27 January 2019

Juhyo: The Snow Monsters of Japan

Dinosaur
There are monsters, high in the Japanese mountains of the country’s northeastern region of Tohoku.  A few miles outside of Yamagata city the mountains rise and as the seasons turn and autumn becomes a memory, the monsters appear.  Winter isn’t coming here; it’s well and truly arrived.

IceMonster
Their shapes are not uniform. The imagination can truly take flight when considering what might lie beneath the snow. Is that a dragon? Is that a troll? Is that Sulley and Mike from Monsters Inc over there?

26 January 2019

The Dragon’s Skull: The Macabre Appearance of Snapdragon Seed Pods

The Antirrhinum (right), commonly known as the snapdragon has been a popular garden plant for many years.  Also known as the dragon flower, its common name derives from the resemblance of the flower to a dragon’s head.

When laterally squeezed the dragon will open and close it mouth: ask any grandparent whose flowers have been decimated by over keen but clumsy grandchildren.  Yet once the flower has died, leaving behind the seed pod, something a little more macabre appears.  The dragon – just a visual metaphor after all – appears to have a skull.

20 January 2019

The Mysterious Moeraki Boulders


If you go down to Koekohe beach in New Zealand you can be sure of a big surprise. In front of you, scattered like enormous marbles from some long abandoned game between giants, are hundreds of giant spherical rocks. Or are they the egg shells of sea-born dragons? The Moeraki boulders present us with a mystery – what are they and how on earth did they get here?
Image Credit Flickr User Geofftheref
Some are isolated but may occur in clusters. That they are here is the result of three things – erosion, concretion and time. First the waves, inexorable and patient, have pounded the local bedrock for countless millennia. The mudstone on the beach – rock which was originally mud and clay – is slowly but surely eroded. Underneath are the boulders that the mudstone – in its original wet form, helped to form. However, the boulders were not there to begin with – that came later.

6 January 2019

The Schmidt Sting Pain Index: How Much Could You Take?

You may well have been stung by a honey bee (above) in the past and your memories of it are quite likely not too fond.  However, have you ever wondered how that sting compared to others? The Ark in Space has quite a list on offer – of the creepy crawlies which make up the Schmidt Sting Pain Index.

It’s named after a guy who took time out to experience hundreds of stings for himself so he could describe the pain for himself – and for us fingers crossed.  So, which insect has the nastiest sting? Go find out for yourself!

Silent


Silent is an animated short film created by Academy Award winning Moonbot Studios. It celebrates how storytellers, inventors, and technology work together to create cinema magic.

The story follows two street performers (one of whom seems to be Mr Lessmore! Gasp!) who dream of bringing their "Picture and Sound Show" to life.

Cross Stitch Just Got Cool

Cross stitch is one of the oldest forms of embroidery in the world. So, it’s little surprise that its reputation is of something rather fusty that your grandmother might enjoy.  However, cross stitch has a new fan base and, led by types of Ambra. A 30 year old Italian crafter, stitcher, pattern-designer and nerd she has helped rehabilitate the ancient art and it is now - officially - cool again.  If that seems a little tongue in cheek then perhaps it is – one look at Ambra’s amazing designs, however, and you know that there is much truth in what we say.  She has created hundreds of patterns all of which can be seen and downloaded on her website, cloudsfactory.net.

Ambra is a qualified restorer and has worked in many museums.  Yet just as she opened her own restoration lab, the recession hit and the money for renovating old objects ran dry.  Not to be deterred, Ambra has turned her attention to two of her other loves, design and embroidery.  Marrying her interests in TV, movies and cartoons with her skill as a cross stitch pattern maker, she has created these very very cool designs.

The Long Game


As the world moves faster, so do our expectations.  We live in a youth centered society but this video essay in two parts by delve, looks at how, perhaps, things should really be.  In order to be a genius, do we need to achieve it while we are still youthful? Taking perhaps the genius of geniuses, Leonardo Da Vinci as an example, this may give any of you reading this who feel it is to late to achieve something more than just a glimmer of hope.

The Pyramids of Egypt


A dig outside of Cairo in 1920 and a single archaeologist, whose only company is a somewhat mystified camel, makes the discovery of a lifetime.  The secret of the ancients are about to be unlocked…

This very amusing animated short was created by the team of Nicolas Mrikhi, Corentin Charron, Olivier Lafay and Lise Corriol.  It was produced as a partnership between their university, Supinfocom Arles and the Museum of Marseille.

The Maijishan Grottoes - Artistic Treasure of China’s Past

China has four major Buddhist cave complexes - by far the most visited being the Longmen caves. Less well known are the Maijishan Grottoes. Situated in Gansu Province in the northwest of China, this astonishing example of cave architecture hewn from rock consists of over 7,000 Buddhist sculptures not to mention almost 1000 square meters of murals.

5 January 2019

The Meerkat - Sun Angel of Africa

The Meerkat – if any species of animal had a right to be a little irritated by the name we have gifted them, this is one. Of course, they are blithely unaware of any names we might choose to call them, but this small mammal from the heart of Africa is anything but a mere cat.  Our sibling site, The Ark in Space, has a feature about this wonderful African mammal with a host of fascinating facts and interesting pictures.  Click the picture or the link to enter the world of the sun angel.

Image Credit

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.

Spinning Daggers


This is hypnotically fascinating.  Benjamin Ducroz has created Spinning Daggers, a series of small wooden zoetrope sculptures composed next to trees during autumn. The sculptures consist of 18 instances - their form is in the shape of different sine and triangle waves modulating over 18 frames. Three of seven models were filmed – you can see the other models along with documentation can be viewed at Ducroz’ website.

Death by Chocolate


When fame has fled adjusting to your new position in life can be traumatic. Unable to adjust to rejection after rejection, jaded movie star Anne has hired a contract killer to, well, do what he does best.  However, she has second thoughts and meets with him to cancel the contract.

A wonderful short film which shows how much drama – not to mention black comedy, can be extracted from a great script and just two actors.  Written, produced and directed by REZ (Robin Veret & Dimitri Gochgarian), Death by Chocolate will have you on the edge of your seat till the end.

Victor Noir: Still Pleased to See You (Even in Death)

Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris contains the graves of many famous people, including Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. One person you may not have heard of, however, is Victor Noir. It is, in fact, his monument rather than his memory which draws people to his final resting place and for reasons you may not automatically associate with a cemetery.

You may have already noticed that much of his face is the familiar grey-green of oxidized bronze you would expect from a monument dating from 1891 (Noir died in 1870). However, the lips and the nose are unaccountably shiny. Victor Noir’s mouth and nose are regularly caressed and kissed. Yet the host of women who descend upon his tombstone have more than Victor’s face in mind when they visit. Despite only the faintest trace of a smile across it, Victor Noir is, it seems, still very pleased to see you.
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