I miss the fog down in Tokyo

Wednesday, 4 March, 2015

Tokyo under a blanket of thick fog… aesthetically pleasing, if nothing else, that’s for sure.

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University students prefer paper books over electronic it seems

Wednesday, 4 March, 2015

The cause of the paper book is not entirely lost it seems. University students, in the US at least, appear to have a preference for paper, rather than electronic books, and cite comprehension as a significant factor. While people reading electronic documents will often skim over the text, they tend to read print material a little more carefully.

Readers tend to skim on screens, distraction is inevitable and comprehension suffers. In years of surveys, Baron asked students what they liked least about reading in print. Her favorite response: “It takes me longer because I read more carefully.”

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Want to really get away from it all? Photos of remote camp sites

Wednesday, 4 March, 2015

Photo by Karol Nienartowicz

I’m looking forward to a week off later this month, but I’m certain I’ll not be getting as far away from it all as Polish mountain photographer Karol Nienartowicz does. His travels have seen him amass an impressive collection of landscape photos, and, as you will notice, he has often camped at many of the places he photographs.

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How does Stephen Hawking continue defying his ALS prognosis?

Wednesday, 4 March, 2015

British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, at the age of 21, and was expected to live no longer than two to five years. At age 72 though, he is still very much with us. And while some sufferers may live for a couple of decades, Hawking’s situation has left many people baffled:

So what makes Hawking different from the rest? Just luck? Or has the transcendent nature of his intellect somehow stalled what seemed an imminent fate? No one’s quite sure. Even Hawking himself, who can expound at length on the mechanics that govern the universe, is circumspect when it comes to an accomplishment that rivals his academic triumphs. “Maybe my variety [of ALS] is due to bad absorption of vitamins,” he said.

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The head mounted pinhole camera for taking selfies back in the day

Tuesday, 3 March, 2015

Pinhole selfie camera, by Ignas Kutavicius

People who take selfies, especially those who do so often, have much to be thankful for. Consider digital and smartphone cameras, for starters. And where, it must be asked, would we be without selfie sticks?

But what if you had a hankering for taking photos of yourself in the early days of photography, when the photographic process was far slower, and more cumbersome, than it is today? How could you possibly obtain an image of yourself, to post on an early twentieth century version of Instagram, for example?

Lithuanian photographer Ignas Kutavicius gave the problem some thought, and devised a pinhole camera that is attached to a mount that the selfie photo taker fits on their head, as if they were wearing a hat, and as you can see, the resulting images aren’t half bad either.

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So much for “doctor” and patient confidentiality online…

Tuesday, 3 March, 2015

Are you hitting the search engines looking for information about an illness you’ve – erroneously more than likely – diagnosed yourself with, based on material you’ve discovered by way of the same search engines?

It might be an idea to stop, and not just because you may have misinformed yourself, but on account of the apparent levels of surveillance such look-ups are subject to:

But an astonishing number of the pages we visit to learn about private health concerns – confidentially, we assume – are tracking our queries, sending the sensitive data to third party corporations, even shipping the information directly to the same brokers who monitor our credit scores. It’s happening for profit, for an “improved user experience,” and because developers have flocked to “free” plugins and tools provided by data-vacuuming companies.

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Justyna Kopania’s striking seascape artworks

Tuesday, 3 March, 2015

Painting by Justyna Kopania

A collection of striking oil paintings, depicting sail ships, by Warsaw based artist Justyna Kopania, evoke thoughts of a by-gone age.

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A catalogue of space probes in flight

Tuesday, 3 March, 2015

With Pluto bound space probe New Horizons rapidly approaching its destination, and who knows, about to turn all we know of the solar system’s best known dwarf planet on its head, Spaceprob.es allows us to check in on the numerous other active craft that are trawling interplanetary and interstellar space, on our behalf.

Leading the charge is Voyager 1, at a distance of almost twenty billion kilometres, or eighteen hours and seven minutes light travel time, from Earth, while the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is virtually above our heads, some 372,000 kilometres away.

By the way, if you’re interested in checking out Voyager 1’s approximate location in the night sky, give or take a few light minutes, here are some directions.

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RIP Mr Spock

Monday, 2 March, 2015

Leonard Nimoy as Mr Spock

Sad news this, the passing of Leonard Nimoy, or Mr Spock, of the popular “Star Trek” TV show and movie series, last Friday.

I’ve always been inspired by some of the show’s best known phrases, “to boldly go where no one has gone before”, even if I haven’t really gone anywhere at all, and “live long and prosper”. The galaxy is an emptier place without you Spock.

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Was Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack from “Titanic” a time traveller?

Monday, 2 March, 2015

Last week I linked to a theory that popular TV show character Homer Simpson has been in a coma for decades, this week comes an idea, by way of a fan, that Jack, who was portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio, in James Cameron’s 1997 epic Titanic, was a time traveller, on a mission to help Rose (Kate Winslet).

He mentions fishing at Lake Wissota – a man-made lake that was built in 1917, five years after the Titanic sank.

What can I say? You’ll never see the story the same way again…

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