Links for February 21, 2016

Umberto Eco, 84, Best-Selling Academic Who Navigated Two Worlds, Dies

As a semiotician, Mr. Eco sought to interpret cultures through their signs and symbols — words, religious icons, banners, clothing, musical scores, even cartoons — and published more than 20 nonfiction books on these subjects while teaching at the University of Bologna, Europe’s oldest university. But rather than segregate his academic life from his popular fiction, Mr. Eco infused his seven novels with many of his scholarly preoccupations.

Big toy companies are making figurines that look more like the kids who play with them

Mattel garnered the biggest headlines in the toy business this year when it debuted its new Barbie body type dolls. The figures now come in curvy, petite, and tall.... The taller ones have bigger feet, for instance, so the company has to manufacture shoes specifically for the body type. Kids will also be able to customize their dolls a bit more with fresher “street-styled” clothing and different hairstyles, a spokesperson told us.

The Greenwich Time Signal

John Reith, then General Manager of the BBC, and Frank Dyson, the Astronomer Royal, discussed the idea of “broadcasting Greenwich Standard Time”, and in December, 1923, an agreement was reached to modify two clocks, used by the Royal Observatory to generate time signals for other users.... The equipment was designed so that a chronometer’s escapement wheel at the Observatory controlled a switch, which in turn controlled the output of a 1kHz oscillator. This generated six short pips, starting at five seconds to the hour and ending on the hour, which were then sent down a GPO line to the BBC. They were first transmitted at 9.30pm on 5th February 1924, introduced by Sir Frank Dyson, the Astronomer Royal.

Frinkiac – searches Simpsons screenshots to match up with quotes.