Ancient civilizations' fascination with AI, robots, and synthetic life

Stanford folklorist and science historian Adrienne Mayor has a fascinating-sounding new book out, titled "Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology." It's a survey of how ancient Greeks, Romans, Indian, and Chinese myths imagined and grappled with visions of synthetic life, artificial intelligence, and autonomous robots. From Mayor's interview at Princeton University […]

Uncanny Japan: a podcast highlighting "all that is weird from old Japan"

Thersa Matsuura was born and raised in the USA but spent the past 25 years — more than half her life — living in a small Japanese fishing village with her husband and son.

Now in print: Neil Gaiman's "novelistic" book of Norse mythos

Readers of Neil Gaiman's essay collection The View From the Cheap Seats know how influential Jack Kirby's Mighty Thor and Roger Lancelyn Green's Myths of the Norsemen were on his work — an influence that shows in books like American Gods and Odd and the Frost Giants — so we were all excited when WW […]

East of the Sun and West of the Moon – Norwegian folklore intricately illustrated by artist Kay Nielsen

See sample pages from this book at Wink. If Walt Disney gave us the definitive picture of German fairy tales such as Cinderella and Snow White, first published in 1812 by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Kay Nielsen helped the world imagine the settings and characters found in the stories of Norwegian folklorists Peter Christen Asbjørnsen […]

Some of our favorite monsters from "Compendium Of Demonology and Magic" (ca. 1775)

A most bizarre book from the late 18th century.

The Best Bigfoot Podcast

The Bigfoot Show is the best bigfoot podcast you're not listening to.

Mythical creatures of lumberjack lore

Wired's Matt Stone collects the monsters imagined by 19th-century lumberjacks in the wilds of North America. My favorite is the deranged splinter cat, reputed to headbutt trees, thereby causing shards of wood to fly everywhere. The Splinter Cat Scientific name: Nasusossificatus arbordemolieus Responsible for: shattered trees This husky feline is an indiscriminate destroyer of hollow […]

Art exhibition about urban legends

"Hearsay: Artists Reveal Urban Legends" is a new group exhibition at California State University, Fullerton's Begovich Gallery where artists were asked to create pieces about modern day myths that resonate with them in some personal way. More than three dozen artists participated including Boing Boing favorites like Ransom & Mitchell, Jeffrey Vallance, Robert Williams, and […]

Ancient Aliens, modern obsessions

I'm really enjoying Jason Colavito's reviews of The History Channel's hilarious/infuriating hit show Ancient Aliens. What makes them better than the average blog? Colavito is an author who has written extensively about the anthropology of pseudoscience, and the connections between pseudoscience, religion, and science fiction. So his recaps are less about debunking the claims made […]

Bubble boy: Baby born inside intact amniotic sac

"Born in the caul" is a phrase that's connected with a lot of cross-cultural myths and superstitions — babies born in the caul are supposed to be destined for lives of fame and fortune (or, possibly, misfortune and grisly death, depending on which legends you're listening to). Biologically, though, it refers to a baby that's […]

Buy my Green Man T-Shirt

The creators of ElfQuest liked my artwork for our interview with them so much, they put it on a T-shirt! You should buy this t-shirt now: secrets from the lost decade will be conferred upon anyone I meet wearing one of them. It's available in coffee, cream and olive (pictured), from S to XXXL. Close-ups […]

Looking for mathematical perfection in all the wrong places

The Golden Ratio — that geometric expression of the Fibonacci sequence of numbers (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, etc.) — has influenced the way master painters created art and can be spotted occurring naturally in the seed arrangement on the face of a sunflower. But its serendipitous appearances aren't nearly as frequent as pop culture […]

Meet NASA's apocalypse expert

OK, I know that I promised to never post anything ever again about a certain hypothetical disaster that rhymes with Schmapocalypse MiffyMelve, but hear me out. This really isn't about that. Instead, I want to highlight an excellent profile of a scientist whose work and interactions with the public have been affected by that unnamed […]

"If it wasn't for gravy and coffee, we'd starve to death": Interview with a cowboy

In 1937, someone from the Worker's Project Administration interviewed an aging cowboy, L.M. Cox of Brownwood, Texas, as part of an effort to record America's oral history. At the Ptak Science Books blog you can read the full interview with Mr. Cox and get a rare, inside look at what life was really like in […]