Wednesday 12 June 2024

11x11 (11. 625)

indemnity clause: a look at the exactingly detailed Sanborn maps created for US insurance firms in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries 

unseen persia: thousands of historic photographs of Iran during the Qajar dynasty leaked on-line from the archive of the Golestan Palace  

sweet thing: Chaka Khan’s debut Tiny Desk performance  

bahรญa de cochinos: Russian warships on drill visit Cuba  

doubly-disambiguated bishop non-capture statemale: a vlogger tries to categorise the rarest chess moves  

transponder: wood proves surprisingly durable material in space as agencies plan to launch experimental satellites, like ships on the high seas—via the Linkfest  

1337: a pretty exhaustive list of English words that can be spelled on a calculator turned upside down  

hollywood canteen: a fond farewell to Janis Page, recently departed at 101  

the brannock device: a better shoe-sizer based on the barley corn  

gallus gallus domesticus: photographer recreates exacting portraits of Edo-era Ito Jakuchu’s studies of chickens—via Nag on the Lake  

geochron: the incredible restoration of 1960s analog, electromechanical world clock and map

Sunday 2 June 2024

40 eridani a ฮฒ (11. 600)

From an astrological point of view, the downgrading of Pluto (see previously here and here) was traumatic to many but the Vulcan home world, canonically placed in the above triple star-system of the constellation Eridanus of the southern skies, has now twice suffered the indignity of possibly not existing. Astronomers believed that they had detected the signature of an exoplanet back in 2018, informally designated as Vulcan but subsequent observations revealed that the superearth, originally found by a gravitational wobble, is probably a calibration mirage—or perhaps the cloaking is intentional. More at the links above.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links worth the revisit plus discovering local, cinematic connections

two years ago: a 1978 conspiracy thriller, Elizabeth II, the manicule plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: St Elmo, more shadowcasting plus pedantry and pronuncication

four years ago: 1988 in pop songs

five years ago: Steve Bannon’s planned gladiator school falls through plus googie architecture 

Friday 24 May 2024

airfoil (11. 579)

Via Super Punch, we get this chance to revisit renowned industrial and commercial designer Lutz “Luigi” Colani with his Polymorph Space Shuttle concept model showcased at the 1984 Expo held in Otaru, Hokkaido (awarded with top honours however during the show for his designs for Canon cameras, including the prototype for the T90). The aerodynamic proposal failed to take off at the time but is perennially revisited by companies in the orbital freight business and included a new stylised logo for the US Space Agency.

Monday 20 May 2024

the great 404 (11. 567)

Via Maps Mania, we are invited to revisit the Kessler Effect (previously here and here) and the pressing, existential problem of space junk. NASA scientist Donald J Kessler conjectured in 1978 a upper-limit for density of satellites in low-Earth orbit, a threshold beyond which (a level that according to some estimates is already passed) even a minor collision could cause a catastrophic chain-reaction, an ablation cascade that would render subsequent launches impossible and leave future exploration grounded and triangulate the implications, connecting the dots, by finding constellations in the debris field as it becomes more fraught and a challenge to break through, like the pictured Broken Compass (see below, see also). What asterisms can you see?

 synchronoptica

one year ago: Blessed Alcuin’s logic puzzle, nine kings, one room (1910) plus an extreme exoplanet

two years ago: assorted links to revisit plus more Alcuin

three years ago: a brood of cicadas in North America emergestaxia of twist-ties, naming every colour plus the fly-bee

four years ago: World Bee Day, Theatre of the Orb of the World (1570) plus Meck Dec Day

five years ago: standardising le Grand K, the NSA (1919), fetishising the five-paragraph essay, medieval medical records plus a new single from Vampire Weekend

Saturday 11 May 2024

11x11 (11. 552)

syntax error: AI co-pilots are changing the way coders operate 

baby lasagne: a preview of Eurovision acts to watch for—see also here and here  

spaghettification: a NASA simulation shows what it’s like to be sucked into a Black Hole  

high-fidelity photogrammerty: how Google’s enhanced Street View with 3-D panoramas could again change the world of navigation and virtual exploration—see also 

breakfast of champions: the drawings and doodles of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr—see previously 

not a shared universe: a meta study on the perceived beliefs of fictional characters regarding other fictional characters  

early machinations: development notes on xkcd’s collaborative Rube Goldberg machine, an annual tradition—via Waxy 

my colours are blush and bashful, mama: Poseidon’s Underworld rewatches the 1989 star-studded Steel Magnolias  

coronal mass ejection: strongest solar storm in two decades lights up the night sky in Europe  

hind’s hall: the refreshing and unexpected entrรฉe of Macklemore’s protest rap—see more  

syntax error: English being proposed as the new top-level coding language with the ability to articulate one’s wishes (as with a jerk genie) is of utmost importance

 synchronoptica

one year ago: Sweden passes world first personal data protection law (1973), those omnipresent cafe celebrity murals, a Trump townhall plus Nixon tries to strengthen the powers of the executive branch (1973)

two years ago: assorted links to revisit plus M (1931)

three years ago: more links to enjoy, Cats (1981), more on the Ice Saints plus the revival of night trains

four years ago: St Gangolf plus more links worth the revisit

five years ago: a sleep-over cinema plus a classic from Ottawan (1979)

Friday 3 May 2024

apogee and orbit (11. 534)

Via Web Curios (lots more to explore there), we are referred to this rather calming life-stream of the International Space Station transversing the over the Earth below (see previously) from an external camera triangulated with its coordinates in realtime, atmospheric conditions as well as the positions of the Sun and the Moon.

Wednesday 1 May 2024

7x7 (11. 527)

the function of colour: more scans from a beautiful 1930 volume on design in schools and workshops

sporulate: scientist create a plastic first strengthened then digested by bacteria  

wck: resuming their mission of feeding people in Palestine, Josรฉ Andrรฉs’ cookbook is nominated for a prestigious gastronomical award  

aim high in creation: a survey of North Korea’s popular culture  

barnard 33: JWST captures a sharp image of the iconic Horsehead Nebula of Orion  

dead reckoning: the history of the Etak Navigator and other cartographical innovations  

architectural renderings: the Art Deco illustrations of Charles Perry Weimer—via Messy Nessy Chic

Friday 26 April 2024

8x8 (11. 514)

flightline: stunning visualisations of air traffic  

splinternet: ByteDance does not plan to divest itself of TikTok following US ultimatum  

megadeath: modelling the destruction caused by a nuclear bomb on a major city  

mtv buzz: a surreal montage of audio and video clips arranged by Mark Pellington (1990)  

celebrity endorsement: musicians, artists and novelist pose with the Sears’ appliances in this 1969 ad campaign for Kenmore—see also  

undiscovery: the Map Men chart phantom islands—including some that have made it into the era of Google Maps—see previously  

22,5 light hours: engineers debug a forty-seven year old computer remotely from twenty-four billion kilometres away to revive the data stream from Voyager I—see previously  

embarking: a luxury airline that caters to canines above their human companions

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: dismantling Soviet-era monuments

three years ago: more links to enjoy plus a special issue of LIFE magazine

four years ago: fantasy urban map generators, more links worth the revisit plus geopolitical optics

five years ago: an elegant and modern personal seal, even more links plus a Victoria houseplant


Sunday 21 April 2024

10x10 (11. 503)

knock, knock, knock—who’s there: the authorship debate between William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson over the joke format  

charlotte braun: the untimely demise of the Peanuts’ foil to Charlie Brown 

yay, newfriend: more on the ELIZA experiment and AI paramours 

io: Juno space probe reveals a gigantic lava lake on the Jovian satellite’s surface 

he mad: Trump has to sit quietly through court proceedings 

occult chemistry: a 1908 theosophical text by Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater with diagrams by Curuppumullage Jinarajadasa 

captive market: private equity comes after US prison commissaries 

democracy dies in darkness: news media and the paywall dilemma 

the colour of pomegranates: more on Armenian filmmaker Sergei Parajanov 

is this a red flag: the Jane Eyre edition

synchronoptica

one year ago: more efforts to offset Labour Day plus a hitch-hiking companion on a Martian rover

two years ago: another classic from Prince (1985), the burial place of the Red Baron plus Disney and the culture wars

three years ago: the Tomorrow Show with special guest, duplexes in the Rรผhrhgebiet plus a mystery photo

four years ago: the Principality of Hutt, the founding of Rome (753 BC), a curatorial showdown, MS DOS coding, oil prices go negative, Texas exploits a crisis plus the Sabre Dance

five years ago: Easter greetings plus a return visit to the Völkerschlachtdenkmal

Monday 15 April 2024

wunderzeichen (11. 490)

We quite enjoyed pursuing this collection of sixteenth century German woodcuts cataloguing ominous signs in the heavens, the unexplained and inexplicable occurring with enough frequency to create a carve-out—and still does—parallel to the nascent publishing industry for special bound editions of pamphlets and broadsheets circulated on the topic, “wonder books” as sort of a personal log to curate, update and hand down of the phenomena, preserving an otherwise ephemeral record of strange occurrences happening too often to otherwise commit to the historical record, sightings and encounters spurred on by sightings and sermonising speculation that was also propelled by the printing-press. Much more from Public Domain Review at the link up top.

Monday 8 April 2024

penumbra (11. 477)

Visible for totality in a narrow corridor of the Pacific Ocean, as North America is watching the skies, when the shadow of the Moon’s ascending node (where the orbit of the satellite intersects the plane of the solar ecliptic from our perspective) obscured the Sun, crossing the international dateline and beginning on the ninth and ending on this day in 1995, this relatively rare hybrid eclipse with phases of the complete and the annular (when the lunar disc does not quite obscure the sun) as it progressed across the globe. Observers in extreme northwestern South American, Central America and the Caribbean were afforded near totality.

Wednesday 3 April 2024

9x9 (11. 464)

avis de rรฉception: Gertrude Stein first draft of her manuscript for The Making of Americans returned by a publisher  

greener pastures: ranchers embrace the benefits of virtual fencing  

แผ€ฮบฯฮฑฯƒฮฏฮฑ: philosophers weigh in on why we do things against our better judgment—via Kottke  

classroom setting: The Function of Colour in Schools and Hospitals (1930)  

haute couture: McDonald’s fashion in France  

heliopause: a NASA-endorsed app designed to photograph the North American total eclipse 

rhapsody in green: warm earth music for plants… and the people who love them 

could’ve been a contender: for what would be his hundredth birthday, some screen highlights of Marlon Brando

peer review: the Journal of Universal Rejection

 synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit

two years ago: Planet of the Apes (1968)

three years ago: musical hypercards, more links to enjoy, missionary cats plus Blue Moon (1961)

four years ago: vintage railway memorabilia plus drawing elephants sight unseen

five years ago: the Marshall Plan (1948), more links worth revisiting plus conserving Soviet Almaty

Monday 18 March 2024

7x7 (11. 435)

deadwooding: Banksy acknowledges authorship of a new mural bringing back some greenery to an aggressive prune tree in Finsbury Park  

subspace: an ultra high-definition video of a cat chasing a laser-pointer was beamed over thirty million kilometres to improve future video calls to the Moon and Mars 

running-stitch: beautiful embroidered portraits from Karola Pezarro  

deadspin: more on the internet’s undead, reanimated by private equity and name recognition—see previously, see more  

bunga bunga: Italy’s Foreign Press Association to move into former home of Silvio Berlusconi, who famously disparaged reporters as Communists  

honeytrap: Aphra Behn’s intersecting careers as a professional writer and spy  

sequoiadendron giganteum: imported by the Victorians as status symbols, Giant Redwoods (see also) are thriving in the UK at more than half-a-million and growing

Tuesday 12 March 2024

8x8 (11. 416)

studio nue: the meticulous and immersive sci-fi illustrations of Naoyuki Kato  

landsat lens: virtual rewinding maps created with historic satellite imagery

drawing for nothing: a growing e-book of storyboards and character studies from unfinished, shelved animation projects—via Waxy 

hag horror: Poseidon’s Underworld explores the genre with 1971’s Blood and Lace 

แน—s (t → ♾️) = 0: researchers find algorithms that only quantum computers can solve—via Damn Interesting—see previously  

all these worlds are yours, except europa: NASA reveals the plaque its probe will carry to Jupiter’s icy moon later this year  

rednaxela: unusual toponyms, including the named terrace in Hong Kong believed to be Alexander transcribed right-to-left, as was the practise in the past  

fantomah: outsider comic book artist Fletcher Hanks

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit, domino theory (1947) plus more words with no English equivalent

two years ago: more links to enjoy,  World Day Against Cyber Censorship plus Mamma Mia (1975)

three years ago: the cosmography of William Fairfield Warren (1915), artist Caterina van Hemessen, St Maximilian of Tebessa, occultist Austin Osman Spare, listening to maps, more isogloss maps plus a celebration of veteran memes

four years ago: St Serafina plus COVID travel bans take effect

five years ago: resurrection plants

Friday 8 March 2024

hycean world (11. 408)

Hosted by a red dwarf around seventy light years from Earth nestled in the southern constellation of Equuleaus Pictoris (the painter’s easel, the majority of asterims of the hemisphere named after instruments representing the Age of Enlightenment and exploration), astronomers, building on earlier observations by Hubble, are studying the outermost exoplanet, TOI-270 ฮด, of the star system with the keener eyes of the James Webb Space Telescope and are coming to the conclusion that this temperate Neptune may be a water planet—above a portmanteau of hydrogen plus ocean. Though probably much hotter than conditions we are accustomed to, the pressure of the dense atmosphere (which the JWST can effectively lens through starlight and submit to spectral-analysis) and the fact it is tidally-locked with one side forever simmering and the other cast in an unending night reveals a chemical mix of water vapour and methane, suggesting a steamy global seascape.

synchronoptica

one year ago: Evil Empire (1983)

two years ago: assorted links to revisit 

three years ago: more links to enjoy plus a World War I flying ace

four years ago: Mars’ Peacock Mountain

five years ago: Frauentag, writer and illustrator Dick Bruna, a namer of clouds plus a Simpsons’ episode pulled from rotation

Tuesday 5 March 2024

7x7 (11. 402)

beyond the edge: the paradox of an infinite Cosmos  

why don’t you come up some time, see me: vocal fry and the valence of husky voices  

the complete commercial artist: the graphic design that informed modern Japan  

urschleim: primordial ooze as animated putty from 1911 

l’urythmics: an anaerobic exercise routine led by jazz dance pioneer Eugene “Luigi 5-6-7-8” Faccuito  

auteur: an omnibus collection of the most beautiful shots in cinematic history from the Solomon Society—including Barry Lyndon—sure to elicit lots of movie memories 

biosigns: an array of telescopes trained on potentially habitable exoplanets confirm a sample size one in a demonstration of its capability

Sunday 3 March 2024

8x8 (11. 396)

a bridge too far: German authorities pledge investigation into embarrassing leak of confidential military talks about Ukrainian aid  

heteronyms: the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa with seventy pen-names  

solar symbology: a survey of the various cartographic representations of North America’s upcoming total eclipse  

phrixus and helle: newly excavated fresco in Pompeii retells the myth of the Golden Fleece  

re:design: Jason Kottke unveils his new website with fresh 2024 energy—maybe we could all use a face-lift  

replevin: Trump fraudulently overvalued his Scottish golf course and resort by £200 000 000—see previously 

club remix: annual competition that invites doctoral candidates to dance their dissertation 

airdrop: US begins aid delivery to a beleaguered Gazan population on the verge of famine

 synchronoptica

one year ago: TIME magazine (1923) plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: more links to enjoy plus the largest capacity cargo plane

three years ago: more links worth the revisit, an artist’s message to get vaccinated plus Rocket Man (1972)

four years ago: the French version of the Dallas theme, Super Tuesday, Nigerian contributions to English plus more on the Human Interference Task Force

five years ago: graphic designer Alvin Lustig, Apollo IX (1969), an example of Celtic Revival architecture, McLaren’s Imperial Cheddar Club Cheese plus artist Pokey LaFarge

Wednesday 28 February 2024

paleofutures (11. 387)

Via Waxy, we come across a retrospective volume of predictions for the world of 2024 solicited from luminaries and futurists from half-a-century earlier collected by The Saturday Review for its own Golden Anniversary (established in 1924 as compendium of essays and reportage on a wide range of subjects, folding in 1986). A retrospective to better see the way forward, it features hopeful assessments by ecologist Renรฉ Dubos, who popularised the maxim to “think globally, act locally” in his capacity as advisor to the UN and foresaw sounder and smarter environmental policies, the honorific “Madame President” for the United States contrasted by a more sobering view of continued wage-inequality and glass-ceiling, Trans-Atlanticism versus nationalism, and Issac Asimov forecasting that while computer prognostications were not perfect, they would be a requirement for insurance liability purposes and decision-drivers in medical treatment. There are also quite a few boldly wrong and aspirational claims by human rights champion Andrei Sakharov like orbiting power-plants, large scale terraforming and quadruped electric cars that would prance over prairies with minimal impact and didn’t require roads, along with Neil Armstrong’s poignant reflections of decades of continued space exploration and exploitation. On the other hand, Werner von Braun accurately predicted the world wide web, email and teleworking plus their implications. Much more at the links above.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit

two years ago: the Horodecki House of Kyiv, Guernica vandalised (1972) plus the paper art of Charles Young

three years ago: more on the Mountain Dream tarot, the finale of M*A*S*H* (1983), artist Edward Hopper plus redesigning the hypodermic emoji

four years ago: ranking ringed-planet emojis plus hauntingly familiar images from the 1918 influenza pandemic

five years ago: anti-Catholic sentiment and the Lincoln assassination conspiracy, resurfacing a lost urban river plus more links to enjoy

Saturday 17 February 2024

♐︎ (11. 357)

Via Boing Boing, we are directed towards a project by Matt Webb that resulted in this handy app that always points to the galactic centre of the Milky Way, the rotational point coincident with the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* surrounded by about ten million older red giant stars in close proximity. When I got my first model of iPhone, I got made fun of for first playing with the compass before anything else, and I’m not ashamed to say, especially for someone with a poor sense of direction, I still find it engaging even with no particular place to go. With little avowed programming skills and no experience in making apps, the details of realising this undertaking in collaboration with AI are really interesting and illustrative of the cooperative effort—it’s not just summoned into existence but was enabled and was a great leveller, but even more internet was the preamble about Webb cultivating a superpower to orientate himself to intuitively know where this dense, far away region was an imagine the waltz of the cosmos relative to this pivot-point and relative to himself—reminiscent of some insular and aboriginal languages using geographical features, landmarks or cardinal directions rather than the egocentric right and left. Webb’s navigational instinct has since sadly waned but can be supplemented by this little creation, grounding  to know even when it’s below one’s feet.

selenology (11. 356)

From the Amusing Planet’s archives, we are directed towards the 1874 work of engineer and hobbyist astronomer and photographer James Nasmyth of Edinburgh through his speculate volume on lunar geology called The Moon: Considered as a Planet, a World, and a Satellite, a compendium of research and observations, supplemented by a number of highly detailed photographic plates produced during a time when it was not technically possible to take such striking images directly through a telescope. Instead, Nasmyth improvised by making sketches from what he could see through his self-made observatory and transforming them into plaster relief scale models and photographing those under electric illumination to highlight the shadows and contours of his topographic globes. This work carried out after retirement from heavy industry, having invented the hydraulic press and the steam hammer and other machine tools, an impact crater (he had incorrectly theorised volcanic origins, though later research confirms lava flows) on the Moon is named in honour of Nasmyth himself, just to the west of the pictured Wargentin, for his lifetime of accomplishments.