Theodor Kittelsen – a Norwegian bestiary

Theodor Kittelsen – a Norwegian bestiary

Theodor Kittelsen was a Norwegian painter and book illustrator (1857-1914). He illustrated the Scandinavian bestiary of legend and fairy tales, and his work has scared countless children (myself included). He drew and painted trolls, the black death, sea monsters, nøkken ("water spirit"), and anthropomorphised natural phenomena such as the echo. His work can be rather ...
Merit Ptah: a woman not Marie Curie

Merit Ptah: a woman not Marie Curie

It is embarrassing. There is this question "name a female scientist, not counting Marie Curie". I cannot really do it. I can say "oh.. you know, that lady .. whatshername...". I can do Ada Lovelace (1815 - 1852), the "mother" of computer programming. Which is sad on so many levels: she lived not that long ...
Soldiers' Thoughts in an 1916-1918 Station Visitors' Book

Soldiers’ Thoughts in an 1916-1918 Station Visitors’ Book

Visitors' books, while bursting with creativity potential, often feel like a mere registry of names and locations - with the few occasional sentimentalities. They are condemned to live in the present and, as such, their true value is usually underestimated. Rare is the chance to come across a Visitors' book that has long lost its ...
The voyage of the Karluk – polar disaster

The voyage of the Karluk – polar disaster

We know the stories: heroics, suffering, death of exploration in polar regions. Amazing feats, hunger and stamina and team work. As for the story of the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913–16; not so much. It is a story of bad planning, bad preparations, egos, death and men divided and (probably) murder. Some years ago, I read ...
The day Indiegogo promoted a SCAM: Triton Gills is now fully financed

The day Indiegogo promoted a SCAM: Triton Gills is now fully financed

Have you heard of the Triton Gills? A device that would allow you to breath underwater for 40 minutes! It has been fully financed. For the second time. With Indiegogo's blessing. A small detail: The product is a SCAM, and everyone except the backers are aware of it. UPDATE: At the beginning of May (and after ...
Are Smart Contact Lenses Here to Efface Privacy?

Are Smart Contact Lenses Here to Efface Privacy?

The patent is 29 pages long and all in Korean. That might the reason why Samsung's Smart Contact Lenses went unnoticed for several years. Now, it's out. The product, from the get go, is a potential privacy nightmare. The lenses are equipped with a camera, display, an antenna, and sensors (the actual processing operations happen ...
The Alamito Suplicantes: A mystery in Volcanic Rock

The Alamito Suplicantes: A mystery in Volcanic Rock

We know very little about the Suplicantes, small sculptures made almost exclusively out of volcanic rock. Although they are considered the peak of NOA's sculpture art, we can only attempt to deduce who made them and why, as almost all of them have been found outside of their original historical and geographical context - usually by ...
Conspiracy time: My Neighbor Totoro = God of Death?

Conspiracy time: My Neighbor Totoro = God of Death?

My Neighbor Totoro is a guaranteed top spot in any list of popular anime films. A kid's classic, this Miyakaki's piece might be hiding a much darker and fascinating story behind its cuddly characters. Was this exactly what Miyazaki had in mind when he created the movie? Hell, who doesn't love a good conspiracy theory, especially one riddled with ...
"Obsessions make my life worse and my work better"

“Obsessions make my life worse and my work better”

Sagmeister is a bit of a rock star in design. His project "Obsessions make my life worse and my work better" is of course mad and stunning. 250.000 EuroCents, eight days and more than 100 volunteers resulted in this crazy, beautiful sentence I can relate to. They left the work unguarded. And here is the hilarious ...
Synthetic diamonds are for forever too

Synthetic diamonds are for forever too

– Synthetic diamonds are real. – Of course they are, I can touch them. –No, really real. They ARE diamonds. Geddit? They are structurally, chemically e-x-a-c-t-l-y the same as what comes out of the ground. They are lab-created. Lab "grown"; or nicer: cultivated gemstones. So the ruby IS a ruby, the emerald an emerald, the ...
Collective delusions: pareidolia, religion and invisible pink unicorns

Collective delusions: pareidolia, religion and invisible pink unicorns

This site is pretty much dedicated to the things we see, touch, record and create. But there are plenty of things people "see" that are not there. In troubled individuals, we call it delusions, hallucinations and we medicate. If enough people "see it" (and construct elaborate narratives around it) we call it religion. To see the face ...
A creationist's toybox: The Acámbaro figures

A creationist’s toybox: The Acámbaro figures

In July 1944, a German merchant named Waldemar Julsrud announced he had discovered several thousands ceramic figurines in Mexico, representing everything from supposed dinosaurs to peoples from all over the world. Julsrud had an impressive collection: Over 32,000 original pieces. You can see a few of them here: When I read about this story, I was instantly ...
Hostile architecture – how dare you be homeless?

Hostile architecture – how dare you be homeless?

This is an old post once posted elsewhere: brought it here when Twitter user @olebjarkoy took a pic of spikes outside a hotel in Norway, tagged it with #hostile. The hotel replied, on Twitter asking him to remove the hostile tag, as it was negative. Does not take a genius to figure how that went down ...
Prehistoric Art: The Upper Paleolithic Revolution

Prehistoric Art: The Upper Paleolithic Revolution

Yisela The Upper Paleolithic or Late Stone Age begins and ends with a revolution. The first one is what can be considered the 'official' appearance of art, some 50,000 years ago. The second, the invention of agriculture, 40,000 years later. The earliest sample of Paleolithic art is the shells with holes and chipped edge modifications from Ksar Akil. These flakes show regular teeth distributed ...
Creativity, according to the creative

Creativity, according to the creative

Creativity, according to the creative - what they say is the essence of creativity..: Any mental occurrence simultaneously  associated with two habitually incompatible contexts.  Arthur Koestler That moment of insight becomes the creative act as a joining of two previously incompatible ideas. Lyall Watson The association of two, or more, apparently alien elements on a plane ...
W. B. Gould: artist and convict

W. B. Gould: artist and convict

William Buelow Gould (1801 – 1853) was an English artist convicted for stealing a coat and was sentenced to seven years of labour in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). He constantly got into trouble, also in the penal colonies, and was regularly punished for offences such as drunkenness, petty theft and forgery. His talent, however, got him assigned as a house ...
Curiosity

Curiosity

The only reason people do not know much is because they do not care to know. They are incurious. Incuriousity is the oddest and most foolish failing there is. – Stephen Fry ...
Aleks Krotoski

The digital human

A brilliant podcast from the BBC. Aleks Krotoski explores life in the digital world. It is informative, entertaining and sometimes thought-provoking. I have some favourites, so check out the Augment, which looks at how we are becoming cyborgs, and Altruism, exploring goodness with no reward to strangers via Internet. BBC The digital human podcasts ...
Sunsets and roses

Sunsets and roses

I saw a sunset in Querétaro that seemed to reflect the colour of a rose in Bengal.  – Jorge Louis Borges ...
synesthesia

Synesthesia: hearing colour, seeing sound

Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon where one sensory experience is automatically accompanied by another. The most common is colour synesthesia and chromesthesia. Colour synesthesia is where for example letters, numbers or weekdays gets a colour automatically "attached". Tuesdays might be purple, the number 9 red or things like that. It is automatic, involuntarily. People with colour synesthesia can remember phone numbers ...
Creativity

Creativity

…qualities like quiveriness and vulnerability come to mind when I think of creativity… creativity requires a sense of smell, a palate to taste the scents that make brilliance. All life feeds upon the random. Creativity is the haute cuisine. – Douglas Hofstadter ...
Colour etymology, naming light

Colour etymology, naming light

A complete quote from the book The art of looking sideways by Alan Fletcher: Colour words are acquired by cultures in a strict sequence according to anthropologists who analysed 98 widely differing languages. All languages have black and white. if there are three words, the third is red. If there are four, then it is ...
Piet Hein: astro-gymnastics

Piet Hein: astro-gymnastics

Go on a starlit night, stand on your head, leave your feet dangling outwards into space, and let the starry firmament you tread be, for the moment, your elected base. Feel Earth's colossal weight of ice and granite, of molten magma, water, iron, and lead; and briefly hold this strangely solid planet balanced upon your ...
Wilton dipthych

The colour blue – the devil, the virgin and the red dyers’ bribes

Today, blue is probably the most popular colour around. We associate good things with it, it represents all sorts of positive things: air, sea, freshness, calm, and a few not so; feeling blue, blue monday. At least in this day and age, blue get a good deal of attention. But it was not always so. Prehistory ...
da Vinci: love

da Vinci: love

One has no right to love or hate anything if one has not acquired a thorough knowledge of its nature. Great love springs from great knowledge of the beloved object, and if you know it but little you will be able to love it only a little or not at all. – Leonardo da Vinci ...
Piet Hein: the paradox of life

Piet Hein: the paradox of life

A bit beyond perception's reach I sometimes believe I see that Life is two locked boxes, each containing the other's key. – Piet Hein (scientist, mathematician, inventor, designer, author, and poet extraordinare) ...
Piet Hein: what art is

Piet Hein: what art is

Art is this: art is the solution of a problem which cannot be expressed explicitly until it is solved. The shaping of the question is part of the answer. – Piet Hein (scientist, mathematician, inventor, designer, author, and poet extraordinare) ...
Guerrilla communication, street talk

Guerrilla communication, street talk

Guerrilla communication is a form of streetart, or simply a sense of humour that uses objects around us and makes us see a little differently. Here are some examples I have collected over the years. You might have to look close to see it... Certain forms of graffiti and scribbling on walls have been described ...
da Vinci: flight

da Vinci: flight

Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return. – Leonardo da Vinci ...
Piet Hein: pennies and indecision

Piet Hein: pennies and indecision

Whenever you're called on to make up your mind, and you're hampered by not having any, the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find, is simply by spinning a penny. No — not so that chance shall decide the affair while you're passively standing there moping; but the moment the penny is up in ...
Piet Hein: the nature of efficiency

Piet Hein: the nature of efficiency

In some instances, "efficiency" is the same as reading a sundial with the help of a flashlight. – Piet Hein (scientist, mathematician, inventor, designer, author, and poet extraordinare) ...
da Vinci: the development of a complete mind

da Vinci: the development of a complete mind

Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses – especially learn how to see. Realise that everything connects to everything else. – Leonardo da Vinci ...
Beautiful statistics

Beautiful statistics

Hans Rosling, the hero of beautiful statistics, showing us the world as it actually is. By making statistics beautiful and demonstrating that the impossible is possible. Oh, and btw; you can play with the Gapminder tool yourself ...