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2 Notes

L’Arbre Blanc - A leaf of your own
Depending on what part of the world you call home, the idea of ‘outdoor living’ could set you shivering at the very notion. For the residence of Montpellier, France however, this architectural concept is becoming an increasingly important part of the landscape.
The next eagerly awaited addition comes in the form of a 17-story tower aptly named L’Arbre Blanc or the White Tree. The innovative apartments have a real sense of community and boast an intricate array of sun-trapped balconies – the perfect setting for a Sunday afternoon read or summers night tipple. The building will also plays host to “a restaurant, an art gallery, offices, a bar with a panoramic view and a common area.”

Sou Fujimoto Architects, Nicolas Laisné Associés and Manal Rachdi Oxo architects say they were “inspired by the city’s tradition of outdoor living and the efficient properties of a tree.”
@Mingard is a regular contributor to Found Things.

L’Arbre Blanc - A leaf of your own

Depending on what part of the world you call home, the idea of ‘outdoor living’ could set you shivering at the very notion. For the residence of Montpellier, France however, this architectural concept is becoming an increasingly important part of the landscape.

The next eagerly awaited addition comes in the form of a 17-story tower aptly named L’Arbre Blanc or the White Tree. The innovative apartments have a real sense of community and boast an intricate array of sun-trapped balconies – the perfect setting for a Sunday afternoon read or summers night tipple. The building will also plays host to “a restaurant, an art gallery, offices, a bar with a panoramic view and a common area.”

Sou Fujimoto Architects, Nicolas Laisné Associés and Manal Rachdi Oxo architects say they were “inspired by the city’s tradition of outdoor living and the efficient properties of a tree.”

@Mingard is a regular contributor to Found Things.

3 Notes

Thanks to the iPod, music just isn’t special any more
Wait, no, that’s a horrible thing to say. Sorry, let me explain myself…
In the good old days - the sixties and seventies; before my time, but the time when my parents were growing up – recorded music was something special, something to be cherished. Each album was an event, to be hunted down and appreciated holistically and repeatedly. There was none of this ‘download a track here, download a track there’ nonsense – you had to actually go to a shop and buy the album you wanted. You’d devour it whole, appreciating the album as it was intended by its creators; the first track is the opener for a reason and there’s method behind the running order of the subsequent tracks, the cover art has depth and significance, and so does whatever liner notes they chose to (or not to) include. It was a thing. And because vinyl was chunky and substantial, you had to have somewhere to keep it, and it was always obvious. You couldn’t buy an album and forget about it.
This specialness helps to attach memories to music. On the day that Ian Dury & The Blockheads’ ‘New Boots & Panties!!’ album was released in 1977, my dad went to every record store in Canvey Island trying to find it, asking each baffled proprietor “excuse me, do you have New Boots and Panties… ?”. Picture that. He was lucky not to get a thick ear, cheeky sod. In fact, when you think about it, half the stories of that generation have some sort of über-cool musical significance; my wife’s parents, for example, actually met at a Beatles gig at the Cavern Club. How rock ‘n’ roll is that? You can be sure they think about that every time they flip ‘Rubber Soul’ onto the turntable. The rhythm was all-pervading, it was everywhere in everybody’s lives.
I remember when I was growing up, my parents had maybe a hundred records (compare that to the amount of music on your iPod right now). I knew every one of those long-players inside out. Still do, in fact. The Rolling Stones’ ‘Sticky Fingers’, ‘Let It Bleed’ and ‘Exile on Main Street’; Graham Parker’s ‘The Up Escalator’ and ‘The Real Macaw’; Led Zeppelin’s ‘II’; Budgie’s ‘If I Were Britannia I’d Waive The Rules’; Nazareth’s ‘Hair of the Dog’… we knew them all by heart. Because that’s what we had.
Broadly speaking, we can say that the sixties and seventies were the vinyl era, the eighties were all about cassette tapes, the nineties (and early noughties) were the time of CDs, then it went online.
I was lucky to straddle the cusp of tape and CD, wherein the ideals of the vinyl album still held but the music was a little more portable.
Recordable cassettes allowed us to share music with friends. ‘Home taping is killing music’, cried the industry, but they couldn’t have been more wrong; home taping perpetuated kids’ fascination with music, broadening horizons that ultimately bolstered the industry as a whole, encouraging another generation of adolescents to spend their spare time going to gigs and hanging out in record shops.
Most of my pocket money was spent in Gatefield Sounds and B-Side the C-Side, respectively the local independent record store and a second-hand music exchange – it was the latter that spawned my fondness for rarities and collectibles. You see, I had this ingrained love of the album – these snapshots in time created for us by our music idols, representing their own perspective on that particular period, captured forever in a bundle of musical memories – and, once I had sufficient spare change to start collecting my own, I became obsessed with completism: if I’d bought an album I really liked (Mansun’s ‘Attack Of The Grey Lantern’ say, or 60ft Dolls’ ‘The Big 3’), I’d collect all of the associated singles in all their forms, as well as any demos and imports I could get my hands on. These were the times, remember, when releasing a single actually meant something – when people would have to make the effort to go to the shops to buy it, and bands would reflect this effort by releasing a single on two CDs, cassette and 7” vinyl, with different b-sides on each.
You could be really snobby about it too: “What, you haven’t heard the acoustic version? No, not that one, the demo? You mean you only bought CD1? Huh…”“
I hate downloading music. If I’m going to buy an album or a single, I’ll buy a physical copy of it and store it in a rack, so that if I want to listen to it I’ll have to find it and make the effort to play it. The band went to great lengths to create it in exactly that format, so it’s the least I can do.
In my whole life, I’ve probably downloaded no more than around twenty songs, and they were all from MySpace in about 2005 (and, to be fair, they were by bands like Milburn and Bromheads Jacket, whose CDs I then went out and bought in a shop).
I’ve only ever bought two tracks from iTunes – they were ‘Damn Damn Leash’ by Be Your Own Pet and ‘Bug Powder Dust’ by Bomb The Bass – which are now lost on an old, scrapped version of iTunes on a defunct laptop. I object hugely to the shitty strategy of only allowing you to listen to things you download on an Apple device – I’ve paid for the fucking track, why shouldn’t I be allowed to burn it to a CD and listen to it in the car? I should own that copy of the track, not just rent it from Cupertino on a limited basis (don’t worry, I tracked down an original promo copy of ‘Damn Damn Leash’ on CD - complete with cover hand-painted by the band - on 991.com, and the Bomb The Bass album ‘Clear’ was sourced from the play.com marketplace – they’re mine now. I can listen to them wherever I want).
(Editor’s note: you can transfer out of iTunes with ease you know… it’s been DRM free for like, forever.)
So anyway, back to my opening statement about the iPod.
Now, it’s a bloody clever little device, and I love mine to bits. I use it every day. However, the gadget’s ubiquity adds to the maelstrom of musical indifference demonstrated by a lot of people these days. This is illustrated most vividly by the people you see who are still using the fucking awful white earbuds that come with iPods. These are so crap for listening to music with, you might as well be hearing reel-to-reel tape, underwater, through a tin can attached to a bit of string. They’re horribly weak and tinny, and they have no bass whatsoever. None at all. And no dynamism. You lose all perception of the magic captured in the studio, you’re just listening to a faded and discoloured facsimile of the music you’ve paid for. People who use these earbuds don’t really want to listen to music in any meaningful sense; they want a background noise that they can ignore, to drown out reality.
They could just as easily be listening to white noise.
So the equipment’s all wrong, but so’s the attitude. Downloading a song here and a song there and smooshing them all together into a little music box is sacrilegious to the creative process that spawned the tracks in the first place. There’s nothing special in treating music like an all-you-can-eat buffet. It’s disrespectful.
I said earlier that “the rhythm was all-pervading, it was everywhere in everybody’s lives”; you could argue that this is still the case today, that people spend far more time listening to music than ever before because the versatility and portability of technology allows them to do so. But it’s not the same. Listening to it and hearing it are two very different things.
Maybe I’m just a crotchety old sod.
JuicyPips, direct from the mind of @denialvibes, is published weekly.

Thanks to the iPod, music just isn’t special any more

Wait, no, that’s a horrible thing to say. Sorry, let me explain myself…

In the good old days - the sixties and seventies; before my time, but the time when my parents were growing up – recorded music was something special, something to be cherished. Each album was an event, to be hunted down and appreciated holistically and repeatedly. There was none of this ‘download a track here, download a track there’ nonsense – you had to actually go to a shop and buy the album you wanted. You’d devour it whole, appreciating the album as it was intended by its creators; the first track is the opener for a reason and there’s method behind the running order of the subsequent tracks, the cover art has depth and significance, and so does whatever liner notes they chose to (or not to) include. It was a thing. And because vinyl was chunky and substantial, you had to have somewhere to keep it, and it was always obvious. You couldn’t buy an album and forget about it.

This specialness helps to attach memories to music. On the day that Ian Dury & The Blockheads’ ‘New Boots & Panties!!’ album was released in 1977, my dad went to every record store in Canvey Island trying to find it, asking each baffled proprietor “excuse me, do you have New Boots and Panties… ?”. Picture that. He was lucky not to get a thick ear, cheeky sod. In fact, when you think about it, half the stories of that generation have some sort of über-cool musical significance; my wife’s parents, for example, actually met at a Beatles gig at the Cavern Club. How rock ‘n’ roll is that? You can be sure they think about that every time they flip ‘Rubber Soul’ onto the turntable. The rhythm was all-pervading, it was everywhere in everybody’s lives.

I remember when I was growing up, my parents had maybe a hundred records (compare that to the amount of music on your iPod right now). I knew every one of those long-players inside out. Still do, in fact. The Rolling Stones’ ‘Sticky Fingers’, ‘Let It Bleed’ and ‘Exile on Main Street’; Graham Parker’s ‘The Up Escalator’ and ‘The Real Macaw’; Led Zeppelin’s ‘II’; Budgie’s ‘If I Were Britannia I’d Waive The Rules’; Nazareth’s ‘Hair of the Dog’… we knew them all by heart. Because that’s what we had.

Broadly speaking, we can say that the sixties and seventies were the vinyl era, the eighties were all about cassette tapes, the nineties (and early noughties) were the time of CDs, then it went online.

I was lucky to straddle the cusp of tape and CD, wherein the ideals of the vinyl album still held but the music was a little more portable.

Recordable cassettes allowed us to share music with friends. ‘Home taping is killing music’, cried the industry, but they couldn’t have been more wrong; home taping perpetuated kids’ fascination with music, broadening horizons that ultimately bolstered the industry as a whole, encouraging another generation of adolescents to spend their spare time going to gigs and hanging out in record shops.

Most of my pocket money was spent in Gatefield Sounds and B-Side the C-Side, respectively the local independent record store and a second-hand music exchange – it was the latter that spawned my fondness for rarities and collectibles. You see, I had this ingrained love of the album – these snapshots in time created for us by our music idols, representing their own perspective on that particular period, captured forever in a bundle of musical memories – and, once I had sufficient spare change to start collecting my own, I became obsessed with completism: if I’d bought an album I really liked (Mansun’s ‘Attack Of The Grey Lantern’ say, or 60ft Dolls’ ‘The Big 3’), I’d collect all of the associated singles in all their forms, as well as any demos and imports I could get my hands on. These were the times, remember, when releasing a single actually meant something – when people would have to make the effort to go to the shops to buy it, and bands would reflect this effort by releasing a single on two CDs, cassette and 7” vinyl, with different b-sides on each.

You could be really snobby about it too: “What, you haven’t heard the acoustic version? No, not that one, the demo? You mean you only bought CD1? Huh…”“

I hate downloading music. If I’m going to buy an album or a single, I’ll buy a physical copy of it and store it in a rack, so that if I want to listen to it I’ll have to find it and make the effort to play it. The band went to great lengths to create it in exactly that format, so it’s the least I can do.

In my whole life, I’ve probably downloaded no more than around twenty songs, and they were all from MySpace in about 2005 (and, to be fair, they were by bands like Milburn and Bromheads Jacket, whose CDs I then went out and bought in a shop).

I’ve only ever bought two tracks from iTunes – they were ‘Damn Damn Leash’ by Be Your Own Pet and ‘Bug Powder Dust’ by Bomb The Bass – which are now lost on an old, scrapped version of iTunes on a defunct laptop. I object hugely to the shitty strategy of only allowing you to listen to things you download on an Apple device – I’ve paid for the fucking track, why shouldn’t I be allowed to burn it to a CD and listen to it in the car? I should own that copy of the track, not just rent it from Cupertino on a limited basis (don’t worry, I tracked down an original promo copy of ‘Damn Damn Leash’ on CD - complete with cover hand-painted by the band - on 991.com, and the Bomb The Bass album ‘Clear’ was sourced from the play.com marketplace – they’re mine now. I can listen to them wherever I want).

(Editor’s note: you can transfer out of iTunes with ease you know… it’s been DRM free for like, forever.)

So anyway, back to my opening statement about the iPod.

Now, it’s a bloody clever little device, and I love mine to bits. I use it every day. However, the gadget’s ubiquity adds to the maelstrom of musical indifference demonstrated by a lot of people these days. This is illustrated most vividly by the people you see who are still using the fucking awful white earbuds that come with iPods. These are so crap for listening to music with, you might as well be hearing reel-to-reel tape, underwater, through a tin can attached to a bit of string. They’re horribly weak and tinny, and they have no bass whatsoever. None at all. And no dynamism. You lose all perception of the magic captured in the studio, you’re just listening to a faded and discoloured facsimile of the music you’ve paid for. People who use these earbuds don’t really want to listen to music in any meaningful sense; they want a background noise that they can ignore, to drown out reality.

They could just as easily be listening to white noise.

So the equipment’s all wrong, but so’s the attitude. Downloading a song here and a song there and smooshing them all together into a little music box is sacrilegious to the creative process that spawned the tracks in the first place. There’s nothing special in treating music like an all-you-can-eat buffet. It’s disrespectful.

I said earlier that “the rhythm was all-pervading, it was everywhere in everybody’s lives”; you could argue that this is still the case today, that people spend far more time listening to music than ever before because the versatility and portability of technology allows them to do so. But it’s not the same. Listening to it and hearing it are two very different things.

Maybe I’m just a crotchety old sod.

JuicyPips, direct from the mind of @denialvibes, is published weekly.

1 Notes

Best product placement ever? The World as seen from a pelican’s beak

Want to watch an inspiring video of an orphaned pelican’s first flight? Of course you do.

The pelican, which lost its parents and washed ashore in Tanzania after a storm, had never learned to fly. Enter its handlers, who took it in, named it Bigbird, and taught it to fly by running up and down the beach with him for months.

Thankfully, they also had the foresight to strap a GoPro to its beak prior to its first takeoff, so you can watch Bigbird’s first flaps in all their majestic glory.

Birds and humans, working together in pursuit of flight - I think the word you’re looking for is magical. Magical, magical product placement.

Notes

"EAT CELEBRITY MEAT" - So much for Soylent Green… I’d like a pound/ kilo of_________
BiteLabs.org is a startup that says it wants to sell ‘artisanal salami’ grown in a lab from the cells of famous people.
The company lists Kanye West, Jennifer Lawrence, James Franco, and Ellen Degeneres as the celebrities it most wants to salamify and encourages visitors to tweet at these celebrities to get them to donate body cells.

“We mix celebrity and animal meats, grown in house through a proprietary culturing process, into curated salami blends.”
"The process begins with myosatellite cells, which are obtained via biopsy. These are a particular type of stem cell found in adult muscle that function to repair and regrow damaged muscle. Isolating a sample of these cells provides a base that can grow into as much meat as required."

It’s gotta be a joke, right?
@ColonyClive is a regular contributor to Found Things.

"EAT CELEBRITY MEAT" - So much for Soylent Green… I’d like a pound/ kilo of_________

BiteLabs.org is a startup that says it wants to sell ‘artisanal salami’ grown in a lab from the cells of famous people.

The company lists Kanye West, Jennifer Lawrence, James Franco, and Ellen Degeneres as the celebrities it most wants to salamify and encourages visitors to tweet at these celebrities to get them to donate body cells.

“We mix celebrity and animal meats, grown in house through a proprietary culturing process, into curated salami blends.”

"The process begins with myosatellite cells, which are obtained via biopsy. These are a particular type of stem cell found in adult muscle that function to repair and regrow damaged muscle. Isolating a sample of these cells provides a base that can grow into as much meat as required."

It’s gotta be a joke, right?

@ColonyClive is a regular contributor to Found Things.

2 Notes

A “One Second a Day” video like you’ve never seen before

We’ve all seen these “photo a day” or “one second a day” videos before, time-lapse montages that show us the passage of time before our eyes: people having children, conquering long distances, and growing up.

But not every year in a life is so life-affirming, as this ad spot from Save the Children so brutally reminds viewers.

Find out more.

2 Notes

When you are popular on Facebook, strangers think you’re attractive
From psychology, we’ve known for a while that people create near-instant impressions of people based upon all sorts of cues. Visual cues (like unkempt hair or clothing), auditory cues (like a high- or low-pitched voice), and even olfactory cues (what’s that smell!?!) all combine rapidly to create our initial impressions of a person.
Where things get interesting is when one set of these cues is eliminated. For example, if we’ve never met a person in a real life, do we form impressions of people when all we know about them is their Facebook profile? And if so, what do we learn from those profiles?
As it turns out, it can be quite a lot.
Graham G Scott has experimentally examined the impact of viewer gender, Facebook profile gender and number of Facebook friends on impression formation, finding that people with lots of friends appear more socially attractive, more physically attractive, more approachable, and more extroverted.
When viewing modified Facebook profiles (all with the same profile picture and an experimentally controlled number of friends), people rated profiles with lots of Facebook friends as more physically attractive, more socially attractive, more approachable, and more extroverted.
Since potential employers look at Facebook profiles these days, perhaps it’s time to hire some Facebook friends.
Full article in Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (PDF).

When you are popular on Facebook, strangers think you’re attractive

From psychology, we’ve known for a while that people create near-instant impressions of people based upon all sorts of cues. Visual cues (like unkempt hair or clothing), auditory cues (like a high- or low-pitched voice), and even olfactory cues (what’s that smell!?!) all combine rapidly to create our initial impressions of a person.

Where things get interesting is when one set of these cues is eliminated. For example, if we’ve never met a person in a real life, do we form impressions of people when all we know about them is their Facebook profile? And if so, what do we learn from those profiles?

As it turns out, it can be quite a lot.

Graham G Scott has experimentally examined the impact of viewer gender, Facebook profile gender and number of Facebook friends on impression formation, finding that people with lots of friends appear more socially attractive, more physically attractive, more approachable, and more extroverted.

When viewing modified Facebook profiles (all with the same profile picture and an experimentally controlled number of friends), people rated profiles with lots of Facebook friends as more physically attractive, more socially attractive, more approachable, and more extroverted.

Since potential employers look at Facebook profiles these days, perhaps it’s time to hire some Facebook friends.

Full article in Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (PDF).

2 Notes

Up, up and down: the ephemerality and reality of the jetpack

Born out of sci-fi cinema, pulp literature and a general lust for launching ourselves into the wild blue yonder, the real-world Rocket Belt began to truly unfold once the military industrial complex opened up its wallet.

In the late 1950s, the US Army’s Transportation Research Command (TRECOM) was looking at ways to augment the mobility of foot soldiers and enable them to bypass minefields and other obstacles on the battleground by making long-range jumps. It put out a call to various aerospace companies looking for prototypes of a Small Rocket Lift Device (SRLD).

Bell Aerospace, which had built the sound-barrier-breaking X-1 aircraft for the Army Air Forces, managed to get the contract and Wendell Moore, a propulsion engineer at Bell became the technical lead.

The most viable design at Bell’s Buffalo, NY, facility was a hydrogen peroxide rocket-propulsion system, which offered a relatively stable fuel with no combustion. It was dubbed the Rocket Belt and was essentially a three-tank system mounted onto a fiberglass corset molded to fit the operator.

Full article on Engadget.

1 Notes

Time warp: Oscar nominees posing with their younger selves

Every Oscar night, the past comes alive through lifetime achievement awards, “in memoriam” segments and other Hollywood retrospectives.

But what if the past came alive, literally? Through the magic of Photoshop, People has sent 10 of 2014’s Oscar nominees back in time to chill with their younger selves.

Check it.

1 Notes

Your ancestors didn’t sleep like you: the myth of the eight-hour sleep
Following on from our article on the incredible importance of sleep for habits & motivation a few weeks ago, here’s some fascinating insight into sleeping habits pre-1800, from Roger Ekirch, professor of History at Virginia Tech -
Ekirch’s has found that we didn’t always sleep in one eight hour chunk; we used to sleep in two shorter periods, over a longer range of night. This range was about 12 hours long, and began with a sleep of three to four hours, wakefulness of two to three hours, then sleep again until morning.
References are scattered throughout literature, court documents, personal papers, and the ephemera of the past. What is surprising is not that people slept in two sessions, but that the concept was so incredibly common. Two-piece sleeping was the standard, accepted way to sleep.

"It’s not just the number of references – it is the way they refer to it, as if it was common knowledge."

An English doctor wrote, for example, that the ideal time for study and contemplation was between “first sleep” and “second sleep”. Chaucer tells of a character in the Canterbury Tales that goes to bed following her “firste sleep.” And, explaining the reason why working class conceived more children, a doctor from the 1500s reported that they typically had sex after their first sleep.
Ekirch’s book “At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past” is replete with such examples.
But just what did people do with these extra twilight hours? Pretty much what you might expect.
Most stayed in their beds and bedrooms, sometimes reading, and often they would use the time to pray. Religious manuals included special prayers to be said in the mid-sleep hours.
Others might smoke, talk with co-sleepers, or have sex. Some were more active and would leave to visit with neighbours.
As we know, this practice eventually died out. Ekirch attributes the change to the advent of street lighting and eventually electric indoor light, as well as the popularity of coffee houses. Author Craig Koslofsky offers a further theory in his book Evening’s Empire. With the rise of more street lighting, night stopped being the domain of criminals and sub-classes and became a time for work or socializing. Two sleeps were eventually considered a wasteful way to spend these hours.
No matter why the change happened, shortly after the turn of the 20th century the concept of two sleeps had vanished from common knowledge.
Full article on the BBC.
@ColonyClive is a regular contributor to Found Things.

Your ancestors didn’t sleep like you: the myth of the eight-hour sleep

Following on from our article on the incredible importance of sleep for habits & motivation a few weeks ago, here’s some fascinating insight into sleeping habits pre-1800, from Roger Ekirch, professor of History at Virginia Tech -

Ekirch’s has found that we didn’t always sleep in one eight hour chunk; we used to sleep in two shorter periods, over a longer range of night. This range was about 12 hours long, and began with a sleep of three to four hours, wakefulness of two to three hours, then sleep again until morning.

References are scattered throughout literature, court documents, personal papers, and the ephemera of the past. What is surprising is not that people slept in two sessions, but that the concept was so incredibly common. Two-piece sleeping was the standard, accepted way to sleep.

"It’s not just the number of references – it is the way they refer to it, as if it was common knowledge."

An English doctor wrote, for example, that the ideal time for study and contemplation was between “first sleep” and “second sleep”. Chaucer tells of a character in the Canterbury Tales that goes to bed following her “firste sleep.” And, explaining the reason why working class conceived more children, a doctor from the 1500s reported that they typically had sex after their first sleep.

Ekirch’s book “At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past” is replete with such examples.

But just what did people do with these extra twilight hours? Pretty much what you might expect.

Most stayed in their beds and bedrooms, sometimes reading, and often they would use the time to pray. Religious manuals included special prayers to be said in the mid-sleep hours.

Others might smoke, talk with co-sleepers, or have sex. Some were more active and would leave to visit with neighbours.

As we know, this practice eventually died out. Ekirch attributes the change to the advent of street lighting and eventually electric indoor light, as well as the popularity of coffee houses. Author Craig Koslofsky offers a further theory in his book Evening’s Empire. With the rise of more street lighting, night stopped being the domain of criminals and sub-classes and became a time for work or socializing. Two sleeps were eventually considered a wasteful way to spend these hours.

No matter why the change happened, shortly after the turn of the 20th century the concept of two sleeps had vanished from common knowledge.

Full article on the BBC.

@ColonyClive is a regular contributor to Found Things.

4 Notes

Delivering a dinosaur to the Boston Museum of Science, 1984
Not something you see everyday!

Delivering a dinosaur to the Boston Museum of Science, 1984

Not something you see everyday!

7 Notes

The secret life of miniature Batman

They say that real boys don’t grow up; their toys just get bigger. Well that’s not the case for everyone.

Take French photographer Rémi Noël, who’s been tripping throughout the state of Texas together with a miniature plastic Batman figurine as his only companion.

Noël has long been fascinated by the image of “timeless America” captured in the works of Jack Kerouac, Edward Hopper and Robert Frank. So Texas’s endless highways and neon-sign motels were the perfect setting for lonely Batman’s photo shoot.

"It’s a toy that I stole from my son one day when I was cleaning his room

“Since I go to the United States by myself, I take Batman with me to feel less alone. And I take him out – I set him up in scenarios.”

The caped crusader looks rather alienated from his usual 24/7 villain-beating self. Nostalgic gazes out the window and cravings for “Ranch Style” beans create that feeling of longing we’ve all experienced.

You can see more on the photographer’s site.

Notes

On the history & beauty of neon
Neon signs are one of those modern(ish) miracles that we take completely for granted, but they really are clever little things. Well, not always little. Massive, sometimes.
Piccadilly Circus or Times Square would be anonymous junctions without their vast swathes of shiny coloured lights, and the ubiquity of the neon light over the decades demonstrates just how versatile and well-liked they are.
The way they work is this: neon is an inert gas, a chemical element that exists within the Earth’s atmosphere, and when neon is sealed in a glass tube with a metal electrode at either end, you can chuck a handful of volts at the electrodes to ionize the gas, causing it to emit light by fluorescence.
Now, the natural colour of a neon light is red. So why do we so often see them in other colours? Painted glass? Clever tinting? No, it’s because other gases can be used to create different colours – mercury for blue, helium for yellow, carbon dioxide for white – when we talk about ‘neon lights’, it’s actually a pretty non-specific (and frequently inaccurate) term.

Neon itself was discovered in 1898 and, impressively, was pressed into the duty of creating light almost immediately - William Ramsay and Morris W. Travers, the discoverers, tested its properties in an electrical gas-discharge tube and were mesmerised by the crimson glow. By 1902, a chap named Georges Claude – often dubbed ‘the Edison of France’ – was experimenting with neon lighting at his Air Liquide facility, with the company producing industrial quantities of purified neon. In 1910, Claude erected two mighty red neon tubes at the Paris Motor Show and immediately had the world’s attention: people could suddenly see the commercial possibilities. He was quick to patent the tech in the US, and basically monopolised the industry over there through to the 1930s.
In 1913, Claude and his associate Jacques Fonseque developed a huge sign for Cinzano in Paris, which caused a few jaws to drop, but it was the US that really embraced the new tech with gusto…
In 1923, businessman Earle C. Anthony ordered two custom neon signs for his Packard dealership in Los Angeles. The Angelenos were so astonished by this heavenly glowing vision that the signs literally stopped traffic; indeed, police had to be drafted in to control the hysterical crowds. Presumably Anthony shifted a few extra Packards off the back of it too…
By 1931, the neon sign business in the US was worth $16.9m, in large part still controlled by Claude Neon Lights, Inc. However, Claude’s patent expired in ’32, opening the door to all manner of manufacturers and distributors – the 1930s really were the golden age of neon, with companies and advertisers experimenting with countless styles of signs – movement, fog, sound effects and scents were all tried with varying levels of success.
The US may be the spiritual home of the neon light, but the rest of the world have had their fun with it too. France will always be its true home, of course; one notable early example is that in 1925, André Citroën rented the Eiffel Tower and had it emblazoned from top to bottom with the ‘Citroën’ name in glorious neon.

It proved so popular that he kept doing it until 1934. And naturally there are the incredibly long-running signs of Piccadilly Circus – Coca Cola have been advertising there since 1954, McDonald’s replaced BASF in 1987, and TDK’s sign, installed in 1990, remained unchanged for twenty years before someone saw fit to remove the bit that said ‘audio & video tape’ and ‘floppy disks’ beneath the logo.
Incidentally, the site currently occupied by TDK was owned by Schweppes from 1920-61, then BP, followed by Cinzano, Fujifilm and Kodak. There even used to be a huge moving Guinness clock, artfully crafted from neon tubes.
My favourite neon sign, however, is altogether more subtle.
Forget Vegas Vic, the 40-foot high cowboy on the Pioneer Club in Las Vegas, or the Coppertone girl in Miami – I like the Lucozade sign on the M4. It’s on the side of a building in Brentford, visible to traffic travelling towards London. It was installed as a sort of ‘kinetic sculpture’ in 1954, and remained there until 2004 when it was given to the Gunnersbury Museum. Local residents were miffed at losing such an important icon of local history, so an identical sign was made up to replace it, and there it remains to this day.

Neon lights are quite retro now, of course. The enthusiasm for bending glass tubes into weird shapes really began to wane in the 1970s when it became more popular to employ fluorescent-lit plastic tubes, and the old signs are increasingly being replaced by LEDs today, which are considered less wasteful in terms of energy. All of which means, naturally, that vintage neon signs are true collectors’ items, reminiscent of a more excitable age.
So if you want to liven up your padded leather bar in the corner of your living room, you’d better go and pinch the Guinness lights from your local dive bar’s window, before the things die out entirely…
JuicyPips, direct from the mind of @denialvibes, is published weekly.

On the history & beauty of neon

Neon signs are one of those modern(ish) miracles that we take completely for granted, but they really are clever little things. Well, not always little. Massive, sometimes.

Piccadilly Circus or Times Square would be anonymous junctions without their vast swathes of shiny coloured lights, and the ubiquity of the neon light over the decades demonstrates just how versatile and well-liked they are.

The way they work is this: neon is an inert gas, a chemical element that exists within the Earth’s atmosphere, and when neon is sealed in a glass tube with a metal electrode at either end, you can chuck a handful of volts at the electrodes to ionize the gas, causing it to emit light by fluorescence.

Now, the natural colour of a neon light is red. So why do we so often see them in other colours? Painted glass? Clever tinting? No, it’s because other gases can be used to create different colours – mercury for blue, helium for yellow, carbon dioxide for white – when we talk about ‘neon lights’, it’s actually a pretty non-specific (and frequently inaccurate) term.

William Ramsay in his laboratory

Neon itself was discovered in 1898 and, impressively, was pressed into the duty of creating light almost immediately - William Ramsay and Morris W. Travers, the discoverers, tested its properties in an electrical gas-discharge tube and were mesmerised by the crimson glow. By 1902, a chap named Georges Claude – often dubbed ‘the Edison of France’ – was experimenting with neon lighting at his Air Liquide facility, with the company producing industrial quantities of purified neon. In 1910, Claude erected two mighty red neon tubes at the Paris Motor Show and immediately had the world’s attention: people could suddenly see the commercial possibilities. He was quick to patent the tech in the US, and basically monopolised the industry over there through to the 1930s.

In 1913, Claude and his associate Jacques Fonseque developed a huge sign for Cinzano in Paris, which caused a few jaws to drop, but it was the US that really embraced the new tech with gusto…

In 1923, businessman Earle C. Anthony ordered two custom neon signs for his Packard dealership in Los Angeles. The Angelenos were so astonished by this heavenly glowing vision that the signs literally stopped traffic; indeed, police had to be drafted in to control the hysterical crowds. Presumably Anthony shifted a few extra Packards off the back of it too…

By 1931, the neon sign business in the US was worth $16.9m, in large part still controlled by Claude Neon Lights, Inc. However, Claude’s patent expired in ’32, opening the door to all manner of manufacturers and distributors – the 1930s really were the golden age of neon, with companies and advertisers experimenting with countless styles of signs – movement, fog, sound effects and scents were all tried with varying levels of success.

The US may be the spiritual home of the neon light, but the rest of the world have had their fun with it too. France will always be its true home, of course; one notable early example is that in 1925, André Citroën rented the Eiffel Tower and had it emblazoned from top to bottom with the ‘Citroën’ name in glorious neon.

Citroen in neon on the Eiffel Tower

It proved so popular that he kept doing it until 1934. And naturally there are the incredibly long-running signs of Piccadilly Circus – Coca Cola have been advertising there since 1954, McDonald’s replaced BASF in 1987, and TDK’s sign, installed in 1990, remained unchanged for twenty years before someone saw fit to remove the bit that said ‘audio & video tape’ and ‘floppy disks’ beneath the logo.

Incidentally, the site currently occupied by TDK was owned by Schweppes from 1920-61, then BP, followed by Cinzano, Fujifilm and Kodak. There even used to be a huge moving Guinness clock, artfully crafted from neon tubes.

My favourite neon sign, however, is altogether more subtle.

Forget Vegas Vic, the 40-foot high cowboy on the Pioneer Club in Las Vegas, or the Coppertone girl in Miami – I like the Lucozade sign on the M4. It’s on the side of a building in Brentford, visible to traffic travelling towards London. It was installed as a sort of ‘kinetic sculpture’ in 1954, and remained there until 2004 when it was given to the Gunnersbury Museum. Local residents were miffed at losing such an important icon of local history, so an identical sign was made up to replace it, and there it remains to this day.

The Lucozade neon sign on the M4

Neon lights are quite retro now, of course. The enthusiasm for bending glass tubes into weird shapes really began to wane in the 1970s when it became more popular to employ fluorescent-lit plastic tubes, and the old signs are increasingly being replaced by LEDs today, which are considered less wasteful in terms of energy. All of which means, naturally, that vintage neon signs are true collectors’ items, reminiscent of a more excitable age.

So if you want to liven up your padded leather bar in the corner of your living room, you’d better go and pinch the Guinness lights from your local dive bar’s window, before the things die out entirely…

JuicyPips, direct from the mind of @denialvibes, is published weekly.

5 Notes

Pretty much the most justifiable selfie out there.
Way out there.
Source: imgur

Pretty much the most justifiable selfie out there.

Way out there.

Source: imgur

11 Notes

A star is born
If a tree falls in an Alpine forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? What happens when a star – a real one – is born in an Alpine forest? We all ought to start thinking about the latter because that’s exactly what scientists are doing in Saint-Paul-lès-Durance: they are creating a star in a bottle.
Thirty-five countries, representing more than half the world’s population, have invested billions of dollars into building a star-making machine. Few engineering feats can compare in scale, technical complexity or ambition.
Once completed, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER as this mammoth machine is called, will stand a hundred feet tall and weigh twenty-three thousand tons – that’s more than twice the weight of the Eiffel Tower.
If ever switched on, ITER will create a new energy source that could save the planet from catastrophe -

"Beams of uncharged particles - the energy in them so great it could vaporise a car in seconds - will pour into the chamber, adding tremendous heat. In this way, the circulating hydrogen will become ionised, and achieve temperatures exceeding two hundred million degrees Celsius - more than ten times as hot as the sun at its blazing core."

And it gets better according to The New Yorker -

"There isn’t a physical substance that could contain such a thing. Metals, plastics, ceramics, concrete, even pure diamond - all would be obliterated on contact, and so the machine will hold the superheated cloud in a ‘magnetic bottle’.
"Just feet from the reactor’s core, the magnets will be cooled to two hundred and sixty-nine degrees below zero, nearly the temperature of deep space. Caught in the grip of their titanic forces, the artificial earthbound sun will be suspended, under tremendous pressure, in the pristine nothingness of ITER’s vacuum interior."

Eventually, physicists hope commercial reactors modelled on ITER will be built too – generating terawatts of power with no carbon, virtually no pollution, and scant radioactive waste which would essentially solve the world’s energy problems for the next thirty million years…
Perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel after all?
Full report by @raffiwriter on The New Yorker.
@sallyhandroo is a regular contributor to Found Things.

A star is born

If a tree falls in an Alpine forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? What happens when a star – a real one – is born in an Alpine forest? We all ought to start thinking about the latter because that’s exactly what scientists are doing in Saint-Paul-lès-Durance: they are creating a star in a bottle.

Thirty-five countries, representing more than half the world’s population, have invested billions of dollars into building a star-making machine. Few engineering feats can compare in scale, technical complexity or ambition.

Once completed, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER as this mammoth machine is called, will stand a hundred feet tall and weigh twenty-three thousand tons – that’s more than twice the weight of the Eiffel Tower.

If ever switched on, ITER will create a new energy source that could save the planet from catastrophe -

"Beams of uncharged particles - the energy in them so great it could vaporise a car in seconds - will pour into the chamber, adding tremendous heat. In this way, the circulating hydrogen will become ionised, and achieve temperatures exceeding two hundred million degrees Celsius - more than ten times as hot as the sun at its blazing core."

And it gets better according to The New Yorker -

"There isn’t a physical substance that could contain such a thing. Metals, plastics, ceramics, concrete, even pure diamond - all would be obliterated on contact, and so the machine will hold the superheated cloud in a ‘magnetic bottle’.

"Just feet from the reactor’s core, the magnets will be cooled to two hundred and sixty-nine degrees below zero, nearly the temperature of deep space. Caught in the grip of their titanic forces, the artificial earthbound sun will be suspended, under tremendous pressure, in the pristine nothingness of ITER’s vacuum interior."

Eventually, physicists hope commercial reactors modelled on ITER will be built too – generating terawatts of power with no carbon, virtually no pollution, and scant radioactive waste which would essentially solve the world’s energy problems for the next thirty million years…

Perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel after all?

Full report by @raffiwriter on The New Yorker.

@sallyhandroo is a regular contributor to Found Things.

Notes

Ray Kurzweil on Google’s big plans for artificial intelligence
Ray Kurzweil, the technologist who’s spent his career advocating the Singularity, recently discussed his current work as a Director of Engineering at Google with The Guardian.
Google has big plans in the artificial-intelligence arena and recently acquired DeepMind, self-billed ‘cutting edge artificial intelligence company’ for $400 million. That’s in addition to snatching up all sorts of startups and research scientists devoted to everything from robotics to machine learning.
Thanks to the massive datasets generated by the world’s largest online search engine (and the infrastructure allowing that engine to run), those scientists could have enough information and computing power at their disposal to create networked devices capable of human-like thought.

"IBM’s Watson is a pretty weak reader on each page, but it read the 200m pages of Wikipedia. And basically what I’m doing at Google is to try to go beyond what Watson could do. To do it at Google scale. Which is to say to have the computer read tens of billions of pages."

Science fiction? Kurzweil’s predictions go much further still. He believes, for example, that a significant portion of people alive today could end up living forever, thanks to the ministrations of ultra-intelligent computers and beyond-cutting-edge medical technology.
Full article on The Guardian.

Ray Kurzweil on Google’s big plans for artificial intelligence

Ray Kurzweil, the technologist who’s spent his career advocating the Singularity, recently discussed his current work as a Director of Engineering at Google with The Guardian.

Google has big plans in the artificial-intelligence arena and recently acquired DeepMind, self-billed ‘cutting edge artificial intelligence company’ for $400 million. That’s in addition to snatching up all sorts of startups and research scientists devoted to everything from robotics to machine learning.

Thanks to the massive datasets generated by the world’s largest online search engine (and the infrastructure allowing that engine to run), those scientists could have enough information and computing power at their disposal to create networked devices capable of human-like thought.

"IBM’s Watson is a pretty weak reader on each page, but it read the 200m pages of Wikipedia. And basically what I’m doing at Google is to try to go beyond what Watson could do. To do it at Google scale. Which is to say to have the computer read tens of billions of pages."

Science fiction? Kurzweil’s predictions go much further still. He believes, for example, that a significant portion of people alive today could end up living forever, thanks to the ministrations of ultra-intelligent computers and beyond-cutting-edge medical technology.

Full article on The Guardian.