Sunday, 30 September 2012

10 non-work-related items that should have been published yesterday!

Why Do We Say That Someone is “Hot”?
by Kai MacDonald in Scientific American via 3quarksdaily by Azra Raza
fire, heat, greet, why do we say someone is hot
Our brains blur heat and greet
Image: iStock / Konstantin Yuganov
What do a chilly reception, a cold-blooded murder, and an icy stare have in common? Each plumbs the bulb of what could be called your social thermometer, exposing our reflexive tendency to conflate social judgements – estimations of another’s trust and intent – with the perception of temperature. Decades of fascinating cross-disciplinary studies have illuminated the surprising speed, pervasiveness and neurobiology of this unconscious mingling of the personal and the thermal.
Continue reading

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
English spelling: “the world’s most awesome mess” and “an insult to human intelligence“. How did this nonsensical system come together?... more

Making Books in 1947: A How-to Video
via Reading Copy Book Blog by Beth Carswell

Boy, does this ever look labour intensive. All that type-setting, all those machines and fumes and people and copper and wax involved in the making of one book. But it sure is charming. And am I alone in missing the days when men used enough pomade in their hair to retain comb marks?

How to make corn more sustainable? Grow less of it.
via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Image via WATTAgNet
I wrote a story about the future of crop science that’s printed in the June issue of Popular Science. When I was doing the research, the big question I wanted to ask was this: “How can we take the most important agricultural crops and make them more sustainable and adapted to climate change?”
I suppose there are a lot of ways to define “most important”, but I went with the crops that feed the most people. Wheat, rice, and corn account for more than 50% of all the calories consumed on Earth. So those are the plants I looked at. And that’s where I ran into a surprise. Scientists had some really interesting, concrete suggestions for how to prepare wheat and rice for a changing world. But with corn, they took a different tack. Basically, the scientists said the best thing to do with corn was use less corn.
Continue reading here.
Read about the other suggestions for adapting major food crops to climate change.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Orhan Pamuk has built a museum, in effect, to himself. A colossal act of ego? Perhaps. But it’s also an ingenious work of art... more

Open Sesame: 1907
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive - Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Open Sesame: 1907
Chicago, Illinois, circa 1907
“Jackknife Bridge, Chicago River”
The Pueblo passing through the open span
Glass negative by Hans Behm
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101 books to read: a flowchart
via The Daily Buzz
Do you like contemporary fiction with a touch of mystery? Classic novels with relationship intrigue? Or a good biography? Whatever your taste, has put together this great flowchart to help you find the perfect book to bury your head in.
101 books to read
Via and USC Rossier Online

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Joseph Brodsky brooded on the meaning of life and the place of art in it. The purpose of poetry, he concluded, is “to make the future more tolerable”... more

Domino Dump Turns Into Van Gogh Painting
via How-To Geek by Jason Fitzpatrick

We’ve seen a lot of domino projects in our day, but this is the first one we’ve seen that turns into a piece of classic art when it’s done.
Courtesy of domino enthusiast FlippyCat:
I recreated Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” from just over 7,000 dominos. The second attempt took about 11 hours total to build.
The first attempt failed, when I dropped a screw from the camera rig onto it. I was able to improve the swirling clouds better in the second attempt as a result though. I do not know how long the first attempt took, but I did not have any accidents building like I did in the second attempt!

More than you maybe needed to know about the echidna
via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker
Echidnas are one of those weird Australian animals that seems to have been pieced together from leftover bits of other animals. Mammals that lay eggs, echidnas are covered in pointy hedgehog-like spines, but with a long snout and sticky tongue of an anteater.
Also, the males have a four-headed penis.
Not kidding. One shaft, four heads. Which is odd, because the female echidna reproductive tract only has two branches. Some of the stuff I’ve read this morning says that the male echidna mates using only two of his four heads at a time. Then, he’ll find another lady echidna and let the other two heads have a turn. Another option, presented by National Geographic: He mates twice with each lady echidna, using first two heads, and then the other two.
National Geographic has helpfully provided visual evidence of this four-headed penis. I’m putting the photo under a cut. Partly for comic effect, and partly because what is seen can never be unseen.

Read the rest of the National Geographic article on the lives and weird biology of the echidna. (That's the only penis shot. Promise.)

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