One hundred thousand white balloons and other links

Friday, 11 September, 2015

Here’s a selection of links I’ve looked at over the last week or two, that I haven’t incorporated into other write-ups here, since I’m doing things a little differently now.

One hundred thousand, an incredible number, of white balloons form Heartbeat, a cumulus cloud like installation, created by French artist and photographer Charles Pétillion, that is on show in London’s Covent Garden, until 27 September.

You can’t begin a sentence with a conjunction (I do it here all the time), and other grammar myths debunked, by Harvard linguist Steven Pinker:

Teachers instruct young students that it is incorrect to begin a sentence with a conjunction (and, because, but, or, so, also) because it helps keep them from writing in fragments, Pinker writes, but it’s a lie that adults don’t need to follow. Avoid writing an ugly “megasentence” full of connected independent clauses, and feel free to start a sentence with a conjunction.

New York City based photographer Aaron Pegg recently gathered this impressive collection of photos of empty London Underground stations. Sights like are sometimes to be seen when travelling on the system late in the evening. It can feel tad spooky.

The flyby of Pluto by NASA’s New Horizons space probe on 14 July seems a long time ago now, doesn’t it? So here’s an animation of the craft’s closet approach to the dwarf planet. Amazing. And don’t forget that data from the probe’s flyby will take over a year to finally reach us, so there’s still a lot to come yet.

The Joker, archvillain, and Batman’s nemesis right? Not according to one fan theory, that contends he was a force for good in Gotham City:

Before the Joker, Gotham was a mess. Entire sections of the city were closed off due to madness, organized crime ran rampant, and the majority of important city officials were wildly corrupt. The city even tolerated a renegade vigilante who ran around wearing a rubber suit (Okay, special armor and carbon fiber, but they don’t know that). Along comes the Joker and by the end of a very short time, almost all organized crime was eliminated, many corrupt officials were imprisoned or dead, and the city’s Vigilante even went into hiding for 8 years.

Photo by Christopher Herwig

Christopher Herwig took a road trip through countries that once made up the former Soviet Union, and, going by some of the photos he took, you’d be forgiven for thinking that no two USSR-era bus shelters were alike. Many more such images will feature in a book he has published on the subject.

I don’t know how many times I’ve watched 2001: A Space Odyssey now, but still I cannot make sense of the layout, or interior design of USS Discovery, the Jupiter bound spacecraft. How on earth did all those compartments and chambers all fit in with each other? Mystery solved, thanks to New Scientist, and a cut-away style painting by Oliver Rennert, of Discovery’s habitation sphere, that reveals all.

A 3.2-gigapixel digital camera, that will be the world’s largest once it is constructed, will reveal all sorts of detail of the night sky and the universe, when it becomes operational in about seven years. Apparently though 1500 high definition TV screens will be needed to view but one of its ultra high resolution images.

Bland, boring, urban design… does it really have an impact on our well being? Apparently so…

Behavioural effects of city street design have been reported before. In 2006, the Danish urbanist Jan Gehl observed that people walk more quickly in front of blank facades; compared with an open, active facade, people are less likely to pause or even turn their heads in such locations. They simply bear down and try to get through the unpleasant monotony of the street until they emerge on the other side, hopefully to find something more interesting.

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