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!

Image Credit

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

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.

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!

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.

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…

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

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.

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!

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.

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…

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.

3 July 2018

A Frenchie's Miserable "Miss-mom" Howling is Made in to a Concerto


We don't often have two videos in one post on Kuriositas but you have to see this.  Walter Geoffrey the Frenchie does not like being left alone in the car – please watch the short video above for ample proof.  When his human companion has to leave him behind for a short time he understandably gets a little upset. His almost musical but nonetheless miserable howling entranced YouTube viewer at the end of May this year.  It entranced one of them, lyoug, so much that they created the video below.

Note that Dog concerto in A-sharp minor is is completely unedited, no speed change or autotune.   The only addition is Guitar Pro’s MIDI clarinet and harpsichord sounds.  It’s probably the best thing I’ve seen all month.  Walter Geoffrey may still be miserable but at least now he is musically so…

2 July 2018

The Dead Leaf Butterfly - Camouflage King of the Asian Tropics


Although the title of this article at our sibling site the Ark in Space has already given the game away, take a close look at the ‘leaf’ above.  Dead and withered, its dark veins still stretch across the parchment thin remains of its once emerald resplendence. Yet a closer look reveals a head, eyes and legs.  This isn’t at all what it appears to be – and that is exactly how nature intended.  Pop over to Ark in Space and see what is to be found on the inside of the wings!

First Image Credit - Wikimedia

Things To Do When You Can't Sleep Because Of Racing Thoughts



Let’s face it. Sometimes you just can’t make the voices in your head shut up and go away, can you?

Hold on: we didn’t mean it like that. We meant figurative, metaphorical voices that represent your innermost stresses, anxieties, and worries, not actual creepy voices that whisper things in your ear, like instructions on how to cook tuna flavored cupcakes. (Don’t ask.)

Yes, folks. Trying to get to sleep while you’re brain is moving at 200 mph isn’t the easiest feat in the world to accomplish. Quite the contrary: it literally feels impossible.

What’s worse is, when you start beating yourself up about not getting to sleep while you’re trying to get to sleep, then, well, you really aren’t going to get any sleep. You’ll be stressed about being stressed which will keep you awake longer. And that, friends, is counterproductive.

We’ve got a suggestion for you: learn how to take it easy. That might sound easier said than done, but it’s a valuable piece of advice that no one should ignore. So how does one actually “chill out” as the kids call it these days, anyway? What does it take?

Just a little bit of self-care maintenance is all. Here are 3 things to do when you can’t sleep at night because of racing thoughts from Sarah of the Sleep Advisor. Ready, set, relax!

Make a list

“Rename your “To-Do” list to your “Opportunities” list. Each day is a treasure chest filled with limitless opportunities; take joy in checking many off your list.” ― Steve Maraboli

A recent study that Baylor University and Emory University conducted in which over 50 young adults were surveyed revealed that writing to-do lists helped them fall asleep an average of nine minutes faster than those who didn’t.

Sometimes our racing thoughts are caused by the anxiety we feel about all of the tasks, responsibilities, and deadlines we feel looming over our heads on the horizon.

These could be a big presentation you have to give for class or work, a massive special event you’re planning, bills you have to pay, taxes you need to do, or blog posts about reducing stress to get better sleep that you need to write.

Grabbing the nearest notebook and jotting down all of these goals and duties will help you clear your head and make you feel like you’ve got a better handle on things than you think you do. Also, it will help you realize what’s necessary and what’s not. That’s important, too.

Say, while we’re on the topic...

Write it out

“Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” - Stephen King

Write out your feelings. Pencil, pen, keyboard, smartphone or tablet screen - it doesn’t matter. Just focus on expressing how you feel about what’s going on in your life and in your head.

Describe what you’re afraid of, what’s bugging you, what’s making you feel like you’re in a perpetual state of anxiety. Articulating what’s happening in your life will help you manage your stress and boost your physical health as some studies have suggested.

So, why not take up the ancient art of journaling to explore the possibilities of your life and help fine tune your circadian rhythms considerably at the same time?

Focus on now

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” - Dr. Felice Leonardo Buscaglia Ph.D.

Most of the time those anxious thoughts that are kind of, sort of driving you into a sleep deprived craze aren’t based in the here and now.

They’re about things that haven’t happened yet, or regrets about the past, or false constructs that you bult to make yourself worry yourself for no good reason other than the fact you might be addicted to the adrenaline rush.

Whatever your excuse (or reason) might be, it’s best to step back and accept that you’re having these thoughts. Acknowledge that they exist, then also acknowledge other things that exist outside of yourself, too.

Become aware of the room and your surroundings by focusing on one sensory stimulus at a time. Look at the colors, hear the sounds, feel the sensations, and start thinking about what’s out there and less about what’s in here, so to speak.

We hope that these tips for quieting down your rampaging, anxious mind have been helpful to you. We wish you peace, good luck, and way more than forty winks in bed tonight. We also hope that whatever you’re going through sorts itself out sooner rather than later in a way that benefits everyone involved - you especially.

Bio:

Hey, I’m Sarah. Recent vegan, long-time yogi and lover of a great sleep. I used to suffer from insomnia in my teens but since turning to meditation and yoga (and paying more attention to my health in general), I’ve found that I’ve never slept better! I get to bed early and gone are the days of lying awake with anxious thoughts. And I want to help others sleep more soundly, too!

Amung Feedjit
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