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A bit of classic Feynman

I'm not sure how, but I'd never seen any clips of young Richard Feynman speaking until physicist Walid Younes posted this video to Google+.

The talk itself is great and covers some important stuff. (Of course, it's Feynman!) The key thing here is the connection between theoretical understandings of how the universe works and practical observations. Theories are used to make predictions. When the predictions turn out to be correct, we get some more evidence that the theory is on the right track. Here, Feynman talks about how the theory of gravity led to the discovery of the speed of light, and how knowledge of the effect of gravity on planetary orbits led to the discovery of the planet Neptune. Very cool stuff.

But what stood out to me—and what makes this different from all the old!Feynman videos I've seen—is the persona his younger self projects. Born and raised in Queens, the young Feynman comes across, at least in accent and physical mannerisms, like some big mafia palooka straight out of central casting. Most likely, my startled reaction to this is due to Midwestern bias and being raised in an era where American regional differences in accent and culture have been largely flattened out. But it's still fascinating ... and amusing as hell to hear a guy who looks and sounds like he should be guarding hostages or threatening shop owners instead talking about gravitational theory.

Video Link

Sexy upskirt shot, ca. 1870

From the Smithsonian's snapshot series, a special image for Valentine's Day:

Caged crinoline, also known as a hoop skirt, was the most distinctive silhouette of the late 19th century. This photo shows a hoop skirt, named because of its series of concentric hoops of whalebone or cane. It replaced the popular petticoat of the late 1500s to mid 1800s. Multiple petticoats were sometimes worn to create the full, dome-shape, small-waist silhouette popular in women’s fashion through the mid 1800s. During the late 1800s, hoop skirts like this one lightened the weight of multiple petticoats by creating the same fashionable silhouette but with fewer layers. It only required one or two petticoats worn over the hoop skirt. Unlike shaping undergarments before the 19th century, hoop skirts were worn by women of every social class. In 1846, David Hough Jr. introduced the first hoop skirt in the U.S. The hoop-skirt form, like the bustle and corset, gives insight into the complexities of dress in the 19th century. This item is one of 137 million artifacts, works of art and specimens in the Smithsonian’s collection. It is not on display.

Looks so comfy!

(thanks, Jessica Porter Sadeq)

"Global Jukebox" envisioned by folklorist, ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax comes to life


(Alan Lomax, via Wikipedia)

American folklorist, ethnomusicologist, and traditional music collector Alan Lomax envisioned a “global jukebox” with which to share and analyze recordings he gathered over decades of fieldwork. This week, that dream comes to life. From an article in today's New York Times:

A decade after his death technology has finally caught up to Lomax’s imagination. Just as he dreamed, his vast archive — some 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 videotapes, 5,000 photographs and piles of manuscripts, much of it tucked away in forgotten or inaccessible corners — is being digitized so that the collection can be accessed online. About 17,000 music tracks will be available for free streaming by the end of February, and later some of that music may be for sale as CDs or digital downloads.

On Tuesday, to commemorate what would have been Lomax’s 97th birthday, the Global Jukebox label is releasing “The Alan Lomax Collection From the American Folklife Center,” a digital download sampler of 16 field recordings from different locales and stages of Lomax’s career.

“As an archivist you kind of think like Johnny Appleseed,” said Don Fleming, a musician and record producer who is executive director of the Association for Cultural Equity and involved in the project. “You ask yourself, ‘How do I get digital copies of this everywhere?’ ”

The archive will be made available at the Global Jukebox portion of The Association For Cultural Equity website. Anna Lomax Wood, daughter of Alan Lomax, is the organization's president. They do all sorts of amazing work!