Week #185-186-187-188

Friday, September 19th, 02014 at 12:21 UTC

Week #185 shares its name with some special cosmic phenomenons. SN 185 is a super nova, the explosion of a star, which the light released 9,100 light years prior was observed in China in the year 185 AD. It also shares its name with 185 Eunice. This is a large main belt asteroid about 157km in size. One of its special characteristics is that it is made-up of some early forms of carbon making it a C-type asteroid. Week #186 also shares its name with two interesting celestial bodies: 186 Celuta, a large main belt S-Type asteroid and POX 186, a small galaxy still forming. POX 186 is a relatively young galaxy. The theory is that it formed when two clouds of gas and stars collided around 100 million years ago. Week #187 has an astronomical equivalent in 187 Lamberta another large main belt C-type asteroid. Week #187 also shares its name with the US slang 187 for murder. It is the police code for murder and has been picked-up in popular culture. Week #188 shares its name with the Bristol 188, the UK’s 01954 experimental supersonic research aircraft. Capable of reaching speeds of over Mach 3, it was expected to have a surface temperature over 300 degrees Celsius. In 01957, the program was canceled and the planes were decommissioned a few years later.

A weeknote that spans four weeks is going to be big. For two reasons, it is a long time and if we didn’t have time to write them during the week, we were probably very busy! So here we go, a monstrous four-week update.

In week #185 we spent most of the time prepping for our 9 month survey launch. For Vísar we are running a student survey on the new code-base. This isn’t the first survey to use the new software, but it is the first time the student survey is using it. We keep this running the full school year rather than just for 1 month. This in itself causes interesting issues, but there are also a few custom features only for this long running survey which needed to be tested before September 1st. Week #185 was also the week of finishing and practicing the dConstruct slides for week #186. This is also the week we saw the first real signs of an eruption here in Iceland. Luckily it was not from underneath the glacier and hasn’t affected traffic air traffic.

In week #186 we launched the new survey software to great fanfare in the office, but no one logged-in for the first few days. We worried that something was horribly wrong and kept looking and testing, but it turns out that our customers were just very busy and started a few days later than we expected. Everything is ok and running smoothly so far.

100 years prior, on September 1st 1914, Martha the last passenger pigeon died at the Cincinnati Zoo. This is one of the of the Long Now’s de-extinction projects. When Europeans first arrived in North America there were an estimated 3 to 5 Billion pigeons which were hunted into extinction.

Week #186 also saw the arrival of our Analog.is notebooks back from the binding company. Some of the team spent the weekend stuffing envelops while other parts of the team were on stage at dConstruct talking about “living with the network”. The dConstruct talk went well and there is an MP3 online for anyone to listen too. The venue was the Brighton Dome. It is the same stage that ABBA won the 1974 Eurovision song contest.

Week #187 is nearly over. This week we’ve spent a ridiculous amount of money shipping out all of the packages to our kickstarter backers. Iceland is not a cheap country and being an island, postage isn’t cheap either. We rolled the price of shipping into the pledges at kickstarter – doing the right thing and making shipping effectively free. That is now all done and we’ve made some friends at the post-office after dropping off nearly 500 packages that needed to be weighed and stamps applied.

We also randomly picked our Q3 contest winner and visited the post-office one last time to send that off. The next quarter’s random prize is one of our green martian letterpressed notebooks. You can’t win if you don’t enter.

Week #188 has been spent mostly getting back on track, prepping meetings, sending email follow-ups, bookkeeping and planning for 02014Q4 and 02015Q1. We’ve spent some of this week preparing for the WebDagene conference in Oslo, Norway. Next month where we’ll be giving a talk about data visualizations and designing with data. Thursday, September 18th was also the night we all came together to watch Scotland cast their vote for independence! In the end, they voted to retain the Union. Now only time will tell if will be an equal union.

On the last day of the week, we put together a quick meeting for one of our more out-there ideas. If things go well, project mjólk should be VERY interesting to work on. First, today’s initial meeting is to gather all the interested parties in one room to see if it is worth pursuing. We’ll certainly know more for week #189.

In week #188 and I’m sure #189, we’ll seen more and more photos of our Analog.is notebooks arriving to happy homes. So far the response has been amazing. We’re thrilled with all the photos and are looking forward to even more feedback, photos and stories.

Tonight, we head out into the countryside for the weekend to teach a course at Bifröst University. It is the second time we’ve taught the course and hopefully it will continue to grow.

Over the last four weeks, we’ve had relatively few meetings which is changing now that all the major deadlines have calmed down a bit. The dConstruct talk is done, Kickstarter shipping is completed, Vísar survey started all big events wrapping up simultaneously!


In the last four weeks, we learnt a new word: Holometer. This is a super sensitive tool attempting to find holographic fluctuations in space and time. The theory is that we are living on a 2D hologram rather than our 4D world. This experiment will determine if the single beam, split in two has any fluctuation when they are recombined.

Over the last four weeks, we had loads of earthquakes underneath the volcano Barðabunga. Luckily for the rest of Europe, it didn’t erupt from under the glacier causing another massive ash cloud, but instead broke out north of Vatnajökull in the highlands. It has been erupting for a few weeks now with no sign up letting-up. Snorri, who we share an office with, managed to take these amazing photos of the eruption.

In some more out-of-this-world news these weeks, we saw the Rosetta satellite take a photo of itself with the comet it orbits in the background. After many, many years the satellite caught-up to the comet and is now in orbit with it, currently searching for a good place to land! That will happen in November of this year.

Continuing with outer space, we also watched a public auction of some old Soviet ear space equipment. One of the items was a spacesuit for a test-dog. The final selling price was 14,000 Euros. That’s one expensive halloween costume for your pet!

In other bizarre news, we found a link to a new Japanese hamburger which is nearly all black! Burger king in Japan launched the Kuro Burger. It has an all black bun, black cheese made from bamboo ash and grilled onions in black squid ink. It even has black pepper in the paddy.

Wrapping-up with some amazing cartographic fun facts. The longest distance you can travel in a straight line, by sea, without touching land is probably much further than you think. We tend to think of the globe in a fixed position and therefore draw straight lines from point to point, but in reality, we can rotate the sphere so any arbitrary point is “up”. This is part of the great-circle distances, where the shortest route may be an arc.

We found these images on Tumblr and they made us think differently about how we actually see our own world. What we consider “up” is arbitrary and we shouldn’t forget that!