23 September 2017


If you live in a windy place you might find yourself nodding in agreement at the sight of the daily lives of these people living in possibly the windiest place on the planet!  They might seem helplessly exposed to the weather. However, the inhabitants have learned to deal with their difficult living conditions. The wind creates a natural system for living.  Wind was directed by Robert Löbel.
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7 Things You May Not Know About Egypt

Egypt is a country which is considered to have one of the longest histories in the world. Today, with its over 92 million residents, Egypt is the 15th most populated country on Earth. So, aside from pharaohs, pyramids and the Sahara Desert, what other interesting facts are there to know about Egypt?

"Tarot Reading Night!" (CC BY 2.0) by Kelly Hunter
It’s believed that ancient Egyptian women had more privileges and rights than any other women in the ancient world. While men in ancient times were most certainly the dominant sex in many other countries, Egyptian women were allowed to own a business, own property and even divorce their husbands. Egyptian women that were born into wealthy families had the opportunity to become priestesses or doctors in the time of Cleopatra and the Pharaohs.

Tarot cards are believed to have originated from Egypt. Now also a popular subject in the Western world, tarot readings are carried out to give a person guidance, foresight and clarification. The theory is that the tarot cards are thought to be hieroglyphical keys to life and the book of Tarot was believed to have survived the great fire that burned down the libraries in ancient Egypt.

The ancient Egyptians were the first country to have 365 days per year that were divided by 12 months and they also developed clocks. They had three different calendars – a farming calendar that had four months and three seasons, a lunar calendar that helped priests to know when to carry out ceremonies for the moon god Khonsu, and lastly, the astronomical calendar that helped them to observe the star Sirius which appeared at the beginning of the flood season.

Ancient Egyptians made the wig a fashion accessory, often indicating social status. History shows that both men and women would shave their heads and wear a wig to stay cool in the hot weather and to avoid lice. Richer people would wear wigs that were made from human hair, while the poorer men and women had wigs made from vegetable or wool fibres.
The Sahara is the largest desert in the world stretching over 3,630,000 square miles. It was once a grassland and fertile savannah, home to many animals and plants, but it began to dry out with climate change in 8000 B.C, changing it from lush green land to dry desert. The Sahara Desert is now a vast expanse of gravel plains, sand dunes, valleys and oases.

The ancient Egyptians believed in many gods and had unique gods for many different things. Depending on what danger they were faced with or what challenges they had in life, with over 2,000 gods to worship, their life and beliefs were balanced and met.
Many ancient Egyptian families had cats which were thought of as a sacred animal. Egyptians believed that owning a cat as a pet brought families good luck. The Egyptians also worshipped a cat goddess known as Bastet which was believed to be half woman and half cat. Hurting or killing a cat was considered very serious, with severe punishment and penalties.

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10 September 2017

Take a Stroll in Paris with Two Top Ballet Dancers

…and when you do, it’s not quite like any usual promenade through the streets of the French capital.  San Francisco Ballet dancers Kimberly Braylock and Anthony Spaulding display a certain joie de vivre and are obviously very happy to be there in this short by Calvin Walker.  Parisians as usual refuse point blank to be nonplussed by anything but they do manage to attract the curiosity of a very excitable little dog if you watch carefully!
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When Rock, Paper and Scissors Come to Life, Who Will Win?

When Rock stumbles upon the magical Paper, it's love at first sight. But when the wrath of Scissors threatens the well-being of Paper, Rock must stop at nothing to save what he loves most, no matter the cost. Broken: Rock, Paper, Scissors is a student animated short film, produced at Ringling College of Art & Design. It was created by Garrett O'Neal, Gang Maria Yi and Bryan Locantore with music by Erez Koskas.
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Ex Libris

Thank goodness the fine art of gently paced, slow burn film-making is not dead. Not a single dead body or visual effect to be seen here. Yet down in the depths of the library passions are running high and an illicit relationship plays out among the books. Iris and Thomas embark on a doomed love affair but how can desire, pain, anger and sadness be expressed in the confines of a library? Ex Libris is directed by Jim and Jimmy of Long Arm Films.

The short film stars two very talented and versatile Welsh actors. If you are a regular reader of Kuriositas then you will probably recognize Robert Pugh (Thomas) from his roles in Game of Thrones, Doctor Who and Torchwood. Melanie Walters is perhaps best known for her role of Gwen West in the BBC comedy Gavin and Stacey but has also appeared in numerous British TV series as well as the movie Submarine.
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9 September 2017

10 Amazing Places to Visit in China that Aren’t the Great Wall or The Terracotta Army

If you are visiting China as a tourist then the likelihood is that at some point during your stay you will find yourself at the Great Wall.  This remains one of the country’s sites that simply should not be missed, especially when you travel to places along its length that are less visited by tourists (take our tour).  Yet in this vast country there are hundreds of other places that could crown a visit for one reason or another.  They may be less well known than the Great Wall or indeed the Terracotta Army but they linger in the minds and hearts of all who visit them. Here are just ten of those amazing places you could visit while in China.

1 Huanglong – Land of the Yellow Dragon
The Minshan Mountain Range is situated in the north of China’s Sichuan Province.  An area of outstanding natural beauty it is home to a four kilometer stretch of travertine landforms and pools.  Even in its home country the place is relatively little-known. Yet Huanglong, literally Yellow Dragon, is a place of wonders.

The Nictitating Membrane: The Third Eyelid

From the picture above you could easily imagine that the animal kingdom had suddenly been enveloped in its own zombie apocalypse.  Yet this is not a still from a forthcoming episode of The Squawking Dead. Thanks to high speed photography, these photographs capture the nictitating membrane in action. It is also known as the third eyelid, haw and the inner eyelid. It is drawn across the eye to protect and moisturize it while retaining visibility. The Ark in Space today has a feature on this extraordinary structure of the eye.

Image Credit Flickr User Simon
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3 September 2017

The Horniman Museum Butterfly House

Our sibling site, the Ark in Space, today has a feature about the new Horniman Museum Butterfly House in London.  Whether or not you can make it there, you will still be able to enjoy the photographs of the new exhibition and it’s wonderful, free-flying residents.  The butterfly house only opened a few weeks ago so here is your chance to take a peek at London’s newest exciting attraction.   With over thirty species of butterfly flying around there are a few rules visitors have to follow in order not to squish the butterflies.  You can read more about them and take a look at the pictures over at the Ark in Space.

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28 August 2017

The Lanterns of the Dead

At some point in the early part of the 12th century, people in the center and west of France began to erect strange constructions – effectively hollow towers with a hole for a lantern at the top - near or in their village graveyards (and before you ask, most were nowhere near the sea).  Although many were moved or destroyed during the revolution, about a hundred survive to this day.  Known as Lanterns of the Dead (Lanternes des Morts) their precise original use is still debated.  However, there are a number of theories surrounding these unusual and enigmatic constructions.

Fenioux - Images

27 August 2017

The Art of the Japanese Manhole

The Japanese have a wonderful relationship with their manhole covers: they treat them as art.  Here is a selection of the ornate, the artistic and the slightly bizarre.

Why Do Some Male Orangutans Have a Flange While Others Do Not?

It might not have been keeping you awake at night but here’s a question.  Why do some male orangutans have a flange – that big flap of skin around their faces – while others don’t? The answer is we probably know the why but only possibly the howThe Ark in Space has the story, and yes – it is all about the passing on of genes but there's more.  Even if you have a flange, as an orangutan you still would not be out of the woods (which, if they could speak, would probably not be the idiom they would use as generally, they seem to like being in the woods…).

Image Credit LK-GA
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Dance For Your Life, Puny Human

At least we now know what has happened to all of those people abducted by aliens over the years. They are taken to participate in a particularly lethal competition against a dancebot which just seems to win, whoever is put up against him.  For this particularly unballetic human specimen, things are not looking good in this animated short directed by Justin Connolly who should be snapped up by Aardman (or the likes) immediately.
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If You Have Never Wanted to Visit Portugal, You Will After Watching This

Photographer and filmmaker Kirill Neiezhmakov has excelled himself this time.  Visiting Portugal in May 2014 he took in Lisbon and Sesimbra, creating this amazing combination of time-lapse and hyperlapse, with a little tilt shift thrown in for good measure.  The merge from one place to another is seamless (how does he do that?) as is the transition from terra firma to water.  An outstanding piece of film.
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The Wife of Bath's Tale

It is always a surprise for students new to Chaucer just how filthy he was.  Some of the images he put down on paper were truly eye-watering in their general dirtiness.  It’s always odd how that even though we know the history of the time, a lot of which was unpleasant to say the least, we somehow expect the literature to be squeaky clean, the product of a more innocent age.

If Chaucer is certainly not one thing, then it’s innocent.  The Wife of Bath’s tale is full of political incorrectness – so much so that a lot of feminist literature has been written about it - both for and against. The Wife of Bath embodies antifeminist beliefs in some ways but in others she resists them – a contradiction which has made her character so interesting for so long.  So here is her story, one of a knight, but not the kind that you get in Hollywood movies.  Having committed a heinous crime he is sent out in to the world by Queen Guinevere to discover what it is that women truly desire.  See if you agree with what he discovers.

This animated version of the Wife of Bath’s Tale was made by Beryl Productions International in 1999 and was nominated for a huge amount of awards, including an Academy Award.  It won the Emmy and the British BAFTA for Best Animated Film.

Plus, if you are in need of some reading material at the moment, give the tale a go.  Better still, read the Wife of Bath’s Prologue where she recounts her life and her times with her five (yes, five) husbands - and how she got her own way with them.  Chaucer may have put his pen to paper over six hundred years ago, but Allison remains my favorite of his pilgrims and she is a character who has fascinated and reviled readers for centuries.
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20 August 2017

10 Amazing Recently Discovered Facts about Spiders

Spider threesome anybody? This is just one of the strange (and possibly disturbing) recently discovered facts about spiders you can read about on our sibling site, Ark in Space.  Yes, one species of spider does engage in the occasional ménage a trois but the reason why neither of the boys loses out might make you go ‘ew’. As a number of facts are about the wild thing, if you are of a sensitive nature you may wish to look away!
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