Sunday, 24 July 2011

10:12 – Here’s a torrent worth grabbing: a 32.5 GB file that contains thousands of pre-1923 articles by The Royal Society, all of them out of copyright in the US. It’s long past time that someone did something about JSTOR and similar organizations, which put up expensive paywalls around public domain information and guard it jealously. Now if only someone would do the same for old articles published by the ACS and other scientific organizations.

This archive contains 18,592 scientific publications totaling 33GiB, all from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and which should be available to everyone at no cost, but most have previously only been made available at high prices through paywall gatekeepers like JSTOR.

Limited access to the documents here is typically sold for $19 USD per article, though some of the older ones are available as cheaply as $8. Purchasing access to this collection one article at a time would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

All of these articles should be available for free on Google and other Internet sources. In fact, US scientific articles, including current ones, should be freely available, at least to US citizens, because nearly all of them were produced with US government funding. I’ve already paid for these articles through my taxes. I shouldn’t have to pay again to read them.


I’m going to have to do a bit of research on the actual chemical resistance of the polyethylene bottles I just bought. Checking various sources for the effect on polyethylene of concentrated sulfuric acid at 20 °C and 60 °C (the containers could get quite warm during shipping) tells me that the resistance may be anything from excellent to mediocre, depending on which source I believe.

I suspect this is because polyethylene is a class or classes of compounds rather than a specific compound. There are many, many types of PE, which are broadly grouped into LDPE, HDPE, and XDPE, but the exact characteristics of any particular PE may vary slightly, even from others in the same class.

It may be easier just to use glass bottles.


11:50 – On sexual dimorphism in humans…

Here is an actual, unretouched image of pairs of Barbara’s and my socks. (Mine are at the top, in case you hadn’t guessed; they were originally black, but I accidentally bleached them and liked the two-tone brown result.) No, I didn’t shrink Barbara’s socks. This is actually how they appear normally.



Now it’s true that I have occasionally been accused of having larger than usual feet. (Get your big, clumsy feet out of my …) But I think of myself as having dainty little feet. After all, I wear only a US male size 12 shoe, which isn’t bad for a guy my size.


13:34 – As a Viking-American, I found this article interesting.

If you can believe the article, past archaeologists had just assumed that Viking burials were all male because they all included grave artifacts like swords and shields. A new study reports the results of osteological examinations of a small number of Viking burials, which found that about half of the skeletons were female. Unfortunately, DNA analyses, which would have been definitive, were not done.

It makes sense to me that the Viking warriors would have taken their women along. After all, put yourself in the position of a Viking woman. Would you allow your husband to go off raping and pillaging without you?

Incidentally, don’t bother clicking the moron link at the bottom of the article, which reads “See photos of: Vikings“. I made the mistake of clicking it and it took me to page that featured–you guessed it–images of the Minnesota Vikings. Geez.