22 April 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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21 April 2018

Rainbow Lightning: Nature’s Astonishing Bow and Arrow

Most people have experienced lightning. Likewise, ask people if they have ever seen a rainbow and most will answer in the positive.  Yet something which few have seen is the moment that a rainbow and lightning occur at the same time. 

Stone Angels


We have featured the Cemetery of Staglieno in Genoa, Italy previously on Kuriositas and it remains a place of fascination and meditation.  It is filled with an incredible variety of outstanding sculptures that leave us with questions about our own mortality, our relationship with death and in what possibly lies ahead.  This wonderful black and white short by Nicola Bozzo captures this unfathomable place marvelously.
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The Legend of Dōgo Onsen 道後温泉


If you have seen Spirited Away you may not be aware that the inspiration for the bath house in the movie was Dōgo Onsen, the oldest in Japan and situated in the city of Matsuyama.  To celebrate its 120th birthday, Brad Kremer (who has been there many times) was asked to make this short film combining animation, stop-motion and real-time footage.  The result is entrancing.
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Strange Fruit


A father and son’s day is interrupted when they encounter a boy of a different color.  What happens next is an extended visual metaphor around the phenomena of racism.  Is it an acquired cultural trait or do we each have responsibility for our conscience? This powerful animation is the Graduation short film by Shimi Asresay and Hili Noy from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem.
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Steadfast Stanley


It always seems that pets get somewhat neglected in times of zombie apocalypse. I can’t think of a single movie or TV series where they get any sort of priority (but please leave a comment and correct me if I’m wrong). So it is with Stanley – the little Welsh Corgi gets left behind when life as we know it comes to a sudden stop in John Cody Kim’s CalArts graduation film. Will he find his human again? Watch and find out!
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The Sand Cat – Desert Cat Extraordinaire

Don’t be fooled by the off the scale cuteness quotient. This is the Sand Cat – or Felis margarita, a little known species of desert cat featured today on our sibling site, Ark in Space. In the wild it lives in areas that are too hot and dry for any other cat- the deserts of Africa and Asia, including the Sahara. It is the only desert species of cat known to us. As such, this cat is one tough cookie.
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8 April 2018

Glass Beach – Nature Corrects Another of Our Mistakes

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that a rubbish dump being created would, in the space of a century, become a protected area.  Yet that is exactly what happened to what has come to be known as Glass Beach, just outside Fort Bragg in California.

The residents there had no refuse collection so, with the sea so close by the solution seemed obvious – throw the garbage over the edge of the cliffs above their local beach.  The burgeoning population of the town proceeded, with abandon reckless if not gleeful (after all, it must have been more fun than the usual taking out of the garbage) to do just that.

The World Inside a Spanish Globe


New research at the University of Cambridge has lifted the lid on an unusual Spanish globe. Until now, the globe in the University of Cambridge's Whipple Museum of the History of Science has been shrouded in mystery: where, when and why was it made? Who would have used it?

Most fundamentally, what is it -- some kind of scientific instrument or a child's toy?
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Two Snails Set Off


Jacques Prévert’s poems are particularly popular in French schools so its great to see his Song of the Snails on their Way to a Funeral given the full animation treatment.  Yes, it’s in French, English speakers, but it would be criminal to dub this, such is the Gallic vocal talent included herein.  Artistic and directorial talents for Two Snails Set Off come from Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Romain Segaud.  This is an absolute joy to watch.
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Barcelona Archi’llusion


If this doesn’t make you do a double-take then very little will.  Maxime Menilmonde is well known for seeing the world with slightly different eyes than the rest of us – and this is made even clearer in their new video which takes the gorgeous Catalan city of Barcelona and, well, does things with it.  If you have been to this city before it will immensely please you and if you haven’t then I expect you know how to book tickets!

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6 April 2018

Mount Nemrut – Home to Gods Beheaded

The Adiyaman Province of Turkey in the south east of the country is not wealthy – it is still classified as a developing rural region. Yet 25 miles from the small town of Kâhta the visitor discovers the remnants of once fabulous wealth.  High on the summit of Mount Nemrut is a huge but little visited necropolis, home to the beheaded gods of the past.

The Hellbender: Giant Salamander of the United States

This is the only species of giant salamander to be found outside Asia – and it is called the hellbender.  With a name like that it’s an appropriate Halloween feature on our sibling site, the Ark in Space even though despite its name and size there is really nothing to be frightened of (apart from its name and its size – it can grow up to 30 inches in length!).  With its story, together with lots more pictures and a fascinating short documentary, head over to the Ark in Space.

Image Kerry Wixted
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Boring Exam Phrases and Their Replacements


GCSE English Language is not an easy exam and as such it is easy to make mistakes!  One in particular is when exam candidates fail to follow through on a PEE paragraph, despite making a good start.  It’s almost as if they run out of steam but unfortunately it is the last part of a PEE paragraph (Point, Evidence, Explain) that reaps the most rewards.  Of course, some of it is simply down to exam technique - something else that has to be acquired by candidates hoping to do well!

This video is made to encourage students (my own in particular: in the real world I am a teacher) to avoid some of the more common (and boring) mistakes in their English exams and to be a little more ambitious when it comes to explaining the use of language in a text!

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1 April 2018

Hope


Hope springs eternal – or so it is said.  Yet sometimes it seems lost.  In this animated short film, a small boy is separated from his mother and put to work in an internment camp.  There is one thing which he still has in his possession to remind himself of the mother he has lost – yet this one thing that is keeping him alive is, by its discovery, threatened. Hope is a film by Michael Sherrer for Pixcube Animation Studio.

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31 March 2018

Living Rock – Massive Monuments Carved In Situ

Most buildings and sculptures are made out of stone which is quarried and then taken somewhere else to be carved or used in construction. Not so these places, where the sculpting took place on site to give us some of the most remarkable sites in the world.

The Giant Buddha, Leshan
China has many a Buddha dotted throughout its extraordinary landscapes but the Giant Buddha of Leshan is unique in that it was carved directly out of the cliff face. The sculpture, which is seventy one meters (or over three hundred feet) tall dwarfs the tourists that flock to see it. It is positioned so that it faces Mount Emei and stands at the meeting place of three rivers.

The Incredible Glasswing Butterfly

It never ceases to stagger me what nature can come up with and the glasswing butterfly is just that – staggering.  The name speaks for itself – the glasswing’s claim to fame is that its wings, spanning up to six centimeters, are almost completely transparent. That’s right, you can see just about right through them.  The Ark in Space, our sibling site, has a feature today on this extraordinary creature.

Image Credit Naz Dore
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26 March 2018

The Eternal Spring of Tenerife

Of all places in the entire world that you can possibly visit, Tenerife, which is located in the Canary Islands is without a doubt not only one of the most breathtakingly beautiful spots that can be, but is also home to one of, if not the absolute best places in terms of it’s climate without a doubt.  If you are looking for your next destination spot, the IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel el Mirador will most definitely not disappoint and will make your every dream come true.

Tenerife is in fact known to be the Island of eternal spring throughout the world. Due to it’s perfect geographic position, located in a dreamy strip consisting of the best holiday spots possible. It is actually said that this strip is imaginary since it is so perfect and surreal.

There are several reasons for the gentle and ideal climate in Tenerife. One of the many reasons is the prevailing winds.  The trade winds, the orography of the terrain on it’s own together with the cold current of the Canary Islands makes for the beaches of Tenerife and the coasts to all year along always have stunning temperatures. Sometimes it is even above the temperature of the air.

Overall, the Island of Tenerife has a mild climate. Sometimes it becomes temperate and moderate throughout the other months of the year. However what is most special and impressive about the island is that throughout all months, and all seasons there is never both extreme cold, nor is there terribly suffocating heat.
Temperatures in the Island on average range anywhere between 17 and 18 degrees Celsius in the winter. During the summer months, the temperature ranges from averaging anywhere between 24 or 24 degrees Celsius at this time.  These values are all relative and rather general, however are most applicable in the costal areas in which the majority of the popular and happening tourist resorts are very systematically located.

One of the most impressive and surprising aspects of this Island is it’s variety of micro-climates.  Tenerife is very ideally located in the subtropical zones. The Island has the exact same latitude levels as do the great hot deserts of the northern hemisphere. Among them is the Sahara, located nearby to the Tenerife Island.

There is a strong presence of a high belt pressure, known as the Azores anticyclone. The Azores anticyclone creates a great deal of atmospheric stability. Furthermore, it also softens the temperatures of the climate of the Island. The influence of the Canary Island’s cold current, which is part of the current North Atlantic system, brings in water that is even colder than the norm into these latitudes. This in turn cools down the surface layer of air over the sea.

Throughout the majority of the year, trade winds blow which are created by the Northern Atlantic high pressures. These high pressures are loaded with humidity and they pass through their journey in the ocean. Among the impact together with the Island terrain, they condense themselves into a blanket of clouds. This process is known as stratocumulus and takes humidity into the surface of the Island.

This fascinating phenomenon happens on the very slopes which face north-northeast. On the other side, the slopes which face the west and south sides are dry and warm once they have reached the top. This makes for an increase in the sunshine and overall temperatures. At the same time it also reduces the humidity of leeward Islands.

This regime found in the northeast trade winds and the northeast weather overall is the most common kind of weather to be found in the Island, making those who live there very lucky, happy and healthy people. It is also makes for a great deal of tourism with everyone wanting to come visit this beautiful Island with the most perfect weather.

Another common type of weather that is seen in the Island during any time of the year is when the warm winds of the southeast blow. It comes from the Sahara, bringing dust in suspension. This raises the temperature and decreases the visibility and the humidity. This is known as south weather.

 During the winter months, there are often disturbances which are related to the general circulation of the west, which is a common property of the northern hemisphere.  In some cases, the pressures become so low that the latitude drops towards the south when the west circulation slows down. This also weakens the Azores anticyclone, which is very likely to occur in the Canary Islands area.


Cold storms will sometimes begin in mid-latitudes. It depends on their size and latitude, however low pressures mostly will come from the north-northwest or south-southwest. This produces heavy winds and rain in large and intense amounts and can result in flooding. Rainfall is seen the most in the areas that are exposed to winds. For more important about the magical Island, Iberostar.com will provide you with everything and more.

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