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Strange concretions at Katherine NT

posted 8 Oct 2017, 22:25 by Jamie Derkenne   [ updated 12 Nov 2017, 18:54 ]

These strange concretions were found near Katherine in the Northern Territory

Strange fossils like concretions on fossil pavement behind a caravan park near Katherine in the Northern Territory are probably concretions formed from microbial degradation of organic matter, according to Professor Martin Kennedy, head of department at Macquarie University's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
We found the concretions near the river behind the Manballu Caravan Park. Prof Kennedy says it is always hard to tell from a photograph, but the oval crescent shape, dark colour, decimeter size and fine grained texture of the structures lead him to believe this is a “concretion” which is typically an early cemented area that typically forms from microbial degradation of organic matter. 
"They most commonly form early after sediment deposition and before burial.  Sometimes within them you will find a fossil- it is commonly suggested that the organic matter in that fossil served as the initial nucleation point of cement formation- the cements are partially made from the carbon within the organic matter. Once initial precipitation of cement starts with a few crystals, the crystals serve as substrate for further crystal growth and the process continues outward. Some of these can become large, like the Moleki boulders on the beach in New Zealand, but your image is more the typical size of tens of centimetres.  An X-ray of this material should reveal that it is comprised of calcium carbonate, maybe siderite, if it is a concretion. Also its carbon isotopic value would be < -5 per mill parts per billion and a thin section petrographic image would show the calcium carbonate isolated to the pores of grains."

Ruby Knipe, club swinger

posted 6 Oct 2017, 21:12 by Jamie Derkenne   [ updated 8 Oct 2017, 15:10 ]

Club swinging at the turn of last century had a completely different meaning than today. Tapered wooden clubs weighing more than a kilo each somehow became an American health fad which quickly gained popularity in Australia. So much so that the Australian Natives Association, a group of white people who encouraged such things as the adoption of the wattle sprig as a national emblem and the celebration of Australia Day on January 26 (which came about in the 1940s) gave a certifcates to one proficient club swinger.
In Outback Australia, people made their own fun. Ruby Knipe, a teenage girl living in Broken Hill, would often sing and dance (she was gracefully proficient at the Scottish Fling) during intervals at the cinema. But her real strength lay with club swinging. At the age of 16 she "She twirled the wood for five hours and two minutes, and put up a new record for Australian women." The feat put her on page three of the October 14 edition of the Barrier Miner in 1909. Ruby learnt club swinging while at the Emu Creek State School near Bendigo and made quite a name for herself in Broken Hill with her swinging techniques. Apart from endurance, Ruby was famed for being able to swing flaming clubs. The local Australian Natives Association, Willyama Brnch, keen on promoting music, literature and elocution, decided Ruby should be awarded one of their certificates. You can see her certificate at the Broken Hill Historical Society museum. 
A high resolution scan of one of the Australian Native's Association blank certificates is attached for download.

How to uninstall 'JoyLauncher' from an Alcatel phone

posted 26 Sep 2017, 02:31 by Jamie Derkenne   [ updated 26 Sep 2017, 17:15 ]

The so-called "Joy Launcher" has bricked many an Alcatel phone. The secret to getting rid of it is not to just try to uninstall "Joy Launcher" but to wind-back File Manager as well.

The first thing to do is install an alternate file manager such as Evie. You can do this from the Google Play Store.

The next thing is to stop Joy Launcher and File Manager from auto updating.

Alcatel's Joy Launcher is a classic example of corporate immorality and greed. It literally spams your android phone, making it in some cases next to useless. The following steps are the best solution, apart from rooting and flashing, to getting rid of the incessant popups and "updates" that Joy Launcher instigates.

How to avoid the application auto update

a) Touch Google Play Store app;

b) Touch Menu key at the top left corner of screen;




c) Touch “Settings”;




d) Touch “Auto-update apps”;




e) Select “Do not auto-update apps”.




2. How to remove an unwanted application update

a)      Touch the menu icon , you will see all applications;



b) Select the app which you don’t want to update;




c) Long-press and drag the app to “App info”;




d) Touch Menu key  (on the top right corner of screen);



e) Touch “Uninstall updates”;




f) Touch “OK”;




g) Touch “OK”;




h) Uninstall finished.



Or you can go to “Settings” -> “Apps” -> select the app which you don’t like to update -> touch Menu key  (on the top right corner of screen) -> touch “Uninstall updates” -> touch “OK” -> touch “OK” -> uninstall finished.

You then need to go to Apps Settings -> Apps, select the relevant apps and turn off peeking and notifications for Joy Launcher and File Manager.


Boot Hill

posted 4 Jul 2017, 02:58 by Jamie Derkenne   [ updated 4 Jul 2017, 02:59 ]

About 20 years ago someone tied their old shoes to a barb wire fence on a roadside an hour north of Gresford in the NSW Hunter Valley. Others, seeing the shoes, added theirs. Today the fence and surrounding trees are festooned with thousands of shoes. The slight rise has been officially named Boot Hill. This is not a well trafficked road, but nonetheless it now is an item of interest for tourist promotion in the surrounding Dungog Shire. The Futility Closet website recently ran an article about Shoes Corner, people to leave unwanted footwear at 109th and Calumet Avenues in Hanover Township. It appears the shoes left on the curb-side number in the tens at most. Hanover has a population just in excess of 11,000 people. Boot Hill has thousands of shoes and the nearest town, Gresford is about an hour's drive away on a dirt road and has a population of maybe 300. Obviously public art is not dependent on visitors or location.

Mozzie Music

posted 23 Jun 2017, 00:32 by Jamie Derkenne   [ updated 23 Jun 2017, 00:42 ]

Kingsley Reeve, an associate lecturer in sound at Australia's National Institute for Dramatic Art in Sydney, enjoys making soundscapes that "get under your skin." In this piece called The Water, he has used the recordings of male and female Asian tiger mosquitos, Aedes albopictus, but has combined them and slowed them down in such a way that they sound annoying, they sound ominous.

Here's the sound of the female Asian Tiger mosquito:

And here's the sound of the male Asian Tiger mosquito:

And here's the two combined, and slowed right down:

Lord Howe Island Woodhen

posted 18 Jun 2017, 23:27 by Jamie Derkenne   [ updated 18 Jun 2017, 23:28 ]

This Woodhen was found foraging near Middle Beach, Lord Howe Island in June 2017. It gave a shrill piercing cry and ran off rapidly clutching what looked like a mouse in its beak shortly after being filmed.

When explorers first discovered Lord Howe Island in 1788, they identified 15 bird species including the then common woodhen. Being flightless, curious, and having never been hunted, they became a readily available source of food for visiting sailors and the island's early human population. Since its discovery and the arrival of settlers on the island in 1834, nine of these 15 species became extinct. The woodhen declined in numbers until the late 1970s, when surveys showed that the population had dropped to less than 30 birds, confined to the difficult to access summit regions of the island's two mountains, Mount Gower and Mount Lidgbird.[3] The woodhen was at the very brink of extinction in 1980, with just 15 individuals found.

A comprehensive study was carried out to determine the cause of the decline, which was eventually attributed to the introduction of feral pigs. The elimination of the pigs and other disruptive animals (goats), plus a programme of ex-situ conservation (captive breeding) which commenced in May 1980 (the first egg was laid in June 1980), allowed the Lord Howe woodhen to recover its numbers. The captive breeding program was funded with $150,000 from the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife, which was spent to construct the compound and to employ scientists involved in this project.

Fitzroy Graffiti

posted 1 Mar 2017, 17:59 by Jamie Derkenne

Fitzroy, an inner suburb of Melbourne, Australia, has the best graffiti in the world. Other cities have scrawl, sometimes they even have tags, some of which can get close to be art. But nothing gets close to the graffiti in Melbourne, especially around streets like Brunswick and Smith. Not of all of it is done with spray cans either. Paper and paste go a long way on some of the walls.

Other towns may be festooned with murals but none come close to the art graffiti of Fitzroy.

The area is becoming increasingly famous - tourists can be seen jaywalking all over the place to get a better photograph of a brick wall, while others travel in small posses - graffiti tours.

Wombat Scats

posted 1 Mar 2017, 17:08 by Jamie Derkenne

On a holiday in Wee Jasper we stayed in a small valley that was home to a large number of wombats. We only saw two wombats in the entire week we were there, but heard many more in the middle of the night, and knew of others by the fresh scat left outside their burrows.

When I say we heard wombats, it wasn't a wombat growl or bark or anything like that - it was the sound  of them rubbing their backsides against the cladding of the house, and the stump of nearby dead tree. The rough wood, in both instances, had smooth patches where wombats over countless nights had rubbed their rumps. It almost seems that by definition, a wombat has an itchy rump.

But the intriguing thing about wombats, we discovered, is that they like to defecate on plinths, and will go to considerable lengths to do so. The plinth can be anything - a low lying branch, a stump, a rock. Sometimes the plinth is in such a position - such as halfway up a creek bank on a low hanging branch - that the only way the wombat could have reached it is climb backwards up the bank. Some of the scats showed considerable balancing skill - one effort consisted of three scats mounded pyramid like an a twig who diameter was much smaller than the scats. It was a considerable balancing achievement.

Why do wombats do this? By the amount of droppings they leave on the ground outside their burrows, it's a sure bet that it some  sort of territory marker ('this is my burrow, not yours'). By also leaving scats around in high places, they may also be using their own pong as a signal on how to get back home (wombats are nocturnal and by reputation have lousy eyesight) or as a signal to warn the competition away. Wombat droppings (faeces and urine) are very obvious and unlike that of any other animal - the scats are often cube shaped.

Gore Hill Cemetary

posted 1 Mar 2017, 16:51 by Jamie Derkenne

Between the highway and the hospital, behind a privet-bent wire fence, lies the Gore Hill Memorial Cemetery. Driving down the Pacific Highway to Crows Nest, past the derelict buildings of the Australian Broadcasting Commission's former headquarters, the cemetery is all but invisible. Parts of it, near the Royal North Shore Hospital, are maintained. But most of it is in splendid decay. Gravestones recording the deaths of young women in childbirth, the children themselves, and young men caught by disease or war, lie at ricketty angles uplifted by woody weeds and even trees. Some of Australia's heroes lie here, or once did, but who would know? If ever there was a cemetery of ghosts, this is it. Australians try hard to forget their history. At Gore Hill, they have to large part succeeded.

The Simulation Argument

posted 2 Feb 2017, 22:18 by Jamie Derkenne

The Simulation Argument: Why the Probability that You Are Living in a Matrix is Quite High
The Matrix got many otherwise not-so-philosophical minds ruminating on the nature of reality. But the scenario depicted in the movie is ridiculous: human brains being kept in tanks by intelligent machines just to produce power.

There is, however, a related scenario that is more plausible and a serious line of reasoning that leads from the possibility of this scenario to a striking conclusion about the world we live in. I call this the simulation argument. Perhaps its most startling lesson is that there is a significant probability that you are living in computer simulation. I mean this literally: if the simulation hypothesis is true, you exist in a virtual reality simulated in a computer built by some advanced civilisation. Your brain, too, is merely a part of that simulation. What grounds could we have for taking this hypothesis seriously? Before getting to the gist of the simulation argument, let us consider some of its preliminaries. One of these is the assumption of "substrate independence". This is the idea that conscious minds could in principle be implemented not only on carbon-based biological neurons (such as those inside your head) but also on some other computational substrate such as silicon-based processors.

Of course, the computers we have today are not powerful enough to run the computational processes that take place in your brain. Even if they were, we wouldn't know how to program them to do it. But ultimately, what allows you to have conscious experiences is not the fact that your brain is made of squishy, biological matter but rather that it implements a certain computational architecture. This assumption is quite widely (although not universally) accepted among cognitive scientists and philosophers of mind. For the purposes of this article, we shall take it for granted.

Given substrate independence, it is in principle possible to implement a human mind on a sufficiently fast computer. Doing so would require very powerful hardware that we do not yet have. It would also require advanced programming abilities, or sophisticated ways of making a very detailed scan of a human brain that could then be uploaded to the computer. Although we will not be able to do this in the near future, the difficulty appears to be merely technical. There is no known physical law or material constraint that would prevent a sufficiently technologically advanced civilisation from implementing human minds in computers.

Our second preliminary is that we can estimate, at least roughly, how much computing power it would take to implement a human mind along with a virtual reality that would seem completely realistic for it to interact with. Furthermore, we can establish lower bounds on how powerful the computers of an advanced civilisation could be. Technological futurists have already produced designs for physically possible computers that could be built using advanced molecular manufacturing technology. The upshot of such an analysis is that a technologically mature civilisation that has developed at least those technologies that we already know are physically possible, would be able to build computers powerful enough to run an astronomical number of human-like minds, even if only a tiny fraction of their resources was used for that purpose.

If you are such a simulated mind, there might be no direct observational way for you to tell; the virtual reality that you would be living in would look and feel perfectly real. But all that this shows, so far, is that you could never be completely sure that you are not living in a simulation. This result is only moderately interesting. You could still regard the simulation hypothesis as too improbable to be taken seriously.

Now we get to the core of the simulation argument. This does not purport to demonstrate that you are in a simulation. Instead, it shows that we should accept as true at least one of the following three propositions:

(1) The chances that a species at our current level of development can avoid going extinct before becoming technologically mature is negligibly small

(2) Almost no technologically mature civilisations are interested in running computer simulations of minds like ours

(3) You are almost certainly in a simulation.

Each of these three propositions may be prima facie implausible; yet, if the simulation argument is correct, at least one is true (it does not tell us which).

While the full simulation argument employs some probability theory and formalism, the gist of it can be understood in intuitive terms. Suppose that proposition (1) is false. Then a significant fraction of all species at our level of development eventually becomes technologically mature. Suppose, further, that (2) is false, too. Then some significant fraction of these species that have become technologically mature will use some portion of their computational resources to run computer simulations of minds like ours. But, as we saw earlier, the number of simulated minds that any such technologically mature civilisation could run is astronomically huge.

Therefore, if both (1) and (2) are false, there will be an astronomically huge number of simulated minds like ours. If we work out the numbers, we find that there would be vastly many more such simulated minds than there would be non-simulated minds running on organic brains. In other words, almost all minds like yours, having the kinds of experiences that you have, would be simulated rather than biological. Therefore, by a very weak principle of indifference, you would have to think that you are probably one of these simulated minds rather than one of the exceptional ones that are running on biological neurons.

So if you think that (1) and (2) are both false, you should accept (3). It is not coherent to reject all three propositions. In reality, we do not have much specific information to tell us which of the three propositions might be true. In this situation, it might be reasonable to distribute our credence roughly evenly between the three possibilities, giving each of them a substantial probability.

Let us consider the options in a little more detail. Possibility (1) is relatively straightforward. For example, maybe there is some highly dangerous technology that every sufficiently advanced civilization develops, and which then destroys them. Let us hope that this is not the case.

Possibility (2) requires that there is a strong convergence among all sufficiently advanced civilisations: almost none of them is interested in running computer simulations of minds like ours, and almost none of them contains any relatively wealthy individuals who are interested in doing that and are free to act on their desires. One can imagine various reasons that may lead some civilisations to forgo running simulations, but for (2) to obtain, virtually all civilisations would have to do that. If this were true, it would constitute an interesting constraint on the future evolution of advanced intelligent life.

The third possibility is the philosophically most intriguing. If (3) is correct, you are almost certainly now living in computer simulation that was created by some advanced civilisation. What kind of empirical implications would this have? How should it change the way you live your life?

Your first reaction might think that if (3) is true, then all bets are off, and that one would go crazy if one seriously thought that one was living in a simulation.

To reason thus would be an error. Even if we were in a simulation, the best way to predict what would happen next in our simulation is still the ordinary methods - extrapolation of past trends, scientific modelling, common sense and so on. To a first approximation, if you thought you were in a simulation, you should get on with your life in much the same way as if you were convinced that you are living a non-simulated life at the bottom level of reality.

The simulation hypothesis, however, may have some subtle effects on rational everyday behaviour. To the extent that you think that you understand the motives of the simulators, you can use that understanding to predict what will happen in the simulated world they created. If you think that there is a chance that the simulator of this world happens to be, say, a true-to-faith descendant of some contemporary Christian fundamentalist, you might conjecture that he or she has set up the simulation in such a way that the simulated beings will be rewarded or punished according to Christian moral criteria. An afterlife would, of course, be a real possibility for a simulated creature (who could either be continued in a different simulation after her death or even be "uploaded" into the simulator's universe and perhaps be provided with an artificial body there). Your fate in that afterlife could be made to depend on how you behaved in your present simulated incarnation. Other possible reasons for running simulations include the artistic, scientific or recreational. In the absence of grounds for expecting one kind of simulation rather than another, however, we have to fall back on the ordinary empirical methods for getting about in the world.

If we are in a simulation, is it possible that we could know that for certain? If the simulators don't want us to find out, we probably never will. But if they choose to reveal themselves, they could certainly do so. Maybe a window informing you of the fact would pop up in front of you, or maybe they would "upload" you into their world. Another event that would let us conclude with a very high degree of confidence that we are in a simulation is if we ever reach the point where we are about to switch on our own simulations. If we start running simulations, that would be very strong evidence against (1) and (2). That would leave us with only (3).

By Nick Bostrom

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