Archive for September 19th, 2007

Bourbaki of linguistics

September 19, 2007

I knew of the existence of a (fictional) mathematician called Nicholas Bourbaki; however, I did not know about the corresponding figure in linguistics called Crosley Shelvador. Here is the post in Language Log which talks about him; here is an online forum post which is more informative (which, also explains why I got lots of links to some refrigerator stuff when I googled the name):

The Crosley Shelvador…ah yes, I remember it well. When I was a (non-post-doc) post-doc at MIT in 1971-72, the old fridge/ice box for graduate student use in one of the corridors of the linguistics quarters in the late Building 20 (can’t recall if it was the D wing or E wing) was a Crosley Shelvador, and some of the graduate students (this was the era of Lasnik, Fiengo, Wasow, Prince, et al.) decided that this would be our “Bourbaki”, so that squibs would be submitted as authored by Crosley Shelvador, acknowledgment  in papers would express gratitude to Crosley Shelvador, and so on. Can’t recall (this was 33 years ago, and memories of even important events of this kind do tend to fade over time, as Maurice Chevalier reminded us) how far we progressed with this scam, or what became of the eponymous Crosley himself.

Finally, though Liberman at Language Log could find only one piece attributed to Shelvador, I was able to get several documents attributed to him by googling “Crosley Shelvador Linguistics”.

Definitive guide to OpenGL

September 19, 2007

All in all, the Red Book remains the definitive guide to OpenGL. Apart from being a good introduction, it also contains many interesting tips and tricks that make the experienced OpenGL programmer come back to it often. If you’ve read through the Red Book and the Orange Book in their entirety you pretty much know everything there is to know about OpenGL.

From this review at /. of the 6th edition of the OpenGL programming guide.

Fractofusus misrai 

September 19, 2007

A retired Indian geologist who made an internationally known discovery in the 1960s in Canada, then gave up his career in North America to build a village school in India, has received a rare honour: a 565-million-year-old fossil has been named after him. Canadian Ministers, officials and scientists attended a meeting in Canada’s Portugal Cove South city where two top geologists, Guy Narbonne from Canada and Jim Gehling from Australia, announced the name of one of the many fossils discovered by S.B. Misra in the 1960s.The discovery, the oldest record of multi-cellular life on earth, is now called Fractofusus misrai.

From this report in the Hindu; apparently, Dr. Misra retains the fossils with him. The story of the discovery of these fossils is also interesting:

The place where the discovery was made — jutting into the Atlantic Ocean — is known as Mistaken Point. It was one of the most rugged and remote areas of the peninsula and Canadian and foreign students had declined to map the area.

Prof. W.D. Brueckner, a Swiss geologist who headed the Geology Department at Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland, asked the young man to accept the challenge. The assignment, part of his doctoral thesis, was to prepare a geological map of the area.

Dr. Misra won fame when he published research papers based on the discovery in journals including Nature, the Geological Society of America Bulletin and the journal of the Geological Society of India.

Take a look!

Hat tip: To my wife who brought the news item to my attention.