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.

The Truth is Out There: Was the Destruction of the Death Star an Inside Job??

A fascinating documentary presents compelling evidence that suggests the destruction of the Death Star was not the result of Luke Skywalker’s coincidental tapping of “The Force”, but rather a carefully orchestrated inside job that included none other than Darth Vader himself.  I won’t go into the details here.  You can view the video and decide for yourself.

May the farce be with you.

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Neon Skull

Artist Eric Franklin has created some very cool neon skull and skeleton sculptures.  Check it out!


van Eyke ‘Ghent Altarpiece’ in 100 billion pixels

One of the most famous panel paintings in the world, the Ghent Altarpiece has been digitized and is available in detail on an open source website entitled ‘Closer to Van Eyck: Rediscovering the Ghent Altarpiece.’

Consisting of 12 panels (one of which is a copy, the original having been stolen in 1934) and depicting numerous complex theological scenes, the documentation project has rendered the already composite work into 100 billion pixels using the highest resolution photography.  Here is a portion of the panel entitled “Deity Enthroned”:

The documentation process makes use of macrophotography in visible light, macrophotography in infrared light, infrared reflectography and X-radiography — probinbeneath the painted surface to reveal the under-drawings. All are available on the website.

Beautiful art and a wonderful contribution by the team that documented and made it available to the world.

RIP Davy Jones

I grew up on the Monkees.  Sad to see Davy go, but his memory will live on in the great music they did.  Here is one of my favorite Monkees’ tunes, the somewhat obscure 1967 “Daily Nightly”.  Wonderfully psychedelic, it is an early example of the use of synth on a pop recording.  And it uses the word “phantasmagoric”.  Gotta love it.


Darkened rolling figures move through prisms of no color
Hand in hand, they walk the night, but never know each other
Passion cast in neon lights light up the jeweled trav’ler
Who, lost in scenes of smoke-filled dreams
Find questions, but no answers

Startled eyes that sometimes see phantasmagoric splendor
Pirouette down palsied paths with pennies for the vendor
Salvation’s yours for just the time it takes to pay the dancer
Once again, such anxious men find questions but no answers

The night has gone and taken its infraction
While reddened eyes hope there will be a next one

Terror signs look down upon a world that glitters glibly
And mountainsides put arms around the unsuspecting city
Second hands that minds have slowed are moving even faster
Toward bring down someone who’s found
The questions, but no answers

Surf’s Up! Wind Shear turns Clouds into Waves

Here is a photo of an unusual cloud formation shot in Birmingham, Alabama. Called a Kelvin-Helmholtz instability, the formation is caused when the wind is moving at different speeds at different altitudes, creating a shearing effect and resulting in clouds shaped like slow-moving waves across the horizon.

And who’d a thunk it, but there is a website for the Cloud Appreciation Society, which has user contributed photos of clouds from around the world and beyond.