The highest-priced painting in history is Jackson Pollock’s swirlingly abstract No 5, 1948, which sold in 2006 for $140m. Tycoons and emirs covet avant garde architects. James Joyce’s Ulysses inspires worldwide drinking parties every 16 June.
Once, these cultural untouchables were dismissed as charlatans merchants of the “emperor’s new clothes”, to employ a phrase that remains commonplace among unappreciative concertgoers. A New York Times editorial threw a “new clothes” insult at Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase when it showed in 1913. The same conceit was trotted out in 1946 by a commentator who perceived no difference between a Picasso and a child’s drawing. TS Eliot’s The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock was cited for its “incoherent banalities”. These days, you would draw puzzled stares if you announced at a dinner party that Pollock is a crock. But if you said the same of John Cage, you might get no argument.
The holidays may be driving video game console sales, but apparently so is the military. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has strung together 1,760 PlayStation 3 gaming systems to create what its calling the fastest interactive computer system in the entire DoD, capable of executing 500 trillion floating point operations per second.
Known as the Condor Cluster, the array also packs 168 GPUs and 84 servers to direct traffic within the system, allowing all that power to work in parallel. At a total cost of about $2 million, the AFRL estimates the cluster costs something like five to 10 percent of equivalent computers built from scratch. It also consumes just 10 percent of the power.
An issue of Life magazine published on July 23, 1945 includes an article about a secret weapon proposed by some Nazi scientists toward the end of World War II. It was a huge mirror that, if placed in orbit, would focus sunlight on enemy nations and burn them
6. Weird News of the Week: Car crashing into barbershop doesn’t stop haircut
A barber in Alaska would have been forgiven for stopping what he was doing when a SUV smashed through the window of his barbershop.
But while Han Song simply paused to check the driver of the car was okay, he then continued to finish his haircut.
8. Quote of the Week: [Printers] fill the world with pamphlets and books that are foolish, ignorant, malignant, libelous, mad, impious and subversive; and such is the flood that even things that might have done some good lose all their goodness. Renaissance humanist Desiderius Erasmus, writing in the early 16th century .
Whether your roommate is Samantha Sleeps-Around or Paul the Prude, cut him or her some slack: People’s predilections for promiscuity lie partially in their DNA, according to a new study.
A particular version of a dopamine receptor gene called DRD4 is linked to people’s tendency toward both infidelity and uncommitted one-night stands, the researchers reported Nov. 30 in the online open-access journal PloS One.
The same gene has already been linked to alcoholism and gambling addiction, as well as less destructive thrills like a love of horror films. One study linked the gene to an openness to new social situations, which in turn correlated with political liberalism.
10. Fact of the Week: The Lifespan of a Gun Barrel Is about Six Seconds
12. Image of the Week: San Francisco’s Steep Hills
Håkan Dahlström got this delightful shot of one of San Francisco’s steeper hills, turning his camera so that the road (and not the houses) were at level to convey the extent of the slope.
Reporting from Sacramento Contraband cellphones are becoming so prevalent in California prisons that guards can’t keep them out of the hands of the most notorious and violent inmates: Even Charles Manson, orchestrator of one of the most notorious killing rampages in U.S. history, was caught with an LG flip phone under his prison mattress.
Manson made calls and sent text messages to people in California, New Jersey, Florida and British Columbia before officers discovered the phone, said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections.
Asked whether Manson had used the device to direct anyone to commit a crime or to leave a threatening message, Thornton said, “I don’t know, but it’s troubling that he had a cellphone since he’s a person who got other people to murder on his behalf.”
15. Old White Guys and Hot Peppers (Part I) The world’s hottest chilli comes from a tiny greenhouse in greenhouse in England
It is so hot weapons experts plan to use a couple in a spice bomb to incapacitate enemy soldiers on the battlefield.
But the worlds hottest chilli does not hail from India, Thailand or Mexico but from a small greenhouse in Cumbria.
It was created by crossing three of the hottest varieties of chilli pods known to man.
16. Old White Guys and Hot Peppers (Part II)
17. Infographic of the Week: School and technology: by the numbers
If you toss single atoms of each element into a box, they wont form a super-molecule containing one of everything, explains Mark Tuckerman, a theoretical chemist at New York University. Atoms consist of a nucleus of neutrons and protons with a set number of electrons zooming around them. Molecules form when atoms electron orbitals overlap and effectively hold the atoms together. What you get when you mix all your atoms, Tuckerman says, will be influenced by whats close to what.
Young people who are overexposed to antibacterial soaps containing triclosan may suffer more allergies, and exposure to higher levels of Bisphenol A among adults may negatively influence the immune system, a new University of Michigan School of Public Health study suggests.
Triclosan is a chemical compound widely used in products such as antibacterial soaps, toothpaste, pens, diaper bags and medical devices. Bisphenol A (BPA) is found in many plastics and, for example, as a protective lining in food cans. Both of these chemicals are in a class of environmental toxicants called endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs), which are believed to negatively impact human health by mimicking or affecting hormones.
Using data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, U-M researchers compared urinary BPA and triclosan with cytomegalovirus (CMV) antibody levels and diagnosis of allergies or hay fever in a sample of U.S. adults and children over age 6. Allergy and hay fever diagnosis and CMV antibodies were used as two separate markers of immune alterations.
22. HistoricalLOL of the Week
The information revolution, we used to hear, would break the shackles of geography and make cities irrelevant. Thanks to e-mail, the Internet, and an ever-widening array of technological devices, you would be able to work just as effectively in South Podunk as in the Big Apple. A new, post-metropolitan era would open in which creative and flexible firms could locate their operations anywhere. The age of the big city would come to an end.
But that hasnt happened. Big cities have continued to grow. In rich nations today, urbanization levels are on the order of 80 percent or higher. China and India are urbanizing at breakneck speed, with Shanghai and Bombay racing each other to become the worlds largest metropolitan area and eclipse Tokyo (currently 33 million strong). Why is it that cities have lost none of their powers of attraction, despite the new freedom that information technology brings individuals and firms? The economic advantages of citiesof urban agglomeration, in the language of the people who study these thingsare difficult to measure precisely and not the same for all firms. But they are quite real, and we can capture them in what I call the Seven Pillars of Agglomeration.
Most alarming to listeners devoted to his seminal recordings: the state of Mr. Dylan’s voice, decades on from its first signs of deterioration. Dr. Lee Akst, director of the Johns Hopkins Voice Center, says it’s impossible to diagnose Mr. Dylan without an examination, but that rock singers are especially prone to scarring or other damage to the vocal cords. Such trauma can be cumulative, he says, compounding the risks for the perennially touring singer. What’s obvious: Though he never had a conventionally pretty voicethat was part of its powerlately he’s been sounding like a scatting Cookie Monster. On stage, he strums an electric guitar and blows on a harmonica but spends more time at an upright organ, vamping.
27. A scarecrow that actually scares crows
28. How-To of the Week: Decorate Your Christmas Tree Like a Pro
Varnish is not a football team. It is a stylish, speakeasy-style cocktail bar that opened early last year in downtown Los Angeles. And the men Mr. Tello mentions are fellow bartenders, ranging in age from mid-20s to mid-30s. But in these heady days of behind-the-bar showmanship, when theatrical agitations of shakers filled with heavy-duty ice are becoming the norm, the mixologists physical lot is not so terribly far removed from an athletes.
When theyre shaking a drink, its very similar to the motion of a pitcher, or a tennis serve or throwing a football, said Lisa Raymond-Tolan, an occupational therapist in New York. Its the same motion, back and forth, back and forth, rotating up high. You have a heavy weight at the end of the arm, out in the air. Its not just the shoulder. Its the wrist as well.
(Via: Kottke )
If you are a down-to-earth sort, this might sound slightly alien but almost half of Britons believe in little green men.
A poll of more than 2,000 adults found that 44 per cent are of the opinion extra-terrestrial life exists.
Men have the most faith in alien beings, with 46 per cent of those surveyed for the Royal Society, the countrys most prestigious scientific body, claiming that we are not alone in the universe.
32. Difference Between: Ale and Stout
33. Why Cant We Walk Straight?