Google W*ve

May 29th, 2015

Kevin Marks:

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Rings

May 25th, 2015

Emily Lakdawalla's dive into the latest batch of images from the Cassini probe inspired her to generate a magnificent panorama across Saturn's rings (scroll down to the foot of the article.)

Saturn's rings (excerpt)

(For the record, this preview of one tiny segment doesn't begin to capture the scale or impact of the full image. Click on the preview if you doubt me…)

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Unintentional time-lapses

May 18th, 2015

A group of researchers from the University of Washington and Google have found a way to construct time-lapse video sequences from within the millions of photos to be found online:

First, we cluster 86 million photos into landmarks and popular viewpoints. Then, we sort the photos by date and warp each photo onto a common viewpoint. Finally, we stabilize the appearance of the sequence to compensate for lighting effects and minimize flicker.

The results are downright spectacular in some cases, and just plain odd in others.1

[Via kottke.org]

  1. Wait until right at the end, when the video gets to the Charging Bull statue from New York's Financial District. Why is it doing that, exactly?

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Carpe Atmospherum!

May 11th, 2015

How Spaceships Die:

Every spaceship eventually reaches the end of its life. […]

But a 50-foot-wide hole in the dirt in an alien world isn't the only way that spacecrafts reach their "end of mission." Some are brought home, some jet off into the inky blackness of interstellar space and others remain in orbit forever. When its time is up, here's a full list of ways a spaceship can die. […]

[Via LinkMachineGo!]

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Star Wars: The Binks Awakens

May 4th, 2015

Just a little something to give folks celebrating May 4th nightmares: Star Wars: The Binks Awakens

[Via Laughing Squid]

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I want to go on record as being against this.

May 4th, 2015

Scott Glenn talked with The Onion AV Club for their Random Roles feature, reeling off a stream of anecdotes about the many films he's been in and the people he's worked with. Like Ron Howard's firefighter drama, Backdraft:

Backdraft (1991) – "John 'Axe' Adcox," stunts

[…]

AVC: You actually have a stunt credit on [Backdraft.]

SG: I do. At one point, the stunt coordinator on that – a great stunt coordinator named Walter Scott – he and Ron came to me, and Ron said, "How do you feel about being set on fire?" And I said, "Not great. Why?" [Laughs.] And he said, "Well, this is the deal: We want to hang you about 75 feet up in the air, and we want to light fire below you in this scene, and we want to set the bottom part of your body on fire, and with harness and cables, it'll look like Kurt Russell is hanging from a beam, holding you." It's where I say, "Let me go," and he says, "You go, we go." And Ron said, "The only way I can really sell this shot is to shoot down over Kurt's shoulder, onto you looking up into the camera, hanging there, on fire. And I can't figure out any other way to do it that powerfully with a stunt double." And Walter said, "I want to go on record as being against this. You never set a principal actor on fire, and fire is unpredictable, and blah, blah, blah." But I did it. They say God looks after kids and idiots, and I think actors are probably a combination of the two.

Firestorm (1998) – "Wynt"

AVC: So after enduring all you did on Backdraft, what made you want to do Firestorm?

SG: A lot of money.

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No scrith required

May 2nd, 2015

What's the Most Realistic Artificial Gravity in Sci-Fi?

Babylon 5 was robbed! Robbed, I tell you!

[Via Laughing Squid]

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Listen to Wikipedia

April 26th, 2015

Listening to Wikipedia is oddly soothing.

[Via Memex 1.1]

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Un-Useless

April 24th, 2015

How the selfie stick was invented twice:

The selfie stick was invented twice, two decades apart, by men on opposite sides of the world – and both times it was the result of problems experienced on a European holiday. […]

[Via notes.husk.org]

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Maximally not-sexy

April 20th, 2015

Somehow a panel discussion at Eastercon 2015 about sexy vampires prompted Charlie Stross to share this delightful bit of natural history with his fellow panel members and their audience:

[…] if you want maximally not-sexy, it's hard to top Placobdelloides jaegerskioeldi, the Hippo Arse Leech.

The Hippo Arse Leech is a leech; it sucks blood. Like most leeches, its mouth parts aren't really up to drilling through the armour-tough skin of a hippopotamus, so it seeks out an exposed surface with a much more porous barrier separating it from the juicy red stuff: the lining of the hippo rectum. When arse leeches find somewhere to feed, in due course happy fun times ensue—for hermaphrodite values of happy fun times that involve traumatic insemination. Once pregnant, the leeches allow themselves to be expelled by the hippo (it's noteworthy that hippopotami spin their tails when they defecate, to sling the crap as far away as possible—possibly because the leeches itch—we're into self-propelled-hemorrhoids-with-teeth territory here), whereupon in the due fullness of time they find another hippo, force their way through it's arse crack, and find somewhere to chow down. Oh, did I mention that this delightful critter nurtures its young? Yep, the mother feeds her brood until they're mature enough to find a hippo of their own. (Guess what she feeds them with.)

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