The danger and allure of comic book fantasy in Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen

In 1998, New Zealand cartoonist Dylan Horrocks wrote a 250-page graphic novel called Hicksville, about a comic book artist and a journalist writing a biography of the artist. The Comics Journal awarded it “Book of the Year.” I loved it (here’s my review). Now, 17 years later, Horrocks has released his second graphic novel, called Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen. Like Hicksville, it’s about comic book artists and the allure of comic books. And also like Hicksville, it, too, is worthy of an award. Read the rest

Define the kilogram with a LEGO watt balance

Researchers from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology published instructions for a very precise LEGO watt balance to measure the kilogram unit of mass. You also need strong neodymium magnets. From New Scientist:

Finding the mass requires two measurements. First place a weight on one of the pans, moving the coil past the magnet and inducing a voltage. Then run a current through the coil, creating an electromagnetic force on the pan that counteracts the weight. Comparing these two gives you the weight's mass, which can be compared to the Planck constant.

"DIY device to define the kilogram – using Lego"

"A LEGO Watt Balance: An apparatus to demonstrate the definition of mass based on the new SI" (arXiv.org) Read the rest

Krampus was the best thing about Christmas 2014

A gallery of the child-whipping Alpine demon that haunted our holiday

Sci fi short story by Paul Di Filippo

"Faster Now" is a short story about a near-future world where brain hackers called "now tweakers" (nowts) use their time-management skills to get a leg up on normals. It's by Paul Di Filippo, who wrote many excellent essays and stories for the zine version of Boing Boing. Read the rest

The long, slow death of our watering holes

Our gathering spots, neither home nor work, were absorbed into another world. But we knew they were dying long before they disappeared...

Drunk birds slur their songs

Researchers from the Oregon Health and Science University got zebra finches drunk to see how the booze affected their singing in an effort to gain insight into human speech. Guess what? They slurred their songs. From the Washington Post:

Birds learn to sing in much the same way that humans learn to talk (in fact, a recent study found that birdsong and speech even rely on the same genes). It's much easier to keep a bird in a cage and study its brain than it is to do the same with a human toddler, so birds give scientists some of our best insights into the brain mechanisms that make speech possible....

"The most pronounced effects were decreased amplitude and increased entropy," the researchers wrote in the study. So in other words, their songs got quieter and less organized.

"Scientists show that drunk birds ‘slur’ their songs" Read the rest

Inside a Rolex Submariner

Watchmaker Tony Williams gives a tour of the Rolex Submariner's innards. (via) Read the rest

Anthropologist on "food porn"

Anthropologist Krystal D'Costa considers food as a spectator sport in history, aka "food porn." From Scientific American: Read the rest

The sublime mathematical GIFs of Clayton Shonkwiler

Colorado-based mathematician Clayton Shonkwiler creates wonderful animated GIFs and vector art inspired by the beauty of math. Read the rest

Superbly Awful Library Books: mega-gallery of terrible (but awesome) book covers

If you enjoy scoffing at "What were they thinking of?" book covers of yesteryear, Awful Library Books is a site you'll want to follow.

Cow tells dog a secret

That's what the video's titled, but honestly, cow chews on dog's ear is equally cute. Read the rest

The song that sparked the infamous "Roxanne Wars"

This week's Hip Hop Family Tree on how we were introduced to colorful MCs like Roxanne Shante.

Living at a high altitude may make people 30% more likely to commit suicide

Utah is the top state in the US for antidepressant use and has "disproportionately high rates of suicide and associated mood disorders compared to the rest of the country." Read the rest

What to do when a kid gets his head stuck in a gate

"Very funny kid head stuck in gate. Very difficult to get it off." Read the rest

Gentleman juggler Mat Ricardo at London's South Bank Centre

Mat Ricardo sez, "Completely thrilled to announce that, in what must surely be some kind of administrative error, my one man show 'Showman' will have a three night run at The Purcell Room in London's South Bank Centre on the 19th, 20th & 21st of January." Read the rest

Tights with poetry

The View Text Etsy store sells custom tights emblazoned with poetry from the likes of Emily Dickinson and Shakespeare (you can also get your own text on a pair). (via Geeky Merch) Read the rest

Bridging gongkai and free/open source

Bunnie Huang and his team have set out to fully reverse-engineer and document a cheap Chinese Mediatek MT6260. mobile-phone board -- licensed in the complex, informal regime of "gongkai," through which lots of theoretically confidential information is published, but some critical pieces are withheld. Read the rest

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