reached the ears of far off observers, the Wind hit the water brake. The rear of the sled, its rockets expended, tore away. The front section continued downrange for several hundred feet, hardly slowing at all until it hit the second water brake."

Fastest Man on Earth