The always splendid and visionary BLDGBLOG presents an excellent survey of the coming electromagnetic moats that are being created to thwart off the remote controlled cat burglars known as drones.
It ought not come as any surprise that constellation of technologies that enable the good guys to keep us safe also comes off the shelf for the potential deployment and home- invasions, casing the joint from a safe distance. The number of black sites for GPS navigation devices is growing as are signal-jamming equipment create permanent and impromptu force fields. I suspect, however, that whatever counter-measures are implemented, new methods for getting around those drawbridges and portcullises won’t be far behind, including navigation by more traditional methods, orientation without being tethered to a human operator and completely autonomous missions (replete with exhaustive demographics) with no need to report back. I wonder how the the physical façade of suburbia and gated communities, exposed and set apart from the concrete jungles that might provide some natural defenses and more barriers to overcome, might change to support this firewall fortress.
Saturday, 31 January 2015
The always splendid and visionary BLDGBLOG presents an excellent survey of the coming electromagnetic moats that are being created to thwart off the remote controlled cat burglars known as drones.
I am not sure what impression that I had formed of Grigori Rasputin beforehand other than him being some creature of the court of the Romanov’s—maybe a charlatan, and spiritual-healer and advisor to (and perhaps lover of) the Russian queen. Aside from the biography presented in the lyrics of the Boney-M song, I only based my knowledge of the so-called Mad Monk from the passages in The Tin Drum where the little hero’s mother is similarly enchanted by Rasputin’s story and led down the road to ruin.
It really struck me, however—given that the belligerents of the Great War were almost all a part of one big family feud—oh bother, there’s Cousin Willy sounding off again, no member of the royal houses were heard to say a word to stop the fighting, save for Rasputin, who foretold the end of the Empire—though perhaps already obvious to the neutral observer. I had also assumed that Rasputin was executed by the Bolshevik revolutionaries along with the rest of the Romanov family, but—and again, the true reckoning is obscured—His Majesty’s Secret Service, it seems, either pulled the trigger or at least provided the weapon in the assassination of Rasputin in the thick of the war in 1916. Rasputin’s warnings to the Romanov’s maybe were dissuading the Russians from entering the war, and with the tide shifting in favour of Imperial Germany in that year, the British knew that they could not hope to contain them if they were only challenged on their western front.
Friday, 30 January 2015
tiny bubbles: that fizzy sensation is actually the flavour of carbon-dioxide
does not stay in vegas: charter flights for employees of area 51
convoi-exceptionel: polish trucking companies blanch at new german minimum wage laws
hils and tanketorsk plus eight other nifty danish words
new york, new york: gotham perennially threatens to secede from the rest of the state
In a 2008 publication, historian David Dorado Romo explored a very dark and tragically formative and inspiring episode of in the history of cross-border relations between the US and Mexico and attitudes towards immigration.
Thursday, 29 January 2015
Though German ministers are defiantly now saying that they refuse to hear out the argument of a regime sworn-in only a mere forty-eight hours hence—probably not the most civil or humble reception—the slightest hint of disunity, a chink in the offensive that the US has bumped up (in the membrane of the EU) against Russia, becomes something quite troublesome.
Though this tales has been long in the making and ought to come as no surprise—but not something to dismiss either, like the promises of some prophet of doom or tin-pot dictator, the newly elected Greek government may use this momentum and political capital to depart the European monetary union. It’s a bit of sensationalism that Germany has not already discharged its debts in the economic sense and ought not invoke ethics since that cheapens both, and regardless of whether or not Greece and other less robust economies were brought into the fold under false-pretenses or folly was indulged is really immaterial as the Greeks have been backed into a corner and saddled with insurmountable obligations. And like those other weaker members, Greece at the frontier seriously risks pol-axing (receiving the coup de grâce) itself by quietly playing along, its exports and shipping opportunities having severely been curtailed as a result of incremental sanctions levied by the West against Russia. Greece is contemplating breaking that embargo and negotiating its own deals with Russia, which I believe is a much more profound break than bucking the fiat currency would be. It is really striking how this conflict has escalated—though there are obviously strategic footholds to be found but would not have been quite so self-fulfilling without that initial, ideological meddling in the first place—is not over resources but rather nationalistic pride that’s also known as vain-glory, cushioned from slight and insult all around. Like the chorus of the Frogs croaks, “Old Ways Good, New Ways Bad.”
Wednesday, 28 January 2015
The ever brilliant Colossal featured a keen and imaginative report on a research project—illustrated with some very fine visual effects, wherein an optics laboratory has imbued metallic surfaces with the quality of hydrophobia to the degree that water droplets roll and bounce away—in a mesmerising fashion, almost water globules floating away in microgravity.
Unlike the conventional ways of creating this effect with chemical coatings—which can be toxic and wear off over time, the scientists etch nanoscopic landscapes into the surface with precision lasers, which apparently resists degradation. A little speculation quickly leads to all sorts of possible applications, from pipes and plumbing—sanitation stations that don’t need extra water to be kept clean—better rust-proofing and airplanes that won’t require being chemically de-iced. I wonder what other special properties that very fine texturising techniques could awaken in ordinary materials. Maybe tiling and quilting a surface, on a scale otherwise undetectable, might make everyday materials rather supernatural: housings and cases and building materials capable of absorbing and retaining heat, an efficient insulator employed instead of conventional refrigeration, better acoustics, germ free surfaces without antibiotics, made too slippery in microscopic dimensions, or even plain old counter tops and banisters that could channel energy like fibre-optics.
Tuesday, 27 January 2015
Æon Magazine poses a pretty arresting question, siphoned through the spelunking machinery and quarrying activities that underpins the integrity and flow of alternative, shadow currencies: are humans ready to jettison the managers and middle-men for autonomous companies that need minimal human supervision?
Via Neatorama comes the outstanding retro-future visions of Dan McPharlin, which pay a special homage to the science-fiction and fantasy paperback covers, video-game artwork and album covers that he grew up with.
There’s a certain impressionistic grittiness that is somehow more bonding—not just in a nostalgic sense, than the technically refined and regurgitated (so we don’t get too distracted I suppose) with the slap-dash marketing that adorns most things nowadays. The American magazine of fantasy fiction, Heavy Metal whose genre sponsored this particular style, was itself inspired in the mid 1970s by a French publication called Métal Hurlant, howling metal. Be sure to check out the links for an interview with the artist and more sublime studies of the imagination.
Monday, 26 January 2015
Cunningham’s Law is seemingly one of those pithy, defeatist principles that have been named and carry aloft some sense of proprietorship and savoir, stating that the best way to solicit accurate information (in the Information Age) is by baiting one’s audience with the low-hanging fruit of patently false propositions.
Of course, certain types are better lured by certain honey-pots of howling inaccuracy and I doubt a lot of contentiousness and incivility stem from one wanting to get at an elusive truth and not a sturdy and well-buffeted opinion. Howard Cunningham, however, for whom the law is named is not just some rhetorician but the programmer, computer-scientist and Happy Days father who developed the user-editable platform known as the wiki. This potential for disabusing, edification and promulgation launched thousands of websites including of course Wikipedia, which has proved not only enlightening but also worth protecting. I’m sort of ambivalent about such proverbs—like Murphy’s Law (named for Candice Bergen) or the Sportscasters’ Curse, but I am sure that there’s a grain of truth to be uncovered behind them. Cunningham, at least through his creation that he gave away freely because he could not imagine anybody wanting to pay for something so basic but useful, and his law have become a grand social experiment with plenty of bait and bounty.
Sunday, 25 January 2015
Saturday, 24 January 2015
Though not entirely alone among accomplished and influential women of the Middle Ages in Europe, the fascinating life and career of twelfth century Abbess Hildegarde von Bingen did strike me as a pleasant rediscovery and one that certainly bears further investigation to appreciate her contributions fully.
Born as the tenth child to a family of minor nobility along the Rhine, Hildegarde was basically tithed to the Church and given over to a convent at a very young age. Her early life and traditional formative years were punctuated with visions—which were miraculous enough in itself, which she kept to herself, professing herself to be an unworthy vessel and inadequate messenger, and found her voice, so to speak, in middle age. Outside of this context, Hildegarde’s erudition and research—notably including the composition and scoring of hundreds of pieces of holy music (A Feather on the Breath of God was the title of one of her canticles), extensive studies in medicine, advocating the boiling of water of all things, and taxonomy of flora and fauna (which maybe three hundred years later inspired Dame Juliana Berners to group animals together with the most fanciful and creative collective terms, like a murder of crows or a murmuration of starlings) was brilliant and earned her the eventual recognition as a Doctor of the Church (bestowed by Pope Benedict in 2012), but what I find particularly amazing was that her life really did begin at forty and instead of retiring to quiet contemplation—at a time when people didn’t usually survive that long to begin with, really took ownership of what might be called a mid-life crisis and resolved to share her gifts.
Hildegarde’s resurgence in recent years is doubtlessly a grave oversight in history that needs amending but may be in part due to particularly liberated and thoroughly modern echoes in her life that resound with contemporary movements. Though claiming that all of her learning and works were the products of divine inspiration, as a woman she petitioned the Pope and played a major role in Church politics and even preached herself, her homeopathic practises fit right in today, for being a nun she said quite a lot about sexuality and could be considered the first person to pursue a course in gender-studies, not only developed chants and penned devotional songs but also wrote an elaborate musical in a morality play set to her own compositions. Moreover, she authored an illustrated exegesis of her own visions and invented a language and script that was kind of a coded pastiche of Latin and German that Hildegarde deemed more suited for those enigmatic and perplexing revelations that came to her, which she always felt incapable of fully disclosing. Some partial copies of her codex have been preserved but the complete Scivias (some six-hundred pages) disappeared in the tumult of war in 1945 from a vault in Dresden.
Friday, 23 January 2015
Mental Floss invites us to explore the planet’s history through this pretty keen time-spiral, produced by a design team working for the United States Geological Survey. This artwork—available also in poster form ends with the age of the Holocene Epoch, beginning about ten thousand years ago and heralds in the beginning of human civilization, but there’s also a proposed name for the current era, Anthropocene, reasoning that the impact that mankind is having on ecology merits a new division—eons, ages and periods all being measures of indeterminate lengths.
Thursday, 22 January 2015
Nature features a rather ghoulish study that rather upholds what vampires apparently knew all along: that fresh blood seems to have the potential of revitalising old vessels. Conjoined twins—or in this case, two lab rats spliced together so that share one vascular system, demonstrate what’s called parabiosis and is an experimental arrangement, which despite having provided insights during the 1970s about immunology and endocrinology, fell out of fashion. Now, however, researchers in the field of gerontology believe that they are witnessing a sort of rejuvenation of organs and tissues. Being paragons of caution and not be led by their imagination, they emphasise that they are not reversing the ageing process but rather—merely—“restoring function.” While it is an interesting historical look at these techniques, I suspect whatever distinction is supposed to be there is lost on the closeted undead and traffickers.
For more than a decade, the euro has outpaced the US dollar—consistently rising from a worth of under a dollar to this present inverted affair.
Wage stagnation and inflation also seem to accompany this maneuver, no matter how good it is for trade. Though there are certain expectations and cursory discussions that seem to point to foregone conclusions, all nuance may not yet be exhausted or explored. Germany is rather vituperatively opposed to committing to quantitative-easing in its current form, seen as enabler and co-morbid with inflation and irresponsible governance. So that Germans tax-payers are not seen as liable for the weaker economies that can’t repay their debts under this latest scheme, two ideas are under consideration—either managing the whole programme through the ECB in Frankfurt or making national reserve banks accountable to the disbursement and repayment of those loans—essentially monies owed to themselves. What do you think? Does just spinning gold from straw become eventually too tempting?
Wednesday, 21 January 2015
In response to the terrorist attacks in Paris, the farce protection level on military installations, which is I suppose a reliably prudent step to take, have been raised a tick. Like DEFCOM, this threat-com scale ranges from Normal to Alpha, green and tranquil and I doubt if the American public, fed so long on roughage, could ever again stomach such relaxed protocols, to Bravo, blue but guarded, a more or less perpetual state of vigilance that’s sort of the settled equilibrium struck in the years following 9/11, on the lower end.
Charlie, yellow with enhanced measures to be deployed, is the next step—with Holy Hell Delta to follow. The level, however, was elevated to Bravo-Plus, whatever that is. Nous ne somme pas Charlie… I almost wonder if that weren’t on purpose and what exactly the message is supposed to be. Maybe it is so that all those blatant reminders need not be replaced yet. They’ve breached that level before, of course, after the 07/07 attacks in London or when mobilization was up-tempo again on Iraq (you break it, you buy it) and people still weren’t quite running around with their hair on fire and losing their wits, but then seemed also to have a touch more sympathy and solidarity. Is this sort of colour-coding, dipping the banners just a gauge of how likely we are to escape by the grace of dumb-luck or providence, which have foiled more diabolic plots than intelligence and command-and-control? Moreover, I’d venture that the latter has incited more incidents than its prevented.
Tuesday, 20 January 2015
I did not realise that Japanese has a wealth of onomatopoeic words that not only mimic the sound of things but also the texture and shape of things—sort of like zig-zag in English but I imagine more evocative, and much less did I guess that they could be expressed so intuitively, in chocolate form.
Phenomimes (gitaigo 擬態語) they are technically called, those words that manage to impart this sort of directional, tactile meaning. That, however, is precisely the geometric proof given by the award-winning design studio, nendo, in the Parisian trade show annual competition, Maison et Object. At the link, you can learn more about this textured words and how their meanings ring perfectly in context.
While I cannot say for certain if this studied, lucid article from Quartz transparently lays out absolutely everything one need know about the Swiss decision to untether its currency from the euro, but I believe it is a very good and accessible primer. With economic crises unsettled elsewhere in 2011, the CHF became quite an attractive berth for one’s cash—leading to weakened exports and relative, domestic inflation, and in order to hold the exchange rate at less seductive levels, the Swiss federal bank began printing more money to buy up foreign dollars, euros and roubles to keep matters in check.
Monday, 19 January 2015
Slate magazine reports on group of researchers in London that hope to gain insight in how artificial intelligence operates by letting it try its hand at prestidigitation and see how a computer algorithm might optimise a classic card trick. The thought is a little bit arresting, since it seems to allow robots into that human weakness and even yearning for deception.
Looking through a gallery of creative, outlandish weapons—which were mostly theoretical and not battle-tested, including a massive aircraft-carrier whose landing strip was made of ice, bat-bombs and a so-called gay-bomb that was to pheromonially encourage soldiers to make love, not war, I was reminded how I was admonished that the actress and sex-symbol known as Marilyn Monroe was first discovered in 1945 while working in a drone assembly plant in Van Nuys, California.
Sunday, 18 January 2015
The occupying powers of Germany after the end of World War II certainly came into that mandate with different perspectives and ideologies, the French, Britons, the Americans and the Soviets all having had unique experiences of the horrors of war and differing native political compositions. While it was very challenging to achieve any sort of consensus on how the caretakers ought to govern the different sectors, there was no real outward animosity or the carving of boundaries until the introduction of the new Deutschmark.
With it out of the question that the old Reichsmark should continue to remain in circulation with its old symbols and associations, each sector minted its own occupation money, and indeed monetary reform was prohibited under treaty terms, the governors not allowed to take steps that might strengthen the German financial system, and reconstruction was hindered by this foreign script, not be conducive to neither trade nor investment, with most of the economy gone underground and people resorting to barter. Frustrated, in June of 1948, the Western Allies decided to act alone and began issuing the Deutschmark without consulting the Soviets, and it was this decision that first sparked the Blockade of Berlin that eventually led, in quick succession, to the physical and sociological partition of Germany, with a defensive wall erected at the frontier.
Of course, in the West, the Bonn Republic, the unilateral decision seemed to work out well—inflation staved off and reemergence of the nation as an industrial and economic world-player. The East struggled in relation to its neighbour but also came to prosper with the foil of the Ostmark and command-economy. Meanwhile, the former German parliament building, the Reichtag (long-form Plenarbereich Reichstagsgebäude, the Hall of the Plenary Imperial Diet) sat disused just meters on the wrong side of the most heavily guarded borders of the Cold War—having fallen into ruins since the arson of the Nazis in 1933. The capital of the West was in Bonn and the East Germans razed the old Prussia Berliner Stadtschloss to build their capitol, the Palast der Republik, itself razed in 2008 to rebuild the city’s palace. With Reunification solidified in 1990, due in no small part to the controversial and economically punishing gesture to integrate the Ostmark with an exchange rate parity (eins für eins) to the Deutschmark, the capital of the united Germany would be brought back to Berlin. The neglected, crumbling Reichstag did not even register to the citizens of the city as a part of the skyline and the idea to once again use that building as the seat of the government seemed folly—or at least did not garner much interest or excitement. The clever and ambitious work of two artists, however, captured the public’s imagination and made the new Bundestag an object of affection, pride and hope.
Ada Lovelace is regarded by some in the scientific community as a socialite and sort of Girl Friday to Charles Babbage, whose contributions to the development of computers and programming was minimal. That unfair characterisation is happily on its way out, thanks in part to the championing of another one of history’s discounted, cryptographer Alan Turing who suffered horrid muckraking, who helped to revive Lovelace’s name and reputation because Turing, having rediscovered one of her all but forgotten treatises, was compelled to profoundly disagree with her miraculous stance, formulated eighty years before, holding that machines could do what we were capable of ordering them to do but did not think for themselves. Turing begged to differ and was behind some of the theories that would lead to the study and concept of artificial intelligence. This aside, of course, was just of hint of the scope of Lovelace’s conceptual leap that would elevate the computer above the steam-powered abacus it was designed to be to what we do and how we think about modern, general-purpose computing.
Charles Babbage’s most famous contributions to computing, the Difference Engine and the Analytic Engine, were inestimably important but both were never completed, and I suppose that it could be argued that Babbage invented the computer in the same sense that Leonardo invented the helicopter, but were consigned with the express purpose of correcting errors in mathematical tables, long schedules of logarithmic and exponential functions used for scientific, navigation and engineering applications, like projecting population growth, measuring magnitudes of change, interest rates, and radioactive decay—whose functions were figured by humans and fallible and those errors spread widely enough caused much frustration. Lovelace, though it was probably not well understood at the time since there were no words or concepts for programming, debugging and algorithms back then, was even more a visionary than the mechanically-inclined Babbage. Purposefully estranged from her father, poet Lord Byron, by her jilted and somewhat domineering mother, so Lovelace might not inherit her father’s disturbing temperament, the young Ada’s education had strong emphasis in logic and mathematics, but despite (and because) of her mother’s best efforts, Lovelace seemed to have a keen balance of the arts and sciences—enabling her to see potential beyond mere number-crunching.
Saturday, 17 January 2015
I listened to a delightfully funny and engrossing panel-discussion on the controversial but probably well-understood artist Aubrey Beardsley. Forever twined with the scandals of Oscar Wilde—though professionally, the two always tried to distance themselves, fearing their individual and different flairs might be cancelled out as a talent combined, Beardley’s prints were repulsively erotic and decadent, debauched and corrupting, and despite sensibilities that have grown a bit more tolerant and receptive, I think the black and white illustrations still shock and still nudged underground, despite the brilliance of the artistry, and have no place in polite society. Indeed, looking at them, one does have a sense of having uncovered something supremely smutty and checks to make sure that no one is looking over one’s shoulder. Many times there are surprisingly lurid doodling details hidden in the loops and swirls.
It’s hard to find a modern analogue, I think, because Beardsley was apolitical, though importantly challenging society’s dirty little secrets and however disgusting one might find the pictures everyone intuited exactly what they were about, but maybe John Waters and his troupe of Dreamlanders (Divine, Mink Stole, Patty Hearst and Traci Lords) in transgressive films like Mondo Trasho, Pink Flamingos, Hairspray and A Dirty Shame maybe comes close. Beardsley’s sketches are quintessentially Art Nouveau but I did not realise that his foundry was really the propagating force behind the style, contributing-editor to a quarterly magazine devoted to graphic design (the publication was bound in a yellow cloth cover, hence the name of the decade that vied with the other designation, the Gay Nineties). Moreover the cultural-exchange between Japan and England, whose woodcuts strongly influenced the young artist, and the way that the style that typified the era was reimported and reinterpreted is fascinating to consider.
Friday, 16 January 2015
Mental Floss disabuses us of some of our favourite misattributed or completely made up great quotations with a studied collection of sayings that go rather deeply into the origins of those things we wish our heroes had said. One of the best stories is about how Abraham Lincoln supposedly proclaimed that “When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will.”
This wise if not somewhat Pollyanna-ish line comes to us not from the great statesman but rather via the marketing geniuses at Disney studios, producing a film version of the book Pollyanna, whence at the treacly and campy conclusion, the little heroine opens the locket of her dead father to discover this inscription. The Disney Brothers love it and had hundreds of souvenir lockets commissioned and sold at gift shops. When the writer-director who’d made up the quotation discovered this misattribution spread, to his great dismay, the studio had the unsold trinkets recalled. Also Freud never said “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” and was doctrinairely against the idea of suggesting otherwise. What are your favourite supposed pithy quotes that turned out to be fictions?
Thursday, 15 January 2015
Though today’s conversation has adopted such colourfully metaphoric language, the same problems of communication dominated by a few industry giants, privacy and consumer-protection have a history, lively and just as shameful and grasping, that goes back at least to the advent of telephony and probably reaches much further back with the implements, tried and true, of blacklisting, censorship and charters. Before the United States recognised and rejected the monopoly that Bell conglomerate had on the public’s telephone lines, people and businesses did not purchase their telephones but rather rented units from Bell with a monthly subscription—pretty much the same situation we have today, being untethered physically but still locked into contracts that are bundled with gadgets and accessories tied to the service.
Happy Mutant and accomplished author in his own right Cory Doctorow extolls the latest fantasy novel from Jo Walton. Not only does this plot in which a time-traveling Athena, goddess of Wisdom, assembles all the faithful from all ages who yearned to live in the Utopia of Philosopher Kings sound really intriguing, her other works, which include award-winning alternate histories, expositions on ancient lore and future-oriented works of science fiction, are appealing to my curiosity already.
Wednesday, 14 January 2015
A small village near Weimar, the city that hosted Goethe and Schiller, Bauhaus and the Weimar Republic, is facing some sharp criticism over its suggestion to house refugees in the officers' barracks of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp. There unspeakable horrors associated with the memories of this place, and ironically it seems that our memory has become quite a feeble and atrophied thing. The immigration question is a complex one, but so is Germany’s relation to its past—much more so. Do Germans yet have guilt to discharge from the first half of the twentieth century? Surely, as do many of us—but does this make them to feel grudgingly obligated to accept more and more evacuees? That’s harder to answer—as with the Wirtschaftswunder that characterized Germany’s rebuilding and recovery after the wars ended was made possible to a very large extent through its guest worker programme, many also argue that Germany needs an infusion of a young population to sustain its present and retiring work-force and that Germany on balance benefits from immigration.
I also feel that we are prone to lose our perspective as well: we’re welcoming in these people who’ve mostly been on the run from poverty and violence.
Tuesday, 13 January 2015
Though I think, especially in the aftermath of America’s latest film critic and the associated retribution even though responsibility was not clear, that it always wise to assume that the world’s security agencies are always ready to pull a wise one on their citizens and propagandise and exploit any crisis or tragedy towards those ends, it is a stance just as specious as having total communication and movement surveillance and stripping naked all vestments of privacy would result in absolute safety and harmony as America and its accomplices wanting to own the all the wires.
The director of Sigmund Freud’s out-patient clinic in Vienna, influential and controversial to contemporaries, was called Wilhelm Reich and due to later public shaming by an agency of the US government is nearly unknown except for a few of his kookier traces. Reich authored many respected works on mass-hysteria, including exploring why people were enervated by fascists and suddenly found it acceptable to participate in mob activities like biblioclasm (book-burning) and worse, linked poverty to mental health, hypnosis, developed what became the concepts of bio-feedback, body-language and Gestalt therapy (personal accountability), massage therapy and spoke very frankly about sexuality and inhibitions.
After the violent coup that elevated Hitler to power, Reich and many other Germans fled to Norway—including future Chancellor Willy Brandt—and Reich, continuing his research, solicited volunteers, Brandt among them, to make love whilst attached to an oscilloscope and study what sorts of voltage was measured. As the war engulfed Europe, Reich immigrated to the United States, sponsored by the psychiatry school of Columbia University—which did not turn out like Operation Paperclip. It was in New York that Reich first described his Orgone theory—which was basically the same notion as æther or the all-pervading Force or Chi, and imbalances in orgone (named after the orgasm, and not unlike Freud’s libido ideas) radiation led to all human ailments, disease and mental disorders. Reich met with compatriot Albert Einstein and tried to convince him of the efficacy and truth behind his conclusions—possibly under the pretext that the Allies such harness the power of this mysterious metaphysical element before the Nazis discovered it. Orgones could also be used to control the weather. Though Einstein heard him out and even tried to recreate his unscientific experiments, ultimately debunking them because of sloppy control-conditions, Einstein probably thought Reich was a touch looney and this encounter may have begun the unhinging of his professional reputation. Undeterred, Reich continued his experiments, which seemingly innocently enough, consisted of placing volunteers (although sometimes seriously ill people too that fell for quackery) in what was essentially a Faraday cage, a metal shield from outside interference that kept internal energies inside, called Orgone Accumulators for long periods, naked, to restore their natural equilibrium. Failing to get back into academia, Reich decided to purchase a farm in the state of Maine, naming it Orgonon, which included laboratories, treatment areas, a conference centre and an observatory for UFO sightings.