April 11, 2015

Construction of the ESS, the European Spallation Source, has begun!

The town of Lund, in Sweden, is already home to a number of major scientific facilities, including one of the most advanced synchrotron X-ray sources, the MAX IV, scheduled for inauguration in 2016. Now Lund will also be the site of the world's most powerful neutron source, the €1.8 billion European Spallation Source (ESS).

Spallation is the process for producing neutrons by means of a particle accelerator and a heavy metal target. The ESS's 600-meter long linear accelerator will fire protons derived from hydrogen gas at a velocity just below the speed of light at a target made out of the metal tungsten.

The metal target absorbs the proton beam and transforms into fast neutrons. Which is basically just a really polite way of saying that the proton beam rips the target a new one which causes it to spill its guts all over the place, showering its environment with fast neutrons. To contain the extreme level of highly penetrating gamma and fast neutron radiation the target chamber is surrounded by a radiation shielding system, a 7000 ton sphere of steel. If that kind of talk doesn't get your heart racing I don't know what will! ;)

When the neutrons are slowed down they are, guided by beam lines, lead towards experimental stations where they allow us to see through matter on the smallest of scales. Because neutrons have no charge, they don't scatter on electrons and can penetrate deep into atoms and probe atomic nuclei directly, which is not possible with X-rays.

Two factors make neutrons especially interesting. With X-rays you only "see" the heavy elements, but with neutrons, which interact with light elements such as hydrogen and carbon, you can probe a wider range of materials, with applications in molecular biology, biomedical research, and even food science.

The second factor is that neutrons carry a magnetic moment. They interact with the magnetic moments of atoms and thus can assist researchers investigating materials like superconductors.

A big thanks to the more than a dozen European countries that are funding the project, especially Sweden and Denmark, the two biggest backers. If all goes well first light should be produced in 2019.



Jean-Léon Gérôme - torn between romantic idealism and historic realism

Jean-Léon Gérôme, born 1824 in France, was a master of the style now known as Academicism. His many paintings depicting historical scenes, Greek mythology, Orientalism, portraits and other subjects guarantee his name will live on for centuries to come. That being said, he's also responsible for more than a few stunning sculptural works.

Gérôme’s artistic career began in 1840 in Paris where he practiced his craft under Paul Delaroche's watchful eye. He accompanied Delaroche to Italy to continue his studies. Two years later he returned to Paris and attended the École des Beaux-Arts, entering the Prix de Rome competition in hopes of returning to Italy, but he failed to qualify for the final stage in 1846 because of his inadequate figure drawing. Consequently, Gérôme became obsessed with painting the perfect nude—an ambition he would harbor throughout his life.

In 1853, Gérôme moved to the Boîte à Thé, a group of studios in the Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, Paris. This would become a meeting place for other artists, writers and actors. George Sand entertained in the small theater of the studio the great artists of her time such as the composers Berlioz, Brahms and Rossini and the novelists Gautier and Turgenev. No doubt this was an environment conductive to the cross pollination of artistic ideas. Gérôme both inspired and was influenced by these greats.

He made his name rendering allegorical scenes from ancient Greece and Rome in exquisite detail, often incorporating neoclassical concepts. His breakthrough in France allowed him to travel the world and his many journeys proved to be a great inspiration, birthing a great deal of historical paintings. His visits to Northern Africa, Egypt in particular, made a lasting impression and he would return to it in his paintings ever after.

Although Gérôme is famous for his idealized depictions of reality, he achieved detail so vivid that his work, even though the scenes and people in them were larger than life, appeared to ring true. He perfected many of the techniques that realists would later employ and in many ways is responsible for the realist movement's birth as it took off in response to the exaggerated reality he had helped popularize. In 1902 he said; "Thanks to photography, Truth has at last left her well.". I for one am glad that Gérôme was born ahead of what might have been his time. He blurred the lines between the real and the fantastic most beautifully.

Jean-Léon Gérôme died in his atelier on 10 January 1904. He was found in front of a portrait of Rembrandt and close to his own painting "The Truth".

Juice Rap News - History is Happening

Giordano Nanni and Hugo Farrant have been broadcasting their satirical news show from a suburban backyard home-studio in Melbourne, Australia for quite a while now. Given how awesome their productions are it amazes me that they still aren't household names! I've shared some of their shows before but their latest creation just might be one of their best yet. ;)

"Today we travel into the pure world of sci-fi to investigate the much vaunted, mysterious potential future event known as 'The Singularity'. What will a machine consciousness mean for humanity? What are the ethical, political, military and philosophical implications of strong A.I.? And what would an AI sound like when spitting rhymes over a dope beat? All this and more shall be revealed in Rap News 28."

Net Neutrality [RAP NEWS 25]
The Energy Crisis - feat. Copernicus [RAP NEWS 22]
Big Brother is WWWatching You - feat. George Orwell [RAP NEWS 15]
"THE NEWS" - feat Sage Francis [RAP NEWS 21]

Hieronymus Bosch - Master of the monstrous

Around 1450 Hieronymus Bosch, born Jheronimus van Aken, was squeezed into being in the Duchy of Brabant, a state of the Holy Roman Empire, at the time part of the Burgundian Netherlands and near the end of his life part of the Habsburg Netherlands. Little is known of Bosch’s life or training. He left behind no letters or diaries. Neither is anything known of his personality or his thoughts on the meaning of his art.

What we do know is that in 1463, 4000 houses in his town of 's-Hertogenbosch were destroyed by a catastrophic fire, which the then approximately 13-year-old Bosch presumably witnessed. Perhaps this event provided the foundation for some of the hellish scenes he came up with? We can only guess.

Fewer than 25 paintings remain today that can be attributed to him. In the late sixteenth-century, Philip II of Spain acquired many of Bosch's paintings, including some probably commissioned and collected by Spaniards active in Bosch's hometown; as a result, the Prado Museum in Madrid now owns most of his best work including; The Adoration of the Magi, The Garden of Earthly Delights, the tabletop painting of The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things, the The Haywain Triptych and The Stone Operation.

His Garden of Earthly Delights is probably one of the most famous paintings ever created and it's easy to see why. 500 years after Bosch introduced it to the world, the explosively colored fantastical scene it depicts is no less remarkable. It grabs attention instantly and effortlessly holds it for within its frame there is so much going on that the harder you look, the more details you uncover.

Art historians and critics frequently interpret his painting as a didactic warning on the perils of life's temptations. However, the intricacy of its symbolism, particularly that of the central panel, has led to a wide range of scholarly interpretations over the centuries. Twentieth-century art historians are divided as to whether the triptych's central panel is a moral warning or a panorama of paradise lost.


Amazing how deeply you can miss a place you've never been

"The quality of a civilization is measured not by what it has to do, but by what it wants to do." -Bruce Murray

Killer songs stave off murder on the dancefloor

René Magritte - Lover of birds, hats, women and fishpeople

René François Ghislain Magritte, born 1898, was a Belgian surrealist artist. He became well known for a number of witty and thought-provoking images that fall under the umbrella of surrealism. His work is known for challenging observers' preconditioned perceptions of reality.

Little is known about Magritte's early life. In 1912, when he was just 13 years old, his mother committed suicide by drowning herself in the River Sambre. This was not her first attempt at taking her own life; she had made many over a number of years, driving her husband Léopold to lock her into her bedroom. One day she escaped, and was missing for days. Her body was later discovered a mile or so down the nearby river.

Supposedly, when his mother was found, her dress was covering her face, an image that has been suggested as the source of several of Magritte's paintings.

The paintings he produced during his early years were influenced by Futurism and by the figurative Cubism of Metzinger. It wasn't until 1926 that he made his first surreal painting, The Lost Jockey. He grew to be a close friend of André Breton, and became involved in the surrealist group of which he ended up being a leading member.

During the German occupation of Belgium in World War II he remained in Brussels, which led to a break with Breton. He briefly adopted a colorful, painterly style in 1943–44, an interlude known as his "Renoir Period", as a reaction to his feelings of alienation and abandonment that came with living in German-occupied Belgium.

In 1946, renouncing the violence and pessimism of his earlier work, he joined several other Belgian artists in signing the manifesto Surrealism in Full Sunlight. During 1947–48, Magritte's "Vache Period", he painted in a provocative and crude Fauve style. During this time, Magritte supported himself through the production of fake Picassos, Braques and Chiricos—a fraudulent repertoire he was later to expand into the printing of forged banknotes during the lean postwar period.

Popular interest in Magritte's work rose considerably in the 1960s, and his imagery has influenced pop, minimalist and conceptual art.

Magritte died of pancreatic cancer on 15 August 1967 in his own bed, aged 68, and was interred in Schaerbeek Cemetery, Evere, Brussels.

"If the dream is a translation of waking life, waking life is also a translation of the dream." -René Magritte

Nasa's keeping it cool, really cool

NASA's Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL), scheduled to be installed on the International Space Station early 2016, has succeeded in producing a state of matter known as a Bose-Einstein condensate, a key breakthrough for the instrument.

A Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) is a state of matter of a dilute gas of bosons cooled to temperatures very close to absolute zero. Under such conditions, a large fraction of the bosons occupy the lowest quantum state, at which point quantum effects become apparent on a macroscopic scale.

CAL researchers used lasers to optically cool rubidium atoms to temperatures almost a million times colder than that of the depths of space. The atoms were then magnetically trapped, and radio waves were used to cool the atoms 100 times lower. The radiofrequency radiation acts like a knife, slicing away the hottest atoms from the trap so that only the coldest remain.

The research is now at the point where this process can reliably create a Bose-Einstein condensate in just seconds.

CAL is designed to study ultra-cold quantum gases on the space station. In the station's microgravity environment, interaction times and temperatures as low as one picokelvin (one trillionth of one Kelvin) should be achievable. That's colder than anything known in nature, and the experiments with CAL could potentially create the coldest matter ever observed in the universe. These breakthrough temperatures unlock the potential to observe new quantum phenomena and test some of the most fundamental laws of physics.

ScienceCasts: The Coolest Spot in the Universe



Are chemputers about to mix things up?

The race to build machines that can synthesize any organic compound is heating up. Below you can find some very interesting snippets from a nature article on "robo-chemists" but you are better off reading the article in full. Note that the synthesis machines discussed are way more complex than ones currently in use or the more advanced chemprinters in development. The machines themselves would certainly be marvels of engineering but the hardest part will lie in the development of their brains, the software that would understand chemistry well enough to predict what'll work and what won't.


Organic chemists typically plan their work on paper, sketching hexagons and carbon chains on page after page as they think through the sequence of reactions they will need to make a given molecule. Then they try to follow that sequence by hand — painstakingly mixing, filtering and distilling, stitching together molecules as if they were embroidering quilts.

But a growing band of chemists is now trying to free the field from its artisanal roots by creating a device with the ability to fabricate any organic molecule automatically. “I would consider it entirely feasible to build a synthesis machine which could make any one of a billion defined small molecules on demand,” declares Richard Whitby, a chemist at the University of Southampton, UK.

A British project called Dial-a-Molecule is laying the groundwork. Led by Whitby, the £700,000 (US$1.2-million) project began in 2010 and currently runs until May 2015. So far, it has mostly focused on working out what components the machine would need, and building a collaboration of more than 450 researchers and 60 companies to help work on the idea.

Some reckon it would take decades to develop an automated chemist as adept as a human — but a less capable, although still useful, device could be a lot closer. “With adequate funding, five years and we're done,” says Bartosz Grzybowski, a chemist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, who has ambitious plans for a synthesis machine of his own.

Grzybowski has spent the past decade building a system called Chematica and designed it to take a holistic view of synthesis: it not only hunts for the best reaction to use at each step, but also considers the efficiency of every possible synthetic route as a whole. This means that a poor yield in one step can be counterbalanced by a succession of high-yielding reactions elsewhere in the sequence. “In 5 seconds we can screen 2 billion possible synthetic routes,” says Grzybowski.

When Grzybowski first unveiled the network behind Chematica in 2005 (ref. 3), “people said it was bullshit”, he laughs. But that changed in 2012, when he and his team published a trio of landmark papers showing Chematica in action. For example, the program discovered a slew of 'one pot' syntheses in which reagents could be thrown into a vessel one after the other, without all the troublesome separation and purification of products after each step. Chematica can also look up information about the cost of starting materials and estimate the labour involved in each reaction, allowing it to predict the cheapest route to a particular molecule. When Grzybowski's lab tested 51 cut-price syntheses suggested by Chematica5, it collectively trimmed costs by more than 45%.

As long as programmes like Chematica rely on databases of published studies, says Whitby, they will struggle to design reliable synthetic routes to unknown compounds. To build a synthesis machine, “we need to be able to predict when a reaction is going to work — but more importantly we need to be able to predict when it's going to fail”.

Unfortunately, those failures are rarely recorded in the literature. “We only publish the successes, a cleaned-up version of what happens in the lab,” says Whitby. “We also lose a lot of information: what really was the temperature, what was the stirring speed, how much solvent did you use?” One solution is to record those successes and failures using electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs), computer systems for logging raw experimental data that are widely used in industry but still rare in academia. “A lot of people ask, 'Who reads all these data?' The point is that machines use them — they can search the data,” explains Mat Todd, a chemist at the University of Sydney in Australia.

“If we really did know the history of every chemical reaction that had ever been done, we'd have amazing predictive capabilities,” says Todd. Many of those dreaming of a synthesis machine agree that widespread data harvesting will require a huge cultural shift. “That's absolutely the biggest barrier,”. “In chemistry, we don't have that culture of sharing, and I think it's got to change.”


Antony Gormley - Inner space everted and spaced out

Sir Antony Mark David Gormley, born in 1950, is a world-renowned British sculptor. Almost all his work takes the human body as its subject, with his own body, "the only part of the material world that he inhabits", used in many of them as the basis for the metal casts. His work attempts to treat the body not as an object but a place.

"The body is a language before language. When made still in sculpture it can be a witness to life and and it can talk about this time now."

"The body is a spaceship and an instrument of extreme subtlety, that communicates whether we recognize its communications consciously or not."

Gormley won the Turner Prize in 1994 with Field for the British Isles but is perhaps best known for his public sculpture Angel of the North and his spectacular transformation of Crosby Beach near Liverpool into "Another Place".

"The place made the piece." -Gormley

Personally I think his works are at their best when they are exhibited together in groups. You know that point where a word, if you endlessly keep repeating it, starts to lose its familiarity and meaning? His sculptures generate that same alienating feeling but for your concept of the human body. What makes it even better is that, while you are repeating your word, Gormley switches out a few letters but so slowly that you don't pick up on it... Ultimately you end up wondering why a block of concrete with holes in it looks so sad. Aftereffects of his show include a free rendition of "They Live" upon exit. ;)

"There's that idea of who we are and what we look like. Your physiognomy belongs to me more than you because I'm looking." -Gormley

It's perhaps not surprising that work exploring the limits at which forms can retain human qualities should bring to mind transhumanism but much of his work purposefully edges toward the futuristic. With names like Natural Selection, Hive, Critical Mass and Quantum Cloud, one could imagine all these shapes being expressions of a singular constantly changing entity.

"Well, bio-cybernetics: we can now be creative interventionists in the construction of transgenic life forms. Morphological transmission is part of my work." - Gormley



Zdzisław Beksiński - Master of arts so dark they require souls to bathe in light after exposure

Beksiński, born in 1929, was a Polish painter, photographer and sculptor. He studied architecture in Kraków, completing his studies in 1955, and started out working as a construction site supervisor immediately after. It didn't take him long to realize he hated that kind of work as he found himself more interested in what else he could create with site materials such as plaster, metal and wire. It's during this period that he also developed an interest in montage photography and painting.

Beksiński had no formal training as an artist. His paintings were mainly created using oil paint on hardboard panels which he personally prepared, although he also experimented with acrylic paints.

In the late 1960s, Beksiński entered what he himself called his "fantastic period", which lasted up to the mid-1980s. This is his best-known period, during which he created very disturbing images, showing a surrealistic, post-apocalyptic environment with very detailed scenes of death, decay, landscapes filled with skeletons, deformed figures and deserts. These paintings were quite detailed, painted with his trademark precision. At the time, Beksiński claimed, "I wish to paint in such a manner as if I were photographing dreams".

Beksiński was adamant that even he did not know the meaning of his artworks and was uninterested in possible interpretations; in keeping with this, he refused to provide titles for any of his drawings or paintings. Before moving to Warsaw in 1977, he burned a selection of his works in his own backyard, without leaving any documentation on them. He later claimed that some of those works were "too personal", while others were unsatisfactory, and he didn't want people to see them.

In the latter part of the 1990s, he discovered computers, the Internet, digital photography and photomanipulation, a medium that he focused on until his death.

The late 1990s were a very trying time for Beksiński. His wife, Zofia, died in 1998; a year later, on Christmas Eve 1999, his son Tomasz committed suicide. Beksiński discovered his son's body. Unable to come to terms with his son's death, he kept an envelope "For Tomek in case I kick the bucket" pinned to his wall.

On the 21st of February 2005, Beksiński was found murdered in his flat in Warsaw with 17 stab wounds on his body.

It's hard for me to say I like his work, it is after all nightmare fuel, but I can definitely appreciate the genius of it. If Dali and Giger ever would have made a baby together, I imagine their spawn would have produced work similar to Beksiński's. Even though most of his paintings depict tormented souls and surreal hellscapes, it's not all bad as even his darkest visions tend to make you feel for their subjects.

Most of his work can be found here; http://beksinski.dmochowskigallery.net/galeria_past.php

Zdzisław Beksiński

2014's Best Films

Top 10 2014
1. Under the Skin - review
2. Her
3. Interstellar
4. Only Lovers Left Alive
5. 12 Years a Slave
6. Guardians of the Galaxy
7. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
8. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
9. The Grand Budapest Hotel
10. Fury

11. Les Combattants
12. Nightcrawler
13. Zulu
14. A Most Wanted Man
15. Snowpiercer
16. Gone Girl
17. The Homesman
18. Mommy
19. Magic in the Moonlight
20. Tracks
21. X-Men: Days of the Future Past
22. Nymphomaniac
23. Une Nouvelle Amie
24. Boyhood
25. Dallas Buyers Club

If you ask me 2014 was one of the best years in film of all time! 2015 brings with it the return of many aging franchises but hopefully it too will have more than its fair share of yet unknown wholly original surprises up its sleeve. If it manages to deliver even half as many good flicks as 2014 I'd be more than happy. :)

Top 10 most anticipated 2015
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
2. Inherent Vice
3. Midnight Special
4. The Martian
5. Chappie
6. Avengers: Age of Ultron
7. Tomorrowland
8. Ex Machina
9. Birdman
10. Self/less

Some other noteworthy 2015 releases; Ant-Man, The Hateful Eight, Spectre, The Lobster, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Blackhat, Big Hero 6, Silence, Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Good Dinosaur, The Man From U.N.C.L.E, The Revenant, Mission:Impossible 5, Terminator: Genisys, The Fantastic Four, Pixels, Inside Out, Black Mass, The Imitation Game, Nailed, High-Rise, Pride and Prejudice and zombies, Absolutely Anything, Spielberg's Cold War Spy Thriller, Eye in the Sky, That’s What I’m Talking About, Far from the Madding Crowd, In the Heart of the Sea, Poltergeist, Still Alice, Unbroken, Jupiter Ascending, American Sniper, Force Majeure, Elle, Crimson Peak, Whiplash, Mortdecai, A Most Violent Year, Knight of Cups, Joy, The Salt of the Earth, While We're Young, Regression, The Visit, Selma, Macbeth, Big Eyes, Jane got a Gun, The Walk, Demolition, The Little Prince, Victor Frankenstein, Friday the 13th, The Sea of Trees, Furious 7, Foxcatcher, The Theory of Everything, The Jungle Book, Into the Woods, Grimsby, The Interview & The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

Cai Guo-Qiang - Firing the imagination with explosive art

Internationally lauded “explosives artist” Cai Guo-Qiang has already amassed some stunning stats: He may be the only artist in human history who has had some one billion people gaze simultaneously at one of his artworks. You read that right, one billion. I’m talking about the worldwide televised “fireworks sculpture” that Cai Guo-Qiang—China-born, living in America now—created for the opening of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. If you’re one of the few earthlings who hasn’t seen it, either live or online, here’s Cai’s description: “The explosion event consisted of a series of 29 giant footprint fireworks, one for each Olympiad, over the Beijing skyline, leading to the National Olympic Stadium. The 29 footprints were fired in succession, traveling a total distance of 15 kilometers, or 9.3 miles, within a period of 63 seconds.

Cai was born in 1957 in Quanzhou, Fujian Province, China. His father, Cai Ruiqin, was a calligrapher and traditional painter who worked in a bookstore. As a result, Cai Guo-Qiang was exposed early on to Western literature as well as traditional Chinese art forms.

“My father,” Cai says, “was a collector of rare books and manuscripts,” and an adept at the delicate art of calligraphy. But when the Cultural Revolution began in the mid-’60s, Mao Zedong turned his millions of subjects against anyone and any sign of intellectual or elite practices, including any art or literature that was not propaganda.

“Intellectuals” (meaning just about anyone who read, or even possessed, books) were beaten, jailed or murdered by mobs and all their works burned in pyres. “My father knew his books, scrolls and calligraphy were a time bomb in his house,” Cai recalls. So he began burning his precious collection in the basement. “He had to do it at night so that no one would know.”

Cai grew up in a setting where explosions were common, whether they were the result of cannon blasts or celebratory fireworks. He also “saw gunpowder used in both good ways and bad, in destruction and reconstruction”. It seems that Cai has channeled his experiences and memories through his numerous gunpowder drawings and explosion events.

By the time of the political explosion of Tiananmen Square in 1989, Cai had left China and was in Japan, where “I discovered Western physics and astrophysics.” And Hiroshima.

“Spiritual mediums,” he tells me, “channel between the material world and the unseen world to a certain degree similar to what art does.” And he sees his art serving as a similar kind of channel, linking ancient and modern, Eastern and Western sensibilities. Feng shui and quantum physics.

> Daytime fireworks - Cai Guoqiang
> 2005 Black Rainbow by Cai Guo-Qiang

2013's Best Films

Top 10 2013
1. The Congress
2. Gravity
3. Oblivion
4. Mud
5. Cloud Atlas
6. Don Jon
7. Elysium
8. The Iceman
9. Inside Llewyn Davis
10. Europa Report

11. Star Trek: Into Darkness
12. Riddick
13. Django Unchained
14. Borgman
15. Zero Dark Thirty
16. Man of Steel
17. Upstream Color
18. The Master
19. Thor: The Dark World
20. L'ecume des Jours
21. The Counselor
22. Flight
23. Seven Psychopaths
24. Trance
25. Ender's game

Note: Most of the oscar contenders have yet to hit theaters here so that's why you won't find heavy hitters like; 12 Years a Slave, Saving Mr. Banks, American Hustle, Nebraska, Dallas Buyers Club, All is Lost, August: Osage County, Fruitvale Station & Philomena

Top 10 most anticipated 2014
1. Voyage of Time
2. Interstellar
3. Transcendence
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
5. Her
6. Midnight Special
7. Godzilla
8. Inherent Vice
9. The Monuments Men
10. The Wolf of Wall Street

Some other noteworthy 2014 releases; Noah, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, Jupiter Ascending, Robocop, The Zero Theorem, Nymphomaniac, Jodorowsky's Dune, Snowpiercer, Oldboy, Poltergeist, Guardians of the Galaxy, Edge of Tomorrow, Knight of Cups, Ex Machina, Young Ones, Our Robot Overlords, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, I Origins, Chef, Jersey Boys, Autómata, Monsters: Dark Continent, The Labyrinth, The Signal, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Gone Girl, Parts Per Billion, Mad Max: Fury Road, Space Station 76, Passengers, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 300: Rise of an Empire, Under the Skin, Maleficent, Into the Woods, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Homefront, Big Eyes, Big Hero 6, The Giver, 47 Ronin, Anchorman 2, Birdman, Grace of Monaco, Far from the Madding Crowd, How to Catch a Monster, Jane got a Gun, Every Thing Will Be Fine, The Raid 2, Dumb and Dumber To, Predestination, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Divergent, Dracula Untold, The Maze Runner, A Most Wanted Man, I Frankenstein, The Lego Movie, Tusk, The Imitation Game, Fury, Unbroken, Frank, Before I Go to Sleep, Exodus, The Little Prince, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

April 10, 2015

If curiosity kills the cat, the solution is to pretend not to care.


Normally, you have to collect particles that come from the object to image it, says Anton Zeilinger, a physicist at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna who led the work. “Now, for the first time, you don’t have to do that."

One advantage of this imaging technique is that the two photons need not be of the same energy, Zeilinger says, meaning that the light that touches the object can be of a different colour than the light that is detected. For example, a quantum imager could probe delicate biological samples by sending low-energy photons through them while building up the image using visible-range photons and a conventional camera. (!)

According to the laws of quantum physics, if no one detects which path a photon took, the particle effectively has taken both routes, and a photon pair is created in each path at once, says Gabriela Barreto Lemos, a physicist at Austrian Academy of Sciences and a co-author on the latest paper.

In the first path, one photon in the pair passes through the object to be imaged, and the other does not. The photon that passed through the object is then recombined with its other ‘possible self’ — which travelled down the second path and not through the object — and is thrown away. The remaining photon from the second path is also reunited with itself from the first path and directed towards a camera, where it is used to build the image, despite having never interacted with the object.

The researchers imaged a cut-out of a cat, a few millimetres wide, as well as other shapes etched into silicon. The team probed the cat cut-out using a wavelength of light which they knew could not be detected by their camera. "That's important, it's the proof that it's working," says Zeilinger.


Information is central to quantum mechanics. In particular, quantum interference occurs only if there exists no information to distinguish between the superposed states. The mere possibility of obtaining information that could distinguish between overlapping states inhibits quantum interference. Here we introduce and experimentally demonstrate a quantum imaging concept based on induced coherence without induced emission.

The experiment is fundamentally different from previous quantum imaging techniques, such as interaction-free imaging or ghost imaging, because now the photons used to illuminate the object do not have to be detected at all and no coincidence detection is necessary. This enables the probe wavelength to be chosen in a range for which suitable detectors are not available. To illustrate this, we show images of objects that are either opaque or invisible to the detected photons.

Paper: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v512/n7515/full/nature13586.html

From 2014-08-31

2012's Best Films

Top 10 2012
1. Moonrise Kingdom
2. Shame
3. Prometheus
4. Take Shelter
5. Dans La Maison
6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
7. Argo
8. The Avengers
9. The Dark Knight Rises
10. Jagten

Note: Most of the oscar contenders have yet to hit theaters here so that's why you won't find heavy hitters like; The Master, Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln or Cloud Atlas on this list.

Top 10 most anticipated 2013
1. Gravity
2. Voyage of Time
3. Elysium
4. The Zero Theorem
5. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
6. Oblivion
7. Man of Steel
8. Her
9. Star Trek Into Darkness
10. Ender's Game

2013 is shaping up to be one hell of a year for sci-fi!

Some of the other big upcoming films of 2013; Pacific Rim, Evil Dead, The World's End, After Earth, World War Z, Iron Man 3, The Wolverine, Thor: The Dark Worlds, 300: Rise of An Empire, Mad Max: Fury Road, R.I.P.D, Riddick, Sin City: A Dame to Kill, Identity Thief, The Great Gatsby, Oldboy, Mama, John Dies at the End, Trance, Only God Forgives, The End of the World, Nymphomaniac, Movie 43, Twelve Years a Slave, Stoker, 47 Ronin, Side Effects, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Upside Down & Upstream Color

Francisco Goya - Crazy like a Genius

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes born in Spain in 1746 was a romantic painter regarded both as the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns.

Goya's evolution as a painter is one of the most remarkable in all of history. His early paintings such as the ones he produced as court painter to the Spanish Crown or the many magnificent portraits he made on commission for Spanish nobility are, compared to the work he put out later in life, different as night and day.

At age 14, Goya started his studies under the painter José Luzán. Around 1765, in his late twenties he designed some 42 patterns, many of which were used to decorate the bare stone walls of El Escorial and the Palacio Real del Pardo, the residences of the Spanish monarchs near Madrid. This brought his artistic talents to the attention of Spain's ruling families who later would give him access to the royal court.

During the 1780s, his circle of patrons included many of the kingdom's most notable people, including the Duke and Duchess of Osuna and even the King, Charles III, himself. It was the king who in 1786 gave him a salaried position as court painter. After the death of Charles III in 1788 and revolution in France in 1789, during the reign of Charles IV, Goya reached his peak of popularity with royalty.

His luck was not made to last. At some time between late 1792 and early 1793, a serious illness left Goya deaf, and he became withdrawn and introspective. Worse, French forces invaded Spain in 1808, leading to the Peninsular War of 1808–1814 which he documented in a series of 82 prints, known collectively as the Desastres de la Guerra, a masterpiece of studied ambiguity.

The horrors of war, the death of his wife, and the loss of his hearing made him shy away from the world. He isolated himself from others, locking himself in his home, and as he grew ever more pessimistic, so did his art grow darker and darker.

It was there, in his own home, that the then 75 year old Goya, alone and in mental and physical despair, created frightening and obscure paintings of insanity, madness, and fantasy. Most notably the so called black paintings, a series of 14 with intense, haunting themes, reflective of the artist's fear of insanity and his outlook on humanity. Several of these, including Saturn Devouring His Son, were painted directly onto the walls of his dining and sitting rooms.

Goya did not intend for the paintings to be exhibited, did not write of them, and likely never spoke of them.

Through his works he was both a commentator on and chronicler of his era. The subversive imaginative element in his art, as well as his bold handling of paint, provided a model for the work of artists of later generations, notably Manet, Picasso and Francis Bacon.


Simon Stålenhag - A past pregnant with the future

Stålenhag operates from the countryside just outside of Stockholm, Sweden. He's been involved with a lot of different projects, ranging from films, commercials and book covers to art directing and concepting for video games.

His images of a 1980s Sweden populated by fantastic machines and strange creatures spread across the internet like wildfire when he published them a couple of years ago and it's easy to see why. He has a unique talent that allows him to depict an unbelievable world in a believable way.

The world he created might be teeming with monstrous life and dangerous machines but for the people that live alongside them they seem to be nothing but a tedious part of everyday life. They are the backdrop against which normal human affairs play out. Where in our world we would scramble to capture these wonders on camera, the people in Stålenhag's are more likely to curse them for blocking the road or disturbing the piece during a picnic. His work just radiates a vibe that can only be described as casual.

Many of his images manage to get across bits and pieces of what a childhood spent among dinosaurs and advanced technological marvels would have been like. In fact, especially if you are a child of the 80s, you might even feel somewhat nostalgic for this past you've never been part of.


Denis Peterson breaks reality to bring you back to it

It might be hard to believe that the photos below are in fact paintings but they are. Denis Peterson was one of the first Photorealists to emerge in New York. He is widely acknowledged as the pioneer and primary architect of Hyperrealism, which was founded on the aesthetic principles of Photorealism. Peterson distinguished hyperrealism from photorealism by making meticulous changes to a work's depth of field, color, and composition in order to emphasize a socially conscious message about contemporary culture and politics.

Originally, his floor-to-ceiling sized paintings centered around a single figure, with his monochromatic subjects characteristically cropped to appear as enlarged black and white photographs. Later, he developed a diverse number of original painting series, such as multiple phone booths in New York City. Although not a professional photographer, he has relied on his own camera shots to maintain a consistency of composition and subject matter as reliable reference studies. Several years ago, Denis utilized photorealism as a visual medium through which to portray the unthinkable: genocides. As with his controversial painting series on homelessness, his work centered on the indefatigable human spirit rather than on political and economic crucibles.

"The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible." Arthur C. Clarke

Microsoft is in a superposition to change the world

MIT's technology review just published this excellent article on the state of Microsoft's mission to build a quantum computer. This one is definitely worth your time. Check it out in full here; http://www.technologyreview.com/photoessay/531606/microsofts-quantum-mechanics/

In 2012, physicists in the Netherlands announced a discovery in particle physics that started chatter about a Nobel Prize. Inside a tiny rod of semiconductor crystal chilled cooler than outer space, they had caught the first glimpse of a strange particle called the Majorana fermion, finally confirming a prediction made in 1937. It was an advance seemingly unrelated to the challenges of selling office productivity software or competing with Amazon in cloud computing, but Craig Mundie, then heading Microsoft’s technology and research strategy, was delighted. The abstruse discovery—partly underwritten by Microsoft—was crucial to a project at the company aimed at making it possible to build immensely powerful computers that crunch data using quantum physics. “It was a pivotal moment,” says Mundie. “This research was guiding us toward a way of realizing one of these systems.”


Microsoft has yet to even build a qubit. But in the kind of paradox that can be expected in the realm of quantum physics, it may also be closer than anyone else to making quantum computers practical. The company is developing a new kind of qubit, known as a topological qubit, based largely on that 2012 discovery in the Netherlands. There’s good reason to believe this design will be immune from the flakiness plaguing existing qubits. It will be better suited to mass production, too. “What we’re doing is analogous to setting out to make the first transistor,” says Peter Lee, Microsoft’s head of research.


In the next year or so, physics labs supported by Microsoft will begin testing crucial pieces of its qubit design, following a blueprint developed by an outdoorsy math genius. If those tests work out, a corporation widely thought to be stuck in computing’s past may unlock its future.

Stranger still: a physicist at the fabled but faded Bell Labs might get there first.

read on: http://www.technologyreview.com/photoessay/531606/microsofts-quantum-mechanics/

Chesley Bonestell - Out of this world art takes you over the moon

Chesley Bonestell, born in 1888, was an American painter, designer and illustrator. His paintings were a major influence on science fiction art and illustration, and he helped inspire the American space program. Along with the French astronomer-artist Lucien Rudaux, Bonestell was dubbed the "Father of Modern Space Art".

Together with Warren Straton Bonestell designed the art deco façade of the Chrysler Building as well as its distinctive eagles. During this same period, he designed the Plymouth Rock Memorial, the U.S. Supreme Court Building, the New York Central Building, Manhattan office and apartment buildings and several state capitols. His illustrations of the Golden Gate Bridge convinced the wealthy to build it.

In the late 1930s he moved to Hollywood, where he worked as a special effects artist, creating matte paintings for films, including The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942).

Bonestell then realized that he could combine what he had learned about camera angles, miniature modeling, and painting techniques with his lifelong interest in astronomy. The result was a series of paintings of Saturn as seen from several of its moons that was published in Life in 1944. Nothing like these had ever been seen before: they looked as though photographers had been sent into space.

Bonestell's last work in Hollywood was contributing special effects art and technical advice to the seminal science fiction films produced by George Pal, including Destination Moon, When Worlds Collide, The War of the Worlds and Conquest of Space, as well as Cat-Women of the Moon.

When Wernher von Braun organized a space flight symposium for Collier's, he invited Bonestell to illustrate his concepts for the future of spaceflight. For the first time, spaceflight was shown to be a matter of the near future. Von Braun and Bonestell showed that it could be accomplished with the technology then existing in the mid-1950s, and that the question was that of money and will. Coming as they did at the beginning of the Cold War and just before the sobering shock of the launch of Sputnik, the 1952–54 Collier's series, "Man Will Conquer Space Soon!", was instrumental in kick-starting America's space program.

In 1986, Bonestell died in Carmel, California, with an unfinished painting on his easel. His name lives on not only through his children but also as asteroid number 3129 and as a crater on Mars.

Max Ernst and his wild art that rampantly grows on you

Ernst, the German painter, sculptor, and poet was a prolific artist. He was one of the great pioneers of the Dada movement and Surrealism. He was born in Brühl, near Cologne, in 1891 as the third of nine children of a middle-class Catholic family. His father Philipp was a teacher of the deaf and an amateur painter, a devout Christian and a strict disciplinarian. He inspired in Max a penchant for defying authority, while his interest in painting and sketching in nature influenced Max to take up painting himself.

In 1909 Ernst enrolled in the University of Bonn, studying philosophy, art history, literature, psychology and psychiatry. He visited asylums and became fascinated with the art of the mentally ill patients. After he completed his studies in the summer, his life was interrupted by World War I. Ernst was drafted and served both on the Western and the Eastern front. Such was the devastating effect of the war on the artist that in his autobiography he referred to his time in the army thus: "On the first of August 1914 Max Ernst died. He was resurrected on the eleventh of November 1918."

Ernst was demobilized in 1918 and returned to Cologne. He soon married art history student Luise Straus, whom he had met in 1914. In 1919, Ernst visited Paul Klee in Munich and studied paintings by Giorgio de Chirico, which deeply impressed him. The same year, inspired partly by de Chirico and partly by studying mail-order catalogues, teaching-aide manuals, and similar sources, he produced his first collages (notably Fiat modes, a portfolio of lithographs), a technique which would come to dominate his artistic pursuits in the years to come.

Ernst's marriage to Luise was short-lived. In 1921 he met Paul Éluard, who became a close lifelong friend. A year later the two collaborated on Les malheurs des immortels. In 1922, unable to secure the necessary papers, Ernst entered France illegally and settled into a ménage à trois with Éluard and his wife Gala in Paris suburb Saint-Brice, leaving behind his wife and newly born son, Jimmy.

Although apparently accepting the ménage à trois at first, Éluard eventually became more concerned about the affair. In 1924 he abruptly left, first for Monaco, and then for Saigon, Vietnam. He soon asked his wife and Max Ernst to join him; both had to sell numerous paintings to finance the trip. After a brief time together in Saigon, the trio decided that Gala would remain with Paul. The Éluards returned to France in early September, while Ernst followed them some months later, after exploring more of South-East Asia.

Ernst developed a fascination with birds that was prevalent in his work. His alter ego in paintings, which he called Loplop, was a bird. He suggested that this alter-ego was an extension of himself stemming from an early confusion of birds and humans. He said that one night when he was young, he woke up and found that his beloved bird had died, and a few minutes later his father announced that his sister was born. Loplop often appeared in collages of other artists' work, such as Loplop presents André Breton. Ernst himself appeared in the 1930 film L'Âge d'Or, directed by self-identifying Surrealist Luis Buñuel.

In September 1939, the outbreak of World War II caused Ernst to be interned as an "undesirable foreigner" in Camp des Milles, near Aix-en-Provence, along with fellow surrealist, Hans Bellmer, who had recently emigrated to Paris. Thanks to the intercession of Paul Éluard and other friends he was released a few weeks later. Soon after the German occupation of France, he was arrested again, this time by the Gestapo, but managed to escape and flee to America with the help of Guggenheim and Fry. He left behind his lover, Leonora Carrington, and she suffered a major mental breakdown. Ernst and Guggenheim arrived in the United States in 1941 and were married the following year. Along with other artists and friends (Marcel Duchamp and Marc Chagall) who had fled from the war and lived in New York City, Ernst helped inspire the development of Abstract expressionism.

"The virtue of pride, which was once the beauty of mankind, has given place to that fount of ugliness, Christian humility." - Perhaps it should not surprise that he often referred to himself in the 3rd person. :) Ernst, a man larger than life, died at the age of 84 on 1 April 1976 in Paris.

Beautiful Chemistry

Beautiful Chemistry is a new collaboration between Tsinghua University Press and University of Science and Technology of China that seeks to make chemistry more accessible and interesting to the general public. Their first project was the creation of several short films that utilize a 4K UltraHD camera to capture a variety of striking chemical reactions without the usual clutter of test tubes, beakers or lab equipment.