Sunday, 28 October 2012

10 curious, or maybe educative, items to relax with today

The sun is round. Very, very, very round.
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
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The sun is the roundest natural object known to humans, according to new research. University of Hawaii researcher Jeffrey Kuhn and his colleagues used NASA’s space-based Solar Dynamics Observatory to precisely measure the sun’s shape. A precise understanding of the sun’s roundness and the factors that shift its shape, such as sub-surface turbulence, could shed new light on changes in the Earth's climate.

From National Geographic:
If the sun were a meter-wide (3.3-foot-wide) beach ball, Kuhn said, the variation in the sun’s shape from the highest to the lowest point would be about 17 microns – less than the width of a fine human hair, according to the SDO measurements…
Study leader Kuhn said his team is going to update computer models of the sun’s cycle to see if and how the highly accurate shape affects their behaviour.
“We’re not done with measurements, though. We need to follow a full 11-year solar cycle to make sure the sun isn’t fooling us,” Kuhn said. “By doing that we can improve the accuracy even further.”
Sun Is Roundest Natural Object Known

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Many tales in the Arabian Nights were born far from Arabia. Like the genie, they took on magical new forms under new masters... more

Venture Inside of Quebec’s Garden of Decaying Books
via Flavorwire by Caroline Stanley
Berlin landscape architect Thilo Folkerts and Canadian artist Rodney LaTourelle designed the Jardin de la Connaissance back in 2010 as an installation for the International Festival des Jardins de Metis in Quebec. As time passed, the some 40,000 books and wood plates making up the walls of their garden have decayed and dissolved, while new life has also found its way in to the space. “Seedlings and insects have activated the walls, carpets, and benches,” explain its creators. “Mushrooms – those cultivated and those who have come by themselves – have made the garden their home. Many of the originally bright colours of the books have faded. Culture is fading back into nature.” For the next phase of their project, Folkerts and LaTourelle plan to use moss from the surrounding forest to create a graffiti effect on the structures’ walls.

Click through to check out some additional photos of their work-in-progress, and let us know in the comments what you think of the concept.
Does it bother you to see books used in this manner?

20 Famous Bow Tie Lovers
via Flavorwire by Alison Nastasi
We didn’t think it was possible to like Bill Nye the Science Guy more than we already did. After watching a video featuring the educator and Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick getting a lesson in the art of the bow tie, however, we can wholeheartedly profess our eternal love for all things Nye and necktie. The Disney/PBS children’s show host – a frequent wearer of bow ties – advises Hardwick to “dress the knot, snuggify, pull it tightical, and pay attentiontivity to the bow tieical” in order to properly sport the iconic accessory.
The bow tie has a long history of living around the necks of individuals who weren’t afraid to buck trends and make a statement. Donning a bow tie is a polite defiance by a dapper rebel.
The list includes:
  • Gore Vidal
  • Winston Churchill
  • Fred Astaire
  • Charlie Chaplin
  • Manolo Blahnik
  • Pee-wee Herman
  • Alfred Kinsey
  • Penguin
  • Aleister Crowley
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • Steve Jobs
  • Marlene Dietrich
  • Orville Redenbacher
  • Bela Lugosi as Dracula
  • Krusty the Klown
  • Hercule Poirot
  • Jerry Lewis as The Nutty Professor’s Julius Kelp
  • Doctor Who
  • Stan Laurel
  • Karl Lagerfeld
The issue now is to settle on just one picture out of that long list. And it has to be this one!

View the rest here.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
So only now does everything seem to be for sale? In medieval churches, aisle chapels were as likely to be named for bankers as for saints... more

Thanks to the Walk You Home blog for this piece of nonsense!
“Lacking a critical vocabulary as well as those non-commodified public spaces necessary for young people and adults to defend those institutions crucial to a democracy, the American public finds it more difficult to acknowledge and understand how the growth of individual freedom under consumerism coincides with the growth of collective impotence. Put differently, the language of market-driven individualism is used to unleash and legitimate what Herbert Marcuse once called all those ‘forces of brutal self-interest which the democratic countries have tried to curb and tried to combine with the interest of freedom’”. Henry Giroux (2003). The Abandoned Generation
If you scroll down the blog you will find lots of interesting things – including kittens!

Slow Bridge: 1908
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive - Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Slow Bridge: 1908
Circa 1908
“Arch bridge, Bellows Falls, Vermont”
Note the $5 fine for speeders
8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company
View original post

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The Brothers Grimm, 18th-century terrorists, savoured violence in their art. Toes are chopped off, severed fingers fly through the air. The fairy tales validate our own fears... more

Rare and Remarkable: Fore-Edge Paintings on Books
via Reading Copy Book Blog by Beth Carswell
Books are secretive objects, only revealing their true worth when opened, perused and read. In the 16th century, artists began using the outer edge of books, the edge a reader uses to thumb through the pages, as canvas, adding a beautiful painting to the outside of a book. These were called fore-edge paintings.
In the 17th century, others took the practice a step further by discovering that if the painting was added to the slight inner edges of the pages, and the absolute edge was gilded or marbled, the scene would be undetectable when the book was closed, and only reveal itself when the pages were fanned slightly, creating a disappearing, re-appearing masterpiece.
We’ve put together 27 of the most gorgeous examples of books with fore-edge paintings we could find, so have a look. There’s a video, too, showing a fanned fore-edge in action. These are books you definitely can’t judge by their covers – have a look at what lies inside, and marvel at the artistry of these stunning works.
Here’s my choice
The Faerie Queen: The Shepheard's Calendar by Edmund Spenser
To see rest of the ones that Beth has assembled, including the video, you will need to go here.

What Cricket Looks Like to Americans
via The Scholarly Kitchen by Kent Anderson

Yes, American baseball is a subtle game full of grass, dirt, leather, and wood. But if you're a cricket fan, it can be downright bewildering. This video will show you how we feel about cricket.

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