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Fine art reimagined with science fiction themes


Tor.com's Irene Gallo gathers together an absolutely fantastic gallery of science fiction artwork that quotes famous works of fine art. I'm all over John Mattos's Mos Eisley reimagined as Picasso's Three Musicians.

Art History Through Sci Fi-Colored Glasses

Woman's infected jaw removed, 3D printed replacement implanted

An 83-year-old woman with a badly infected lower jaw had the entire thing replaced with a 3D printed titanium/bioceramic replica. The surgery was performed by doctors from the University of Hasselt (Belgium) in collaboration with Dutch surgeons.

The 3D printer prints titanium powder layer by layer, while a computer controlled laser ensures that the correct particles are fused together. Using 3D printing technology, less materials are needed and the production time is much shorter than traditional manufacturing. The mandible was finally given a bioceramic coating compatible with the patient's tissue by BioCeramics in Leiden. The artificial jaw weighs 107 grams, it is only 30 grams heavier than a natural jaw, but the patient can easily get used to it.

The operation was performed in June last year in the hospital in Sittard-Geleen. One day later the lady could start talking and swallowing.

83 year-old woman got 3D printed mandible (Thanks, Don!)

17-y-o girl, accepted to MIT, sends her admission letter into space

Chris sez, "My name is Chris Peterson. I run web communications for MIT Admissions and have been a loyal BB reader for years. For the last several years we have been sending our admitted students their acceptance letters in cardboard tubes. First because we sent a poster, but now it's its own thing. 2012 is the anniversary of an old MIT balloon hack, so we put a letter in all of the Early Action admit tubes telling them we wanted them to hack the tubes somehow, and set up http://hackthetubes.mitadmissions.org to collect responses. Lots of them are great, but this one, from Erin King (MIT '16) in Georgia, is the best."

Update: Erin sez, "I goofed on my Erin king 'MIT admit letter in space' submission. She is 17. I plain forgot what year it was - been too buried in applications!!"

16 year old girl from Georgia launches her MIT acceptance letter into near space (Thanks, Chris!)

HOWTO do Converse fingernail paint

I don't know an awful lot about fingernail painting, but this seems like a pretty straightforward painting task, and the effect is pretty awesome.

Converse Nails (via Super Punch)

Rebecca MacKinnon talks about her book "Consent of the Networked"

Joly sez, "Rebecca Mackinnon discusses her new book 'Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom' (Basic Books) with Mark Whitaker, managing editor for CNN Worldwide, at The New America Foundation NYC on Feb 1 2012."

I've got a copy of this book at the top of my read-for-review pile. I can't wait. Rebecca's views on international relations and the Internet -- especially the role the Internet plays in both the struggle for freedom and the suppression of freedom in China -- are the most thoughtful, best informed in the field. Here's the site for the book.

Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom (Thanks, Joly!)

Map shows NYC's energy consumption, building-by-building


Gmoke sez, "This statistical model uses 'zipcode-level energy consumption data to estimate the average annual energy use for every tax lot—at practically building level—through all five boroughs of the city.' Included are estimateans for space heating, space cooling, water heating, and base electric applications such as lighting. 'This map will enable NYC building owners to see whether their own building consumes more or less than what an average building with similar function and size would,' said Professor Modi. 'This is the first time anyone has provided an estimate like this for New York City and the first time anyone has offered information to the public in the form of an interactive map.'"

“This is a critical issue,” said Modi. “While discussions frequently focus on electricity use, homes in New York City, whether a townhouse or a large apartment building, use far more energy in form of heat rather than electricity. Nearly all of this heat is obtained from heating oil or natural gas. In addition, current electricity distribution infrastructure in many urban areas relies on large amounts of electricity brought in from outside the city, making it difficult to support increased future use without requiring significant investment of resources and funds. We are looking at ways we can address both these issues—reducing our heating bills and increasing local electricity generation capacity.”

Model Created to Map Energy Use in NYC Buildings (Thanks, Gmoke!)

Avería: an "average" font


Dan Sayers ("I am not a type designer") decided to explore "generative" type-design by seeing what happened when he "averaged out" a large number of fonts. Once he got his teeth into the problem, he realized that "averaging out" is a complicated idea when it comes to shapes, and came up with a pretty elegant way of handling the problem, which, in turn, yielded a rather lovely face: Avería, "the average font."

Then it occurred to me: since my aim was to average a large number of fonts, perhaps it would be best to use a very simple process, and hope the results averaged out well over a large number of fonts. So, how about splitting each letter perimeter into lots of (say, 500) equally-spaced points, and just average between the corresponding positions of each, on each letter? It would be necessary to match up the points so they were about the same location in each letter, and then the process would be fairly simple

Having found a simple process to use, I was ready to start. And after about a month of part-time slaving away (sheer fun! Better than any computer game) – in the process of which I learned lots about bezier curves and font metrics – I had a result. I call it Avería – which is a Spanish word related to the root of the word ‘average’. It actually means mechanical breakdown or damage. This seemed curiously fitting, and I was assured by a Spanish friend-of-a-friend that “Avería is an incredibly beautiful word regardless of its meaning”. So that's nice.

Avería – The Average Font (via Waxy)

Impromptu to do today in SF: Johann Sebastian Joust in Yerba Buena Gardens

This afternoon some friends and I will be playing this new game we really like in Yerba Buena Gardens, and you're welcome to join us.

Johann Sebastian Joust is basically like high-tech tag. Each person has a Playstation Move controller, and the object of the game is to jostle other people's controllers so that you're the last man standing. The twist is that as you play, a Bach concerto will also be playing and its tempo indicates the upper threshold for how much your controller can be jostled before you're out.

If you want to play, we'll be in Yerba Buena Gardens today at 5PM. You don't need to bring anything, we have a full set of controllers, and we'll trade off. See you there!

On the horrors of getting approval for an ice-cream parlour in San Francisco

The NYT's Scott James recounts the insane red-tape endured by Juliet Pries, an entrepreneur who decided to open an ice-cream parlour in San Francisco's Cole Valley. She had to pay rent on an empty storefront for over two years while the necessary permits were processed, and tens of thousands of dollars in fees (including the cost of producing a detailed map of nearby businesses, which the city itself seemed not to have). If the story sounds familiar, it's because it was the subject of a notorious Xtranormal-produced Hello City Planner video that used it as an example to lampoon the planning bureaucracy in San Francisco.

Pries's restaurant, the Ice Cream Bar, is a popular hit, and employs 14 people, but “Many times it almost didn’t happen," as she says, due to the incredibly administrative hurdles she faced in opening it.

Ms. Pries said she had to endure months of runaround and pay a lawyer to determine whether her location (a former grocery, vacant for years) was eligible to become a restaurant. There were permit fees of $20,000; a demand that she create a detailed map of all existing area businesses (the city didn’t have one); and an $11,000 charge just to turn on the water.

The ice cream shop’s travails are at odds with the frequent promises made by the mayor and many supervisors that small businesses and job creation are top priorities.

The matter has also alarmed some business leaders, who point out that few small ventures could survive such long delays.

“Someone of lesser fortitude would have left three months into it,” Ted Loewenberg, president of the Haight Ashbury Improvement Association, said of Ms. Pries. “Through these hard times we’ve heard all the rhetoric about streamlining the process, about one-stop shopping. It hasn’t happened.”

The link comes by way of JWZ, owner of the DNA Lounge and the adjacent pizzeria, who notes that, "I started the process of trying to cut a door in the wall between my restaurant and nightclub in February 2011. It is now February 2012, and we still don't have the necessary permits and have not yet begun construction. If we have a door in that wall -- and are allowed to let people walk through it -- before 2013, we will consider ourselves lucky."

Before Ice Cream Shop Can Open, City’s Slow Churn

Improving on the knit Dalek


I blogged "Extermiknit!", a knittable Dalek, back in 2007, but it turns out that an even cooler knittable Dalek of the same name was created on Feather and Fan in 2010, with an opening hatch containing a Kaled mutant, and here it is.

After completing the top of the Dalek as specified, I created an opening in the front by steeking carefully along the vertical line between the knit “instrument panel” and the purled rest of the midsection–just used some sewing shears and cut straight through the middle of the rightmost line of knit stitches, along the entire height of the midsection. I then carefully unraveled the stitches from right to left on the rows above and below the desired door area, to the left end of the “instrument panel”, and placed these two horizontal pairs of exposed stitches on DPNs.

This creates a kind of door flap, hinged vertically along the left-hand side. I sewed down the outer edge of the door with one yarn tail, and used a sewn bindoff and the other two yarn tails to fasten the top and bottom of the door flap. The door flap was now bound off and would not unravel.

FO: EXTERMIKNIT! EXTERMIKNIT! « Feather and Fan (via Making Light)

Playing Black Sabbath on Tesla coils with an iron guitar, standing in a Faraday suit

If you need me to explain why you should spend 1:26 watching a man wielding an iron guitar in a Faraday suit playing Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" on MIDI-compatible Tesla coils, you are in the wrong place, pal.

ArcAttack is performing a Tesla Coil version of Iron Man by Black Sabbath. The Guitar Player is using an iron guitar in a faraday cage

ArcAttack testing out the world's first lighting-proof MIDI guitar in their warehouse in Austin, Texas.

The MIDI signal from the guitar is routed through a fiber optic cable to control the Tesla coils.

Update: From the comments, ArcAttack clarifies, "The guitar isnt iron though, its actually made out of wood with shielding and a couple of micro-controllers hooked up to a switch bank (the fret board) and is all optically isolated. The giant fan in the back isn't for sucking ozone. It was 100 degrees that day and being in a metal suit can get pretty hot. And in reference to Manny's comment, our interview went as follows "THEM: What happens when something goes wrong? US: We have many safety controls to minimize any major problem. If something goes wrong we just turn it off. THEM: is lightning deadly? US: Lightning is very deadly, but our machines arnt nearly as dangerous as real lightning."

ArcAttack performs a Tesla Coil version of Iron Man by Black Sabbath with a Faraday Guitar (via Making Light)

Canadian musician outsources his indie video to Bangalore, beauty ensues

Derryl Murphy sez, "Drew Smith's lovely new song 'Smoke and Mirrors' needed a video, so he decided to outsource it. The result is wonderful."

So I outsourced my video to Bangalore, India. Why? Well, I figured the last thing the world needed was another low-budget singer songwriter video. Fortunately, the first Virtual Assistant I found on google also happened to be a dance choreographer. After a couple of emails and phone calls, I received this beautiful video in my inbox. Many thanks to Asha Sarella and Vishwas Avathi. I can't thank you enough!

Drew Smith - Smoke And Mirrors (Thanks, Derryl!)

Stephen Colbert's SuperPAC hurts the Supreme Court's feelings?

In Slate, Dahlia Lithwick examines the impact that Stephen Colbert's SuperPAC is having on public perception of the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United, which establishes that "corporate personhood" means that corporations can make unlimited contributions to political campaigns. Dahlia implies that the Court, which has always maintained an aloofness from public life (no cameras, no press office) is smarting under Colbert's withering sarcasm, and that people are responding as well. For example, Colbert's SuperPAC backed Herman Cain (not a candidate) in the South Carolina race, and the voters put him ahead of Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, and Michele Bachmann.

Then last June, like a winking, eyebrow-wagging Mr. Smith, Colbert went to Washington and testified before the FEC, which granted him permission to launch his super PAC (over the objections of his parent company Viacom) and accept unlimited contributions from his fans so he might sway elections. (He tweeted before his FEC appearance that PAC stands for "Plastic And/Or Cash.") In recent weeks, Colbert has run several truly insane attack ads (including one accusing Mitt Romney of being a serial killer). Then, with perfect comedic pitch, Colbert handed off control of his super PAC to Jon Stewart (lampooning the FEC rules about coordination between “independent PACS” and candidates with a one-page legal document and a Vulcan mind meld). Colbert then managed to throw his support to non-candidate Herman Cain in the South Carolina primary, placing higher on the ballot than Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, and Michele Bachmann.

The line between entertainment and the court blurred even further late last month when Colbert had former Justice John Paul Stevens on his show to discuss his dissent in Citizens United. When a 91-year-old former justice is patiently explaining to a comedian that corporations are not people, it’s clear that everything about the majority opinion has been reduced to a punch line.

Colbert v. the Court (via 3 Quarks Daily)

Bulgarian MPs wear Guy Fawkes mask for ACTA session

Apparently inspired by the Polish parliamentarians who showed up for work in Guy Fawkes masks for the signing of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (a US-driven secret copyright treaty), members of Bulgaria's parliament repeated the trick.

The MPs say they support copyright laws, but oppose ACTA over its possible turning into an instrument to limit freedom of speech, to control internet use, and to turn into an obstacle for the exchange of information and knowledge online.

On January 26, the Bulgarian government signed in Tokyo the international ACTA agreement, vowing to make downloading content similar to forgery of brands.

The agreement was sealed by Bulgarian ambassador to Japan Lyubomir Todorov, based on a decision by the Bulgarian cabinet taken hastily on January 11.

Bulgarian MPs Wear Guy Fawkes Mask to Protest ACTA (via Techdirt)