A lovely scientific appreciation of trees

Over at The Last Word on Nothing, esteemed science writer Rebecca Boyle wrote a lovely appreciation of trees. "Apart from humans, maybe, trees are the best form of life on this planet," she writes. From Boyle's essay, titled "Make Like A Tree and Get Outta Here":

Trees remain in one place, but reach elsewhere always. They stretch down into the ground, and they constantly strain toward the sun. They are the embodiment of our shared presence on a rocky planet that orbits a star. Hedgehogs and helminths may be interesting, but they don’t constantly remind us, simply by existing, that we are in a solar system.

Trees are also hosts for every other form of life. Their roots chew up the very crust, a process aided by microbes, and in doing so, trees remake continents. Their bark harbors fungus and lichen. Their branches and leaves shelter and feed insects, birds and mammals. Even now, when humans are capable of building machines that fly to Mars, we still use trees for shelter. We also cut them down and burn them for warmth. Some of us cut them down and bring them inside and festoon them, for a form of psychic warmth that lasts a few weeks and is the only reason I can tolerate December.

Trees are strivers. My pin oak is one of the fastest-growing species of hardwood trees, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. It can grow two feet per year. Trees also bide their time. The oldest living thing on Earth is a tree in Arizona, a bristlecone pine that sprouted from a seed a few years before the invention of writing, in 3200 BCE.

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Artist's nail art self-portraits include hair

Makeup artist Dain Yoon likes to push the envelope with her work, and her new nail portraits complete with real hair are definitely doing that. Read the rest

See this incredible full circle rainbow

Someone on a crane captured this stunning video of a full circle rainbow. Unfortunately most of us never get a chance to see circle rainbows because the ground interrupts. Here's an explanation from Phil "Bad Astronomy" Plait in Slate:

...To see a rainbow, you face away from the Sun (180°), then look about 42° away from that point (180°–138°). The drops in an arc along that angle will then bend the light back toward you, and you get a rainbow, with the colors spread out a bit because they bend by different amounts.

Oh, wait. Did I say “arc”? Because technically, any raindrop 42° away from the anti-solar point (ooh, fancy science-speak again) will bend the light back to you. We see rainbows in the sky because in general the ground is close to you. When we look up toward the sky we see for a long way, and there are lots of raindrops along your eyeline that can add their light together to make the rainbow. When you look down, the ground gets in the way, there aren’t as many drops, and you don’t see a rainbow.

(via DIGG)

(image above via WoahDude) Read the rest

1908 Gibson style U guitar in amazing shape

This amazing Gibson is for sale, a mere $11,999USD. Beautiful, but my guitar addiction syndrome has been cured.

Via Reverb:

Freakishly clean 1908 Style U harp guitar in near mint all original condition, serial number 8618 batch number 1004 with original hand tooled rear loading leather case. By far the cleanest century old Gibson instruments we've seen. Purchased originally by the school teaching matriarch of a homesteading family from the Southwestern United States to entertain her students. The size was too much to deal with and the instrument sat unmolested at home in her closet, on her dresser until the death of her only son from old age. The caregiver attending to the dying needs of the now elder son claimed she was gifted the guitar before his death and that the conversation went something like this. Dying son says "what about my Moms' guitar? Caregiver says, what guitar? Dying man points to the closet and she sees the case on top of the dresser, that's for you, you take it." She sold it to me a few days’ later, perfect provenance, perfect guitar and perfect deal. It’s slightly difficult to covey how clean and original this instrument is, there will probably not be another of these, this nice ever. Spectacular varnished finish displays perfectly normal varnish shrinkage, patterned in a way only varnish does when not French polished out. A better example cannot be found for sale anywhere. All instruments are examined, cleaned and set up before selling. No modifications or repairs, no cracks or breaks.

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Woman transforms herself into Betty Boop

Boop boop be doop! Makeup and cosplay YouTuber Jbunzie shows you how to pull off this iconic Betty Boop retro look by following her step-by-step tutorial. Read the rest

Sampling bias: how a machine-learning beauty contest awarded nearly all prizes to whites

If you've read Cathy O'Neil's Weapons of Math Destruction (you should, right NOW), then you know that machine learning can be a way to apply a deadly, nearly irrefutable veneer of objectivity to our worst, most biased practices. Read the rest

These bizarre vintage hair-dryers will blow your mind, and your tresses

When I was little, my mother had a 1960s sit-under hair dryer with a huge translucent plastic hood that I'd imagine was a variation on a Star Trek Transporter. But that hulking machine had nothing on these vintage hair dryers from the first part of the 20th century. These would have provided me with years of science fiction fantasies and nightmares. See more at Dangerous Minds.

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Dyson's hair dryer is tiny, quiet and pricey

Dyson, makers of high-end vacuum cleaners and other gadgets that do clever things with air, is moving into beauty products. The Dyson Supersonic hair dryer promises a premium model's power in a smaller, quieter package, and was built around the company's smallest motor yet.

It's priced at $400, too — apparently not unreasonable for salon gear, if an unlikely option for consumers — and will be available in white and fuscia. Here's the ad they've just put out:

Dyson's first beauty product is a hair dryer [Engadget] Read the rest

Superhero skincare face masks

Would you like your skin to look youthful, even though you're pushing 100? A Captain America skincare face mask may be just the ticket. Part of Isshin Do's official Marvel-licensed beauty line. Read the rest

Watch two women compare a century of beauty trends

YouTuber Cut Video mashed up two remarkable videos showing models cycling through 100 years of fashion trends, decade by decade. Read the rest

Beauty After Breast Cancer: kickstarting a photography book on our bodies, in treatment and beyond

“What if among the many overwhelming materials you see at the time of a breast cancer diagnosis there was a simple book that inspired hope instead of fear, and showed beauty instead of disfigurement?”

Photoshopped ideas of "beauty" around the world

For Ester Honig's Before & After, she used freelance platforms like Fiverr to contract 40 people from 25 countries to make her "beautiful" with Photoshop. (Above right, the work of someone in the Philippines.) Honig's hope was that the resulting images would provide insight into the contractor's "personal and cultural constructs of beauty."

"They are intriguing and insightful in their own right; each one is a reflection of both the personal and cultural concepts of beauty that pertain to their creator.

Photoshop allows us to achieve our unobtainable standards of beauty, but when we compare those standards on a global scale, achieving the ideal remains all the more elusive."

Before & After (Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!) Read the rest

White guy gets plastic surgery to look Korean

The Korea Herald reports that a young man of European heritage from Brazil has had plastic surgery so that he might look Korean. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

He goes by the obliquely Asian internet-name of Xiahn.

Cosmetic procedures, such as silicone implants, lip surgery or other augmentations, are nothing unusual in Brazil. But the 25-year-old man went a step further to transform himself into Asian-looking man by making alterations to his eyes. Xiahn, who asked not to be named to protect his family from Internet scrutiny, underwent 10 surgical procedures on his eyes, along with other less-invasive procedures, which cost him around $3,100. He also began wearing contact lenses to change his eye color.

Originally blue-eyed with blonde hair, he became interested in having plastic surgery after spending some time as an exchange student in Korea. He was inspired by how common plastic surgery is here.

“Koreans have many surgeries to modify the shape of their eyes and become more like Westerners. It was easy to tell when one of them had done it, walking on the street wearing sunglasses and a surgical mask,” he said. “I have no regrets, and I don’t intend to have any more procedures.”

[Korea Herald via Michelle Borok at Giant Robot] Read the rest

Video: First Kiss

Filmmaker Tatia Pilieva asked twenty people to kiss for the first time. The awkwardness, anticipation, and culmination... Just lovely. Read the rest

Korean plastic surgeon removes towering jars of excised jawbones after fine

A Gangnam, Seoul plastic surgeon who did a roaring trade in excising womens' jawbones to give them V-shaped chins was forced to remove the towering jars of thousands of jawbone fragments with which he decorated his office. Photos of the jars spread online, resulting in a visit from a local official, who fined the surgeon about $3000 and ordered the display removed. Read the rest

Conductive cosmetics to control mobile devices

Computer scientist Katia Vega has developed conductive eye shadow and false eyelashes that can be used to control wearable computers. For example, an extended blink could trigger your phone's camera. "We use voluntary movements to amplify intentions – using our body as a new input device," Vega, a researcher at Rio de Janeiro's Pontifical Catholic University, told New Scientist. Read the rest

Meet Nastygirl, Germany's most beautiful cow

A doe-eyed look would not have won over judges at a contest in Germany this week: it was for cows only. The bovine beauties, 250 of them, even had their own hairdressers at the annual German Holstein Show in Oldenburg: "That way one can display the veins better," said stylist Astrid Ostkämper. There's more from Spiegel. Read the rest

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