30 March 2015

Poll: Which UK Party Leader is the Biggest Plonker?

It's started - properly - the run up to the day we decide.  Yet at a general election in the UK you are supposed to vote for who you want to win. Tactical voting aside it is our role in the democratic process to indicate which person we think is best for the job. However, what we don’t get to do is tell our politicians just what plonkers they really are. Well, now you can. First, tell us how much of a plonker you deem each of our esteemed party leaders to be in terms of percentage plonkerdom. Then, tell us which out of this ravishing lot is, in your opinion, the biggest plonker of them all.

As you vote you will see what other people think too... and there lies the fun of it! Do others see things (sorry, politicians: sorry, same thing) as you see them?  Have fun!



And now for something completely different
If you would like to do a quiz which is a little more, ahem, cerebral, then why not have a go at our horribly difficult art quiz.  All you have to do is match the painter with the painting.  Sounds easy? Give it a go!

Click on the picture to the left or HERE.

Image Credits
David Cameron, Ed Milliband, Nick Clegg, Nicola Sturgeon, Leanne Wood, Natalie Bennett, Nigel Farage

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Białowieża Forest – Remarkable Remnant of Europe’s Primeval Past

Straddling the border of Poland and Belarus, there is a reminder of what Europe used to look like before the arrival of man.  Białowieża Forest is the largest remaining part of a vast primeval forest that stretched for thousands of miles from corner to corner of the European plain. Something very large and very rare still stirs within the forest.

Although the forest is shared by Poland and Belarus, the border running directly through it, it is now a single UNESCO World Heritage Site.  As these photographs show, little has changed here for thousands of years. It is still home to Europe’s heaviest land mammal – the Wisent. Yet the area has been witness to tumultuous social and political changes, one of which was to see the wisent eradicated from the confines of the forest. Białowieża saw little peace in the twentieth century.

Cern – The Atlas Experience


ATLAS is a particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN that is searching for new discoveries in the head-on collisions of protons of extraordinarily high energy.  The detector is 100m below ground in a cavern few get to see. 

Yet thanks to filmmaker Christoph Malin we get the opportunity to see the experiment at a point when it is undergoing a technical upgrade (I could think of a few thousand things that probably need one more than Atlas, but there you are!).

As Malin says: “Regardless if you are an Engineer, Scientist or Filmmaker – at the very moment you step into CERN and ATLAS, you get totally soaked up by the omnipresent passion of all people involved there, the ever present spirit of Science and Particle Physics in detail – a world that totally immersed us.”
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Mind the Gap


If you have lived in or visited London over the last thirty years then the three words which make up the title of this short film will be familiar as you will have heard them many time on the underground tube system of the English capital.  For one elderly woman the words have a particular resonance.  Starring Eileen Nicholas and produced, written and directed by Luke Flanagan, Mind the Gap is based on a true story.
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Blackbirds by Gretchen Peters


Gretchen Peters has been a famous face on the American music scene for two decades.  Her latest single, Blackbirds, is a wonderful slice of American noir which pools her eclectic musical influences in to a murder ballad which tells the last chapter of a family’s history.  Together with a great stop motion silhouette animation from Eric Power this might not be one to show the kids just before bedtime. Oh, go on then.
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29 March 2015

Quiz: How Many of these Endangered Mammals are Left?

There are probably countless endangered mammals in the world but you will recognize all fifteen in the latest quiz from our sibling site, the Ark in Space.  Your job is to guess just how many individuals of each species are alive in the world today.  Some of the answers may surprise you (and some will make your heart a little heavy, but this is a quiz about endangered mammals, after all).  

There is little irony to be found in the fact that if you added up the total numbers of all fifteen of these species they would probably only be a fraction of a percentage in terms of numbers compared to us, homo sapiens (there probably is irony in the sapiens bit). In fact we’re probably more of a virus than a mammal in many ways…

Click on the picture above or HERE to do the quiz.
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Confessions Of An Idiom


Thinking about it, I suppose it had to happen at some point: an animated short film starring the elephant in the room and the skeleton in the closet – giving us the best of both worlds.  Here, Mollie Helms and Amanda Koh of Ringling College get to grips with as many idioms as they can fit in to two and a half minutes.

No doubt they burned the midnight oil to finish it.  Yet actions speak louder than thoughts, of course, so give it a watch. The ball is in your court.
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How Will The Universe End?


Science should be big, bright, bold and engaging – and you are going to find this video by Beakus all of those and more. It asks the question that, at some point or another, many of us ask – when is the universe going to end?

Fortunately the answer is not tomorrow or indeed the day after. Created for the Royal Observatory Greenwich this is science and art in blissful union.
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Waterballet


I have no idea how Kamiel Rongen does this but he creates audiovisual landscapes by using water and lots of different materials. Once that is done he makes the music to go along with the video. The result is bizarre, mesmerizing and quite simply amazing. I normally say something like don’t try this at home at this point, with tongue fairly firmly in cheek. I think I mean it this time..!
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28 March 2015

The Judas Ear

No, Doctor Lecter has not been at it again – this is not a real ear. Its quite remarkable resemblance to the human ear has, however, given it a host of names throughout the ages – some it has to be said less flattering (or at least politically correct) than others.

The fungus is called Auricularia auricula-judae and it is found throughout the world. As you will see, some examples look more ear-like than others – you might even say earily so (to make a very poor play on words). In fact, anywhere you find elder trees you will likely find the Judas Ear.

Naturevention


I am the first to admit that Naturevention has left me a little perplexed but not by any means in a negative way.  Written, directed and produced by Miro Laiho of Time Films, the story is told at three different periods in our history, the past, present and future.  Yet although it’s something of a puzzle (and I may just be a little dim today) it is something which I had to watch to the end.  See what you think and let me know!
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The Ballad of Holland Island House


This is quite an extraordinary meeting of talents, brought together to tell the true story of the last house standing on a sinking island in the Chesapeake Bay, the northern part of which is within Maryland, the southern portion within Virginia.  Animator Lynn Tomlinson uses a truly inventive animation technique using just a thin layer of oil-based clay.

The music is by Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle – a perfect companion to the animation which produces a soulful and haunting view of the impact of sea-level rise.  The words, told from the perspective of the house are reminiscent of Longfellow’s The Windmill (to me, anyway!) but the tone here is much more elegiac. Altogether it is a mesmerizing experience: moreover, it’s wonderful to hear an authentic if somewhat melancholic American voice come through the sound and visuals so strongly.

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27 March 2015

Know Your Art? Then Try Our Horribly Difficult 20 Question "Who Painted This?" 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?

Don’t worry if you don’t get all 20 – you won’t necessarily see the most famous work by each artist in this quiz. However, why not pass this on to your friends by sharing it? Watching them get a miniscule score will inevitably make you feel better.  Have fun with the schadenfreude!

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 others chose the different answers (in terms of a percentage).



Image Credits
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

If you want to check out the answers as a single list, click here.
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22 March 2015

Quiz: Can You Name All 15 of These Big Cat and Wild Cat Species?

Fancy a quick quiz? Then click on the picture above and it will take you to our sibling site, the Ark in Space. Most of us know a lion or a tiger when we see one but some of the other big cats can be a little more difficult to name.  Throw in a number of wild cat species and it becomes more difficult to name them all.  Just how many of these amazing animals can you name?  The quiz is multiple choice so you do have some chance at least so why not give it a go?  You can find it over at the Ark in Space.
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The Lifeboat Game Set in Space


The SS Hartnell is in trouble – it has been hit by a comet and most of the people on board have been killed.  However, the captain has managed to get ten of them to a space lifeboat.  Here’s the problem, though, only five of the ten can be saved as food and oxygen will run out before rescue arrives.  Which of these five would you save?

This is something I created for my real world job, in which I teach 16-18 year olds.  I thought I would share to show you that it isn’t sheer laziness which stops me from posting to Kuriositas every day but that I do, in fact, have one or two other things to do.  I particularly enjoyed making this and it has had a good reaction from my students.  The funny thing is, I have now done it with three different classes not one of which has come up with the same five people to save.  So, over to you! Which people would you save?

Below is a little quiz to make it even harder!  Which of the first five would you save and which of the second five if there were only two people who could make it?

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Victorian Street Life in London

In 1876, six years after the death of Charles Dickens, the streets of the English capital still looked very much like the famous author had described. Poverty, disability and filth were everywhere: people lived a precarious and marginal existence working on the streets of London. Two men became determined to document this – and the book they produced shocked a nation.

Radical journalist Adolphe Smith conducted interviews with the poor and down and outs of London. Yet this had been done before. The unique selling point of this book was his collaboration with photographer John Thomson. These pictures - such as the one above of a young girl searching drinking houses for an inebriate parent, were taken with a camera using the glass plate method (Eastman would not develop film until the next decade). They stunned the British middle classes and made their book – Street Life of London – an immediate best seller.

Richard III – That Horrible Histories Song


As the reburial of Richard III gets underway we thought we might as well jump on the band wagon (is there such a thing as a band hearse?) and give that most misunderstood of kings the opportunity to put the balance right. History has not been kind to Richard III and, as you can see from this amusing song from the Horrible Histories team, it’s mostly the fault of those terrible Tudors!
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21 March 2015

Line Signal


I love a short film that doesn’t put all the answers on a plate for you, instead leaving much to the imagination and that is exactly what Line Signal by Meat Bingo does.  In terms of exposition there is just what you see (and it’s beautifully shot) and hear.  Who is the young businesswoman with her mysterious deals? Who are the strange figures she encounters in the wood when the signal to her mobile phone fails?  Or as my ancient neighbour used to say about almost everything he watched, what was that all about, dear?  I’m not sure but I loved it!
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Are There Aliens?


Who can say but this short animation created by Beakus for the Royal Observatory in Greenwich (the one in London!) puts the possibilities forward simply and concisely.  The sad reality is that we probably won’t find out in our lifetimes unless there is some sort of Independence Day event but given the odds I would, for one, certainly like to think that it is only a matter of time before we have the answer.
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Buckminster Fuller on the Geodesic Life


"I must reorganize the environment of man by which then greater numbers of men can prosper." Buckminster Fuller, American neo-futuristic architect, systems theorist, author, designer, and inventor as told to Studs Terkel during interviews recorded in 1965 and 1970.  Although it skims the surface of the ideas of this extraordinary man this is a fantastic homage by Quoted Studios.
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Hyperjump


If you like kinetic light sculptures then they really don’t get much better than this. Created by Tundra Collective, Hyperjump takes us to one of the halls of the former First Cadets Corps in Saint Petersburg.  There are 25 moving head light beams on truss stands with a powerful sound system for good measure.  When the light sculptures started to move, the electronic light devices come to life. It’s an 11 on the 1-10 scale of cool art.
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Pasteurized


When you are a scientist on the verge of a breakthrough then you need isolation, quiet and, above all, no pesky felines arriving on your doorstep without a by your leave.  However, life for this scientist is not ideal by any means and made worse by an unexpected visitor whose arrival will change everything.  Written and directed by Nicolás P. Villarreal, Pasteurized has won a number of awards.  Watch and find out why!
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The Story of Symbols

We use them every day – but what are the mysterious origins of these symbols we take for granted? 

 Here are few short explanations to demystify the meanings of our favorite symbols.


The Question Mark
Once upon a time, there was no such thing as a question mark. To show that a question was being asked, the word question would be written. In Latin - quaesto. The reason that it was in Latin was because that was the universal scholastic language of the time.

15 March 2015

Supernatural Spring Break: An Alphabetic Guide


Spring Break: at time to let your hair down and have some fun. Of course, if you happen to be a supernatural beasty the same rules apply, only with some little differences. Here, the students of Columbus College of Art and Design have a little fun with the whole concept of spring break and bring you an alphabet of its extravagances, seen through the eyes of a menagerie of monsters.
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Flowers


There should have been enough time-lapses of opening flowers by now for us all to have become completely fed up with them.  Yet they keep coming and they keep getting better.

This one, created by Thomas Blanchard, is just lovely and is the result of 9624 shots being brought together to make just over two minutes of film.
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Dew - Earth's Liquid Jewelry

In his poem Hyperion, Longfellow said, “Every dew-drop and rain-drop had a whole heaven within it."  What would he make of today’s world of micro and macrophotography?  To say his words had an element of truth in them might be assuming that the camera never lies.  However it can hardly be doubted that he might find joy in this collection of outstanding photographs.  Perhaps he would feel that they represented the inner peace for which he was searching.

Earth's liquid jewelry wrought of air. Philip James Bailey
Dew forms on any exposed and thin object in the morning and (unknown to some) also in the evening.  It is caused by the object cooling.  When it cools it radiates the heat it is generating. That heat causes moisture in the surrounding atmosphere to condense.  The water is not able to evaporate faster that it is condensing.  So, dew forms.
Amung Feedjit
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