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Posts Tagged ‘wired’

I followed the consummate eclectic blogger Andrew Sullivan from 2004 until a couple weeks ago, when he closed up shop. I can’t begin to say what a loss it is, but at least he decided to leave up all his previous posts. I had planned to link to this one some time ago. It’s a good example of the kind of story I probably would have missed but for Andrew and his team.

In the post, we are directed to a Wired story about a series of Fabrice Fouillet photographs featuring giant statues. Zachary Slobig wrote, “Enormous statues have been erected around the globe for centuries, omnipresent memorials to historical figures and events. Fabrice Fouillet’s series Colosses—a collection of photographs of the world’s most imposing monuments—makes these familiar sights downright strange through a simple shift in perspective. It’s not the size and scale that interests him, but their place in the surrounding landscape. The result can be dizzying and disorienting. …

“ ‘It was important to me to extract the monument from its formal touristic and religious surroundings,’ said Fouillet. ‘It is not about a description of monumental symbol but more to observe how and where it takes place.’ ”

The Andrew Sullivan post, Face of the Day, is still available here. Photographer Fouillet’s website is here.

Image: Fabrice Fouillet
Grand Byakue. Takazaki, Japan

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I saved up this one until it was cool enough outside to talk about heating systems.

Liz Stinson writes at Wired, “Commercial buildings account for 20 percent of the national energy consumption—a big number on its own, but stunning when you consider that often, those buildings are half empty.

“A new project from MIT’s Senseable City Lab is looking to decrease the amount of wasted energy by creating hyper-localized beams of heat. Called Local Warming, the prototype system uses LED bulbs to beam direct rays of infrared light onto people. This is in direct contrast to HVAC systems, which blanket entire spaces with hot or cool air, regardless of how many people are present.

“MIT’s system is rigged to the ceiling, like highly-efficient track lighting. Using a WiFi-enabled tracking system, the lights can sense when a human is present and will beam infrared heat down like a spotlight. ‘It’s almost like having a your personal sun,’ says Carlo Ratti, a professor in the Senseable City Lab.

“The current prototype is on display at the Venice Architecture Biennale until November. It features a large infrared bulb surrounded by rotating mirrors that can direct the light in a focused beam. It’s bulky—hardly the type of thing you’d like in your home—but Ratti envisions future prototypes will use smaller LEDs for a more compact aesthetic.”

Read more at Wired

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Do you believe in miracles? Consider the snowflake, consider the soap bubble.

Our family is big on soap bubbles in summer. Wired magazine seems to be big on soap bubbles, too, with a recent article on an installation involving bubble magic.

Kyle Vanhemert writes, “Soap is pretty ordinary stuff – until you blow a bubble with it. Then it becomes something a little bit magical, shimmering with delicate, ever-changing color. Unsurprisingly, if you shine a light through that swirling orb, it makes for a pretty incredible show.

“That’s the gist of ‘Invisible Acoustics,’ an audiovisual installation by Royal College of Art graduate Dagny Rewera. For the project, Rewera created three apparatuses that combine light, sound, and soap to spectacular effect.

“First, a wand dips itself into a pool of water, creating a wet, soapy lens. A speaker plays tones and chords, vibrating the soap, while a light projects the proceedings on the ceiling above. …

“Each of the three units is set to play a different range of frequencies, making for three distinct sets of patterns unfolding overhead.” More here.

Art: Dagny Rewera 

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I can think of a few people I know who would love to conduct an orchestra just once.

A couple years ago, I was telling Suzanne and Erik how the Melrose Symphony Orchestra had a drawing at the Holiday Pops concert for an audience member to conduct the last number, and Erik said he would really love to do that. Given that he won a business-plan competition yesterday, he might feel like conducting an orchestra right now. Since there’s no orchestra handy, the next best thing might be an electronic simulator.

Writes Liz Stinson for Wired, “Most of us will never get the chance to conduct a real symphony orchestra, and that’s probably for the best. But a fake symphony orchestra made up of towering speakers, motion controllers, and touchscreens? Totally doable.

“A new installation at the Mendelssohn Museum in Leipzig, Germany lets you do exactly that, no music school required. The Mendelssohn Effektorium, by design studio WhiteVOID, is an interactive installation that allows you to have complete control over a virtual symphony. In this world you’re Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, and your instruments come in the form of 13 upright speakers with digital displays on them.

“Each of these speakers corresponds to a certain instrument group: woodwinds, brass, percussion, vocals and so on. It’s up you how much spotlight each instrument gets and how fast the tempo moves.” More at Wired. Be sure to play the video demonstration of someone conducting this way.

Photo: WhiteVOID
A Leap Motion sensor calculates your speed based on the pendulum interval of your movements and adjusts the tempo accordingly.

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Someone on twitter linked to this delightful post at Junk Culture this week. It’s an extraordinarily detailed replica of a Boeing airplane — made out of manila folders.

Writes Junk Culture, “Using nothing but manila folders and dabs of glue, Luca Iaconi-Stewart has been putting together a very detailed model of a Boeing 777 that is almost as complex as the real thing.

“The doors open and close on paper hinges and the landing gear retracts up into the fuselage. The project which has been a labour of love for five years grew out of his passion for airplanes and the models he made from manila paper in a high school architecture class.

“Iaconi-Stewart told Wired, ‘There’s something rewarding about being able to replicate a part in such an unconventional medium.’ ”

A collection of amazing photos — some that move — may be found here. The retractable wheel carriage has to be seen to be believed.

Without meaning to suggest that there is anything bizarre about such remarkable precision in a young man, I have to say actor Benedict Cumberbatch’s version of Sherlock Holmes keeps coming to mind as I look at the photos.

This is an unusual mind at work.

Photo: Luca Iaconi-Stewart and Mark Mahaney

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Concerned about education? Observe children. They can lead the way.

More and more educators are taking the approach Sugata Mitra tried when he put computers in the slums of India and watched children teach themselves.

Joshua Davis writes at Wired about another success story in an impoverished part of Mexico.

For 12-year-old Paloma Noyola Bueno, who grew up next to a garbage dump where her father scavenged for a living, school was a bright spot, even when it was all rote memorization. …

“As she headed into fifth grade,” writes Davis, “she assumed she was in for more of the same—lectures, memorization, and busy work. Sergio Juárez Correa was used to teaching that kind of class. …

“On August 21, 2011—the start of the school year — he walked into his classroom and pulled the battered wooden desks into small groups. When Paloma and the other students filed in, they looked confused. Juárez Correa invited them to take a seat and then sat down with them. …

” ‘You do have one thing that makes you the equal of any kid in the world,’ Juárez Correa said. ‘Potential. … And from now on,’ he told them, ‘we’re going to use that potential to make you the best students in the world.’ ”

And so began his effort to teach differently, to help children discover they could think for themselves.

It’s a long article but worth reading to understand the approach that led to a transformed class — with exceptional test results as a sort of minor spinoff.

Read it here.

Photo: Peter Yang
These students in Matamoros, Mexico, didn’t have reliable Internet access, steady electricity, or much hope—until a radical new teaching method unlocked their potential.

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I am currently reading one of the many delightful Colin Cotterill mysteries about Laos (Slash and Burn). Because the Laotian/American MIA search team seems always to be eating tasteless “astronaut food” provided by the Americans, this story at Andrew Sullivan’s blog the other day caught my attention.

Andrew points to Adam Mann, who writes at Wired, “Several decades from now, an astronaut in a Mars colony might feel a bit hungry. Rather than reach for a vacuum-sealed food packet or cook up some simple greenhouse vegetables in a tiny kitchen, the astronaut would visit a microwave-sized box, punch a few settings, and receive a delicious and nutritious meal tailored to his or her exact tastes. …

“With 3-D printers coming of age, engineers are starting to expand the possible list of materials they might work with. The early work in food has been in making desserts – a Japanese company lets you order your sweetheart a creepy chocolate 3-D model of their head – but some researchers are already thinking of what comes next. The Fab@Home team at Cornell University has developed gel-like substances called hydrocolloids that can be extruded and built up into different shapes. By mixing in flavoring agents, they can produce a range of tastes and textures.”

Don’t you love the word “extrude”? Well, maybe not. But I do because when my husband, my older grandson, and I were waiting for the baby sister to be born a couple weeks ago, we spent an inordinate amount of time extruding Play-Doh snakes from special Play-Doh extruders. (“Don’t be scared, Grandma. It’s not a real snake, Grandma.”)

Come to think of it, I might rather eat a Play-Doh snake than some of this astronaut food.

More from Wired.

More from Andrew Sullivan’s blog.

Photograph: Fab@Home
A deep-fried space shuttle scallop built using Cornell’s Fab@Home 3-D food printer, below.

Photograph: Feb@Home
A 3-D food printer building turkey paste into blocks, below.

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In a Wired story titled “eBay Bans Sales of Spells, Curses, Advice and Other ‘Intangibles,’ ” Liat Clark writes:

“The online auction house announced the changes as part of a routine cleanup that will also see recipe and dieting-advice lots stricken from the site.

“The decision, it says, is down to ‘a large number of misclassified items and eBay policy violations’ that often lead to ‘issues that can be difficult to resolve.’

“Presumably a few angry customers unable to get a love spell working have caused eBay strife over the years. …

“Among the items that will be taken down and prohibited from August 30, 2012, are ‘advice; spells; curses; hexing; conjuring; magic; prayers; blessing services; magic potions; healing sessions; work from home businesses and information; wholesale lists, and drop shop lists.’ ”

Where will the magicians go now? Seems a shame to lose something so quixotic, but business is business, and when you can’t serve a customer, you need to rethink matters.

I especially empathized with the line about “issues that can be difficult to resolve.” The company behind this blog, Luna & Stella, always resolves issues cheerfully but is careful not to offer spells — or even dieting advice.

More here.

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Loved this Wired article about an unusual artist underground in France that preserves antiquities under cover of darkness.

Jon Lackman writes that the Urban eXperiment (UX) “is sort of like an artist’s collective, but far from being avant-garde — confronting audiences by pushing the boundaries of the new — its only audience is itself. More surprising still, its work is often radically conservative, intemperate in its devotion to the old. Through meticulous infiltration, UX members have carried out shocking acts of cultural preservation and repair, with an ethos of ‘restoring those invisible parts of our patrimony that the government has abandoned or doesn’t have the means to maintain.’ …

“What has made much of this work possible is UX’s mastery, established 30 years ago and refined since, of the city’s network of underground passageways — hundreds of miles of interconnected telecom, electricity, and water tunnels, sewers, catacombs, subways, and centuries-old quarries.” Read more.

I’ve been collecting stories of people doing good by stealth. In fact, if you type the word “stealth” in the search box in the upper right-hand corner, you will find five other stealth stories I have blogged about.

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New research on the importance of calling your mom is doing the rounds.

John, @OFH_John on twitter, saw it at a Washington Post blog, which saw it at Wired, which saw it at the journal Evolution & Human Behavior: “Wired flags a new study that proves many mothers across the country right: For your own sake, you should call home more often. … A phone call to mom provides significant stress relief while instant message conversations won’t.”

Once my post goes up and triggers @LunaStellaBlog1 (you’re aware that I write this blog for Suzanne’s birthstone-jewelry company?), who knows where the message in a bottle will end up? Telephones will ring.

The Evolution & Human Behavior authors say that upbeat hormones can be generated by Mom’s voice (unless she is hassling you, of course), and those good hormones can combat your stress chemicals (read the abstract).

Bet moms get stress relief, too. As Dr. Malissa Wood said at a book reading today, women with more interpersonal connections are less likely to have heart attacks.

The call-your-mom paper is “Instant messages vs. speech: hormones and why we still need to hear each other.” The authors are Leslie J. Seltzer, Ashley R. Prososki, Toni E. Ziegler, and Seth D. Pollak.

Bless their healthy little hearts for getting ET to phone home.

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