On the once and future history of clouds


James Bridle (previously) honors the The Cloud Index, "a tool for actionable weather forecasts" at London's Serpentine Gallery, with a lyrical longread about the history of clouds, science, war and computation. Read the rest

Concrete computer keyboard


Redditor ipee9932cd couldn't find a keyboard to their liking, so they built the casing of their dreams—out of cement. The brutal board weighs in at 12 pounds (yes, heavier than an IBM Model M) and "it takes some force to move it."

Being my first concrete cast, I chose not to put any rebar and want to see what happens over time. I know nothing about concrete, just did some research and went for it so we'll see what happens. It's not moving off my desk, even if I try, and when I do move it I never hold it from one edge. I was thinking about trying basalt rebar or glass fibers for the next cast...
the full gallery has 5 glorious shots of this brutal contraption, and there's an accompanying how-to gallery to show each step of the way. (Not shown is dismantling a keyboard and installing the important bits, but I guess if you're that far into custom keyboards it won't be a problem for you.) [via r/MechanicalKeyboards]

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100% CGI versions of 80s tech and toys

Mike Campau recreated Generation Gap, a CGI series of some of the most iconic items from 1980s childhoods, each one lit with gorgeous multi-hued gradients. Read the rest

The optical illusion that's momentarily intriguing the internet

wxs.ca/iso/ presents a simple "isometric" field of cubes, Q*Bert-style. Click and drag across it and the cubes will rise and fall in series of waves. They also start to flash wild colors... or do they? Yes, they do! Read the rest

A funky room inspired by dazzle camouflage


Shigeki Matsuyama created Narcissism: Dazzle room, a trippy and disorienting painted pattern based on camouflage patterns used in World War I. Read the rest

Printed easter eggs: fore-edge paintings hidden in books


High-end printers began decorating the edges of books as the craft developed, including dyeing and gilding the edges, but in the 17th century, artisans began creating fore-edge paintings that could only be seen when books were fanned. Below is another example: Read the rest

Gorgeous pulp-fiction editions of Gaiman's Anansi Boys, Neverwhere and American Gods


Now there are three: Neil Gaiman's best-loved novels are being re-released with gorgeous pulp covers; back in August, it was American Gods, in a month you'll be able to marry it up with the stupendous Anansi Boys, to be followed in November by Neverwhere (painted by Robert E McGinnis, lettering by Todd Klein). (via Neil Gaiman)

Update: Ooh, Stardust, too! Read the rest

Great works of 16th-20th century art painted with ground-up mummies


The lovely brown hues in Eugene Delacroix's 1830 painting above, titled "Liberty Leading the People," were actually pigments made from ground-up mummies from Egypt. From National Geographic:

The use of mummy as a pigment most likely stemmed from an even more unusual use—as medicine. From the early medieval period, Europeans were ingesting and applying preparations of mummy to cure everything from epilepsy to stomach ailments. It's unclear whether Egyptian mummies were prized for the mistaken belief that they contained bitumen (the Arabic word for the sticky organic substance, which was also believed to have medicinal value, is mumiya), or whether Europeans believed that the preserved remains contained otherworldly powers.

What is clear to researchers is that early artist pigments were derived from medicines at the time, and were commonly sold alongside them in European apothecaries. And just as mummy was waning in popularity as a medical treatment, Napoleon's invasion of Egypt at the end of the 18th century unleashed a new wave of Egyptomania across the Continent.

Tourists brought entire mummies home to display in their living rooms, and mummy unwrapping parties became popular. Despite prohibitions against their removal, boatloads of mummies—both human and animal—were brought over from Egypt to serve as fuel for steam engines and fertilizer for crops, and as art supplies.

By the beginning of the 20th century, however, the supply of quality mummies for pigment appears to have dried up. A 1904 ad in the Daily Mail requests one "at a suitable price," adding: "Surely a 2,000-year-old mummy of an Egyptian monarch may be used for adorning a noble fresco in Westminster Hall…without giving offence to the ghost of the departed gentlemen or his descendants."

"Was This Masterpiece Painted With Ground Mummy? Read the rest

World's most accurate dinosaur model


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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Immersive computer-controlled spotlight array installation


Cocolab created this cool music-synched array of spotlights that visitors can walk through, sit in, and lose themselves in. It is part of this summer's TagCDMX event in Mexico, the theme of which was #BeMoreNerd. Read the rest

Sculpting a hand from clay

From clay to hand

I don't know anything about the sculptor, but it is fascinating to watch them make a block of clay look like a human hand. Read the rest

The EU tried to craft a sane 21st century copyright and failed miserably

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The European Commission's "Copyright Modernisation" effort has wrapped up, and it's terrible. Read the rest

"Anger Release Machine": a coin-op for shattering fine breakables


In 2008, the Swiss/Danish design team Yarisal & Kublitz created their "Anger Release Machine," a vending machine stocked with "crystal glasses, plates, porcelain, various items" (the catalog helpfully adds "70 x 77 x 182 cm") -- insert coin, shatter breakables, feel better. Read the rest

Mini-documentary about H.R. Giger's Alien design


Kritian Williams: "He wasn't bound by the common design tropes of the '70s. He was able to create something genuinely Alien, a distorted biomechanical reflection of man. Everything we feared about ourselves, taken to the point of surrealism." Read the rest

Gwendoline Christie of 'Game of Thrones' in a fluid, morphing garment


Barnaby Roper filmed this otherworldly video of Gwendoline Christie (Brienne from Game of Thrones, Captain Phasma from Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen supplied the clothes, and Roper ran with the themes in the designs.

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Adam Savage writes about space nerd sculptor Tom Sachs

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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These are some of the coolest corny nerd sidewalk chalk drawing signs we've ever seen

Artist Ollie Wolff Pruitt

“So I've been drawing sidewalk signs for my friend's bar for almost a year,” says IMGURian Ollie Wolff Pruitt aka littlewolff4h. Read the rest

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