Watch Walter Cronkite and CBS News report from Woodstock (1969)

"The sponsors said it was going to be three days of peace and music. It was that alright, and much more." Read the rest

NASA is going to Europa

NASA announced today that the agency is moving ahead with a planned mission to Jupiter's moon Europa. In this next phase, engineers will complete the final design, construction, and testing of the Europa Clipper spacecraft for a launch as soon as 2023. Why the icy moon Europa? From NASA:

NASA's Europa Clipper mission will conduct detailed reconnaissance of Jupiter's moon Europa to see whether the icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life. The mission will carry a highly capable, radiation-tolerant spacecraft that will perform repeated close flybys of the icy moon from a long, looping orbit around Jupiter.

The payload of selected science instruments includes cameras and spectrometers to produce high-resolution images of Europa's surface and determine its composition. An ice penetrating radar will determine the thickness of the moon's icy shell and search for subsurface lakes similar to those beneath Antarctica. The mission also will carry a magnetometer to measure strength and direction of the moon's magnetic field, which will allow scientists to determine the depth and salinity of its ocean.

"This is a giant step in our search for oases that could support life in our own celestial backyard," says Europa program scientist Curt Niebur.

That's all well and good, assuming we attempt no landing there.

image: NASA/JPL-Caltech Read the rest

Barack Obama's summer reading list

President Barack Obama opened his summer reading list post with encouragement to read or re-read Toni Morrison and then suggested ten other titles including the following:

• Sometimes difficult to swallow, The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead is a necessary read, detailing the way Jim Crow and mass incarceration tore apart lives and wrought consequences that ripple into today.

• Exhalation by Ted Chiang is a collection of short stories that will make you think, grapple with big questions, and feel more human. The best kind of science fiction.

• Haruki Murakami’s Men Without Women examines what happens to characters without important women in their lives; it'll move you and confuse you and sometimes leave you with more questions than answers.

See the rest of President Obama's picks here.

image: President Barack Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia shop for books at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) Read the rest

New cartoon about Elvis as a government spy

Agent King is an adult animated series about Elvis Presley as a government spy. Priscilla Presley and rock singer John Eddie created the show for Sony and Netflix with Archer's Mike Arnold as writer and showrunner. John Varvatos is designing Elvis's animated outfits. From Spin:

Agent King... imagines Elvis Presley trading his white jumpsuit for a jet pack as he’s inducted into a secret government spy program to help battle dark forces that threaten the country he loves — all while holding down his day job as the most famous rock ‘n’ roll star on the planet...

“From the time Elvis was a young boy he always dreamed of being the superhero fighting crime and saving the world!” said Priscilla Presley, who was married to Elvis from 1967-73.

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Watch lightning bolt just miss striking man

"I saw light,” said Horry County, South Carolina resident Romulus McNeill said a few days ago after a lightning bolt just missed him. “I tried to get up out of there like the Roadrunner."

(WSOC-TV) Read the rest

The first and last time Mister Rogers sang "Won't You Be My Neighbor?"

Mister Rogers sings "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" on the February 19, 1968 debut of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and then on the final episode August 31, 2001.

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Fast times at Roosevelt Field Mall, a documentary (1983)

In 1983, a crew of young, DIY documentarians visited Long Island's Roosevelt Field Mall to study mall culture. This is Mall City. (via r/ObscureMedia)

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Town to install public toilets with anti-sex systems

Porthcawl in Wales will install public toilets with systems to prevent people from having sex inside including an alarm, doors that spring open, and a water sprayer. It seems the possibility of false alarms makes this a real, er, shitty idea. From CNN:

Movement sensors inside the toilets will respond to "violent" activity, while weight sensors will be installed to detect the entrance of more than one person, triggering the deterrent measures. The toilets have also been designed to prevent rough sleepers taking shelter inside: If a user remains in the toilet for too long, a warning message will play, while the lights and heating will switch off.

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Visiting the dead on Google Street View

Over at OK Whatever, Jessie Schiewe tells of people who have looked up family addresses on Google Street View and found ghostly images of their dead loved ones in the midst of their everyday lives -- mowing the lawn, grabbing the mail, washing the car. From OK Whatever:

...For most people, finding dead relatives in Google Street View can be a great comfort. The father-in-law of a Reddit user called lovelyriver2929 was elated when he discovered his late-wife standing in front of their home in one of the photos taken of their address.

“He goes and looks at it sometimes,” she wrote. “He loves it because it was just her doing something completely normal on a completely normal day.”

For some people, it’s a reminder of what their loved ones looked like before they got sick, when they were still healthy enough to go outside and wash the car or mow the lawn. Sometimes these are even the last known images to be taken of a person.

“My grandpa died in 2017 and no one had any pictures with him from recent years. He only took photos when he was holding babies, and all us grandkids are in our teens and 20s,” one Reddit user wrote. “But I did this same thing and found a Google Street View photo of him mowing his front lawn from 2016. It was really good to see him doing something he loved to do and was always doing when he was here.”

And then sometimes, the ghosts vanish. Read the rest

Exoskeleton shorts that amplify running and walking

The term exoskeleton usually brings to mind the hulking Power Loader worn by Sigourney Weaver in Aliens. But Harvard University researchers have developed a much lighter, more minimal exoskeleton that reduces the energy needed to run or walk. One breakthrough in this exosuit design is that it can tell if the wearer is walking or running and adjusts the robotic assistance accordingly.

“After wearing the system for 15 minutes or so, you start to question if it’s really helping at all, because you just feel like you’re walking,” David Perry, a robotics engineer at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, told Scientific American. “Once you shut it off, however, your legs suddenly feel heavy, and you realize how much it was helping. It’s a lot like stepping off the end of one of those moving sidewalks at the airport.”

Not surprisingly, the research is sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s former Warrior Web program. From Harvard:

(The exosuit) assists the wearer via a cable actuation system. The actuation cables apply a tensile force between the waist belt and thigh wraps to generate an external extension torque at the hip joint that works in concert with the gluteal muscles. The device weighs 5kg in total with more than 90% of its weight located close to the body’s center of mass.

More: "Reducing the metabolic rate of walking and running with a versatile, portable exosuit" (Science)

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Listen: John Coltrane track from previously unheard 1964 sessions

Next month, Impulse! Records will release Blue World, previously unheard recordings that legendary jazz pioneer John Coltrane recorded with his quartet in 1964. Most of the tunes are different versions of known Coltrane songs with the exception of the title track that you can hear above. From Spin:

...Coltrane recorded Blue World between the sessions for his landmark albums Crescent and a Love Supreme, at Van Gelder studio in New Jersey, where he cut many of his albums, including the aforementioned two. He had been approached by a Quebecois filmmaker named Gilles Groulx, who knew Coltrane’s bassist Jimmy Garrison, and asked Coltrane if he would record music for use in an upcoming film called Le chat dans le sac. Coltrane obliged, but Groulx only ended up using 10 minutes of the 37-minute session in the film.

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Documentary about the 1980s SoCal underground art happenings with Sonic Youth, Einstürzende Neubauten, etc.

In the 1980s, Stuart Swezey was at the epicenter of Southern California's underground culture. The co-founder of Amok Books, Swezey was also known for organizing extreme industrial and avant-garde outdoor happenings in remote locations like the Mojave Desert that featured performances by Sonic Youth, Einstürzende Neubauten, Survival Research Laboratories, Minutemen, and many other experimental and transgressive artists. Now, Swezey has made a documentary about those extreme experiences. Above is the trailer for Desolation Center.

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Seven-foot crocodile swimming in Ohio creek near kids' church group

Yesterday, a church group of little kids were playing at a creek in Preble County, Ohio when an adult spotted a big shadowy shape moving under the water. It turned out to be a seven-foot saltwater crocodile, a species not native to Ohio. A wildlife office was called to the scene and, sadly, shot the crocodile.

According to WLWT, pastor Jim Hazelwood "was impressed with the remarkable poise the children displayed and how their first words after the close call were how God had protected them." Read the rest

Unintentionally funny voice-over-IP demo from 1978

In 1978, researchers were conducting early experiments in group teleconferencing using packet switching over the ARPANET, which became the basis of the Internet. These "packet speech systems" evolved into the VoIP that we know and love (?) today. Above is a 1979 video from the USC Information Sciences Institute of an experiment involving a "dramatization" of a group teleconference. As /r/ObscureMedia user jetRink posted, "The meeting participants are late, unprepared and frustrated, the audio quality is terrible and nothing is accomplished except the scheduling of another meeting."

Just like today!

For more on this, see Stanford University professor Robert Gray's "History of LPC Digital Speech and its impact on the Internet Protocol." Read the rest

Watch the Smashing Pumpkins play James Taylor's "Fire and Rain"

The original Smashing Pumpkins (sans D'arcy Wretzky), on the road again for another US tour, are covering James Taylor's classic "Fire and Rain" from his 1970 masterpiece Sweet Baby James. It's a lovely, trippy cover and hearkens back to their 1994 take on another '70s rock classic -- Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" (video below).

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Find awe in the biology of these incredible leaping maggots

Above is a three-millimeter long maggot launching itself into the air for a distance of up to 36 times its body length. Researchers from Duke University and their colleagues studied how these larvae of gall midges leap between plants with the greatest of ease, even rivaling some jumping insects with legs. Their research could have applications in soft robotics and adhesives. From the Journal of Experimental Biology:

They store elastic energy by forming their body into a loop and pressurizing part of their body to form a transient ‘leg’. They prevent movement during elastic loading by placing two regions covered with microstructures against each other, which likely serve as a newly described adhesive latch. Once the latch releases, the transient ‘leg’ launches the body into the air. These discoveries integrate three vibrant areas in engineering and biology – soft robotics, small, high-acceleration systems, and adhesive systems – and point toward a rich, and as-yet untapped area of biological diversity of worm-like, small, legless jumpers.

(via Scientific American)

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Boy finds massive woolly mammoth tooth outside Ohio inn

A 12-year-old boy found this woolly mammoth molar outside his family's inn near Ohio's Honey Run Creek. From a post on the Inn at Honey Run's site:

Jackson writes in an account of the discovery, “I found the mammoth tooth about ten yards upstream from the bridge we had our family pictures on. It was partially buried on the left side of the creek. It was completely out of the water on the creek bed.”

Within a few days, the item was indeed identified by numerous scholars and professors including Dale Gnidovec of The Ohio State University’s Orton Geological Museum, Nigel Brush of Ashland University’s Geology Department, and P. Nick Kardulias College of Wooster’ Program of Archeology.

Now, Jackson awaits the safe return of his tooth, also writing, “I would like to have my tooth back in my hands as soon as possible. I want to show my friends.”

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