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Apparently Trypophobia (a fear of tiny clusters of holes) isn’t a phobia but an instinct
08.09.2017
11:06 am
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This is interesting—as I always thought Trypophobia was a phobia—but according to Discover Magazine, Trypophobia is an innate response to stimuli and cannot be unlearned like most phobias can be.

Via Discover Magazine:

If this image gives you the willies, you may have what has been called trypophobia–the fear of clusters of small holes. It has been hypothesized that this fear stems from a resemblance of the holes to patterns on poisonous animals. Although thousands of people find images like this really disturbing, it’s not enough to make it a phobia, which is a learned response that can be unlearned. These scientists studied preschoolers to determine whether trypophobia is an instinctive human response that can never be unlearned. To do this, they showed the kids pictures of venomous animals with and without overlaid images of trypophobia-inducing holes. Because only the pictures with holes upset the kids, the researchers believe that the fear is innate, and not a learned association with poisonous animals. So there you have it: if that tree makes you feel horrible, there is nothing you can do about it.

Basically, there’s not a damned thing you can do about it if this image of the hand (above) affects you.

Via Pub Med:

“In the past 10 years, thousands of people have claimed to be affected by trypophobia, which is the fear of objects with small holes. Recent research suggests that people do not fear the holes; rather, images of clustered holes, which share basic visual characteristics with venomous organisms, lead to nonconscious fear. In the present study, both self-reported measures and the Preschool Single Category Implicit Association Test were adapted for use with preschoolers to investigate whether discomfort related to trypophobic stimuli was grounded in their visual features or based on a nonconsciously associated fear of venomous animals. The results indicated that trypophobic stimuli were associated with discomfort in children. This discomfort seemed to be related to the typical visual characteristics and pattern properties of trypophobic stimuli rather than to nonconscious associations with venomous animals. The association between trypophobic stimuli and venomous animals vanished when the typical visual characteristics of trypophobic features were removed from colored photos of venomous animals. Thus, the discomfort felt toward trypophobic images might be an instinctive response to their visual characteristics rather than the result of a learned but nonconscious association with venomous animals. Therefore, it is questionable whether it is justified to legitimize trypophobia.”

Now, to make matters worse, here are some images of tiny clusters of holes!


 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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08.09.2017
11:06 am
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Spectropia, the popular 19th-century method of conjuring demons and ghosts
08.08.2017
10:13 am
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The world is ever divided into the superstitious and the enlightened, and while the enlightened have shown the clear trend of being on the rise, it doesn’t always seem so. Ghosts and horoscopes and good-luck charms abound, and poindexterish explanations of why they are all poppycock merely tend to make one an un-adored party pooper—even though this is certainly the correct view.

There’s a tendency to consign all of pre-modernity to the superstitious (one might say “religious”) camp, but that really isn’t the case. Mathematicians and scientists have existed for the entirety of recorded history, which must be the case since language and writing technologies are products of the experimental mindset. The Enlightenment was a turning point, as rationality was increasingly given a central place in the arrangement of social affairs, and even if irreligious skeptics were (and are) outnumbered, you could still always count on finding someone in the vicinity willing to scoff at the hocus-pocus of superstition.

In the 19th century, some scholars were able to use interest in the paranormal to undermine its premises entirely. One such person was J.H. Brown, who published a book in New York City under the title Spectropia; or, Surprising spectral illusions showing ghosts everywhere and of any colour in 1864. The book was popular enough to merit a print run in London in 1865 and a Dutch edition in 1866.

Here is the cover of the U.S. edition:
 

 
To produce his popular occult-adjacent book, Brown relied on the optical phenomenon of “cone fatigue,” whereby prolonged exposure to an image of a specific color produces an afterimage (with reversed colors) in the eye for a few seconds after the initial image is replaced with a white field. A common example is an inverted image of the U.S. flag, which produces a more or less color-accurate version in the eye afterward.
 

 
Brown didn’t use the flag—he used pictures of demons and angels and skeletons. In the book Brown stated that his goal was
 

the extinction of the superstitious belief that apparitions are actual spirits, by showing some of the many ways in which our senses may be deceived, and that, in fact, no so-called ghost has ever appeared, without its being referable either to mental or physiological deception, or, in those instances where several persons have seen a spectre at the same time, to natural objects

 
Here are Brown’s instructions on how to see the “spectres”:
 
To see the spectres, it is only necessary to look steadily at the dot, or asterisk, which is to be found on each of the plates, for about a quarter of a minute, or while counting about twenty, the plate being well illuminated by either artificial or day light. Then turning the eyes to the ceiling, the wall, the sky, or better still to a white sheet hung on the wall of a darkened room (not totally dark), and looking rather steadily at any one point, the spectre will soon begin to make its appearance, increasing in intensity, and then gradually vanishing, to reappear and again vanish ; it will continue to do so several times in succession, each reappearance being fainter than the one preceding. Winking the eyes, or passing a finger rapidly to and fro before them, will frequently hasten the appearance of the spectre, especially if the plate has been strongly illuminated.
 
Here’s an amusing item from the New York Daily Tribune of September 13, 1864, in which the publisher introduces to the public “the new ghost marvel” that can produce “without apparatus, machine, or expense” all manner of demons and ghosts “upon the wall, the doors, the curtains, or any white surface whatever!!”
 

 
I figure this was sort of the Magic Eye of its day. Below are some of the images from Spectropia, but you can see the whole book at Public Domain Review.
 

 
More spectral demons and skeletons after the jump…....
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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08.08.2017
10:13 am
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Mind-melting illustrations done in 1950 by a man tripping balls on LSD show his descent into madness
07.05.2017
09:32 am
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An illustration done by an artist 20 minutes after taking 50 micrograms of LSD. According to notes taken by the attending physician, Dr. Oscar Janiger, the patient “chooses to start drawing with charcoal and was showing no effect from the drug.” Not yet anyway.
 
Experimental psychiatrist Oscar Janiger was one interesting cat. After relocating from New York to Los Angeles in the early 1950s, he established his private practice. Later, Janiger would end up teaching his somewhat unconventional beliefs at the University of California-Irvine. While all that sounds pretty typical when it comes to the life of an academic, Janiger was anything but your average college professor. You see, Oscar Janiger was a hugely influential early advocate of the use of hallucinogens, and his experiments and research precede those of LSD’s most famous enthusiast, Timothy Leary. Janiger allegedly hooked up actor Cary Grant and author and author Aldous Huxley with LSD and was noted to have dosed himself with the hallucinogenic drug at least thirteen times, though his drug trips were taken in the name of science as Janiger was very interested in trying to establish a direct correlation between use of the drug and how it might influence creativity. Which brings me to the point of this post—an experiment conducted by Janiger in which he administered LSD to an artist who was armed with a box of crayons.

The goal of Janiger’s experiment was to chart how well the artist could cling to reality during his “trip” and his ability to draw the same portrait of a man before, during, and after taking LSD. There are nine pictures in all, and each is pretty telling when it comes to the long, strange journey Janiger’s high-as-fuck guinea pig went on. I’ve posted the pictures below that chronicle the various results of each stage Janiger’s patient traveled through during which he was administered 50 micrograms of LSD twice. Which, if you’re not acquainted with acid, is a pretty standard dose, although, the illustrations and their accompanying captions seem to say otherwise.
 

This illustration was done at the 85-minute mark following the first dose, and twenty minutes after a second, 50 microgram dose. According to Janiger, his patient seemed “euphoric.” He stated to Janiger that he could see him “clearly, so clearly.” He also sputtered out the following statement: “This… you… it’s all… I’m having a little trouble controlling this pencil. It seems to want to keep going.”
 

At two hours and 30 minutes in Janiger’s patient appears very focused on the business of drawing. He then makes the following statement: “Outlines seem normal but very vivid - everything is changing color. My hand must follow the bold sweep of the lines. I feel as if my consciousness is situated in the part of my body that’s now active - my hand, my elbow… my tongue.”
 

Two hours and 32 minutes in Janiger notes that his patient seems “gripped by his pad of paper.” The artist notes he’s going to try to create another drawing saying that the “outlines of the model are normal, but now those of my drawing are not. The outline of my hand is going weird too. It’s not a very good drawing, is it? I give up - I’ll try again…”
 

Two hours and 35 minutes in Janiger says that his patient was able to produce another drawing saying that he would “Do a drawing in one flourish… without stopping… one line, no break!’ When he finished his illustration, Janiger’s patient started laughing then became startled by something on the floor. Sounds about right.
 

At the two hours and 45-minute mark, Janiger’s patient attempted to climb into an activity box and is generally agitated. He is slow to respond to suggestions such as if he would like to “draw more.” He has become mostly nonverbal but did manage to mumble the following: “I am… everything is… changed… they’re calling… your face… interwoven… who is…” He also appears to be attempting to hum a tune (according to Janiger it sounded like the 1938 hit “Thanks for the Memory”). He would then switch his medium from charcoal to tempera.
 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.05.2017
09:32 am
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Forensic artist reconstructs horrifying ‘happy face’ using a skull-shaped bottle of vodka


A couple of images taken by forensic artist Nigel Cockerton during his ‘facial reconstruction’ of a bottle of Crystal Head Vodka. 
 
Nigel Cockerton is a Scottish forensic artist with a Master’s degree in Forensic and Medical Art, whose services have been previously utilized by the FBI. Cockerton decided to have a little fun with a bottle of Crystal Head Vodka—a high-end party liquid put out by actor Dan Aykroyd that comes in a skull-shaped bottle. But since Cockerton’s job is to recreate the faces of people who have passed into the great beyond, he decided to bring the skull “back to life.” So to speak, of course.

In about a week, Cockerton reconstructed a “face” based on the Crystal Head bottle glass skull, and the results were not quite what anyone expected. Of course, nobody expected a forensic artist to take on such a task either so there’s that. Using his impressive skills, Cockerton built up the “face” of the skull with muscles, skin, and cartilage made of clay then added some fake hair. When he was finished the skull wore a frozen, exuberantly happy face—which Cockerton speculated belonged to a woman of European descent between the ages of 21 to 30.

The original decision to package the vodka in a glass skull was based on the strange folklore associated with the discovery of various “crystal skulls” that were believed to have originated in ancient Mesoamerica tens of thousands of years ago. This theory was later proven to be false by both the British Museum and the Smithsonian Institution who both placed the creation of the skulls somewhere in the middle or late 1800s. The British Museum was also able to determine that the geographical point of origin for the skulls was likely Germany. Now that I’ve cleared that up, it’s time to see the crystal skull that Cockerton gave a “face” to. The images that follow might be slightly NSFW.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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06.26.2017
10:52 am
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This head of a serial-killing bandit has been preserved in a jar since 1841
05.19.2017
09:36 am
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This is the head of Diogo Alves. Don’t be fooled by his seemingly placid, almost benign, yet surprised look. Diogo was a robber and a brutal serial killer who murdered some seventy people between 1836 and 1839, at the Aqueduto das Águas Livres (Aqueduct of Free Waters) over the Alcântara valley in Portugal. Diogo robbed his victims then tossed their bodies over the side of the 213-foot high aqueduct. At first, the local police thought this rather staggering number of inexplicable deaths were copycat suicides. When access to the aqueduct was closed to prevent any more “suicides,” Diogo formed a gang and turned his attention to the homes of the valley’s population. After a raid on the house of a local doctor, where Diogo murdered four of the people inside, he was arrested and sentenced to death by hanging in February 1841.

His execution coincided with the rise of the bogus science of phrenology. It was suggested by physicians that Diogo’s head be preserved in formaldehyde for examination in order to determine whether there were any signs or abnormalities in the shape of his skull that could explain why he committed such terrible crimes. This may seem utterly fantastic today, but it’s worth noting that the scientific desire to find some physical cause for behavior is not new. As recently as just after the Second World War, American scientists obtained sections of the brain removed from the skull of executed Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. This gray matter was examined in a bid to ascertain whether there was any physical cause to Il Duce’s anti-Semitic and racist beliefs.

Diogo’s well-preserved head still remains in a glass jar at the University of Lisbon’s Faculty of Medicine.

See more pictures of Diogo’s head and the aqueduct where he committed his crimes here.
 
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A portrait of Diogo Alves from 1840.
 
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Photo: Rafaela Ferraz.
 
See more pictures of Diogo Alves’ head, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.19.2017
09:36 am
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Drawings of ‘mental illnesses’ from 1840

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“Female patient suffering from erotomania, 1843.”

Science is a bit like Doubting Thomas—it has to see the evidence before believing it. And sometimes even then it is just theories about what was or was not seen.

Way back in the early 1800s, many scientists thought it an idea to use visual representation, through illustrations and engraving, to help codify the system of identifying say, organs, bones, types of disease, and even mental illness. For example, a drawing of someone suffering from buboes caused by the pox would help diagnose a patient with similar buboes also caused by the pox. It was a logical, well-intended, and noble idea, one that helped create the many books on anatomy and disease which progressed the development of medicine from the 1700s on—most notably Gray’s Anatomy in 1858.

The physician and alienist, Sir Alexander Morison (1779—1866) pioneered the documentation of psychiatric illness during the early to mid-1800s. An “alienist” is the archaic term for a psychiatrist or psychologist. Morrison was inspecting physician at the Surrey Asylum and Bethlehem Hospital. He excelled in the diagnosis and treatment of those poor unfortunate people who suffered from mental illness. He was a wise and kindly old gent, who wrote two texts of great importance on psychiatric illness—Outlines of Lectures on Mental Diseases (1826), and Cases of Mental Disease, with Practical Observations on the Medical Treatment (1828). But these were but a warm-up for his illustrated volume The Physiognomy of Mental Diseases in 1840.

The Physiognomy of Mental Diseases contained descriptions of the various types of mental illness, case studies of various patients from a selection of England’s psychiatric hospitals, and some possible treatments. At the time, psychiatric care was going through a much-needed overhaul, with patients being treated as suffering from a (possibly) curable disease rather than being written-off as possessed by demons or just too fucked-up to no longer defined as human and dumped in bedlam where they were often exhibited to the amusement of the paying public. Morrison devised (whether by himself or in collaboration is unclear) the idea of illustrating his book on The Physiognomy of Mental Diseases with a series of portrait engravings of the patients whose case studies he was describing. It was a very useful idea.

However, it does suggest that mental illness can always be identified through a patient’s facial expressions—as if there are certain universal physical attributes that define all types of mental illness. Moreover, such drawings were open to possible caricature with artists exaggerating certain facial tics or expressions which may or may not be relevant. Morrison’s approach was valued until the 1850s, when the photograph was deemed to be the more scientific and reliable choice for documenting mental illness by his successor at the Surrey Asylum, the physician and pioneering photographer Hugh Welch Diamond.
 
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Portrait of 20-year-old female mental patient.

 
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More engravings from ‘The Physiognomy of Mental Diseases,’ after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.15.2017
11:51 am
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Horrifyingly detailed images of surgical procedures from the early 1800s


‘Strabismus’ 1831. From The Complete Atlas of Human Anatomy and Surgery by Jean-Baptiste Marc Bourgery. Illustration by Nicholas Henri Jacob.
 
Jean-Baptiste Marc Bourgery began what would equate to his life’s work, Traité complet de l’anatomie de l’homme comprenant la médecine operatoire or The Complete Treatise or the Anatomy of Man Including Operative Medicine in 1830. A series of eight books in total, Bourgery would complete the final publication just before he died in 1849. The massive 2108-page work would finally be published in its entirety in 1853.

Though the book would not have been possible without Bourgery’s deep knowledge of surgical technique and the inner-workings of the human body, it is the color lithographs by artist Nicholas Henri Jacob, a protegee of famed French Neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David, that make the publication truly remarkable. Jacob took on the task of creating lithographs that visually depicted medical scenarios such as the surgical removal of a rifle bullet, to horrifyingly detailed images of other kinds of surgical correction performed on the genitalia or eyes.

The lithographs, 726 in all, are startlingly beautiful and to this day Bourgery’s work along with Jacob’s realistic artistic interpretations is still considered to be one of the greatest contributions to the medical world where it was often utilized by the medical community as well as by artists that incorporate aspects of anatomy into their own work. In 2005 Taschen released a 714-page version of the book with the help of two French anatomy professors, Jean-Marie Le Minor and Henri Sick, both of the Louis Pasteur University of Strasbourg. I’ve posted a large selection of Jacob’s work below—all of which are NSFW in one way or another.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.08.2017
01:17 pm
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Cracking the P.Y.T. code: New technology reveals hidden lyrics in Michael Jackson’s 1983 hit single
04.27.2017
09:32 am
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35 years after its release Thriller remains the best-selling album of the millennium. After a lifetime of repeated listening, the record’s sixth single “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” (produced by Quincy Jones and co-written with James Ingram) has definitely emerged as my favorite track. It’s unclear why Jackson never performed the song live, but it remains a fan favorite from its immediately catchy funk/pop synthesized bassline to the fun “call-and-response” vocals between Michael and his sisters. Janet and LaToya who sing back-up on the “repeat after me and sing na na na” breakdown make it nearly impossible not to sing along every time you hear it on the radio. However, my favorite part of the song has always been the high-pitched “chipmunk vocals” that only arrive during the song’s outro. After all, who didn’t get a kick out of playing 33rpm records at 45rpm as a kid? But even when Kanye West sampled the outro, slowed it down, and looped it as the basis of his 2007 single “Good Life,” I was still left wondering after all these years, what the hell are those chipmunk vocals singing exactly?

A few years ago, Los Angeles-based music copyright specialist Drew Seventeen used a program called Audacity to pitch-shift the “P.Y.T.” vocals using “stems” (isolated pieces of a multitrack recording) that are intermittently available on the internet. Drew explained his project via e-mail:

“‘Good Life’ by Kanye West featuring T-Pain (heavily sampling that section) is actually my iPhone morning alarm song. So after hearing the voice hundreds of times in the dream-wakefulness transition, I became obsessed with knowing what the actual lyric was. I assumed the ‘tee’ and ‘see’ were chopped off in the final mix due to timing limits on early sampling technology, but the exposed stem also makes it clear that he just hits a lower note there which becomes unclear in the master recording.”

The results of Drew’s efforts can be heard here:
 

 

“I wanna love, you P.Y.T.
I wanna give, you T.L.C.”

Not only are the hidden lyrics of “P.Y.T.” revealed for the first time (clearly sung by Michael himself), but as an added bonus we can hear these lyrics are divided up by a “kiss” which gets buried in the actual studio mix of the track. 

More after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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04.27.2017
09:32 am
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Visual Futurist: Step inside the sci-fi world created by ‘Blade Runner’ visionary Syd Mead
04.26.2017
09:28 am
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A depiction of Los Angeles in 2019 by Syd Mead for ‘Blade Runner.’
 
Artist Syd Mead is probably best known for his work for the 1982 film Blade Runner, though his vast contributions to cinema can be seen in other groundbreaking works such as Aliens (1986), TRON (1982), and 2013’s Elysium which was directed by Neill Blomkamp. Blomkamp had a life-long obsession with Mead and his artwork which was what led him to engage the services of the then 80-year-old artist to design the sets for his futuristic film.

Mead’s background in industrial design is clear and present in his paintings. During the 1970s his artistic services were highly sought-after and widely respected within the companies and industries he spent time working for such as Ford and Phillips Electronics, illustrating catalogs and other types of publications. Mead also worked closely with elite members of the architectural design world including large hotel chains and other high-end establishments. His relentlessly busy schedule led him to move his base of operations to Los Angeles where he quickly found himself working as an artist for the motion picture industry in the late 70s. Though Blade Runner would not be the first Hollywood film that Mead would lend his visionary talent to, it can’t be disputed that his work on the film left an indelible imprint on the minds of filmmakers and cinephiles around the world, who adopted Mead’s grungy vision of what the year 2019 looked like, and other aspects of Blade Runner’s‘s essence in their work, like the hardwired goths from The Matrix, Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall and Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element.
 

A sketch of a uniform from ‘TRON’ by Syd Mead.
 
After meeting with director Ridley Scott to discuss the film (which at the time was going by the working title of Dangerous Days) Mead recalls that Scott told him that his intention was to create the framework for a noir film around its science fiction premise. To help drive his point home Scott used Michael Anderson’s 1972 film Logan’s Run as an example of the “slick and clean” presentation of more conventional cinematic sci-fi, opting instead for more of a bad-side-of-town feeling, pulsating in neon lights and depravity. Ridley Scott quite literally gave Syd Mead the job of creating 2019 Los Angeles for Blade Runner using his own conceptual ideas. During the process, Mead incorporated elements and influences from his travels around the world. Some of the vehicles in the film are based on autos from Cuba or the colorful “jitneys” (also known as “Jeepneys”) that serve as public transportation all around the Philippines. Architecturally, the future city of Los Angeles was based on a combination of Chicago and New York, and Mead’s work in Blade Runner continues to not only inspire filmmakers but also architects and a style that the artist referred to as “retro deco,” or “trash chic.”

Though I’ve only really scratched the surface when it comes to Syd Mead, I’m hoping it was more than enough to pique your interest in the impossibly cool artist. If that’s the case there are many publications based on Mead’s life and his long line of accomplishments. Perhaps the most lust-worthy is the forthcoming The Movie Art of Syd Mead: Visual Futurist which is set for release in September. The 256-page book is the largest and most comprehensive take on Mead’s career yet, including some never-before-seen works.

Mead is very much a living legend who deserves every bit of praise his fans give him and more.
 

‘TRON.’
 

Another conceptual work by Mead for ‘TRON.’
 
More Mead after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.26.2017
09:28 am
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Martian chronicles: Fantastic covers for UFO comics of the 1960s & 70s

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Little green men ain’t what they used to be. We don’t need Sean Spicer to confirm that aliens have already landed and have squeezed their scaly green asses into government. Hell, they don’t even have to fire their ray guns to let us know their intentions are hostile. They’ve taken over and not a shot was fired.

Once upon a time, this kind of speculative alien invasion was the prime cut of science-fiction comics like UFO Flying Saucers. First published by Gold Key in 1968, UFO Flying Saucers evolved into UFO & Outer Space before ceasing publication in 1977.

During its just over a decade run, UFO Flying Saucers did ask all the right questions like “Do alien explorers hold earthlings in their grip?” and “Is Earth their laboratory? Are we their specimens?” Some might say, in light of recent events across the world, the answers are kinda obvious now. And worryingly these flying saucers might not just be in charge of one government—looks like they’ve got a whole deck of countries to play with.

Stephen Hawking once wisely pointed out that if alien intelligence ever read the messages we pump out into space then we should be careful as these extraterrestrials may be hostile and not “see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria.” These UFO comics were way ahead of you there, Stephen.

Recently, scientists at the Australian National University, Swinburne University of Technology and the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO) confirmed “mystery bursts of radio waves that astronomers have hunted for ten years really do come from outer space.”

These Fast Radio Bursts are intense pulses of radio light that last for only milliseconds and come from way, way out in the outer reaches of space. These pulses were first discovered over ten years ago and are “about a billion times more luminous than anything we have ever seen in our own Milky Way galaxy.”

At first, they were thought to be interference. Now, it seems these pulses are some kind of transmission. ARC Laureate Fellow Professor Matthew Bailes has suggested the signals may (“bizarrely”) be “alien transmissions.”

If they are. Well, we know what to expect. If not, a refresher course of the covers to Gold Key’s UFO Flying Saucers and UFO & Outer Space might supply some useful answers.
 
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More fabulous covers from UFO Flying Saucers and UFO & Outer Space, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.12.2017
11:50 am
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