How to make Worm Tea

Over at Popular Science, Jim Shaw, proprietor of Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, posted his recipe for Worm Tea, an organic liquid fertilizer and insecticide. The key ingredient is three pounds of castings, also known as worm shit. Shaw writes:

Collect 2 to 3 pounds of castings (or buy them from us). Next, pack them in a porous cloth, such as a burlap bag or even a pillowcase, to make a jumbo tea bag. Then dunk the bag in 2 to 3 gallons of lukewarm water, and soak it overnight. Finally, squeeze the bag; you just brewed your own worm tea.

Spray the Worm Tea on the plants or pour it at the stem. For best results, don't drink it.

"How to brew worm tea" (Popular Science) Read the rest

Infographic of each US state's favorite 1990s sitcom

USDish analyzed Google search data for the last 15 years to create this map of the United States showing each state's "favorite" sitcom. The Midwest loves Friends, four states and Washington DC prefer Friends, and (hooray!) California digs The Simpsons.

"Can You Guess Your State’s Favorite Sitcom from the ’90s?" Read the rest

Photographer claims Stranger Things stole his storm cloud image

Sean R. Heavey claims that Stranger Things used his storm cloud photo (top image) without permission in concept art (second image above) that eventually became a scene in the show. From Photographer: ‘Stranger Things’ Used My Storm Cloud Without Permission:

Heavey says he realized that the cloud that appears in the Stranger Things episode looked extremely similar to his but wasn’t the same one. A few weeks later, however, Heavey’s friend was watching the Beyond Stranger Things behind-the-scenes special (episode 3) on Netflix when he noticed the concept art that was used by the Stranger Things crew...

After Heavey reached out to Netflix with his complaint, the company responded by saying that the cloud in his photo isn’t protected by copyright.

“They are saying the only similarity that exists is the use of a similar cloud formation, that copyright law does not protect objects as they appear in nature, and that an artist can’t claim a monopoly over real-world public domain objects such as a cloud formation,” Heavey says. “The problem with that argument is that it’s not a similar cloud they use — it’s my cloud photo.”

Heavey thinks the Netflix counsel didn't even look at his image comparisons before responding. He's now lawyered up and figuring out his next steps.

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Your perception of this graph is a graph of your perception

Look at the above image. The higher the peaks, the more sensitive your eyes are to contrasts at those frequencies. Ian Goodfellow spotted the image in a scientific paper about spatial frequency analysis and brilliantly observed that "It's like a graph that is made by perceiving the graph itself." Over at Mind Hacks, Tom Stafford explains the science of spatial frequency, the same concept behind the classic "Marilyn Einstein" image below that was created by Aude Oliva in 2007. From Mind Hacks:

Spatial frequency means how often things change in space. High spatial frequency changes means lots of small detail. Spatial frequency is surprisingly important to our visual system – lots of basic features of the visual world, like orientation or motion, are processed first according to which spatial frequency the information is available at...

Spatial frequency is also why, when you’re flying over the ocean, you can see waves which appear not to move. Although your vision is sensitive enough to see the wave, the motion sensitive part of your visual system isn’t as good at the fine spatial frequencies – which creates a natural illusion of static waves.

See Einstein below? Now go a few steps back from your screen and look again:

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Oregon farmers are growing far more weed than residents can smoke

After three years of legal weed, Oregon has grown 1.1 million pounds, approximately three times what residents buy in a year. From The Guardian:

The result? Prices are dropping to unprecedented lows in auction houses and on dispensary counters across the state.

Wholesale sun-grown weed fell from $1,500 a pound last summer to as low as $700 by mid-October. On store shelves, that means the price of sun-grown flower has been sliced in half to those four-buck grams.

For Oregon customers, this is a bonanza. A gram of the beloved Girl Scout Cookies strain now sells for little more than two boxes of actual Girl Scout cookies.

But it has left growers and sellers with a high-cost product that’s a financial loser. And a new feeling has descended on the once-confident Oregon cannabis industry: panic.

“The business has been up and down and up and down,” says Don Morse, who closed his Human Collective II dispensary in south-west Portland four months ago. “But in a lot of ways it has just been down and down for dispensaries.”

"How do you move mountains of unwanted weed?" (The Guardian via Next Draft) Read the rest

Missing: Iron Man suit

An Iron Man suit from the original 2008 film is missing. Apparently the $325,000 suit disappeared from a Los Angeles warehouse in recent months. According to the Los Angeles Times, "Employees at the warehouse 'just happened to check' Tuesday and noticed the costume was gone."

As of press time, Stane has not responded to requests for comment.

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Why tumbleweeds tumble

Recently, Carla posted about tumbleweeds invading Victorville, California leading to numerous 911 calls. Why do tumbleweeds tumble though? To make more tumbleweeds of course. From KQED's Deep Look:

Starting in late fall, (tumblweeds) dry out and die, their seeds nestled between prickly dried leaves. Gusts of wind easily break dead tumbleweeds from their roots. A microscopic layer of cells at the base of the plant — called the abscission layer — makes a clean break possible and the plants roll away, spreading their seeds. When the rains come, an embryo coiled up inside each seed sprouts.

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Voyager Golden Record featured in V&A Museum exhibition about the future

This weekend is the opening of "The Future Starts Here," a new exhibition at London's Victoria & Albert Museum of art and design. Celebrating "100 projects shaping the world of tomorrow," the exhibit features several objects that began as Kickstarter projects, including the "Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition" the Grammy-winning 3xLP vinyl box set that I co-produced with my friends Timothy Daly and Lawrence Azerrad. Our project was the first vinyl release of the iconic phonograph record launched into space by NASA in 1977 as a message for extraterrestrials, perhaps billions of years from now.

The Voyager Golden Record is an artifact for the future. As Tim Ferris, who produced the original Voyager Record, wrote in our liner notes, the Voyagers are on a journey not just through space but also through time. The Voyager Record is a time capsule but it is also timeless. It sparks the imagination. It provokes us to think about the future and our civilization's place in it. It exudes a sense of hope for a better tomorrow. And it lies at the intersection of science, art, and design to spark the imagination.

When Lawrence first began designing our "Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition," he said: "The original Voyager Golden Record is the ultimate album package. I want to design the ultimate album package of the ultimate album package."

We're deeply honored to be included in the exhibit! I'm also thrilled that my Institute for the Future colleague Sam Woolley's provocative "Political Bots" exhibit is also part of The Future Starts Here, which runs at the V&A Museum until November 4. Read the rest

Can you spot the ticks in this poppy seed muffin?

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention tweeted this image with the question: "Can you spot all 5 ticks in this photo?" Of course ticks generally don't hang out in pastries. The point was just to show how difficult it can be to spot ticks. But apparently the thought (and image) of a tick-infested muffin grossed out many Twitter users. The CDC apologized with, of course, a pun about ticking people off.

Anyway, here is the CDC's guide to "Avoiding Ticks."

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Mouth sensor keeps tabs on your sodium intake

Approximately 36 million people in the United States have high blood pressure and many could do with reducing their sodium intake. But how do you even monitor your intake accurately? Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have developed a flexible sensor that goes in your mouth for real-time sensing of how much salt is in those french fries you're munching. It then sends the data to your phone to alert you of your sodium intake. From IEEE Spectrum:

W. Hong Yeo, an assistant professor of micro and nano engineering who led the research team, says it would also be possible to stick the sensor directly to the tongue or the roof of the mouth, or to laminate it onto a tooth. The soft retainer they used in this experiment was just phase one. “For the first prototype device, we wanted to offer easy handling and cleaning capability via the integration with a soft retainer,” he said.

Yeo says the biggest challenge was making the entire electronic device soft, flexible, and comfortable enough to wear in the mouth. So the team designed a chip that uses stretchable circuits mounted on an ultrathin porous membrane.

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Watch this new music video from Dawes

Please enjoy the premiere of this new Dawes music video "Living in the Future," the first single off the Indie roots rockers's forthcoming album Passwords, out June 22. Grant James directed the clip.

According to the band, Passwords is "for and about the modern age: the relationships that fill it, the politics that divide it, and the small victories and big losses that give it shape."

“We’re living in such a unique moment in history,” says Dawes lead singer Taylor Goldsmith. “Many of these songs are an attempt to come to terms with the modern world, while always trying to consider both sides of the story...

"Songs can be passwords because they're a means of giving access to someone else's perspective, thereby elaborating your own.”

Tour dates here.

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Tomato plants can detect an imminent animal attack

Tomato plants can detect the telltale sign of nearby snails -- slime -- and release an enzyme that deters those and other pests before they even touch the leaves, according to new research. The defense mechanism also keeps caterpillars from munching on the plants. From Scientific American:

“None of the plants were ever actually attacked,” says University of Wisconsin-Madison ecologist John Orrock. “We just gave them cues that suggested an attack was coming, and that was enough to trigger big changes in their chemistry...”

The research was comprehensive, (adds UC Davis plant communications expert Richard Karban who was not involved in the study), but he wonders how the tomato plants detected chemicals in snail slime that never actually touched them.

“That's the million-dollar question,” Orrock says. He hopes future research will tease out the mechanisms that enable plants to perceive these relatively distant cues.

“That's the million-dollar question,” Orrock says. He hopes future research will tease out the mechanisms that enable plants to perceive these relatively distant cues.

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You could buy the remnants of Kurt Cobain's smashed guitar

On September 22, 1990, Nirvana played at Seattle's Motorsports International Garage. Kurt Cobain played his Aria Pro II Cardinal Series guitar that he ultimately smashed to bits. (Video evidence below.) A fellow working security grabbed the busted body and after the show, Cobain requested return of the pickups. The security guard kept the rest and has now put it on the auction block. Estimated price is $40,000 - $60,000.

"Kurt Cobain stage played and smashed guitar" (Julien's Auctions)

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Support Rudy Rucker's Kickstarter for his new book "Return to the Hollow Earth"

Cyberpunk fiction pioneer and old-school bOING bOING pal Rudy Rucker has just finished "Return to the Hollow Earth," the sequel to his fantastic 1990 novel The Hollow Earth, a wonderful and rollicking adventure story filled with weird science, curious creatures, and Edgar Allan Poe. Rudy is publishing the new novel himself along with a revised third edition of the original book and the book-length Notes for Return to the Hollow Earth. Get in on the freaky scene by supporting Return To The Hollow Earth on Kickstarter!

In The Hollow Earth, we meet our narrator Mason Reynolds, a seventeen-year-old youth from 1850. He leaves his father's Virginia farm with the black Otha, befriends the dissolute Edgar Allan Poe, and falls through a thousand-mile-deep hole in Antarctica. Within the Hollow Earth Mason woos and wins Seela, who lives upon a giant flower.

At the core of the Hollow Earth they find the sky-surfing tribe known as the black gods. Nearby are a cluster of great sea cucumbers, who are known as the woomo. Otha stays at the core. Mason, Seela, and Poe make their way out through the crust and back to Earth. Due to their time in the strong light of the woomo, their skins are now black. At the end it seems as if Poe dies. This third edition of The Hollow Earth is lightly revised so as to fit with the sequel.

Return to the Hollow Earth is once again in the steampunk mode, with young Mason as our narrator.

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The new president of the NRA is Oliver North

The National Rifle Association announced that its new president will be Oliver North, Fox News correspondent and central player in the Iran-Contra scandal of the late 1980s under president Ronald Reagan during which North and his cronies illegally sold arms to Iran and diverted the funds to the anti-Communist Contras in Nicaragua.

"Oliver North is, hands down, the absolute best choice to lead our NRA Board, to fully engage with our members, and to unflinchingly stand and fight for the great freedoms he has defended his entire life," NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre said.

(CNN) Read the rest

The "secret chamber" in King Tut's tomb does not exist

Several years ago, Egypt's Antiquities Ministry said they were "90% sure" that new scans of King Tutankhamun's tomb revealed a hidden chamber. Following that, University of Arizona archaeologist Nicholas Reeves published a headline-making research paper suggesting that the secret room may be the burial chamber of Queen Nefertiti. Well, turns out that there's no there there. From the BBC News:

Italian specialists from the University of Turin used new penetrating radar scans to reach their conclusion, saying they were confident in the results.

"It is maybe a little bit disappointing that there is nothing behind the walls of Tutankhamun's tomb, but I think on the other hand that this is good science," said Dr Francesco Porcelli, head of the research team..

Egypt's Antiquities Minister, Khaled al-Anani, said the authorities in the country accepted the results.

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Watch these newly discovered film clips from the glamorous birth of Technicolor

The British Film Institute discovered bits of very rare Technicolor film fragments from 1920s Hollywood. The fragments, attached to the beginning and end of other film reels, include Louise Brooks doing what may be a costume test for her first credited movie, The American Venus (1926), thought to lost. From Film News:

As Bryony Dixon, BFI’s Curator of Silent Film explains, “Everybody loves Technicolor but so much film from glamorous 1920s Hollywood is lost; when it turns up, however fragmentary it’s exciting. What to do with tiny clips that are only a few seconds long? Imagine an Egyptian vase shattered into pieces and the shards scattered across museums all over the world. You can imagine that one day you might be able to see it whole again. It’s like that with films; only an international effort by film archives like the BFI can bring the pieces of the jigsaw together. For now we have the shards but we can dream of seeing Louise Brooks’s first film or a lost Hedda Hopper in colour”.

James Layton, MOMA’s Film Department Preservation Manager adds, “Only a few Technicolor musicals from the dawn of sound survive complete and entirely in colour, whilst some only exist in poor quality black and white copies. It is always a cause for celebration whenever previously lost colour footage turns up. These excerpts provide fascinating glimpses at these films’ pioneering use of colour, which we could only guess at before.”

"BFI uncovers rare Technicolor footage of Louise Brooks in living colour" (Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!) Read the rest

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