Tuesday 23 July 2024

8x8 (11. 712)

veepstakes: Sherwin-Williams paint colour or potential running-mate for Kamala Harris 

prince rupert’s cube: Platonic solids will fit through an identically shaped one, thanks to the ponderings of a seventeenth century Rheinland monarch—see previously  

hollywood walk-outs: publicity stills from film’s Golden Age of movie casts in full costume paraded outside between takes—via Messy Nessy Chic  

bareback: the bleaching, normalising of a rather vulgar terms used in wide contexts  

news cycle: breaking stories happening faster than area man can generate uninformed opinions  

orrery: a look at the Royal Eise Eisinga Planetarium, the world’s oldest and smallest functioning astronomical theatre created by a weaver turned star-gazer and purchased by the king—via ibฤซdem  

she’s just not sufficiently grateful: all the ways the GOP is melting down over the changed presidential race


one year ago: another MST3K classic (with synchronoptica), a virtual diving-bell, assorted links worth revisiting plus a banger from The Cars

seven years ago: mushroom season, poorly drawn cats plus boustrophedic writing

nine years ago: more on author Karl May plus comic book heroes

eleven years ago: a haircut for Greece plus ceremonial government roles

fourteen years ago: more bad banks plus Oktoberfest and other attractions

Monday 15 July 2024

9x9 (11. 694)

fungal magic: an update on the mushroom documentary narrated by Bjรถrk  

always lands on its feet: the myriad ways animals negotiate the laws of physics—see also  

meisje met de parel: decoding Vermeer’s true colours—see previously—via Miss Cellania 

i’m your heat pump: a seductive slow jam seems to educate the public on the thermal energy transmission system 

eno: the generative documentary on the self-described non-musician that changes with each viewing  

legal daisy spacing: a purported 1985 manual for terraforming a planet that presents a warped bureaucracy and sterile landscaping  

nolle prosequi: federal judge overseeing illegal retention of classified documents trial against Trump dismissed the indictment over the improper appointment of the prosecution’s special counsel—see previously here and here  

reimann hypothesis: new insights about the distribution of prime numbers—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

krรคuterbuch: Johannes Hartlieb’s fifteenth century treasury of herbs



one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting (with synchronoptica), Netscape plus the Rosetta Stone

seven years ago: dark matter, more on the election integrity commission plus the bicentennial of Frankenstein

nine years ago: thalassocracies, plutographies plus more links to enjoy 

eleven years ago: a slightly NSFW Soviet adult literacy reader

twelve years ago: the German banking system plus the Oberammergau Passion Plays

Tuesday 18 June 2024

9x9 (11. 636)

who is this imposter: AI ruins classic, static reaction memes with animation  

๐Ÿฅ–: the bygone baguette boxes of French Polynesia—via Messy Nessy Chic  

quantum compass: London Underground hosts trials for a subatomic sensor that could supplement satellite navigation  

crystal lake: the preponderance of 1980s horror movies set at summer camp  

ball & chain: Nag on the Lake shares a special memory from Festival Express, the touring show of Monterey Pop, when the musicians came to Toronto

message in a bottle: the dozen times humans have tried to communicate with extra-terrestrial intelligences—see previously here, here and here  

encarta: the short, happy reign of the multimedia CD-ROM as part of Fast Company’s 1994 Week—via Slashdot  

casa bonita: a 1974 amusement park restaurant reopens under new management and with a monumental wait-list 

 surgeon general’s warning: US top doctor urges health notices for social media


one year ago: an AI’s take on emoji (plus synchronoptica), assorted links worth revisiting, a human computer plus Adsense (2003)

five years ago: Sweden’s alcohol monopoly, the UK Carbon Brief plus more links to enjoy

six years ago: a Banksy gallery opens, first issue magazine covers, the War of 1812, a space slingshot, more links worth the revisit plus Trump and Merkel

seven years ago: the US withdrawal from the Paris Treaty plus even more links

nine years ago: tobacco introduced to the Old World, more links, Hocus Pocus plus the nobiliary particle

Saturday 4 May 2024

8x8 (11. 539)

an elegant weapon for a more civilised age: the physics and power demands of a lightsaber  

defective fleet of fly sky-wreckage: nothing good has the acronym MRSA (Material Review Segregation Area) 

chic boutique: Messy Nessy to open a brick-and-mortar clubhouse and shop in Paris  

wopr: US urges China and Russia to pledge that AI will never have command and control of nuclear weapons  

poultice: an orangutan observed self-medicating a wound in the wild with a paste made of plants with healing properties 

serenity amid disaster: a short animation from Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, “The Flying Sailor,” examines the wonder and fragility of existence  

peak wtf: gun-mounted flashlights popular with American police officers 

oh, the asthma guy: a conversion with that one friend who’s never seen Star Wars

Monday 18 March 2024

insatiable birdie (11. 433)

Via Miss Cellania, we not only learn the rather elegant physics and chemistry behind those sippy bird toys but also that researchers have given it an upgrade as a device to generate energy.

Sometimes mislabeled as a perpetual motion machine, the thirsty mechanism is a heat engine, two evacuated glass bulbs linked by a tube pivot on a crosspiece and turns the temperature gradient along the body into a pressure difference that translates to the mechanism. Water evaporates from the head (usually adorned with something absorbent like felt) and lowers the temperature and pressure and causes some of the vapour in the chamber to condense (usually ether, alcohol or chloroform) and the liquid is forced up the neck, causing it to tip forward. The ambient air temperature warms the bottom bulb and causes the cycle to repeat. The toy, originally called a Pulshammer was a German invention improved by Benjamin Franklin, after seeing one in action around 1768 and illustrates the principles of capillary action, wet-bulb temperature, heat of condensation as well as several laws of thermodynamics and idea gases and with the latest modifications also demonstrates the triboelectric effect (static electricity), harnessing it to power small appliances and seems overall like a pretty good educational apparatus, provoking thought while charging.  Who knew? More technical details and a video demonstration of the prototype at the link above.

one year ago: assorted links to revisit, Yugoslavian fashion plus climbing Everest (1923)

two years ago: more links to enjoy, two probes passing in the night, more shibboleths plus Arnold Schwarzenegger makes an appeal to the people of Russia

three years ago: RIP Yaphet Kotto, more links worth the revisit, Motown on tour (1965), mourning rings, fear of covering up plus the fashions of Birgitta Bjerke

four years ago: an iconic photograph from the battlefield (1942)

five years ago: Transit Driver Appreciation Day

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


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

Sunday 3 March 2024

penrose tiles (11. 398)

Given the potential, inevitably of quantum computing to break even the hardest encryption and pose an existential threat to the digital framework of privacy and security that we’ve become accustomed to, a possible reprieve in the form of aperiodic tiling is welcome news. Rather than focus on the symmetrical and repeating approaches to tiling a surface, polymath and Nobel laureate Roger Penrose and others began to study inflation and deflation of imperfect coverage in the 1970s, and anticipating the models of quantum computing, physical qubits and the superimposed virtual states, the never-repeating mosaics are not in themselves a place to hide information but a check-digit redundancy to ensure calculations stay on course. Given the nature of quantum mechanics—measuring the in-between state, neither zero or one and both, will cause the value to collapse, making the circuitry a rather delicate and unreliable thing and could lead to a more robust and internally consistent way for encoding and encryption as we know it. More at the links above.

Sunday 25 February 2024

11x11 (11. 380)

sure, write stuff for free—but write it for yourself: maintaining one’s creativity in the bleak media sector brickwalling and the loss of journalistic records  

rage-baiting: viral Tik-Tok couple troll influencer culture with such precision most don’t realise it’s satire—via Super Punch  

the paint explainer: a primer on the twenty-seven amendments to the US Constitution—via Memo of the Air 

dark dimensions: there’s a new theory about where dark matter might be hiding  

the sony smartwig: a 2016 patent granted for a connected hairpiece one pairs with their phone for tactile feedback 

the navel on an orange is a mutation that created a conjoined twin: weird information to dispense on a first date—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links 

the riker manoeuvre: small towns with monuments to Star Trek characters—via Marginal Revolution  

selectric funeral: the Boston Typewriter Orchestra hopes to appear in NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert with this submission  

awful yet lawful: US Supreme Court to entertain grievances on social media moderation for deplatforming hateful and dangerous content  

multi-level marketing: a supercut of huckster Donald Trump’s merchandising scams 

you can out-buzzfeed buzzfeed after all: media group in takeover talks with UK’s The Independent—see previously

Wednesday 21 February 2024

vielecke u. vielflache (11. 368)

This 1900 study of polyhedra by geometer Johannes Max Brรผckner, who taught at a Gymnasium (a secondary, preparatory school) in Bautzen after earning a degree in mathematics and physics from the Universities of Leipzig and Heidelberg and earned his teaching credentials for constructing many models of stellated shapes, compounds of the Platonic solids projected outward until the result in a new uniform and congruent three dimensional figure (see also), is not only noted for its aesthetic and inspirational value (M C Escher’s work was largely informed by exposure to this publication) but is considered among the foundational proofs of the field, documenting all the then known possibilities. In 1930, Brรผckner’s collection of models were donated to the institution in Baden-Wรผrttemberg, which in turn awarded him with another honorary degree. More at Present /&/ Correct at the link up top.

Tuesday 6 February 2024

8x8 (11. 328)

the scholar & his cat: a resonant ninth century reflection by Pangur Bรกn 

bring your own beach owl: mimicry and semi-automated genre fiction—via Kottke  

riverwalk: a one kilometre-long museum that undulates with the reservoir it crosses in Shandong province

steelmaster: a 1966 office furniture catalogue  

television stone: the unique optical properties of the mineral ulexite 

๐Ÿ›‹️: the Eames Archive open to the public—see previously 

vesuvius challenge: a trio of researchers share the honorarium for deciphering charred scrolls from Herculaneum with the help of AI  

ombre: Alexander Pope’s card game


one year ago: Facebook’s social engineering experiments plus a ska version of the Tetris theme

two years ago: multiple zoom maps, Computerwelt, Sesame Street light jazz plus assorted links to revisit

three years ago: quotation marks, Zardoz (1974), more links to enjoy, the founding of Liberia, I Ching in melting snow plus barbarian tongues

four years ago: Deciminisation Days, Trump acquitted, classical architecture plus photographer Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore

five years ago: Anguilla independence, the Irish border, dress uniforms plus Orson Welles on creeping intolerance

Saturday 3 February 2024

9x9 (11. 319)

thinking of you. i mean me. i mean you: a new exhibition on the artist Barbara Kruger advances her legacy up to the present—see previously  

hi neighbour: Johnny Costa introduced jazz to Mister Rogers along with his audience  

una vincenzo, the lady troubridge: fashion icon, sculptor, translator and unashamed, power lesbian  

baud per second: Eclectic Method’s dial-up modem song  

unexcused absences: obstructionist state senators cannot run for re-election in Oregon after constitutional amendment—via Super Punch 

unwatering: researchers find the solution the Richard Feynman’s hypothetical reserve sprinkler  

amateuraufnahmen: colour footage of Berlin, Leipzig and Bad Schandau from the 1960s  

please don’t try to print it: unlocking the page dimensions in Adobe to create a PDF larger than the entire Universe—via Kottke  

friend or foe: Clownfish count stripes to keep out adult interlopers from their territory—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links—see also strange sex lives of the species

Saturday 6 January 2024

8x8 (11. 249)

the gift of the magi: the 1952 classic adapted from the O Henry short story 

ed people: Belgian dancer travels the world asking others to teach him their favourite moves—via Waxy

diminishing returns: the Golden Age of solar eclipses is receding  

all i know about magnet is this, give me a glass of water, let me drop it on the magnets, that’s the end of magnets: Trump rally in Iowa  

amicus brief: US Supreme Court agrees to review a ruling by a lower court that disqualified Donald Trump for his participation in the insurrection, could have implications for Maine’s ban

kodachrome: artist Jessica Brill invokes nostalgia by painting found photographs  

my fellow peripatetics: research confirms the therapeutic value of walking 

 kinder der berge: Liechtenstein’s singular domestic feature film—via Strange Company

Tuesday 19 December 2023

9x9 (11. 196)

mister jingeling: a dozen, beloved department store Christmas characters—see also—via Miss Cellania

bubblenomics: pondering the consequences of when AI goes the way of crypto and NFTs 

indefinite causal order: quantum batteries are powered by paradox—via Damn Interesting  

a winter’s tale: selected readings of Christmas ghost stories—via Things Magazine  

the waitresses: the cynical anti-holiday hit Christmas Wrapping that became a festive classic 

infinite jukebox: a clever AI application that extends songs forever  

high ground: study of the competition for space dominance between the US and China suggests America occupy Lagrange points to counter malign ambitions  

52 snippets: facts gleaned from economics and finance from the past twelve months 

snoopy come home: Gen Z rediscovers and identifies with the Peanuts’ character

Tuesday 12 December 2023

10x10 (11. 184)

arrows of time: a timeline tracing the evolution of human understanding through various magisteria—via the new shelton wet/dry  

horary quandrant: oldest dated English time-keeping instrument goes under the hammer—see previously  

guten morgen: the newly launched Nightjet service between Berlin and Paris marks a return of sleeper trains—see previously 

the beef and dairy network: industry delegates and lobbyists triple at COP28 

theory of mind: researchers reveal a deep chasm in how perception varies from individual to individual  

animation v physics: Alan Becker’s follow on video to Animation v Maths—via Waxy  

oed: the joys of exploring the authoritative dictionary—see previously  

rewind: carbon removal technology is also a time-machine—though presently only able to move the needle a little—via Good Internet 

 the year in search: Google presents its annual review  

the great scrollback: the Verge’s features the best archived tweets

Saturday 9 December 2023

clock-radio (11. 174)

Admitting a certain penchant for multi-function gadgets—like infamously a car vacuum-flash light-tyre pump combo that excelled at none of these tasks—we found this latest post from Fancy Notions to be quite resonant, particularly the German Engineering aspect with the precision of the eierschalensollbruchstellenverursacher, calibrated to an ideal weight to crack the shell perfectly without mangling the soft-boiled interior—the steel plunger exerting a force of a little more than half a newton (one kilogram accelerating one meter per second per second). While we have a very serviceable egg-timer that alleviates some of the guess-work, it is a challenge (that I aspire to keep) to run the eggs under cold water long enough to get the exterior to peel away easily.

Sunday 3 December 2023

9x9 (11. 160)

caput apri defero, reddens laudes domino: an annual procession dating back to the fourteenth century that marks the beginning of Christmas season in London 

pingxiety: an update on the aerospace engineer’s anti-smart phone—see previously  

settled law: a carol to reaffirm that Die Hard is in fact a Christmas movie  

pocket universe: scientists in Germany re-create the Cosmos in a test tube to tweak the laws of physics for this primordial simulation  

pilea peperomiodes: the Chinese money plant goes by another common name for good reasons  

such fun: noun and adjectival usage of the intensifier on either side of the Atlantic  

anthrobots: researchers have created tiny, living robots from human cells that could one day patrol for diseases and repair damaged tissue  

there used to be a house at 6114 california street: a interview at home with Anton LaVey in 1967—see previously—via r/Obscure Media  

coquito ho ho: a guide to festive variations on classic cocktails

Saturday 11 November 2023

uhz1 (11. 112)

A collaborative discovery between JWST and the Chandra x-ray survey (the latter launched in 1999 and not with the former’s visual infra-red spectrum) has identified the oldest, super-massive black hole, emerging just half a billion years after the Big Bang. Whist we never thought of the occurrence to be a sign of cosmic urban decay, to see the Universe to have the right conditions to seed their formation, most probably from a collapsed cloud of stellar gas rather than the accretion of early giant stars, does make one pause to assess what the natural order and tendency is, with the black hole confirmed as the identity of this background galaxy (ranging from a tenth to one hundred percent of its mass, and ten-fold larger than the one in the centre of the Milky Way), one wonders what the trajectory of the Universe is and how we might comprehend it.

Wednesday 1 November 2023

7x7 (11. 089)

rough trade № 5: experimental post-punk band The Raincoats recording their first single  

seo: an after-party for those who helped ruin the internet 

fungiculture: narrated by Bjรถrk and presented by biologist Melvin Sheldrake, an upcoming documentary on on the ties that bind—see previously 

top level domain: Anguilla’s .ai internet suffix is a significant portion of the island’s gross-domestic product  

spectral analysis: the missing colours of the rainbow accounted for with Frauenhofer lines

survey sez: a newspaper accuses an advertiser of reputational damage after a poorly placed poll 

the kingsmen: the story behind Louie Louie—see previously

Monday 23 October 2023

mol (11. 071)

As the unit of measurement for the amount of substance—proportional to the elementary entities (atoms, molecules, ions or other particles) within a volume, a way of bundling masses of into a magnitude of quantity after the conventions of a teaspoon, a dozen, a baker’s dozen or a gross so that chemical reactions, scientists can accurately express the concentration—recipe—of reactants. Despite the different natures, a mole of water (a chemical compound) and a mole of mercury (an element) have the same number of discrete particles in them—which is Avogadros’ Number, 6,022 ๏ฝ˜ 10²³ mol, six hundred two sextillion, two hundred quintillion. It’s useful to have such a normalising proxy for grasping the number of atoms in a given object. Enthusiasts and educators celebrate Mole Day on this day (US calendar conventions) from 06:02 in the morning until two after six in the evening as a way to drum up interest in chemistry and scientific literacy.


one year ago: visiting Crete 

two years ago: your daily demon: Sabnok plus assorted links to revisit

three years ago: circuit judge Roy Cohn, a pretend Communist coup, more links to enjoy, the beginning of the world plus an appreciation of the colour russet

four years ago: more links worth revisiting plus more on the far future night sky

five years ago: the canals of Mars, swing sixties cover of Red Hot Chili Peppers, the first Russian rapper plus noteworthy files from the US National Records Archive

Tuesday 26 September 2023

einsteinturm (11. 027)

Closed for renovations for over a year, the solar observatory on Potsdam’s Telegraphenberg in the science park also named for the renowned physicist, the solar observatory with a range of experiments designed to validate—or disprove—the theory of relativity has now been reopened to the public. Designed by industrial, Streamline Moderne architect Erich Mendelsohn and Richard Neutra in consultation with astronomer Erwin Finlay-Freundlich 1920 and operational by 1924, the accessible laboratory could demonstrate the gravitational red-shift (detectable in slight variations in the Sun’s spectral signature) by Einstein and introduce visitors, not just scientists and educators, to the new cosmological model and introduce basic research principles to general audiences. An active scientific facility run by the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics to the present day, the Einstein Tower focuses on studies of the solar magnetic field and Sun spot activity. During the Nazi regime, the observatory was stripped of its name and independence and a bronze bust of Albert Einstein was removed from the premises. Employees and associates have maintained a tradition of placing a single, substitute stone (ein stein) in its place since.