Saturday, November 2, 2013

The True Size of Africa

Well, this is very interesting!  And a great reminder that what we see when we're looking at maps isn't necessarily reality.

At Global Post

Ever notice how huge Greenland looks on a map? It's because most maps use the Mercator Projection. On it, Greenland looks to be the same size as Africa. In reality, Africa is actually 14 times larger. Replicating the globe onto a flat surface distorts the sizes of the countries yet many have no idea.

Computer graphics designer Kai Krause created the illustration above showing the true size of Africa. Yes, we know Africa is a continent being compared to countries but it's fascinating to see its sheer size next to common references.

Writers at The Economist created a similar map below using Gall's Stereographic Cylindrical Projection. Even though the result is different, they still draw a similar conclusion. Africa is much bigger than we thought:

Or as the West Wing so aptly explains, "Nothing is where you think it is":

The Sheep and the Horses

Chess - oh yeah, that game with the little horseheads...

This is very cool!  One of the few words I recognized in the audio was "ekwhos" (horse/horses; L: equus; OHG: hros) -- but it is not spelled in the English transcription ("akvams," "akvasas, "a vavakat") anything like it sounds in the audio or as I've seen it traditionally transcribed in P-I-E.

Side note: From Wikipedia regarding Sanskrit word for "horse:"

Aśvaḥ (अश्व) [Ashvah] is the Sanskrit word for a horse, one of the significant animals finding references in the Vedas as well as later Hindu scriptures. The corresponding Avestan term is aspa. The word is cognate to Latin equus, Greek ίππος (hippos), Germanic *ehwaz and Baltic *ašvā all from PIE *hek'wos.

I found the English transcription (below) undecipherable as I tried to link the words I was reading on the page to what I was hearing on the audio.  Fortunately, the article does provide a pronunciation guide at the end that appears in the format with which I am more familiar, so I was able to match up some of the words I was hearing in the audio more easily in the English transliteration of the P-I-E.   

The audio clip is - well, I just find it utterly intriguing. See what you think:

At Archaeology Magazine online
Telling Tales in Proto-Indo-European

By the 19th century, linguists knew that all modern Indo-European languages descended from a single tongue. Called Proto-Indo-European, or PIE, it was spoken by a people who lived from roughly 4500 to 2500 B.C., and left no written texts. The question became, what did PIE sound like? In 1868, German linguist August Schleicher used reconstructed Proto-Indo-European vocabulary to create a fable in order to hear some approximation of PIE. Called “The Sheep and the Horses,” and also known today as Schleicher’s Fable, the short parable tells the story of a shorn sheep who encounters a group of unpleasant horses. As linguists have continued to discover more about PIE, this sonic experiment continues and the fable is periodically updated to reflect the most current understanding of how this extinct language would have sounded when it was spoken some six thousand years ago. Since there is considerable disagreement among scholars about PIE, no one version can be considered definitive. Here, University of Kentucky linguist Andrew Byrd recites his version of the fable using pronunciation informed by the latest insights into reconstructed PIE.

Schleicher originally rendered the fable like this:

Avis akvāsas ka

Avis, jasmin varnā na ā ast, dadarka akvams, tam, vāgham garum vaghantam, tam, bhāram magham, tam, manum āku bharantam. Avis akvabhjams ā vavakat: kard aghnutai mai vidanti manum akvams agantam. Akvāsas ā vavakant: krudhi avai, kard aghnutai vividvant-svas: manus patis varnām avisāms karnauti svabhjam gharmam vastram avibhjams ka varnā na asti. Tat kukruvants avis agram ā bhugat.

Here is the fable in English translation:

The Sheep and the Horses

A sheep that had no wool saw horses, one of them pulling a heavy wagon, one carrying a big load, and one carrying a man quickly. The sheep said to the horses: "My heart pains me, seeing a man driving horses." The horses said: "Listen, sheep, our hearts pain us when we see this: a man, the master, makes the wool of the sheep into a warm garment for himself. And the sheep has no wool." Having heard this, the sheep fled into the plain.

And here is the modern reconstruction recited by Andrew Byrd. It is based on recent work done by linguist H. Craig Melchert, and incorporates a number of sounds unknown at the time Schleicher first created the fable:

H2óu̯is h1éḱu̯ōs-kwe

h2áu̯ei̯ h1i̯osméi̯ h2u̯l̥h1náh2 né h1ést, só h1éḱu̯oms derḱt. só gwr̥hxúm u̯óǵhom u̯eǵhed; só méǵh2m̥ bhórom; só dhǵhémonm̥ h2ṓḱu bhered. h2óu̯is h1ékwoi̯bhi̯os u̯eu̯ked: “dhǵhémonm̥ spéḱi̯oh2 h1éḱu̯oms-kwe h2áǵeti, ḱḗr moi̯ aghnutor”. h1éḱu̯ōs tu u̯eu̯kond: “ḱludhí, h2ou̯ei̯! tód spéḱi̯omes, n̥sméi̯ aghnutór ḱḗr: dhǵhémō, pótis, sē h2áu̯i̯es h2u̯l̥h1náh2 gwhérmom u̯éstrom u̯ept, h2áu̯ibhi̯os tu h2u̯l̥h1náh2 né h1esti. tód ḱeḱluu̯ṓs h2óu̯is h2aǵróm bhuged.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Le trophee Anatoly Karpov 2013

Ooh la la, what an interesting line up!  I like the format too -- a 14 double round to whittle the players down before a final rapid knock-out.  Holy Tough! 

Information from The Week in Chess and the official website:

Le trophee Anatoly Karpov takes place in Cap D'Agde 25th October to 2nd November 2013. Ivanchuk, Karpov, Bacrot, Pelletier, Muzychuk, Maisuradze, Zhao Xue and Sebag play in a 14 round double preliminary event. 4 players advance to the knockout. 25 mins + 10 seconds a move.

Official website (in French, but with Google "translation" to English provided - hilarious!)

Current standings:

Le classement après la ronde 12

Anatoly KARPOV(2619)RUS1052
Etienne BACROT(2730)FRA834
Yannick PELLETIER(2578)SUI7,532,5
Vassily IVANCHUK(2733)UKR6,532,25
Mariya MUZYCHUK(2491)UKR6,531,5
Marie SEBAG(2510)FRA5,532,25
Xue ZHAO(2579)CHN3,510,75
Nino MAISURADZE(2302)FRA0,53,25

As I understand the rules, only the top 4 finishers will go into the knock-out rounds.  Looks like the ladies are going to be shut out unless one or more can pull some miracle chess out of their handbags...
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