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Grand Theft Auto vs COSMOS: Carl Sagan’s narration over GTA scenes is actually pretty amazing
06.29.2016
09:38 am

Topics:
Amusing
Games
Science/Tech

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An Irish YouTube user by the name of Duggy uses the Editor function in Grand Theft Auto V to create his own short video works, or as he puts it, “I attempt to put scenes from my head onto GTA’s world.” His most successful pieces are three shorts, created over the course of the last year, that drop GTA scenes under Carl Sagan’s narration from the original 1980 mini-series Cosmos.

These work surprisingly well, and probably not in the way you might be thinking—rather than relying on a collision of Sagan’s optimistic, wonder-filled exposition against the game’s notorious violence to achieve a cheap, ironic laugh, Duggy plays these straight, and the results are actually quite poignant! So yes, some of their effectiveness derives from a holy-shit-this-is-from-GTA frisson, there’s a bit more more going on than that.

I’d love to see some of these with voice-overs from the 2014 series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Exiles in Düsseldorf: Austrian TV special on Kraftwerk, 1981
06.24.2016
01:51 pm

Topics:
Music
Science/Tech
Television

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This documentary appeared on the Austrian TV station ORF in 1981, pretty clearly to coincide with the release of Computer World.

The special mixes Kraftwerk performing in front of an audience, what we would today call “music videos” that use some excellent documentary footage of missile launches and things like that, and footage of Ralf Hütter being interviewed by someone off-camera.

In pure technological mode, Ralf emphasizes the isolation of working so hard on Kraftwerk material in the studio for years on the new album, and is prompted to say a few things about the future of technology, most of which are a bit silly. The interviewer has an Austrian accent.

I’ve supplied a translation below. It’s rough but should give an accurate impression of what was said. I unfortunately couldn’t quite make out the intriguing final question, which has something to do with Kraftwerk entering people’s bloodstreams(?) or something like that. If there are any native German speakers out there reading this, I’d love it if you would chime in below and clarify what he was saying there (or make any other suggestions to the translation).
 

Ralf: “We are playing the entire Kling Klang Studio in concert. We have all of our instruments, some of which we invented ourselves and built music machines. You can’t just go into a shop and just say, “this thing or that thing.” We had to make it ourselves, and that took a long time. We construct them always ourselves, with the help of another friend, who is a sound engineer or a music engineer, he helps us and we make the whole thing ourselves. It took three years before we were able to play again. In part it is pre-programmed, but on the other hand we have access to the memory of the computer, and we can change it while it’s running. Mostly we make rhythmic programs or also melodic things that run throughout, automated.

Ralf: We feel, for example, lots of streams of energy, that come back to us from people. We are always in the studio, so are concentrating on ourselves more.

Question: Is “Radio-Aktivitat” actually an atomic-power song?
Ralf: Yes, you could definitely say that.

Ralf: Yes, for us it was more a problem of how to make music at all in the Federal Republic of Germany, or so, after the war, where the living music, everyday music had disappeared, had been extinguished. And our generation had to start from scratch, to live somehow in this purely quiet situation, to make music not so much from natural things in the countryside but were influenced more by cities and machines, and reflected those things, and maybe some time passed, the time of so-called pop music, where we had more free time, we took up certain things, more about work processes and big-city situations, display windows and robots.

Question: Is that a form of interpretation, that showroom dummies speak?
Ralf: It’s a part of our existence. We stand around and we put ourselves on display. We are showroom dummies. That is a part of our reality.

Question: How do you see yourselves when you are at work, as musicians or as technicians? 
Ralf: We are music workers. We call ourselves music workers.

Ralf: For ten years we’ve been working together, with this group in Düsseldorf, and outsiders can’t even work with us or speak our language — let’s say, our thoughts, they can’t implement our world of thoughts. So it’s more like an encounter or friendship.

Question: Do you feel yourselves to be somewhat isolated?
Ralf: Yes, we are exiles in Düsseldorf on the Rhine.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Holy shit, Converse is making a wearable wah-wah pedal
06.22.2016
12:03 pm

Topics:
Fashion
Music
Science/Tech

Tags:


 
In a huge, forehead-slappy piece of holy-shit-why-has-this-not-been-done-before news, there are now Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers with built-in wah pedals—no external hardware, just move your foot and voila, psychedelia. The concept goes back a few years, to a “Chuck Hack” event, when the design firm Critical Mass unveiled a prototype. That version was wired—you had to plug the shoe in, as the videos below will show. Since then, CuteCircuit has made a Bluetooth version.

We’re unable to find any information on when these will be made available to the public, but since half the guitarists I know wear Chucks anyway, I can’t imagine this product would fail.

After the jump, watch the Critical Mass concept video, followed by a demonstration by J Mascis…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Jerry Lewis and sleazeball porn king Al Goldstein demonstrate electronic gizmos on morning TV, 1976
06.21.2016
03:08 pm

Topics:
Science/Tech
Television

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Fans of Jerry Lewis are well aware of his interest in technology, even if the stories of his inventing the video assist appear to distort the truth a trifle. For his part, publisher Al Goldstein’s best-known property was Screw, but he also developed a newsletter called Gadgets that sought to test new electronic devices on the market.

Someone had the bright idea of bringing the two men together for a segment of A.M. New York (a local competitor to the morning juggernaut of the Today program) that ran on February 23, 1976, with the assignment of introducing the viewer to a bunch of expensive devices.

The host at this time was named Stanley Siegel, and the devices are pretty amusing for being ridiculous in the era of the iPhone (which they obviously couldn’t help).

And expensive!! You could get a gold watch with a calculator on the face—for $3,900! (That’s more than $16,000 in today’s money.) How many meetings would have to be saved by instantaneously solving some simple arithmetic problem before that kind of thing would begin to pay for itself? Ditto the briefcase with a phone in it, which was priced at a relatively reasonable $2,200 (nearly ten grand today).

There’s also the most phallic corkscrew you have ever seen and a strange device filled with strips of paper that’s supposed to serve as an oracle of some sort.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Bloody Disgusting: A gruesome gallery of vintage medical illustrations from the 1800s
06.21.2016
10:11 am

Topics:
Art
Books
Science/Tech

Tags:

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My father once bought several volumes of medical textbooks as a job lot from a secondhand bookshop. Why he did this I’m not quite sure. Perhaps he liked their fine red leather covers, their marbled pages, the beautiful yet gruesome illustrations of diseases contained therein. Perhaps he thought these fine volumes matched our home’s interior decor? Or maybe he hoped my brother or myself would one day study these antique books and become a medical practitioner? I certainly considered it. Indeed I nearly did apply for medicine at university but changed my mind at the last moment and chose a rather pointless arts course—my real intention had been to go to Art College and paint…but that’s another story.

However, I did spend many, many, probably far too many hours poring over these books and their fabulous colored plates of medical diseases, internal organs, autopsies, arterial systems, genitals, brains and what have you. I marveled as much at the complexity and wonder of the human body and its diseases as I did at the beauty of the illustrations. These were to me works of art that deserved to be hung in some gallery rather than just hidden away for the education of young minds.

Illustrations of different diseases and conditions provided an essential part in the development of medical treatment. All doctors need a good memory so they can recognize symptoms, ailments and you know body parts—and the work of illustrators in accurately depicting different forms of diseases—leprosy, syphilis or smallpox, etc—were central to a doctor making the right call in a patient’s’ diagnosis and treatment.

This is a tiny small collection of some of the vast number of disturbingly beautiful illustrations produced by artists for medical practitioners during the late 1700s to the early 1900s—and they are quite fantastic.

And the moral of my story? Well, if you ever get the choice between an arts course and studying medicine…do medicine because you can truly help people and maybe even make a shit load of money while you’re doing it.
 
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A thirteen-year-old Girl with leprosy.
 
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A thirteen-year-old Boy with severe untreated leprosy.
 
More beautifully rendered (and totally gross) diseases after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Blow-out: Bizarre sci-fi looking vintage hair dryers from the early 1900s
06.20.2016
06:32 pm

Topics:
Amusing
History
Science/Tech

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A massive hair dryer from 1934.
 
Some of our readers will recall a time when it seemed like a good idea to strap a plastic bag to your head (when it was still wet mind you) then hook it up to a large device that would blow hot hair into said bag in order to dry your hair. Sometimes I really do believe it is a fucking miracle that more people born in decades preceding the 1970s didn’t die after putting hot plastic bags on their wet heads. Even as a kid back in the 70s I thought on more than one occasion that I was going to come out with a perfectly red ring around my skull after sitting under a soft-bonnet style hair dryer. But that never happened. Thanks, Mom!
 

A drawing of the first hair dryer invented by Alexandre Godefoy in 1888. 
 
Some of these space-aged looking contraptions date as far back as the early 1920s and could be found in public bath houses. In 1930, German hair care company Wella debuted a motorized dryer that looked like it was straight out of a scene from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (pictured directly below). Others are just too wacky for words but as a girl with long hair—I get it. Before the advent of the hair dryer women would dry their hair by a fire (yikes!) or just let it dry on its own. The first hair dryer originated in 1888 in a beauty salon in France owned by Alexandre Godefroy (pictured above) that attached to a pipe for a chimney or a gas stove and blew hot air through a giant alien-looking metal helmet. In the words of those Virginia Slim ads “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby” when it comes to hair maintenance. Lots of images of far-out looking hair dryers of yesteryear follow.
 

Wella’s first motorized hair dryer from 1930.
 

1920s.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ in the style of Picasso
06.09.2016
01:30 pm

Topics:
Art
Movies
Science/Tech

Tags:


 
A team of developers named Gatys, Ecker, and Bethge recently developed an implementation of a technique known as a “style transfer,” which involves taking a specific pattern and “applying” it to a piece of video, such that the available surfaces in the video take on the texture of the original pattern. It’s kind of like a face swap only more ambitious.

A few months have passed, and a clever individual named Joshi Bhautik has tried to apply the technique as a way of mashing up great art and classic cinema. Specifically, he took a painting by Pablo Picasso, one of his “Les Femmes d’Alger” (Women of Algiers) series, which looks like this:
 

 
... and used it as the base image for a deep neural net-based style transfer on Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is full of striking images to say the least.

Once you do that, the generally stately, slow cinematography of the movie becomes a shimmering kaleidoscope, as seen in the following image:
 

 
The method has the peculiar effect of turning the entire movie into a version of the phantasmagorical, psychedelic journey Dave Bowman goes on for several minutes at the end of the movie, a sequence MAD magazine once compared to “crashing through the brand-new 105-story Jupiter Museum of Op Art.”

Here’s Bhautik’s description of what this is:
 

‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ rendered in the style of Picasso using deep neural network based style transfer. The cubist style had mixed results in the transfer; you can see that big empty blocks of colour didn’t map coherently between the frames. I’m working on a solution for that :]

 
See it after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Jeepers Creepers: Surreal illustrations of witchcraft-caused eye diseases from the 16th century
06.08.2016
10:03 am

Topics:
Books
Occult
Science/Tech

Tags:

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Georg Bartisch dedicated his life to the study and treatment of the eye and its diseases.

Born in Königsbrück, Saxony in 1535, Bartisch was apprenticed to a barber surgeon at the age of thirteen. After three years training, he set off to ply his trade as an itinerant surgeon—carrying out operations, amputations, and diagnosing illness amongst the populace of Saxony, Silesia, and Bohemia.

Medicine at this time was still prone to a belief in the superstitious. Bartisch believed a patient could be diagnosed through their astrological chart or horoscope and that magic, astrology and indeed witchcraft itself played an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

His main interest was ophthalmology. Though never academically trained, Bartisch excelled in his study of eye diseases and their cures, and was recognized as a leading expert in ocular medicine and surgery. One can imagine how brutal and painful such procedures would have been at this time when there was very poor hygiene and no anaesthetics.

Bartisch also believed myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism could be corrected by the wearing of masks rather than by the use of eyeglasses (see illustrations below). He believed a glass held in front of the eyes would only further damage the patient’s sight.

Though many of his ideas may seem strange to us now, Bartisch was a pioneer and his major contribution to ocular medicine was his compendium or “atlas” Ophthalmodouleia Das ist Augendienst published in 1583. It was the first book that detailed eye diseases and was responsible in establishing ophthalmology as a separate and distinct medical discipline.

Ophthalmodouleia Das ist Augendienst included sections on head and eye anatomy; strabismus; cataracts (which he classified by color—white, blue, gray, green, yellow, and black); external disease; trauma; and even witchcraft.

By 1588, Bartisch was oculist to the court of Duke Augustus I of Saxony. He died in 1607.

If you have an interest in the history of medicine, or are just a bibliophile, then you may be interested in viewing the whole of Georg Bartisch’s Ophthalmodouleia which has been digitized here.
 
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More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Disturbingly beautiful (almost dirty) images of human anatomy from the 1700s (NSFW)
06.03.2016
10:02 am

Topics:
Art
Books
Science/Tech

Tags:

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Jacques Fabien Gautier was a printmaker, painter, anatomist and philosopher who is now best remembered for his often lurid anatomical illustrations.

Born in Marseilles in 1716, Gautier began his career as a painter before moving onto printmaking where he developed an interest in the techniques of color printmaking which were then being pioneered by Jacob Christoph Le Blon (1667-1741). Gautier posited the theory colored prints could be created in much the same way as colored patterns were woven into cloth.

In 1736, Gautier moved to Paris—as he believed only great ideas came from great cities. Here he met Louis-Bertrand Castel, a mathematician and scientist who encouraged Gautier to investigate his theories into color printing. However, many of Gautier’s proposals for three and four color printing had been already developed by Le Blon. In 1738, Gautier joined Le Blon’s color-printing workshop but left after only six weeks. He then adopted Le Blon’s ideas and established a printmaking business as a four color printmaker.

Gautier had one good idea—he decided to produce all of the color anatomical illustrations for medical studies. He collaborated with Jacques Francois Duverney, a lecturer in anatomy at the Jardin du Roy. Together they produced l’Essai d’anatomie or Myologie complete en couleur et grandeur naturelle, composée de l’Essai et de la Suite de l’Essai d’anatomie en tableaux imprimés (1746) and Anatomie de la tête, en tableaux imprimés qui représentent au naturel le cerveau sous différentes coupes, la distribution des vaisseaux dans toutes les parties de la tête, les organes des sens et une partie de la névrologie, d’après les pièces disséquées et préparées par M. Duverney, en 8 grandes planches dessinées, peintes, gravées et imprimées en couleur et grandeur naturelle, par le sieur Gautier or Anatomie de la tête (1748).

The collaboration earned Gautier respect. He became known as a philosopher and anatomist became and was made a member of the Dijon Academy of Sciences.  In 1752, he published a baffling critique on Sir Isaac Newton’s theory of color—Chroa-génésie—in which amongst other things he claimed:

...the sun as the universal agent and motive force. According to Gautier’s theory, the force of its rays generates planetary motion, and it is the source of light and fire, substances with broad significance and many uses according to his system. Modified, they create thunder, lightening, and such geologic phenomena as volcanoes and earthquakes…

Gautier’s theories showed his “understanding of geometry is even less exact than his understanding of Newtonian optics.” His writing was described as “convoluted” and “unintelligible.” Surprisingly, this did not stop Gautier from being taken seriously (if only briefly) as a philosopher—enough to have the great writer Goethe suggest his treatise on color deserved an answer. Goethe also described Gautier as “an active, quick, rather impulsive man, certainly gifted but more than befittingly aggressive and sensational.”

Some critics considered Gautier veered more towards the sensationalist than the scientific:

[Gautier’s] anatomical illustrations while they may perhaps be fascinating to the layman…impress the critical observer with their arrogance and charlatanery and do not recommend themselves to the student of anatomy either for their faithfulness or their technique.

His later work in particular—when Gautier was acting as both anatomist and illustrator—has been dismissed as:

“....probably aimed at more prurient-minded lay persons than at anatomists.”

In a pre-Bettie Page world, I suppose that you took what you were offered?

Now largely forgotten as a natural philosopher and anatomist, Gautier (or Gautier d’Agoty as he later called himself) is now best known for his illustrative work for Jacques Francois Duverney’s three volumes on anatomy.

A copy of Essai d’Anatomie can be viewed and downloaded here.
 
From ‘l’Essai d’anatomie’.
 
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More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Why does music give some people ‘skin-gasms’?
05.31.2016
03:14 pm

Topics:
Music
Science/Tech

Tags:


 
Have you ever gotten a brief, intense chill down your spine or arms because you had an emotional reaction to the music you were listening to? Like, you are in your study, library, billiard room, or conservatory enjoying a glass of amontillado while listening to some Bach or Air Supply, when all of a sudden, during a particularly intense passage, the hairs on your arm stand on end.

Not everyone gets goosebumps from music; studies show that more than half of people do experience it. The French have a word for it: frisson, which has been translated as “aesthetic chills.” In English, some use the term skin-gasm. There’s a group on reddit where users post examples of particularly frisson-inducing music; current examples include Smashing Pumpkins, Frank Zappa, and Andrew Jackson Jihad.

It’s likely that our ancient forebears used an endothermic layer of heat retained beneath the hairs of their skin to keep warm; the goosebumps were the result of a rapid change in temperature, but they haven’t phased out of our evolutionary trajectory since the invention of clothing. However, it may be beginning to fade out of our collective humanity, since the frisson is only prevalent to about 55-86% of the population.

Those evolutionary roots may explain why the goosebumps we get from listening to music often come at times of dramatic changes in volume or pitch, or the appearance of an emotionally charged performance by a soloist. The more sudden such a change is, the more that listeners’ expectations are violated, and the more that we are (in evolutionary terms) thrust back into the distant past, maybe a terrifying woolly mammoth coming upon you in the middle of the night.

A team led by Dr. Amani El-Alayli, a professor of Social Psychology at Eastern Washington University has been investigating what differentiates the people who can and cannot experience music-derived “skin-gasms.” El-Alayli and his colleagues tested the cognitive immersion of several people listening to a variety of different songs and also asked them to complete personality tests. The results from the project concluded that listeners who experienced frisson also scored high for a personality trait called “Openness to Experience.”
 

 
This chart shows the reactions of a single listener in the lab. The spikes in each line correlate to junctures when the listener was particularly cognitively or emotionally aroused by the music. The peaks of excitement coincide perfectly with the experiencing of frisson in reaction to the music. (Air Supply just didn’t do anything for this particular subject, it seems.)

This participant was one of the ones who scored well on “Openness to Experience.” Studies have shown that people who possess “Openness to Experience” have “unusually active imaginations, appreciate beauty and nature, seek out new experiences, often reflect deeply on their feelings, and love variety in life,” according to social psychologist Mitchell Colver of Utah State University.

This paper’s conclusion indicates that “those who intellectually immerse themselves in music (rather than just letting it flow over them) might experience frisson more often and more intensely than others.”
 
via Live for Live Music
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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