A new study suggests that humans can subconsciously sense Earth's magnetic field. While this capability, called magnetoreception, is well known in birds and fish, there is now evidence that our brains are also sensitive to magnetic fields. The researchers from Caltech and the University of Tokyo measured the brainwaves of 26 participants who were exposed to magnetic fields that could be manipulated. Interestingly, the brainwaves were not affected by upward-pointing fields. From Science News:
Participants in this study, who all hailed from the Northern Hemisphere, should perceive downward-pointing magnetic fields as natural, whereas upward fields would constitute an anomaly, the researchers argue. Magnetoreceptive animals are known to shut off their internal compasses when encountering weird fields, such as those caused by lightning, which might lead the animals astray. Northern-born humans may similarly take their magnetic sense “offline” when faced with strange, upward-pointing fields...
Even accounting for which magnetic changes the brain picks up, researchers still don’t know what our minds might use that information for, (Caltech neurobiologist and geophysicist Joseph) Kirschvink says. Another lingering mystery is how, exactly, our brains detect Earth’s magnetic field. According to the researchers, the brain wave patterns uncovered in this study may be explained by sensory cells containing a magnetic mineral called magnetite, which has been found in magnetoreceptive trout as well as in the human brain.
"Transduction of the Geomagnetic Field as Evidenced from Alpha-band Activity in the Human Brain" (eNeuro)
"Evidence for a Human Geomagnetic Sense" (Caltech) Read the rest “Humans have a sixth sense for Earth's magnetic field”
Ponden Hall, a nine bedroom house in Stanbury, West Yorkshire, England, is considered to be the inspiration for Emily Bront?'s Wuthering Heights and sister Anne's Wildfell Hall. The Bront?s spent a great deal of time on the property in the early 1800s. Now it could be yours. Current owner and Bront? superfan Julie Akhurst and her husband have put it on the market for ￡1.25m. In their twenty years of ownership, they've completed a major, yet careful, renovation and opened it as a B&B for other Bront? geeks. From the Yorkshire Post
The most popular B&B room at Ponden Hall is the Earnshaw room. It features a tiny east gable window that exactly fits Emily Bront?’s description in Wuthering Heights of Cathy’s ghost scratching furiously at the glass trying to get in...
“We think that Emily based that scene on this room because old documents relating to the house describe a box bed in a room across from the library and you can see where it was bolted to the wall by the window. It is just how it is described in Wuthering Heights.
“Plus the date plaque above the main entrance identifies the hall as being rebuilt in 1801 and Emily’s story starts with that exact date,” says Julie who has had a replica box bed made for the room.
Read the rest “For sale: home that inspired Emily Bront?'s Wuthering Heights”
Michael Hearst, composer of the classic "Songs for Ice Cream Trucks" and author of the excellent Unusual Creatures, shares this delightful video of seemingly quite dangerous rides at Coney Island in the 1930s and 1940s.
These sanctioned affronts to safety remind me of the fun I had rolling around with my brothers in our station wagon's cargo area on long road trips.
Read the rest “Video of Coney Island rides from the 1930s and 1940s that would never fly today”
Pioneering psychonaut Ralph Metzner who co-led the seminal psychedelic research at Harvard University in the early 1960s with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) and co-authored The Psychedelic Experience, has died at age 82. (Above image, Metzner at left with Leary.) Through his life, Metzner helped a great many people through his psychotherapist practice, spoke frequently on eco-consciousness, and also composed visionary ballads.
Read the rest “Psychedelics pioneer Ralph Metzner, RIP”
"Consciousness is what allows us to be aware of both our surroundings and our own inner state." In the first of a three part video series, "Kruzgesagt - In a Nutshell" examines "how unaware things come aware." Stay tuned for theories of consciousness that of course may be as much about philosophy as they are neuroscience.
Read the rest “Where does consciousness come from?”
Dick Dale, the "King of the Surf Guitar," has died at age 81. RIP, maestro. Dale's pioneering sound was inspired by his Lebanese uncle who played the oud and taught his nephew the tarabaki, a goblet-shaped drum. Dale's 1961 instrumental "Let's Go Trippin'," recorded with his band The Del-Tones, sparked the vibrant surf rock scene that spawned the Beach Boys. Dale was shredding right up until his death. RIP, maestro. From The Guardian:
Born Richard Anthony Monsour in May 1937, Dale developed his distinctive sound by adding to instrumental rock influences from his Middle Eastern heritage, along with a “wet” reverb sound and his rapid alternative picking style.
In 2011, he told the Miami New Times that the hectic drumming of Gene Krupa, along with the “screams” of wild animals and the sound and sensation of being in the ocean inspired his sound.
Read the rest “Legendary surf rock guitarist Dick Dale, RIP”
Mysterious bundles of hair have been turning up on streets in Santa Barbara's Mesa neighborhood. It's not known yet if the hair is human, non-human animal, or synthetic. From KEYT:
We reached out to cosmetology workers and those who may have some insights into cultural traditions that involve these hair bundles, but there were no answers...
One resident said she saw some people dropping or throwing smaller ones out of a car window recently, but those are not the ones out there now.
One person on the Mesa saw a resident run into traffic this afternoon, grab one and disappear.
More at Mysterious Universe: "Mysterious Bundles of Hair Appear on California Streets"
Read the rest “Mysterious bundles of hair turning up on Santa Barbara streets”
The RaniPill is another syringe that you can swallow to deliver drugs to the bloodstream from the inside. It's triggered by an interesting and complex mechanism involving a chemical reaction that inflates a tiny polymer balloon to push the needle into the intestinal wall. Rani Therapeutics just completed a successful 20-person trial using a pill that shoots blanks. From IEEE Spectrum:
Read the rest “Curious robotic syringe-in-a-pill completes successful human trial”
Working from the outside in, the RaniPill consists of a special coating that protects the pill from the stomach’s acidic juices. Then, as the pill is pushed into the intestines and pH levels rise to about 6.5, the coating dissolves to reveal a deflated biocompatible polymer balloon.
Upon exposure to the intestinal environment, a tiny pinch point made of sugar inside the balloon dissolves, causing two chemicals trapped on either side of the pinch point to mix and produce carbon dioxide. That gas inflates the balloon, and the pressure of the inflating balloon pushes a dissolvable microneedle filled with a drug of choice into the wall of the intestines. Human intestines lack sharp pain receptors, so the micro-shot is painless.
The intestinal wall does, however, have lots and lots of blood vessels, so the drug is quickly taken up into the bloodstream, according to the company’s animal studies. The needle itself dissolves...
Participants passed the remnants of the balloon within 1-4 days.
(Founder Mir) Imran calls the device a robot though it has no electrical parts and no metal. “Even though it has no brains and no electronics, it [works through] an interplay between material science and the chemistry of the body,” says Imran.
I've had quite a few fun afternoons playing with dry ice from making spooky fog in the kitchen to exploding plastic bottles in the yard. But I've never had the opportunity to pour hot lava over dry ice. In this video, the lava is 1400 °C and the dry ice is -78C°. So cool! And hot!
Read the rest “Gooey, melty, sizzling, steamy fun with lava and dry ice”
Joan C Gratz's animated short "Mona Lisa Descending A Staircase" is a lovely and trippy 2D claymation of iconic artworks transforming one into another. After spending a decade on the piece, Gratz won the 1992 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Gratz called her animation technique "clay painting." From Educational Media Reviews Online:
Read the rest “"Mona Lisa Descending A Staircase," a wonderful claymation from 1992”
“Clay-painting” is a unique process that blends film and painting, and an innovation that garnered Joan Gratz’s Mona Lisa Descending A Staircase a 1992 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. In this true landmark of animation, numerous famous and iconic paintings from 20th century art are “reproduced as exactly as possible but the transitions between these paintings [are] used to communicate the relationship of artistic movements” as Gratz has stated. “In the clay painting technique, which I began developing in 1966, I work by painting directly before the camera, making changes to a single painting, shooting a frame, repainting and shooting, etc. In the end there is one painting with the process recorded on film, the product is the process.”
Birdpunk is the quite natural intersection of two subcultures, punk and birding. From a feature article by Steve Neumann in Audobon:
Read the rest “This is Birdpunk, the intersection of DIY, environmentalism, and birdwatching”
The overlap between birding and punk might seem strange to outsiders, but for birdpunks like Croasdale, the Do-It-Youself (DIY) values that shape punk living feed perfectly into low-frills activities such as birding. The DIY aesthetic and mentality is a core philosophy for punks, who thrive on independence and individualism. Their music bucks the profiteering industry of labels and promoters and travels over a homegrown network of venues and websites. The ethic also spills over to visual media, politics, economics, and social philosophy. Hospitality, trust, and authenticity are key traits in the community.
When you consider these principles, it’s clear why many punkers are drawn to birding and its rustic qualities. Or vice versa: why their early love of birds steers them straight into the throes of punk. It’s a two-way street that draws out the best of both worlds, forming a distinctive subculture that’s holistic, aware, and expressive...
Raquel Reyes, who lives in San Francisco... (had) always been interested in biology, but she credits her volunteer work at a wildlife hospital with making the discipline more personal. Similar to the others, Reyes discovered punk in her teens; she found self-esteem in a community where being a “weirdo” was a badge of honor.
“Mainstream views about punk culture characterize it as self-absorbed and nihilistic,” Reyes says, “but there are many sub-categories immersed in ecological concerns.” The rejection of capitalism and mainstream consumerism spurs the need for self-sufficiency and self-discovery, through sewing, carpentry, gardening, and, of course, birding.
After this weekend's snow in Chadron, Nebraska, Jason Blundell and his kids spent the afternoon sculpting a snow replica of their 1967 Ford Mustang GTA. Nebraska State Patrol Sgt. Mick Downing spotted the snow car and decided to have his own fun. From the Omaha World-Herald:
(Downing) drove by and recorded himself giving the sculpted car a pretend tow notice, then posted the video on the patrol’s social media channels...
Downing said he never did the paperwork for the tow notice. It wouldn’t have held up in court.
“If it would’ve been a real car,” he said, “it was parked just fine.”
Read the rest “Police officer gives pretend ticket to pretend car made from snow”
New York City's ARChive of Contemporary Music
(ARC) is a cultural treasure packed with actual treasures. Inside the walls of this not-for-profit private research library in TriBeCa are 3 million physical audio recordings, many on vinyl records. The ARC's founder, Bob George, is also a cultural treasure -- warm, obsessive, kind, committed, and a walking encyclopedia of popular music -- from obscure folk to the avant-garde. In recent years, Bob's been working closely with the Internet Archive to digitize many of the ARC's scarce 78s for broader access and, yes, preservation. Bob launched ARC in 1985 when his own record collection outgrew his apartment. Now the ARC needs help. They've launched a GoFundMe
to raise $100,000 to keep the ARC alive. From Rolling Stone
Read the rest “Save the ARC, the largest popular music library in the United States”
Far from the kind of crackpot hoarding that sometimes happens in cities, George’s archive has been supported by powerhouses in music and entertainment. It houses Keith Richards’ blues collection. Their current board is varied enough to include both Youssou N’Dour and Paul Simon (Lou Reed and David Bowie were both once members). It consulted for Tom Hanks on the making of That Thing You Do. It’s the go-to repository for album art for everything from Grammy exhibits to Taschen books...
George’s commitment is dogged. When Martin Scorsese wanted an obscure Italian song in Goodfellas, George roamed Little Italy humming the tune until someone recognized it (“You can solve every problem in New York if you just walk through it,” he says).
At a time when some in the city were scrubbing Keith Haring murals off subway platforms, George was welcoming every genre, including then-unpopular punk and hip-hop (among the archive’s greatest collection is a trove of punk 45s).
On July 16, 1945, US Army detonated the first nuclear weapon in New Mexico's Jornada del Muerto desert. Codenamed Trinity, the test was part of the Manhattan Project. Three weeks later, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From the Atom Central page about Trinity:
The bomb was detonated, producing an intense flash and a fireball that expanded to 600 meters in two seconds. The explosive power was equivalent to 18.6 kilotons of TNT. It grew to a height of more than 12 kilometers, boiling up in the shape of a mushroom. Forty seconds later, the blast of air from the bomb reached the observation bunkers, along with a long and deafening roar of sound.
About this footage:
Original Trinity Footage restoration includes removing dirt and scratches and minimizing some defects in the processing of the original negative. Three shots include a wide shot, a medium shot and a close up.
Previously: "Nuclear explosion porn: watch newly declassified 1950s-1960s nuke test films"
Read the rest “Watch incredible restored footage of the first nuclear bomb detonation”