Alex Wellerstein took all of the badge photos of the people who worked on the atomic bomb project during World War II at Los Alamos and made a huge image out of them.
I just finished reading Genius, James Gleick's excellent biography of Richard Feynman. Here's Feynman (left) and his friend Klaus Fuchs, whose car he used to borrow on the weekends to visit his ailing wife in Albuquerque.
After the war, Fuchs was revealed to be a Soviet spy. If you're at all interested in the Manhattan Project and the espionage surrounding it and somehow have not read Richard Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb and Dark Sun, do so now...they are two of my all-time favorite books. (via greg.org)
In the future, people won't want to meet or talk to celebrities, they'll just want to borrow some of their social capital.
DJs now routinely make deliberate mistakes mixing tracks so that people will know they're mixing the tracks by hand and not just using software to automatically match beats.
DJs all over the world are now deliberately making mistakes during their mixes to prove to fans and critics that they are in fact real DJs.
The latest craze, known as miss-mixing, is proving very popular amongst digital DJs as a way of highlighting that they are actually manually mixing tracks rather than using the sync button.
Michael Briscoe, also know as DJ Whopper, spoke about miss-mixing with Wunderground, "Flawless mixing is now a thing of the past, especially for any up and coming digital DJs. You just can't afford to mix without mistakes these days or you'll be labelled as a 'sync button DJ.'"
As computers get better at things like DJing, cooking, writing, and the like, imperfection may become a mark of human-produced goods and media. In the future, we'll be urged to buy not just hand-made but Human Made™ the way people go for American made, locally made, organic, artisanal, or vintage goods nowadays. The problem, as Tyler Cowen notes, is if computers are smart enough to DJ, they're certainly clever enough to be a little sloppy too.
Update: I gots hoodwinked! Wunderground is a satirical site...DJs are not intentionally making mixing mistakes. But the idea is not all that farfetched! Under the doctrine of even if it's fake it's real, I'm satisfied with my conclusions. (thx, ken & mumoss)
From the author of the bestselling children's book Go the Fuck to Sleep comes a sequel of sorts: You Have to Fucking Eat.
Give me even the simplest gravity simulator and I will play with it for many many minutes. Or hours. Or days. (Send help!)
Jack Handey, who wrote for SNL for seventeen years, remembers Phil Hartman.
Phil Hartman was perhaps the best cast member, ever, of Saturday Night Live. I loved writing for him. So did the other writers. Phil was rarely "light in the show," as the saying went.
Roles I gave him, from an unfrozen caveman lawyer to a giant businessman to a frustrated robot, Phil made shine. He was especially good at being the patient, authoritative voice of reason, gently explaining to an idiot why he was an idiot, and why he had to stop being an idiot.
Imagine celebrity faces with no mouths and bigger noses. You know, a nosemouth.
When Anthony Bourdain's hour-long food and travel show first launched on CNN, it marked the network's step away from 24 hours news and towards more entertainment programming. But maybe Bourdain is just the reporter we need these days when most of what we see of other cultures is satellite images or shots of rubble. "I'm not a foreign policy wonk, but I see aspects of these countries that regular journalists don't." From FastCo: Anthony Bourdain has become the future of cable news, and he couldn't care less.
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Entangled is a short film by Tony Elliott about a quantum experiment that goes wrong. Shit gets real at approximately precisely 4:19.
Reminds me a bit of Primer.
I think this guy is the T-1000 robot from Terminator 2, but for chopping onions instead of assassinating future resistance fighters. Evidence:
1. In the brief view we get of his face at about 20 seconds in, he is not even really looking at the onion. Total robot move.
2. Um, he's like superhumanly fast at chopping that onion.
3. The T-1000 can easily morph into other people, like this fast watermelon cutter or this pancake flipper or this lemon chopper. Different people, same shapeshifting food prep robot from the future! (via @kdern)
David McCandless has been highlighting good information design for years on Information Is Beautiful. The site spawned a book of the same name in 2009. Now McCandless is back with a new book, Knowledge Is Beautiful.
Every day, every hour, every minute we are bombarded with information, from television, from newspapers, from the Internet, we're steeped in it. We need a way to relate to it. Enter David McCandless and his stunning infographics, simple, elegant ways to interact with information too complex or abstract to grasp any way but visually. McCandless creates visually stunning displays that blend the facts with their connections, contexts, and relationships, making information meaningful, entertaining, and beautiful. And his genius is as much in finding fresh ways to provocatively combine datasets as it is in finding new ways to show the results.
Here's some more information about the book.
This looks like a time lapse, but it's not. It's just a straight-up gorgeous video of the aurora borealis filmed in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada.
It is real time motion! NOT time-lapse. Brighter the Aurora, faster the movement.
(via the kid should see this)
Anthony Bourdain travels a lot; here's how he approaches flying, packing, getting good local recommendations, etc.
The other great way to figure out where to eat in a new city is to provoke nerd fury online. Go to a number of foodie websites with discussion boards. Let's say you're going to Kuala Lumpur -- just post on the Malaysia board that you recently returned and had the best rendang in the universe, and give the name of a place, and all these annoying foodies will bombard you with angry replies about how the place is bullshit, and give you a better place to go.
If you've been reading this site for any significant amount of time at all, you're familiar with the XOXO festival, the latest installment of which just wrapped up in Portland to critical acclaim. One of XOXO's founders, Andy McMillan, is also the publisher of The Manual, a design journal about "why we design for the web the way we do". Launched on a certain crowdfunding site in 2011, The Manual team is now returning to Kickstarter and asking for your help in expanding the scope and availability of their publication.
Previously only available in print at a single price point, The Manual's plans include three main initiatives: 1) publishing their issues online, freely available and shared under a Creative Commons license; 2) offering ebook and audiobook editions of each issue; and 3) offering "pay if you want" subscriptions. In my mind, McMillan and his team are XOXO-ifying their publication by embracing the best qualities of the open web. And as past issues have included articles by some of web design's boldest-face names (like Karen McGrane, Frank Chimero, Ethan Marcotte, and Liz Danzico), they're bringing some serious firepower to the HTTParty. (Sorry.) And issue #4 will include writing by Paul Ford and Craig Mod. Come on!
Aaaaanyway, through their years of work with The Manual, the Build conference, and XOXO, McMillan and co. have shown how much they care about web design, fostering conversation and creativity, and the open web. Join me in backing the new era of The Manual on Kickstarter today.
When Russian author Leo Tolstoy was in his 60s, he was asked to list the books which influenced him the most in his career. He responded by grouping the books into three main categories by level of impact: great, v. great, and enormous. Some of his picks:
Matthew's Gospel: Sermon on the Mount - Enormous
Dickens' David Copperfield - Enormous
Victor Hugo. Les Misérables - Enormous
Pushkin's Yevgeny Onegin - V. great
George Eliot. Novels - Great
The NY Times reprinted the list in 1978; here's the original listing.
In 2011, Steven Soderbergh revealed he'd repeatedly watched Raiders of the Lost Ark in black & white. Now he's released a full-length version of the film in b&w, with no dialogue and an alternate soundtrack (Reznor and Ross's score to The Social Network) so that you can focus on how the film is constructed visually.
So I want you to watch this movie and think only about staging, how the shots are built and laid out, what the rules of movement are, what the cutting patterns are. See if you can reproduce the thought process that resulted in these choices by asking yourself: why was each shot -- whether short or long -- held for that exact length of time and placed in that order? Sounds like fun, right? It actually is. To me. Oh, and I've removed all sound and color from the film, apart from a score designed to aid you in your quest to just study the visual staging aspect. Wait, WHAT? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS? Well, I'm not saying I'm like, ALLOWED to do this, I'm just saying this is what I do when I try to learn about staging, and this filmmaker forgot more about staging by the time he made his first feature than I know to this day (for example, no matter how fast the cuts come, you always know exactly where you are -- that's high level visual math shit).
The Shawshank Redemption came out 20 years ago and promptly bombed. Now it's one of the most popular movies of all time. Here's how it came to be made.
Filming on location is often something to be endured, and Shawshank's schedule was particularly brutal: workdays were 15 to 18 hours, six days a week, over three humid months inside the former Ohio State Reformatory, in Mansfield, and on nearby constructed sets, which included the huge cellblock. "We were lucky to have Sundays off," says Darabont.
A bakery in Mansfield now sells Bundt-cake replicas of the Gothic prison, which these days is a tourist attraction that draws Shawshank pilgrims. But in 1993 the defunct penitentiary-closed three years earlier for inhumane living conditions-"was a very bleak place," according to Darabont. Robbins adds, "You could feel the pain. It was the pain of thousands of people." The production employed former inmates who shared personal stories similar to those in Shawshank's script, "in terms of the violence of the guards and throwing people off the top of cellblocks," says Deakins.
Robbins remembers "going to that place inside for three months. It was never depressing, because Andy had this hope inside. But it was, at times, dark because of the situations that the character goes through." Deakins confirms that working on the film was "a very intense situation. Sometimes the performances really affected me while I was shooting it." The scene that gave Deakins "a tingle down the spine" is also Robbins's favorite: the prisoners drinking beer on the sunny license-plate-factory roof. Coming more than a half an hour into the movie-and two years into Andy's sentence-it's the first bright spot in a film heretofore gray in palette and tone. Andy risks being thrown off the roof by Captain Hadley in order to procure a few "suds" for his fellow prisoners-a moment when the character shifts from victim to burgeoning legend. That Andy himself doesn't drink is beside the point.
The scene was shot over a "hard, hard day," says Freeman. "We were actually tarring that roof. And tar doesn't stay hot and viscous long. It tends to dry and harden, so you're really working. For the different setups you had to keep doing it over and over and over and over and over."
I was one of the few who saw Shawshank in the theater (I watched at least two or three movies a week back in those days) and loved it immediately. (via @aaroncoleman0)
Gastropod is a new podcast about about food "through the lens of science and history" from radio journalist Cynthia Graber and Edible Geography's Nicola Twilley. Episode 1, embedded below, is about the history of cutlery.
Chances are, you've spent more time thinking about the specs on your smartphone than about the gadgets that you use to put food in your mouth.
But the shape and material properties of forks, spoons, and knives turn out to matter-a lot. Changes in the design of cutlery have not only affected how and what we eat, but also what our food tastes like. There's even evidence that the adoption of the table knife transformed the shape of European faces.
In 1967, Steve Reich wrote a piece of music called Piano Phase. The piece is performed by two pianists playing the same piece of music at two slightly different speeds. As the piece progresses, the music moves in and out of phase with itself. Classical percussionist David Cossin performed with a duet of Piano with himself to produce a Piano/Video Phase:
Give it 30-90 seconds for the phase shifting to kick in. For those who aren't so musically inclined, this pendulum phasing video provides a more visual representation of what's going on:
Update: See also this Piano Phase visualization from Alexander Chen, Rhythm Necklaces, and an animation of Reich's Clapping Music. (thx, @anotherny, @RianVDM, and everyone who sent in Chen's piece)
Update: And whoa, here's Rob Kovacs playing Piano Phase on two pianos:
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