Total Pageviews

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

From Steno's Stratigraphy to Stenography to Steganography to Stegasaurus

     Good old Nicolas Steno (1638-1686), a Dane who was beatified  by the Catholic Church over 300 years after his death, first stated three fairly straightforward tenets of stratigraphy: 

      (1) The Law of Superposition: in most circumstances, barring any subsequent overturning of layers, the oldest sedimentary rocks are on the bottom and the youngest are on the top:

      (2) The Principle of Original Horizontality: most sequences are deposited in a horizontal or nearly horizontal plane,

     and (3) The Principle of Lateral Continuity: Material forming any layer were continuous over the surface of the Earth unless some other solid bodies stood in the way:

     I thought perhaps Steno's name was somehow related to stenography:

       and this interesting graphic showing beginning consonants on the left hand, ending consonants on the right, and vowels in the thumb positions:

     ..."I keep thinking of Jim Robbins! It's ridiculous. He's only a male stenographer. . ." But, Steno has no connection here.

      Or perhaps a connection to steganography, from the Greek "stegein," to cover:

which brought me to Stegosaurus or covered lizard:

     which brought me back to hiding or covering messages in landscapes where the oldest rocks are generally on the bottom, the layers are deposited horizontally, and the material forming over the layers of the earth were continuous unless some solid body stood in the way:

     I guess that about covers it.

Steph (aka Word Woman)

Four hour window in Boulder on Monday (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.)


  1. If you give a moose a muffin. . .

    1. He'll want some pluot preserves to go with it.
      Meanwhile, there's a hole in my bucket -- any suggestions?

    2. Sadly, only for dear Liza, Paul.

  2. Back in the old days, before our practice bought an electronic medical records system (i.e., about 2 years ago), I used to complain that finding information about a patient's medical history was like archaeology: the deeper you dug in a chart, the older the information you found.

  3. And if you remove the word "hidden" (because it no longer is), and a few other extraneous letters, the photo caption above becomes "This is a mesa", which is also true. (Oooh, is Will Shortz listening?)

    1. This IS a mesa. Flat-out cool observation, jan.

  4. Advice to Henry: Mend it!
    Advice to (E)Liza: Do little!
    Advice to Paul: Hang a net from it and shoot some hoops!
    Advice to Word Woman: Write a limerick about it!
    Advice to jan: Mend it with some gold melted down from your lapel pin!
    Advice to LegoLambda: Pack a picnic breakfast in it: a coffee mug and eyes-glazed-over donut, but donut forget to top it logically all off with a Mobius bacon strip!
    Advice to Jim Robbins: Toss your Stenotype machine into it, then toss them both into the cylindrical file!


    1. Melt down my lapel pin???

      Advice from the man with two lapel pins!

      (And gold? As long as we're talking about mesas, let's climb a little higher up the periodic mesa....)

    2. I was wondering where you'd find a Möbius bacon strip. Then I remembered Lincoln's story about a farmer who built a fence so crooked that every time a pig went through it, it found itself on the same side.

      Which reminds me of the joke about two [insert ethnicity or hair color here] who were hiking in the woods and found themselves on opposite of a river. One yelled across, "How do I get to the other side?" And the other replied, "You're on the other side!"

    3. Lapel pin meltdown, Lego? Sacre Bleu!

      Jim Robbins: have we seen him before?

    4. Yes, he served, under an alias, as President George Herbert Walker Bush's VP.


    5. Quiescently frozen, yes? As we are here in Colorado where the snow has begun anew just now. 14 degrees. Maizie and I are snuggled in for the morning thinking of friends who are now traveling in Kauai, the Galapagos (not Galapagoes) Islands, and Viet Nam.

      You say potatoe, I say potato.

  5. Here's a possible topic for future discussion: along with the warming climate, it also seems that the Cold War might be thawing out.

    Yesterday, NPR reported on an increase in military confrontations and incidents between Russian and NATO units, while The NY Times told of the breakdown of a 20-year US-Russian program to secure the nuclear weapons of the former USSR.

    It's so hard to decide what to pack for the future. Do I assume global warming and go with shortz and a T-shirt? Or do I bundle up for nuclear winter?

    I once had a director at Bell Labs who moved his family to Brazil during the Cuban Missile Crisis because he didn't like their odds here. I think I just heard him roll over in his grave.

    1. Heck, it's hard to know what to pack for a four hour period here in Colorado! See image above from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday.

  6. Ads for new and used drilling rigs on PEOTS: shall we all chip in to get one?

  7. Replies
    1. Quite interesting link, Scientific Steph. Perfect for PEOTS. Keep up the good wonk (sic).


    2. I remember being a bit underwhelmed by the usually brilliant Knuth when he came out with Literate Programming. I thought Brian Kernighan scored points for conciseness (and priority) with his 1974 Elements of Programming Style, which nicely captured the flavor of E. B. White's book.