World's most accurate dinosaur model

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This cartoony character is considered the most accurate model of a real dinosaur ever created. Paleoartist Bob Nicholls based his reconstruction of Psittacosaurus on an incredibly well-preserved fossil from China (image below) studied by University of Bristol paleontologist Jakob Vinther and colleagues. From The Guardian:

Psittacosaurus fossils are commonly found across most of Asia. The bipedal adults used their distinctive beaks to nibble through the vegetation of the Cretaceous, more than 100m years ago. The relatively large brain of Psittacosaurus leads scientists to suspect it may have been a relatively smart dinosaur, with complex behaviours. The large eyes hint that it had good vision....

The reconstruction is the culmination of around three months’ work, from detailed drawings to finished fibreglass model. Nicholls created a steel frame and bulked it out using polystyrene and wire mesh, before sculpting the surface in clay:.“This is where the subject finally comes to life,” he explains, “by adding all the skin details such as scales and wrinkles, and beaks and horns.” A master mould was made from this sculpture, allowing Nicholls to make fibreglass models ready to be painted.

I asked Nicholls what makes this Psittacosaurus so special? “The most surprising features include an unusually large and wide head, highly pigmented clusters of scales on the shoulders, robust limbs, patagiums (skin flaps) behind the hind limbs, and a highly pigmented cloaca.” These features make him confident this is the most accurate reconstruction ever produced: “When the anatomy surprises me – it confirms that I’ve followed the fossil evidence rather than any preconceived ideas of my own.”

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Andy Samberg asks Neil Degrasse Tyson three questions about ETs, time travel, and robot sex

Are we alone in the universe? Is time travel possible? If you have sex with a robot, does it count as cheating?

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Pesco speaking at big free conference about space in San Francisco next week

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BB pal Ariel "Spacehack" Waldman has curated a stellar program for the big DENT: SPACE conference next week (9/21-9/22) in San Francisco! I'm honored to be on the schedule with such amazing people as SETI Institute's Seth Shostak, science writer Mary Roach, The Planetary Society's Emily Lakdawalla, Ars Technica's Annalee Newitz, UC Berkeley planet hunter Alex Filippenko, and so many more fascinating folks! I'll be joining Ariel on stage Thursday at 2:50pm to talk about space history and the intersection of science and art to instill a sense of wonder about the universe, and a far out new project that I'll announce soon. See below on how to get a free ticket! Ariel writes:

On September 21-22, 2016, Dent:Space takes place at the Innovation Hangar at the Palace of Fine Arts (formerly the Exploratorium museum) with two stages of fascinating speakers spanning the technological, artistic, commercial, scientific, educational, and DIY aspects of space exploration. We’re also putting together an exhibit hall for the conference — kind of a World’s Fair-like set of interactive demos that illustrate the future of space exploration and its many possibilities. We were able to give away 3,000 free tickets to the talks and exhibits, but we’ve run out of room for that. In the interest of keeping it all accessible for as many as possible, tickets are still only $49. But, as a (Boing Boing reader), you can still grab a free ticket here

Dent:Space is a celebration of humans breaking the status quo of who can be involved and what can be achieved in space exploration.

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Man ticketed for driving 88mph in his DeLorean

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Essex, England police ticketed Nigel Mills, 55, for speeding in his DeLorean. He was apparently going 88mph (although his top speed was 89mph). Mills insists that he "wasn't trying to time travel."

"Me and the rest of my family enjoyed the Back to the Future films," he said about his purchase of the DeLorean. "When I’m out in it a few people recognise it, they slow down and take pictures – drivers take pictures out of their windows or try to film you and I get approached at petrol stations.”

Mills's ticket was tossed out of court when the two officers who cited him didn't show up. Probably because Mills erased them from existence.

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Surprisingly beautiful chandelier made from toilets

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Upcycler extraordinaire Rodney Allen Trice turned salvage toilet bowls into designer lighting! From Refitting the Planet:

To contribute my ideas and vision and energies in the arena of creative repurposing or applied deconstruction was an honor.

here are some off the initial sketches and the build of THE TOILET CHANDELIER. My latest, largest and first piece built in my studios new home base of PITTSBURGH, yinz!!!

Very Exciting! Now I am making tweaks and changes to this design. There are still things to work out as it was a race to complete it at this event on Saturday, but the piece will be on permanent display at Construction Junction forevermore once completed! WOO HOO!!

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"Monty Python and the Holy Grail" as a serious and intense drama

The forthcoming big screen epic King Arthur: Legend of the Sword has nothing on the Pythons. (Cinefix)

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Scarily prescient 1958 animated interview with Aldous Huxley

In a 1958 interview, author, philosopher, and futurist Aldous Huxley (Brave New World, The Doors of Perception) shares his grim predictions that are unfortunately quite relevant today. From Blank on Blank:

"This is Aldous Huxley, a man haunted by a vision of hell on earth. Mr. Huxley wrote a Brave New World, a novel that predicted that some day the entire world would live under a frightful dictatorship. Today Mr. Huxley says that his fictional world of horror is probably just around the corner for all of us." - Mike Wallace

In this remarkable interview, Huxley foretells a future when telegenic presidential hopefuls use television to rise to power, technology takes over, drugs grab hold, and frightful dictatorships rule us all.

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Tesla promises its upgraded Autopilot is UFO-proof

From Tesla's release notes for its upgraded Autopilot technology based on radar as its primary control sensor:

The net effect of this, combined with the fact that radar sees through most visual obscuration, is that the car should almost always hit the brakes correctly even if a UFO were to land on the freeway in zero visibility conditions.

Taking this one step further, a Tesla will also be able to bounce the radar signal under a vehicle in front - using the radar pulse signature and photon time of flight to distinguish the signal - and still brake even when trailing a car that is opaque to both vision and radar. The car in front might hit the UFO in dense fog, but the Tesla will not.

Of course they're kidding. Or so they'd like us to believe.

Video clip from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

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The biomechanical horror of Alien and H.R. Giger

In this video essay by Kristian Williams, the story of the biomechanical beasts from the mad mind of H.R. Giger, surrealist painter and designer best known for his work on the special effects team behind the film Alien (1979).

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Stranger Things soundtrack on vinyl, and covers by Tangerine Dream

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Austin band Survive's masterful synth soundtrack to Stranger Things is available now digitally and at your local independent music shop on vinyl! Meanwhile, the surviving members of Tangerine Dream, a primary influence on Survivor's Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, released their own covers of the Stranger Things score! Listen to them below. And here's a bit from an excellent interview that Billboard's Gil Kaufman conducted with Dixon and Stein:

How did that main theme come to life?

It's an old demo Michael had, but it's nothing like what you hear... nowhere near as much of a piece of music as it is now. That was just some random thing that ended up in the library they had and when they found it they were like, 'what if this was the main title?' We thought it could be good, so we built it out. We've been wanting to get into music for TV and film for a long time, but we had no idea how. We've been passively creating libraries, weird droney noises... so we had this collection of songs that we were trying to figure out how present to people in film....

Without that previous (soundtrack) experience, how were you able to create music that spoke so deeply to the characters in the show?

They said our music was actually used to help cast the show. During the demo period they said, 'we know you can do dark and epic, but this is a show about a group of kids, so we need to show the producers that you can do the more lighthearted, sentimental stuff.' So a lot of the demos were like that.

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Adam Savage writes about space nerd sculptor Tom Sachs

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In Wired, our pal Adam Savage geeks out with Tom Sachs, a sculptor who makes incredibly intricate space-themed installations:

(Sachs had) mounted two Space Program exhibitions—the moon (at Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills) in 2007 and then Mars (at the Park Avenue Armory in New York) in 2012. There were the blue Tiffany Glock and orange Hermès hand grenade, and also a Chanel chain saw and a Prada toilet. And a foam-core R2-D2, which I’d collected pictures of as inspiration for building my own DIY Artoo, a decade before I knew who Sachs was.

We had a lot in common. We’re both obsessive organizers. We both make replicas. And when we’re in the shop and can’t think of what to work on, we build infrastructure—stands, shelves, benches. Sachs told me he’d cribbed construction ideas from MythBusters Now he uses my workshop when he’s on the West Coast, and I use his when I’m back east. Our wives describe our relationship status as “dating.”

When I look at Sachs’ workshop, what’s more familiar to me than the tools are the rituals, the signs of how Sachs turns prosaic objects and materials into art.

"Ground Control to Major Tom" by Adam Savage (Wired)

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The Cat from Outer Space

Movie trailer for The Cat from Outer Space (1978), directed by Norman Tokar and starring Ken Berry, Sandy Duncan, Harry Morgan, and Roddy McDowall. I predict a remake in 3... 2... 1....

If you're, er, curious, you can watch it on Amazon Video: The Cat from Outer Space

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I'm Johnny Cash, and I'm pissed at my daughter for getting a speeding ticket

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Tweeted last night by Rosanne Cash, daughter of country legend Johnny Cash:

"Miss my dad, gone 13 yrs today. Here he is after I told him I got a ticket for driving 102 mph in his car."

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Scrumdiddlyumptious and other Roald Dahlesque words now in the Oxford English Dictionary

In celebration of the centenary of Roald Dahl's birth this month, the Oxford English Dictionary has added words and updated entries related to Dahl's iconic children's books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG. From OED.com:

This update also includes brand new entries and senses for a range of vocabulary best described as Dahlesque—an adjective which makes its first appearance in OED today with a first quotation from 1983 in which a collection of stories is praised for its ‘Dahlesque delight in the bizarre’. These new additions provide Dahl fans with a golden ticket to the first uses and historical development of words like scrumdiddlyumptious, for those occasions when scrumptious simply won’t do (or at all times if you happen to be The Simpsons’ Ned Flanders), and the human bean, which is not a vegetable, although—according to the Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant—it comes in ‘dillions of different flavours’. A new sub-entry for golden ticket itself reveals that (long before Charlie Bucket found his own in the wrapper of a Wonka Whipple-Scrumptious Fudge Mallow Delight) the first such ticket was granted to the painter and engraver William Hogarth. Hogarth’s ticket granted the bearer and five companions perpetual free admission to the pleasure gardens of Vauxhall, in return for paintings carried out for the gardens by the artist....

The witching hour, the ‘special moment in the middle of the night when every child and every grown-up [is] in a deep deep sleep’, and when the BFG and his bloodthirsty cousins wander abroad, was first mentioned in 1762, in a poem by Elizabeth Carter Keene (now all-but forgotten, and dismissed by one twentieth-century critic as ‘a vapid bungler’), where it is a clear reference to—or misremembering of—Hamlet’s ‘the very witching time of night, When Churchyards yawne, and hell it selfe breakes out Contagion to this world’.

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Find Slack in this SubGenius TV commercial from MTV (1991)

In 1991, MTV, back when it was edgy and relevant, commissioned Rev. Ivan Stang of The Church of the SubGenius -- the religion, disguised as a joke (or is it a joke disguised as a religion?) -- to make a television spot as part of the network's fantastic Art Break series of short films.

"Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO did the music and the miniatures and masks were created by the late St. Joe Riley," Stang writes.

Above is that video. Below is a documentary that Stang edited into a souvenir for the cast and crew. Praise Bob! (Thanks, UPSO!)

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Ancient psychedelic Ayahuasca's Brooklyn and Silicon Valley devotees

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In the New Yorker, Ariel Levy explores the buzz around Ayahuasca, the ultimate artisanal psychedelic drug.

“I came home reeking of vomit and sage and looking like I’d come from hell,” Vaughn Bergen, a twenty-seven-year-old who works at an art gallery in Chelsea, said of one ayahuasca trip. “Everyone was trying to talk me out of doing it again. My girlfriend at the time was, like, ‘Is this some kind of sick game?’ I was, like, ‘No. I’m growing.’ ” His next experience was blissful: “I got transported to a higher dimension, where I lived the whole ceremony as my higher self. Anything I thought came to be.” Bergen allows that, of the nine ceremonies he’s attended, eight have been “unpleasant experiences.” But he intends to continue using ayahuasca for the rest of his life. He believes that it will heal not only him but civilization at large.

The process of making ayahuasca is beyond artisanal: it is nearly Druidical. “We pick the chacruna leaf at sunrise in this very specific way: you say a prayer and just pick the lower ones from each tree,” a lithe ayahuasquera in her early forties—British accent, long blond hair, a background in Reiki—told me about her harvests, in Hawaii. “You clean the vine with wooden spoons, meticulously, all the mulch away from the roots—they look so beautiful, like a human heart—and you pound these beautiful pieces of vine with wooden mallets until it’s fibre,” she said. “Then it’s this amazing, sophisticated process of one pot here and one pot there, and you’re stirring and you’re singing songs.”

She and her boyfriend serve the ayahuasca—“divine consciousness in liquid form”—at ceremonies in New York, Cape Town, Las Vegas, Bali.

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Atomic bomb tests as seen from Las Vegas and Los Angeles

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Beginning in 1951, the United States exploded atomic bombs at the Nevada Test Site, 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Seen here are snapshots of the tests that, in many cases, illuminated the Los Angeles and Las Vegas skies with a nuclear dawn. More at Amusing Planet.

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