22 July 2018

Running Lights


This is lovely.  Two boys discover a dead animal at the side of the road on their way home and decide to bury it.  If that doesn’t sound like a promising premise then be patient and watch Running Lights created by PetPunk.  Although you may not prescribe to the particular circle of life as represented in this animated short I do believe you will find it heart-warming at the very least!  If you don’t quite get it until at least half way through then don’t worry about that either!

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Love in Luoping


If you have never heard of Luoping before, you have now.  If you have never wanted to visit Luoping (probably because you have never heard of it) then after watching this you will probably want to get on a plane… right now.  Situated in China’s Yunan province, Luoping is famous for its gorgeous scenery and its fields of rapeseed (canola) which, when in bloom, cover the mountains in a sea of golden bloom.

The place attracts many photographers, including the folks at Perfect View China.  What makes this different to the many travel videos we include on Kuriositas is that here there is as much attention paid to the people as to their surroundings.  Although this does have the effect of making the video look as if it might have been made for the local tourist board, in my opinion it gives an interesting second layer to this particular piece.

If you need convincing any more then Luoping is the site of a recent massive fossil find.  Over 20,000 fossils make up the remnants of an ecosystem which developed after the mass extinction of 250 million years ago.
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21 July 2018

Please Help Keep Kurositas Online

You may or may not know this but Kuriositas is curated by just one person – and that person would be me! There are a number of expenses that the site incurs each month and so, with my cap in my hand, I’m going to beg a favour.

If you enjoy Kuriositas, please consider helping out with the cost of running the site.  As you can guess, it takes a lot of time and effort, too!

Below this post you will see a button which will enable you to make a contribution safely and securely. There is also a Support Kuriositas button right at the top right hand corner of the site.

You can give as little or as much as you like – I’m not going to limit your choices. Anything will be gratefully received and will help to ensure that I can carry on bringing you all the great science, art and interesting things in-between that makes the site what it is.

So, if you read or watch something that you have really enjoyed, please think about sending us a small donation. Thanks!

Best regards

Robert-John

PS: The donation page is set to US dollars as that is where we get most of our traffic from. So, if you are outside the USA please remember to calculate the amount from your currency first!

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What is a Mermaid's Necklace

If you were wandering along a beach and came across one of these, would you know what it is?  Folklore tells us that it is a mermaid's necklace.  Who knows how she may have lost it and how it came to be on your beach but it is easy to imagine many legends springing up about these peculiar objects.  Of course there is a scientific explanation and the fact that it can be found on our sibling site, The Ark in Space, might suggest that it is a biological one too...  Why not pop over and discover what a mermaid's necklace truly is?

Image Credit Dystopos
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19 July 2018

The Giant Puffball: Nature’s Orbicular Idiosyncrasy

There are worse things you can find in the woods.  As summer turns to fall, woodland and meadows the world over play host to one of nature’s more orbicular idiosyncrasies.  It is large, round, white and has a distinctly extra-terrestrial appearance.  Yet the giant puffball is very much of this world, albeit one of its stranger fungal denizens.

It can also make for a tasty meal.

Image Credit Nunzy Gareffa
As much as anything else the giant puffball is noticeable and notable by its unexpected and sometimes astonishing size.   It has a distinct lack of camouflage advantage and can become a meal – not to mention a temporary home – to any passing herbivore such as the rabbit above.  Yet although easy prey to animals its structure is immensely strong.  Giant puffballs have been seen to push up slabs of asphalt as they develop, such is the powerful forces generated by their growth.

Dancing in the Movies


If like me you are a big fan of dance then take a few minutes out to watch this – but beware! You may be a little dizzy by the end of it!  CLS videos have put together this amazing compilation of dance moments from films that span the decades.  Many you will know and a lot will leave you thinking “where on earth did that amazing looking piece of choreography come from?”  If you have a need to know you can find them all on the CLS blog.

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Grandma's Pie


Grandma hasn’t so much got early onset, she has irredeemable, completely and untterly gone onset (if there can be such a thing).  So when a dragon attacks the town she is utterly oblivious while defenders try to save their once quaint abode.  But let's face it - priorities are priorities and when a pie needs to be baked it bloody well needs to be baked - and things do get rather ensanguined during the process. Grandma's Pie was created by Camilo Castro and Ricardo San Emeterio at the Ringling College of Art.  I have to suspect that Messrs Castro and San Emeterio had perhaps a little too much fun devising the grisly demises of the various brave knights who face the dragon.  Bravo, chaps!
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A Father’s Day


So, you may know how we at Kuriositas love anything undeadish so how could we possible ignore a short film like A Father’s Day?  It is set – as so often – in a post-apocalyptic world (here it is the UK, possibly post-Brexit too!).  A father is unexpectedly reunited with his daughter among the ruins of the world as they knew it, a father is determined to make this day special, even if they are already dead. A Father’s Day was written and directed by Mat Johns with funding by Creative England and BFI Newtork.

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16 July 2018

Alternative Math: A Visit to Post-Truth America


An experienced maths teacher runs in to more than a little trouble when she tries to correct a student who has failed his recent math test.  What should have been a quiet moment of teaching and learning turns in to a traumatic week-long hell on earth for the teacher: She may have a trick or two up her sleeve but what chance does she have against Tommy, his parents, the principal, the school board and the media?

All satire exaggerates and Alternative Math has hyperbole in spades.  The premise is ridiculous but it resonates because it has its roots well and firmly dug in to the truth – whatever that may be in 2018.  We may have breathed a sigh of relief decades ago when 1884 became 1985 and there was little sign of Orwell’s dystopian vision coming to life.  Yet a few decades later, Alternative Math highlights, through comedy, the insidious nature of what truth means today.  George would have recognized the scenario all too well.

What makes it a little depressing is the fact that as a teacher this resonates a little too familiarly with me. The exaggeration in the film aside I have colleagues who have been through a form of what happens in this short albeit without the ending we have here (and it is worth the nine minutes of this short just to get to that point, believe me!).  It may be close to home but I am happy it's here.

Alternative Math is brought to you by Dallas-based Ideaman Studios and was written by Malcolm Morrison and David Maddox, with the latter doing the directing honors.  Well, that is if you believe the end credits are truthful, of course…

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14 July 2018

Center Pivot Irrigation: The Real Crop Circles

If you have been in a plane over a large agricultural hub you may have casually glanced out of your window. And then you may have performed a very, very quick double take. What on earth are those circular shapes below? They are not the alien crop circles of infamy that’s for sure – in fact whole fields seem to be circular in shape. There are way too many of them, too, to have been done as some sort of practical joke. So, what are they? Welcome to the world of center pivot irrigation.

Why Do Cats Like Boxes So Much?

One question which gets asked time and time again is what, exactly, is the fascination that cats have with boxes?  Until they learn to talk we may never know the answer but we can have a few educated guesses.  Over at our sibling site, the Ark in Space, is a photo-packed feature on this most vexing of issues.  OK, it’s an excuse for a cute-fest but, honestly, do you care?

Image Credit Paul Hyde
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8 July 2018

Spectrum


Who is the masculine man?  This is the question that Spectrum poses and indeed the concept of masculinity in dance and society as a whole.  The video was directed by Artur Zaremba in collaboration with dancers Jontae McCrory and Stefanos Dimoulas.  As dance becomes more gender fluid (is it the mirror of society or is it the other way around?), these are questions which have to be asked.
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Sunrise, Bull Rock, Cork, Ireland


A few times of year during the summer, the sun is lined up perfectly to rise through the natural tunnel running through the Bull Rock. This is a short video showcasing this amazing rock and its neighbors, the Calf and the Cow by landscape photographer Peter Cox.  It is a powerful and immediate piece of film which I have to say made me feel almost like I was there – but my strongest feelings are, however, a need to really be there!
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Catkin


A young girl lives with an unhappy home life finds solace in nature.  This alone sounds a little been there, done that.  However, what makes this animated short by Charlotte Davis (who created it during her time at Hertfordshire University) is how beautifully nuanced it is. As any animator will tell you it is no mean feat to create an inner life for a character made out of pixels.  Yet Davis does this with panache and delivers a short and heartfelt story which you may find lingering in your mind for quite a while.

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What is Synthetic Biology?


We now have more knowledge about DNA than ever before and that opens certain paths which many oppose.  Yet there may be positive sides to being able to manipulate DNA as this visual essay by Vasil Hnatiuk.  Although this particular shape of things to come might be scary (or even terrifying) to many I have to admit I like the sound of cities made from renewable materials…
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7 July 2018

Mo‘ynaq – Graveyard of Ships in the Desert

Many have visited an abandoned city and wondered what catastrophic event could have caused such an exodus from a metropolis once so evidently thriving. Yet these cities are usually hundreds if not thousands of years old, the everyday clamor and cry of civilization just an echo. Visit Mo'ynaq in Uzbekistan, however, and you can see apocalypse right here, right now.

The Soviet era sign still welcomes people to the city. Yet there are few visitors who stay more than a few hours. They all leave after they have done looking at what is reminiscent of a scene from a science fiction disaster movie - big ships adrift in the desert.
Amung Feedjit
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