Sunday, 23 September 2012

10 items of non-work "stuff" to brighten your weekend

Captain of the Guards: 1904
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive - Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Captain of the Guards: 1905
New York circa 1904
“Capt. Riley and lifeguards, Coney Island”
No horseplay or swooning allowed
8x10 glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co.
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Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Eric Hoffer wore the bluest of collars but lived the life of the mind, writing about man as a social, political, and religious being... more

How NASA’s Mars Rover Will Help Humans Reach the Red Planet
via Big Think by Orion Jones
With just 32 days [it will have happened by the time this gets to you] until Curiosity, NASA’s newest Mars rover, is set to touch down, scientists are planning to evaluate how suitable its landing technology could be for a manned mission to the Red Planet.
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The Stars of Fireworks
via Britannica Blog by Britannica Editors

Fourth of July celebration featuring fireworks, Portland, Ore. 
Credit: Eric Baetscher, Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)
GNU Free Documentation License Version 1.2
Tomorrow [as it was when this was originally posted], as people across the United States celebrate Independence Day, they will be treated to dazzling pyrotechnic displays, in which fireworks explode into fantastic showers of sparkles, strobes of colour, and even smiley faces, much to the delight of onlookers. How those bewildering arrays of patterns and fusions of color emerge from what essentially amounts to a paper cylinder with some string and a few “stars” packaged inside comes down to chemistry.
A firework consists of a small handful of parts, which typically include a lift charge, fuse, and launch tube for propelling the device off the ground and a concoction of black powder (potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur), “stars”, and a time-delay fuse, which together produce the explosion and colour display. The stars are the secret to color. Although their appearance in the packaged firework is rather uninspiring (they look like dense, dark lumps), upon ignition of the black powder in mid-air, they burst into brilliant colours, owing to their secret ingredient – metal salts.
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I was blessed with a scientist for a father so I learned the secrets of fireworks at a very early age even though I didn’t get the opportunity to try actually making them for myself until my chemistry A-level course. Great fun working out the colours!

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
When liberals invoke Jewish tradition, it’s to the prophets they turn. But the prophets’ calls for justice, says Michael Walzer, weren’t political. They were demands for submission to God... more

Rainbow school remodel
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow

Palatre & Leclère did this spectacular remodel on the Ecole Maternelle Pajol in Paris’s 18th arrondissement. As Tuija Seipell writes on The Cool Hunter: “The building has kept its 1940s brick-wall feel, yet it radiates exuberance and has an up-to-date energy. Most likely its current users feel it was built just for them.”
Ecole Maternelle Pajol - Paris [lots of stunning pictures] (via Super Punch)

Giant frogfish and its egg raft, and other strange reef fishes
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
 Wpf Media-Live Photos 000 557 Overrides New-Species-Reef-Fish-East-Indies-Frogfish-Spawning 55793 600X450
This is a giant frogfish with its floating egg raft, a mass of mucus laden with eggs. The rare photo appears in Reef Fishes of the East Indies, a huge new book set detailing 2,500 fishes of the area based on more than 60 years of research. The collection also describes 25 newly-described species.
See many of them at National Geographic.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Secret of Playboy’s success: “It was a Midwestern magazine, designed for people there”. But now, old dear, it’s off to the Coast...more

The beginning of life
via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Sea urchin egg undergoing mitosis with fluorescent-tagged/stained DNA (blue), microtubules (green).
Cells divide. One single piece of life tugs itself apart and splits in two. It sounds like a purely destructive process, reminiscent of medieval woodcuts where the hands and feet of some unfortunate thief are tied to horses heading in opposite directions. But that's the macro world. On the micro scale, to split is to live. A dividing cell doesn't just rip itself to pieces. Instead, the cell first makes a copy of its genetic information. When the cell splits, what it's really doing is making a new home for that copy to live in. Make enough copies – and enough copies of the copies – and you eventually end up with a living creature.
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The images and video are amazing.

Holocaust: The ignored reality
an article by Timothy Snyder published in Eurozine.
If we concentrate on Auschwitz and the Gulag – generally taken to be adequate or even final symbols of the evil of mass slaughter – we fail to notice that over a period of twelve years, between 1933 and 1944, some 12 million victims of Nazi and Soviet mass killing policies perished in a particular region of Europe, one defined more or less by today's Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia.
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