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The art of ‘EWWW’: Artwork created using bacteria as its medium
10.22.2015
12:21 pm

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Art
Science/Tech

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“Superheroes” bacteria art made with Streptomycetes (bacteria spores that live in the dirt)
 
All “ewww’s” aside, I must say that the first (and I’m sure not the last) “Agar Art” contest held by The American Society for Microbiology (whose guidelines specified that entrants create art using only bacteria), has yielded some incredible results.
 
NYC Biome Map made with bacteria
 
A segment of the massive “NYC Biome Map” made with bacterial microbes (by microbiologist, Christine Marizzi)
 
According to the rules, all creations must be made using only microbes instead of paint (or other materials) and agar as their canvas. There were 85 entries submitted by various microbiologists across the country for this art meets biology mashup. Of the ones I’ve seen so far, I was blown away (and a bit grossed out I must admit) by the NYC Biome Map submitted by Christine Marizzi of New York City’s Community Biolab (above). Just read the description of the piece and you’ll likely feel the same way:

Microorganisms reside everywhere, yet they are too small to be seen with the human eye. New York City is a melting pot of cultures - both human and microbial - and every citizen has a personalized microbiome. Collectively, we shape NYC’s microbiome by our lifestyle choices, and this unseen microbial world significantly impacts us

I say grossed out because probably like many of you, I’ve ridden the NY subway system (as well as the equally skanky Boston “T”) hundreds of times before and learned pretty quickly to never touch ANYTHING with your hands. That said, Marizzi’s piece is nothing short of a marvel to look at considering how it was created.
 
Divine Pop Art made with bacteria
Pop bacteria art in the image of Divine!
 
More strange and trippy looking biological pieces of art from the contest (that might also bring out the obsessive/compulsive hand-washer in you) can be seen after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Evidence from 1895 that alien ‘Greys’ walked among us and practiced gynecology?
10.20.2015
09:21 am

Topics:
History
Occult
Science/Tech

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Grey Aliens are commonly described by ufological, paranormal, and New Age communities as slender, sexless, large-eyed, grey-colored beings who routinely visit Earth from extra-terrestrial worlds. Greys are known to sometimes abduct human beings to perform medical experiments and probe their bodies.

The idea of of these creatures is most commonly traced to the 1947 Roswell UFO incident and the alleged 1961 alien abduction of Betty and Barney Hill. Ufologists believe there are at least two different types of Greys. Some claim that “taller Greys, with their reported increased authority and apparently more complex psychology, may be the only Grey type to be biologically alive and that the shorter form could be their artificially constructed robot or cyborg servants.”

A half a century before Greys came into popular consciousness, a series of remarkable illustrations were published in Die Heilgymnastik in der Gynaekologie: Und die Mechanische Behandlung von Erkrankungen des Uterus und Seiner Adnexe nach Thure Brandt  (1895).  The title, translated from German, as “The physiotherapy in gynecology and the mechanical treatment of diseases of the uterus and its appendages by Thure Brandt” is a gynecological exercise manual authored by Swedish obstetrician and gynecologist, Thure Brandt.

The illustrations in this text bear a striking resemblance to Greys described by countless UFO close encounter and abductee claimants. Is it merely a coincidence? Do aliens really exist? Are they, as some theorize, actually a form of sleep paralysis? Did an 1800s Swedish gynecologist know something about visitors to our planet? Has Giorgio A. Tsoukalos weighed in on this yet?

We don’t have the answers here, but nevertheless, these illustrations of freakazoid Grey Alien type humanoids practicing some sort of gynecological yoga are pretty creepy:
 

 

 
More Grey gynecology after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Curious depictions of syphilis, measles, gonorrhea & other diseases from 19th-century Japan
10.19.2015
02:29 pm

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Art
History
Science/Tech

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“Ten realms within the body,” by Utagawa Kuniteru III, c. 1885
 
The University of California at San Francisco has an incredible collection of 400 health-themed woodblock prints from 19th-century Japan. The collection includes advertisements for medicines and treatments, illustrated guidelines for the treatment and prevention of various contagious diseases (first and foremost measles but also syphilis and gonorrhea), and visual guides to the human body from the late Edo and early Meiji periods.

According to the UCSF website,
 

Although the medical-theme prints typically deal with current, not past events, they often feature famous warriors, invoked to help stave off illness, or they render preventive measures in anthropomorphic terms—as in images of bucket-, bean-, or wheat-headed figures attacking a demon (the disease) — both elements linking them to Kuniyoshi’s artistic practices.

-snip-

Despite all this labor, the finished prints were relatively inexpensive items, cheaply sold from the publisher’s shop or distributed by itinerant vendors to ordinary townspeople: merchants, artisans, and other tradesmen. Although published in multiples of a hundred copies for the more popular editions, the prints were ephemeral, tossed away once fashions, celebrities—or illnesses—changed.

 
A few of these would make bitchin’ posters!
 

“Chasing measles away,” by Utagawa Yoshimori, 1862
 

“Ad for Kinder-Puwder, King of Pediatric Drugs,” by Morikawa Chikashige, 1880
 

“Pills to cure toxic illnesses such as syphilis and gonorrhea,” artist unknown, late 19th century
 
More medical posters from 19th century Japan, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Bust-a-gut funny ‘Computer Show’ mercilessly skewers the hapless tech idiots of 1983
10.16.2015
10:53 am

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Science/Tech
Television

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“Computer Show” is the latest in a lengthy recent tradition of brilliantly conceived cringe comedy making fun of the hidebound conventions of the recent past, and it is blazingly enjoyable.

It’s a satire of PBS tech shows from the 1980s such as Computer Chronicles, the bland, gee-whiz, slightly vacant affect of which it nails righteously. The host of the show is one “Gary Fabert,” and I would argue that Rob Baedeker in 20 scant minutes has earned himself an honorable place in Richard Metzger’s Pantheon of Clueless White Guys with yards to spare, alongside such heroes as “Jerry Hubbard” (Fred Willard) from Fernwood 2Night and Andy Daly from Review with Forrest MacNeil. He’s that good.

The ingenious idea of “Computer Show” is to send Internet entrepreneurs from our moment back in time to 1983 and see what the people from 30-odd years ago make of it. In the first two installments of “Computer Show,” the hosts welcome reddit’s Alexis Ohanian and Lumi’s Jesse Genet and Stephan Ango; in both cases the guests’ every utterance is met with blank stares and abrupt changes of subject. Not knowing what else to say, Fabert invariably responds with smarm and unearned condescension. (Sample line: “So, users at home, a vector is any place you would go to use a computer.”)

The ostensible subject of the show is the unbridgeable gulf that separates those who have experienced the Internet and those who have not, for it renders communication utterly impossible—when words like website or link instantly baffle and lose whatever party you’re speaking with, how on earth can you explain such essential parts of our lives as Rule 34 or Godwin’s Law? You can’t, is the answer.
 

 
The humor that most seems of our era often takes the form of convincingly stiff or chintzy imitations or “versions” of helplessly clueless artifacts from the recent past (often the 1980s or 1990s but sometimes the 1970s). In our sleek and pixel-perfect age, we are apparently fascinated, enthralled, horrified, what-have-you by the imperfections inherent in, say, any long-playing album or VHS recording. The examples are too numerous to name, but I’ll list a few obvious touchstones:
 
Anything involving Tim and Eric
Wet Hot American Summer
The two Hot Tub Time Machine movies
Look Around You
Scarfolk Council
Alex Varanese’s brilliant “ALT/1977” ads
The VHS Camcorder app
Between Two Ferns
Too Many Cooks
The “House of the Future” sketch from Mr. Show
That Braniff TV logo
 
Another one that fits is the fake ad with Rob Huebel and Colin Hanks from a recent installment of Last Week Tonight (jump to the 14:40 mark). We punish our forebears mercilessly for being so impossibly credulous and cute, but there’s a moral element too: “Computer Show” punishes Fabert for his sexism, and also sorely wants to draw attention to how nauseatingly corporate PBS became after the 1970s (the show is brought to you by “The McGarblin Group” and “Ludlow Ventures,” among others).
 

 
“Computer Show” comes from Sandwich Video, the founder of which, Adam David Lisagor, pops up at the end of each episode to give a poorly lit and poorly mic’d, overly earnest op-ed style speech in what looks like an uncomfortable swivel chair reminiscent of David Suskind or Tom Snyder.

The actors are uniformly excellent. In episode 1 Diona Reasonover does a great job playing vintage high school nerd “Angela Dancy,” while in the follow-up Jas Sams is splendid as “Sherri Longhorne.” But the comedic weight falls most heavily on Rob Baedeker as Fabert, and he is jaw-droppingly good—it’s hard to imagine the show without him. Bravo!

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
When the Pentagon tried to make bombs that screamed like people to freak out our enemies
10.14.2015
08:22 am

Topics:
History
Science/Tech
U.S.A.!!!

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In an effort to weaponize the psychological effect of terrifying sounds to break the morale of our enemies, the Air Force began work, in 1964, on “Pyrotechnic Harassment Devices,” or PHDs.

It has been scientifically proven that human screams contain unique acoustic properties that are highly effective in triggering the brain’s fear center, and the Pentagon wanted some of that ju-ju.

Essentially the PHDs were bombs that would create the sound of horrific human screams in an effort to scare the hell out of our foes. The idea being that if you can break the mind of your enemy, you can break him in battle. One imagines the unnerving effect of hundreds of screams on the front-lines would be similar to that of the infamous Aztec Death Whistle.

Joseph Trevithick, writing at the fantastic military blog, War is Boring, details the the idea behind the weapon:

“This device is an air deliverable unit that generates noise over a six hour period to harass, by generally upsetting enemy troops and thus lowering their efficiency for fighting,” technicians at the Air Force Armament Laboratory explained in their final report. “By dropping a number of units around an enemy group under attack, the PHD may cause general confusion.”

The Air Force hired a company called Special Devices, Inc. to build the prototypes. At first, the flying branch hoped that the pods would boom, bellow and shriek out gunshots, human and animal screeching sounds and the clanging of industrial machinery. Engineers recorded a host of specific samples to analyze, such as people firing .30- and .45-caliber guns and male and female screams.

The recordings also included a “neutral scream” consisting of a mix of the male and female versions and the cries of elephants and panthers, according to the official report. But after experimenting with a variety of mechanisms, Special Devices could only build pods that spewed out shots, whistles, whines and other white noise.

Ultimately the devices were not deemed practical: “There appears to be no way to make a pyrotechnic scream simulator with satisfactory characteristics for the PHD unit,” lamented the engineers. The idea of a “scream bomb” was looking less and less plausible.

Unable to come up with a practical scream generator, speaker boxes were built that could broadcast any recorded sound. Cargo planes were to drop these “screeming meemies” into enemy territory as a sonic disruption.

The box-shaped Screaming Meemie consisted of five major components. The primary element was the siren, which generated what was described as a “warbling tone,” plus four loudspeakers—one for each side of the box.

The siren could be set to function continuously or intermittently. The battery could keep it running for 12 hours.

There was a self-destruct and booby-trap function. The 25-pound high-explosive charge would detonate if someone pushed the device over or tried to open it, or if the battery dropped below a certain level.

 

The guts of the Screeming Meemie. Visible is (1) the audio system, (2) the dummy high explosive charge, (3) the battery pack, and (4) aluminum cushion. Air Force photo
 
It seems the military had switched gears from scaring the enemy to death with blood-curdling screams, to annoying them to death with a “warbling tone.” Ultimately, these tests were also ineffective, and the Screaming Meemie project was abandoned in 1967 when the Air Force cancelled its requirement for a “noise-making weapon for psychological warfare.”
 

A Screaming Meemie in position to be dropped from a C-47. The black arrow points to where the static line connects to the aircraft. Air Force photo
 
Still, the idea of using noise to disrupt the enemy had not been totally abandoned. Military troops have famously used blasts of loud noise and music against Manuel Noriega and David Koresh. Recently the band Skinny Puppy made headlines with a lawsuit against the US Government for using its music as psychological warfare “torture music” against the detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Perhaps there’s still room for research and development on a bomb that screams at the enemy…

or perhaps one that blasts dubstep…

Just wait for the drop.

Via: War Is Boring 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘Love Letters From Craig’ serves up ‘casual encounters’ as read by a robot
10.07.2015
12:57 pm

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Advertising
Science/Tech
Sex

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Love Letters From Craig” is the delicious brainchild of an Amsterdam-based company called Cartelle that appropriates and recontextualizes posts from the “casual encounters” section of Craigslist, certainly one of the steamiest (and frequently, most X-rated) sections of the well-known free personals website.

Those Craigslist posts basically consist of people spelling out the exact kinky thing they’re looking to do with a stranger, using a curiously encoded manner of communication—most messages feature at least 1 or 2 acronyms whose meanings aren’t immediately obvious. On “Love Letters From Craig” those messages are read aloud by a robotic voice of the type you might hear emanating from your GPS, while images of items signifying sex and/or oral stimulation (disembodied boobs, a lipstick, a glazed donut, a lollipop, cherries, bananas, pills, etc.) blandly float by. The formal register lends even such attention-getting phrases as “love making out, mutual oral, rimming, toys, spanking, w/s, shower play” an odd kind of dignity.

Cartelle is calling this strange exercise in voyeurism “a romantic exploration into the perversions of modern-day digital hookups.” According to Cartelle, “The contents are not moderated and completely automated, only enhanced by sensual porno beats and tasty, sexy visuals.” “Love Letters From Craig” scrapes new content from the Craigslist servers on an hourly basis.

I don’t know what it all means, but I find watching it strangely mesmerizing.
 

 
via Kill Screen
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Bizarre paintings of mecha robots attacking East European peasants of the early 20th century
10.06.2015
11:36 am

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Art
Science/Tech

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The Polish artist Jakub Rozalski, who goes by the sobriquet “Mr. Werewolf,” has produced an amusing series of steampunk-ish canvases in which serene and idyllic rustic landscapes of what seem to be Eastern Europe (Rozalski’s very back yard, you might say) in the early decades of the 20th century feature the prominent and inexplicable existence of completely fictitious giant mecha robots.

Various iconographies are jammed together, the imagery of peasant life in the early years of collectivization, the imagery of science fiction, the imagery of modern warfare…. add it all up and you might find yourself calling to mind, ohhh, the first few scenes of The Empire Strikes Back, set on the icy terrain of Hoth, perhaps?

Rozalski’s intent is “to commemorate this sad and tragic period in history, in my own way, to light on this parts of history that usually remain in the shadows of other events… remember and honor the history, but live in the present.” He adds, “I like to mix historical facts and situations with my own motives, ideas and visions. ... I attach great importance to the details, the equipment, the costumes, because it allows you to embed painting within a specified period of time.” 

Clck on any image to get a larger view.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
via Hi-Fructose
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Michael Jackson battles Michael Jackson in this dance-off video game
09.30.2015
01:52 pm

Topics:
Dance
Games
Science/Tech

Tags:


 
For the video game design competition Duplicade, which I mentioned in yesterday’s post about Fire Dance with Me, an enjoyable video game about Twin Peaks, Aaron Meyers came up with an infectious game called Michael E Michael, in which Michael Jackson has a Tekken-style dance-off against Michael Jackson. As I noted yesterday, the game “must tread dangerously into the intellectual property of an existing game or game franchise, but be cleverly altered and culturally mangled enough to not be worth the effort to sue,” which Michael E Michael clearly does.

The rules of Duplicade require games to be head-to-head games in which the WASD and arrow keys control movement for Player A and Player B, and also that the game declare a winner within the first 30 seconds. In the game, the two players control identical versions of The Gloved One from the video “Smooth Criminal” while that selfsame infectious song pulsates away.
 

 
Using various moves you can kick your opponent, execute a spin (which spawns a bunch of tiny Michaels to scatter away from the main avatar), and so forth until the loser is identified and the winning Jackson (of course) transforms into an awesome jet and flies away.

The original “Smooth Criminal” video after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Play the Twin Peaks video game, ‘Fire Dance with Me’
09.29.2015
10:41 am

Topics:
Dance
Science/Tech
Television

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Yesterday we at the DM brain trust were saddened to hear of the passing of Catherine E. Coulson at the age of 71. Coulson was the actress who portrayed the Log Lady from Twin Peaks, surely one of the most unusual characters ever to reach a mass audience.

You can honor Coulson’s performance, David Lynch’s groundbreaking TV series, and your own innate need to boogie by playing Fire Dance With Me, a video game designed for the Duplicade video game competition that calls for head-to-head simultaneous two-player games. The rules require that the games be Windows-compatible, use the traditional WASD and arrow keys for movement, and have a short duration (30 seconds) before deciding a winner. Furthermore, and amusingly, “The game must tread dangerously into the intellectual property of an existing game or game franchise, but be cleverly altered and culturally mangled enough to not be worth the effort to sue.” The game is downloadable for Windows but you can play it in any desktop browser—I played it on a Mac. 
 

 
Fire Dance With Me pays homage to the various dancers that populate Lynch’s series. You can choose Special Agent Dale Cooper (holding a coffee mug, natch), the Little Man from Cooper’s hallucinatory dreams, Audrey Home, or the Log Lady’s log (which never moves at all). Once the two players are selected and the game begins, you have to track a scrolling promenade of arrow signs in order to win—the two player’s avatars flank the sad, desperate dance of Leland Palmer in the middle, whom you cannot select.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Listen to the sound of giraffes humming to each other in the dark
09.18.2015
01:24 pm

Topics:
Animals
Science/Tech

Tags:


 
Biologists have recently discovered that giraffes hum.

The prevailing theory about giraffe vocalization had been that they are not capable of generating substantial sounds because of the physical difficulty of them producing sufficient air flow through their long necks. However, some had suggested that giraffes employ low-frequency “infrasonic” sounds below the level of human perception, similar to elephants and other large animals who use it for long-range communication.

After extensive research in three European zoos, Angela Stöger at the University of Vienna, Austria, found no evidence of infrasonic communication, but she did pick up an intriguing humming noise coming from the giraffe enclosures at night—in all three zoos. “I was fascinated,” Stöger was quoted as saying in New Scientist, “because these signals have a very interesting sound and have a complex acoustic structure.” That hum turned out to be a low-frequency sound, of about 92 Hz. That’s not infrasound; the human ear can detect it, but just barely. Stöger and her colleagues say the hum varies in duration and contains a rich combination of notes.

Giraffes have a structured social system, but scientists don’t know much about how they communicate, according to Meredith Bashaw at the Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “This new vocalization could add a piece to that puzzle. ... It could be passively produced—like snoring—or produced during a dream-like state—like humans talking or dogs barking in their sleep,” she says. But she indicated that it could also be a method of low-granularity information for giraffes to use in the dark, when vision is limited, as if to say, “Hey, I’m here.” There’s still information to be collected about the behaviors accompanying the humming. But it wouldn’t be too unexpected if the humming is used to transmit information about age, gender, sexual arousal, dominance, or reproductive states, Bashaw said.

John Doherty at Queen’s University Belfast, who studies giraffes in Samburu Reserve in northern Kenya, has come across similar vocalizations, “in a captive giraffe. ... But, in this case, [the giraffe] was clearly disturbed by a husbandry procedure being carried out on its calf in a separate but visible enclosure.”

Interestingly, last year residents of Paignton in southwest England complained of a humming or droning noise coming from the giraffe house at night: “I am very tired. The noise is still there,” said one resident. “I am being disturbed in the night and am being kept awake by this.” For her part, Stöger doubts that the complainants were actually hearing giraffes: “The giraffe signals are not so intensive. I personally doubt that neighbors would hear that,” she said.

After the jump, giraffe humming!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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