Gigantic rings

January 26th, 2015

Staying on the theme of what a big universe it is, astronomers think they've spotted a planet with a seriously big ring system:

"The star is much too far away to observe the rings directly, but we could make a detailed model based on the rapid brightness variations in the star light passing through the ring system. If we could replace Saturn's rings with the rings around J1407b, they would be easily visible at night and be many times larger than the full moon."

Big rings

[Via More Words, Deeper Hole]

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Replacement stars

January 26th, 2015

If the Sun were replaced by some other stars.

Be sure to watch to the end when we get to see Polaris up close. It's a hell of a thing.

[Via kottke.org]

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Disgusting. (And the chestburster isn't helping.)

January 20th, 2015

I wonder if this is a sly attempt by Cadbury's social media team to remind us all that there are worse things than changing the type of chocolate.

(For the record, I'm ashamed to note that I completely failed to notice on my first view that that thing should really be a facehugger, not a chestburster.)

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Holy war

January 19th, 2015

[Via acb, commenting at MetaFilter]

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Soderbergh's 2001

January 14th, 2015

Steven Soderbergh has posted his edit of 2001: A Space Odyssey:

maybe this is what happens when you spend too much time with a movie: you start thinking about it when it's not around, and then you start wanting to touch it. i've been watching 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY regularly for four decades, but it wasn't until a few years ago i started thinking about touching it, and then over the holidays i decided to make my move. why now? I don't know. maybe i wasn't old enough to touch it until now. maybe i was too scared to touch it until now, because not only does the film not need my – or anyone else's – help, but if it's not THE most impressively imagined and sustained piece of visual art created in the 20th century, then it's tied for first. meaning IF i was finally going to touch it, i'd better have a bigger idea than just trimming or re-scoring.

Well, now I know what I'm watching this weekend.

[Via kottke.org]

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I call it the Moonbase Alpha treatment

January 13th, 2015

Super Planet Crash is a solar system simulator game that just proved what an asshole I'd be if I was in charge of the universe. There I was with my 10-planet system, chugging along nicely past the 300-year mark and I got bored and added a brown dwarf to the inner solar system.

The result:

Bye bye, Planet 10

Oh well, how many Earth-sized planets does a solar system need, really? Besides, just think how much more of the universe the inhabitants of Planet 10 will see this way (until the atmosphere freezes as they wander the interstellar depths.)

[Via APOD]

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The Internet of Shit

January 9th, 2015

Smart Pipe is a genuinely shitty idea.

[Via Schneier on Security

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If we had a solution, we wouldn't be bothering you with all these damn clues.

January 8th, 2015

18. Did we use the word "content" without quotes? We feel so dirty.

New Clues, from two of the authors of the original Cluetrain Manifesto. A mix of idealism, naiveté, and the odd CheapShot™. All in all, a hell of a lot of fun to read.1

  1. Even if it makes me feel old to realise that it's been almost sixteen years since the original.

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Majestic gaffe by anonymous MP

January 8th, 2015

[Via Extenuating Circumstances]

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Crescent Rhea Occults Crescent Saturn

January 7th, 2015

APOD: 2015 January 4 – Crescent Rhea Occults Crescent Saturn.

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11 Spectacular 3D Printer Failures

January 3rd, 2015

11 Spectacular 3D Printer Failures.

Me, I don't think this one was necessarily a failure…

The Thing?

Isn't that from the scene in John Carpenter's The Thing where the alien reveals itself after it's locked into the dogs' enclosure?

[Via LinkMachineGo!]

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An Untimorous Beastie

January 3rd, 2015

Over at Crooked Timber, Maria Farrell relates the tale of life with her 'hugely fluffy and dolphin-smiling Samoyed dog, Milo':

Before Ed and I had the dog's shit to talk about, I don't know how we ever whiled away the hours. Quality, texture, main ingredients, frequency and volume. There's a lot to discuss. In this way, I have, finally, become a little bit English. For a while, there, Milo's daily rhythm was primed perfectly to require a straining squat precisely as we passed the entrance to the local Tube station at the height of rush hour. This was around the time when he was ingesting rubber bands daily. (Any reader of online gripes about Royal Mail will know a key one is how postmen discard on footpaths the rubber bands that keep packets of letters together. Another is leaving the gate open so someone else's dog can shit in your front garden.) The highlight of Milo's shitting career, however, was the party lights. […]

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Alan Bennett's (un-)steaming pile of manure

December 29th, 2014

A lovely piece from Alan Bennett's 2014 diary, on popping round to the set of the film version of The Lady in the Van:

27 October. Late going round to the unit this morning to find them about to film the scene when manure was being delivered to No. 23 whereupon Miss S. came hurrying over to complain about the stench and to ask me to put a notice up to tell passers-by that the smell was from the manure not her.

Having done one take we are about to go again when it occurs to me that the manure, if fresh, would probably be steaming, as I seem to recall it doing at the time. While this is generally agreed, no one can think of a way of making the (rather straw-orientated) manure we are using steam convincingly. Dry ice won't do it and kettles of hot water prove too laborious. So in the end we go with it unsteaming, the net result of my intervention being that whereas previously everybody was happy with the shot now thanks to me it doesn't seem quite satisfactory.

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Low-flying aircraft should be very careful indeed

December 27th, 2014

You want a firework. This is a firework!

[Via MetaFilter]

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Craptastic Ladies bathroom art

December 27th, 2014

Holy crap!

(Yes, I'm pretty sure that's meant to be the United Nations HQ in New York.)

[Via @feelinglistless]

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Negligence and ingratitude

December 25th, 2014

A Tale of Momentum & Inertia.

[Via io9, via Extenuating Circumstances]

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Earth timelapses

December 25th, 2014

Alexander Gerst's Earth timelapses video is mesmerising. Watch it in full-screen mode on the biggest display you have: you won't regret it.

It's a beautiful video and well worth a look, but I did have just one small quibble when I first saw it…

Early in the video, I found myself getting frustrated that more than once we saw crew or supply vessels attached to the docking arm, with the arm moving to line them up to dock or undock. The thing was, each time the image would cut away to a different view before the capsule docked/undocked. Somehow it just didn't feel right to not get to see the full sequence. In fairness, I suppose the teasing build-up made it that much more gratifying towards the end when we finally got a shot of the docking arm moving a capsule into position and this time we stuck around long enough to see the capsule undock and move away from the ISS on the way back to Earth.

What I can't decide is whether Gerst was just being a savvy editor, deliberately including truncated docking sequences so as to build anticipation for the later full sequence? Or was I just being weird to have got so fixated on the docking sequences, whilst every other viewer would have been enjoying the gorgeous images of aurorae seen from above and nighttime lightning storms illuminating the land below them and clouds and cityscapes and so on?1

[Via MetaFilter]

  1. On second thoughts, don't answer that! I have a feeling that I know the answer.

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Tab Snooze

December 22nd, 2014

Tab Snooze is for Google Chrome only at the moment: I'll be very interested to see the Safari version.

Tabs are like ToDos in the browser.

Stop staring at tabs you can't deal with now. Tab Snooze lets you put off tabs until later and returns them to your browser automatically, so you can focus on what's important now.

Tab Snooze for Chrome

[Via One Thing Well]

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Dada Data

December 21st, 2014

The Internet of Paternalistic Things:

My stupid refrigerator thinks I'm pregnant.

I reached for my favorite IPA, but the refrigerator wouldn't let me take one from the biometrically authenticated alcohol bin. […]

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W.T.F?

December 17th, 2014

W.T.F?

(Sorry, I can't remember who pointed me towards this a few days ago.)

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