Everybody’s business
Last update: 22/05/2013 10:17

“Children transcribe ancient texts in citizen science project”.

This is the title of a recent news-item by “The Guardian” website referring to the “Ancient Lives Project”, a programme of recording and studying the thousands of inscriptions on papyrus found in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt. As stated in the text-and elaborated in the attached video- interested laypeople from the wider public can contribute to the Oxyrhynchus material study by measuring papyrus fragments as well as transcribing the inscriptions written on them. This is possible through logging in a web-platform named Zooniverse, where all the material is uploaded and accessible from each one of us, as well as we are logged in. The text also states that through the “Ancient Lives Project”  “thousands of internet users, who have already helped to transcribe more texts than diligent scholars had managed in the previous 100 years”.

Still, the Ancient Lives Project is not the only programme where the wider public is involved in such an extent. In fact, it is one of a dozen of projects (related to physics, geography, the humanities) whose authorities have used Zooniverse not only to connect the wider public with their work but also to involve them in it. Most importantly, once a member in Zooniverse, each one of us can contribute to any of the projects uploaded in it. Such a possibility makes Zooniverse a true research-based Facebook!

It is too early to commend on whether such an involvement of the wider public in research can have a straight positive outcome. However, the idea of the Zooniverse creators as well as the scholars who chose to upload their material, taking research “out of the lab”, is truly pioneering and interesting!

You can also be a part of today’s research, for free, by signing up here.

Raiders of the Lost Ark: ten facts you might not know
Last update: 03/10/2012 16:38

Having stood the test of time, “Indiana Jones atnd the Raiders of the Lost Ark” is perhaps the greatest action/adventure films of all time. Through this blogpost we decided to celebrate by digging out some fun facts about the Spielberg classic. Feel free to drop into conversation oto impress your pals.


Fact 1: Indiana’s original surname was originally meant to be Smith, but was changed to Jones during the first day of production when Spielberg realised it “didn’t sound right”. Thank god.

Fact 2: A few actors considered for the role of Indy included Jack Nicholson, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Nick Nolte and Bill Murray, with Tom Selleck being Spielberg’s official second choice. Harrison Ford was only cast a few weeks prior to principle photography beginning. Jeff Bridges also turned down the role. 

 Fact 3: ‘Raiders’ was Alfred Molina’s big screen debut, where he was unforgettably covered in tarantulas on his first day of shooting. Initially the spiders didn’t move because they were all male. A female tarantula had to be added to make them crawl towards her.

 Fact 4: The famous giant boulder was actually made from fibreglass. After spending ages pushing big rocks down a hill trying to get the right sound, designer Ben Burtt noticed while on the way home that the noise of his Honda Civic station wagon driving down a gravel embankment was perfect. He placed his equipment near the wheels and began recording. 

Fact 5: Most of the body blows we hear during the film’s fight sequences were created by smacking a baseball bat into a pile of leather jackets.

Fact 6: Whilst filming in Tunisia pretty much the entire cast and crew got dysentery after sampling the local cuisine. Director Spielberg escaped the illness because he only ate tins of self-bought Spaghetti-O’s. 

Fact 7: In December 1999, Indy’s famous bull whip was sold for £27,600 at Christie’s Auction House in London. His hat and jacket remain on display at the Smithsonian. 

Fact 8: During a scene where Indy threatens a group of Nazis with a bazooka, a fly flew into the mouth of unfortunate actor Paul Freeman. Refusing to break character, he promptly swallowed the fly and continued the take. What a pro. 

Fact 9: The scene where Jones fires upon a truck was in fact a botched stunt. The truck was meant to be flipped by a telegraph pole via explosives that lined the floor, but it wasn’t powerful enough and made the vehicle tip on an angle, which can be seen in the final cut of the movie. It was not amended as there was no time to reshoot.

Fact 10: Most of the snakes in the Well of Souls weren’t actually snakes at all, but legless lizards. They are identified by their visible ear holes which snakes don’t have. The scene was a nightmare to film as the creatures weren’t actually afraid of fire and actually they tried to get closer to the flames to warm themselves (rather than flee as required).

By Mike Williams via Yahoo, 20/09/2012


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