Archive for October, 2004

Greek mathematics

Sunday, October 31st, 2004

Anne Mahoney has an interesting new review up of Reviel Netz, The Transformation of Mathematics in the Early Mediterranean World: From Problems to Equations (CUP 2004).

…within the tool-kit of available techniques, classical Greek mathematicians, in general, make a point of choosing a different method from the last person to work on the problem, while late antique and Arab mathematicians, on the whole, look for the general, over-arching principles behind the problem.

infernal machines

Sunday, October 31st, 2004

As an element of a grant proposal in the works, I just totted up current Stoa Consortium resources available here at UK:

  • Over in the Center for Computational Sciences in McVey Hall, we maintain two production servers and two development servers, all running the Linux OS. Our CVS is implemented on one of the development boxes. The other development machine has certain handy tools for working with relational databases (phpMyAdmin, phpPgAdmin, MySiteMaker). One production machine is dedicated to serving images with Gallery software. The main production server offers Apache, PostgreSQL, MySQL, QDDB, Java, Tomcat, and Cocoon, inter alia. Data on our servers receive nightly backup services courtesy of the CCS.
  • In our lab in the Patterson Office Tower we have three workstations, including one new dual processor G5 Macintosh with 19″ LCD display, one new dual-booting Linux/Windows XP Dell laptop, and a Macintosh G4 Powerbook laptop. These machines have XML editors, CVS clients, and image editors installed, along with much else.
  • We use a simple iSight for videoconferencing with colleagues, and if we need stronger magic, elsewhere on campus we can use a large screen PolyCom or even the Access Grid.
  • We have free access to high-end sheet feed scanners and Prime Recognition OCR on campus.

A modest list by comparison with many other digital library shops, perhaps, but OTOH these are all powerful tools that can provide a lot of leverage. If you’ve got a Classics-related Open Access publication in mind, let’s talk.

“… a new form of cultural tourism”

Sunday, October 31st, 2004

When Bernie Frischer gave his (terrific) talk on Rome Reborn at Cincy half a year ago I asked him about being able to walk through the Roman forum and get a VR view of their reconstruction keyed to one’s location on the site. Now the BBC reports on something similar in the works for Pompeii.

Pompeii gets digital make-over

The old-fashioned audio tour of historical places could soon be replaced with computer-generated images that bring the site to life.

A European Union-funded project is looking at providing tourists with computer-augmented versions of archaeological attractions.

It would allow visitors a glimpse of life as it was originally lived in places such as Pompeii.

It could pave the way for a new form of cultural tourism.

Combining real and virtual

The technology would allow digital people and other computer-generated elements to be combined with the actual view seen by tourists as they walk around an historical site.

The Lifeplus project is part of the EU’s Information Society Technologies initiative aimed at promoting user-friendly technology and enhancing European cultural heritage.

Engineers and researchers working in the Europe-wide consortium have come up with a prototype augmented-reality system.

It would require the visitor to wear a head-mounted display with a miniature camera and a backpack computer.

The camera captures the view and feeds it to software on the computer where the visitor’s viewpoint is combined with animated virtual elements.

At Pompeii for example, the visitor would not just see the frescos, taverns and villas that have been excavated, but also people going about their daily life.

Augmented reality has been used to create special effects in films such as Troy and Lord of the Rings and in computer gaming.

Bringing past to life

“This technology can now be used for much more than just computer games,” said Professor Nadia Magnenat-Thalman of the Swiss research group MiraLab.

“We are, for the first time, able to run this combination of software processes to create walking, talking people with believable clothing, skin and hair in real-time,” she said.

Unlike virtual reality, which delivers an entirely computer-generated scene to the viewer, the Lifeplus project is about combining digital and real views.

Crucial to the technique is the software that interprets the visitor’s view and provides an accurate match between the real and virtual elements.

The software capable of doing this has been developed by a UK company, 2d3. Andrew Stoddart, chief scientist at 2d3, said that the EU project has been driven by a new desire to bring the past to life.

“The popularity of television documentaries and dramatisations using computer-generated imagery to recreate scenes from ancient history demonstrates the widespread appeal of bringing ancient cultures to life,” he said.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/10/31 07:27:18 GMT


dinosaurs looking up at the incoming comet?

Saturday, October 23rd, 2004

From the CHE’s weblog, reporting on Educause 2004:

Former U. of Michigan President Warns of ‘Great Change’ in Higher Education

OCTOBER 20, NOON — Educause 2004 has attracted more than 7,000 people from 43 different countries, scores of colleges, and hundreds of tech companies. The tech talk is thick, the tech knowledge vast, and the tech obsessions are almost a religion for some. So far, all of the attendees appear to be fully human.

And now some of them might be more worried than they were when they stepped off their planes. James J. Duderstadt, the president emeritus of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, opened the conference not with a pep talk but with rather unsettling predictions. He said the future of colleges and universities is more than uncertain in the digital age — it might be downright threatened.

He quoted the business guru Peter Drucker as saying that campuses will be “relics” in 30 years. Mr. Duderstadt also cited Frank Rhodes, the former president of Cornell University, as having said that colleges in the digital age are like dinosaurs looking up at the incoming comet.


Guy Sanders on the excavations at Corinth

Monday, October 18th, 2004

Here’s part of an interesting update on Corinth from the blog of Michael Shanks:

What we are actually doing at Corinth is trying to turn a curve by implementing methodologies now standard in non-classical lands. We have been introducing an electronic archive for current and future finds in the hope that we can find the funds to retro-convert. We have started transcribing old notebooks into electronic form with the idea that several can be posted on the web with illustrative material. We have a growing digital plan of the village and the entire Corinthia incorporating topographic maps, air photos, GIS data and excavation plans. We have replaced baulk-debris with open-area, single-context excavation with excellent results that are helping us to identify gaps in our knowledge and to address old assertions and assumptions. I hope this work will make for a mine of potential new work on old Corinthian material.

New site at the Stoa: Pompeian Households

Wednesday, October 13th, 2004

Pompeian Households: An On-line Companion hosts materials to accompany Penelope M. Allison, Pompeian Households: An Analysis of the Material Culture (Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, Monograph 42).

It includes detailed documentary information on 30 Pompeian houses and their contents, consisting of 865 rooms and more than 6,000 artifacts.

Work on the XML and XSLT in the underlying Apache Cocoon, and on the Postgresql relational database containing data about rooms, artifacts, and images, was done by Neel Smith with help from Ross Scaife, Katie Lamberto, and William du Cassé.