7 July 2020

Speedway - The Curious Motorsport with No Brakes


Four riders line up at the start line where a set of white tapes stretch across the track to block them from moving forwards. Each of them wears a different coloured helmet, one red, one blue, one yellow and one green/white. As they await the order to start, they rev their engines and turn their heads to watch the mechanism that lifts the white tapes up.

As it triggers, they drop their clutches and rocket forwards, accelerating to breakneck speeds in just a couple of seconds before sliding their bike around the shale-covered hairpin bend, showering the spectators with dust and dirt in the process.

This sport, known as speedway, was once one of the most popular in the United Kingdom. In fact, online bookmaker and casino brand, Coral, first built its business off the back of it. Today, though, Coral makes much more of its money from sports like football and horse racing, as well as its online casino that’s been rated 4.5/5 by oddschecker.

Unlike Coral, which has gone from strength to strength, speedway has almost died out in the UK. It’s grown in popularity throughout eastern, central and northern Europe though. With large numbers of supporters in Poland, Sweden, Denmark and Russia.

In Poland, speedway is one of the most popular sports with the Polish Extraleague boasting the highest average event attendances of any sport in the country.

No Brakes
One of the biggest factors that distinguishes speedway from other forms of motorcycle racing is the fact that riders have no brakes to stop their bike. To go around a corner, the rider will lean in and accelerate, forcing the back wheel to step out and allow the rider to slide the bike around the curve.

This creates some exciting racing as riders will navigate each bend with different arcs, either taking the shortest route around the inside or sacrificing this to get a faster exit speed to attack their opponent at the next corner.

Races are a sprint, lasting just four laps. A single event will see more than a dozen races take place, with riders scoring points depending on how they finish in each heat. 

Methanol
Another curiosity of the sport is that bikes must be fuelled with methanol, a form of alcohol used in industrial settings. This creates a unique smell at speedway races that many fans say adds to the atmosphere.

Using methanol instead of more traditional fuels allows riders to reach speeds as high as 80 mph as they navigate the bends, something that wouldn’t normally be possible on such short tracks.

Speedway may not be appreciated by many, but it’s a unique sport that’s the product of its strange rules, odd fuel choice, and very brave riders.
Add a comment

replies

How Early Man Discovered Art


At some point in early human history, man discovered art and the wonderful drawings discovered in caves are testament to this early inclination to culture.  This video shows us one way in which, perhaps, the art of the chase gave way to the art of the cave. However, as you will discover in this wonderful animated short by LISAA students, while one step is made in the general direction of civilization, others are yet to be determined.
Add a comment

replies

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.
Add a comment

replies

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.
Add a comment

replies

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

Add a comment

replies

10 Amazing Places to Visit in China that Aren’t the Great Wall or The Terracotta Army

If you are visiting China as a tourist then the likelihood is that at some point during your stay you will find yourself at the Great Wall.  This remains one of the country’s sites that simply should not be missed, especially when you travel to places along its length that are less visited by tourists (take our tour).  Yet in this vast country there are hundreds of other places that could crown a visit for one reason or another.  They may be less well known than the Great Wall or indeed the Terracotta Army but they linger in the minds and hearts of all who visit them. Here are just ten of those amazing places you could visit while in China.

1 Huanglong – Land of the Yellow Dragon
The Minshan Mountain Range is situated in the north of China’s Sichuan Province.  An area of outstanding natural beauty it is home to a four kilometer stretch of travertine landforms and pools.  Even in its home country the place is relatively little-known. Yet Huanglong, literally Yellow Dragon, is a place of wonders.

4 July 2020

Why Bingo is a Social Game for Women


Gambling is supposed to be a fun activity enjoyed by everyone who can afford to spend a small amount for the thrills of the game. This is what bingo is all about and punters who have discovered this type of entertainment are not tempted to trade it for anything else. Unlike other forms of gambling, it remained the same fun and social game that encourages interactions and generates good vibes. This explains why it has retained its appeal after all these years and why women are so fond of it. Compared to men who are inclined to choose seriously competitive games, women are more balanced and relaxed when playing.

A match made in heaven
Land-based bingo parlors have lost much of their shine over the years, as Internet gambling became the dominant form of gaming. Having said this, there are still plenty of people who enjoy these charming places and women represent the vast majority of the audience. Many have transitioned to online bingo rooms that offer similar thrills in a more convenient fashion, as well as bonuses and special offers. The two communities might look different, but they are brought together by their love for the beautiful game.

Bingo is the perfect choice for anyone who seeks casual gaming and it is just as exciting at low and high stakes. Speaking of which, compared to other types of gambling, bingo is almost never played at nosebleed limits. This means that everyone can take part in the excitement and the risk of developing a gambling addiction is extremely low. It is also nearly impossible to find cases of people who lost a fortune playing bingo, which is extremely important when you take the games casually.

The Top online bingo sites took things to the next level and many provide their members with the opportunity of enjoying their favorite games for free. They supply them with virtual currency, which is automatically replenished whenever players run out. This can be used to buy tickets for free bingo tournaments and learn the game mechanics while having fun. Add to this the fact that occasional bingo freerolls are offered and you’ve got an accurate picture of why so many people have switched to Internet games.

Mobile bingo is the future
An important catalyst for the growth of online bingo was the arrival of smartphones and tablets capable of running the games smoothly. Modern devices are more than enough to enjoy bingo on the go without having to worry about technical glitches. Internet bingo rooms are optimized for handheld gadgets and all the important ones have games that can be played on mobile. There are even special bonuses and offers for those who make the transition from computers to smartphones.

Virtual reality games are just around the corner and bingo looks like the perfect candidate for this evolutionary step. Online bingo rooms are likely to embrace the new technology and provide their female audience with an even more exciting playground.


Add a comment

replies

21 June 2020

Dignity: The Statue America Needs Right Now

Ask anyone to name a famous American statue and the chances are they will reply with the Statue of Liberty.  A symbol of global enlightenment representing the freedom to live a life unhampered by oppression there was and still is irony there for those peoples who did not fall in to the innate and historical Euro-centricity of Lady Liberty’s promise.  So perhaps this monument in South Dakota will do something to redress this balance, at least in terms of statuary.

Image Credit
Dignity – for that is her name – stands on a bluff near the Missouri River, arms outstretched and holding a star-quilted blanket, offering shelter to one and all who might seek her protection.  She is 50-feet high and is made from stainless steel – supported by a huge steel rod in her interior to protect her from the high winds which often whistle across the plains.

4 June 2020

Made in Britain: Superb Time-lapse


The chances are if you have seen a time-lapse recently on UK TV that it could well have been made by Chad Gordon Higgins.  This is a collection of some of the work he has done in and around Great Britain and it is quite stunning.  I have to say the Stonehenge section stands out but the shot of the artist completing her painting is probably my favorite part of this collection of sights that were all Made in Britain.
Add a comment

replies

The Dandelion - Whimsical World-Wide Weed

The humble dandelion. From your garden to almost the ends of the earth this small but conspicuous plant flourishes. Gardeners do not appreciate its presence, considering it a weed, even though its flowering usually indicates the beginning of the honey bee season and could be seen as a welcome sign. Its simplistic looking structure hides a few surprising secrets and its cultural resonance, especially in Europe is strong. Here is a short but sincere homage to one of the small wonders of our botanical world.

Let’s start with the names, both common and scientific. In English, dandelion is a corruption of the French. Originally it was called ‘dent de lion’ and the name came over in 1066 with a certain William and his Conquerors. It means ‘lion’s tooth’ and many people mistakenly believe it refers to the orange colored flower head, confusing the words beard and tooth.

3 June 2020

The King of the Island

Get your hankies out now, because this will quite probably bring a tear to your eye. I know it brought several to my own.

This beautifully made animated short tells the story of Gioannin, a small boy living in the Italian port of Genoa at the beginning of the twentieth century.

His father was lost at sea several years before and Gioannin is pitied by the men of the port and somewhat bullied by the children because he has no father.

The boy, having no concept of death, imagines his father washed up on some exotic island where, because of his size, strength and cunning he soon becomes king.

One day his mother receives news that her husband is returning and Gioannin’s expectations of his father reach a peak. Yet when they are finally reintroduced, his father is nothing like he expected or imagined. He is something even better.

The King of the Island was made by Italian animation company artFive. They produce everything from computer graphics and animations for commercials, visual effects, videogames, web, to events, TV series, books and magazines. Take a look at their excellent demoreel here.
Add a comment

replies

The Nictitating Membrane: The Third Eyelid

From the picture above you could easily imagine that the animal kingdom had suddenly been enveloped in its own zombie apocalypse.  Yet this is not a still from a forthcoming episode of The Squawking Dead. Thanks to high speed photography, these photographs capture the nictitating membrane in action. It is also known as the third eyelid, haw and the inner eyelid. It is drawn across the eye to protect and moisturize it while retaining visibility. The Ark in Space today has a feature on this extraordinary structure of the eye.

Image Credit Flickr User Simon
Add a comment

replies

Jan Chodkiewicz – The World’s Greatest Swordsman


Jan Chodkiewicz is often referred to as the world’s greatest swordsman – and perhaps it is in his blood.  The Gdansk based swordsman and sword maker is descended from the great knights, including Poland's most famous commander Jan Karol Chodkiewicz (1560-1621).  Yet even though the years of Communism in Poland saw the interruption of the family’s historic strings, Chodkiewicz continues in the traditions of his kinsfolk.

He also cuts quite a dash - the Polish film industry should take note - they have a ready-made action hero here: movie star looks and a world expert in sword fighting skills.

This short documentary was created by Michał Rytel-Przełomiec.
Add a comment

replies

Space Shuttle Concept Art of the 1960s and 1970s

The idea of a spacecraft returning from space to a horizontal landing had been around for decades before the first operational space shuttle flight in 1982. A proposal had been submitted to NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, NASA’s predecessor) in 1954, just eight years after the Second World War. That proposal would ultimately become the X-15 aircraft but classified studies in to the next generation of space transportation systems continued.

An important part of these studies was the production of concept art which could help senior military and political figures (as well as, later, the general public) to visualize the potential shape of things to come. Some of the concept art is remarkably prescient while others are more than a little off the mark. Now historical documents, the drawings for the space shuttle, created before the age of computer aided design, offer a fascinating insight in to how things may have been – as well as how they actually turned out.

17 May 2020

The History of the Tulip


The Himalayan mountain range was the original home of the tulip even though most of us associate the flower with the Netherlands.  How it got there makes for a fascinating story, from the courts of the Turkish dynasties to its Dutch arrival, this animation gives us the whole history.  That shouldn’t really be too much of a surprise as it was created especially for the Tulip Museum in Amsterdam by Stepahne Kaas, an independent Dutch maker of film, documentaries, short fiction, music videos, commercials and this.

When the tulip got there it was considered such a rare and interesting flower that it sparked something of a social frenzy which would eventually lead to the down fall of an entire economy (known as the tulip bubble).  It’s amazing to think that a single flower could be responsible for all of that, but watch the video and discover the truth for yourself!
Add a comment

replies

5 May 2020

We’ll Meet Again – Possibly the Best Lockdown Project Yet?


Filmed in the Garden Quarter district of the ancient city of Chester, this is a “socially distanced production” featuring some of the best World War II songs, snippets of each sung by one of the neighbors with “We’ll Meet Again” featuring strongly. It's a great concept, the wandering accordion player introducing each of the participants - the coronavirus may be causing us to keep our distance but there's always a way to keep calm and carry on when there is human creativity at play.

As a lockdown project, it’s something else. Plus, with the 75th anniversary of VE Day about to be celebrated this group effort, orchestrated by Matt Baker (who just happens to be a musical director, so, handy) is timely to say the least. It is very obvious, too, that a lot of fun was had in the making of this mini-masterpiece.

This is what Matt has to say about the project on his Facebook page.

"This is a tribute from our community to a past generation which came together in the face of adversity. The residents of this one small street in the Garden Quarter, Chester created, rehearsed, directed, choreographed, performed and filmed this little tribute. They were also incredibly careful to adhere to every social distancing restriction throughout each step of the process.

A very special thanks to the lovely neighbours of nearby streets who have had to endure listening to the rehearsals over the past couple of weeks. Thanks also to the people who stopped at a distance on their way to the shops to enable us to complete filming. Thanks to Paula Cain from Chester Costume House for the special delivery!"

It hasn’t been online long but has only garnered just over 20K hits at the time of writing – and this should have many times that number of views, really.

This video has an added resonance for me.  For the first 18 years of my life I called Chester home and my mother still lives just five minutes away from where this was filmed; in fact, she was born just around the corner in Garden Lane in 1940 – the very time that the songs featured here were so important to people all over the United Kingdom and beyond.  I used to walk past this little street every day on my way to school – and it’s lovely to see its residents coming together in this community project.  Someone pass me a handkerchief…

Add a comment

replies
Amung Feedjit
Follow Kuriositas on Facebook