Sun Traces Huge Figure-8 Patterns in Sky

Here is an intriguing time-lapsed photo of the sun’s position in the sky over Wroclaw, Poland, taken three-times a day throughout one year:


Maciej Zapiór, a solar physicist at the University of the Balearic Islands in Palma, Majorca, and colleague Lukasz Fajfrowski built a pinhole camera and set it to make 1-minute-long exposures onto a single piece of photographic paper at 10:30, 12:00 and 13:30 each day from 1 March 2013 to 1 March 2014.  The resulting image shows how the position of the sun in the sky changes throughout the year.  In the summer it is higher, in the winter lower.  Its position also shifts horizontally, tracing a figure-of-eight path called an analemma.

see original article on New Scientist

I Want One of these

The Turbo Encabulator

[youtube rLDgQg6bq7o#t=81 480 297]

Here is the transcription.  Brilliant:

For a number of years now work has been proceeding in order to bring perfection to the crudely conceived idea of a transmission that would not only supply inverse reactive current for use in unilateral phase detractors, but would also be capable of automatically synchronizing cardinal grammeters. Such an instrument is the turbo encabulator.

Now basically, the only new principle involved is that instead of power being generated by the relative motion of conductors and fluxes, it is produced by the modial interaction of magneto-reluctance and capacitive-directance.

The original machine had a baseplate of prefamulated Amulite, surmounted by a malleable logarithmic casing in such a way that the two spurving bearings were in a direct line with the panametric fan. The latter consisted simply of six hydrocoptic marzel vanes so-fitted to the ambifacient lunar wane shaft that side fumbling was effectively prevented.

The main winding was of the normal lotus-o-delta type placed in panendermic semi-boloid slots of the stator; every seventh conductor being connected by a non-reversible trem’e pipe to the differential girdlespring on the up-end of the grammes.

The Turbo Encabulator has now reached a high level of development, and is being successfully used in the operation of nofer trunnions. Moreover, whenever a farescent skor motion is required, it may also be employed in conjunction with a drawn reciprocation dingle arm to reduce soinasodial repleneration

And here is release 2.0:

[youtube 2fjcJp_Nwvk 480 297]

Mission Impossible: Mapping ALL the US Military Installations

Cue music (composed by Lalo Schifrin):

Noone knows how many bases the US military maintains.  The best guess estimates put the total number at more than 1,000, with 500-600 outside of the US in several dozen (36+) countries.  These bases are, of course, used to project US power through staging military adventurism around the globe, such as the JSOC operations reputedly ongoing in more than 100 countries.

In an effort to get to the bottom of this, Josh Begley, a data artist, began a project to map all known U.S. military bases around the world, collect satellite pictures of them using Google and Bing Maps, and display them online.

You can check out his work to date, and read a nice write-up on Mashable. Finally, the ever excellent offers a thorough expose on the US Military’s global presence.


Interestingly, while most of the satellite images are clear, several have been fudged to obscure the base. What could they be hiding from the eyes in the sky, I wonder?  Certainly, the bad guys have access to unfudged images, so why bother?

Good luck, Josh.  Enquiring minds want to know.

Additional references:

Rock on, Pussy Riot …

This Sundance award-winning documentary tells the story of how Russian feminist punk rockers Pussy Riot captured the world’s attention through their protests and political statements.  Ultimately, however, it was their prosecution and incarceration that brought focus to their agenda, and now plight.

Pussy Riot courts controversy to get their message across, particularly through their association with the political performance art group Voina.  Their antics are totally outrageous, assaulting the sensibility of even the most liberal minds.  But, hey, so do countless other artists vying for attention in an ocean of artists.

Pussy Riot finally crossed the line by staging their provocative “performance prayer” titled “Hail Mary, Putin Run!“, offered to the Virgin Mary, at the altar of Christ the Savior Orthodox Cathedral in Red Square.  And the authorities went after them.  Three members of the band were each given 2 year sentences, less time served, so at the time of sentencing have about 19 months to go.

Despite their prosecution (their defenders would say persecution), the band members remain defiant.  At 1:13:33 of the full video is the closing defence speech of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of the members of the band.  It is eloquent and thoughtful.  We should all consider her words against the ongoing government and corporate assault on our privacy and, ultimately, our own freedom.  It is worth three minutes of time to listen to what she has to say.  Here is her speech to the court:

Update Dec12:  The members of the Pussy Riot punk band, Greenpeace activists and protesters jailed after the May 2012 Bolotnaya demonstration will be freed in an amnesty dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution, Russian media report.

Feb07: I think this qualifies as irony.  Six members of Russian punk rock collective Pussy Riot have signed an open letter insisting Maria Alyokhina (“Masha”) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (“Nakia”) not be billed as members. It said the two had forgotten about the “aspirations and ideals of our group”.  The pair were convicted and jailed for two years after singing a protest song in a Moscow cathedral in 2012, but were freed in December.

Stand By Me

With more than 54 million views, this video has probably been seen by just about everybody but me.  In a nutshell, it starts with a lone street performer in Santa Monica, CA and travels around the world adding voices and texture.  Great idea.  Great song.  Great performances.

[youtube Us-TVg40ExM#t=41 480 297]

Where’s Waldo (or anyone else for that matter)

Think you can hide in a crowd?  Think again.

Here is a photo of the 2011 Stanley Cup crowd in Vancouver BC.  This picture was taken using a camera with 70,000 x 30,000 pixels (2100 MegaPixels).  Clicking through this link or on the image takes you to, where you can use your mouse roller to zoom into the image.  However, we are not talking your normal zoom, here.  You can zoom into ANY FACE in the crowd!


Impressive technology.

Now, imagine security cameras everywhere taking continuous images with this level of granularity along with face recognition software scanning each face in the crowd and comparing it against a growing database of images.  You cannot hide in even a crowd of 1 million people.  The implications are mind-boggling.


Beijing 2008, a painting by Liu Yi

Here is a painting by Chinese-born now Canadian artist Liu Yi.  It is an exceptionally beautiful and provocative piece.  The imagery will no doubt confront some viewers.  However, I am posting it because of the intriguing geo-political insights embedded in the piece, which really deserve close consideration.


I can’t take credit for the following synopsis, and I don’t know where it originally came from … perhaps the artist himself.  If I find out, I will amend this post.  There is clearly much subtle detail that requires some guidance to discern.  Within the context of global affairs, the painting conveys deep insights.

The work, titled “Beijing 2008”, depicts four young women playing Mahjong.

The woman with the tattoos on her back is China. On her left, focused intensely on the game, is Japan. Across from China, the one with the shirt and head cocked to the side is America. Lying on the floor is Russia. And the girl standing on the right is Taiwan.

Of China’s visible set of tiles “East Wind” has a dual meaning. Firstly, it signifies China’s revival as a world power. Secondly, it signifies the military might and weaponry that China possesses has already been placed on the table. On one hand, China appears to be in a good position, though we cannot see the rest of her tiles. Additionally, she is also handling some hidden tiles below the table, behind her foot.

Russia appears to be disinterested in the game, but this is far from the truth. One foot hooks coyly at America, while her hand passes a hidden tile to China.  Both countries can be said to be exchanging benefits in secret. Japan is concentrating on her tiles, oblivious to the actions of the others in her focused (self-absorbed?) state.

Taiwan wears a traditional red slip, symbolizing that she is the true heir of Chinese culture and civilization. In one hand, she has a bowl of fruit, and in the other, a paring knife. Her expression as she stares at China contains anger, sadness, and hatred. And perhaps frustration that she cannot play the game.  No matter who ends up the victor, she is consigned to serving fruit.

Outside, the riverbank is darkened by storm clouds, suggesting the tension between the nations is dangerously explosive. The painting hanging on the wall depicts Mao’s face, but with Chiang Kai Shek’s bald head, and Sun Yat-Sen’s mustache.

The four women’s state of undress represent the geo-political situation in each country relative to the others. China is naked on top, clothed with a skirt and underwear on the bottom. America wears a bra and a light jacket, but is naked on the bottom. Russia has only her underwear. Japan is naked.

At first glance, America appears to be well composed and seems to be a good position, as all the others are in various states of nakedness. However, while America may look radiant, her vulnerability has already been exposed. China and Russia may look naked, yet their key private parts remain hidden.

Assuming the play of the game requires that the loser of each hand removes pieces of clothing, if China loses, she will be in the same state as Russia (similar to when the USSR dissolved). If America loses, she will also be in the same state as Russia.

If Russia loses, she loses all that is left. Russia acts to be disinterested and unengaged, but in passing tiles to China, is establishing a secret alliance.  Japan has already lost everything, and will be out of the game if she loses again.

America may look well-positioned, but is in much danger. If she loses this round, she will give up her position as THE world power. Russia is playing both sides, much like when China was de-occupied, she leaned towards the USSR and then towards America; as she did not have the ability to survive on her own, she had to weave between both sides in order to survive and develop.

There are too many of China’s tiles that we cannot see. Perhaps suggesting that China has several hidden aces.

America appears confident, and is glancing at Taiwan, perhaps trying to read something in Taiwan’s face. Perhaps what she sees going on between Russia and China.

Taiwan stares coldly at the game, longing to participate but constrained only to observe. She sees everything that the players are doing, and understands the shifting alliances. But she doesn’t have the means or permission to join the game, she isn’t even given the right to speak. Even if she has a dearth of complaints, she cannot voice it to anyone, all she can do is to be a good page girl, and bring fresh fruit to the victor.

The positions of power are with China and America. But, while America appears dominant, they are, after all, playing Chinese Mahjong, not Western Poker. In the end, playing by the rules of China’s game, how much chance at victory does America really have?

Known and Unknown

These definitions seem to be attributed to Donald Rumsfeld, former US Secretary of Defense.  The attribution is usually derogatory, e.g. “Rumspeak”.  But I think its great …

Known knowns – things we know we know

Known unknowns – things we know we don’t know

Unknown unknowns – things we don’t know we don’t know

Rumsfeld would add another relevant, telling category later: the unknown known, the kind of thing you think you know, based on information that seems solid but which in reality isn’t very solid at all. It’s the thing you think you know but that you actually do not.

Here is a video of Rumsfeld describing his uncertainty principle.

Transparent life

Iori Tomita began making transparent specimens while working as a fisherman. This has evolved into a project, the New World Transparent Specimens, which is as much art as it is science.

The method of making transparent specimens — enzymatically turning the protein transparent, dyeing the bones magenta and dyeing the cartilages blue — was established for scientific purposes to study the skeletal system.  Tomita has taken the process and turned the result into art imitating life … or life imitating art … or the art of life.  Whatever.  Beautiful stuff.