The Mars trilogy is a series of science fiction novels by Kim Stanley Robinson that chronicles the settlement and terraforming of the planet Mars through the personal and detailed viewpoints of a wide variety of characters spanning almost two centuries. Ultimately more utopian than dystopian, the story focuses on egalitarian, sociological, and scientific advances made on Mars, while Earth suffers from overpopulation and ecological disaster.
The three novels are Red Mars (1992), Green Mars (1993), and Blue Mars (1996). The Martians (1999) is a collection of short stories set in the same fictional universe. Red Mars won the BSFA Award in 1992 and Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1993. Green Mars won the Hugo Award for Best Novel and Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1994. Blue Mars also won the Hugo and Locus Awards in 1997.
Icehenge (1984), Robinson's first novel about Mars, is not set in this universe but deals with similar themes and plot elements. The trilogy shares some similarities with Robinson's more recent novel 2312 (2012); for instance, the terraforming of Mars and the extreme longevity of the characters in both novels.
The Butlerian Jihad
Dune: The Butlerian Jihad is a 2002 science fiction novel by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, set in the fictional Dune universe created by Frank Herbert. It is the first book in the Legends of Dune prequel trilogy, which takes place over 10,000 years before the events of Frank Herbert's celebrated 1965 novel Dune. The series chronicles the fictional Butlerian Jihad, a crusade by the last free humans in the universe against the thinking machines, a violent and dominating force led by the sentient computer Omnius.
Dune: The Butlerian Jihad rose to #7 on The New York Times Best Seller list in its second week of publication.
- "The Butlerian Jihad" | 2023-03-15 | 75 Upvotes 94 Comments
The Great Illyrian Revolt
The Bellum Batonianum (Latin for 'War of the Batos') was a military conflict fought in the Roman province of Illyricum in the 1st century AD, in which an alliance of native peoples of the two regions of Illyricum, Dalmatia and Pannonia, revolted against the Romans. The rebellion began among native peoples who had been recruited as auxiliary troops for the Roman army. They were led by Bato the Daesitiate, a chieftain of the Daesitiatae in the central part of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina, and were later joined by the Breuci, a tribe in Pannonia led by Bato the Breucian. Many other tribes in Illyria also joined the revolt.
The Romans referred to the conflict as Bellum Batonianum ("Batonian War") after these two leaders with the same name; Velleius Paterculus called it the Pannonian and Dalmatian War because it involved both regions of Illyricum, and in English it has also been called the Great Illyrian Revolt, Pannonian–Dalmatian uprising, and Bato uprising.
The four-year war lasted from AD 6 to AD 9 and witnessed a large deployment of Roman forces in the province, with whole armies operating across the western Balkans and fighting on more than one front. In AD 8, the Breuci of the Sava valley surrendered, but it took a winter blockade and another season of fighting before the surrender in Dalmatia in AD 9. The Roman historian Suetonius described the uprising as the most difficult conflict faced by Rome since the Punic Wars two centuries earlier.
- "The Great Illyrian Revolt" | 2023-03-13 | 81 Upvotes 61 Comments
Usury () is the practice of making unethical or immoral monetary loans that unfairly enrich the lender. The term may be used in a moral sense—condemning taking advantage of others' misfortunes—or in a legal sense, where an interest rate is charged in excess of the maximum rate that is allowed by law. A loan may be considered usurious because of excessive or abusive interest rates or other factors defined by the laws of a state. Someone who practices usury can be called a usurer, but in modern colloquial English may be called a loan shark.
In many historical societies including ancient Christian, Jewish, and Islamic societies, usury meant the charging of interest of any kind, and was considered wrong, or was made illegal. During the Sutra period in India (7th to 2nd centuries BC) there were laws prohibiting the highest castes from practicing usury. Similar condemnations are found in religious texts from Buddhism, Judaism (ribbit in Hebrew), Christianity, and Islam (riba in Arabic). At times, many states from ancient Greece to ancient Rome have outlawed loans with any interest. Though the Roman Empire eventually allowed loans with carefully restricted interest rates, the Catholic Church in medieval Europe, as well as the Reformed Churches, regarded the charging of interest at any rate as sinful (as well as charging a fee for the use of money, such as at a bureau de change). Religious prohibitions on usury are predicated upon the belief that charging interest on a loan is a sin.
- "Usury" | 2023-03-13 | 25 Upvotes 8 Comments
60163 Tornado, the first new build British mainline steam locomotive since 1960
LNER Peppercorn Class A1 No. 60163 Tornado is a 4-6-2 steam locomotive completed in 2008 to an original design by Arthur Peppercorn. It is the first new build British mainline steam locomotive since 1960, and the only Peppercorn Class A1 in existence after the original batch were scrapped. In 2017, Tornado became the first steam locomotive to officially reach 100 mph (160 km/h) on British tracks in over 50 years.
After the project was founded by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust in 1990, construction of Tornado began in 1994 and mostly took place at Darlington Works, with other components manufactured elsewhere. The project was financed through fundraising initiatives, public donations, sponsorship deals, and hiring out Tornado itself for special services. The locomotive was granted its mainline certificate in January 2009, having been designed in compliance with modern safety and certification standards. Tornado has worked on heritage and mainline trains across Britain since 2008. In 2022, it was withdrawn for overhaul.
- "60163 Tornado, the first new build British mainline steam locomotive since 1960" | 2023-03-13 | 102 Upvotes 68 Comments
Peppercorn (re: Contract Law)
In legal parlance, a peppercorn is a metaphor for a very small cash payment or other nominal consideration, used to satisfy the requirements for the creation of a legal contract. It is featured in Chappell & Co Ltd v Nestle Co Ltd ( AC 87), which stated that "a peppercorn does not cease to be good consideration if it is established that the promisee does not like pepper and will throw away the corn". However, the cited passage is mere dicta, and not the basis for the decision.
- "Peppercorn (re: Contract Law)" | 2023-03-13 | 94 Upvotes 41 Comments
Sixel: A terminal bitmap graphics format from the 80s
Sixel, short for "six pixels", is a bitmap graphics format supported by terminals and printers from DEC. It consists of a pattern six pixels high and one wide, resulting in 64 possible patterns. Each possible pattern is assigned an ASCII character, making the sixels easy to transmit on 7-bit serial links.
Sixel was first introduced as a way of sending bitmap graphics to DEC dot matrix printers like the LA50. After being put into "sixel mode" the following data was interpreted to directly control six of the pins in the nine-pin print head. A string of sixel characters encodes a single 6-pixel high row of the image.
The system was later re-used as a way to send bitmap data to the VT200 series and VT320 terminals when defining custom character sets. A series of sixels are used to transfer the bitmap for each character. This feature is known as soft character sets or dynamically redefinable character sets (DRCS). With the VT240, VT241, VT330, and VT340, the terminals could decode a complete sixel image to the screen, like those previously sent to printers.
- "Sixel: A terminal bitmap graphics format from the 80s" | 2023-03-13 | 54 Upvotes 20 Comments
Electrochemical Random-Access Memory (ECRAM) is a type of non-volatile memory (NVM) with multiple levels per cell (MLC) designed for deep learning analog acceleration. An ECRAM cell is a three-terminal device composed of a conductive channel, an insulating electrolyte, an ionic reservoir, and metal contacts. The resistance of the channel is modulated by ionic exchange at the interface between the channel and the electrolyte upon application of an electric field. The charge-transfer process allows both for state retention in the absence of applied power, and for programming of multiple distinct levels, both differentiating ECRAM operation from that of a field-effect transistor (FET). The write operation is deterministic and can result in symmetrical potentiation and depression, making ECRAM arrays attractive for acting as artificial synaptic weights in physical implementations of artificial neural networks (ANN). The technological challenges include open circuit potential (OCP) and semiconductor foundry compatibility associated with energy materials. Universities, government laboratories, and corporate research teams have contributed to the development of ECRAM for analog computing. Notably, Sandia National Laboratories designed a lithium-based cell inspired by solid-state battery materials, Stanford University built an organic proton-based cell, and International Business Machines (IBM) demonstrated in-memory selector-free parallel programming for a logistic regression task in an array of metal-oxide ECRAM designed for insertion in the back end of line (BEOL). In 2022, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology built an inorganic, CMOS-compatible protonic technology that achieved near-ideal modulation characteristics using nanosecond fast pulses
A credit union, a type of financial institution similar to a commercial bank, is a member-owned nonprofit financial cooperative. Credit unions generally provide services to members similar to retail banks, including deposit accounts, provision of credit, and other financial services. In several African countries, credit unions are commonly referred to as SACCOs (Savings and Credit Co-Operatives).
Worldwide, credit union systems vary significantly in their total assets and average institution asset size, ranging from volunteer operations with a handful of members to institutions with hundreds of thousands of members and assets worth billions of US dollars. In 2018, the number of members in credit unions worldwide was 274 million, with nearly 40 million members having been added since 2016.
Leading up to the financial crisis of 2007–2008, commercial banks engaged in approximately five times more subprime lending relative to credit unions and were two and a half times more likely to fail during the crisis. American credit unions more than doubled lending to small businesses between 2008 and 2016, from $30 billion to $60 billion, while lending to small businesses overall during the same period declined by around $100 billion. In the US, public trust in credit unions stands at 60%, compared to 30% for big banks. Furthermore, small businesses are 80% less likely to be dissatisfied with a credit union than with a big bank.
"Natural-person credit unions" (also called "retail credit unions" or "consumer credit unions") serve individuals, as distinguished from "corporate credit unions", which serve other credit unions.
- "Credit Unions" | 2023-03-12 | 102 Upvotes 61 Comments
Michigan Terminal System
The Michigan Terminal System (MTS) is one of the first time-sharing computer operating systems. Developed in 1967 at the University of Michigan for use on IBM S/360-67, S/370 and compatible mainframe computers, it was developed and used by a consortium of eight universities in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom over a period of 33 years (1967 to 1999).
- "Michigan Terminal System" | 2023-03-11 | 71 Upvotes 22 Comments