Musicians who die at 27, is there a connection other than age?

Wednesday, 28 May, 2014

Kurt Cobain, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Amy Winehouse, are among rock musicians who died at age twenty-seven.

It may be an unfortunate instance of chance, though many people could be forgiven for wondering if there was a connection of some sort, or that there was something about being that age. Zachary Stockill, writing for PolicyMic, finds there were some similarities in the way these musicians lived, that may have contributed to their deaths at such a young age:

There’s a strange trend in the club members’ relationships, too. Pain attracts pain, and drug abusing musicians often attract, either willfully or not, other drug users into their lives. Most members of the 27 Club were romantically involved with other drug users at the time of their death. Jim Morrison’s girlfriend lied to police when her boyfriend died as a means of covering up her own drug abuse, adding to already-intense speculation surrounding the demise of the Doors frontman.

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And all roads shall lead to London

Friday, 23 May, 2014

An animation charting the development of road ways through the British capital from the time the Romans arrived there, almost two thousand years ago – during which period the bustling town was home to some thirty thousand inhabitants – through to the present day.

Actually there’s a lot can be learned about London’s past from the way its roads evolved.

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Not what you thought? The reason the “Mona Lisa” is so popular

Thursday, 15 May, 2014

You haven’t lived until you’ve stood before Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic sixteenth century “Mona Lisa” painting in The Louvre. Of course there’ll be a couple of hundred people between you and the much revered portrait, but there’s little you can do about that, settling for a back of the room view is, after all, part of the viewing experience.

What exactly gives the painting its allure though? Those eyes that seem to follow your every move? Not really. The fact it is the work of one of the world’s best known polymaths? Again, no. It is the brazen 1911 theft that appears to have sparked our enduring obsession with the picture:

In the 1850s, Leonardo da Vinci was considered no match for giants of Renaissance art like Titian and Raphael, whose works were worth almost ten times as much as the “Mona Lisa”. It was only in the 20th century that Leonardo’s portrait of his patron’s wife rocketed to the number-one spot. What propelled it there wasn’t a scholarly re-evaluation, but a burglary. In 1911 a maintenance worker at the Louvre walked out of the museum with the “Mona Lisa” hidden under his smock. Parisians were aghast at the theft of a painting to which, until then, they had paid little attention. When the museum reopened, people queued to see the gap where the “Mona Lisa” had once hung in a way they had never done for the painting itself.

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Maps of the Middle East, from the distant past to the present

Tuesday, 13 May, 2014

Forty maps of the Middle East as it was in the past, as it today, and as some states and regions may possibly look in the not too distant future.

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The medieval colour guide book

Monday, 12 May, 2014

Colour guide book page 1692

Published/printed in 1692, almost entirely by hand, the little known of “Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau”, featured every colour that could be imagined, in a certain format many of us have only become familiar with in recent decades.

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Trace where your ancestors were living… one thousand years ago

Monday, 12 May, 2014

I’m not sure how many people can trace their family trees, or genealogy, back one thousand years, or more, but it may be possible to find out where your ancestors were residing a millennium ago, if a “Geographic Population Structure”, or DNA GPS tool, developed by Australian and British researchers, is all that it claims to be:

The GPS reads something called your “genetic admixture,” which is a reading of how many different gene pools you carry in your DNA (specifically, in this case, in your autosomal chromosomes). The GPS knows over 100,00 of these ancestry-informative markers that are specific to particular geographic regions, and can tell where you’re from based on what mixture you have.

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The multiverse, a positively medieval idea

Thursday, 8 May, 2014

The notion that the universe is but one of many, and therefore – possibly – part of a multiverse, is not that a new of an idea.

Robert Grosseteste, an English scientist, philosopher, and mathematician, working in the first half the thirteenth century, thought such an entity, consisting of numerous spheres, as he called them, might account for gaps in what was, at the time, known of the cosmos.

Among their findings was that the nature of Grosseteste’s cosmos is extremely sensitive to changes in four parameters that are implicit in his work: the intensity of the initial lux explosion, how strongly light and matter are coupled, and both the opacity of imperfect matter and transparency of perfect matter. Only a small set of these parameters resulted in the “ordered” medieval universe Grosseteste sought to explain; most resulted either in no spheres being created or a “disordered” cosmos of numerous spheres. Grosseteste, then, had created a medieval “multiverse”.

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What are the five great works of software?

Thursday, 8 May, 2014

What do Microsoft Office, Photoshop, Pac-Man, Unix, and Emacs, have in common? They are, according to New York based writer and programmer Paul Ford, all great works of software:

So I set myself the task of picking five great works of software. The criteria were simple: How long had it been around? Did people directly interact with it every day? Did people use it to do something meaningful?

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In case we ever forget, relics of technology photographed

Monday, 5 May, 2014

Last September I linked to a collection of work by US photography Jim Golden where he had taken sales catalogue style pictures of the bits and pieces accrued by hoarders.

His latest project, Relics of Technology, features pictures of the likes of slide projectors, early mobile phones, floppy discs, and punch cards, and, for added authenticity, also includes a couple of animations of said devices in action. Useful, I imagine, for those who came along after the heyday of such equipment.

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Andy Warhol as a digital artist? You bet…

Thursday, 1 May, 2014

digital artwork by Andy Warhol

US pop artist Andy Warhol was quite the digital artist, though at the time he was working with the medium, graphics editing applications, such as Photoshop, were a little thin on the ground.

Nonetheless, working with a Commodore Amiga, Warhol turned out some impressive, experimental pieces, that were intended to showcase the graphics creation features of the Amiga computers.

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