December 11th, 2008

squeeze until the fleshy lobes pop out of their jackets


Slashfood recently shone the spotlight on the Duku fruit. I love their description of how to consume it.

Imagine if grapefruits turned greenish, shrank to the side of golf balls and lost their hard pith. That’s the duku for you. Lansium Duranum, known in various languages as langsat, lansone, kokosan, gadu guda, lon bon and longkong duku grows throughout the tropical zones of Asia. They grow in clusters on trees, and are usually bought by the bunch. To eat a duku, cut it in half and simply squeeze until the fleshy lobes pop out of their jackets. It tastes remarkably like grapefruit, though some find it even more bitter (I don’t). Duku are not widely available in the US (have any of you seen them?) but are ubiquitous in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia.

December 11th, 2008

optel & knyp

Another gem found at Reuben Miller’s blog.

Hannes Coetzee is a guitarist from the Karoo region in South Africa. Born in 1944, he is mainly known for his unique playing technique using a spoon in his mouth to play slide guitar. This playing technique is called optel and knyp. Coetzee reached a broader audience when David Kramer’s documentary Karoo Kitaar Blues was released in 2003.

On the style of playing:

With his left hand he would play the chords. With his right hand he played in optel-en-knyp fingerpicking style. (In Afrikaans, optel, or “thumb” refers to the bass line; knyp, or “pinch” refers to the technique of playing the higher strings.) He held a teaspoon in his mouth. With the teaspoon, he slid out the melodic line.

Read more

December 11th, 2008

polaroid is back and it’s… drumroll…


…digital, of course.

Based on the same concept of instant pictures, the new polaroid camera will have an onboard printer. It is intended for professionals (presumably people in casting, modeling, etc). Read more

via Reuben Miller

December 11th, 2008

maple phone


Tech gadgets’ plastic and metal bodies can be pretty tiresome, offering little personality and warmth – especially considering how integrated they are with our lives. Recently, wood has stepped in to fill the unnatural void. One of the oldest known materials used to build things, wood is warm, timeless and beautiful. Its durability and unique fingerprint of grain patterns also make this an ideal material to enclose a tech gadget in.

Above is an image of the Maple Phone, designed by Hyun Jin Yoon and Eun Hak Lee, who have won the Silver award at the International Design Excellence Awards 2008.

via Reuben Miller

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December 11th, 2008

sitting on a black hole

For years, researchers from The Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany have been monitoring a supermassive black hole in our very own Milky Way galaxy that is four million times bigger than the Sun.

Dr Massey said: “Although we think of black holes as somehow threatening, in the sense that if you get too close to one you are in trouble, they may have had a role in helping galaxies to form – not just our own, but all galaxies.

The most spectacular aspect of our 16-year study, is that it has delivered what is now considered to be the best empirical evidence that super-massive black holes do exist
Professor Reinhard Genzel
Head of the research team

“They had a role in bringing matter together and if you had a high enough density of matter then you have the conditions in which stars could form.

“Thus the first generation of stars and galaxies could have come into existence”.

The researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany said the black hole was 27,000 light years, or 158 thousand, million, million miles from the Earth.

“Undoubtedly the most spectacular aspect of our 16-year study, is that it has delivered what is now considered to be the best empirical evidence that super-massive black holes do really exist,” said Professor Reinhard Genzel, head of the research team.

BBC Science

December 11th, 2008



I don’t know about that but this website is very innovative and playful.

Posted in Ha!, Image, Site | No Comments »
December 11th, 2008

thank god

Something put a smile on my face today:

December 9th, 2008

testing the theory of evolution on the mona lisa


Genetic Programming is an exciting concept. The above picture was “evolved” from an abstract shape using a script based on the principles of evolution theory.

This weekend I decided to play around a bit with genetic programming and put evolution to the test, the test of fine art :-)

I created a small program that keeps a string of DNA for polygon rendering.
The procedure of the program is quite simple:

0) Setup a random DNA string (application start)

1) Copy the current DNA sequence and mutate it slightly
2) Use the new DNA to render polygons onto a canvas
3) Compare the canvas to the source image
4) If the new painting looks more like the source image than the previous painting did, then overwrite the current DNA with the new DNA
5) repeat from 1

From Roger Alsing’s blog, via boingboing.

December 9th, 2008

filling up

Could you say something of this process? When do you work? Do you keep to a strict schedule?

When I am working on a book or story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and you know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.

The Paris Review, Issue 18, 1958

The above is just one entry of the excellent blog Daily Routines that sheds some light on how some of the most famous authors, politicians and other personalities approach their lives and occupations.

A similar collection of such accounts can be found at rodcorp: how we work. via kottke

December 6th, 2008

“One Life” Hypothesis/Philosophy


The OneLife site is dedicated to the argument that human culture should be based on factual knowledge. All modern cultures are, instead, based on dogma, archaic and erroneous tribal hand-me-downs.

It has become obvious to us, during the course of our research for these essays, that our education system is perverted and destructive, that our government has become a separate elite tribe whose sole interest is in maintaining control of and fleecing the public, that the fields of psychology and psychiatry are shams and the practitioners no more than modern witch doctors, that our justice system is a travesty, and that our big business has become well paid tax collectors for the government. We feel that all of this is due to ignorance, rather than ill-will and is the result of a culture based on a dogma with archaic and erroneous premises, one that teaches that very ignorance.

We hope to show in these texts that community behavior (culture) may be based on provable fact rather than dogma and that such action is advisable. We are freely critical of the current world cultural crises and the forces and tribal groups that we feel are responsible.

I haven’t read every page on this site yet but I have found what i’ve read so far fascinating. I don’t have the necessary knowledge of genetics to know if the theory stacks up, but from my armchair position it is gripping popular science reading. I gather the author himself, John Stevenson, is no trained geneticist, although he does seem like a smart guy and he is quite accomplished in other areas.

The introduction to his theory is this butterfly-inducing tale of how the first cell may have come into being:

In primeval times the earth was a primitive place. It was sterile, as devoid of life as the moon. Many thousands of cubic miles of various mixtures of chemicals were in the oceans. Above the earth millions of cubic miles of atmosphere became enriched with carbon-dioxide and other chemicals spewing from volcanos and from windstorms over the lifeless continents. Rains washed the pollutants out of the air and into the oceans. Rains also eroded the continents and formed rivers to wash the silt into the oceans. The oceans became enriched with chemicals. Billions of chemical reactions were taking place simultaneously all over the globe in this huge pot of soup. Even with that gargantuan exposure, it took billions of years before the right set of chemicals and the right physical conditions came together and allowed the creation and survival of the first tiny string of pre-cellular desoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Life was precarious for this new living creature for many millions of years. It was tiny and tender, alone in the oceans, only capable of reproducing itself, depending on chance to supply it with its needs. In its struggle to live in this dangerous environment, it gradually evolved until it finally developed into a single cell. Now it had a protective container to provide shelter for itself and the nutrients it required for survival. During this long period of evolution, the coded string of genetic material that developed into the description of this primitive original cell had increased in length greatly. It started with only the description that would reproduce its basic self. That small coded strip, perhaps only a few thousand code elements long, is the essence of life. The essential coding for life was compressed into it. That same essential coding exists somewhere in all DNA today. By the time the first cell was developed, much additional coding had been added. This additional coding provided for the formation of the cell wall and the production of its own nutrients and tools from raw materials. It added features that enhanced the survival of the life described in that first initial reproducing string.

Read further here.

Also interesting and nicely written is his explanation of evolution, and the discussions/conclusions he lists afterwards.

I also very much enjoy his concordant philosophy that discipline is the measure of our humanity (part of the human evolution page of the site):

The intellect, the magnitude of which separates the human from all other animals, developed slowly over the entire four million years or more of the human development. The intellect is not unique to the human, it is quite well developed in a number of the other higher animals. The intellect developed as a control over instincts to provide adaptable behavior. The human is designed by nature (evolution) to modify any behavior that would normally be instinctive to one that would provide optimum benefit (survivability). This process is called self-control or self-discipline, and is the major difference between the human and the lower order animals, those that apply only instinct to their behavioral decisions. Self-discipline, therefore, is the measuring stick of the human. The more disciplined behavior (behavior determined by intellect) displayed by the individual, the more human he becomes. The less disciplined behavior (behavior in response to instinct) displayed by an individual, the more he becomes like the lower order animals that are lacking in intellect and are driven by their instincts.

December 6th, 2008

the solar system looks prettier than it used to

DISCOVER has a nice gallery comparing images of our solar system taken recently with those taken in years past. L00k!

December 5th, 2008

Howlin’ Wolf, Smokestack Lightning


December 3rd, 2008

identity crisis

In a study presented Tuesday, neuroscientists at Stockholm’s renowned Karolinska Institute show how they got volunteers wearing virtual reality goggles to experience the illusion of swapping bodies with a mannequin and a real person.

“We were interested in a classical question that philosophers and psychologists have discussed for centuries: why we feel that the self is in our bodies,” project leader Henrik Ehrsson said. “To study this scientifically we’ve used tricks, perceptual illusions.”

Full article: yahoo. via neatorama

December 3rd, 2008

Unforgettable Evil From Mars

An excellent little animation by Alex Bland, in which we peer into a 50s sci fi movie poster.

Posted in Video | No Comments »
December 3rd, 2008

Super Coloniser invades UK

“When I saw this ant for the first time, I simply could not believe there could be so many garden ants in the same lawn,” said Professor Jacobus Boomsma from the University of Copenhagen, who oversaw the research.

Although superficially similar in appearance to the common black garden ant, the invasive species is very different in its behaviour, and particularly in the social structure within colonies.

Full Article: BBC

December 2nd, 2008

the glass frog


The glass frog, whose skin is so transparent that you can see its organs, is one of many fascinating but endangered species under the spotlight in this post at webecoist.

December 2nd, 2008


Conlang is a word used to describe constructed languages — languages made by linguists and hobbyists.

…to most linguaphiles, conlangs are simply art. Their palette holds not paints but the buzz of the letter “z,” the hiss of an “s,” the trill of an Italian “r.”…

…In this realm of art, Toki Pona is white canvas with scattered brushstrokes of primary colors.

Kisa created Toki Pona as an exercise in minimalism, looking for the core vocabulary that is necessary to communicate.

With only 120 words, a Toki Pona speaker must combine words to express more complicated ideas. For example, the Toki Pona phrase for “friend” is jan pona (the “j” sounds like a “y”), literally “good person.”

Kisa, who is studying speech language therapy, tried to focus Toki Pona’s vocabulary on basic, positive concepts.

“It has sort of a Zen or Taoist nature to it,” Kisa said

Read full article: LA Times

via gerry canavan’s blog

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