Is that an Arthur C. Clarke bar?
Ancient Aliens Debunked
Have you ever wondered about whether the “ancient aliens” theory, and the meme-tastic History Channel show of the same name, holds any water?
Spoiler: It doesn’t.
But we don’t like unsupported claims around here. So here’s some support: Chris White, a former believer of the alien theory, put together this hours-long film that investigates and disproves each alien claim one-by-one. Instead, scientific explanations are offered for everything from Puma Punku to Giza.
We do no favor to the advanced cultures of the past by diminishing their accomplishments via the introduction of alien technologies. The human race is an ingenious one, and modern society is not the birthplace of technology. I prefer the view that humans have been making huge scientific gains for millennia, because it enriches our history instead of cheapens it.
Ancient cultures being awesome? Is such a thing even possible? You bet it is.
Confused by what those pictures have to do with one another? Read on…
Some cave drawings, like those found in France’s Chauvet Cave at top, show animals drawn using sequential pieces that suggest movement. A horse’s head drawn in three parts, drooping toward the ground, or a multi-legged running deer. When they are looped back, as in the following video by archaeologist Marc Azéma, the use of moving pictures as a storytelling technique becomes more clear:
But just how would these ancient peoples make the pictures move? Flickering light like that from a torch can give the illusion of motion, readily within their technological know-how.
But perhaps most interestingly, round bone “pendants” dating from this era have been found that resemble thaumatropes, spinning discs that create a two-frame scene that were popular in Victorian times (an example in the bottom picture above).
More about these early “animators” at Discovery News.
Trailer for the upcoming documentary Chasing Ice, a tale of our changing climate, disappearing glaciers, and the people who risk their lives to study them.
Reality is better than fiction. Even when that reality is a warming, melting planet.
Fight For Space is a Kickstarter documentary project that seeks to remind us that space is exciting, expensive and dangerous … which is precisely why it is our ultimate frontier. And precisely why we must continue to fight for a strong space program.
Often, it is by looking up in wonder that we are inspired to look down and create something meaningful. This is why we must continue to explore.
They’ve reached their funding goal, closing tomorrow, but please continue to support this great project!
Yep, people get paid to research this kind of awesome stuff.
A group from Cornell gathered important lines from over a thousand movies and asked people who hadn’t seen them to judge whether they were memorable, using some random dialogue as a control.
Sure enough, the quotes that stick in our heads have common features. SImple ideas are expressed in simple ways, but they use odd combinations of words.
Some memorable lines may be just chance, but they also found that memorable ad slogans used the same tricks. There is a science behind getting a line stuck in your head.
Wanna try it for yourself? You can take their movie quote quiz here.
Stanley Kubrick writes to Arthur C. Clarke, March 1964:
I had been a great admirer of your books for quite a time and had always wanted to discuss with you the possibility of doing the proverbial “really good” science-fiction movie.
He also asked for telescope advice. I think at least one of those worked out pretty well.
The story of a robot, built solely from archival NASA footage
A touching and beautiful film that explores the digital brain and electronic emotions of Robbie, a robot built by NASA, sent to space and abandoned for thousands of years. In the midst of his loneliness, a product of the advanced computer mind he carries, he invents an imaginary world. With his battery dwindling, this is his final note. ALl he wants to do is come home.
“They gave me a mind, but the mind they gave me was different to the organic brain of humans … it doesn’t look like real life.”
The film was spliced together by Neil Harvey solely using NASA’s archival footage. The robot you see is actually the Robonaut 2, and the remaining footage stretches from the Apollo program to the International Space Station.
Just so you know, most directors consult some sort of actual scientists to get the details of their superhero movies right. The Amazing Spider-Man went a step further, to design an equation for a chalkboard scene that would describe how cell regeneration and mortality would work.
Because if you don’t get the scientific details right, Neil deGrasse Tyson will find you, ridicule you, and make you change your movie.
Source: Boing Boing
The First 70: Closing Parks In California
The state of California is set to close 70 state parks in an effort to save money (which is a bad idea in itself and probably won’t work). This means that thousands of acres of natural history and beauty will no longer be maintained.
But the parks will not be erased. Instead, they will just lose their protectors, left to rot and deteriorate. How will we save them from polluters now? From vandals? From fire? How will we preserve these unspoiled lands and the life they contain?
The First 70 is a film project to draw attention to this misguided effort. Visit their site to find out how you can see the film and what you can do to help.
I'm Joe Hanson, Ph.D. biologist and host/writer of PBS Digital Studios' It's Okay To Be Smart. Check out my "Episode Extras" here. There's a lot of amazing science out there. Let's go discover it together.
"Everyone's favorite Feynman of the Tumblr era" - Maria Popova
Joe's science book recommendations, from brains to biology to space to art to physics.
Featured in The Best Science Writing Online - 2012
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