Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The communist clock of Olomouc

Information on this wonderful timepiece from Atlas Obscura:
The clock was originally built during the medieval era between 1419-1422, roughly a decade after its sister astronomical clock (Orloj) in Prague. In the original clock design religious and royal automata came out on the hour to chime the bells in a series of holy tones. But on May 7th 1945, in an act of pure malice, German troops opened fire on the clock, destroying the town's prized clock.
The clock stayed in ruins for a few years before artist Karel Svolinshy and his wife Maria began fixing it. On repairing the clock Svolinshy and his wife decided the religious and royal figures no longer made sense for the newly communistic country and the clock was redesigned and reconstructed in the then popular Social-Realism style. The only original part left after the reconstruction was the clock mechanism from 1898 which Konrad Schuster, the master clockmaker, repaired.
Upon completion the Olmouc clock had a very different look from its medieval sister clock in Prague. Instead of saints and kings, miniature proletarians such as labors, farmer, athletes and factory workers all toiled for the common good on the astronomical clock. Every figure is a "good communist," and at noon, tiny blacksmiths rung a set of bells in tunes based on local folk music.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Young birds can be very cute, so it's not surprising that their dinosaurian ancestors were equally charming. This one is known from only one fossil, identified as a juvenile; it was tiny (about sparrow-sized) and had a large claw probably used for climbing trees.

Image: John Conway (http://jconway.co.uk)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Framing and freedom fries

Excerpt from a lecture by linguist Lera Boroditsky, explaining why terms like "freedom fries" actually make no sense as insults against the French-- and suggesting better ways to annoy those cheese-eating surrender monkeys by renaming things:
Of course, the name "French fries" may qualify as this sort of Francophobic insult, albeit accidentally-- the fries originated in Belgium.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


These young mallards press my "aww so cute" buttons like nothing else.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sphere eversion

How to turn a sphere inside out under mathematical rules which allow the surface to pass through itself, but not be torn or folded:
Intermediate stages in the eversion process. Source.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Scanning singing

An opera singer and a rapper show off their vocal abilities under the gaze of a real-time MRI scanner, with spooky results: 
the diva and the emcee from Krishna Nayak on Vimeo.