30 June 2016

Villa Epecuén: Argentina’s Pompeii Revealed

Villa Epecuén Argentina Abandoned Submerged Town Flooded Like Pompeii
Once, people would flock to the small town of Villa Epecuén in Argentina’s Buenos Aires Province to take advantage of the saline, healing waters of its lake. Decades of tourism was wiped away in November 1985.  The rains were unusually heavy and the lake burst its banks.  The entire town of more than 100 blocks disappeared under ten meters of water.

Villa Epecuén Argentina Abandoned Submerged Town Flooded Like Pompeii

26 June 2016

Nightvision: The Brilliance and Diversity of European Architecture

Nightvision is a celebration of the brilliance and diversity of architecture found across Europe. Over the course of three months Luke Shepard journeyed with a friend through 36 cities in 21 countries with the ambition of capturing some of the greatest European structures in a new and unique way. Comprised of thousands of carefully taken photographs, strung together, Nightvision aims to inspire appreciation for these man-made landmarks.


How did the moon first come in to Earth’s orbit? Theories abound… and this isn’t one of them.  However, the idea that the moon was having a childish race with another celestial body when it got stuck in our orbit is a novel and entertaining one, given life in this animated short by Francesca Pich.

What in my mind makes this even better is the fact that the moon then sulks for four and a half billion years until… well, you had better watch this to find out what finally lifts the moon’s mood!

Would Say Would Fall

The byline for this short documentary by MEL Films is two guys, a particle accelerator and a lost city with a story to tell and them sums it up succinctly. We visit Vesuvius, the far from dead volcano in Southern Italy which destroyed the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD.  The documentary focuses on scrolls discovered in a library of the latter city, which now look more like large chunks of charcoal.  Inside, though, the writings of the ancients persevere.  Would Say Would Fall discovers how scientists, using a type of X-ray vision similar to a CAT scan, are rediscovering what is written on these scrolls.

Please Help Keep Kuriositas 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. 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.

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25 June 2016

Now We Know Why the Daleks Always Fail (and Other Stories)

Doctor Who fans regularly scratch their heads and wonder why a force such as the daleks always seems to be beaten.  Well, now we know.  It seems that the genetic structure of the original beasts of Skaro has been somewhat usurped by that of another life form – the minions.  It seems only right, considering their attempts to do nasty things with our DNA to enhance their own. It doesn’t stop there, however. Their casings have now become multiple rather than single residences.  I guess it’s more fun that way.

This amusing picture and those below were created by Rooners Toy Photography on Flickr.  Pop over and take a look at the whole stream – lots of Doctor Who stuff but representatives, too, from other science fiction shows.

The Flying Monkeys of Burlington

Flying winged monkey sculpture burlington vermont
Even though Burlington is the largest city in the US state of Vermont, its population only numbers just over 40,000 souls.  Yet every place needs its guardians and protectors and Burlington has its very own to defend and preserve the population.  The fact that they are winged monkeys might raise few eyebrows in the town: for visitors these primates with plumage are a source of surprise and delight.

Flying winged monkey sculpture burlington vermont
Flying winged monkey sculpture burlington vermont
Although no one is 100 percent sure where Burlington acquired its name, the city has a history dating back to 1763 when a land grant was given to one Samuel Willis and 63 others.  The winged monkeys are a more recent addition: their essentially gargoyle form lends itself well to the town’s European roots.


Claude and his friends chose the wrong lettuce to have for lunch and now they have been plucked from their garden home and in to the kitchen.  Can all five of them make it back to freedom?  Going by the title I think you can guess what happens next in this entertaining horror comedy for snails by a group of students at the Media Design School in New Zealand.


When you are consigned to live forever things can get a little tedious to say the least.  Can you imagine generation after generation with the same problems and issues?  Even an angel, fallen or otherwise, might get a little jaded.  This short, written and directed by Herminio Cardiel focuses in on one lonely immortal who believes that he is the only one.  This evening, however, he is in for something of a surprise.

19 June 2016

A Handful of Soil - Garść Ziemi

A young Polish immigrant returns to the country of his birth after his father’s death.  Retracing his family’s past he discovers how the fight for freedom in Poland would change their lives forever.  This touching short film was directed by Piotr Skowronski and stars Levan Sonego and Sebastian Naskrent. English subtitles above, Polish ones below.  If you don’t speak both languages you will need one or the other.


Zuri is a forest spirit who nurtures his home world, allowing it to grow and thrive.  Yet one day his planet has a visitor from the stars, one intent on commandeering and using the resources of this beautiful place. A confrontation is inevitable but will forest magic be able to defeat the onslaught of avaricious technology? Zuri is the work of a number of students at the Digipen Institute of Technology in Singapore.

Iggy Pop – Do Not Go Gentle

When you think about it, this was almost inevitable.  So inevitable, in fact, that it is a wonder that no-one has previously imagined Iggy Pop reciting perhaps Dylan Thomas’ most famous poem.  Grey London, an “open, ambitious collision of almost 500 people working in London’s Hatton Garden” has done just that. Nils Leonard, one of the collision’s cohort created the visuals here.


I may have led a sheltered life but I don’t think I have ever seen timelapse photography done in quite the same way as in Auto, the Rhode Island School of Design senior film by Conner Griffith.  I'm not sure it could even be described as such but watch it and decide for yourself. Instead of people and cars appearing as blurs, Griffith has taken a single frame for each (or very few) and then added the next person or car.  It’s when static things start moving that you might scratch your head when trying to figure out how he did this.

Then there are the hot air balloons. You will have to wait till the very end for the money shot (as it were) but I have no clue how this was done.  And do you know something, I’m not sure I care.  Widescreen and volume up, folks!

18 June 2016

The Tallest Abandoned Structure in the World: The Leaning Tower of Yekaterinburg

As of 24 March 2018 the tower is no more.  Read our reaction and watch the demolition HERE.

Turn your eyes skyward anywhere in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg and you will see it.  A tall off-white, disheveled but somehow elegant tower is by far the tallest building in Russia’s fourth most populated city.

Yet this is not a monument to a fallen tsar or departed dictator.  It is a TV tower. What is more, it’s an unfinished TV tower.  Nonetheless it gives the city another claim to fame – as the home to the tallest abandoned structure in the world.

There are three parts to the building:  the trunk of the tower, the lower joint-work with the base and the metallic aerial. The tower has 26 floors in total (not accounting the floors which make up the base). The lifts were never installed.  Instead any visitors must clamber up the concrete stairs of the half-complete tower.  It is quite the local landmark.

The Teacher’s Lament

If you are a teacher you will probably ‘get’ this immediately!  It’s a small ‘semi-sonnet’ which sums up something that seems to happen a lot.  Even if you’re not I expect it resonates as the same could be said for virtually every profession.   So perhaps this shouldn’t have been called The Teacher’s Lament at all – perhaps The Worker’s Lament instead?  It’s short and my first attempt at poetry since I was about 16 so be kind..!

14 June 2016

If You Have Never Wanted to Visit Latvia, You Will after You Watch This

Lake Kaņieris is one of the richest lakes in Latvia in terms of bird and fish stocks so it’s no surprise its name translates to goose lake.  Eaglewood Films gives us a stunning glimpse in to life by the lakeside with Song of Kaņieris.  The lake has seen many changes over the course of its history and now holds ten islands, six of which are man-made. Yet one would not imagine this place touched by human hand, such is its serene beauty.

Henry Fox Talbot and the First Photographs

Some people are just unlucky.  Henry Fox Talbot – ever heard of him?  Normally, Daguerre is associated with taking the first photographs yet Talbot beat him to it, only sharing his discovery with his close colleagues.  It was simply the fact that Daguerre published first that foxed Talbot (as it were).  This entertaining and educative animated short by Drew Christie (for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) tells his story.

The Heart Followers

Northern Norway is not known for its clement weather.  Yet there is at least one family tucked up away there in the arctic who enjoy home-grown food all the year round.  Why?  It’s because they live in a marvelous eco-house.  The growing family have even changed their name to Heart Followers to reflect their choice of lifestyle.  If this all sounds way too hippy for you, then watch this lovely documentary by Tord Theodor Olsen and then tell me if you’re not just a teeny weeny bit jealous.  Go on. Dare you…

11 June 2016

The Santa Maria

Vertical films do not come around very often, let alone vertical film noirs.  So, when the do they must be treasured.  The Santa Maria focuses on a normal guy who is suddenly thrust in to an extraordinary situation. In this case it involves treasure maps, gangsters and a femme fatale. Written by Folke Renken and Erik Schmitt and also directed by the latter, The Santa Maria is a lot of fun.

The 100 Greatest American Films

The BBC recently asked film critics from around the world which were their favorite American movies.  The result is presented here.  Rather than doing a countdown the BBC has decided to present the films in an A-Z.  I found this a little annoying at first but quickly warmed to it due to the very imaginative way the clips are presented.  You can find the 100 – 1 list below!

What is Genetic Modification?

We all know that genetic modification has split the scientific community, not to mention the general population.  Yet what exactly is it?  Freelance motion graphic designer Tim Gray recently created this video for The Royal Society.  It explains the origins of genetic modification – we’ve been doing it for a lot longer than you might imagine – and looks at how genes can now be inserted directly from one plant to another – the issue that causes all the fuss!

10 June 2016

The Manpupuner Rock Formations – Russia’s Seven Strong Men

In the Troitsko-Pechorsky District of the Komi Republic there is a flat plateau out of which seemingly burst seven pillars of rock. They are known locally as the Seven Strong Men.

Without a frame of reference you might think they are remarkable but small, noteworthy but only moderate in size. Yet take a look at the tent and the people in the right hand corner of the photograph and you realise that they are – quite simply – enormous. They range between 30 and 42 meters in height (98 – 137 feet).

Local legend has it that they are the remains of seven Samoyed giants. They were on a forced march through the Urals, heading across the mountain ranges to decimate the Vogulsky people. Their Shaman, the largest of the seven, beat a drum to keep his comrades moving relentlessly on towards their quarry. However, he caught sight of the holy Volgulsky Mountains. He let go of his drum and all seven giants froze to the spot.

8 June 2016


Life in the big city can be lonely and if you are a little different from the crowd it can simply exacerbate the feeling.  So it is for Quintin, a young porcupine living in a metropolis that doesn’t quite understand him or his quills.

Yet for all change comes and in Quintin's case a visit to fish shop will do just that.  Spiked is Jessica Mao’s third year film at Sheridan College.

The Emancipation of Prince

Prince may be a small dog, a Chihuahua in fact but he still has a ton of male pride.  So the woman is not perhaps the ideal life companion for him.  In fact, for as long as he can remember, Prince has hated her with a vengeance – you will have some sympathy for his plight as the plot unfolds.  It’s time to move on.  Watch how Prince secures his emancipation in this very amusing short directed by Gavin O'Grady.

Let’s Not Panic

The world may be coming to an end but let’s not panic.  Sometimes it brings out the best in people.  Sadie, a somewhat neurotic New Yorker is in love with her therapist.  When apocalypse threatens she embarks on a journey across the city to achieve her fantasy – to be in a relationship with him.  As the city is doomed then all rules are, after all, off.  With spot-on direction by independent filmmaker Heather Jack (who also wrote the film) and a very engaging central performance by Lyle Friedman this Let’s Not Panic shows that the end of the world need not be, well, the end of the world.

3 June 2016

The Giant Ichneumon Wasp – Stump Stabber Extraordinaire

What is the fastest, tallest, heaviest, lightest? We love to compare members of the animal kingdom in these terms.  One word you may hear too is longest but when it appears in a question it is normally asked in terms of total length.  In that case, the Giant Ichnuemon Wasp, found in the USA, is nothing much to write home about being just two inches long.  However, if the question was “which insect has the longest ovipositor known to science?” then the female of this species would be the answer. And holy egg laying organs, it’s some length.  Our sibling site, the Ark in Space, has the story.

Image Credit

Run Cat Run

A worm hole accident precipitates a body switch between an astronaut and his pet cat.  Unfortunately, their space ship is on a collision course with a star!

Can the catstronaut get his now man-sized pet to help resolve the situation before it is too late?  To find out, watch this animation by Hao Li who created it for their graduate thesis at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

Joseph’s Illusion: A Tribute to the Inventor of the Phenakistoscope

Ever heard of the Phenakistoscope? You have probably seen one in action at some point even if you can’t remember (or, frankly, pronounce) its name.  The device, invented in 1832 by Joseph Plateau demonstrated the illusion of a moving image using the persistence of vision principle (that’s where multiple images blend in to a single image – in our minds at least).  To do this Plateau used counter rotating disks with repeating drawn images in small increments of motion on one and recurrently spaced slits in the other.

Pask D'Amico at Klesha Production is fascinated by the old methods of animation and recently found scans of a number of them on the internet.  This precipitated a successful attempt to digitally animate them.  To give it a story, as it were, D’Amico then created a stop motion with paper toys from Plateau’s era that open and close the video.  The result? Fascinating, charming and pretty addictive – just try and stop watching this once it’s started!

2 June 2016

The Most Dangerous Caterpillar in the USA

Look but don’t touch! This caterpillar may look something like a tribble from Star Trek but do not let appearances be deceptive.  While it looks cute and fluffy this is the most dangerous stinging caterpillar in the USA.   It is the larvae of the southern flannel moth (Megalopyge opercularis), also known as the puss caterpillar: we can only imagine it’s called that because of the copious amount of puss that will pour from your wound if you get stung by one. Or it could be because someone thought it looked like a cat. Who can say?

Whatever the origins of its alternative name, our sibling site, the Ark in Space has a feature on this and the other stinging caterpillars of the USA.  They do look a little scary, I have to admit!

Rock Islands: Palau’s Coral Reef Remnants

Have you ever wondered what would happen to a coral reef if they surfaced, quickly and with some violence?  This is what happened in Palau approximately 35 million years ago.  The geological name for this event is a subduction episode (more about that later) but the result was that millions of years of coral reef deposit were suddenly thrust above sea level. The result is Palau’s rock islands or Chelbacheb as the place is known to the inhabitants of this western Pacific Ocean nation.

Image Credit
The country of Palau is made up of eight large islands and over 200 islets created by a volcanic event over 100 million years ago. Yet at the southern tip of this archipelago things get even more islandy (if that word didn’t exist then it does now).  The Rock Islands lagoon consists of around 450 small islands which cover an area of 18 square miles.  They are now uninhabited and many of them are impossible to beach upon because of their shape. 35 million years of erosion has shaped many of them to appear as stone mushrooms.

1 June 2016


Andrew Walker of 599 Productions specializes in shooting motion control shots of both urban and natural environments.  So, as luck would have it he was driving through Northern Arizona in early May when he came across a controlled burn in the Kaibab Forest. He checked it out and after he saw it to be pretty safe he created this timelapse video.  You don’t see this every day, that’s for sure.

Sleepy Steve

Are you good at getting up in the morning? Steve isn’t so he has invented a series of robotic devices to help him get out of bed and on his way to work.

It’s the morning routine that so many of us need – you can’t help but feel jealous of Steve until…  Ah, well you will have to watch this very entertaining short by Meghann Artes to discover if there is a downside to Steve's amazing invention.

Thundercluck: Chicken of Thor

If you are yet to crack a smile today I think this may well do it.  Written, directed and animated by Paul Allen Tillery IV it tells the tale of Thundercluck, whose mother hen was accidentally struck by one of Thor’s bolts.  An avian superhero from birth, Thundercluck seems to be somehow left out of most Norse mythology which is, frankly, outrageous.  This tale, in ballad form, serves to set the record straight and to restore Thundercluck to his rightful place alongside Thor, Odin and Frigg.