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Updated: 2017-06-23T20:19:51Z

 



What if the Earth suddenly turned flat?

2017-06-23T20:19:51Z

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We all know the Earth is (nearly) spherical. Wellllll, not everyone does. So what if our planet did suddenly turn flat? Gizmodo recently asked a bunch of scientists this question and the answer came back: certain death for all life on Earth. More specifically, seismologist Susan Hough says:

If the earth were to suddenly flatten, presumably all sorts of hell would break loose. I guess it would depend on how flat is flat. If we’re talking pancake flat, gravity would be an immediate problem: gravitational attraction goes as G(m1*m2)/r^2, where G is the gravitational constant, m1 & m2 are two masses, and r is distance. A sphere is the 3D shape that maximizes surface area relative to volume, which kind of gives gravity the biggest bang for its buck. If you flatten the sphere, the far side gets closer to the new center point, but the ends spread way out, so surface gravity goes down at the center, and way down at the edges. Lose gravity and bye-bye atmosphere.

Other first-order problems: heat, radioactivity, etc. In our spherical earth, both of these are concentrated in the core. If the earth were flattened, they would have to go somewhere-presumably a lot closer to the surface.

Tags: Earth   science



What if animals were round?

2017-06-23T18:32:40Z

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An outfit called Rollin’ Wild makes these fun videos imagining if animals were super round, like balloons. (via swissmiss)

Tags: video



Rakka, a short film by Neill Blomkamp

2017-06-23T14:03:59Z

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Filmmaker Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Chappie) is planning on making a series of experimental short films as proofs-of-concept for possible feature film development. His first short has just been released through Oats Studios; it’s called Rakka, stars Sigourney Weaver, and is kind of a cross between District 9 and Edge of Tomorrow. Also, they’re selling some of the film’s assets on Steam: concept art, 3D print files, and video files with more promised (dailies, visual effects behind-the-scenes, etc.).

Tags: Neill Blomkamp   Sigourney Weaver   video



Hayao Miyazaki’s favorite children’s books

2017-06-22T22:55:18Z

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Back in 2010, legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki picked his 50 favorite books for children and young adults. Here are the top five:

1. The Borrowers by Mary Norton
2. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
3. Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren
4. When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson
5. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

It’s easy to see the influence of the books from the list on the movies he made. Indeed, two of the top five books were actually made into Studio Ghibli films (The Borrowers and When Marnie Was There).

P.S. The Totoro / Little Prince illustration is from Pinterest, but I couldn’t find the original source. Anyone?

Tags: best of   books   Hayao Miyazaki   lists   movies



NASA Apollo Saturn V Lego set

2017-06-22T16:07:20Z

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Lego has introduced an Apollo Saturn V rocket set, complete with lunar lander and 3 astronaut minifigs.

Packed with authentic details, it features 3 removable rocket stages, including the S-IVB third stage with the lunar lander and lunar orbiter. The set also includes 3 stands to display the model horizontally, 3 new-for-June-2017 astronaut microfigures for role-play recreations of the Moon landings, plus a booklet about the manned Apollo missions and the fan designers of this educational and inspirational LEGO Ideas set.

Three rocket stages! And look at this lander:

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Amazing detail: the set contains 1969 pieces, which is the year that the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the Moon. I typically leave the Lego building to my kids, but I might have to make an exception for this. (via mike)

Tags: Apollo   Legos   Moon   NASA   space



Blade Runner 2049 making-of featurette

2017-06-22T13:54:52Z

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As if I weren’t looking forward to this enough: this four-minute making-of featurette on Blade Runner 2049 features Harrison Ford, Roger Deakins, Ridley Scott, Denis Villeneuve, Ridley Scott, and others talking about the forthcoming film. Come *on* October, get here already.

Tags: Blade Runner   movies   video



An update to Hidden Folks

2017-06-21T20:33:17Z

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I love the aesthetic for Hidden Folks, an iOS game that’s like an interactive version of Where’s Waldo? in black & white. The creators just released a big update to the game and explained how they designed and built the new level.

Like everything in Hidden Folks, the Factory started on paper. Sylvain Tegroeg, the Illustrator with whom I made the game, uses a fineliner to draw every single element individually. Sylvain and I brainstorm on the theme and possible sub-themes that could work well with interactions, after which Sylvain enters The Zone™ and just draws whatever comes to mind. After drawing a bunch of things, Sylvain scans them and (manually) places them in a sprite sheet.

Sometimes, the technology you use ends up unexpectedly affecting your creative output:

When Sylvain and I started working on Hidden Folks about three years ago, he decided to buy a somewhat medium-quality / cost-efficient scanner for the project. When that scanner broke down recently, he used a better scanner for a while only to discover that his digital drawings suddenly looked very different, and so we bought that same low-budget scanner just to make sure all Hidden Folks drawings look consistent.

(via @njvack)

Tags: iPhone games   video games



Support kottke.org with a membership

2017-06-21T20:08:01Z

Hello! Jason Kottke here. If you’re a regular reader of this RSS feed, please consider supporting my efforts on kottke.org by becoming a member today. The revenue from memberships is critical to keeping one of the best independent websites running at its full capacity. There are several membership options to choose from; you can check them out here or read about why I’m doing this here.

And if you’re already a member, thank you! You are the best.




Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy

2017-06-21T16:12:14Z

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Tim Harford, aka The Undercover Economist, is coming out with a new book called Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy.

New ideas and inventions have woven, tangled or sliced right through the invisible economic web that surrounds us every day. From the bar code to double-entry bookkeeping, covering ideas as solid as concrete or as intangible as the limited liability company, this book not only shows us how new ideas come about, it also shows us their unintended consequences — for example, the gramophone introducing radically unequal pay in the music industry, or how the fridge shaped the politics of developing countries across the globe.

It’s based on his BBC podcast 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy.

Fun fact that I just discovered: Harford and I share the same birthday, both date and year.

Tags: books   economics   Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy   podcasts   Tim Harford



The view from Mars

2017-06-21T13:49:04Z

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NASA’s Opportunity rover started exploring the surface of Mars in January 2004. Its mission was supposed to last about 90 days, but over 13 years later, Opportunity is still rolling around the red planet, doing science and taking photos. Jason Major processed a few of Opportunity’s most recent snaps of the Endeavour Crater and they’re just wonderful. I’m especially taken with the one included above…it belongs in a museum!

Tags: Jason Major   Mars   NASA   photography   science   space



Narrative flowcharts for Choose Your Own Adventure books

2017-06-20T20:26:52Z

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The newest editions of Choose Your Own Adventure books come with maps of the story structure that depicts all the branches, endings, and links of each story.

On the official maps, however, the endings aren’t coded in any way that reveals their nature. Instead, they operate according to a simple key: each arrow represents a page, each circle a choice, and each square an ending. Dotted lines show where branches link to one another.

Mapping the bones of the books can have other purposes, too. Nick Montfort, a poet and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies interactive fiction, has a habit of asking people what they know about “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. “They often say, ‘You have two choices after every page,’” he says. “That’s not true. Sometimes you have one choice. Sometimes you have more than two. When you show the maps, you can see that these books don’t look exactly the same.”

(via @RLHeppner)

Tags: books   Choose Your Own Adventure   infoviz



Why did Amazon buy Whole Foods? World domination.

2017-06-20T18:01:54Z

Amazon’s New Customer is a really great analysis by Ben Thompson of Amazon’s strategy and why Amazon bought Whole Foods: they purchased a new customer for Amazon infrastructure, not a retailer. Early on in the piece, Thompson lays this one on us:

Amazon’s goal is to take a cut of all economic activity.

No qualifiers. All economic activity. In the world. Sort of a Dutch East India Company for the internet age. Thompson explains how they’re going to do it and why fresh food is such a strategic hole for them.

As you might expect, given a goal as audacious as “taking a cut of all economic activity”, Amazon has several different strategies. The key to the enterprise is AWS: if it is better to build an Internet-enabled business on the public cloud, and if all businesses will soon be Internet-enabled businesses, it follows that AWS is well-placed to take a cut of all business activity.

On the consumer side the key is Prime. While Amazon has long pursued a dominant strategy in retail — superior cost and superior selection — it is difficult to build sustainable differentiation on these factors alone. After all, another retailer is only a click away.

This, though, is the brilliance of Prime: thanks to its reliability and convenience (two days shipping, sometimes faster!), plus human fallibility when it comes to considering sunk costs (you’ve already paid $99!), why even bother looking anywhere else? With Prime Amazon has created a powerful moat around consumer goods that does not depend on simply having the lowest price, because Prime customers don’t even bother to check.

This, though, is why groceries is a strategic hole: not only is it the largest retail category, it is the most persistent opportunity for other retailers to gain access to Prime members and remind them there are alternatives. That is why Amazon has been so determined in the space: AmazonFresh launched a decade ago, and unlike other Amazon experiments, has continued to receive funding along with other rumored initiatives like convenience store and grocery pick-ups. Amazon simply hasn’t been able to figure out the right tactics.

When I heard about the Whole Foods deal, the first thing I thought about was Amazon Go. The company has been trying to experiment with different retail environments, but without the proper scale, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Whole Foods gives them a chance to develop their fresh food delivery infrastructure at scale…so that they can offer it to other customers just like they do with AWS.

P.S. Whenever I think about Amazon as a business, I recall this 2012 post by Eugene Wei on Amazon’s low-margin strategy. I suspect Thompson’s post will join it in my thoughts.

Tags: Amazon   Ben Thompson   business   economics   Whole Foods



Ikea’s “Cook This Page” posters

2017-06-20T15:57:35Z

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For a promotion in a Canadian store, Ikea developed a series of posters that help you cook dinner. You lay the poster down, place the food directly on it according to the printed directions, and then you fold up the ends to cook it — the posters double as cooking parchment. (via fast company)

Tags: cooking   food   Ikea   video



Japanese robot sumo wresting is incredibly fast

2017-06-20T13:50:40Z

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Robots fighting each other in arenas is a popular sporting event; see Robot Wars. In Japan, such competitions often take place in small sumo rings and the robots need to move incredibly fast to achieve victory. Robert McGregor compiled some of the fastest and most vicious footage in this video…and none of the footage is sped up in any way. Note the protective leg pads worn by the referee in many of the clips…there must have been an “incident”. (via @domyates)

Tags: Japan   robots   sports   sumo



When you walk over to shoot hoops at Drake’s house with Kanye

2017-06-19T22:00:01Z

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A celebrity story is usually far more interesting when the person telling the story doesn’t give a shit about offending the celebs in question (or talking to them ever again). This story told by Ninja, one half of the Die Antwoord musical group, is clearly in that category. In it, he recounts hanging out at Kanye’s house, eating Kim Kardashian’s delicious banana pudding (not even a euphemism), and then wandering over to Drake’s house (with whom Ninja has a history) to play some basketball. One of the things I liked about this story is that it could have stopped in three or four different places and been a complete & entertaining story, but it just kept going.

Tags: basketball   celebrity   Die Antwoord   Drake   Kanye West   Kim Kardashian   sports   video



Quantum entanglement effects observed over 100s of miles

2017-06-19T17:54:22Z

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A group of Chinese scientists say they have demonstrated the effects of quantum entanglement over a distance of 1200 km (745 miles).

Entanglement involves putting objects in the peculiar limbo of quantum superposition, in which an object’s quantum properties occupy multiple states at once: like Schrodinger’s cat, dead and alive at the same time. Then those quantum states are shared among multiple objects. Physicists have entangled particles such as electrons and photons, as well as larger objects such as superconducting electric circuits.

Theoretically, even if entangled objects are separated, their precarious quantum states should remain linked until one of them is measured or disturbed. That measurement instantly determines the state of the other object, no matter how far away. The idea is so counterintuitive that Albert Einstein mocked it as “spooky action at a distance.”

What’s weird to me is that all the articles I read about this touted that this happened in space, that an ultra-secure communications network was possible, or that we could build a quantum computer in space. Instantaneous communication over a distance of hundreds of miles is barely mentioned. Right now, it takes about 42 minutes for a round-trip communication between the Earth and Mars (and ~84 minutes for Jupiter). What if, when humans decide to settle on Mars, we could send a trillion trillion quantum entangled particles along with the homesteaders that could then be used to communicate in real time with people on Earth? I mean, how amazing would that be?

Update: Well, the simple reason why these articles don’t mention instantaneous communication at distance is that you can’t do it, even with quantum entanglement.

This is one of the most confusing things about quantum physics: entanglement can be used to gain information about a component of a system when you know the full state and make a measurement of the other component(s), but not to create-and-send information from one part of an entangled system to the other. As clever of an idea as this is, Olivier, there’s still no faster-than-light communication.

(thx, everyone)

Tags: physics   quantum mechanics   science   time travel   video



WoodSwimmmer, a gorgeous stop motion journey through wood

2017-06-19T15:38:03Z

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Engineer & animator Brett Foxwell and musician & animator Conor Grebel collaborated on this gorgeous stop motion animation of pieces of wood being slowly ground away by a milling machine. Watch as the knots and grain of the wood come alive to mirror teeming cities, spiraling galaxies, flowing water, and dancing alien worlds. Colossal briefly interviewed Foxwell about the video:

“Fascinated with the shapes and textures found in both newly-cut and long-dead pieces of wood, I envisioned a world composed entirely of these forms,” Foxwell told Colossal. “As I began to engage with the material, I conceived a method using a milling machine and an animation camera setup to scan through a wood sample photographically and capture its entire structure. Although a difficult and tedious technique to refine, it yielded gorgeous imagery at once abstract and very real. Between the twisting growth rings, swirling rays, knot holes, termites and rot, I found there is a lot going on inside of wood.”

Some stills from the video are available as prints.

Tags: Brett Foxwell   Conor Grebel   stop motion   video



Robots dreaming of flowery dinosaurs

2017-06-19T13:48:45Z

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Chris Rodley (who is also partially responsible for @MagicRealismBot) is using deep learning (aka artificial intelligence aka machine learning aka what do these things even mean anymore) to cross illustrations of dinosaurs with illustrations of flowers and 19th-century fruit engravings. All your favorites are here: tricherrytops, velocirapple, tree rex, pomme de pterodactyl, frondasaurus, stegosaurose, tuliplodocus. (via @robinsloan)

Tags: artificial intelligence   Chris Rodley   dinosaurs   food   remix



The Defiant Ones

2017-06-16T20:07:54Z

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From HBO, The Defiant Ones is a four-part documentary on Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine directed by Allen Hughes (who co-directed Menace II Society).

The four-documentary event is told with the help of many of the most notable artists and figures of our time, reflecting Hughes’ unfettered access to Iovine, Dre and the remarkable cast of figures who have been a part of their success story. In addition to extensive interviews with Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, who speak frankly about their highs and lows, the show includes interviews with such music icons as Bono, David Geffen, Eminem, Nas, Ice Cube, Gwen Stefani, Jon Landau, Tom Petty, Trent Reznor, Snoop Dogg, Bruce Springsteen and will.i.am. The series also features never-before-seen footage from a multitude of recording and writing sessions with Eazy-E, JJ Fad, Stevie Nicks, N.W.A., Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and U2, among others.

Ok, fine, looks good, but the real reason you should watch this trailer is to hear Snoop talking about being on the cover of “The Rolling Stones” magazine and its aftermath…and then the cut to Eminem. Who says there’s no good editing happening in trailers?

Also, I wonder if they’re going to go into Dre’s history of domestic violence? I’m guessing not? Defiant indeed.

Tags: Dr. Dre   HBO   Jimmy Iovine   The Defiant Ones   trailers   TV   video



An entertaining short documentary about Jeff Koons

2017-06-16T18:02:54Z

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Fun fact: Koons listens to Led Zeppelin for about an hour every day. From the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA, this is a short documentary on the life and work of artist Jeff Koons, narrated by Scarlett Johansson. I’ve been experiencing Jeff Koons’ art for almost two decades now and I still can’t decide if I like it or not or if Koons is full of shit or not. I would still love to see his project for the High Line come to fruition though.

Tags: art   Jeff Koons   Scarlett Johansson   video



Man uses a 3D model of his face to get a national ID card

2017-06-16T15:37:07Z

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Frenchman Raphael Fabre recently requested a French national ID card, but instead of sending in a headshot, he sent in a 3D model of his face created on a computer. The French government issued the card to him.

The photo I submitted for this request is actually a 3D model created on a computer, by means of several different software and techniques used for special effects in movies and in the video game industry. It is a digital image, where the body is absent, the result of an artificial process.

The image corresponds to the official demands for an ID: it is resembling, is recent, and answers all the criteria of framing, light, bottom and contrasts to be observed.

The document validating my french identity in the most official way thus presents today an image of me which is practically virtual, a version of video game, fiction.

If you look long and close enough at the high-res 3D image, there are little tells that it’s fake (the hairline, for example) but you could glance at it 1000 times without suspecting a thing. Even if it’s fake it’s real, eh Sippey? (via @zachklein)

Tags: art   Raphael Fabre



What bullets do to bodies

2017-06-16T13:42:36Z

Emergency room doctor Leana Wen writes in the NY Times about what bullets do to human bodies.

Early in my medical training, I learned that it is not the bullet that kills you, but the damage from the bullet. A handgun bullet enters the body in a straight line. Like a knife, it damages the organs and tissues directly in its path, and then it either exits the body or is stopped by bone, tissue or skin.

This is in contrast to bullets from an assault rifle. They are three times the speed of handgun bullets. Once they enter the body, they fragment and explode, pulverizing bones, tearing blood vessels and liquefying organs.

Earlier this year, Jason Fagone wrote a much longer piece on the same topic for HuffPost.

“As a country,” Goldberg said, “we lost our teachable moment.” She started talking about the 2012 murder of 20 schoolchildren and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Goldberg said that if people had been shown the autopsy photos of the kids, the gun debate would have been transformed. “The fact that not a single one of those kids was able to be transported to a hospital, tells me that they were not just dead, but really really really really dead. Ten-year-old kids, riddled with bullets, dead as doornails.” Her voice rose. She said people have to confront the physical reality of gun violence without the polite filters. “The country won’t be ready for it, but that’s what needs to happen. That’s the only chance at all for this to ever be reversed.”

She dropped back into a softer register. “Nobody gives two shits about the black people in North Philadelphia if nobody gives two craps about the white kids in Sandy Hook. … I thought white little kids getting shot would make people care. Nope. They didn’t care. Anderson Cooper was up there. They set up shop. And then the public outrage fades.”

I think about this tweet all the time:

In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.

Tags: guns   Jason Fagone   Leana Wen   medicine



A commonsensical approach to sales and marketing

2017-06-15T22:35:27Z

First, congrats to my friend Gina for becoming a partner at Postlight. Second, I love how Postlight thinks about their sales and marketing process:

“Sales” at Postlight is probably not what you’re thinking. It’s an un-flashy, consultative process done in everyday clothing (although sometimes we put on nicer shoes). Our goal is always to figure out what a potential client really needs, and then to figure out the fastest way to make that happen. By the time we get to a formal proposal it’s usually exactly that — a formality. Gina has been involved with the Postlight sales process for many months now, and has proven to be a natural.

Similarly, “marketing” at Postlight is less about brochures and more about sharing what we know, giving good talks, hosting events for the NYC tech/design community, interviewing podcast guests, and saying good, true things about Postlight when appropriate. Here again, Gina’s experience as the founder of Lifehacker and her years of experience giving conference talks around the world comes to bear.

Seems to me that this approach gets you closer to potential clients and employees and hews more to the truth than “traditional” methods.

Tags: Gina Trapani   Postlight



There’s gonna be a Black Mirror book

2017-06-15T18:18:47Z

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Gird your loins, Prime Minister. Charlie Brooker is bringing his mind-warping TV series to bookstores in early 2018. Brooker is editing a book version of Black Mirror (the first in a promised series) “featuring original stories from leading fiction writers, all set in the world of the cult series”.

Smart move and after all, Brooker was influenced by Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected (which appeared first in book form).

Tags: Black Mirror   books   Charlie Brooker   TV



Winners of the 2016 Red Bull Illume photo contest

2017-06-15T16:19:40Z

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Over at In Focus, Alan Taylor is featuring a selection of the winning photos from the the Red Bull Illume photo contest, an “international photography contest dedicated to action and adventure sports”. If nothing else, we’ve discovered that there is nothing that says “Red Bull” more than slacklining on an iceberg (unless it is snowboarding on an iceberg).

The bottom photo is actually from the 2013 contest but is a good reminder that waves are nothing more than a bunch of high water that needs to get down in a hurry, not unlike Wile E. Coyote hanging in midair after running off of a cliff. Photos of the waves at Teahupo’o makes this pretty evident as well.

From the top, photos by Lorenz Holder, Alexandre Voyer, and Stuart Gibson.

Tags: Alexandre Voyer   Lorenz Holder   photography   sports   Stuart Gibson



If you can’t explain something in simple terms, you don’t understand it

2017-06-15T13:56:20Z

In the early 1960s, Richard Feynman gave a series of undergraduate lectures that were collected into a book called the Feynman Lectures on Physics. Absent from the book was a lecture Feynman gave on planetary motion, but a later finding of the notes enabled David Goodstein, a colleague of Feynman’s, to write a book about it: Feynman’s Lost Lecture. From an excerpt of the book published in a 1996 issue of Caltech’s Engineering & Science magazine: Feynman was a truly great teacher. He prided himself on being able to devise ways to explain even the most profound ideas to beginning students. Once, I said to him, “Dick, explain to me, so that I can understand it, why spin one-half particles obey Fermi-Dirac statistics.” Sizing up his audience perfectly, Feynman said, “I’ll prepare a freshman lecture on it.” But he came back a few days later to say, “I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t reduce it to the freshman level. That means we don’t really understand it.” John Gruber writes the simple explanations are the goal at Apple as well: Engineers are expected to be able to explain a complex technology or product in simple, easily-understood terms not because the executive needs it explained simply to understand it, but as proof that the engineer understands it completely. Feynman was well known for simple explanations of scientific concepts that result a in deeper understanding of the subject matter: e.g. see Feynman explaining how fire is stored sunshine, rubber bands, how trains go around curves, and magnets. Critically, he’s also not shy about admitting when he doesn’t understand something…or, alternately, when scientists as a group don’t understand something. There’s the spin anecdote above and of his explanation of magnets, he says: I really can’t do a good job, any job, of explaining magnetic force in terms of something else you’re more familiar with, because I don’t understand it in terms of anything else you’re more familiar with. Feynman was also quoted as saying: I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics. Pretty interesting thing to hear from a guy who won a Nobel Prize for explaining quantum mechanics better than anyone ever had before. Even when he died in 1988 at the end of a long and fruitful careeer, a note at the top of his blackboard read: What I cannot create, I do not understand. Tags: Apple   books   David Goodstein   Feynman’s Lost Lecture   John Gruber   physics   Richard Feynman   science   The Feynman Lectures on Physics [...]



An audiovisual remix of La La Land

2017-06-14T20:41:17Z

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An LA-based DJ named Sleeper has made an audiovisual mashup of La La Land, featuring music by Boyz II Men, Alicia Keys, Adele, and the Beach Boys and visuals from other musicals like Singin’ In The Rain and West Side Story.

I love La La Land. The movie presents the agony and wonder of dreams in spectacular ways. I think it captures a tiny taste of God’s dreams for us. I wanted to create an audio and visual experience that allows you to enjoy the film over and over again. It’s a turntable tribute to La La Land.

Tags: La La Land   movies   music   remix   video



Art history comes to life

2017-06-14T18:46:34Z

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I’ve featured the work of Alexey Kondakov before…he takes people from classic paintings and inserts them seamlessly into contemporary photographs. Kondakov has continued to hone his craft and many of his recent efforts are shockingly good. For more of his work, check out his Instagram or Facebook.

Tags: Alexey Kondakov   art   remix



NASA’s super accurate map of the 2017 eclipse

2017-06-14T16:18:59Z

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Using data about the Moon’s terrain from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter as well as elevation data on Earth, NASA’s Ernie Wright created a very accurate map of where and when the August 2017 eclipse will occur in the United States.

Standing at the edge of the moon’s shadow, or umbra, the difference between seeing a total eclipse and a partial eclipse comes down to elevation — mountains and valleys both on Earth and on the moon — which affect where the shadow lands. In this visualization, data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter account for the moon’s terrain that creates a jagged edge on its shadow. This data is then combined with elevation data on Earth as well as information on the sun angle to create the most accurate map of the eclipse path to date.

You can download maps of your area from NASA’s official eclipse website…I will be studying the Nebraska map closely.

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See also Eclipse Megamovie 2017, an eclipse simulator you can use to check what the eclipse will look like in the sky in your area, and what looks like an amazing eclipse watching festival put on by Atlas Obscura.

Tags: 2017 solar eclipse   astronomy   Ernie Wright   maps   Moon   NASA   Sun   USA



Ikea products are now available on Amazon

2017-06-14T13:56:14Z

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Ikea products have long been available on Amazon from 3rd-party resellers, but now Ikea is officially selling hundreds of their products on Amazon. Among the items that caught my eye are the iconic blue Frakta bags, the best kids’ drinking glasses ever made (we have dozens of these…love them), a kids’ foot stool, the Swedish meatball sauce packs, and those ubiquitous Glimma tea lights. Also, lots of rugs, picture frames, candles, bedding materials, and many of the other things that are good to stock up on. (via fast company)

Update: I am an idiot. All this Ikea stuff on Amazon is from resellers…the same stuff that’s been available for years on the site. (Same deal with all the Muji items on Amazon.) I mean, they are still genuine Ikea products and some of it isn’t even available from Ikea’s online store. Anyway, not such a huge deal. I was wondering why Ikea would be adopting such a if-you-can’t-beat-‘em-join-‘em attitude towards Amazon; turns out they’re still just trying to beat ‘em.

Update: Just the other day, Reuters reported that Ikea will test selling items through third-party websites.

“I leave unsaid on which (platforms), but we will test and pilot, to see ‘what does this mean, what does digital shopping look like in future and what do digital shopping centers mean?’,” he said.

IKEA, known for its warehouse-like stores, has recently restructured to give its retail arm more freedom. The Swedish firm has never sold its goods through another company and is also trying new smaller store formats and stepping up integration of stores and online to adapt to new ways of shopping.

(via @checkdisout)

Tags: Amazon   Ikea



Some things kottke.org readers have recently read/watched/heard/experienced

2017-06-13T20:56:32Z

Every once in awhile, I send out an email newsletter to the kottke.org members. I’ve been having fun doing my media diet posts recently, and I’m always on the lookout for new things to try, so I used the most recent newsletter to ask them: “What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read/watched/heard/experienced in the past few weeks?” Here’s a sampling of what they said, accompanied by some of their short thoughts. I’ve mentioned Dreaming the Beatles on the site before, but Celia offered up a short but compelling review: “In any group of 2-4 people, I mentally assign each person the role of John, Paul, George, or Ringo. This book has changed most of my assignments.” Quoting Lars Gotrich, Robb recommends Green Twins by Nick Hakim: “it’s soul music for outer-space”. Several people suggested Master of None’s season 2 on Netflix. I watched the first two episodes when season 1 came out and didn’t take to it. Mind. Blown. Not only was the NBA on NBC theme song composed by John Tesh, he left himself a message singing the tune on his answering machine. Thanks, Alex! Ben says of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less: “Minimalism is appealing, but often not simple. This feels more simple, and helpful to me.” Sarah praised Rami Malek’s performance in Mr. Robot as well as the show’s rich visuals. See also the off-kilter cinematography of Mr. Robot. The A.V. Club’s A History of Violence series was highlighted by Chris. “As a fan of quality action movies (and occasionally cheesy ones) it was great to see an in-depth review of every year’s best of the genre, including things I’ve seen and some I haven’t.” A few people recommended Tim Urban’s epic post on Elon Musk’s newest venture, Neuralink and the Brain’s Magical Future. Neuralink is working on “a way for our brains to communicate directly with one another”. Rich shares that Orhan Pamuk’s A Strangeness in My Mind “moved me profoundly and I continue thinking about it months after reading it”. Benjamin recommends Magnum Manifesto, an exhibition at the International Center of Photography Museum in NYC: “Amazing history of photojournalism and documentary photography. Emphasized the importance of journalism in this specific medium.” I have friends who rave about Pop-up Magazine and Mary agrees: “It’s a live performance of California Sunday magazine. Insane.” Big fan of 99% Invisible here and Jessie recommends this recent episode, Squatters of the Lower East Side. “I’m familiar with squatting and adverse possession. However, I have never heard of a city/county working with squatters to legally adversely possess properties, especially those are city-owned.” Sean recommends The Barkley Marathons, a documentary “about a crazy race, eccentric organizer, and lunatic participants”. Les Cowboys is a recommendation from Joao: “devastating beautiful take on immigration, terrorism and family”. HBO’s The Leftovers got many recs. I think I watched most of season 1 and it didn’t stick. Nei[...]



What are the largest US cities by population?

2017-06-13T18:26:29Z

Except for the top three, I’m not sure I could have come up with most of the top 10 largest US cities by population. I’ll give you minute to guess… … … 1. NYC 2. LA 3. Chicago 4. Houston 5. Phoenix 6. Philadelphia 7. San Antonio 8. San Diego 9. Dallas 10. San Jose I dunno, San Antonio at #7 really threw me for a loop. Bigger than Dallas? Bigger than San Francisco (by more than 600,000 people)? Of course, when metropolitan areas are taken into account, the picture changes. The San Antonio area drops to #30 while the Bay Area hits #5. When I was a kid, the list looked a little different…LA had not yet passed Chicago for #2 and Texas had only two cities in the top 10 (and no Austin creepin’ in 11th place): 1. New York 2. Chicago 3. Los Angeles 4. Philadelphia 5. Houston 6. Detroit 7. Dallas 8. San Diego 9. Phoenix 10. Baltimore That list still carries more weight in my brain than the current ranking. The facts you learn in school influence how you view your country. And some of those facts, dubbed mesofacts by Sam Arbesman, change slowly, so slowly that you’re tricked into thinking they haven’t changed at all. The average age of the US Senate right now is 62. The version of the population list that many Senators learned in school was probably from the 1950 census (or perhaps the 1960 one) and our current President, at 70 years of age, was possibly taught the list from the 1940 census. The entries on those older lists look much more like the industrial America celebrated by truck and beer commercials and represented by classic baseball and football teams — the America that is to be made great again: Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh. Another instructive list to look at in this regard is the list of cities that had populations of at least 100,000 people but have since dropped below that threshold. On the list (with the % drop in parentheses) are: Canton, Ohio (-39%) Gary, Indiana (-59%) Scranton, Penn (-46%) Flint, Michigan (-50%) Erie, Penn (-29%) Utica, NY (-40%) That the idea embodied by those kinds of cities still holds much sway in American politics shouldn’t be so surprising. Tags: cities   lists   politics   population   Sam Arbesman   USA [...]



Exploded art installations by Damian Ortega

2017-06-13T16:12:52Z

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Artist Damián Ortega, who started off as a political cartoonist, makes a wide variety of art, but my favorites are his hanging and “exploded” art installations.

One of his most celebrated works titled “Cosmic Thing” (2002), shows a disassembled Volkswagen Beetle, suspended from wires in mid-air in the manner of a mechanic’s instruction manual. The result is a fragmented object that offers a new perspective of the car first developed in Nazi Germany which was later produced en masse in Mexico. Through his work, Damián Ortega discusses specific economic, aesthetic and cultural situations and how regional culture affects commodity consumption. He began his career as a political cartoonist and his art has the intellectual rigour and sense of playfulness, causing an association with his previous occupation. Ortega’s works highlight the hidden poetry of everyday objects as well as their social and political complexity.

Tags: art   cars   Damian Ortega   Volkswagen



How to apologize properly

2017-06-13T14:08:19Z

Apologizing is as simple as saying “I’m sorry”, right? Well, not quite. In a piece by Katie Heaney for Science of Us, here are the six components of an apology from Beth Polin:

1. An expression of regret — this, usually, is the actual “I’m sorry.”
2. An explanation (but, importantly, not a justification).
3. An acknowledgment of responsibility.
4. A declaration of repentance.
5. An offer of repair.
6. A request for forgiveness.

So no ifs or buts — “I’m sorry if you were offended” is not an apology. Neither is “I’m sorry we missed our appointment but I had to drop off my dry cleaning on the way” or any other statement that’s actually just a counterargument to an accusation of fault. Don’t use the passive voice either: “mistakes were made” is a classic non-apology.

In my experience, a particularly critical component to apologizing is the “this won’t happen again” part. When you do something repeatedly and apologize each time, those are not really apologies. If you do this, you’re pretty clearly acknowledging that your relationship to the person you’re “apologizing” to is not as important to you as the behavior in question. Either stop apologizing for your behavior or work on changing it.

Tags: Beth Polin   how to   Katie Heaney   lists



Photos from a trip to Uzbekistan

2017-06-12T20:52:42Z

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Kevin Kelly recently visited Uzbekistan and shared a bunch of photos from his trip.

I knew almost nothing of Uzbekistan before my visit there so everyday was a cascade of surprises. While Americans think of Central Asia as the most remote places possible, people in Uzbekistan see themselves as at the center of the universe. They’ve been farming there for 6,000 years, and everyone has passed through over the centuries. I was so delighted I could as well.

Aside from its status as a former Soviet republic, I also knew next to nothing about Uzbekistan until a month or two ago. My barber told me he was “from Russia” when I first started seeing him many years ago, but at my last appointment, I asked him where he lived in Russia before his family moved to the US and he said he was actually from Uzbekistan. But then he went on to explain that Uzbekistan is a predominately Muslim country, that his family is Jewish, and so he didn’t consider himself an Uzbek. “If you’re not Muslim, you can’t really be considered a true Uzbek,” he told me. According to Wikipedia, Uzbekistan was home to a small Jewish community until the fall of the Soviet Union, when nationalism drove most Jews to leave for the US and Israel. We moved on to other topics before I learned more of the specifics — getting to know someone in 20-minute intervals every month or two can be challenging — but the post-collapse timing makes sense; he probably moved to the US as a kid in the early 90s, grew up in Queens, and now runs a successful business cutting hair.

Tags: Kevin Kelly   photography   Uzbekistan



Awe-inspiring photos of empty European libraries

2017-06-12T18:43:57Z

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For places that people go to immerse themselves in books, libraries sure do try to steal the show sometimes. For his photo series on libraries, Thibaud Poirier travelled to a number of libraries in Europe and took photos of them while empty.

“Reading is solitude,” Italo Calvino once said, embodying the inspiration behind this series. These temples of cultural worship gather communities, and yet the literary experience, and therefore the experience of a library, remains solitary. Giving groups of scholars and peers glimpses into the past, present and future of humanity, literature offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore one’s self from within through the unique internal narrative that each reader develops. It is this internal narrative that forms us when we are young, matures with us, and grows when we feed it. It was the first means of travel offered to many and continues to be the most accessible form of escape for millions of people seeking knowledge, the world, themselves. It is with an eye towards this improbable bled of public space and private experience that Poirier displays some of the finest libraries, both classical and modern, across Europe.

Ever since Colossal linked to them before the weekend, I’ve been stealing glances at these trying to pick a favorite. I can’t, they’re all so good.

Tags: architecture   photography   Thibaud Poirier



A montage of title drops

2017-06-12T16:33:32Z

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Sometimes in a movie, a character will say the name of the movie. This is a supercut of 150 examples of title dropping from movies like The Right Stuff, Free Willy, Chinatown, Back to the Future, Full Metal Jacket, Con Air, and a bunch of Bond films.

Update: Paul Thomas Anderson talked about film titles on Fresh Air several years ago:

I had a friend who…any time he went to see a film and the title of the film was said onscreen he would scream out this horrible obnoxious noise, he would say “buk-CAW!” really loud.

Update: In the late 80s and early 90s, Penn Jillette did a movie night in NYC and there were rules. One of them was responding to film titles:

If the title of the movie is mentioned in the movie, it is always greeted by Movie Night people with polite applause. I’m still not clear as to how that custom began, but I do know that it leads to a lot of applause in a movie like “Wall Street.”

And if the title of another film is mentioned, that leads to a different reaction:

Whenever the title of another film was mentioned in the dialogue (as in, “I don’t want to be home alone tonight”), everybody whispered, “Wow.”

That EW piece also mentions a 12-year-old kid who shows up to Movie Night named Nick Jarecki, who has to be director Nicholas Jarecki (brother of Andrew Jarecki, director of Capturing the Friedmans and Jinx, the HBO doc about Robert Durst). (via @fortybillion)

Tags: movies   PT Anderson   video



Divers falling through the air

2017-06-12T14:42:27Z

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For a short video called The Selfish Gene, director Smriti Keshari cut together a number of divers jumping and spinning and falling in mid-air. The result is a little bit mesmerizing and a little bit soothing. See also Ten Meter Tower.

Tags: diving   Smriti Keshari   sports   video



“We’re in the era of the living god”

2017-06-09T20:29:36Z

Sports superstars are staying superstars longer than ever before. Sure, there have been outliers before (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Ted Williams) but increasingly the best players in the major sports are veterans fighting off the ravages of time: Tom Brady, Roger Federer, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gianluigi Buffon, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Aaron Rodgers, etc.

When players perform at such a high level for so long, we no longer get sick of them. Instead, they become such an ever-present part of sports culture that many of us can’t help but love them. Buffon was launched to superstardom in 2006, when, perhaps already the best goalkeeper in the world, he was one of the faces of a then-unlikable Italian team that controversially made their way to winning the World Cup. Now he probably has a near-100-percent approval rating — still saving enough shots, winning enough games and doing enough stunts to earn it. Ronaldo became a worldwide name after replacing Beckham in the no. 7 shirt for Manchester United and doing a bunch of stepovers. He was unpopular with a segment of English fans for his entire stay in the Premier League; they viewed him as having an overly precious playing style in a game that was supposed to be anything but. Even upon his 2009 departure to Madrid, which came after he delivered every major trophy to Manchester, Ronaldo was mocked for, as this Telegraph headline put it, being a preening peacock: England would miss his footballing talents but not “the theatrics, the astonishing self-regard.”

But if you hang around long enough, you begin to earn a grudging respect from everyone who isn’t a Barcelona fan. If you have closely watched the last decade-plus of Ronaldo, Buffon, Messi, and Zlatan and not seen a play in which you learned to love them, then you haven’t really watched them.

Interesting observation, but I would have liked to read more about why…the piece only quickly mentions “modern training methods [and] technology”. Training and technology have made it possible to blend the energy & power of youth with the wisdom gained through experience, and it’s a potent combination.

P.S. A round of applause for writer Kevin Clark for the line: “It is possible that Ronaldo cannot pass the Turing test.”

Tags: Cristiano Ronaldo   football   Kevin Clark   soccer   sports



An amazing online collection of 40,000 vintage film posters

2017-06-09T18:20:15Z

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Posteritati is a New York movie poster store/gallery that also has an online store featuring more than 40,000 posters. You can view posters by director, year, country of origin, genre, size, and more. Some of the posters are very old, rare, and valuable: Some Like It Hot ($3,000), Lolita ($1,200), and Star Wars ($1,500). And wow, a 1933 Argentinian poster for King Kong for $75,000.

The three posters pictured above are a 1970 Czech poster for Les gauloises bleues, a 1988 Japanese poster for Beetlejuice, and a 1980 Polish poster for Alien.

Tags: design   movies