26 April 2015

The Texting Hat: The Best Invention of the 21st Century (So Far)


I have a number of friends who really, really need this fabulous new invention.  In fact I could say that the texting hat was created just for them if it wasn’t for the fact that it seems that many outside of my circle of acquaintance might find this a prerequisite for their day to day existence should they be introduced to it.

Like all the best inventions, simplicity is the key.  Director and writer Brad Hasse should give up film altogether and get to the patent office as quickly as his legs will carry him!
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Hubble Reflects the Cosmos: 25 Years of Wonder


The Hubble Telescope did not get off to an auspicious start.  It had an eight foot diameter mirror which but a tiny chip of paint on a measuring rod caused it to be just a tiny, tiny little bit too flat.  This left it with ‘blurry vision’.  However, since then it has gone on to be regarded as the most important advance in astronomy since Galileo, and its greatest discoveries might still be ahead. Hurrah for Hubble!
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Glasses: A Tale of First Love and Myopia


You never know when it is going to strike, particularly for the first time.  When love comes calling it can catch you unprepared, as in the case of this young man who falls for the girl behind the counter in his local patisserie.  Written and directed by Giuseppe Garau you may well see yourself in the protagonist when, in order to impress the object of his juvenile desires he abandons the one thing which might have helped him succeed.
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Edifice


Writer and director Rogerio Silva created Edifice after watching dancers Carmine De Amicis and Harriet Waghorn rehearse.  He was, to put it in his own words: “taken with the honesty of the movement and how Carmine and Harriet supported each other equally throughout. There were no gender roles and I liked that they could reverse their roles and everything would still work”.   The result is a mesmerising dance short.
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25 April 2015

Slime Mold - Alien Landscapes On Earth

Just the thought of mold is something that makes many people involuntarily shudder. Yet there is more to it than meets the eye – particularly if you are lucky enough to see Kim Fleming’s remarkable macrophotography.  Up close we are witness to an enigmatic and beautiful alien world on our own doorstep.

This strange and wonderful thing is Hemitrichia calyculata.  It typically has stalked sporocarps.  These are fruiting bodies which contain sporangia – the mold version of seeds.  They look like the weird plants that featured in numerous 1950s science fiction B-movies.  Or maybe even some strange alien egg pods, left to be discovered by innocent space travelers.  No need to worry, though – at most they reach two and a half millimeters in height.

U.F.Oh Yeah


Vindication is always a pleasure (if not a downright thrill) to experience.  Nothing beats the occasion when you can show the world that you were right after all. So it is with the hero of this short science fiction comedy.

For years he has led a Mulder-like existence, trying to convince people that UFOs really do exist.

Yet when the day comes when he can justify his years of obsession, something gets in the way. Written and directed by Ryan Connolly UFOh Yeah shows that whatever obstacles life throws in our path we can overcome with a little ingenuity!
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If You Have Never Wanted to Visit Cambodia, You Will After You Watch This


Christophe Hamon spent a month in 2014 helping to make a documentary.  Like so many others before him he fell in love with this beautiful and enigmatic country, its sights, sounds and people.  He decided to edit together his spare footage and what we get is a wonderful glimpse in to the day to day lives of the people of the country – and the name he has given it is Children of Cambodia.
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Two Worlds


Sometimes help comes from the most unexpected of sources.  Two Worlds, created by Andy Lefton, tells the story of two characters, one organic and the other mechanical, who come together in their mutual hour of need.  It’s a great little story and was evolved by Lefton over a decade – production itself took five years.  As such it’s very much a labor of love and it shows in every frame.
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Symphony of the Soil


Symphony of the Soil is a 104-minute documentary feature film that explores the complexity and mystery of soil.

Filmed on four continents and sharing the voices of some of the world’s most esteemed soil scientists, farmers and activists, the film portrays soil as a protagonist of our planetary story.

It was created by Lily Films.
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19 April 2015

Skeletorus! Amazing New Species of Peacock Spider Discovered

I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I first saw Maratus sceletus, an amazing new discovery from Australia.  The American PhD student who first came across this remarkable species of peacock spider in Australia immediately nicknamed it Skeletorus – and you can see why. The arch-villain of the He-Man franchise now has a spider named after him!   Our sibling site, the Ark in Space, has a picture feature on Skeletorus, telling the story from its discovery in late 2013 to how it came to join the peacock spider family (it’s quite a tale!).

Picture Credit
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Rhyolite: A Ghost Town from the Air


Rhyolite is an abandoned mining town in Nevada and if you search for it online you will find no end of images.  Yet this is the first time I have seen this fascinating place from above.  Director and fIlmmaker Philp Bloom took his Phantom 3, the new DJI drone, for an hour’s spin over the town (and through it too).  The results are remarkable – the shots of the town are unlike any of those seen before.
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18 April 2015

The Kennecott Mines: Abandoned Alaskan Boomtown

In 1900 two prospectors were traveling through Alaska. Their horses were hungry and so when they spied a distant green hillside they thought their luck was in.

They were not wrong. They had stumbled upon a massive deposit of copper ore, exposed at the surface. Industry on a massive scale quickly followed. Yet by 1939 the copper was exhausted, the place abandoned. This is what remains of the Kennecott Mine Camp.

Quiz: Can You Name the Famous Novelist just From Their Picture?

You may be something of a bookworm but just how many novelists can you name from just a single picture?  Confident? Then try this quiz.  We suspect you will get a number very quickly, so ingrained is their image on our collective consciousness.  Yet you may have to think on your feet for some of the others.  However, have fun – and please share the quiz with your friends!


If the answer you choose goes GREEN, then you got it right.  If it goes RED then you got it wrong.  You will also see how many other people chose the different answers (in terms of a percentage).

Want a hideously hard quiz?
Do you know your Dali from your Dürer, your Goya from your Gauguin? Then try these 20 multiple choice questions.

You will take a back and forth whistle-stop tour through almost a thousand years of art history.  Yet which painters were responsible for the 20 masterpieces you are about to see?  Click HERE or on the picture to do the quiz.
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12 April 2015

Super Mario Busker Plays 8bit Medley


This is Super Mario playing 8bit music during the intermission of Video Games Live International festival of video game music held recently at the Convention Centre in Dublin, Ireland.  If you have played Super Mario then you will recognize the tunes featured in this very cleverly put together medley.  No doubt past triumphs will flash through your mind!  The full playlist is below.  The video was created by Emlyn Lewis.

00:00 Super Mario World OverWorld Map
00:06 Super Mario World Yoshies Island Map
00:16 Super Mario Bros. 3 Map 4 Big Island Theme
00:28 Super Mario World Forrest of Illusions map
00:42 Super Mario World "Thank you" Ending Theme
01:06 Mad World 8bit
01:56 Super Mario Land 2 Turtle Map & Mario Toy Zone Map
02:14 Super Mario Bros. Underworld & Star man theme
02:32 Luigi's Mansion Level Clear Theme
03:00 Super Mario World Swimming & Player Down Theme
04:00 Chop sticks 8bit
04:30 Sonic Drowning
04:40 Amilie Theme 8bit
05:15 Super Mario Bros. Ending Theme
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The Big Wild North


A young boy goes on a weekend camping excursion. His cheerful uncle and aunt try to lift up his spirits, as the boy grieves and recuperates after a horrific accident. The wilderness of the north, though, has its own secrets and dangers. What is meant to be a weekend diversion turns into an adventure worthy of a child’s imagination. The Big Wild North is a film by Tom Antos.
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Pugs of Westeros: A Canine Game of Thrones


Pugs of Westeros – the name encapsulates everything you need to know about the contents of this seriously cute video. Created by Pupstar Sonoma it features many of your much-loved Game of Thrones characters in all their finery. Windswept locations, intense acting and lavish sets – everything you would expect from what is currently the world’s favorite TV show. There is, of course, a small difference: the actors have been replaced with pugs.

This is very much a family project. Pupstar Sonoma showcases the work of Susan and Phillip Lauer with their three Pugs, Roxy, Blue and Bono. Together they bring you Rob and Ned Stark together with John Snow, Daenerys Targaryen (queen of all she surveys, naturally), Tyrion Lanister and Oberyn Martell plotting something ghastly and Joffrey Baratheon – who gives the cutest little yelp on his throne – I think he knows that his particular game is soon to be over!

The House of Lauer found a natural ally in the form of Josh Hittleman who produced the video which I hope has just produced about ten aaws from you!

If you think this is a one-off project from Pupstar Sonoma then you should take a look at their site. This is not your typical pug website by any means. There are a number of wonderful galleries of Roxy, Blue and Bono's costumed adventures but, after Westeros, I would have to say that The Pugs of Middle Earth is my own favorite (but then it would be, wouldn’t it!).

Let us know what you think!
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11 April 2015

The Ribbon Seal: The Seal with Stripes

What do you get if you cross a zebra with a seal?  There is no sensible answer to that question, of course, but there is a species of seal which lives in the Arctic and subarctic regions of the North Pacific Ocean which could (however unfeasibly) be the product of a chance romance between the two species.  It is the Ribbon Seal and it is remarkable for its stripes.  Our sibling site, the Ark in Space has a picture feature on this amazing animal.

Image Wikimedia
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Isaac Newton's Entire Life in 90 Seconds


If you need to know a lot about the life of Isaac Newton but have very little time, how does 90 seconds grab you?  Of course, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica takes up a large part of this animation by Kevin Orzel as it takes almost 90 seconds to say it. 

However, it is a brief but accurate insight in to one of the great geniuses of the Scientific Revolution who I always think of as a kind of Seventeenth Century Sheldon Cooper who, unfortunately for him, never quite found his own Leonard Hofstadter.
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Madam Butterfly Animated


Madama Butterfly is undoubtedly one of the world’s favorite operas telling the tragic story of Cho-Cho-San and her love for the US naval officer Pinkerton.  This gorgeous animation was created by Mark Warner for Sinfini Music and was also shown at the Royal Opera House during their staging of the opera.  It may be a condensed version but it tells the story beautifully. Time for a little weep in to your coffee, methinks.
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The Cast Courts


The Cast Courts of the V&A museum in London are simply exhilarating although many people puzzle why what are effectively copies should entrance visitors to such an extent.  You get the answer in this video which takes a close look at some of the gallery’s most famous pieces.  The two which stand out, of course, are the plaster cast of Trajan’s column and the 5.5 metre high cast of Michelangelo's David which we see getting to see really close up here. Fascinating.
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What is Nanoscience? (Narrated by Stephen Fry)


You may well ask. However, if you have ever wanted a great introduction to nanoscience and nanotechnology you can’t go wrong with NanoYou, a short documentary narrated by Steven Fry.

The film was mainly shot at and with the assistance of the Nanoscience Centre at the University of Cambridge and features researchers involved in exploring the world of Nano.
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10 April 2015

A Titanic Survivor Really Did Look Like Kate Winslet

I was recently doing some research and came across a number of photographs of survivors of the Titanic.  The one which struck me immediately was the above which made me do an immediate double-take.  The woman in the picture seemed to resemble Rose DeWitt Bukater, the fictional character played by Kate Winslet in the 1997 movie.

I don’t know if you agree but although she is a few years older than Rose I found the similarity in looks quite astonishing.  Yet although Rose’s character goes on to a long and rewarding life, things didn’t quite turn out the same way for Mrs Charlotte Collyer, pictured below with her young daughter Marjorie (note the White Star Line blanket across her legs).

She lost her husband, Harvey, in the disaster.  They had decided to move to America and buy a fruit farm in Payette, Idaho.  Charlotte suffered from tuberculosis and it was hoped a move to the States from the English county of Hampshire would benefit her health.  When Harvey went down with the ship the $5,000 dollars in cash which represented their life savings went down with him. 
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